Brian Eley

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Brian Ratcliffe Eley (6 July 1946 - 6 April 2022)[1] is a former British Chess Champion. He was wanted by the British police on suspicion of sexual offences against underage boys, and had been a fugitive since 1991.[2]


Eley (r.) during his game against Ludek Pachman (l.), London, 1972[3]

Brian Eley belonged to the wave of talented chess masters who came to the fore in Britain in the 1970s, after the dominance of Jonathan Penrose ended—a group that included Raymond Keene, William Hartston, George Botterill, Robert Bellin and others.[4]

He took part in domestic chess tournaments, was a chess coach and gave simultaneous exhibitions.[5] For a period around 1971, he wrote an infrequent chess column in the weekly Morning Telegraph of Sheffield.[6] He ran his own chess retail business, supplying books, chess sets, scorebooks and similar items.

In a major upset,[7] Eley won the 1972 British Chess Championship, held in Brighton. Eley's peak FIDE rating of 2350[8] in 1974 would qualify him for the title of FIDE Master (FM); however, the FM title had not yet been introduced and he never applied for the title.

Arrest and disappearance[edit]

In 1979, James Plaskett, who went on to become a grandmaster and British champion, reported to David Anderton, the then president of the British Chess Federation (BCF), incidents of "misconduct" by Eley. The following year, Eley was dismissed from the position of England Team Manager after an unrelated incident. As a BCF-registered coach, Eley continued to teach juniors into the late 1980s.[9]

In July 1991, Eley was arrested at his South Yorkshire home on suspicion of sexually abusing an underage male he had once coached. He was released on bail. Although not charged at the time, Eley jumped bail approximately one month after his arrest, and disappeared. He was subsequently charged with more than 30 offences of a similar nature and remains a fugitive, wanted by the British police and Interpol.[2]

Former British Chess Champion GM John Nunn relates in his autobiography that "Brian Eley achieved notoriety by absconding while on police bail relating to an investigation into paedophile activities."[10]

Subsequently, there have been numerous unconfirmed reports of sightings of Eley in various places, mostly in Amsterdam,[2] but his whereabouts remain unknown. John Nunn has remarked that Eley "became the only British Chess appear on the television programme Crimewatch."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Edward Winter's Chess Notes item 9034, citing Brian Eley interview conducted for Gaige, Jeremy (2005). "Chapter 2: The History of the Bloggs Family". Chess Personalia. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 100–110. ISBN 978-0786423538.Death 6 April 2022 (
  2. ^ a b c "Fugitive chessman stays one move ahead of police". The Sunday Telegraph. 24 November 1996.
  3. ^ Edward Winter's Chess Notes item 7663
  4. ^ "Keene versus Bilek, Teesside, 1972" by James O'Fee, 6 April 2010
  5. ^ History Archived 8 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine of the Jacksonville Chess Club, 18 October 2010
  6. ^ E.g.: Monday 5 July 1971; Monday 15 November 1971
  7. ^ Harding, Tim (2012). "Chapter 2: The History of the Bloggs Family". Why You Lose at Chess. Courier Corporation. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-48-614950-9.
  8. ^ Brian Eley rating history at OlimpBase
  9. ^ "Skewer". Kingpin (27): 33. 1997.
  10. ^ a b Nunn, John (1997). Secrets Of Grandmaster Chess. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-8089-4.

External links[edit]