Yorkshire Chess History



1883: H E Bird in Sheffield











Made in Yorkshire



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A syndicated chess column by H. E. Bird in the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent Weekly Supplement appeared for the first time on 02/12/1882.  A resultant general stimulus to chess-playing in the district may well have been in part what precipitated the formation of the Sheffield & District Chess Association, whose inaugural meeting was on Tuesday 17/04/1883, when a match was played between the patriarchal Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club and the Rest of the S&DCA.


Bird had clearly established a close association with at least one Sheffield chess-player, Dr. Joseph Law, who soon had his own add-on chess-problem article appended the Bird’s column.  This association with Sheffield chess seems to have led to Bird entertaining the idea of paying a visit to Sheffield.


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 19/051883 carried the following notice, at the end of Bird’s column:



Our desire to visit Sheffield, and to interchange chess amenities with the admirers and friends of the cause there, is likely to be forthwith gratified.  In consequence of a kind invitation received, we anticipate being at the Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, on Saturday, the 25th [sic] inst.  We shall be glad to see any chessists who may favour us with a call.  We hope for the pleasure and honour of meeting as many competitors as possible over the board. – Address “Mr. H. C. TWIST, Hon. Sec., Sheffield and District Chess Association.”


The date stated for the visit should have read 26th.  It’s interesting that “MR E. BIRD” lacked the initial “H”.  Was he generally known as “Edward”, or was it an error?  The arrangements for the visit were made by Henry C. Twist, founding secretary of the Sheffield & District Chess Association.


A fortnight later the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent Weekly Supplement of 02/06/1883 carried the following description of Bird’s visit, inserted after Bird’s column, and before Dr. Law’s problem article, suggesting someone such as Dr. Law wrote the article rather than Bird.  The present writer has created paragraphs in what was originally continuous text.





There was a large gathering of chess players belonging to the Sheffield and District Chess Association, at the Maunche Hotel, on Saturday afternoon and evening last, to meet Mr. H. E. Bird, of London, a chess player of high repute, who has already taken a prominent position in the International Chess Tournament now proceeding in the metropolis, and with whom, doubtless, many Sheffield players had previously become acquainted through the medium of the column devoted to the game in the weekly supplement of the Independent.


The proceedings were thoroughly enjoyable, and Mr. Bird’s genial manner and quick and skilful play gained him many friends.  He played 25 game simultaneously in the afternoon, but some of them were prolonged into the night, and throughout the competition Mr. Bird was never engaged with fewer than 25 players.  He also made a somewhat unusual concession to his opponents under the circumstances, as, instead of commencing the attack, he drew with each player for the right to move first, thus giving them a chance of leading off.  From three o’clock until eleven o’clock, with one short interval, Mr. Bird was kept engaged, and at the close it was found that he had lost six, won twenty, and drawn seven games, six others being unfinished.


Mr. W. H. Lear, of the Rotherham Club; Mr. H. Davy, of the Athenaeum Club; Mr. Fletcher Helleley, of the Thorncliffe Club; Mr. A. C. J. Wilson, of the Arundel Club; and Henry Mercer, of the Athenaeum Club, succeeded in defeating Mr. Bird, though the last-named gentleman must be considered rather lucky in scoring his win.


Mr. Carr Smith played an excellent game, which resulted in a perfectly equal finish, and the progress of which was watched with much attention by the spectators, who were present in strong force during the evening.


A very long and interesting consultation game, which lasted over seven hours, between two pupils of the Sheffield Institution for the Blind – Charles Helliwell, aged twelve, and J. Makins, aged eleven – and Mr. Bird, resulted in the ultimate defeat of the boys, who however, played very strongly.  The board they used was specially adapted for them, the black squares being raised above the white ones and the black pieces being distinguished from the others by having pegs on the top.  Mr. Wood, superintendent of the Blind School, who accompanied the boys, received a medal from the Society of Arts, London, in 1848, in recognition of the ingenuity of this design for a chess board for blind players.  The intelligence they displayed both in attack and defence, and the ease with which they comprehended the state of game by passing their fingers over the pieces were remarkable.


We understand that Mr. Bird formed a very favourable opinion of the chess ability of many of the Sheffield layers, and it is his intention to fight out one at least of the unfinished games by correspondence.  Several of the principle games are reserved for insertion in the Weekly Supplement, viz., Mr. Pullen’s, Dr. Wilson’s, Mr. Arthur Davy’s, Mr. Fletcher Helleley’s, and the blind boys’.  The following is the list of the games played, with their results:-


There was also a report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of Monday, 28/05/1883.


William Wood, the head of the Blind School, Manchester Road, Broomhill, Sheffield, was born 1822/23, in London, so he’d be about 25 when he received the medal for his design for a chess board and set for blind players.


There followed a list of names and results.  The numbers of games stated as drawn and unfinished in the above text are at variance with the list of results, which contained six drawn games and seven unfinished ones.  There were a number of errors in t players’ names, so in the table below, the left-hand column contains the names as reported in the newspaper report, the middle is the reported result, and the right-hand column contains fuller or corrected names based on the knowledge of the present writer, or else, where possible, confirmation that the names are attested elsewhere in match results.


Mr. Arthur Davy (Athenaeum)


Arthur Davy

Mr. J. R. Shepherd (Rotherham)


Joseph Richard Shephard

Mr. H. Rossell (Athenaeum)


Henry Augustus Rossell

Mr. J. Woolman [sic] (Rotherham)


Joseph Wollman

Mr. W. L. Shaw (Arundel)


Walter Lewis Shaw

Mr. W. H. [sic] Lear (Rotherham)


Henry William Lear

Mr. W. Cawkwell (unattached)


William Cawkwell

Mr. J. Reoch (Arundel)


John Reoch

Mr. J. Widdop (Arundel)



Mr. H. Davy (Athenaeum)


Henry Davy (Arthur’s brother)

Mr. Harold Davy (unattached)



Mr. G. B. Cocking (Athenaeum)


George Bailey Cocking

Mr. O. [sic] Hahn (Arundel)


Carl August Hahn

Mr. J H Zimmerman (Athenaeum)


Julius Hermann Zimmermann

Mr. J. Roe (Barnsley)


John Roe

Mr. W. G. Allott (Athenaeum)


William Green Allott

Mr. W. Cockayne jun. (Athenaeum)


William Cockayne, junior

Mr. W. Shaw (Athenaeum)


William Shaw

Mr. F. G. [sic] Foster (Athenaeum)


Frederick Edward Foster

Mr. E. Barlow (Athenaeum)



Mr. J. Shephard (Rotherham)


John Shephard

Mr. J. C. Skinner (St. George’s)


John Crossland Skinner

Mr. Carr Smith (Arundel)


J Carr Smith

Mr. W. G. [sic] Pullen (Arundel)


George Henry Pullen

Mr. T. Scott (Arundel)



Mr. H. Wilkinson (Barnsley)



Mr. G. A. Askham (Athenaeum)


George Albert Roberts Askham

Mr. H. Mercer (Athenaeum)


Henry Mercer

Mr. T. W. Fisher (St. George’s)


Thomas Wormall Fisher

Mr. T. W. Evans (Thorncliffe)


Thomas W. Evans

Mr. Habbershon (Thorncliffe)


M/H(?) Hab(b)ershon

Mr. Fletcher Helleley (Thorncliffe)


Joseph Helleley Fletcher‑Helleley

Mr. J. Smillie (Thorncliffe)


James Smillie

Mr. H. Ward (Rotherham)



Mr. S. Scott (Arundel)



Mr. A. C. J. Wilson (Arundel)


Dr. Arthur Cobden Jordan Wilson

Mr. W. Smith (Penistone)


William Smith

Mr. J. Perry (Barnsley)


James Perry

C. Helliwell &

John Makins [sic] (Blind School)


Charles Helliwell

John H. Makings


The article continued with:


The contest was excellently conducted under the management of Mr. H. C. Twist, hon. sec. of the association.

We append a statement of the games played by Mr. Carr Smith and Mr. Henry Davy.  The former used the Guioco piano opening, and the latter played the Scotch game.


The games then given, in modern notation, were as follows:


Simultaneous Display by H E Bird

Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, 26/05/1883

White: Arthur Davy (Sheffield),

Black: Henry Edward Bird;

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Bc5 5. c3 d6 6. cxd4 Bb6 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qb3 Bxf3 9. Bxf7+ Kf8 10. Bxg8 Rxg8 11. Qxf3+ Qf6 12. Qxf6+ gxf6 13. d5 Nd4 14. Bh6+ Kf7 15. Nc3 Rg6 16. Be3 Nc2 17. Bxb6 Nxa1 18. Bxc7 Nc2 19. Bxd6 Rd8 20. Bg3 Nb4 21. Rd1 Rbg8 22. a3 Na6 23. f4 h5 24. e5 Rg4 25. e6+ Ke7 26. f5 h4 27. d6+ Black resigned, 1-0


Simultaneous Display by H E Bird

Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, 26/05/1883

White: J Carr Smith,

Black: Henry Edward Bird;

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Nxc6 bxc6 9. Bd3 Nc5 10. O-O Nxd3 11. cxd3 Be7 12. f4 g6 13. Nc3 Rb8 14. Ne2 c5 15. d4 Bb5 16. Rf2 c6 17. Ng3 h5 18. f5 cxd4 19. Qf3 Kd7 20. e6+ fxe6 21. fxe6+ Kc7 22. Qf4+ Kb6 23. a4 Ba6 24. a5+ Kb7 25. Qxd4 Ka8 26. Rf7 Rb4 27. Qf2 h4 28. Ne2 Bxe2 29. Qxe2 Re4 30. Qa6 Rxe6 31. Bd2 d4 32. Bg5 Qe8 33. Rxe7 Rxe7 34. Bxe7 Qxe7 35. Qxc6+ Qb7 36. Qxg6 h3 37. Qg3 Qxb2 38. Qf3+ Qb7 39. Qxb7+ Kxb7 draw agreed, ½-½


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent Weekly Supplement of 16/06/1883 gave the game against the blind boys, with the following introductory wording:

Played at the Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, Saturday, May 26th, 1883, between Mr. Bird, of London, and Charles Helliwell with John H. Makings, pupils at the Blind School, Broomhill:-

The game went as follows:

Simultaneous Display by H E Bird

Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, 26/05/1883

White: Charles Helliwell & John H. Makings,

Black: Henry Edward Bird;

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 f5 4. d3 Nc6 5. Bxg8 Rxg8 6. O-O f4 7. d4 Qf6 8. dxe5 dxe5 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Nd5 Qf7 11. Ng5 Bxd1 12. Nxf7 Bxc2 13. Nxc7+ Kxf7 14. Nxa8 Bd6 15. Re1 Rxa8 16. Re2 Ba4 17. Rd2 Ke6 18. b3 Bb5 19. Bb2 Nd4 20. Bxd4 exd4 21. Rad1 Be5 22. a4 Bc6 23. f3 a5 24. Kf2 b5 25. axb5 Bxb5 26. Ra2 g5 27. b4 a4 28. Ra3 h5 29. h3 Rc8 30. Ra2 Rc4 31. Rb1 d3 32. Kg1 Rc3 33. Kf2 Bd4+ 34. Ke1 Be3 35. Kd1 a3 36. Rba1 Ba4+ 37. Ke1 d2+ 38. Ke2 Ke5 39. Rxd2 Bxd2 40. Kxd2 Kd4 41. Rc1 Rxc1 42. Kxc1 Kc3 43. Kb1 Kxb4 44. Ka2 Bb3+ 45. Ka1 Kc3 46. Kb1 Bc4 47. e5 Kd4 48. e6 Bxe6 White resigned, 0-1


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent Weekly Supplement of 23/06/1883 gave the game against Dr. Law:


Simultaneous Display by H E Bird

Maunche Hotel, Sheffield, 26/05/1883

White: Dr Arthur Cobden Jordan Wilson,

Black: Henry Edward Bird;

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Qf6 5. Be3 Qg6 6. Nd2 Nf6 7. Qf3 Ne5 8. Qf5 Qxf5 9. Nxf5 d5 10. Ng3 h5 11. Bd4 Bd6 12. f4 Nc6 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. exd5 Nb4 15. Bb5+ Kf8 16. O-O h4 (A) 17. Nge4 Nxc2 18. Rac1 Ne3 19. Rf3 Nxd5 20. Nxd6 cxd6 21. Ne4 Bg4 22. Rf2 a6 23. Bc4 Rc8 24. Nxd6 Rc6 (B) 25. Nxf7 Rh5 (C) 26. Nd8 Rc8 27. Nxb7 Ne3 28. Nd6 Rc6 29. Rd2 Ke7 (D) 30. Re1 Rxd6 31. Rxe3+ Kd7 32. Rxd6+ Kxd6 33. Be2 Bxe2 34. Rxe2 Kd5 35. Re3 Kd4 36. Re6 Rc5 37. Kf2 Rc2+ 38. Re2 Kd3 39. Rxc2 Kxc2 40. g4 Black resigned, 1-0

[It wasn’t stated who gave these notes, but it was presumably Bird.]

A. - 16. .. Nxc2 at once was much better.

B. - 24. .. Rc7 of course preferable.

C. – Why not 25. .. Rh7?

D. – Very bad.

White’s play is unexceptionable, but Black has at times played better.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

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