Obituary - Robert Graham Wade, OBE (Order of the British Empire), International Master Print
Tuesday, 02 December 2008 08:31

Bob, the name which he was invariably called, was born in Dunedin, New Zealand 10 April 1921 and died Saturday 29 November 2008 in hospital in London. He succumbed to a respiratory infection after having been admitted to hospital on Wednesday. He was a chess life-force which flowed like a river for 60 years.

He was taught chess by his father, a farmer, but did not show much interest in the game until he went to high school, where he was awarded membership of the Athenaeum Institute where chess was part of the culture.

He first won the New Zealand Chess Championship in 1944. After his second victory in that event (his last was in 1948) he played in the 1946 British Championship, but did not shine. But that year started him on a world chess tour which only concluded last week. He won the British Championship in 1952, (having settled there after his second visit) and 1970. As virtually the only English professional, he had many opportunities to play against the World’s best. Particularly so in Communist countries and collected many noticeable scalps, including Korchnoi and Uhlmann.

He became involved with FIDE as early as 1949 at the early age of 28. Presumably this was because he was so widely travelled. He served under all the FIDE Presidents until 1994 and thus missed out on working with the current holder of the title, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. But his relationship with the founder President, Dr Alexander Rueb must have been brief, as he ceased to hold office in 1949. Bob was a
member of the committee that drew up the Official FIDE Laws of Chess in 1949 and remained interested in that subject throughout the next 55 years. FIDE introduced the grandmaster and international master titles in 1950 and Bob was a member of that committee. There was no way to quantify the awards at that time as the FIDE Rating System was not introduced until 1970. He was awarded the IM title in 1950, but that title was awarded by the General Assembly, not the committee. He chaired the Qualification Commission meeting at the FIDE Congress as recently as 1993. He officiated at several World Championship matches which were held in the Soviet Union.

He was a truly professional player who extensively researched the games of his opponents, but this did not become popular until much later. This meant that he needed access to chess literature, particularly games. Thus he built up a very large working chess library. This remains very strong in more arcane bulletins. He also himself wrote extensively on the game. His books include: The Games of Bobby Fischer (with Kevin O’Connell); Soviet Chess; World Championship 1951. I remember him telling me in the late 1960s he was coming to an agreement with a publisher to produce books on the openings in England. This was Batsfords and provides a lasting legacy of a stream of chess books in English.

Bob’s enjoyment of chess in all its aspects never flagged. He was always approachable and was never pompous. It is not so much that you do what you like; it is that you like what you do. Chess was his life – and it was a life well spent.

Our condolences to his brother and sister and to the vastly greater chess family.


Stewart Reuben 1.12.2008

Bob Wade: Tribute to a Chess Master, compiled and edited by Ray Cannon. for an interview conducted some years ago by John Saunders.

Tributes are flooding in:
Monday Daily Telegraph by Malcolm Pein.
Monday Guardian by Leonard Barden by Mark Crowther. for a large number of comments from all over the world.

David Jarrett, Chief Executive of FIDE and past President of the BCF, “I worked with Bob for many years. He could be scathing of bureaucracy, but he always gave everything to his projects, particularly those that related to training and young players. One of the true inspirations behind the rise of England as a chess nation.”

Mikko Markkula, Chairman of the FIDE Qualification Commission, “Bob was one of the people in chess I respect most. He knew everything about chess and was always willing to exchange thoughts about everything around chess. He had a great sense of humour. He was a great coach and probably he is one of the persons behind the unbelievable development in chess in England. England has lost a great person in chess.”

Jorge Vega, Continental President for Americas “With sad feeling we have received the news of Mr. Robert Wade’s passing away. Mr. Wade was a friend of the Latin Chess and always will be remembered for his friendly behaviour in the Capablanca Memorial Tournaments held in Cuba. Latin Chess has lost a real friend.”
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