Robert Davidson Dykes

Died: 12 October 1961, Edinburgh, aged 53 years.

  • R.D. Dykes was associated with the Stockbridge Chess Club (club champion 1931 and 1934) and the Civil Service CC, both in Edinburgh.
  • He assisted with Koltanowski's display in Edinburgh 1937 when a new World Record for simultaneous blindfold play was established.
  • He was on the Stockbridge team that won the 1938 Spens Cup.
  • He played in the Scottish Championship 1938.
  • He was Hon. Secretary of the Postal Chess League, which was connected to the periodical, CHESS.

From Scottish Chess Nr. 5, October-December 1961.

Edinburgh has lost by the sudden death of Mr, Robert Davidson Dykes, one of its best known chess players. He started serious chess in his teens with the Stockbridge Club. A fellow member of the Club, F.R. Gould writes: "Stockbridge had quite an honourable history before Bob Dykes came along but he and several other youngsters, chief among whom were Bob Hayman and Ian Hamilton, developed so quickly that the playing strength of the Club Increased considerably and, with it, membership also. Bob Dykes took over the Secretaryship about 1927 and under his direction the Club flourished. It acquired rooms of its own in Fettes Row and a healthy membership of good playing strength. For several years it had two teams in the 'A' Division of the League and in 1939 the first would have won the League Championship if the second had not inflicted its only defeat".

In those pre-war years the Club was a regular competitor for the Richardson Cup. It had, however, difficulty in recovering after the war, but in spite of this and, perhaps mainly because of R.D. Dykes' enthusiasm, the club with a membership only just sufficient to man one team has all along been a power in the 'A' Division. Raising a Richardson team has not been possible, however, but Mr Dykes has nevertheless been playing in Cup matches - adding strength to the Civil Service Club, of which he was for many years an Associate Member.

He played many fine games and constantly sought to create the opportunity for an imaginative combination; he spurned the merely safe line. This perhaps explains why he did not win major individual honours. He did, however, have the distinction of being one of the two winners against Tolush when the Russian grandmaster gave a simultaneous display in Edinburgh. The game was a typical Dykes effort and we hope to be able to reproduce it in our next issue.

Mr. Dykes was early playing a part in the management of the Edinburgh League. In 1927 he was elected a vice president, a post he held until 1939 when the League went into abeyance for six years. He was again elected vice president in 1953, and in 1957 became president, a post he held until his death. The League has much to thank him for and it is intended to express an appreciation by creating a Dykes trophy for the 'C' Division.

Mr. Dykes was keenly interested in Table Tennis and his connection with that game began through chess. Some of the leading members of the Stockbridge Chess Club felt the need for a more exuberant form of activity than chess and, it was their wont to finish the chess session early enough to get in some table tennis before departing for home. This activity soon became organised, and the Gambit Table Tennis Club was formed; it became, and perhaps still is, the leading club in Scotland. It was there that Mr. Dykes met the lady who was to become his wife, Miss Helen Elliott the Scottish international table tennis player.

Compiled by Alan McGowan