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Henk J. Mostert

by Alan P. Borwell

Henk J. Mostert (1925-2002)


This has been a sad year with the loss of so many dedicated friends of ICCF, none more so than ICCF Honorary President, Mr. H. J. Mostert who died peacefully on 29th July 2002, in Haarlem, Netherlands.

Henk Mostert was born on 24th January 1925, in Rotterdam, and was fascinated by chess from an early age. His first reported success was when he won an OTB tournament in Eindhoven, aged 17, but he was already playing correspondence chess even at that time with the KNSB, the Royal Dutch Chess Federation.

After the War, he played in both national and international tournaments and, in 1946, he was participating on the 4th board for the Netherlands II team in the first CC Olympiad Final. Although scoring only 2½/6 pts, he contributed half of the total score of his team!

There was a period in the early 1950s when he must surely have been otherwise occupied (maybe family and business matters!), but he next appeared as a member of the new European CC Committee and began playing in the European Master Class groups. At that time, he was living in Alkmaar and was an important official of the local town chess club. He was TD of the European M-class events for 10 years and he played again in the 5th CC Olympiad. His last participation, as a regular CC player, was in the KNSB Championship in 1965/6, having moved to Haarlem.

He became involved with a group of enthusiasts, which led to the creation of the NBC, the Dutch Correspondence Chess Federation. The first NBC board in 1966, was comprised of Perfors, Zaagman, Smit, Sarink and Mostert

He discontinued playing and put his energy into developing NBC – and in 10 years, there were 1000 members and another 500 after a further 10 yrs.!

In 1966, Henk Mostert became the NBC’s delegate to ICCF and he began participating in its Congresses from 1967 in Krems. In that year, he was elected as one of the ICCF Vice Presidents, a position which he retained for 16 years, before gaining further promotion! He was the organiser of the first Ladies CC Olympiad starting in 1968. In 1971, he became TD of European Championships. During the next 10 years he was a very influential official of ICCF.

My first contact with Henk was at the ICCF Congress in London in 1981, when George Livie and I had meetings with H-W von Massow, Reg Gillman and Dr. Charles Hunter, about issues concerning the membership of countries in Great Britain. I soon realised Henk was a very influential figure, with great skills of debating and logical argument.

Over the next years, we became close friends, and spent many happy hours preparing the English versions of Congress Minutes etc. At the Peebles Congress, I remember working with his son Nick on the English version, whilst Herr von Massow and Henk prepared the German edition. Henk had a remarkable ability with words in many languages and it was invaluable for him and ICCF.

In the latter part of the 1980s, Henk and his wife Jopie visited us in our home and Moira and I were their guests in Haarlem. We enjoyed many hours of friendship in the late evenings of most Congresses, sharing a bottle of “scotch” or the Dutch equivalent of “genever”!

Jopie Mostert was a talented and artistic person – a good pianist and painter – we still have a painting, which she and Henk presented to us on one of their visits to Scotland. Some of us will remember her piano playing in Blomendaal in 1987 (along with David Heap (USA) who sadly died a few years ago).

We had a particularly happy time during the Bloemendaal Congress, at which Henk Mostert became the ICCF President in succession to H-W von Massow on his retirement in 1987.

Henk had been “groomed” for many years to succeed Hans-Werner but he was “his own man” and was a strong leader. There was to be no indication of the tragedy, which was to happen only a couple or so years later, with the sudden death of Jopie. She had been of great help and strength to Henk in his ICCF work – he was completely devastated.

Happily, he eventually met a new lady friend through his interest in bridge. He and Janny Tibboel came to visit us in Scotland, before she accompanied Henk to her first ICCF Congress in Finland in 1991. They travelled together regularly and Janny gave considerable support and happiness to Henk in his latter years.

During the 1990’s, Henk and I were very much involved in the planning and arrangements at ICCF Congresses, including menus for Banquets – I knew what he really liked, and did not like!

In 1992, we worked closely in designing new ICCF Statutes, along with members of the Presidents Commission, and we presented proposals to the 1993 Congress in Gdansk. There was a most unusual Closing Banquet and we had to use considerable persuasion to get Henk to even come –it was held in a forest, in the rain! He was traditional and rather fixed in his ideas about some things!

Henk was very particular about all Congress arrangements and he planned everything in the finest detail to ensure it progressed in an orderly and businesslike fashion. He was very well prepared for the unexpected and, as in earlier times, he sought to achieve unanimity. He also established good relationships with his closest colleagues, and these included Ing Paul Diaconescu and then Dr. Fritz Baumbach, as ICCF General Secretaries.

In 1994, Scotland hosted its second Congress in Perth. These were the early days of transition to other methods of playing CC. Henk, despite having some misgivings about the impact of the new technologies on correspondence chess, had been very instrumental in initiating experimental fax tournaments and he secured an excellent sponsorship, which included provision of fax machines, and also good prizes for the two tournaments.

He made a rare appearance in the ICCF versus Scotland match and had a really enjoyable game and much hilarity, with my very good friend, Ian Mitchell.

Of course, there were times when our relationship was tested, particularly in the latter years of his Presidency, but our friendship endured and we were able to communicate frankly with each other.

He was unsure about whether or not he should stand for re-election again in Norway in 1995 (being then 70 years old) but, eventually, he decided to do so and was re-elected unanimously.

However, at the opening of the Bad Neuenahr Congress in August 1996, he announced his intention to retire from the end of that year. Although he was petitioned to continue, he confirmed this intention. He was then elected as ICCF Honorary President, in recognition of his immense services to ICCF and the award was unanimously and warmly acclaimed.

Sadly, later in the same year, he suffered a crippling stroke and was to be confined to a nursing home for the rest of his life. I tried to visit him each year (sometimes with Moira), when we talked about our old times – his memory was excellent. When I visited him last November, he was rather cheerful and we enjoyed a glass of wine together – he seemed to be more at ease, despite his very limiting circumstances.

At Henk’s funeral, Janny Tibboel and the Mostert family appreciated that ICCF was represented, and the day was a fittingly dignified occasion for such a fine gentleman. GM Hans Bouwmeister spoke very sincerely about the enormous contribution which Mr. H. J.Mostert had made to Dutch and International CC.


Here is a nice game played by Henk, in an ICCF tournament in 1965


Saether,L – Mostert,H


EU/M/GT19, 1965




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