Max Pavey

5 March 1918, Boston, USA - 4 September 1957, New York City

Scottish Champion 1939


Pavey came to Scotland to attend the Anderson College of Medicine in Glasgow. There were limited places for Jewish students in U.S. medical schools and many chose to study in Britain. He arrived in Glasgow on 8 September 1938. 

He would soon make his mark on the chess scene. In the 1938/39 season of the Glasgow Chess League, he played on board one for the Bridgeton Working Men's Club in the first division.

In the Spens Cup competition, Pavey played for the Glasgow Jewish Institute, helping that club to win the 1939 Spens Cup. In all of these matches, he lost only one game, against J.S. Macmartin of Polytechnic.

In April 1939, Pavey took part in the Scottish Championship in Aberdeen, 'as much for a pleasant vacation as for the chess, and by his success surprised himself', according to CHESS. Pavey took first place with a score of 7½/9, ahead of R.F. Combe and William Winter on 6 points, and Dr Aitken and N.A. Perkins on 5½.

Photo from the Evening Express (Aberdeen), 13 April 1939

In an article in the June 1939 issue of CHESS he stated that "My chess career has hitherto consisted of three years' Intercollegiate chess for the City College of New York, and some games for various teams in the Metropolitan League. I had a fair record but not impressive."

Pavey apparently made many friends during his short stay in Scotland; he stayed in touch with D.M. MacIsaac, the editor of the chess column in the Glasgow Herald, sending regular news items and games from the USA. Peter Anderson remembers Pavey fondly in his Reminiscences.

Pavey returned to the USA in the summer of 1939, but was prevented from returning to Glasgow to continue his studies by the outbreak of war in September. His address in Glasgow before his departure was 70 Chancellor Street, off Byres Road.

Pavey did visit Scotland one more time, briefly, in 1955; on the way home from the USA v USSR match in Moscow, Pavey and his wife, Violet, stopped for a very short visit.

Max Pavey died after a long illness at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City, at the age of 39, the cause of death reportedly being radium poisoning resulting from his work.

Tournaments and Matches
Pavey was active in chess events during the 1940s and 1950s. Here are some of his results.

USA v Argentina Radio Match - Pavey played on board 7, drawing with Rossetto
Manhattan CC Championship (NY) - 3rd with 5½/9, behind Bisguier and D. Byrne.
U.S. Open - shared 5th-8th with 8½/12.
New York State Championship - 1st, with 8 points in a 10-round Swiss.
Manhattan CC Championship - 4th place with 8½/13, behind Denker, Bisguier and Kramer.
U.S. Championship - 3rd place with 7½/11, behind Evans and Reshevsky.
U.S. Open - 2nd place, with 10 points, behind D. Byrne on 10½.
U.S. Speed Championship - 3½/6, behind Evans, Sherwin and Berliner.
Manhattan CC Lightning Tournament (club's 75th anniversary) - 2nd, with 6/8, behind R. Byrne on 6½.
Manhattan CC Championship - 1st, scoring 10½/13.
Manhattan CC Championship - shared 2nd-5th places on 8/11, behind Denker on 8½.
U.S. Championship - shared 4th-5th places on 7½/13, behind the winner Bisguier on 10.
U.S v USSR Match (New York) - Pavey was on board 3. Played 3 games with Keres, winning 1 and losing 2.
Manhattan CC Championship - shared 3rd-5th places on 8½/13, behind Kevitz and Sherwin on 9.
U.S. v USSR (Moscow) - lost 2 games against Petrosian.
Manhattan CC Championship - 1st, 12/15
New York State Championship - 2nd to Hearst

CHESS, June 1939, pp 311 and 342.
BCM, December 1957, p 314.
BCM, various years.

To this day, City College of New York, where Pavey studied, offers a Max Pavey Scholarship.

Alan McGowan
Historian/archivist, Chess Scotland

updated 10/5/2020