Yorkshire Chess History

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Narrative: 1) Before 1841 – The Age of Clubs











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site


Before the formation of the original Yorkshire Chess Association, there were a number of clubs in existence.  The strongest players in the country were for the most part based to London, which boasted a number of chess clubs or coffee houses which formed meeting-places for chess-players.


In the “provinces” clubs were quite numerous, necessarily based in the larger towns, and usually no more than one club per town.


In 1840, within Yorkshire, there were chess clubs in Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, and Wakefield.  The Leeds club had been formed in 1834, and the Wakefield one in 1837.  The Halifax club was formed in May 1840.  The Huddersfield club may have been little more than an informal chess group in 1840, which dwindled over the next few years.  Today’s Huddersfield Chess Club was formed in 1852.


There were known chess-players in Sheffield, Bradford and Hull, who attended early YCA meetings.  The Sheffield Athenaeum Chess club was formed on 22nd November 1847.  There seems no evidence of any earlier chess club in Sheffield.  A Doncaster Chess Club existed as early as 1834.  Bradford Chess Club was formed in 1853.


In adjacent counties, there were clubs at Manchester, Nottingham and Liverpool.  Nottingham Chess Club was formed in 1829.  Liverpool Chess Club was formed in 1837.  A Manchester club formed in 1817 seems to have fizzled out at some stage, but a new club had been formed in 1839.


Clubs played each other in games played by post, with members of a club acting in consultation rather than as individuals.  Each consulting team was in those days termed a “committee”.  Examples of such early inter-club correspondence consultation games and matches were:

Nottingham v Huddersfield match 18??

Wakefield v Huddersfield game 18??

Leeds v Liverpool matches 1838-41

Sheffield v Kingston-upon-Hull 1839-40

Huddersfield v Wakefield game 1840-1841


There was even such an encounter between two committees of Leeds Chess Club members in 18??!


Over-the-board inter-club matches as we know them now were unknown.  There were no tournaments outside clubs.


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Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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