DAVID A. WALKER
(1954 - )


David Walker in 1977, with his Oudemeester
trophy for player of the year
RSA Closed Championship 1977

Although David Walker only won the Durban championship on three occasions, from 1972 to 1974, he was widely considered as the best player Durban had produced since the days of Jack Archer, who dominated Durban chess in the 1930's. David's big year was 1977, when he became only the second Durban born player to become South African Champion.

David joined the Durban Chess Club as a schoolboy in 1967, and quickly made his mark. The following year he won the Natal Schools championship and went on to finish 6th in the SA Schools championship. After completing his schooling at Glenwood High School, where he was the 1971 Dux, David commenced studying for his Bachelor of Science degree at Natal University.

In 1972 David won the Durban championship with a picket fence 11 points from 11 games! However, in 1973 he could only tie first with 7 out of 10, but subsequently defeated Gerald Boulle by 3-1 in a play-off match. David went on to win the 1974 event comfortably, before being upstaged in 1975 by a resurgent Gerald Boulle.

In 1974 he also won the SA Junior championships, ahead of Andrew Murray, the 13-year old chess genius Roger Schackis, Edmund Pfister (SA Schools champion), Orlando Santos (Natal Schools champion) and B.Kaplan. His prize was the right to represent South Africa in the World Junior championship, to be held in Hong Kong in 1975. However, at the Nice Olympiad in July 1974, FIDE took the decision to suspend South Africa and Rhodesia as members of FIDE, so the trip was off.

David moved to Cape Town in 1976 to work for Old Mutual, and subsequently moved to the UK in 1995. Unfortunately he gave up competitive chess in the early 90's before leaving South Africa. He is currently (2007) working for a specialist IT company, providing managed Internet services.

Other Results

David almost won the Natal Open and Closed titles as a schoolboy. At the 1971 event, he was the sole leader going into the last round and only needed to draw with the White pieces against Grivainis in round 7. Unfortunately his sharp opening backfired on him and he lost.

David won the Natal Closed title for the first and only time in 1972, when he won the Natal Open outright. Since David became Cape domiciled in 1976, he was not eligible for any further Closed titles. However, he shared first place in the 1980 and 1983 Natal Opens, and won the 1982 event outright.

In 1972 David was a member of the South African students team that competed in the World Student Team championship, held that year in Graz, Austria. The South African team included Charles de Villiers, Nigel Bloch, Albert Ponelis and Peter Sarnak, all very strong players. Had it not been for politics, I am quite sure that both Walker and de Villiers would have been awarded the International Master title.

David took part in the South African Closed championship on several occasions, and wrote some instructive and entertaining reports for the Club Bulletin about his experiences in 1973 and in 1975.

On his debut in 1971 David scored 5/13 (11th), followed by 4/11 (17th) in 1973. David made a big step up in 1975 when he came 4th with 10/15. His best year was 1977, when he had a point lead going into the final round. Knowing he had secured the SA Closed title David possibly relaxed and lost to third placed man Ponelis in the last round. His final score was 10 (+7-1=7) so David shared the title jointly with many-times RSA champion Charles de Villiers. The box score is at the top of this page.

Games

The following game from 1971, against many-times Natal champion Moss Kolnik, shows off David's early tactical talent:

Kolnik,Moss - Walker,David
Natal Open Durban (6), 06.09.1971

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 d5 6.Nxe5 dxe4 7.Nxc6 Qd5 8.c4 Qd6 9.Nxa7+ Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7 11.Nb5 Nf6 12.0-0 Bc5!? (12...c6 is also played here, for example 13.Nc3 Bc5 14.d4 exd3 15.Re1+ Kf7 16.Be3 was seen in Spassky-Kholmov, USSR chp 1961.) 13.Nc3? (This move is probably wrong; White is 2 pawns ahead and must choose the right time to return a pawn to develop his Q-side. After 13.d4! exd3 14.Re1+ Kf7 15.Be3 White looks slightly better.) 13...0-0 14.Qe2 Rae8 15.Nd1 (Planning 16.Ne3 to cover the g2 and g4 squares. 15.h3!? stops the immediate attack with ...Ng4 but weakens the K-side eg. 15...Qf5 16.b3 Nh5 (threat ...Ng3) 17.Qg4 Bxf2+ wins for Black. However, 15.h3 Qf5 16.b4! Bxb4 17.Rb1 gives chances to get his pieces out.) 15...Ng4 16.Ne3 Ne5 17.Rb1 (17.b4! Bxb4 18.Rb1 was a better defence, although 18...Nf3+ 19.Kh1 Bd6 surely favours Black.) 17...Nf3+! (With a winning attack. It is instructive how Walker first targets h2, forcing a fatal light square weakness.) 18.Kh1 (18.gxf3? exf3 19.Qd1 Qh3 20.Kh1 Bd6 mates) 18...Qd6 19.g3 (19.gxf3 exf3 20.Qd1 Re4 21.Rg1 Rh4 22.Nf1 Bxf2 wins)

19...Qh6! 20.h4 Rf4! (the final touch) 21.Ng2 (21.gxf4 Qxh4+ 22.Kg2 Qh2#) 21...Nxh4! 22.gxh4 Rxh4+ 23.Nxh4 Qxh4+ 24.Kg2 Re6! 25.Rg1 Rg6+ 26.Kf1 Qh3+ 0-1

David had an exceptional ability to calculate deep variations, and was a very fine blitz player. Nevertheless this was a double-edged sword, leading him into severe time trouble on many occasions, where even the finest of blitz players was apt to spoil a "won game".

This game was played in the Natal Blitz championship, held in February 1974 in Umkomaas. The time limit was 25 minutes per player per game. David won with a clean score of 9/9, but it could easily have been different, with Churton second on 7 points:

Churton,Eric - Walker,David
Natal blitz chp, Umkomaas 1974

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nd5 Bc5 5.Nxe5 Qh4! 6.Nxc7+ Kd8 (6...Kf8? 7.Nd3+-) 7.Nxc6+ dxc6 8.d4 Qxe4+ 9.Be3 Bg4! 10.Be2 Bb4+ (not 10...Qxg2? 11.dxc5+) 11.c3 Qxg2 12.Kd2 Nf6? (getting too clever; after 12...Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Kxc7 14.cxb4 Nf6 it is equal) 13.Bxg4 Ne4+ 14.Kc2 Kxc7 15.Rg1! Qxh2 16.Qf3! Bd6 17.Qxe4 Rae8 18.Qf3 (18.Qg2+- was simpler) 18...f5! 19.Bh3 f4 20.Rh1? (Churton slips in the complications, attempting to trap the Black Queen; better was 20.Rxg7+ Kb8 21.Bd2+-)

20...Rxe3! 21.Qxe3 Qxh1 22.Rxh1 fxe3 23.fxe3 Rf8 24.Rf1 Rxf1 25.Bxf1 g5 26.Kd3? (26.Be2 blockades the pawns, with a simple draw) 26...Kd7 27.Ke4 Ke6 28.Bh3+ Kf6 29.Kf3? (and here 29.Bg4 Kg6 30.Bf5+ looks drawn) 29...h5 and Black won by pushing his K-side pawns 0-1

The following game is from the last round of the 1982 Natal Open. Donald Macfarlane was 2nd in the 1981 RSA Closed, and won the event in 1983, so he was a most formidable opponent:

Macfarlane,Donald - Walker,David
Natal Open Durban (7), 06.04.1982

1.g3 e5 2.Bg2 d5 3.d3 g6 4.c4 dxc4 5.Qa4+ c6 6.Qxc4 Bg7 7.Nf3 Ne7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.Qc2 h6 11.Nc4 Qc7 12.Bd2 Nd7 13.Rac1 Rac8 14.b4 f5 15.a4 g5 16.Ne1?! (This looks very strange, but the problem with 16.b5? is that 16...cxb5 17.axb5 e4 undermines the Nc4. Perhaps 16.Na3!? then 17.b5 was better.) 16...f4 17.b5 c5 (17...cxb5 18.axb5 Nb6 19.Ba5 gets nothing.) 18.a5 b6 19.Ra1 (Tempting Black's central pawns forward, in order to attack them later, is quite risky. Connecting the Rooks with 19.Nf3 was safer.) 19...e4(The critical position, where Macfarlane goes astray.)

20.Ra4? (Now ...e3 breaks up his K-side, as the Bd2 is attacked, so 20.Bc3! was correct. After 20.Bc3! exd3 21.Qxd3 fxg3 22.hxg3 Ne5 23.Nxe5 Bxe5 24.Bxe5 Qxe5 25.Nf3 or else 20.Bc3 e3 21.Bxg7 Kxg7 22.gxf4 exf2+ 23.Rxf2 Rxf4 24.Qc3+ Kg8 25.Rxf4 Qxf4 26.e3 chances look about equal.) 20...e3! 21.axb6 Nxb6 22.Nxb6 axb6 23.fxe3 fxg3! (Denuding the white King of his pawn shelter.) 24.h3 (24.hxg3 Rxf1+ 25.Kxf1 Qxg3 26.Nf3 Rf8 is also horrible.) 24...Qd7 25.Bc3 Rxf1+ 26.Kxf1 Nd5! (This is stronger than 26...Bxh3 when 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Qb2+ Kg8 29.Qe5 is a plausible defence, hard to refute in time trouble.) 27.Bxd5 Bxd5 28.Rg4 Qf7+ 29.Nf3 Bxf3 30.exf3 Qxf3+ 31.Kg1 Rf8 32.Qa2+ Kh8 (The final move as given in the DCC Bulletin, but I can't help wondering if 32...Kh7! was played, depriving White of any checks. After 32...Kh7! 33.Qa1 Qf2+ 34.Kh1 Qh2 is mate. The problem with 32...Kh8? is that 33.Bxg7+ Kxg7 34.Qa1+ Kg6 35.Qe1! keeps off the immediate attack.) 0-1



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