Yorkshire Chess History
Bradford Observer Challenge Trophy Competition
At the 1885 Annual Meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association a minor team completion was instituted. Herr Cassell made the proposal:
That a Challenge Trophy be established for clubs or teams not strong enough to compete for the Woodhouse Challenge Cup.
This was seconded by Robert McCheyne Macmaster, who then read out a letter addressed to Herr Cassell by Messrs. William Byles and Sons, the proprietors of the Bradford Observer, offering a trophy to be competed for annually by clubs which were not strong enough to enter the enter for the Woodhouse Challenge Cup, and asking that the committee would settle the conditions of the competition.
Herr Cassell’s proposal wasn’t quite as the letter had put things, as he was proposing B teams of clubs represented in the Woodhouse be allowed in the new competition. Debate followed. The view was expressed that if teams like Bradford B, who had recently beaten Harrogate twice, were allowed to compete then weaker clubs would be discouraged from entering. The question of whether B teams might participate was confused somewhat by the comment that it was difficult to distinguish an A-team player from a B-team player. On a different tack, there was a comment that having a second competition was questionable as stronger clubs would be tempted to enter the weaker competition rather than the Woodhouse competition, to take advantage of the easy pickings.
The decision made was that new competition be limited to “minor” clubs, and exclude B teams of Woodhouse Cup clubs.
At the special meeting called to establish the Yorkshire County Chess Club, on 17th October 1885, the new trophy was handed over to Mr W. Rea by Herr Cassell. A write-up of the 1891 WYCA annual meeting refers to it as a salver.
At the 1885 annual meeting of WYCA club secretaries and delegates, the rules for the new competition were decided as follows:
1. – That the trophy be called the Bradford Observer Challenge Trophy.
2. – That it be competed for by clubs in the West Riding who did not enter the Woodhouse Cup Competition.
3. – That the competition shall otherwise be conducted as under the same rules as the W.C.C.C.
This “minor” club competition was thus originally closed to clubs outside the West Riding.
The possibility of second teams of Woodhouse clubs being allowed to compete again raised its head in 1889, and a committee meeting held at Leeds on 30th October 1889, which had power to change the rules, considered the matter. Mr. T. A. Guy was proposing admittance of such second teams specifically to allow Bradford II to enter. The proposal was defeated by eight votes against to five votes for.
In 1889-1890, Dewsbury won the Bradford Observer Challenge Trophy outright by winning it for the third time, having earlier won it in 1885-1886 and 1886-1887, the first two seasons of the competition. (Click here for a list of successive winners.)
At the 1890 annual meeting of the West Yorkshire Chess Association in Dewsbury, the President, the Mayor of Dewbury, presented the trophy to Alderman Walker, representing Dewsbury Chess Club. Later in the meeting, T. A. Guy of Bradford made another attempt to get second teams admitted to the minor competition, but his proposal was opposed by B. M. Wood of Ilkley and J. S. West of Leeds, and it was overwhelmingly defeated. Mr. Guy mentioned at this meeting that a replacement Bradford Observer Challenge Trophy, which turned out to be in the form of a rook, was to be donated by Messrs. William Byles and Sons to replace the first one.
The new trophy was presented at the 1891 West Yorkshire Chess Association by William Pollard Byles, of William Byles and Sons, to Dewsbury Chess Club, which had won the competition yet again, after winning the previous trophy outright.
By 1899, second teams of clubs represented in the Woodhouse Cup were being allowed to compete in the competition, Leeds II being the first such team to win it, in 1899-1900.
In 1915, when the IM Brown Shield competition was introduced specifically for second teams, the Bradford Observer Challenge Trophy Competition became a competition for “minor” clubs, and (immediately or later) third teams of clubs represented in both the Woodhouse and IM Brown.
As with the Woodhouse and IM Brown competitions, the First World War brought a cessation of activity from 1915-16 to 1918-19.
It was not contested after 1928-29, in which season Wakefield won the trophy, posing the question as to whether the trophy still exist somewhere in Wakefield.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann