Dr Ronald Cadell Macdonald

04 July 1868, Inverbrothock - 26 January 1942, Inverness

  • Scottish Champion six times: 1901, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1927 and 1928
  • West of Scotland Champion 1904
  • Scottish Correspondence Chess Champion 1925
  • BCF Correspondence Champion 1926, 1927 and 1930
  • BCCA Champion 1924, 1925, 1926, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1937
  • Life-member and former president of the Scottish Chess Association

An outstanding figure in Scottish chess of the 20th century. Graduated M.B., C.M. 1893, from Aberdeen University. M.D. 1904. In his early days in medicine he shared a practice with a Dr Gilmour, whose daughter he married in Linlithgow.

His medical work took him to many outlying areas, including overseas locations. He was employed as a Civil Surgeon with South African Field Force, 1901-02 and subsequently with the troops at various stations in England. His work later took him to Canisbay, Caithness and Foyers at Loch Ness.

He took up correspondence chess early; this enabled him to continue playing when his medical work took him far away from the main playing centres. As can be seen from the results shown above, he was very successful in postal chess, particularly with his winning the British Chess Federation Championship three times, and the British Correspondence Chess Association championship eight times.

In his 'Chess Reminiscences' in the British Chess Magazine 1932, Dr Macdonald relates some interesting stories about chess and his travels: he visited Simpson's Divan in London when he was a young resident doctor in the capital, meeting Blackburne, Gunsberg, Van Vliet, Fenton and Pollock, etc.; during the Boer War he made many chess friends in Durban, Mafeking and Kimberley; in April 1912 he went to America, and played some games in the Brooklyn Club, meeting Black, Marshall and Napier.

In 1923 Dr Macdonald resumed playing in the Scottish championship tournaments. That year, he tied for first with William Gibson, but lost the play-off match. In 1924 he was in second place, one point behind the winner, and in 1925 he against took second place, a half point behind George Page. In 1926 he again tied for first, this time with James McKee, and again lost the play-off. With this level of consistence, it is not surprising that he won the championship in 1927 and 1928.

Dr Macdonald was latterly based in Inverness. On his retirement from his medical practice he planned to move to the vicinity of Glasgow and indulge his only hobby against first class opposition. The outbreak of World War Two put paid to that plan.

See also Reminiscences.

Sources: BCM - 1932 and 1942; Glasgow Herald chess column 31 January 1942; Roll of the Graduates of the University of Aberdeen, 1860-1900 By William Johnston.

Compiled by Alan McGowan