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John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Games Collection of Dr James Macrae Aitken (27 October 1908 - 3 December 1983)
858 game entries from 1931 to 1983 • Download PGN Updated Friday 4 December, 2020 2:08 AM

Dr James Macrae Aitken (born 27 October 1908, Calderbank, Lanarkshire, died 3 December 1983, Cheltenham)

Biography at Chess Scotland website

Wikipedia Entry

Wartime cryptanalyst, Bletchley Park, 1940-45

Scottish chess champion ten times between 1932 and 1965 and represented Scotland in four chess Olympiads between 1937 and 1972.

Some crosstables:

London Championship, 13-23 October 1945 (venues Lud-Eagle club & Holborn Town Hall)

1945 London Chess Championship 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11  Total 
1 Gabriel Wood
½ 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 8
2 Dr Paul M List ½
0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1
3 Dr Otto Friedman 0 1
1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 7
4 Sir George Thomas 0 0 0
1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1
5 Dr James M Aitken 0 ½ 1 0
0 0 1 1 1 1
6 William L Brierley 1 0 0 ½ 1
1 0 ½ 0 1
7 Harold Brown ½ 0 0 0 1 0
½ 1 1 1 5
8 Alan F Truscott 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 ½
½ ½ 1 5
9 Alexander Distler 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½
1 1
10 Geoffrey H Diggle 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0
½ 2
11 R E Hayley 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½


File updated

Date Notes
26 October 2020 The PGN file has 478 entries, including 400+ complete games, the remainder being either part-games or stubs. I put this collection together primarily to assist Geoff Chandler in his forthcoming project to input all of Dr Aitken's games from the collection of 45 scorebooks (each containing 50 games) held by Edinburgh Chess Club but thought I might as well make it available on BritBase while we await the completion of this major input project. A secondary purpose is to make the games available to BritBase's volunteer proof-readers who have proved themselves to be an invaluable resource in weeding out errors in existing game databases.
26 October 2020 Very prompt feedback from correspondents lead to a number of additions and amendments. Firstly, I've found another game myself - Ventham ½-½ Aitken, County Match 1961. Alan McGowan has pointed me in the direction of the two matches Aitken played against Fairhurst in 1937 and 1938, documented on the Chess Scotland website. Thank you, Alan. The first 1937 match consisted of six games, all of which I have now added to the file. The second match consisted of eight games, starting in December 1937 and continuing well into 1938. I had already collected two of these games (match games 3 and 7) in the initial upload; the other six have now been added. Brian Denman has also been in touch. He has contributed three new games: (1) G.Norman - JMA, County match 1950; (2) JMA - GH James, Jersey 1979; and (3) GH James - JMA, Guernsey 1981. He has also suggested new dates for two games vs Cafferty which had been previously been guessed at. Cafferty - JMA, National Club, previously dated 1957, is now 1962. Finally, Brian points out that game JMA - Cafferty, British Championship 1960, was played on the 18th (not the 19th) of August. So that's 16 new games in total, thus 494 entries all told.
2 November 2020 The file has now grown to 570 - that's 76 more than previously. The additional games are composed of 23 games sent by Andy Ansel, from the period from the 1960s to the 1980s when Dr Aitken played in several WECU (West of England Chess Union) Congresses and 53 from Dr Aitken's own first scorebook, input by Geoff Chandler. Geoff will be sending me the games one scorebook at a time, so that's a batch of around 50 games each time (less the games which are already in the public domain and on BritBase). There are 44 scorebooks-worth still to come! The first scorebook covers the period 1931 to early 1933 when Dr Aitken was a student at Oxford.
3 November 2020 Now a total of 616 games after adding the 46 (new) games contained within Aitken's Book 2. This covers the period up to Xmas 1934. Good work by Geoff! I'm working on finding full names for the players - it's proving reasonably successful so far.
4 November 2020 Now a total of 622 game entries. Gerard Killoran discovered three more games from the 1932/33 Scottish Championship: Aitken 1-0 Combe (rd 4), Page 1-0 Aitken (rd 5) and Hamilton 0-1 Aitken (rd 7). I've added two stubs for the remaining games missing from this event: Stewart-Aitken (rd 2) and Aitken ½-½ Goldberg (rd 6). Geoff Chandler sent me the score of a second game against FG Tims-Collins, dated 2 December 1935.
5 November 2020 Four more games added, played whilst Dr Aitken was engaged on cryptanalysis work at Bletchley Park during the war. One is probably an informal game, dated 30 December 1941, with Aitken losing to Harry Golombek after a terrible blunder. His mind may have been elsewhere - helping win the war seems like the best of excuses! Another is undated – perhaps played around the same time? – and is a win against another celebrated code-cracker, Jack Good. This was played as part of a match at Bletchley Park, with Aitken's Hut 6 playing Good's Hut 8. Plus two games from 1942 referred to as 'Ladder Games' against (David) Bernard Scott (né Schultz), later known as Professor Bernard Scott.
10 November 2020 The upload of Books 3 and 4 scores is imminent: I still have to proof-read and add full names and competition details, etc. But in advance of them, I am pleased to report that we now have the scores of Aitken's two missing games from the 1937 Stockholm Olympiad - a loss to Salo Flohr (Scotland v Czechoslovakia, rd 3) and a loss against Piazzini (Scotland v Argentina, rd 18) and have included these in the download.
10 November 2020 We're now up to 686 games, with another 60 games added from scorebooks 3 and 4 (more or less conforming to 1935-1938). Many thanks to Geoff Chandler for inputting the games. I've concentrated on finding full names for players and also determining the identity of competitions where Aitken hasn't recorded them, via searches of newspapers and BMD records, etc. Thanks also to Alan McGowan and Martin Smith for assisting in tracking down some of this data.
11 November 2020 Added two more games, which I found whilst browsing old newspapers: (1) Aitken 0-1 J.Strachstein, played 07.01.1939 in the Richardson Cup; and (2) A.Burnett ½-½ Aitken, Richardson Cup Final Replay, 25.03.1939.
13 November 2020 Geoff Chandler has now completed input of scorebook 5, which brings us 12 new games, making the total number of game entries now 702. Unless one or two strays come to light, this completes the collection of Aitken's pre-war games.
18 November 2020 Correction to three games played against FJ Camm. I have just learnt from the highly informative West London Chess Club history pages that the player's full name is Frederick Jackson Camm, not to be confused with Frederick James Camm (which was the exact trap I fell into! Apologies).
23 November 2020 Geoff Chandler has now completed books 6 and 7, with a few games from book 8, covering the period 1945-47, bringing us 69 new games. There are still a few mysteries among them as a result of Aitken not always recording names or events clearly, and having somewhat difficult handwriting. Geoff has attempted to iron out the difficulties found amongst the moves while I have concentrated on the names, competitions and dates. This proved more difficult than in the 1930s as the reporting of chess events was much worse in the mid-1940s than it had been in the late 1930s (for obvious and understandable reasons).
26 November 2020 Book 8 now completed, adding another 32 complete games and a running total of 794 game entries. The file is now up-to-date as of 1 April 1948, barring the appearance of the occasional earlier game (as the scorebooks are not always strictly chronological). As always during this post-war period, there are name of players and competitions which are hard to identify, given Dr Aitken's sketchy documentation of some games and difficult handwriting. Any help with this appreciated.
29 November 2020 Book 9 now completed and the running total of game entries is now 825. This brings the file up to May 1949, with all of Aitken's games at the 1948 British Championship (Bishopsgate, London) and 1949 SCCU Championship (Southsea) now included.
4 December 2020 Book 10 now completed and the running total of game entries is now 858, bringing the file up to date to around May 1951. (There are still one or two missing games here and there. Geoff Chandler tells us that Aitken's scorebooks aren't always chronological and he's shared scoresheet scans with me that underline the Doctor's very poor handwriting (anyone would think he was a medical doctor). Only another 35 scorebooks to go... !