Remembering Dr. James Aitken (27-x-1908 03-xii-1983)

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken
Signature of JM Aitken from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946
Signature of JM Aitken from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946

We remember Dr. James Macrae Aitken who passed away on Saturday, December 3rd, 1983

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

“JM Aitken was born in 1908 in Scotland, and learned chess at the age of eight. He played several times in the Scottish Championship, and won it in 1935. In the Stockholm international team tournament, 1937, he played for Scotland. His best performance in international chess was at Hastings, 1945, when he scored 6 points and did best among the British contingent.

He is a graduate of both Oxford and Edinburgh, and a Ph.D. At the beginning of the war he joined the Foreign Office. ”

From Wikipedia :

“James Macrae Aitken (27 October 1908 – 3 December 1983) was a Scottish chess player.[1][2] Aitken was born in Calderbank, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1938 he received a PhD from Edinburgh University on the topic of ‘The Trial of George Buchanan Before the Lisbon Inquisition’.[3]

Aitken learned chess from his father at age 10.[4] He was Scottish champion in 1935, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1965, the latter jointly with PM Jamieson.[1] He was also London Champion in 1950.[1] In 1959 he had his best result in the British Championship, finishing tied for seventh place.[4] Aitken represented Scotland in four Chess Olympiads. He played top board at Stockholm 1937, scoring only 32.4% but he did defeat Swedish GM Gideon Ståhlberg[4][5] and draw with American GM Samuel Reshevsky.[4] He played second board at Munich 1958 and Tel Aviv 1964, scoring 67.6% and 28.1% respectively. Aitken played sixth board at Skopje 1972, scoring 38.9%.”

Aitken was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion for the 1948-49 season

“Aitken represented Great Britain in matches against the USSR and Yugoslavia.[4] In the 1946 radio match between the United Kingdom and the USSR he lost his match with Igor Bondarevsky on board 8.[6] Aitken defeated GM Savielly Tartakower at Southsea 1949[4][7] and GM Efim Bogoljubow at Bad Pyrmont 1951.[4][8]

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken

During World War II, Aitken worked in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park on solving German Enigma machines.[9] On 2 December 1944 Bletchley Park played a 12-board team match against the Oxford University Chess Club. Bletchley Park won the match 8–4 with C.H.O’D. Alexander, Harry Golombek, and Aitken on the top three boards.[10] Aitken wrote many book reviews for the British Chess Magazine.[11] Aside from chess his hobbies included golf, philately, bridge, and watching cricket.[4] He died in Cheltenham in 1983, aged 75.[2]”

James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by "Mac"
James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by “Mac”

Another biography may be found here at the wonderful Chess Scotland

Dr. James Aitken (27-x-1908 03-xii-1983)
Dr. James Aitken (27-x-1908 03-xii-1983)