Yorkshire Chess History



Woodhouse Cup Competition











Made in Yorkshire



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The idea of a formal inter-club team competition among Yorkshire clubs came from the Bradford Exchange Chess Club, which was admitted into membership of the West Yorkshire Chess Association at that association’s twenty-ninth annual meeting on (26th April ?) 1884, at Leeds, at which Edwin Woodhouse, Mayor of Leeds, was presiding.


At that meeting, Mr. Hartwig Cassel, as president of the Bradford Exchange Chess Club, proposed:
That the hon. secretaries of all the clubs of the association should meet in the month of October each year, and arrange the match fixtures for the ensuing year; that it should not be considered incumbent upon either club to entertain each other at the matches; that a challenge cup should be subscribed and competed for.


To continue quoting from the Leeds Mercury:
These propositions were confirmed by the meeting, whereupon the MAYOR asked to be allowed to present the said cup.  It would not be worth a thousand pounds, but it should be worthy of the West Yorkshire Chess Association and the gentlemen he had the pleasure of presiding over the day. – Ald. GAUNT and Mr. E. B. HUSSEY concurred in thinking this concurred in thinking this would tend to stimulate chess in the county, and pave the way probably to successful inter-county matches. – Mr. Hussey subsequently announced that the hon. secretaries, together with an additional representative from each club, would meet for the first time at the Leeds Chess Club on Monday, 13th October next, at 7.30m p.m., to discuss and draw up a code of rules. – It was proposed by Mr. PARRY, and seconded by Mr. STRINGER, that a hearty vote of thanks be given to the Mayor for his great generosity and for presiding.


In the minute book of ther West Yorkshire Chess Association, the secretary appended the following handwritten comment beneath the cut-out report from the newspaper:

A Challenge Cup has instituted at this meeting to be presented by the Mayor of Leeds.    Edward Bishop Hussey, Hon. Sec. 1884.


The meeting of secretaries duly took place, and the following set of rules resulted from it:




Woodhouse Challenge Cup.



1. – That the name of the Cup be “The Woodhouse Challenge Cup,” and that it be the property of the West Yorkshire Chess Association.  The winning club shall hold it for one year, and it shall be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association.


2. – That it be open for competition between the Clubs belonging to the West Yorkshire Chess Association for the time being.


3 – That each Club shall play one match with each other Club engaged in the competition, and that each Club play home or away in the order decided by the committee.


4. – That the contending teams be composed of not less than eight, and not more than twenty players, the town with the smallest population having the privilege of fixing the number of players within these limits.


5. – That all players taking part in these matches be Subscribing Members of their respective Clubs, and that no player contend for more than one Club during the season.


6 – Any Club failing to keep an appointment duly made shall lose the match by forfeit, one hour’s grace being allowed.


7. – That each player play not more than two games, drawn games to count one-half; the second game not to be commenced within one hour of the time fixed for the conclusion; the duration of play in each match to be five hours; and that a player may claim an interval of fifteen minutes between his games.  Two games to be scored by each player for whom no opponent is provided.  This rule to apply equally to matches in which more than the minimum are engaged.


8. – That the Club having the highest score of matches wins the trophy; drawn matches counting half.  In the event of an equality in the scores of two of more clubs, that they play off with each other, and any succeeding tie to be dealt with in the same manner.


9. – Before commencing a match each Club shall produce a list of its team in the order of playing, and the competitors shall be paired accordingly.


10. – The players at the first board shall draw for the move, the odd numbers of the Club wining the draw shall move first in the first games; in the second games the order shall be reversed.


11. – That the play be governed by the rules laid down in Staunton’s Chess Praxis.


12. – Unfinished games to be decided by a representative of each club in consultation; in the event of disagreement, the game to be referred to an expert.


13. – That the representatives of the respective teams decide all disputes between individual players, and their decision be final.


14. – That the committee shall consist of two delegates from each Club in the Association, and who shall be empowered to add to or vary these rules, and to decide all disputes.


The first season of the competition was generally acknowledged to be unsatisfactory, with two clubs withdrawing.  Bradford was the winning club.  After discussion at the 1885 WYCA annual meeting of how to remedy the low level of participation, it was decided, with the agreement of the Cup’s donor, that the competition me thrown open to all chess clubs throughout Yorkshire.  Thus it remained a competition run by the West Yorkshire Chess Association, and the Cup remained the property of the West Yorkshire Chess Association, but the competition became the first county-wide chess competition in Yorkshire.  The competition was been contested ever since, except for breaks during the two world wars.


(Click here to see a list of successive winners, and index to seasons’ event details.)





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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