Yorkshire Chess History
John Edmund Hall
John Edmund Hall was a Bradford chess-player after whom a variation of the Centre Game was named. He featured on high boards of the county team during the 1890s.
His parents were wool-stapler Edmund Hall (born 1815/16, in Loughborough) and Agnes Hall (born 1820/21, in Doncaster). The couple had at least three children, all born in Bradford, the two eldest each taking as middle names the appropriate parent’s first name:
At the time of John’s baptism, the family lived at Springfield Place, Bradford, in the Manningham area of Bradford, not far from Clifton Villas, where Bradford Chess Club has met for a long time now.
By 1861, he was living with parents, younger sister and a live-in servant, at 40 Killinghall Road, Eccleshill, Bradford.
At some time from 1861 to 1871, father Edmund died, and in 1871, mother Agnes was head of the family, which then lived at 27 Howard Street, Horton, Bradford, a street which happens to be next-parallel to that on which is located the Bradford Polish Parish Club, the present venue of Bradford Central Chess Club. John was now a stuff merchant’s clerk, while his mother and sister Mary were schoolteachers, and Emily was a scholar. They still had a live-in servant.
At some time from 1871 to 1881, mother Agnes, seems to have died.
In 1881, the three children and a live-in servant were still living at 27 Howard Street, Horton, Bradford, with Mary as head of the household. John was still working as clerk to a stuff merchant [census, Kelly’s], while Mary had now been joined by Emily as a schoolmistress.
At some time from 1881 and to 1890, John married Mary Eleanor Hall (born 1853/54, in Haxey, Lincs., apparently née Webster). By 1887, John was no longer listed at 27 Howard Street, which housed “Hall, Miss M. A., ladies’ school” [Kelly’s]. Emily is likely to have been assisting sister Mary at this school.
In 1891 John was living at 14 Clare Place, Wyke, with his wife, Mary Eleanor Hall (born 1853/54, in Haxey, Lincs., apparently née Webster) and their son, Charles Maurice Hall (born 1889/90, in Bradford). John was now described as living on his own means. Sister Mary still living as a teacher at 27 Howard Street, and at the time of the census, sister Emily, also still a teacher, happened to be visiting Mary.
In 1901 John, his wife and his son were living at 706 Woodview Terrace, Huddersfield Road, Wyke. John was still described as living on his own means.
In 1911 the family was still at Woodview, but John was now described (by himself, as the 1911 census was completed by the householders) as “Editor (chess news, problems and games),” working from home for a newspaper proprietor. Son Charles was now an analytical research chemist working for a cotton and [something] finishing and dyeing company.
By the time he died, in 1941, he seems to have move to the East Riding, very vaguely to the Bridlington, Driffield and Pocklington (“Buckrose”) area.
He attended the annual meetings of the West Yorkshire Chess Association of 1877, 1885, 1887, 1888, and 1889.
In 1888 he played in the BCA Masters’ Tournament, Bradford, finishing 15th out of 17.
In the Bradford v Liverpool Club Match at Liverpool, 1890, he played Yorkshire-born Amos Burn on board 1, and predictably lost.
The Hall Variation in Centre Game is named after him, the characteristic move being 4.Qc4 in the following line: 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qc4.
Position after 4. Qc4
A defence he liked as Black, which was popularised by, and named after, a more famous player, was 1 ... Nf6 in reply to 1. e4 (Alekhine’s Defence), which Hall adopted in the following game, in which he won the Yorkshire Championship.
Yorkshire County Chess Club Championship, ENG, 1892-93
White: Ward, Seth (Dewsbury), Black: Hall, John Edmund (Bradford)
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. exd6 exd6 7. Bd3 Qf6 8. Nd2 Qe6+ 9. Be2 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. b3 Bf5 12. Bb2 d5 13. c5 N3d7 14. Re1 Qg6 15. Bd3 Bf6 16. Bxf5 Qxf5 17. b4 c6 18. Nb3 Na6 19. a3 Rae8 20. Na5 Rxe1+ 21. Qxe1 Rb8 22. Nxb7! Rxb7 23. Qe8+ Nf8 24. Qxc6 Nxc5 25. Qxc5 Re7 26. Ne5 Qe4 27. b5 h6 28. h3 Ne6 29. Qc3 Rc7 30. Qe3 Qc2 31. Bc1? (31. Nd3 saves the piece.) 31... Bg5 32. Qf3 Nxd4 33. Qxd5 Ne2+ 34. Kh1 Nxc1 35. Nf3 Bf6 White resigned [Bradford Observer Budget, 08/04/1893]
He played in the 1890 British Chess Association congress, held in Manchester, from 25th August to 8th September 1890, playing in the British Amateur Championship, and finishing 10th out of 12, on 4 out of 11.
In the 1896 Yorkshire-Cheshire match, played at Manchester on 18th April 1896, he lost on board 2 to J. P. Kenrick.
In the 1897 Yorkshire-London Cable match, played on 18th December 1897, he lost on board 2 to Thomas Physick as follows:
Yorkshire-London Telegraph Match, 18/12/1897
White: Physick, Thomas (London, Black: Hall, John Edmund (Bradford)
1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. Bc4 Nb6 4. Be2 d5 5. d4 Bf5 6. Nf3 e6 7. O-O c5 8. c3 Nc6 9. Be3 Nd7 10. Bd3 Bxd3 11. Qxd3 Be7 12. Nd2 O-O 13. Ne1 f6 14. f4 c4 15. Qe2 fxe5 16. fxe5 Rxf1+ 17. Nxf1 Bg5 18. Qg4 Bxe3+ 19. Nxe3 Qe7 20. Nf3 Rf8 21. Ng5 Nd8 22. Qh5 h6 23. Nh3 Rf7 24. g3 Nf8 25. Ng2 Rf5 26. Qg4 Kh7 27. Ngf4 g6 28. Kg2 Nf7 29. Qe2 Ng5 30. Nf2 Kg7 31. h4 Ngh7 32. Ng4 Nd7 33. Qc2 Qe8 34. Ne3 Rf8 35. h5 g5 36. Ng6 Rf7 37. Qe2 Nf8 38. Rh1 Rd7 39. Nxf8 Nxf8 40. Rf1 Rf7 41. Rf6 Qe7 42. Ng4 Nh7 43. Rg6+ Kf8 44. Nxh6 Rg7 (44...Ke8 looks like a better way to wriggle.) 45. Qg4 Rxg6 46. hxg6 Black resigned
He played on board 3 in the 1898 Yorkshire v Lancashire match, played on 19th February 1898, in Manchester, losing to Victor Lionel Wahltuch. Then in the Yorkshire v Lancashire match, played on 11th March 1899, in Huddersfield, he lost on board 2 to Percy Blake.
His luck in county matches improved with the Yorkshire v Lancashire match, played on 3rd February 1900, in Manchester, when he drew on board 3 with Wilfred C Palmer.
The 1901 Yorkshire v Lancashire match, played on 23rd March 1901, in Leeds, saw him again playing Amos Burn, and losing.
In the 1907 NCCU tournament played on 4th to 9th March, at Blackpool didn’t do too well.
He died in 27th October 1941, aged 88, his death being registered in the Buckrose registration district which encompassed an area including Bridlington and Driffield.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information