CHU Van Que also known as Van Chow
National Table Tennis Player of England and Vietnam
1.10.1944 – 23.6.2018
Born in Guangdong, China, Chow was the middle of 5 boys in the family. He left
home at 14 for Vietnam due to famine and in the same year he started playing table
tennis. His talent was soon spotted and he was selected for training for the National
Table Tennis Team. He was then sent to China for further training, where he played
with some of the world’s top players including the world number one, Zhuang Zedong.
At the peak of his career he had a world ranking of 40.
In 1973, he met his wife to be, Thanh. They married in the same year and had three
children. In the 1970s, they were made refugees and fled to Hong Kong. By the late
1970s, they were accepted to live in Britain and were housed in Newcastle Upon Tyne,
North East England. In an interview with a local councillor he was asked about his
skills and talents. His reply was simply ‘I am a professional table tennis player.’ He
was sent to watch some top players in action and was surprised with the standard of
playing. He was then offered a job as the county coach on the condition that he excelled in competitions – of which he did. In November 1980 he became the first unseeded
player from Northumberland to win a major table tennis tournament. Chow secured
the men’s singles title in the famous Colgate North of England tournament. He made
the front cover of ‘Table Tennis News,’ the official Table Tennis Journal in November
1980 and was nicknamed the ‘Vietnamese Geordie’ – but in fact he was actually ethnic
Like many Chinese players from the 1960s, Chow played with the traditional Penhold
with a short pimple rubber. He custom made his own bat for greater strength and
speed. He would charge on every shot with great precision and dazzling foot work.
His passion for the sport never ceased and he continued training throughout his life to
maintain his fitness. Even at the age of 68, he was a regular at the Central London
Table Tennis League and was unbeaten. His skill spoke louder than words and he was
well respected amongst players of all ages. At the age of 70, he still had fast reflexes
and coordination and vigorously practised with players like Tin Tin Ho (a
Commonwealth silver medallist). In 2015 at Morpeth Table Tennis Club, he met up
with an old teammate, Desmond Douglas MBE, where club members had the pleasure
of watching the two renowned veterans in action.
Chow was taken ill in November 2017 and sadly passed away in Hammersmith
Hospital, West London on 23rd June 2018. He is survived by his wife, two daughters
and a son, as well as three grandchildren. He often spoke of his family with great
fondness, and like table tennis, they held a special place in his heart.