A review of Bob Wade: Tribute to a Chess Master

Reviewed by Paul Kane

Bob Wade: Tribute to a Chess Master
Compiled and edited by Ray Cannon
Introduction by Raymond Keene
Impala Publications, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-9555355-2-9, £20.00

Bob Wade’s long and distinguished chess career has spanned over half a century. A native New Zealander, born in 1921, he moved to the UK shortly after the Second World War. Once there, he soon made his mark, earning the International Master title in 1950. He won the British Championship at Chester in 1952 and again, some 18 years later, at Coventry in 1970. (Incidentally, is this the longest gap between winning any two British Championships?) He has represented England at six Chess Olympiads, done much to promote and publicize the game in his adopted country, and been involved both in coaching and chess publishing. One remembers here, in particular, Batsford’s books on contemporary chess openings that had Wade as series editor or author, beginning with The Closed Ruy Lopez.  In 1979, he was awarded an OBE for services to chess. Now in his 80s, Bob Wade is still going strong as a player.

Bob Wade: Tribute to a Chess Master is, first and foremost, a games collection. It collects together just under 250 of Bob Wade’s games, played between 1945 and 2006. There are 27 or 28 (see below) annotated games, with about a third annotated by Wade himself (and included among this number is a hard-fought draw with Bobby Fischer). His comments are instructive and rather droll at times too. “This opening variation is recommended if one wants to have one’s pieces awkwardly placed”, he comments at one point (p.96). One game, a dramatic encounter with Korchnoi, is annotated twice (the reason for the “27 or 28” above) and the second time around Wade even gives it a title: “Anatomy of Murder”. He goes on to explain:

The title of this game comes from the American thriller Anatomy of Murder by Robert Traver. The night before – after my midnight stroll along the Malecon – I sat up in bed reading this book and couldn’t put it down until I finished it at 5 a.m. As usual I got up for breakfast. (p.53)

One can well imagine the authors of all those improve-your-chess books, writers like Rowson, Dvoretsky and Yermolinsky, blanching at this tournament regimen!

There are 213 unannotated games, accompanied by a generous number of diagrams; at least 2 per game. Although he never became a grandmaster, these games, taken as a whole, show that Wade was a formidable player. He was alert to his opponent’s errors and had the tools necessary to exploit them: an efficient technique, sound positional judgement and a good eye for a combination. With the greater opportunities for play and competition of our day, he may well have achieved the highest international title. What is certain is that he had an appetite for chess, a desire to seek out strong competition and test himself against it. Here there are wins against Korchnoi, Furman (later to become Karpov’s coach), Robert Byrne, Penrose and Sax, and draws with Tartakower, Geller, Bronstein, Zaitsev and Fischer.

The games are the heart of this book, but there is also an introductory appreciation of Wade’s career by Raymond Keene and 15 tactical puzzles taken from his coaching work, with solutions to follow. One would have liked a fuller account of Wade’s tournament and match record, and perhaps an article on the Defence that bears his name (1.Nf3 d6 intending 2 … Bg4; there’s also the line in the Advanced French with … Qb6 and … Bd7-b5 that is associated with Wade too). But overall this is a fine tribute to a fine chess player, and a fine man too by all accounts.

Bob Wade: Tribute to a Chess Master can be ordered direct from the publisher:

Impala Publishing

86 Clapham Common

North Side

London

SW4 9SE

Or from major stockists such as Chess and Bridge (www.chesscenter.com) or the British Chess Magazine ( www.bcmchess.co.uk).

About the reviewer:Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at ludic@europe.com

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