Roddy McKay, while still at Allan Glen's School in Glasgow, was noted as a player with outstanding potential. In July 1968, at 16 years of age, he was 2nd = at the Scottish Championships, held in July. Immediately following this event he played at the World Students' Team Tournament at Ybbs, Austria, where he registered an excellent performance with a score of 8 wins and 5 losses. This could have been an even better score for he stood at 8/11, but lost his last two games.
In October of the same year, 1968, McKay played as 2nd Reserve for the Scotland team at the Lugano Olympiad. Clearly not affected by the controversy surrounding his selection [see Scottish Chess no. 204, June 2006], he had the outstanding result of 11½/16, with 9 wins, 5 draws, and only 2 losses for a 71.9% score.
McKay featured in an interesting International Junior Tournament at Le Mans, France, in early 1969. He finished in a share of 4th-6th places with 7 points/11, only 1 point behind the three players on 8 points. David Levy, in his report in CHESS, in a general discussion about all the British juniors taking part said:
'McKay disappointed the most. After his outstanding score at Lugano, he must be considered to be one of the world's strongest juniors. Indeed, it says much for his real strength that he could finish equal 4th in a tournament as strong as this while playing completely off form...'
Later that year McKay had an outstanding result in the First Scottish Junior International Tournament, when he took outright 1st prize.
McKay participated in two other World Students' Team Tournaments: Dresden 1969, where he only played four games before leaving for Stockholm and the World Junior Championship, and Graz 1972, where he was Captain and Board 1, scoring 50%.
McKay played in only three Olympiads after his début in 1968: Siegen 1970; Nice 1974 and Lucerne 1982. Professional commitments always had a bearing on whether he was available for the Olympiads, but after gaining an IM norm at the 1982 event, he seemed to realise that he could gain the IM title because he thereafter made time available for those tournaments that offered norm opportunities. As can be seen from the results above, his second and third norms came at the Lloyds Bank Masters events of 1985 and 1986. In the 1986 event, as Roddy points out, his IM norm was achieved 'after a truly atrocious blunder in the first round left me with a lot of work to do.'
Roddy is particularly pleased with the two 1st places in international events held in Scotland, those in 1969 and 1988. There have been few such other such events in Scottish chess history: Dundee 1867, Glasgow International 1953, Dundee 1967, Troon 1984 being the main examples.
International Master Title
Roddy was awared his IM title in 1986, but there was opportunity to achieve it two years earlier, which was spoiled by interesting circumstances.
The IM title requirements at that time were norm results in 2 or more tournaments comprising at least 24 games. His first norm was at the 1982 Lucerne Olympiad, where he played 10 games. The Phillips & Drew 'Knight's tournament of 1984 was a 16-player event so a norm obtained here would have fulfilled the 24 game requirement.
Unfortunately for him, the withdrawal after six rounds by Kevin Wicker had an important effect on the final outcome. Wicker's results were deleted for prize purposes, but his games counted for ratings and norm purposes.
McKay's last round game was against Paul Littlewood, and the full point would have given him 9½/14, enough for the norm. He was unable to win, however, the game resulting in a draw, and a final score of 9/14.
McKay, who was not one of Kevin Wicker's opponents in the first six rounds, feels that had he been given the opportunity to play that additional game, he had a good chance of winning, considering that he had beaten Wicker in 16 moves at Charlton 1983. A score of 10/15 would also have given him the norm, and IM title. Adding further interest to all this is the fact that England's Geoff Lawton, who did play and win against Wicker, obtained the norm and IM title, as that extra game counted for norm purposes, giving him 10/15.
Although Roddy still takes part in the occasional weekend event, he has for a number of years been particularly interested in chess problems. He has competed in several national tournaments, coming 2nd in the British Chess Solving Championship 1997-98. At the time of writing (April 2010) Roddy has been selected to represent Great Britain in the 2010 European Chess Solving Championship.
Historian, Chess Scotland