At 2:25 p.m. on Saturday 12th January 2002 I was chatting with Robert Mucci in his secondhand shop in Hastings. I congratulated him on his wife’s pregnancy. He said the baby was due on the 19th March, the day after my own birthday.
I then spotted some old chess medals of mine in a pile of assorted bric-a-brac. He had bought them from me years earlier and clearly not yet sold them. I joked that there were some things which it was hard to shift at any price. I then mentioned that I had since acquired another such medal through winning a pub tournament the previous week.
But my son liked it and so it would not be up for sale.
As I said so a man older than myself walked into the shop and handled the medal to which I had been pointing. I turned to leave, mentioning to the newcomer that it had been mine.
He looked at me and said "We have played".
He put it down and left the shop with me, explaining that his name was Scholes. I asked if he played for Manchester United, the joke being that England international Paul Scholes played for them.
He said that he did have a son called Paul.
Mr Scholes remarked to his wife "This is a Grandmaster."
They lived in Tunbridge Wells, about thirty-five kilometres away, and only came to Hastings to buy fish.
He had a British chess rating of 197, i.e. a Candidate Master, and I, apparently, had beaten him some years before in a weekend tournament in Hastings. I failed to recognise him.
He said that he had thrice been British universities champion.
At his peak his rating had been 219, i.e. a de facto Master, and he had then been ranked ninth in the country.
Then he had decided not to pursue it professionally.