When the news of Bob Artner’s passing was announced to us here at TechRepublic, we were all shocked.  Bob was an ever present force at this company. He put his fingerprint on just about everything on the site. He affected both employees and TechRepublic members.

I’ve known Bob for almost 9 years, originally working with him at The Cobb Group. We never worked closely really until I came to TechRepublic. Two years ago, at the company Christmas party, I was engaged in a game of chess with a co-worker, Jim Wells.  Bob walked into the room we were playing in and announced “I got the Winner.”   Not wanting to face Bob, I promptly resigned the game, but Jim would have none of it. I eventually beat Jim and had to face Bob.

I had never played Bob before. I didn’t even know that he did play nor how well. They say you’re never supposed to Beat The Boss, but Bob would see right through me throwing a game even if he didn’t play well. So I was conflicted. We played. After a very tough game, I won. I shouldn’t have worried about having to throw the game. He came quite near to beating me clean.

We talked about the game for a few minutes and then rejoined the rest of our co-workers. Everyone wanted to know the outcome. I sheepishly smiled.  Bob announced loudly with a big grin: “You all remember John Sheesley who used to work here, right?”

From then, we played almost weekly.  In the beginning it was back and forth. We’d split 50-50 on the games. Often times it came down to who made a mistake first. You could never make a mistake against Bob in a chess game. You would pay very quickly.

Bob thought every move out carefully. You could see him build intricate attacks and strategies. I knew never to take a trade he offered, because he never traded unless he clearly came out ahead in the end. My game is usually very Tactical. His was almost always deeply Strategic.

Bob was always magnanimous in victory and never scornful in defeat. Every game ended the same way. In victory or defeat, he sat back, crossed his arms, and had the satisfied smile of a connoisseur who had just finished a fine wine. He said simply, “That was fun. Thanks.”

We hadn’t had the opportunity to play a couple of months. With vacations, busy summers, and company business, the matches just weren’t happening.  Earlier this week, I saw Bob talking to my co-worker Erik Eckel. I thought to myself: “I need to email Bob and get a game in this week.” The next day, we got the news of his passing.

In the end, what can I say? Bob was a great leader. Bob was a great friend.

That was fun. Thanks.