I guess chessplayers fall into two categories - those who retain their game scores and those who don't. Amongst professionals and masters, the majority must, I imagine, keep all their games, if only for the vital process of analysing them afterwards. But among amateurs, the practice is rather less widespread. Some are conscientious, and retain every game, but many others throw their scoresheets away soon after playing a game (especially if they have lost!).
I learned a few years ago that it is hard to predict which players are in which category. One player I was certain would have all his games was Michael Franklin, the English master. He has always struck me as a very meticulous and organised character, and I have seen him at tournaments, brandishing a record card, on which he had written out, in copper-plate handwriting, a full tournament crosstable, which he updated dutifully with each day's results. Here, I was sure, was a man who would have the score of every game he had ever played. Yet when I asked him about this over breakfast, at a 4NCL weekend a few years ago, he astonished me, by telling me that he did not even have the record of the London League game he had played 48 hours earlier! He has never kept any of his scoresheets, it seems - a terrible shame, as his career spans over 50 years, near the top of English chess.
Michael Franklin - not a scoresheet to his name! (photo: Cathy Rogers/Megabase)
Even when players do keep their games, there is always the danger that after their death, these "unwanted" chess papers will end up on a bonfire, as their non-Caissic family clear out the old man's effects. With the advent of computers, it is perhaps more likely that such records will be kept and passed on within the chess community. I for one would be delighted to receive collections (especially if already in electronic form) from strong British players, which could then be made available online.
One player who has all his games is John Nunn. He kindly supplied his two games against Donner (both played in the 1977 Anglo-Dutch match, and neither on Megabase), which I have been able to pass on to Mr de Haas. John's win in the black game was published in The Guardian at the time (I still have the exercise book, into which I used to copy the games each week from Leonard Barden's two Saturday newspaper columns, which I used to read in the local public library!), which makes it slightly more surprising that it has escaped the database diggers. It is a good example of what can happen to White, if he plays too passively against the Modern Benoni - the black queenside pawns are liable to advance remorselessly, sweeping all before them: