Yorkshire Chess History
Yorkshire County Chess Club
Chess matches between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire began in 1871, when there was no Yorkshire Chess Association, as such, and no Lancashire Chess Association!
The original Yorkshire Chess Association had by then evolved into the British Chess Association, and the function of representing Yorkshire as a whole in chess matters was assumed by the West Yorkshire Chess Association, which was formed in 1856 as the spiritual reincarnation of original Yorkshire Chess Association.
There had never been a Lancashire county chess organisation at that time. The main clubs in Lancashire were those of Manchester and Liverpool, and it was these who between them organised the Lancashire side of the early Yorkshire-Lancashire matches.
It was the absence of a formal county-wide chess organisation to organise matches against Lancashire, and any other county for that matter, that led Herr Hartwig Cassel (only one “l”) to formally propose to the 1885 annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association:
That the officers of the West Yorkshire Chess Association be authorised to endeavour to establish a Yorkshire County Chess Club; and that a place of meeting of the secretaries of all the clubs in Yorkshire be decided upon, and a date for such meeting fixed.
The newspaper write-up of the meeting reported, regarding Herr Cassel:
He said his main object in moving that resolution was to bring about better organisation for the purposes of the county match, Lancashire v. Yorkshire. He believed that chess players were not less intelligent in Yorkshire than in Lancashire, but that in Yorkshire they were not yet so well organised as were the players in the adjoining county. The West Yorkshire Chess Association was very good in its way, but not at all sufficient for the purpose. It met once a year, and went through its business, but the rest of the county was not organised in any way. He thought that the sleepers should be brought to a sense of their duty. He would not at that meeting go into questions of detail regarding the county club. Those should be left for the consideration of the secretaries at their meeting.
The proposal was seconded by Robert McCheyne Macmaster of Bradford.
John Watkinson of Huddersfield proposed an amendment the effect of which would be to leave things as they were, but that was defeated, and the original proposal was carried.
Accordingly, W. Rea, WYCA secretary, called a meeting of as many Yorkshire chess club secretaries as could be mustered, at the Bull Hotel, Wakefield, on Saturday, 5th September 1885. Club representatives physically present at the meeting were as follows:
Mr. Rea chaired the meeting, and he read out letters from the following organisation representatives:
Only the Huddersfield representative opposed the idea of forming the Yorkshire County Chess Club (in line with Watkinson’s opposition to it at the 1885 WYCA annual meeting).
The meeting formally established the Yorkshire County Chess Club there and then, and adopted the following objectives:
1 to organise chess more thoroughly in Yorkshire;
2 to promote annual tournaments for chess players, to be held at the large Yorkshire Towns in succession;
3 the arrangement of inter-town matches in Yorkshire for trophies or otherwise;
4 to make arrangements for county matches, especially with Lancashire;
5 the engagement of a professional chess master, to visit clubs for purposes of instruction;
6 to arrange for the more effective publication of chess news;
7 to encourage problems and solution competitions;
8 to select representatives to take part in national and international tournaments.
Objective 1 was really an overarching one, and might have been better worded as “to organise chess over Yorkshire as a whole more efficiently”.
Objective 2 was to replicate the standard recipe of the original YCA and of WYCA, but at venues across Yorkshire as a whole.
Objective 3 was already being served by WYCA, and this objective consequently led to nothing significant.
Objective 4 was the main point: to represent Yorkshire as a whole to the outside world.
Objectives 5 & 6 were somewhat nebulously aspirational, and were never obviously achieved by the YCCC as such.
Objective 7 related to an activity embraced commonly enough in those days, though absent from WYCA’s activities.
Objective 8 was rather nonsensical.
The missing objective was to organise internal activities specific to the county as a whole, primarily a Yorkshire individual championship.
It was decided the officers should consist of a president, twelve vice-presidents, a treasurer, a secretary, and a committee consisting of one representative from each organisation belonging to the club. (Thus it was implicitly and association of clubs rather than of individuals.)
The following were appointed to office, subject to their agreement:
“Charles Milnes Gaskell (Wakefield)” was presumably Charles George Milnes Gaskell, son of James Milnes Gaskell qv.
It was decided the annual subscription would be 5s. for clubs of 20 members or fewer, and 10s for clubs of more than 20 members, and that the financial year should start on 1st October.
It was decided, in view of the size of the county, to allow voting by proxy or in writing.
The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent Weekly Supplement of Saturday 16/01/1886 gave a report on developments:
Windhill is about half a mile to the east of the centre of Shipley.
The first meeting of the committee was fixed as being at Leeds on 17th October 1885, and the first annual tournaments were commenced at the first annual meeting, on 23rd July 1886, in Bradford. A further nine such annual meetings were held from 1887 to 1895. (See event index for links to details.)
In 1896, the West Yorkshire Chess Association and the Yorkshire County Chess Club were merged to form the present Yorkshire Chess Association.
[Main source: undated, unattributed newspaper cutting in WYCA Minute Book.]
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann