James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

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Geoff Chandler
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James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Geoff Chandler » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:58 pm

...you will not be hearing from me for many many months.

I have undertaken the enjoyable task of entering the Aitken score books (all 45 of them)

Mr Aitken has numbered the books and has three other notebooks with an index to the games.

Just glancing through book One (starts 1931) I see simuls v Mir Sultan Khan and Sir George Thomas.

Sometimes he adds wee notes at the end of games, in Book 5 after a game v Mieses, Bournemouth, 25th August, 1939

"This is the last game I played before the outbreak of the war and the last tournament for many months."

There is a game, dated 20/12/1941 from 'Bletchley' in this book, Opponent is H.Golombek (H.G. wins)
(might not be able to use that one due to the Official Secrets Act.)

See you in 2022!

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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:45 pm

"I have undertaken the enjoyable task of entering the Aitken score books (all 45 of them)"

Wow - that will take a while. I did a score book of GPS Coy's and a one for a couple of Redhill members (Fred Andrews and David Hooper) and it does take time, especially if you suddenly get absorbed in actually looking at the games. You tell yourself, "I will look at the scorebook, move the mouse, get the player and event details right, I will not start analysing the games." Five moves later...

I played Aitken at the Guernsey Lightning (10 seconds a move) event a few weeks before he died. Having lost, I commented that I was hoping to draw the opposite colour bishop ending. He chuckled and said, "Were you now?" It still makes me smile.

Good luck.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Alex McFarlane » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:29 pm

Geoff,

For your sanity (if not already too late), I hope the games were transcribed into the books.
Jim was a nightmare to games inputters when reading his congress scoresheets. They also tended to be quite long.

Geoff Chandler
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Geoff Chandler » Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:58 pm

Hi Kevin,

Good memory that one.

I've entered 1000's of PGN's I use to volunteer to do it as it was the only way I could get games for blogs/columns.
It's like squeezing blood from a stone getting games from players. Especially when they knew what I'd to it and their reputations.

I retire soon so this will give me something to do and hopefully keep my out of mischief winding people up.

I'm doing the books in batches of five (approx 250 games) - then have a week off.
(during which I'll come back here and wind people up.)
I already have a lot of Aitken games so a wee bit of work is done already.

I will get wrapped up in a game, I won't be able to help it. Game 6 (Book 1) is a simul v Sir George Thomas (Oxford, 1931)
It ends, according to a note added at the bottom of the score in a perpetual. Cannot wait to dive into that one.

(Hi Alex) The handwriting is clear (possibly copied in from the original) he writes 'castles'.
I have a well established routine for entering PGN's. It's something I really enjoy doing.
Me in my private study, background music will be The Shadows and I'll love every minute of it!

And...coming back from the club with the first batch of 5 books I thought up a chess joke to kick off my next column.

A Rook on the 7th!

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:06 pm

Remember seeing him play in the Seniors event at the 1983 British championships. He died not long after.

What was his final game, in these books anyway?
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Geoff Chandler
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Geoff Chandler » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:19 pm

Hi Matt,

Only have books 1-5. Doing it slowly in parts.
Did notice last games were in book 45 and dated 1983.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:31 pm

"What was his final game, in these books anyway?"

He played at Guernsey in October and I believe the last round was 22/10/83, and he died 3/12/83 so it might have been his last game... He lost to SJ Shutler (whatever happened to him?) I don't have the game on Chessbase.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Alex McFarlane » Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:40 pm

I really will need to learn to read beyond the first few words.

I missed the Aitken when I read this. Jim Macrae was definitely a different player altogether.

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John Saunders
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by John Saunders » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:14 pm

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:58 pm
I've entered 1000's of PGN's I use to volunteer to do it as it was the only way I could get games for blogs/columns.
It's like squeezing blood from a stone getting games from players.
I could have written every word of that myself. You're so right; the one shining exception in my experience being Murray Chandler who accepted my offer to input his UK-based games immediately and was as good as his word, delivering them in daily batches from the other side of the world.

This is really good news and I look forward to seeing the games when the job's done. Where are they going to be published? I would be delighted to house them on BritBase but I guess Edinburgh CC will have the honour of hosting them in the first instance.

Hopefully Dr Aitken was careful to date games and record names of opponents and events. Surprisingly not all strong players trouble to do this, and some of them simply discard scoresheets after playing a game.

Finally, Geoff, I should like to save five minutes of your life by sending you my one and only game vs Dr Aitken. It's not very interesting so don't bother playing through it, just put it in the file. I wonder if Dr. Aitken used to write textual comments in his scorebooks... "played a spotty, long-haired teenager who played very boring chess". If he did, are you going to transcribe the comments? Joking apart, he seemed an extremely nice old gent to me and we spent a very pleasant hour or so going through the game and chatting about chess in general. The game was nothing special but the post mortem is a happy memory.

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Michael Yeo
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Michael Yeo » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:33 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 5:31 pm
"What was his final game, in these books anyway?"

He played at Guernsey in October and I believe the last round was 22/10/83, and he died 3/12/83 so it might have been his last game... He lost to SJ Shutler (whatever happened to him?) I don't have the game on Chessbase.
Since you ask: http://mail.wimbornechessclub.org.uk/ar ... _news.html
From which: Friday June 27th
Very sad news received that local player Steve Shutler has passed away. His funeral will be held at Twynham Chapel, 99 Barrack Road, Christchurch at 11am on Tuesday July 1st. Although Steve could only put in an occasional appearance for Southbourne in recent years, he was one of the strongest players the area has seen over the last couple of decades, and led the Merck team to league title success in the 90s. I personally have fond memories of playing both with him for Merck and against him.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:43 pm

"Very sad news received that local player Steve Shutler has passed away"

Not the answer I wanted... Sorry to hear that.

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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Tim Harding » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:48 pm

In my databases (not counting ChessBase dbs) I have four Aitken games, of which you probably have the two versus Bondarevsky from the 1946 radio match.

Perhaps you don't have the next two (or at least not yet input)?
The first I found in Chess, 14 Mar. 1939, p. 260, which said it was taken from the Glasgow Herald. The future Scottish
international Aitken (was he yet a doctor?) playing against the editor of its column. On
page 312, Chess said the GH was conducting a postal team tournament in
Scotland: 14 teams of 12 players each.



The other is my only game against Dr. Aitken, warts and all.
This is just my contemporary notes on a scoresheet long ago which was copied to my db without checking the comments.

Tim Harding
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Geoff Chandler
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Geoff Chandler » Sat Oct 24, 2020 3:47 pm

Hi Guys,

Thank You! I only have the first five books. I do suspect they are in later books, but it will save me entering them.
I start on Monday 26th Oct. then go and get another five books.

(I think they think if I have all 45 books at once I'll leave them on a bus like I did the
Morphy score book containing his games v Staunton. They still go on about this! )

I already have 144 from chessgames which again will save me entering them in.

The slightly annoying thing about chessgames.com is they have the games in first name format.
When you get the PGN it reads like this:

[White "James Macrae Aitken"]
[Black "Savielly Tartakower"]

When the accepted format everywhere else is surname first [Aitken, James Macrae] (and a comma)

The first time I used a PGN from there and added to my main D.B. I could not find the new ones.
To find say the new added Carlsen games you have to enter 'Magnus' and then you will pick up everyone called 'Magnus.'

I have PGN editing tools, 'EditPadLite' I find is invaluable, it can hold hundreds of thousands of PGN's, I once had 900,000 in there.
That will allow me to correct this. Although there is no comma as a separator.
I can alway use Excel (the bane of track and trace) and run a cut/paste/add and swap things about a bit macro.
(this routine probably has a technical name but 'cut/paste/add and swap things about a bit' sound OK.)

Thanks Again Lads. Really appreciated.

Paul Habershon
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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Paul Habershon » Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:45 am

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Fri Oct 23, 2020 2:58 pm

I'm doing the books in batches of five (approx 250 games) - then have a week off.
(during which I'll come back here and wind people up.)
I already have a lot of Aitken games so a wee bit of work is done already.

The handwriting is clear (possibly copied in from the original) he writes 'castles'.
I have a well established routine for entering PGN's. It's something I really enjoy doing.
Me in my private study, background music will be The Shadows and I'll love every minute of it!
Looking at the Shadows back catalogue of singles I find only 'Foot Tapper' as reminiscent of an (annoying) chess player. At least, Geoff, you will consider yourself working in a 'Wonderful Land' (and, yes, I lived for a couple of years in Dunfermline in the 1950s).

I still copy games into scorebooks and I was surprised when a British grandmaster told me he still does the same. As I get lazier I sometimes fall months behind with the task, but I have so far always managed to catch up. I am on my 56th book of 50 games, but Dr Aitken with 45 probably had fewer tournament opportunities in his career. I have no doubt that my output is easily dwarfed by many players. I have played league and county chess throughout but have not been to many weekend congresses. Although no poor sod will have the job of transposing my games to a database, I still wonder if I should give instructions about the scorebooks to my children when they have to clear my house. Bury them with me? Straight into the orange bin? I have four grandchildren so far (all girls), none likely to take up the game or show the slightest interest in their grandfather's esoteric exploits. Perhaps the books are destined to travel from loft to loft for hundreds of years.

Anyway, here is another Aitken game for you to crosscheck when you reach it. I would be interested to know if he wrote any comments, but in my opinion the game was unremarkable - no violent swings or crass blunders. I didn't note the match result or board number, possibly Board 4. Cheltenham had those Bletchley guys, of course.


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Re: James Macrae Aitken and the good news is...

Post by Geoff Chandler » Sun Oct 25, 2020 3:57 pm

Hi Paul,

Thank You.

I am copying these games and will of course use them. (thanks all)
I will let you know if there are any comments.

In John's game 1971 game Mr Aitken has written:

First of all he tried to catch me in the Noah's Ark Trap. (White did not play 8.Qxd4)



After the game I bought us cups of tea and two doughnuts, he ate both doughnuts!
When he left I noticed he had run off with my pen. ( :wink: )

Has to be the Shads or the Ventures or the Spotnicks etc.. instrumentals only.
Anything with lyrics and I'll get distracted by singing along or deciding they could have picked a better line.
('I hope my legs don't break...walking on the Moon.' by Sting still brings me out in a rash.)

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