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Baruch Harold Wood

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Sheffield Sub-Site

 

Born:

13/07/1909, Nether Edge, Sheffield

Baptised:

 

Died:

04/04/1989, Sutton Coldfield

Buried:

Sutton Coldfield Cemetery

 

The Name

 

The first thing to be said about “B. H. Wood” is that his full name, as given by his parents, was Harold Baruch Wood.  This is the name in which his birth was registered.  At some point in early adulthood, about 1928, he seems to have chosen to re-format this.  The explanation for this appears to be that within the family he was known as Baruch or Barry, and that he just wanted to make his written and spoken names conform to conventional sequencing.  Thus he became Baruch Harold Wood, or “Baruch H. Wood”, or informally “Barry”, or the “B. H. Wood” by which so many chess-players knew him.

 

Being known by their second forenames seems to have been the general practice with his father and uncles.   It could be that the first name was reserved for formal contexts, and the second was for informal use.  His father was Baruch Talbot Wood, who signed his 1911 census form with “Talbot Wood”, with no reference to his first name.  Similarly, an uncle called Edward Escott Wood signed his 1911 census form with “E. Escott Wood”.  His uncle George Benjamin Wood was less informative, signing his 1911 census return simply with “G. B. Wood”.  However, a reference to this uncle attending a wedding called him “G. Ben. Wood”, suggesting he was known as Benjamin/Ben rather than George, at least in certain situations.  (Uncle Joseph Wilks Bentley Wood went to the other extreme, signing his 1911 census form with the full “Joseph Wilks Bentley Wood”.  Uncle Harold Victor Wood was in lodgings, in Cardiff, in 1911, and so did not sign such a census return.)

 

The printed form of such names does not reliably tell you what the person was called, as “John Frederick Smith” will tend, by default, to be abbreviated to “John F. Smith” if the writer does not know that the person is actually known as “Fred”.

 

“Baruch” is a Hebrew male personal name (which sometimes gets used as a surname), and appears to have been a recycled name in the extended Wood family, both the London and Sheffield branches.  Harold Baruch Wood’s father was Baruch Talbot Wood, whose father in turn was George Baruch Wood, whose father in turn was, however, simply William Wood.

 

Between father and son, the “Baruch” alternated between being the first name and second one.  Thus, if we accept Harold Baruch Wood’s adjustment to this sequencing “rule”, then you would expect him to have a son with “Baruch” in the middle, but normally known by his first name.  He did indeed have such a son.

 

Grandfather George Baruch Wood

 

Although B. H. Wood, and his father, aunts and uncles, where all born in Sheffield, his paternal grandfather, George Baruch Wood, was born and raised in the London area.

 

He was born in 1834, at Stratford, Essex, and was baptised on 31/08/1834, at All Saints, West Ham.  The baptism register recorded his parents as William and Margaret Wood.  Although the father was not credited with a “Baruch”, it is interesting to note that there was a Baruch Wood, born 1813/14, who died in the Bromley area in 1899, who could well have been brother to this William Wood.

 

In the branch of the Wood family which remained in London, there was another George Baruch Wood, son of engineer William Wood, and wife Jane Wood, of 17 Queen Street, Stratford, who was baptised on 07/04/1872 at St John, Stratford.  This second George Baruch Wood looks possibly to be a nephew of the first.

 

The George Baruch Wood born in 1834 went on to marry Eleanor Jane Parker (born 1835/36, Stepney), on 05/04/1858, at Stepney.  (The “Eleanor” got re-spelt in different ways, e.g. “Ellenor”.)

 

The 1861 census found the couple, as yet without offspring it seems, living along with a boarder, at 4 Leytonstone Road, Stratford, London.  George was an engineer, as was their boarder.

 

According to an obituary in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 03/10/1912, George had served an apprenticeship with the Great Eastern Railway Company, and in due course (“over 40 years ago”) moved to Sheffield, presumably for work-related reasons.

 

The 1871 census accordingly found “Geo. B. Wood” (who seems to have been called “George”, not “Baruch”), and Eleanor Jane Wood, along with 7-year-old Mile End-born niece, Amey Maria Parker, and a servant, living at 63 Brunswick Street, Sheffield, close to the town centre.  George was an assistant steel manager.

 

Later in 1871, George and Eleanor had their first child:

 

George Benjamin Wood

born 1871, Sheffield

 

It appears the mother died during or shortly after childbirth, as the birth of the child and the death of the mother were both registered in the fourth quarter of 1871, in Sheffield.

 

As was usual in such cases, the widower soon took another wife, who was another London-born lass.  Again as was often the case, the second wife was significantly younger than the first!  Thus George Baruch Wood, in 1872, in Sheffield, married Mary Helen Mabson (born 1850/51, at Kingsland, in the borough of Islington; died 1924, Sheffield).  “Helen” sometimes got rendered “Ellen”.

 

Mary “Ellen” (i.e. Helen) Mabson and Sheffield-born Joseph W Mabson had been living with their widowed Sheffield-born aunt, Mary Anne Wilks, at Priory Villas, Priory Road, Sheffield, at the time of the 1871 census.  The name Wilks was given as a forename to the newly-weds’ first child.

 

In all (according to the 1911 census), George and Mary between them had 9 children (which excludes the above George Benjamin Wood), of whom 7 survived to adulthood.  All were born in Sheffield:

 

Joseph Wilks Bentley Wood

birth reg. Q1 1877

death reg. 1952, Thrapston reg. dist.

Edward Escott Wood

born 14/11/1878

baptised 13/02/1879, St Paul, Sheffield

Baruch Talbot Wood

(father of B. H. Wood)

born 06/08/1880

baptised 06/02/1881, Highfield, Sheffield

died 12/01/1951, Weybridge

Willie Siddall Wood

born 04/04/1884

death in Sheffield registered Q4 1886

Eleanor Sarah Mary Wood

born 31/12/1885

married Douglas Edward Beardshaw

death reg. Q1 1974, Sheffeld

Harold Victor Wood

born 02/08/1887

Doris Muriel Wood

born January 1891

Grace Helen Wood

birth reg. Q3 1893

and another who died early in life,

as yet unidentified

 

At some point, perhaps in the late 1870s (“upwards of 30 years” previously in 1912), George Baruch Wood started working for Charles Cammell & Co, manufacturer of armour plate (for the Admiralty) &c, which later became Cammell, Laird & Co.  The main factory site was Cyclops Works, Savile Street, to the immediate north-east of the town centre, so George would have to cross town to get to work.  He started as an assistant to the managing director, later becoming a general works manager.  An extract from White’s Sheffield directory for 1879 captures the extent of the concern:

 

Cammell Charles & Co. (lim.) merchants and manufacturers of armour plates, steel, files, cast steel rails, axles, tires [sic], railway springs, &c. and rollers, tilters and forgers; Cyclops Works, Savile street; and Grimesthorpe Steel Works; and Yorkshire Steel & Iron Works, Penistone.

 

The 1881 census found George Baruch Wood, wife and children, living at 15 Chippinghouse Road, Sheffield, which house bore the name “Ellesmere Villa”.  (This part of Chippinghouse Road, the part to the west of Abbeydale Road, was also sometimes called “Upper Chippinghouse Road”, to distinguish it from the section to the east.)  George was earlier listed at this address in the 1879 directory.

 

The 1881 census described George Baruch Wood as a mechanical engineer in an armour plate works, which was obviously that of Charles Cammell & Co.

 

The 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses found the family, including such children as had not yet left home or died, at 3 Moncrieffe Road, Sheffield, a detached property which bore the name “Derwent House”.  By 1891, George was being described as manager of an iron and steel works, and was still so described in 1901, when second son, Joseph Wilks Bentley Wood, was a mechanical engineer’s draughtsman, probably with Charles Cammell & Co.

 

Somewhat bemusingly, the enumerator who covered Moncrieffe Road for the 1891 census used “Bakewell Road” throughout for the properties on Moncrieffe Road.  No “Bakewell Road” existed in White’s directories, and the present writer lived in the same area for about 27 years without ever encountering such a street name there, so where “Bakewell” came from is a mystery.

 

George Baruch Wood died in Sheffield on 02/10/1912.  He left £4,608 18s 4d, which is equivalent to about £530,400 in today’s terms, according the Bank of England inflation calculator.

 

Father Baruch Talbot Wood

 

The 1901 census showed that Talbot (as he was evidently known) had sidestepped the grime of the iron and steel works, and was a bank clerk.  He seems to have remained a bank clerk, or possibly eventually a bank manager, for the rest of his working life.

 

On 10/09/1908, at St. Peter’s Abbeydale, he married Florence Muriel Herington (born 1881/82, London), younger daughter of the then-late William H. Herington, solicitor, of London.  Brother “Harold V. Wood” was best man.  “Miss Wood” (presumably Eleanor) attended the bride.  Afterwards, the couple travelled to London, en route for Paris.  This creates the suspicion that B. H. Wood was perhaps conceived in Paris, but that is presumably not the case, as there seems a month’s delay.  They appear to have had only the one child:

 

Harold Baruch Wood

(later “Baruch Harold Wood”)

born 13/07/1909, Sheffield

 

The 1911 census found parents Talbot and Florence living with 1-year-old son “Harold Baruch Wood” in Violet Bank Road, Sheffield, a cul de sac off Machon Bank Road, opposite the end of Montgomery Road.  The father numbered the house “30” on the census return, and signed his name “Talbot Wood”.  However, the 1911 directory listed Baruch T. Wood, bank clerk, at 34 Violet Bank Road, and number 30 was, by omission, implied to be empty.  So, did they move from 30 to 34 (or vice versa), or was father mistaken?  34 was an end-terrace property at the end of the cul de sac, on the right-hand side as approached from the Machon Bank Road end.  The Woods were not recorded as resident in Violet Bank Road in the 1905 directory.

 

Violet Bank Road was only a couple of minutes’ walk from Talbot’s parents’ home, which could be reached by crossing Machon Bank Road from the bottom of Violet Bank Road, walking along Montgomery Road to the mid-point, at a five-way road junction which includes the low-number end of Moncrieffe Road, and turning right onto Moncrieffe Road.

 

This is all in the Nether Edge district of Sheffield, and in the parish of Sharrow.  (“Nether” means “below”, and the “Edge” in question is Brincliffe Edge.)

 

The family evidently moved in time to the Ecclesall Road South area of Sheffield, as mentioned below.

 

Wife Florence Muriel Wood died at some stage from 1911 to 1939.

 

At some stage prior to the outbreak of World War II, Talbot moved to Surrey, perhaps in connection with his work.  The 1939 Register found widower “Baruch T. Wood”, bank clerk, to be a patient in (Wes?)tlands Nursing Home, Liberty Lane, Addlestone, Chertsey, Surrey.  Whatever the illness was, he obviously recovered.

 

In his 60s, Baruch Talbot Wood took a second wife, Christabel Edwardes-Ker (born 1887, Woodbridge reg. district of Suffolk).  The couple married in Sheffield in 1944, though Talbot was perhaps living in Surrey at the time.

 

Baruch Talbot Wood died on 12/01/1951, his home at the time being “By the Hedge”, Weybridge Park, Weybridge, Surrey.  He left a relatively modest £247 1s 6d, which equates to about £7,820 in today’s terms.  Second wife Christabel is mentioned in the probate records.

 

Harold Baruch Wood (“B. H. Wood”)

 

B. H. Wood seems to have been the only child of Baruch Talbot Wood.  He was born in Sheffield on 13/07/1909, most probably at Violet Bank Road, in the Nether Edge district of Sheffield, and in the parish of Sharrow.

 

B. H. Wood is sometimes recorded as born at Ecclesall, Sheffield.  This dubious notion presumably arises from his birth being registered in the registration district of Ecclesall Bierlow.  The name Ecclesall Bierlow applies to an extensive area of south-west Sheffield, which includes Ecclesall, Sharrow, Nether Edge, and a dozen or so other such localities.

 

At some stage, Harold Baruch Wood (or perhaps more precisely his parents, if he was away at school or university at the time) evidently did sooner or later move to live in Ecclesall, in the Ecclesall Road South area, whereby hangs a tale.  In the mid to late 1960s, a member of King Edward VII Grammar School chess team ordered from Chess Ltd, Sutton Coldfield, a copy of a book on Bird’s Opening, by Rolf Schwarz.  Wood had obviously spotted the address on the order and chosen to write a personal note to the customer.  Obviously there was a mix up, because a copy of the book was despatched in the normal way, and another copy was despatched with a covering note from B. H. Wood, which said something semi-poetic, along the lines of “Did you not know that I once lived but just 100 yards from where you now live?”  The present writer then bought the second copy from that customer at half-price.

 

The Ecclesall property concerned will very probably have been just newly built when the Woods moved in.  (Researching the details in not possible while Covid-19 restrictions prevail.)

 

Education

 

B. H. Wood reportedly went, presumably as a boarder, to Friar’s School, Ffriddoedd Road, Bangor, Wales.  Its earliest manifestation was founded in 1557, on the site of a Dominican Friary which was closed down in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  By the time B. H. Wood went there, a new building, further out of town, had been built at the Ffriddoedd Road site.  Things have changed further since then.

 

Presumably there were significant costs involved in sending him to Friar’s, and this may have been met out of the money left by his grandfather.

 

Presumably he had earlier received some sort of primary school education before going to Friar’s.  If at the time he was still living at Violet Bank Road, then he would probably have gone to the county schools, as they were then called, in the more-northern corner formed by Glen Road and Abbeydale Road, which is where the present writer went to infant and junior school.

 

From Friar’s, he went conveniently to the University College of North Wales, Bangor, which, in about May 1931, he left with a 1st class honours BSc degree in chemistry.  The Western Mail & South Wales News of 13/07/1931 reported the award of various “in-college scholarships, exhibitions, and prizes at the University College of North Wales for the next session.”  The list of three recipients under the heading “Isaac Roberts and Owen Pritchard Scholarships” included “Baruch Harold Wood, B.Sc., £75”.  Thus he was already using “Baruch” as his first name.  Since he had evidently already got his BSc, the scholarship was presumably to fund an MSc.

 

From Bangor he reportedly went to Birmingham University whence he emerged with an MSc.  He was thus all set for a career in chemistry, and it is said he got a job in chemical research in Litchfield, Staffs.  Henceforth he was rooted in the Midlands.

 

Chess Ltd, Sutton Coldfield

 

For some reason he gave up chemistry to make a living from chess, initially by establishing a new chess magazine.  It is quite possible he had been talking to his uncle Harold Victor Wood, who was a journalist.

 

The monthly magazine Chess was established in 1935, and did of course constitute a rival to the existing British Chess Magazine (also established by a Yorkshireman, John Watkinson).

 

Yorkshire-born Arthur Firth, formerly the organiser of the Craigside Tournaments, had for a few years been editor of the Social Chess Quarterly, and it seems that after its last edition, that of October 1935, it was in some way, to some extent, absorbed into B. H. Wood’s Chess magazine.

 

The first issue of Chess came out about 14/09/1935, and contained 32 games, problems, and various articles, one by World Champion, Alekhine, though one suspects Alekhine was not a regular contributor!  Subsequent monthly issues were to be published on the 14th of each month.  The subscription rate was 12s. for 12 successive monthly issues, post free, but the first 50 subscriptions were being offered at 10s. 6d. post free.  The editor’s name was given as “Baruch H. Wood”.

 

The magazine’s office was originally at the Masonic Buildings, Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield (and was still there in 1949), but it ended up in the basement part of Sutton Coldfield railway station (built 1862).  The latter “Chess” premises came to resemble a waste-paper recycling establishment on account of being so untidy, with higgledy-piggledy piles of this and that, randomly placed, it seemed, here and there.  That, at least, was the impression made on the occasion of a visit by the present writer.

 

The precise address was an unnecessary detail, Wood liked to think, so that he would give the postal address simply as follows:

"Chess”, Sutton Coldfield, England (sufficient address).

 

Chess Ltd was not just a magazine, but a broader printing and publishing concern, and a retailer of chess equipment.  Regarding the latter, Chess had been advertising “genuine Staunton chessmen” for sale.  These were not ones manufactured by Messrs. John Jaques and Son, Ltd, who headed some of their advertisements with

JAQUES

FOR THE ONLY

GENUINE

STAUNTON CHESSMEN

 

Jaques sought a restraining order to prevent Wood using the description “genuine Staunton chessmen”, claiming that it implied they were made by Jaques.  The hearing started on 16/05/1939 but had to be adjourned.  On resumption the next day, Mr. Justice Cross ruled that Wood was entitled to use the term “Staunton”, but that the term “genuine” in this connection did indeed imply they were made by Jaques.  So, Jaques had won on that point, but no costs were awarded to either side.  There remained the question of possible damages.  (If Wood had been under-cutting Jaques on price, then they would arguably have been losing sales, due to his misuse of “genuine”.)  This case reportedly cost Wood over £1,000.

 

He conducted newspaper chess columns from time to time, the basic work for which obviously largely overlapped that for the magazine.

 

The magazine was eventually taken over by Pergamon Press in 1988.

 

Wood seemed to have a reputation, with some, for not being a good businessman, though that may not have been a generally held view.  He did a prodigious amount of chess work on all fronts, and did so for about 50 years in round numbers.  He might be thought of as a “professional amateur”, in that he did it for a living (professional) but also did it for the love of chess, and hence was an “amateur” in the etymologically literal sense.

 

In the 1984 New Year Honours list, “Baruch Harold Wood” was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the short citation being “For services to chess”.

 

Marriage

 

The marriage of “Baruch H Wood” to Marjory E Farrington (born 18/11/1908, Wolstanton reg. district), was registered at Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, in the 4th quarter of 1936.  Marjory became a director of Chess Ltd, though it is difficult to believe she was active in that capacity beyond perhaps helping on a bookstall.  The couple had four children, who all became chess-players:

 

Margaret Eileen Elizabeth Wood

born 29/10/1937, Sutton Coldfield

Christopher Baruch Wood

born 11/12/1940, Ross-on-Wye

Rex Frank T Wood

born 1942/43, Sutton Coldfield

Philip R C Wood

born 26/07/1944, Birmingham

 

Margaret was commonly known as “Peggy” and in time married Peter Hugh Clarke, who also made a living purely from chess.  The eldest son was known as “Chris”, and the youngest son as “Philip”, but the middle son was known by his second name, “Frank”.

 

The home address of B. H. Wood and his wife, in later years at least, was 146 Rectory Road, Sutton Coldfield, B75 7RS.

 

Wife Marjory died on 07/11/1977, at Sutton Coldfield.  In the usual notice to creditors, made under the Trustee Act of 1925, the deceased’s representative was named in the old style as “Harold Baruch Wood”.

 

Death

 

Baruch Harold Wood died on 04/04/1989, at Sutton Coldfield.  He was buried in the same grave as his wife, in the extension part of Sutton Coldfield cemetery, which is on Rectory Road, on the opposite side to where he lived, roughly opposite no. 102.

 

Chess-Playing

 

Obituaries seem not to have mentioned when or where B.H. Wood learnt to play chess.  Maybe it was at school.

 

There seems no evidence of any of this Sheffield Wood family being visible on the Sheffield chess scene of the day, though there was plenty of scope for them to get involved and make names for themselves in chess.  There was even a chess club at Nether Edge.  There was the long-standing Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club for the industrialists and well-to-do.  The Sheffield & District Chess Association had been formed in 1883.  Sheffield fielded a team in the Yorkshire inter-town competition for the Woodhouse Cup, inaugurated in 1885.  The inter-club Sheffield Chess League of the S&DCA started up in 1893.  Yet no member of this Wood family seems evident in records of Sheffield chess at any time.

 

B. H. Wood himself evidently never returned to Sheffield to take up residence there, and so it was only in the Midlands that, as a chess-player, he came to the notice of the chess public.

 

In the earlier years he entered British Championship Congresses, Hastings Congresses, and other multi-section events, but not in the top section, but in some relatively minor section, and then usually with only moderate results.

 

Seemingly the first British Championship Congress he entered was that of 1931, held at Worcester (relatively near home), 10-12/08/1931.  This, however, was not in the Championship proper, and not even in the Major Open, but in the Major Open Reserves, wherein he finished 11th-12th= out of 12 players, on 2 points out of 11.

 

He entered some modest low-calibre events with better success.  The first of a series of “residential social chess club” tournaments conducted at the Queen’s Hotel, Llandudno, and organised by the above-mentioned Arthur Firth, was held from Friday 1st to Monday 4th November 1935, and B. H. Wood of Sutton Coldfield was the winner.

 

At some time in the 1930s he was elected a vice-president of the Warwickshire Chess Association

 

The first occasion he managed to get into the British Championship proper was in 1936, when the event was held at Bournemouth, 08-19/06/1936.  He finished 6th-7th= out of 12, on 5½ out of 12.

 

In 1937 he played in a Birmingham International event (4 out of 11 participants were foreign, the others British), held 08-20/01/1937, which one cannot help thinking he was instrumental in arranging.  He finished 10th out of 12, on 1½/11.

 

His first sally abroad was perhaps for the 1937 Ostend Tournament held 11-20/04/1937.  However, he was not in the top section (Grob, Fine, Keres 1st-3rd=), but in the Reserve Tournament, wherein he finished 5th out of 10, on 5 out of 9.

 

In 1938, B. H. Wood first won the Warwickshire Championship title, for which the (senior) Tucker Cup had only recently been introduced.  This was a 7-player all-play-all event in which he scored six wins, no draws, and one loss.  The loss was to arch-rival W. Ritson Morry, who had lost to former Warwickshire champion A Reynolds, and to A R Chamberlain, both of whom Wood had beaten.  (Subsequent winners were 1939, B H Wood; 1940, W Ritson Morry; 1941, B H Wood; 1942 P N Wallis; 1943 P N Wallis; 1944 W Ritson Morry; 1945 P N Wallis; 1946 W Ritson Morry; 1947, B H Wood; 1948, B H Wood; 1949, B H Wood; 1950, B H Wood.  Wood did not necessarily enter every year, of course, but reportedly won the title also in 1957.)  He finished second to Julius Silverman in the 1934-35 Warwickshire Championship.

 

In The Hague, in 1939, an 8-board, 2-round match was played between the Netherlands and Great Britain, perhaps as a warm-up for the Olympiad.  B. H. Wood played on board 8 for Great Britain.  Wood lost both his games, but the final match result was a 10-10 draw.

 

An early entry into the national limelight as a player was his appearance in four matches as first reserve for the 1939 England Olympiad team at the Olympiad held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  He was combining being 1st reserve with covering the event as a chess journalist, in particular reporting regularly to the Grantham Journal’s chess column.  The event was scheduled to run from 24/08/1939 to 19/09/1939.  Accordingly, 20 European teams left Antwerp on 29/07/1939, bound for Buenos Aires on board the “Piriapolis”, a trip of about 6,000 miles.  After the first week of the event, on 01/09/1939, Germany invaded Poland.  On 03/09/1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany.  B. H. Wood scored 1 win, 2 draws and 1 loss.  England did not get through the qualifying stage.  B. H. Wood was one of those who went directly from the Olympiad to the tournament in Montevideo, which ran from 21/09/1939 to 29/09/1939.

 

On 29/09/1939, the 1939 Register recorded that B. H. Wood’s wife and daughter were at the time at the home of his mother-in-law, widowed school headmistress Elizabeth M Farrington (born 18/02/1877), at School House, Pencraig, Ross-on-Wye-on-Wye, Herefordshire.  The entries are interesting in that the date of birth of his daughter, Margaret E. E. Wood, was clearly given as “Nov 29, 37”, i.e. 27/11/1937 rather than the generally quoted 27/10/1937.  It would seem the October date is the correct one, and that grandma Farrington perhaps made a mistake!

 

B. H. Wood himself did not appear in the 1939 census, as he was in Montevideo.  Rather than return home on the “chess ship” carrying the bulk of the European players in the Olympiad, Harry Golombek, Vera Menchik and B. H. Wood had gone from the Olympiad to play in the 8-player Montevideo Tournament held 21-29/09/1939.  A certain French player, A. A. Alekhine, finished 1st, with 7 points out of 7.  British players Golombek and Menchik otherwise dominated the field, finishing respectively 2nd on 5½ points, and 3rd on 5 points.  B. H. Wood finished a more modest 6th-8th= on 2½.

 

He was reportedly exempted from war service for health reasons, a duodenal ulcer having been cited, making him able to press on with his Chess magazine and the related chess business, as well as play correspondence chess.

 

He never won the British (over-the-board) Championship, though did manage to come second equal once, with a number of others.  He was, however, British Correspondence Chess Championship of 1944-45.  Time for correspondence chess was probably limited, as he was conspicuously absent from Warwickshire correspondence teams around this time.

 

The first post-war congress he played in was probably the relatively modest 2nd Blackpool Whitsun Congress held 21-26/05/1945.  He was in the 6-player all-play-all Premier (top) section, and finished only 5th, with 1½ points.  He lost to Lancastrian Victor Leonard Wahltuch, whose 70th birthday fell, mid-tournament, on 24/05/1945.  He also lost to fellow Sheffield native, Charlie Reuben Gurnhill, who unlike Wood never moved away from Sheffield.

 

The 12-player all-play-all international tournament played 03-14/06/1946 in the Netherlands town of Zaandam (in the region of Zandstreek) was won by Machgielis (“Max”) Euwe with 9½ points, with Laszlo Szabo and Nils Ekstrom 2nd-3rd= with 8½ points each.  Somebody called “Wood” finished 10th on 3½, which was ½ appoint more than Sir George Thomas.  Di Felices’s Chess Results 1941 – 1946 says this was B. H. Wood, but a commoner view is that this was Gabriel Jacquin Wood.

 

Shortly after Zaandam, over 19th to 22th June 1946, he played for Great Britain in a 12-board 2-round radio match against the USSR.  Boards 11 and 12 were ladies’ boards.  B. H. Wood was on board 9, scoring a loss and a draw against Lilienthal, which is respectable enough.  The overall score was 18-6 to the USSR.

 

He played again in the British Championship proper in 1946, the event being run in Nottingham, 12-24/08/1946.  “Wood” came 2nd, but that was Gabriel Jacquin Wood; B. H. Wood finished 9th out of 12, with 4 points.  Baruch lost to Gabriel.

 

At the Baarn congress held 09-18/03/947, there were three sections, “A”, “B” & “C”, which seem to have been of roughly comparable strength.  B. H. Wood played in the “C” tournament, and came 1st out of 8 players, with 5 points out of 7.

 

He played in the British Championship proper at the 1948 congress held at London, from 30th August to 12th September, and here B.H. Wood got his best result in the “British”, finishing 2nd to 5th equal in a field of 12 players, with 7 points out of eleven.

 

He reportedly came first in the 1954 Paignton congress, the 1963 Whitby one, the 1967 Tórshavn (Faroese) or Thorshavn (Danish) one in the Faroe Islands, and the 1975 Jersey one.

 

He won local championships etc on numerous occasions.  He played for Warwickshire and Sutton Coldfield.  He played over-the-board, and by correspondence.  He played in numerous tournaments, both at home and abroad.  Playing in tournaments did, of course, give him the chance to report first-hand on them in his magazine.

 

“Chess” Festival

 

Apart from producing Chess magazine, there was one way in which B. H. Wood contributed to chess in Yorkshire, and that lay in the “Chess Festival” which was held for four successive years in Whitby.  When the “Chess” Festival moved to a new venue, the series was continued by an initiative of the local chess-players.

 

The series of “Chess” Festivals started in 1953.  They lasted roughly a fortnight, as did the British Championships, and the Open section normally had a sprinkling of minor foreign celebrities at the top end of the batting order, so making it “international”.

 

Venues of successive Festivals were as follows:

 

No.

Year

Venue

1

1953

Cheltenham

2

1954

Skegness

3

1955

Southend

4

1956

Whitby

5

1957

6

1958

7

1959

8

1960

Eastbourne

9

1961

10

1962

11

1963

12

1964

13

1965

14

1966

15

1967

16

1968

Southport

17

1969

18

1970

19

1971

20

1972

21

1973

Teesside

 

Incidentally, Eastbourne Council had been approached with a view to reaching arrangements whereby the 1955 Festival might be held in their town, but the Council were not happy to meet all off Wood’s requests, so the 1955 event went to Southend.

 

Apart from the magazine Chess, B. H. Wood’s main contribution to Yorkshire Chess, as such, was the holding of the Festival in Whitby, and the kick-start this provided for the continuation series of Whitby Congresses, which ran from 1960 through to 1969.

 

 

Created

21/01/2021

Copyright © 2021 Stephen John Mann

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

Last Updated

21/01/2021