Yorkshire Chess History



Overview of Development of Main Team Competitions











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site


The Woodhouse Cup was presented to the West Yorkshire Chess Association (WYCA) by Alderman Edwin Woodhouse JP of Leeds for competition between the towns of West Yorkshire.  After the first season, 1884-85, it was thrown open to all Yorkshire chess clubs.  The Edwin Woodhouse Cup competition has been contested annually ever since, except for breaks during the two world wars, but the trophy in use has changed twice since the competition’s inception, as described below.


The Yorkshire Daily Observer Trophy was presented to WYCA by the paper for competition between minor Yorkshire clubs i.e. those not strong enough for the Woodhouse Cup.  The first season it was contested was 1885-86.  It was won outright by Dewsbury in 1890.  (Does the trophy still exist somewhere?)


The Bradford Observer Trophy was presented by the paper to replace the above trophy for the minor clubs’ competition.  In time the competition was opened to second teams of clubs in the Woodhouse.  That situation remained until the IM Brown Shield competition was introduced specifically for second teams of clubs represented in the Woodhouse Cup, when the Bradford Observer Trophy became once more just for minor clubs.  After 1929 the competition ceased, and minor clubs entered the IM Brown Shield competition.  The Bradford Observer Trophy was apparently lost.  (Does the trophy still exist somewhere?)


In 1896 the above trophies passed from the WYCA to the second Yorkshire Chess Association on its formation by the merger of WYCA with the Yorkshire County Chess Club.


Alderman Woodhouse, by then past Mayor of Leeds, donated the second Woodhouse Cup when Leeds won the first one outright in 1913.


Isaac McIntyre Brown presented the IM Brown Shield specifically for second teams of clubs in the Woodhouse Cup, leaving the Bradford Observer for minor clubs.  The first season it was contested was 1915.  There immediately followed a break for World War I, but it resumed, and apart from a break during World War II, the competition has been contested annually ever since.  After 1929 it was opened up also to minor clubs, following the cessation of the Bradford Observer Trophy competition.


When in 1926 Sheffield won outright the second Woodhouse Cup, Leeds donated back the first for perpetual competition.  The second Woodhouse Cup remains in the ownership of the Sheffield & District Chess Association and has been put to use in competitions on one sort or another for most of the time since then.


After 1929 the Bradford Observer was not contested and was apparently lost.  Minor clubs joined the IM Brown.


The Silver Rook competition was started in 1959-60 for minor clubs, second teams of IM Brown clubs, and third teams of Woodhouse clubs.  For the seven seasons 1966-67 to 1972-73, entries were insufficient for the competition to be run, but thereafter it has been contested annually.


Originally, the competitions for the Woodhouse Cup, IM Brown Shield, and Silver Rook were for separate categories of club or team, and the concept of promotion and relegation was not applicable.  Thus it was only possible for a team to step up from the IM Brown to the Woodhouse when an existing Woodhouse team dropped out.  An example of this occurrence, possibly the last, was when Brighouse withdrew from the Woodhouse Cup, and Rotherham, hitherto an IM Brown club, filled the vacancy in the Woodhouse competition (late 1960s?).


In time, however, the principle was introduced of the separate competitions representing hierarchical divisions between which promotion and relegation applied from season to season.


When entries became too numerous for just three divisions, a fourth division was created, starting in 1978-79 season, and the then YCA General Secretary, Geoff Sunderland, presented the AG Sunderland Cup for the new, fourth division.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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