Ian McNab 1953 - 2008
A Tribute by Keith Rose.
Ian and I first met in 1982 when he joined the then 1314 Chess Club and we quickly became friends.
We often travelled to congresses together and we regularly drank together,
usually with a Purdy set to analyse our recent games. We got some strange and pitying
looks from other drinkers, but that didn't matter. He did like his pints and swore that
two or three before a game, and one or two during, made him play better.
I don't know about that but he certainly played some imaginative stuff after a few scoops.
One of our Castlehill clubmates said:
" I used to hang with him and Brian occasionally, drinking and having a laugh.
He would go and put Brian's horses on for a pint and always be back in time to watch them lose,
which was of course a good excuse for another pint."
His last accommodation was with the Salvation Army. One night Ian arrived back,
bouncing off both sides of a door as he went in. The chaplain saw this but before he could say
anything Ian said "Don't worry I just encountered an earthquake on the way in".
Which is appropriate as Ian once told me his ambition was to visit Pozzuoli in Italy because,
he said, it's the earthquake capital of the world and he wanted to experience one.
Ian was known throughout the Scottish chess community as an inventive and imaginative player
with a sharp sense of humour. He played by feel and instinctively knew when exchange sacs were
right and when isolated pawns were not weaknesses.
His favourite openings were the Latvian and the Wing Gambit.
Here is a good indication of the entertainment Ian could produce.
A wonderful mate with the two Knights from an imaginative sacrificial opening - Geoff
[Click here to replay the game]
Ian McNab - samchess9956
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.c3 dxc3 5.Bc4 d6 6.0-0 cxb2 7.Bxb2 Nf6 8.e5 Ng4 9.e6 fxe6 10.Ng5 Qb6 11.Qxg4 Qxb2 12.Qh5+ g6 13.Qf3 Qxa1 14.Qf7+ Kd7 15.Na3 Qf6 16.Bxe6+ Kd8 17.Nb5 Qxf7 18.Nxf7+ Ke8 19.Nc7
His outgoing and sometimes unconventional character gained him many friends.
A stranger in Ian's company wasn't a stranger for long. He had a sense of the absurd,
the bizarre, and the blackest of black humour.
As an example:
He had recently been playing chess on the internet and he gave himself the nickname 'Fireraiser'.
A number of years ago he had a council flat. He got so frustrated with some
bureaucratic issue so he set fire the flat.
His only regrets were the loss of a precious collection of LPs and some chess material.
A few years later he was lodging with the Cyrenians and for reasons that are unclear
he did the same again. At the Salvation Army hostel the chaplain asked Ian if he liked staying there.
Ian's reply was "I must be. It's the only place I've ever lived that I haven't set fire to".
Another example of Ian's play. This time against a very good player.
Chris Morrison is an FM and a very difficult to beat OTB.
A very sharp double edged game that required some high level
calculation, good judgement (and nerves).
Ian tempted and then forced Chris to carry our his attack on c2.
He had seen deeper and realised the activity was Black was getting
could be handled. When I first saw this I thought 14...Nxg4 was a killer.
It's looks a real handful over the board.
Ian must have seen it a while back and his reply. 15.Nxd5
The game continues with White coming out the complications ahead.
But just when you think all the fireworks have finished and Black
is consolidating. Ian finds a Queen sac.
This game was played in the 1978 Scottish Championship. Geoff
[Click here to replay the game]
I.McNab - C.Morrison
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.e3 Nf6 7.Be2 c4 8.Ne5 Bd6 9.f4 Bf5 10.0-0 Nb4 11.Bd2 Qb6 12.g4 Bc2 13.Qc1 Bxe5 14.fxe5 Nxg4 15.Nxd5 Nxd5 16.Qxc2 Ngxe3 17.Qa4+ Kf8 18.Qa3+ Kg8 19.Bxe3 c3 20.Bf2 Qg6+ 21.Bg3 Qe4 22.Bf3 Qxd4+ 23.Bf2 Qxe5 24.Bxd5 Qxd5 25.Qxc3 h6 26.Rad1 Qxa2 27.Rd7 Kh7 28.Qc2+ g6 29.Bd4 Rhf8 30.Rf6 Rac8 31.Qxg6+
Ian loved life - not necessarily the circumstances of it, but life itself.
He had an intense curiosity and was interested in everything.
He could strike up conversations with complete strangers and had all
the time in the world to listen to the experiences and views of others.
He had his own opinions and wasn't afraid to express them, even when he knew
they might offend, but he could also be persuaded by a good argument.
Brothers and Sister. Sandy, Ian, Fiona and Colin McNab.
It is probably not widely known that Ian was once an anorak.
In the mid-80s Ian and I played at the Scottish Championships in Troon.
At one of these Ian confessed to being a trainspotter. To prove it he dragged me off to
Ayr station where he gave me a technical run-down of all the engines in at the time.
He never mentioned it again. This anorakism extended to an almost encyclopaedic knowledge
of the routes and timetables of Dundee buses - learned by repeatedly visiting almost every pub in Dundee.
Ian enjoyed walking around Dundee cemeteries and was able to talk at length about
the worthies and celebrities buried therein.
He was particularly fond of karaoke - he was truly, truly awful and he knew it but didn't care.
His favourite turn was a rendition of "Stairway to Heaven" simply because it lasts 8 minutes and
it drove the 'audience' up the wall having to suffer him that long.
Ian was sometimes treated unfairly by life but he took it all and just got on with things.
Every unfortunate event that happened to Ian he turned into a joke, and if was against himself,
so much the better. I never knew him to lose his temper or even get angry despite some serious
provocation - just a bit annoyed sometimes.
I received a number of messages and typical comments were:
" an imaginative and dangerous chess player
" a chess legend
" A great character
" always good company and very funny
On the CS noticeboard Alastair White wrote:
"His chess was much like his personality-lively, sharp, incisive and unpredictable.
He was friendly and quick-witted No-one could afford to take themselves too seriously when Ian was around."
Donald Wilson wrote:
"The chess community in Scotland is diminished by this loss. "
I met Ian all too seldom. We had an instant bond. I fondly recall trading Latvian Gambits
lines with him at Stirling University after a Regional Chess Event. (the fore-runner of The SNCL).
I was fortunate to re-kindle our old friendship a few weeks before he passed away.