Calli: An informative passage on Combe from Bob Meadley (A Letter to Bert)
“Robert Forbes Combe (1912 –1952) British Chess champion 1946. His
childhood was spent in China where his father was Consul General at Tsinan in Shantung. On a holiday in London when he was 16, he bought a little book called "The Chess Openings"”by I.Gunsberg, from which with the aid of a sixpenny book of chess laws, he taught himself the game. He played in the third class tournament at Margate the next year finishing fourth without knowing the e.p. rule for the whole tourney.
He completed his education at Aberdeen Grammar School and Aberdeen
University where he qualified in law with a distinguished record. He was a
brilliant pleader at the bar of the Sheriff’s Court and had a fine legal brain. In W.A.Fairhurst’s opinion, Combe had the greatest chess brain of any British player between 1932 – 1952. He had a very quick sight of the board and was rarely in time trouble.
He never won the Scottish chess championship but as he had developed
rheumatic fever at the age of 18 this may have affected his play. Certainly he never thought so and in Chess October 1946 p.2 stated that “ I developed a sort of instinctive languidness and now I don’t think I could hurry or worry if I wanted to.”
In that famous game he lost to Hasenfuss in 4 moves it is worth stating that he had just played a 12 hour game prior to it. And prior to the 1946 British Championship he had NO CHESS PRACTICE AT ALL FOR THE PREVIOUS
SIX YEARS. He lived in Elgin in Scotland (east of Inverness) and was an “inveterate collector of tournament books, has probably as complete a collection as anybody in the country and habitually spends evenings in quiet deep study of the masters’ methods. He looks on Richter’s “Combinationem” as a fine book for pretournament study”.(Chess 1946)”