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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Robert G. Wade

     Robert Graham Wade (10 April 1921 Dunedin, New Zealand – 29 November 2008, London), was a New Zealand and British player who was not only a professional player but also a prolific writer, editor and researcher as well an administrator, arbiter and coach. For many years he was Britain's only chess professional and he won the British Championship in 1952 and 1970. He was New Zealand champion three times and played in seven Chess Olympiads. He represented England in six Olympiads between 1954 and 1972. In 1970 he withdrew from the team in favor of younger players and represented New Zealand instead. He also played in one Interzonal tournament. Wade held the titles of International Master and International Arbiter. 
     Wade learned chess at the age of eight from his father, a farmer, but did not take the game seriously until high school when he was awarded membership of the Athenaeum Institute, Dunedin, where chess was played and chess books available. He developed his skills from materials in the local library such as the British Chess Magazine and works by Australian champion Cecil Purdy. 
     After leaving school, Wade entered the civil service and he rapidly climbed the chess ranks winning the New Zealand Championship in 1944. His second victory the following year resulted in an invitation to the British Championship of 1946. At the time of the event, Wade's leg was in a cast owing to an inflammation of his knee and he played poorly; but after recovering he took the opportunity to travel to a master tournament in Barcelona where he had limited success, but it was a valuable experience.
     Shortly after that on his way back to New Zealand, Wade, traveling by Greyhound bus, toured the United States and Canada, playing in a number of tournaments. When he arrived back in New Zealand, having sailed from San Francisco, he found that his civil service job had been taken during his extended absence. He remained in New Zealand long enough to win his third New Zealand championship in 1947 before returning to England where he finally settled. He soon became the country's most active player. In 1950 he was awarded the title of International Master. He became an important presence in FIDE and was a member of the committee that drew up the first official laws of the game in 1949. 
Wade in 1953

     Although he crossed swords with the Soviets over his support for players who had fallen out of favor with the Communist authorities, Wade was still invited to officiate in Moscow at the world title match in 1951 between Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein. 
     The requirements for the Grandmaster title were far more stringent in his active playing days than they are today and when FIDE offered him the title of honorary Grandmaster, Wade, a modest and unassuming man, refused to accept it. Although he never finished highly in any major international event, Wade took some notable scalps during his career, including the world title contenders Viktor Korchnoi, Pal Benko, Lajos Portisch and the East German champion Wolfgang Uhlmann. Uhlmann was the world's leading expert in the French Defence, but lost in his favorite opening when he met Wade at Skopje in 1968. His best international results were 2nd at Arbon 1949 behind Ludek Pachman and a shared 5–7th place in a powerful field at Venice 1950 with 8.5 – 6.5 which is where he earned the IM title. In 1950 he was good enough to draw a match at 5 – 5 with Lothar Schmid.
     Wade also drew with Bobby Fischer at the Havana tournament in 1965 in a game played by telex. On this occasion he analyzed the position at adjournment and then went to bed. He awoke the next morning to find everyone was declaring his position hopeless, but his excellent defense held the draw. 
     Wade accumulated a vast chess library and in the pre-computer age his advice was sought by many prominent players. He possessed the most comprehensive collection of Soviet chess literature in the West and secretly helped prepare Fischer for his match against Spassky in 1972. He also assisted Fischer in his rematch against Spassky 20 years later. 
     New standards in chess publishing were established by Wade, particularly in the field of opening theory, during his editorship of the Batsford series of chess books in the 1970s and 1980s. He also wrote numerous classic tournament books and opening manuals that helped raise the level of play of a generation of British players. For players who were going to compete abroad or represent England, a visit to his home in Blackheath was almost mandatory. He had so many visitors that it was necessary to make an appointment well in advance. Upon arrival, there was always tea and he gave his assistance with enthusiasm and free of charge. The only stipulation was that the visitor had to tolerate Wade's cats.
     Wade was influenced by the success of Soviet training methods, some of which he introduced to Britain...see the excerpt by the U.S. Army underneath the game for some interesting insight on the Soviet training methods. He gave lectures and simultaneous exhibitions and played many training matches. Wade deserves much of the credit for the success of a generation of fine English grandmasters in the 1970s and 1980s. 
     He remained an active player in his late eighties and returned to New Zealand for the Queenstown Open in 2006, where he scored 6 - 4 and drew with the winner, GM Murray Chandler. His last major event was the Staunton Memorial in London in July 2008, where he was badly outrated (he needed only a single draw to increase his Elo rating!) and lost all eleven games.
     In 1979 he was appointed OBE. He was later appointed chief coach to the British Chess Federation. Wade never married and was taken to the queen Elisabeth Hospital in Woolwich on Wednesday morning with severe pneumonia. He died on Saturday November 29, 2008 at 3:00 am.
     In the following game he alertly takes advantage of a mistake by Benko who was at the height of his game at the time.

     Researchers at the U.S Army Research Institute studied Soviet chess training and saw a parallel between the problem of training battlefield commanders to think adaptively in tactical situations and that of training chess grandmasters. 
     They analyzed the Soviet training manuals to understand their methods. The difference between the Soviet methods and traditional chess instruction is, in a sense, the difference between education and training. The rest of the world studied the game of chess, its strategies and tactics, and tried to understand why one move was better than another. As students studied the game, they acquired knowledge about chess and understanding of its principles. They educated themselves about the game of chess. The Soviets did that as well, but also studied the human processes of finding good moves and avoiding errors, of searching and evaluating chess positions, and of controlling emotion and fighting a psychological battle with one's opponent. The Soviets described principles of expert play that reflected the thought patterns of grandmasters. While many of these expert principles were familiar to the rest of the world, the Soviet trainers went one critical step further. 
     They created exercises that trained these principles, ingraining them in their students. After sufficient training, the Soviet students employed the expert thought patterns not simply because they understood the principles nor because they were consciously directing their thinking by using expert patterns as a checklist. The cognitive behaviors had become automatic. As a result of the exercises, the students followed the principles without thinking about them, freeing their limited conscious resources to focus on the novel aspects of the contest and to think more deeply and creatively at the board. The Soviet chess trainers in essence treated the thinking that the player does during a game as a behavior – something a player does with chess knowledge itself – and then developed exercises to train that thinking performance to conform to that of an expert. 
     The U.S. Army called this process “adaptive thinking” and when an officer who is confronted by unanticipated circumstances during the execution of a planned military operation, he would be able to make adjustments to either exploit the advantage or minimize the harm of the unanticipated event...in short, he would be able to adapt to conditions for a more successful outcome.

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