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The Man Behind the QJ Ratings: Dr. McKinnon

The Man Behind the QJ Ratings: Dr. McKinnon


Ever since June 1993 Dr David McKinnon has been producing the Queensland Junior Ratings List for many thousand keen chess kids, on a voluntary basis.

David spends about 20 hours or so every two months updating the list, which currently provides 2507 students with an indication of their playing strength in relation to all other players on the list. He fields around a dozen or so enquiries relating to each list.

David, who lives with his partner Ruth in East Brisbane, visited the Gardiner Chess office yesterday, where Graeme Gardiner (left) and Andrew Fitzpatrick (centre) presented David (right) with a beautiful, ebony, weighted chess set from India, as thanks for his outstanding service over nearly 22 years.


It was a trip down memory lane for David and Graeme, especially when David brought out a copy of his very first list, published in September 1993. There are just 113 names on the list, and I remember so many of them. David Smerdon and Arianne Caoili have both represented Australia on board one at an Olympiad. David, who led his Churchie team to Kasparov’s world internet grand final in New York, is undertaking his PhD in Amsterdam, whilst Arianne lives in, and advises the president of Armenia. Max Leskiewicz and Charles Pizzato both represented Australia on several occasions. Max has his PhD and I believe is an academic in USA. I believe that Charles has a senior position in the IT Dept of Suncorp, whilst pursuing his Latin American dancing. Many junior chess players in Brisbane will know his mother Connie, who still works at Somerville House.

I should also mention the all-girls Fearsome Foursome from Somerset College, who famously came second in the big Brisbane High Schools comp when still in grade 8, and also played a team of prisoners at Numinbah Jail. Kimberley Orth is now a vet, Sallyann Nicholas a police prosecuting officer, Catherine Jackson a GP and Penny Cooper a high flying tax accountant. There are so many on the list that I remember very well.

1993 QJR

Back to David. He is incredibly fit, having completed two 160km ultra-marathons, and 40 long-distance races longer than the marathon distance of 42km. The two ultra-marathons were in the Victorian Alps, and the Glasshouse Mountains. David is an accident and emergency specialist, whilst Ruth is an anaesthetist. They both enjoy regular overseas trips to medical conferences, and have a great love of the Rockies in Colorado. They are both avid bushwalkers.


In his chess career, David played board two for Brisbane Grammar School, and in 1988 shared the title of Queensland Junior Champion with Andrew Meldrum. Perhaps his biggest moment in chess was in 1988, when he drew with former world champion, Anatoly Karpov in a simultaneous display at the World Expo in Brisbane.


It is important to note that David has given an immense amount to Queensland chess through his roles of state director of coaching, vice president, editor Queensland chess magazine and bulletin editor at the Australian Junior Champs held at Somerset College in January 1994. He was awarded the Purdy Medal for chess journalism by the Australia Chess Federation.


David and I both retired from tournament chess about the same time in the mid-nineties. We played each other twice in tournament chess, with a 1-1 record.

David has kindly provided a couple of his favourite games for your enjoyment. The game against De Silva was his first rated game, and his opponent was rated 1194. It was part of the Australian Junior Reserves held in 1987. The second was against FM Craig Laird rated 2226 in the 1991 Queensland Championships.

Game 1: D. McKinnon v B. De Silva

Game 2: D. McKinnon v C. Laird


David loves providing this service to Queensland chess, we are so lucky to have him. On behalf of all in the Queensland junior chess community, thank you so much. I know from personal experience that all the chess kids, and many of us adults too, really hang out for each list.


Graeme Gardiner, Gardiner Chess

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