John Rickard


Died March 2002

John was a mathematician at Cambridge University and after three years graduate work in knot theory John made a career as a C programmer in a number of Cambridge companies. In parallel he moved smartly to the top level of British Go. He became 1 dan in 1982, 2 dan the year after, with a place in the Challenger’s League and 3 dan too came later on in 1983. He was promoted to 4 dan in 1989 and the next year challenged Matthew Macfadyen for the British Championship (BGJ 81, 82). He was a top player throughout the next dozen years, representing the UK in the WAGC, travelling successfully to the US Open and Milan, and winning many British events.

John’s Go was distinguished by very accurate reading of local situations, but, less obviously, by overall counting. A most gentle soul in person, his games tended towards uninhibited fighting. With better health he would surely have become 5 dan. Very sadly Trigantius 2002 was to be his last competition.

His other interests can in part be gleaned from newsgroup postings: maths and puzzles, programming. He went in for mental arithmetic and Decamentathlon (problem-solving) events in the London Mind Sports Olympiad; he had friends in the Othello community and took part in it at the 2001 Cambridge MSO. He early looked into the application of game theory to Go endgames, though he published nothing. Another area I believe he disposed of, after Bill Hartston brought it up: chess with just two kings, no repetition of position allowed, is a first player win from any start (i.e. the second player is eventually forced to make the kings kiss).

After a liver transplant operation in 2000, John was back at work in not much more than a month, and in competition at the Ipswich British Congress. He won Three Peaks later that year. Complications struck him down, when we had all hoped he had come through the worst.

Extract from Obituary by Charles Matthews in BGJ 127

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