Yorkshire Chess History



Michael Paul Littlewood











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



26/08/1943, Sheffield





Mike Littlewood was one of four chess-playing Sheffield-born brothers.


Non-Chess Life


Michael Paul Littlewood was the ninth child and sixth son of Alfred Edward Littlewood and Ida Littlewood, née Wheeldon, who had eleven children in all.  Where the family lived prior to 1937 is unclear, but from about that date they lived in a newly-built left-hand semi-detached council property, 222 Eastern Avenue, Sheffield.  For more on the family background, his parents and siblings see The Littlewoods of Sheffield.)


Mike did not go to grammar school.  He claimed to have intentionally “failed” the 11-plus so as to go to the same school as his friends.


He married in 1966, and the couple had a son.


He’d worked as a progress chaser at Osborn Mushet Tools, on Penistone Road, up to about 1970.  Thereafter, gambling increasingly took over control of his life.  The present writer had contact with Mike for fifteen or more years during his struggle with gambling, but has not heard from him since December 2002.




I find it very hard to believe he could possibly still be alive now (2013).


I remember Mike with a small amount of sympathy but mainly despair.




Mike was the fourth Littlewood to win the Sheffield Championship, which he did in 1978.


He played for Hillsborough Chess Club in happier years, and reckoned he aimed to make sure Charlie Gurnhill had a beer at the start of a match.


In the years when there was an annual match between the Sheffield & District Chess Association and the Sheffield & District Works Sports Association Chess Section over up to 100 boards, Mike played a number of times at or near board one for the Works.


He also played for Sheffield in the Yorkshire chess Association’s Woodhouse Cup competition.  On one occasion in the 1960s, in a Sheffield-Doncaster match, I was on board ten, Mike was down to play on board one, and my fellow junior, Norman Wilson, was present as a reserve.  Mike didn’t show up, and Norman Wilson was substituted on board one, played the White side of a Closed Sicilian, and won against Doncaster’s board one, John Beattie!  Retrospectively I wonder if Mike’s absence was a manifestation of his developing gambling problems.


Latterly, both he and brother Norman played for Batemoor & Jordanthorpe in the Sheffield league.


He claimed that while living in Scotland he played in the Glasgow Open, finishing joint first.  Informator did indeed list a game won by “Littlewood” as Black in that event.  This appears to have been Mike, rather than his brother John or his nephew Paul.


Though he returned to Sheffield after that, his problems had effectively terminated the chess career of one of Sheffield’s strongest chess players of the time.





Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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