Yorkshire Chess History
Identity of the Chess-Player
“F. Schofield” is conspicuous in chess results over the period 1899 to 1938. When there was a geographical attribution then it was “Leeds”. Some reports regarding him winning a club or county championship give him the forename “Frank” (which in principal could more formally have been Francis). Unfortunately, “Frank Schofield” was not that rare a name in Leeds over the years.
His year of birth seems likely to have been in the 1870s, though there appear to have been no remotely corresponding Leeds births under the name. So, he seems to have been born outside Leeds, then moved into Leeds by 1899.
If he were living in Leeds in 1938, then he'd be expected to probably appear in the 1939 Register as resident there, and there is only one Frank Schofield listed in Leeds, and he turns out to have been born in the vicinity of Dewsbury in 1873. A Frank Schofield died in Leeds in 1954, aged 81, so this seems to be the same person. That he was a “white-collar” worker makes him a more plausible candidate than, say, a butchery journeyman as was one other Leeds person of the name. This person born in the Dewsbury area and later resident in Leeds was therefore seems to be the chess-player, but something more definite to confirm the identification is desirable.
As luck would have it, Paul Lonergan of Kingston owns some bound copies of the British Chess Magazine, from the 1920s and 1930s, some of which bear Frank Schofield’s signature, while some say “Leeds Chess Club”, and, importantly, one from 1924 has the name and address “F. Schofield, 23 Airlie Place, Harehills, Leeds". Leeds electoral rolls of the time list a Frank and Clara Schofield living at 23 Airlie Place, and no other Frank and Clara couple is listed elsewhere. Thus the biographical details which follow are those of the chess-playing Frank Schofield.
(Images courtesy of Paul Lonergan)
Frank Schofield was one of at least ten children born to Benjamin Schofield (born b. 1834/35, Saddleworth) and Ann Schofield (b. 1837/38, Lepton or Kirkburton [née Shaw?]), they seemingly having married in 1859 in Kirkburton:
* seems odd, but possible
Places of birth were sometimes given in censuses as Mirfield, which equates in broad terms to Ravensthorpe (which is between Dewsbury and Mirfield, and is now a district of Dewsbury). Ravensthorpe was separated off from the ecclesiastical parish Mirfield in 1870, so “Mirfield” is not wrong, merely less precise. Different censuses tended to vary somewhat as to the place specified. Lepton is sometimes mentioned, which is about 1½ miles north of Kirkburton.
In 1861 the family (parents and Fred) lived at Foresters Row, Kirkburton (c. 5 miles SE of Huddersfield), father Benjamin being a woollen spinner.
The family seems to have moved house around 1868 or 1869.
In 1871 the family (parents and 6 children) lived at Mirfield (probably more precisely Ravensthorpe), father Benjamin being a woollen overseer.
Frank was baptised on 09/03/1873 in Ravensthorpe.
The 1881 census found the parents and ten children living at Dearnley Street, Ravensthorpe. Father Benjamin was a wool spinner.
The 1891 census found the parents and the above eight children all living at Stocks Bank, Mirfield. Father Benjamin was manager of a woollen mill. 18-year-old Frank was a bookkeeper.
The 1901 census found 29-year-old Frank Schofield, a post office sorting, clerk, living no longer with his parents, but at 23 Bagby Street, Leeds, with a live‑in housekeeper.
In 1909, Frank Schofield married Clara Shaw (born 15/01/1884, Kirkburton, conceivably a cousin on his mother’s side), in Huddersfield. The couple had at least three children:
* The birth was apparently registered at Tadcaster, so maybe the mother went to relatives in Tadcaster for the birth.
The 1911 census found Frank and Clara living at 2 Marshall Avenue, Crossgates, Leeds, with first child George Eric Schofield, Frank's 73-year-old widowed mother Ann Schofield (born 1837/38, Lepton, a satellite village outside, Huddersfield), and Frank's unmarried 43-year-old sister Emily Schofield (born 1867, Kirkburton). Frank was employed by a corn merchant as a bookkeeper. George's place of birth was recorded by Frank as Crossgates, Leeds, despite birth registration records stating Tadcaster.
Leeds electoral rolls record Frank and Clara Schofield living at 23 Airlie Place, Leeds, from 1920 (and possibly earlier) through to 1931 (and possibly later). There were at least 8 people called Frank Schofield in the 1925 Leeds electoral roll, but seemingly only one Frank and Clara at the same address.
The 1939 Register found Frank, Clara and the two (unmarried) daughters living a 24 Talbot Street, Leeds. Frank was still a corn merchant's bookkeeper. The daughters were both shorthand typists.
Wife Clara died on 18/11/1949, when the couple still lived at 24 Talbot Street, Roundhay, Leeds. Probate records described Frank as a retired cashier.
Frank Schofield played regularly for Leeds in the Woodhouse Cup and for Yorkshire in county matches over the period 1901 to 1938, and also a little before that, and possibly afterwards.
He won the Yorkshire Championship in 1920, 1927 and 1928.
In 1924 he entered the Major Open at the British Championships in Southport, a 12-player all-play-all, finishing with 3 points out of 11. His game against Akiba Rubenstein, who won with 11 out of 11, went as follows:
White: Frank Schofield, Black: Akiba Rubinstein
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 Be7 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Nf1 b5 9. Bc2 d5 10. Bg5 h6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. exd5 Qxd5 13. Ne3 Qd7 14. O-O Bb7 15. Qe2 g6 16. Rad1 Rae8 17. h3 Bg7 18. 1Rd2 f5 19. Re1 Kh7 20. Nf1 Ne7 21. Ne3 c5 22. Qd1 Nc6 23. Nf1 Nd8 24. a4 Qd6 25. N1h2 Ne6 26. axb5 axb5 27. Qe2 Nf4 28. Qf1 Qc6 29. g3 Ne6 30. Qg2 c4 31. Nh4 Qc7 32. Qf1 Ng5 33. dxc4 bxc4 34. Bb1 e4 35. Red1 e3 36. Re2 exf2+ 0-1
He played in the Major tournament of the 1925 Scarborough Congress, winning his section and then the inter-section play-off.
He played in the Major tournament of the 1927 Scarborough Congress, finishing only 5th in Section A, just missing out on a prize.
As indicated above, he was still reading the British Chess Magazine in the 1930s.
There was also an “A. Schofield” who played from 1907 for Dewsbury. This might look rather like one of Frank's brothers, either Arthur or Aaron (though neither is known definitely to have played chess). This A Schofield of Dewsbury was not the Alex Schofield who was born 30/10/1901, Pontefract, played pre-war for Leeds and was post-war secretary of Wakefield Chess Club, and died 1976, Pontefract. It turns out A Schofield who played for Dewsbury was in fact sometime YCA secretary Allan Schofield.
Frank Schofield, still of 24 Talbot Street, Roundhay, Leeds, died on 04/12/1954, at the age of 81. He left £2,754 7s 4d. Probate was granted to son George Eric Schofield, a “company manager”.
Copyright © 2018 Stephen John Mann
Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information