Apparently he was a chess player. I have no idea, in answer to your question. I don't play, nor do I follow chess. I just combined The Reti Opening with Gabriel Oaks poor luck at the beginning of Far From The Madding Crowd. Coincidence I watched the movie on Thursday or Friday (HBO) and thought it went well with the quote by Sir Alan Bates.

Fact checking, I just now noticed that he, too, died of cancer at age 69. Strange enough for this week.