Yorkshire Chess History

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Narrative: 14) Discord Over a Name











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site


When the Reverend Arthur Bolland Skipworth renamed his organisation the “Yorkshire Chess Association”, he claimed that some “leading Chess players of the West Riding” supported adoption of this name.  Those players were probably ones from Bradford, such as M. E. Werner, who had played at the 1867 York tournament, and perhaps John Watkinson of Huddersfield.  In reality, the apparent assumption by NY&DCA of the role of representing Yorkshire chess as a whole was far from welcomed by the broader membership of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, which had been formed in 1856 to continue the activities of the original Yorkshire Chess Association formed back in 1840 after the latter had metamorphosed in stages into the British Chess Association.  Skipworth was invited to attend the 1868 WYCA meeting to discuss the matter.


To anyone without a WYCA bias, Skipworth’s action probably seemed quite reasonable.  By its choice of name WYCA had limited its scope to the West Riding, and in its practice it limited itself to the much-smaller clothing area of the Riding.  The cause for discontent might be the arguably implied hierarchical superiority of the new YCA over WYCA.


Skipworth had previously attended the WYCA meeting of 1866, and appears to have regarded the WYCA with warmth and respect.  Indeed, at the WYCA annual meeting held in Sheffield on 16th May 1868, he is reported as stating that

“he could with truth say though he had attended a good many chess meetings, he had never experienced a more hearty reception than had been given that day.”


Shortly after that, the subject of the newly-formed “Yorkshire Chess Association” was raised by Skipworth himself for the purpose, as the Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of 18th May 1868 expressed it,

“of ascertaining the feeling of the members of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in regard to the name.  He said he was aware that it had given offence to some members of the old association, who believed that the names of the associations were too much alike, and that the new association was infringing more than it ought on the name of the other.  .  .  . In the course of the discussion a pretty general opinion was expressed that that it would be desirable to give the new association a more distinctive name, and the Rev. Mr. Skipworth undertook to convey that opinion to the promoters of the association.”


It thus seemed that the matter might have been resolved, but the name-change was slow in coming.  A letter to the Illustrated London News seems to have precipitated action, as the 1868 Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle carried on page 312 the following article:


It is in contemplation to hold the Society’s next meeting at Newcastle, during the first week of August, 1870, under the presidency of Lord Ravenscroft.  We are requested to state that the letter that appeared from “Sheffield-Blade” in the Illustrated London News a few weeks back, has been noticed by several members of the committee, and that in the cause of Chess they will propose to the Association some very general name, especially as it is now proposed to hold the meetings in different parts of England.”


The organisation had actually had two chances to change its name, at its 1868 and 1869 meetings, but had not done so.  It was now effectively transmuting itself into a national organisation running in parallel with the British Chess Association, but with a different slant on what the desirable objectives of a national organisation should be.  The subsequent name change was thus not so much acquiescence to the wishes of WYCA so much as recognition that a new name had become more appropriate to the organisations expanded scope of activity.


The new name turned out to be the “Counties Chess Association”.



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Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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