THE Scottish Chess Association (SCA) announced on October 1, 1999 the result of their annual Player of the Year Award. The award, the James G McDonald Memorial Trophy, is voted on each year by the members of the SCA for the chessplayer who has achieved, or contributed, most during that particular year to, or for, the game in Scotland.
The trophy was donated by colleagues of Aberdeen chess enthusiast James G McDonald who tragically died when his oil drill ship capsized in a typhoon in the Gulf of Thailand in 1989.
Despite a glorious year that saw Jonathan Rowson (who won the award in 1996) secure his first Scottish title and, more importantly, his third and final grandmaster norm to become Scotland's third GM behind Paul Motwani and Colin McNab, he wasn't eligible as the rules stipulate that previous winners have to have a five-year gap between titles.
Other players ineligible was the 1997 winner, Elaine Rutherford, and the 1998 winner, John Shaw.
The top three players in a hotly contested contest for the 1999 title were: Dr Helen Milligan who this year became Scotland's first Women's FIDE Master after a superb result at the St.Vincent Zonal tournament in Italy; Neil Berry following a fantastic performance at the recent Scottish Championships in Edinburgh where he gained his first International Master norm (and having to defeat GM Colin McNab in the final round to do so!); Alan Grant who, despite not being a titled player, can regularly be found in among the prize winners.
And the 1999 title went - deservedly, in my humble opinion - to Alan Grant, from Cathcart, (pictured above, photo by JBH) a true stalwart of the Scottish chess scene. An easy going character (except when you meet him across a chessboard!), Alan has become a permanent fixture on the tournament circuit and is one of the few players graded over 2000 who supports just about every (and any) tournament in Scotland.
J Stevenson - A Grant Scottish Ch, 1997 King's Indian Defence 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 g6 3 e4 d6 4 d4 Bg7 5 Be2 0-0 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 0-0 e5 8 d5 Ne7 9 Ne1 c5 10 Nd3 Ne8 11 Be3 f5 12 f3 f4 13 Bf2 g5 14 b4 b6 15 a4 h5 16 a5 Bd7 17 axb6 axb6 18 Qb3 g4 19 bxc5 bxc5 20 Rxa8 Qxa8 21 Rb1 Ng6 22 Qb7 Qd8 23 Ra1 Rf7 24 Ra8 Qg5 25 Nb5 Bf8 26 Kh1 g3 27 Bg1 Bh3 28 Qb8 gxh2 29 Bf1 Nh4 30 Ne1 hxg1Q+ 31 Kxg1 Qg3 32 Qxe8 Qxe1 33 Ra2 Nxf3+ 34 gxf3 Rg7+ 0-1