R.I.P. Wayne Komer, 09-01-1941 - 09-13-2021

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  • #16
    My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Wayne Komer.

    I never met him, and know him only through his extraordinarily active posts on this site, during the past several years. It seems he was an older gentleman who loved chess, and who devoted an enormous amount of his time to sharing chess news from around the world, which he researched, with readers of this site. His contribution has been amazing, and unique. Chess offers so many different ways to become involved, and to contribute; with the advance in technology, new ways have evolved, and Wayne exemplified the very best in the area he chose. He will certainly be missed; I read some of his posts, but didn't have the time myself to read all of them. His efforts amounted to almost a full-time job, it seemed; I was especially impressed with his efforts on the 2021 World Cup.

    Rest In Peace, Kind Sir, Wayne Komer.

    Frank Dixon
    NTD, Kingston


    • #17
      Mr. Komer had very interesting posts that I read everyday, I thought he was a young man of 40-50, I miss his posts a lot. He had a lot of energy.


      • #18
        Hello. Posting the message below on behalf of Andrew McMillan:


        I first met Wayne Komer at The Chess Shop in Toronto in 2002. While he was looking through the used books I struck up a conversation with him about chess literature. It quickly became clear to me that he knew far more about chess books than I did (or probably ever would). Although I never considered myself a chess book collector, we shared a common interest in chess history. I had not been in touch with him since shortly before the pandemic began but I always tried to follow his posts on Chesstalk. The news of his sudden passing has come as a great shock. I would like to offer my deepest condolences to his family.

        He told me that he started collecting chess books when he was a boy growing up in St. Catherines. On the recommendation of IM Frank Anderson, whose chess column in the Hamilton Spectator he followed, he began buying chess books from the British Chess Magazine, remaining a loyal customer for about fifty years or so. (He also remained grateful for Anderson’s advice, writing "If I have nothing else to thank him for but that, I thank him heartily!"). He loved dealing with chess booksellers and meeting other collectors, who he regarded not as rivals but rather as though they were common members of a fellowship. It was a fellowship wherein the older, more experienced collectors were like masters who would pass down the 'lamp of knowledge' to their young apprentices. He was the first person I knew who spoke of the likes of Dr. Meindert Niemeijer, B. H. Wood, and Dr. Albrecht Buschke, who were only legends to me, as real living people he had interacted with. While he would often admit to not being sure where a particular book was in his collection, he seemed to have a total recall of how he had acquired each of his books. He would remember Dr. Niemeijer taking pity on him when he was a poor student and giving him some first editions of tournaments books in an exchange, the time he helped a bookseller in England price a collection of chess books and was given an obscure endgame book he coveted as thanks, or walking into the Chess Canada office in the mid-1970’s where Vlad Dobrich had a review copy of Betts’s annotated chess bibliography on his desk and buying it from him on the spot. Less frequently, he would recall the ones that got away. No missed opportunity haunted him more than the time in the late 1950’s when Frank Anderson offered him a copy of the tournament book of the 1957 World Junior Championship (which was held in Toronto) signed by all the participants. Regrettably, he had to decline the offer as the price of $25 was well above his means then. It would be almost exactly 50 years later, and only after two months of delicate negotiations, that he was able to prevail upon a well-known US chess book dealer to sell him a copy of the book from his personal collection. He confessed that he sometimes had his doubts about the time and effort he was putting into chess book collecting. (He wrote that he once told Dr. Niemeijer, "that sometimes I wondered why I was collecting chess books when there were other things I should give attention to and he said he felt that way sometimes too!"). Ultimately, he came to see it as his duty to collect and preserve the literature of the game for posterity.

        Though he admitted enjoying the 'thrill of the chase' in acquiring books for his collection, he was not the type to put the book on the shelf and forget about it. He enjoyed reading good chess writing and eventually he wanted to make his own contribution. While attending the University of Toronto in the mid-1960s to study chemistry, he became a member of the Hart House Chess Club. It was there that he met his chess hero Bobby Fischer when he came to give a lecture and perform a simul at the Club in 1964. In what was likely his first chess reporting, he wrote up an account of the occasion and sent it, along with some photos he had taken and the score of his chemistry professor Dr. Maurice Lister’s win over Fischer, to be published in the British magazine CHESS. This led to him writing further articles for CHESS, most notably an account of a solving contest in the Moscow News that elicited a letter from the famous study composer John Roycroft. Some of his writing also appeared in the pages of Canadian Chess Chat. An especially memorable contribution of his to that magazine was a vividly written report about attending the last round of the 1969 Monte Carlo International Tournament. Later, he was also an occasional contributor to Chess Notes. However, it was here on Chesstalk that he was most prolific. He believed that the right idea was to "write when the spirit moves you" and publish when you are ready. Chesstalk suited him perfectly because it allowed him to be his own editor and publisher. Knowing his primary interests were chess literature and history, I was surprised by his detailed coverage of tournaments. I recall that he often lamented how difficult it was for him to follow Fischer’s run for the World Championship while he was 'languishing' as an impecunious PhD. student at the University of Manchester in 1969-73. And I came to understand that he enjoyed the immediacy of the live video feeds, the running GM commentary and the post-game interviews with the players, not to mention the irreverent comments by anonymous online kibitzers that he liked to include in his reports. For him there was clearly no substitute for the excitement of watching chess history being made in real time.

        His taking up an interest in chess coincided with the beginning of Bobby Fischer’s ascent to the World Championship which inspired in him a lasting admiration for Fischer as a chessplayer that would never be challenged by any other player. He described his attitude well in a post here recently: https://forum.chesstalk.com/forum/ch...ge6#post213469
        A measure of the awe in which he held Fischer can be gleaned from his reply when I asked him if he had played in Fischer’s 1964 simul at Hart House: he said he had "too much respect" for Fischer to take a board against him and chose instead merely to spectate, take some photos and ask for an autograph.

        Although he was decades older than me and I always addressed him as "Mr. Komer", I never thought of him as being 'old'. Practically every time I heard from him, he revealed some new activity he was involved in or interest he had taken up. When he retired from his job with the City of Toronto in 2006, he told me he intended to start learning ancient Greek and to program in C++. He was then still cycling and swimming regularly and seemed more active than most people I knew who were a fraction of his age. About six years ago he mentioned that he had decided to curtail his cycling after a mishap he had had while on his bike in the street one day. Where had he been headed to on his bike that day? He had been on his way to pick up a newly published book about Bobby Fischer of course.

        The features of his character that most stood out to me were his honesty, friendliness and helpfulness. He was always generous with words of advice and encouragement. His markedly mild temperament seemed to reject any form of competitiveness, which would probably explain how little tournament chess he played. The distinguishing characteristic of his personality appeared to me to be an uncommon ability to always project his good nature in the manner he communicated with others. Over the years we corresponded he almost invariably ended his emails to me with the words "As ever, Wayne". I initially perceived this as a slight affectation, possibly picked up when he lived in England along with some of the British-sounding patterns of speech I could detect in his voice. However, I soon came to read it as an affirmation of that constancy of his good character and temperament that made him such a valued friend.

        That the history of our game should be recorded, preserved and handed down to future generations was something he strongly believed in and frequently talked about. Now that he is gone and I am trying to record how I will remember him, my mind keeps coming back to the time I once asked a Montreal chess organizer if he had known Dudley LeDain (1900-78), the longtime chess columnist of the Montreal Gazette. When he replied that he had, I asked "What was he like?". He thought for a brief moment and then said very emphatically, "He was someone who just loved chess!". I could choose no more fitting words to describe how I will remember Wayne Komer.

        Rest in Peace Wayne

        Andrew McMillan
        Last edited by Alex Ferreira; Saturday, 9th October, 2021, 01:52 PM. Reason: Spelling Fix


        • #19
          Originally posted by Alex Ferreira View Post
          Hello. Posting the message below on behalf of Andrew McMillan. ....
          A beautiful tribute. Thanks for posting it, Alex.
          "We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop
          "Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato
          "If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination." - Thomas De Quincey


          • #20
            Originally posted by Peter McKillop View Post

            A beautiful tribute. Thanks for posting it, Alex.
            I echo that, thanks Alex.


            • #21
              Thanks Andrew. A tribute to Wayne that resonates deeply.


              • #22
                Thank you Alex. I'm glad that Andrew and Wayne connected. Thanks Andrew for the insightful biographical stories. Too bad that the U of T couldn't have a memorial library of his collection.


                • #23
                  Excellent point Erik!


                  • #24
                    I was just rereading Wayne's tribute above (by Andrew McMillan) and paying more attention to details and noticed that Wayne did the writeup on Dr Maurice Lister's win against Bobby Fischer.
                    Dr Maurice Lister was Liana MacMillan's father. Does anyone remember Liana MacMillan, chessplayer from the 1990's?