THIS column has been on a milestone birthday bent of late, what with Boris Spassky’s 75th and Yuri Averbakh turning 90 this week. But tomorrow, there’s another milestone event as we mark the 60th birthday of Scotland’s very own IM Roddy McKay. Despite the grandmaster successes of Paul Motwani, Colin McNab and Jonathan Rowson, Roddy is unquestionably Scotland’s most naturally gifted players of all time. He also holds the modern-day record for the most Scottish Championship titles, with seven to his name.
And as a junior in the late 1960s, Roddy was rightly recognised as being a force in the game worldwide. Before the finals of the 1969 World Junior Championship in Stockholm, he was singled out by eventual Russian winner Anatoly Karpov as being one of his chief rivals for the title.
Roddy should have been Scotland’s first grandmaster but instead – with a family life – he chose the route of enthusiastic amateur; though he did return to competitive international play in the 1980s and quickly gained his IM title. And during that return, he played one of the best games ever by a Scot when he faced the legendary Czech super-GM, multi-time Candidates qualifier and then world No 15 Vlastimil Hort during the 1982 Lucerne Olympiad. Hort’s face as Roddy uncorked the simply stunning 17 Bxg6! was, I am told, quite a picture.
R McKay - V Hort
Lucerne Olympiad, 1982
M1 e4 d6 2 d4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 h3 a6 6 Be3 0–0 7 Bd3 b5 8 a4 b4 9 Ne2 Bb7 10 Ng3 d5 11 e5 Ne4 12 0–0 c5 13 c3 Nxg3 14 fxg3 Nc6 15 Ng5 e6 16 Qg4 Qc7 17 Bxg6! fxg6 18 Qxe6+ Kh8 19 Rf7 Qc8 20 Rxf8+ Bxf8 21 Qf7 Bg7 22 Ne6 Qg8 23 Qxb7 Na5 24 Qxg7+ Qxg7 25 Nxg7 Kxg7 26 dxc5 Nc4 27 Bd4 b3 28 Rf1 Kh6 29 Rf7 Nxb2 30 Rb7 Nxa4 31 Be3+ g5 32 Rxb3 Rc8 33 g4 Rc6 34 Rb8 Kg6 35 c4 d4 36 Bxd4 Nxc5 37 Rg8+ Kf7 38 Rxg5 Ne6 39 Rf5+ Ke7 40 Bb2 Rxc4 41 Rh5 Nf4 42 Rxh7+ Ke6 43 Rh6+ Kd5 44 Rd6+ Ke4 45 e6 Ke3 46 Bd4+ 1–0