Gawain Jones wins Bob Wade Memorial in New Zealand

by Edwin Lam
4/22/2021 – While over-the-board chess is at best only gradually making its way back in most parts of the world, due to the still raging Covid-19 pandemic, chess life in New Zealand has normalised quite a bit in the past few months. This allowed New Zealanders to organise a tournament to celebrate the 100th birthday of the International Master and author Bob Wade, who was born on April 10, 1921, in Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand. British GM Gawain Jones (pictured) won the memorial. | Photo: Lennart Ootes (Archive)

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Bob Wade Memorial

Amongst the many OTB events in the Land of the Aotearoa (or, the Land of the Long White Cloud) is the Bob Wade Memorial, which took place earlier this month on the 10. of April 2021. Held in memoriam of International Master (IM) Robert G. Wade (1921-2008), the one-day rapid play event was organised by the Howick-Pakuranga Chess Club and it consisted of two sections – the Open and U1800 categories.

Bob Wade Memorial in Auckland on the 10th of April 2021 | Photo: Edwin Lam

Bob Wade (1921-2008): The Author and Chess Player

The late IM Robert Wade, or more affectionately known as Bob Wade, was born on 10th April 1921 in Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand. I had first heard of Bob’s name when I bought the following books, Garry Kasparov’s Fighting Chess and Batsford Chess Endings, back in the 1990s. Both books were co-authored by Bob and I had read that Bob was twice winner of the British Championships and had represented both England and New Zealand in the Chess Olympiads.

Bob Wade co-authored these two chess classics | Photo: Edwin Lam

Being naturally interested in history as a teen, I further read up about Bob when I bought An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess by Edward R. Brace in the mid-90s. In it, I read that Bob was first made International Master in 1950 and then International Judge in 1958. He was a three-time New Zealand champion before his move to the Northern hemisphere, where he’d won another two British Championships in 1952 and 1970. He then competed in the Chess Olympiads of 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962 and 1972 as part of the English contingent. 

A nice A-to-Z chess dictionary by Edward Brace. I learnt a lot about chess history in the pre-internet and Google era | Photo: Edwin Lam

As nicely documented by English GM, Stuart Conquest, in his recent article in the Gibraltar Chronicle (Click here), Bob learnt chess from his dad at a very young age, but the interest did not fully take root until when he was fifteen years of age. In the next few years, his interest in the game began to firm up. During that time, he won two of his three New Zealand Championships. At the age of twenty-four, he was invited to compete in the Australian Championships. In this international debut of his, Bob finished second. Soon, he was invited to play in the 1946 British Championships.

Bob Wade | Photo: British Chess News

Bob’s participation in his inaugural British Championships turned out to be a tough one – highlighting the higher standards of the game in Europe. He soon learnt in another event in Spain that the gulf was even larger. As a young adult in his mid-twenties, Bob surely had to make a decision of whether to remain in New Zealand or to relocate to Europe in an effort to develop a career in chess.

A big decision, indeed and in 1948, Bob finally moved to England and the rest was history as he became a chess player, writer and editor – inspiring, guiding and nurturing many later generations of chess players via either direct contacts as well as through his writings.

Celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of a true, blue Kiwi

Despite the physical move to England, Bob was always a true, blue Kiwi. Hence, on the 10th of April 2021, the Howick-Pakuranga Chess Club organised the 6-round Bob Wade Memorial tournament. With a 25 min + 5 sec time control, the tournament featured a star attraction in the form of English GM, Gawain Jones.

A total of 88 players competed across both the Open and U1800 sections. GM Gawain Jones expectedly emerged winner of the Open section with a score of 5.5/6. His sole draw came in round 4 against FM Michael Steadman of New Zealand. FM Steadman finished in second place behind GM Jones with 5 points. FM Alphaeus Ang and Felix Xie came equal third with 4.5/6. In the U1800 event, Zachary Yu emerged champion with 5.5/6. Four other players – Louis Lim, Euan McDougall, Hunter Po’e-Tofaeono and Anderson Chen – tied for equal second with 5/6.

GM Jones posing with his plaque, together with GM Murray Chandler (former President of the New Zealand Chess Federation) | Photo: Edwin Lam

All-in-all, it was a memorable occasion for locals and foreign players from England, the United States and the Philippines to come together to celebrate the Kiwi chess icon on the day of his 100th birth anniversary.

Winner of the Bob Wade Memorial, GM Jones, with CM Paul Spiller (President of the Oceania Chess Confederation) | Photo: Edwin Lam


Chess legend Bob Wade dies at 87

Edwin Lam Choong Wai is a Malaysian chess player and author. He was previously attached to Procter & Gamble doing local, regional and global marketing roles, before joining Pfizer, Essilor and Yeo’s in both Malaysia and Singapore. He had also previously been attached to The Purpose Group, a creative and digital marketing agency in Ho Chi Minh City. He is now based in Malaysia having started an education venture known as My SKOLA+ ( since end-2017.


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