DG Mackay

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John Saunders
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Re: DG Mackay

Post by John Saunders » Fri Feb 19, 2021 12:05 am

David Williams wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:10 pm
Considering the era, is it possible that the reason his forename is so hard to find is that he wasn't inclined to reveal it? He would have been Mr Mackay to most, maybe DG to work colleagues and friends. If he was still around, as he might be, would he think this whole thread impertinent, and it's no-one's business but his own?

I have in front of me "Memoirs of a Fellwanderer" by A. Wainwright. You near his name quite often on TV, where he is always referred to as Alfred Wainwright, yet as I understand it very few people would have known that when he was alive. His widow wrote the foreword to the paperback edition of that book fourteen years after his death. In it she calls him AW throughout. Different times.
"Is it possible that the reason his forename is so hard to find is that he wasn't inclined to reveal it?"

I very much doubt it. It's simply the case that the vast majority of references to chess players in magazines and newspapers in the era when D G Mackay was active as a player were in the format initials followed by surname.

"He would have been Mr Mackay to most, maybe DG to work colleagues and friends."

I refer you to BH Wood's pen picture of the man: "irrepressible character... professional boxer." I can't imagine anyone who had the chutzpah to enter a boxing ring being too bothered about people using his forename. I don't recall any boxing matches being billed as Mr H Cooper vs Mr J Bugner. That said, you will note that I have referred to BH Wood as BH Wood. Not out of deference but because that is the way he is best known to the chess world. (Not universally: someone who knew him personally might write "Baruch" or "Barry" but I don't feel comfortable doing that.) Similarly, writing Henry Atkins always seems wrong - it has to be H E Atkins, just as his cricketing equivalent is W G Grace and not William Grace. Sometimes initials work better: "Mike Smith" could be anyone but there is only one M J K Smith. Initials are still a thing with some Indian names: I remember having to search high and low for the full name of R B Ramesh when he won the British Championship in 2002, and he's still usually known by his initials.

It's true that, with D G Mackay's civil service hat on, it would have been "Mister" this and "Mrs" that in a more deferential age, as Kevin Thurlow tells us. I remember inviting back a former Mitcham Chess Club player of the 1940s to a meeting of the same club in the 1980s. He told me that he and his club colleagues used to address each other as "Mister" back in his day. I think he found our 1980s informality somewhat alarming and we never saw him again.

"If he was still around, as he might be, would he think this whole thread impertinent, and it's no-one's business but his own?"

Possibly but I doubt it. This part of the forum concerns itself with chess history, where participants endeavour to establish facts such as players' names for the best of reasons. Nothing said of the man here so far has been remotely impertinent. On the contrary, we're rediscovering someone who was clearly a very strong player who deserves to be remembered as such. It would be a dereliction of a chess historian's duty not to try and find out basic facts such as the man's forename so as to be able to refer to him in future chess publications, or to distinguish him from other players with the same initial(s).

I hear what you say re Wainwright. In biographical documentaries it does grate somewhat when you see a presenter or hear a narrator referring to a past figure of some stature by their forename as if they were a personal friend. But that's a slightly different matter.
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