I got a message recently from a parent looking for a book called Coffeehouse Chess Tactics, a book I have never heard of. I love books so I got to digging, and the book was interesting and when I get my copy I might do a review, but what found more interesting was the author.
John Healy is an Irish writer and former tournament chess player.
He was born in England in 1943 to Irish immigrant parents in London. Leaving school at the age of 14, he spent his formative years in the army, where he had a successful boxing career. Dishonourably discharged for drunkenness and going absent without leave, Healy began a downward spiral that brought him into the subculture of London's homeless street drinkers. He spent fifteen years as a homeless alcoholic and was convicted of many petty crimes during this time.
During one of his prison stretches he learned the game of chess from a fellow cellmate, Harry 'the Fox'. Finding that he had a special aptitude for the game, he decided to give up drinking and with the help of his Probation Officer, Clive Soley he made his first moves back into normal life. He has remained sober since.
His chess career continued for ten years and despite the ravages of his years spent on the streets he became a highly rated player, capable of conducting several games concurrently.
In 2010, his booklet "Coffeehouse chess tactics" was published by the well-known chess publishing house New in Chess.
So I can’t wait for my copy to get here and see what Mr Healy can teach us.