Made in Yorkshire
Following the 1865 Huddersfield
– Sheffield Athenaeum match, Sheffield challenged Huddersfield to a
return match, which didn’t come about. (Whether this was the 9th
December return match or a follow-on from that isn’t too clear.)
This was taken by the Sheffield club as an inappropriate refusal on the part
of Huddersfield club, which fact was aired at the Sheffield
Athenaeum Chess Club’s annual general meeting on 29th January 1866.
The matter might
have soon been forgotten, or at least unmentioned, but for the fact that the
Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club’s new secretary, John James Champion, perhaps
on instruction from the club’s committee, sent the newspaper report of
the meeting to the Chess Player’s Magazine, March, 1866, wherein
it was reproduced on page 92.
When John Watkinson of Huddersfield
read the article in the Chess Player’s Magazine, he responded to
set straight the record which he felt had not been fully and fairly
represented, though he did make a slight error in the process, which was then
picked up on by the Sheffield end.
Watkinson’s response to the original article was published in the Chess
Player’s Magazine, April, 1866, page 104, and read as follows:
TO THE EDITOR OF “THE
CHESS PLAYER’S MAGAZINE.”
Dear Sir, - It
is with some reluctance that I trespass on your valuable space, but as the
statement put forward in your last number by the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess
Club respecting the Huddersfield Club is not altogether correct, perhaps
you will allow me briefly to lay the facts of the case before your readers.
winter of 1864 the Huddersfield Chess Club received a challenge from the
Sheffield Club to contest a friendly home-and-home match. The
distance between the two towns – some thirty miles – and the
corresponding expense, in addition to the inability of the Sheffield Club
to play the match on a Saturday, which day is in this neighbourhood a
half-holiday, were all felt to be serious obstacles in the way, but we
waived them all, played the match, and won by a large majority.
months ago we received another challenge to play a return match on similar
conditions to the former. We replied that we should be very glad to
play them again, with some modification of the terms. In the first
match we were enabled to enter the field with as many as twelve
players. Owing to losses which the club has sustained, and other
causes, we were now unable to muster so strongly, but we offered to play
the six best players of each club, meeting at both towns, the total number
of games to be added together.
Sheffield Club, as they had a perfect right to do, refused to accept this
modification of the terms, and so the match fell to the ground; and I Ieave
it to your readers to decide whether the Sheffield Club is justified in now
saying unreservedly, and without any explanation, that “the
Huddersfield Club had declined to accept their challenge.”
The rule we
have always acted upon in club matches has been for the club of the smaller
town to fix the number of players, and, I ask, is it reasonable to expect
the club of a small town like Huddersfield to be able at all times to rival
in point of numbers the club of a town four or five times its size.
the Huddersfield Chess Club has contested no less than twelve matches with
the clubs of Bradford, Holmfirth, Leeds, Sheffield, and Wakefield, and has
been successful in winning eight and drawing one. I believe I am
correct when I further state that during this time none of these clubs have
ever entered the lists against each other, or in other words, whenever any
of these clubs have engaged in a match, Huddersfield has been one of the
contending parties. The now flourishing West Yorkshire Chess
Association, too, was originated at a meeting of the Huddersfield Club in
1856. From these facts, and others I might name, I think it will
appear that we have done our share at Huddersfield in keeping up the
“sacred fire” of Chess; and, although we have recently lost
several of our experienced players, we have the satisfaction of knowing
that they have allied themselves with other clubs, and are doing good
service to the cause of Chess in other parts of the country.
lately had accessions of young and very promising players to our ranks, and
I trust, Mr. Editor, you have not yet heard the last of the Huddersfield
dear Sir, yours very truly,
Watkinson’s unwitting slip was to assume the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club
had the whole of the population of Sheffield to call on, whereas it was in
fact limited to the membership of the Athenaeum Club of which it was a
part. When Sheffield hit back along those lines, the editor of the Chess
Player’s Magazine felt obliged to publish the response to John
Watkinson, but stated it could publish no more on the subject. The
following appeared in the May issue, on page 152.
SHEFFIELD ATHENAEUM CHESS CLUB.
month printed a letter from the Hon. Secretary of the Huddersfield Chess
Club, we think it right to comply with the request of the Hon. Sec. of the
Sheffield Club in publishing the following letter. We cannot,
however, publish any further correspondence on the subject, and we hope
that both clubs will contrive to settle in a friendly manner any little
differences which may have arisen between them.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE
“CHESS LAYER’S MAGAZINE.”
Sir, - I
trust you will be kind enough to insert these few lines in reply to the
letter of the Secretary of the Huddersfield Chess Club, which appeared in
your last number. I should not have troubled you with this
communication had not the letter above referred to contained, by
implication, a charge that the report of the meeting of the Sheffield Athenaeum
Chess Club which was inserted in your number for March, in stating that
“the Huddersfield Club had declined the Sheffield challenge”
– was incorrect. I feel compelled to assert that inasmuch as we
challenged that club to play a return match on the same terms and
conditions as regulated the match which was played between the two club,
which challenge the Huddersfield Club declined, the report in question was
strictly correct. As to the modifications mentioned in Mr.
Watkinson’s letter, I consider that as of the six players Mr.
Watkinson would be one, and would in all probability win his six games, we
were indeed justified in rejecting them: we wished to play a return
his assumption that, because his club is in a town of only 40,000 inhabitants,
and the Sheffield Club is in one containing 200,000, his club should choose
the number of players, I can only repeat that which has been previously
explained to him – viz., that in consequence of persons being unable
to join our Chess club except they are members of an expensive institution
(the Athenaeum), our club does not get that proportion of the towns [sic]
population which one of the footing of the Huddersfield club receives; and
I am sure that the Huddersfield club could at the time the match was
played, and can now, boast of a larger number of members than can the
Sheffield club – consequently, I cannot admit the justness of his
The club I
represent is quite prepared to give full credit to Mr. Watkinson and the
Huddersfield club for their exertions in the cause of Chess.
I am, Sir,
Champion, Hon. Sec.
In view of the
CPM’s editor calling a halt to publication of letters in this exchange,
this had to be the last direct shot in the exchange, but a later letter not
directly related to the subject contained another sniping shot, when Sheffield
issued a general challenge for a match.