Robert G. Wade dies at 87

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Bob WadeBob Wade, International Master, arbiter, journalist, coach, organiser, writer, archivist and foremost, chess lover, died this morning from pneumonia. He had been in the Elisabeth Hospital in Woolwich for three days for complications from a common cold. Wade was 87 years old.

Robert Graham Wade was born April 10, 1921 in Dunedin, New Zealand. He was New Zealand champion three times, British champion twice, and played in seven Chess Olympiads and one Interzonal tournament. Wade held the titles of International Master and International Arbiter.

After winning the New Zealand Chess Championship in 1944, 1945 and 1948, he travelled to Europe to further his chess career. Wade played in the British Chess Championship at Nottingham 1946 and in subsequent years he played in many strong international events. His best result was an excellent shared 5-7th place in a powerful field at Venice 1950 with 8.5/15, which was won by Alexander Kotov. This earned Wade the International Master title, in the same year he settled in England.

Wade was British Champion in 1952 (at Chester, with 8/11), and 1970 (at Coventry, with 8/11). He went on to represent his adopted country in six Chess Olympiads, and his country of birth on one occasion.

Still an active player in his 80s, Bob Wade was still able to play at a high level, as evidenced by his 2006 draw against Grandmaster Murray Chandler in the Queenstown Chess International, where he scored 6/10 with only one loss. Unfortuantely in his last tournament, the Staunton Memorial in August this year, he lost all of his 11 games.

But as Mark Crowther writes, "it is not really in his playing results however that his influence lies. (...) Bob was a hugely influential chess coach in the UK. He taught many of our Grandmasters in their formative years, or helped them with study materials, but he also just taught chess to anyone who was interested and without regard for their potential (Steve Davis the snooker player knew him well having been taught the game as a teenager by him). Without him I don't believe England would have produced so many strong players as it did in the late 1970s and early 1980s."

Personally I will always remember the name of Wade for the 1972 Batsford book The Games of Robert J. Fischer, co-edited by Kevin J. O'Connell ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú the first serious chess book I got my hands on and the reason that Fischer is still the only world champion whose games I've all seen at least once. Before the Reykjavik match, Wade famously made a collection of Spassky's games and gave it to Fischer ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú an honourable job he repeated after Fischer asked him again in 1992.

Wade earned the title of International Arbiter in 1958, and made much of his living from directing events. He was awarded an OBE for services to chess in 1979. He was also made an 'Honorary Member' of FIDE.

Wade won't be easily forgotten, if only for the enormous chess library he leaves behind, which includes books, magazines and many original bulletins from tournaments. In the days before computer databases the Wade library was often used by British and foreign players in preparation for matches.

Here's a collection of games by Wade throughout his career:



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