By Neil Morley
Roland Bolton was not so much born but rather fashioned out of a strange composite material, hard on the outside but like a chocolate, soft in the centre. That is, until you got to know him, when you found out that he had a heart of gold and was full of compassion and would give you his last brass farthing.
Roland was born on 2nd January 1942, and had an older brother, Donald and a sister, Marion, who both survive him. His sister has related to me that he was a ‘naughty boy’ when young and this was at odds with him being an altar boy and server in his local church. I also understand that he had contemplated going into the church.
I first met Roland when I was invited to Brighton as a trainee TD in the early ’80s, and worked with him on the then manually scored Swiss Pairs and Swiss Teams events. I vividly remember watching him merge the Swiss Teams assignment cards with such skill, speed, dexterity and accuracy that I was envious of all his accomplishments. It was from him that I learned many of the ‘tricks of the trade’ which made life as a Tournament Director that much easier.
Roland appears to have been around as a TD for ever. There cannot have been an event over the years in the EBU Programme that he has not directed. Surrey was fortunate to have had him as their Chief TD for countless years until he retired in 2010. Every event was meticulously organised ensuring that all the equipment arrived, the TDs turned up and then he would stay to play. All the budgeting was prepared in advance with a degree of detail that was exemplary. There is no doubt we shall not see his like again.
Myriads of players around the country and friends all over the world will miss his kindly disposition, smiles and friendly greetings. And would often be greeted with the invitation, “Let’s go and have a drink.”
In the last few years, since my wife, Win, and I moved to Surrey, I got to know Roland even better not only working with him as a Tournament Director but also as a friend and occasional bridge partner. He used to approach fellow players with the fateful sentence: “You hold . . .” After which he would regale them with a bridge hand where his partner, often me, had not done what he thought was the right thing. There was never any malice in this; he was just passionate about the game he loved and which over many decades had given him so much enjoyment.
Roland was married for a period in the ’80s but, unfortunately, this was not to last. In his working life as a process chemist with the Borax company latterly based in Guildford, he travelled the world extensively, not only solving process problems on manufacturing plants in a myriad of countries but also planning and project managing the construction of new, more efficient, plants in places as diverse as Manchester, Japan, South America and California.
He enjoyed travelling and continued to do so extensively after he retired. Not only did he return to countries to which he had travelled on business to visit friends that he had made while working but it is also a testament to him that he continued to travel to new places even after he was aware that he was unwell.
He was optimistic right up until the end continuing to plan projects in his apartment and also what he was going to do and where he was going to go when he recovered.
Everybody who knew him will be saddened by his passing. He lived respected and has died regretted.