Yorkshire Chess History
3rd Annual Meeting of the Yorkshire Chess Association
Northgate Hotel, Halifax
The third meeting of the original Yorkshire Chess Association was held at Northgate Hotel, Halifax, on Wednesday 2nd November 1842.
As Halifax was at the western extremity of the catchment area of these meeting, numbers attending may have been lower than at the previous two meetings. The Halifax Guardian named only thirty-one attenders. Nevertheless, the meeting was attended by two players from relatively distant parts of the county; there was the first (and significant) appearance of a Hull chess-player, Mr. H. R. Francis, principal of King’s College, Hull; another player from afar was Mr. Maw of Crowle. Crowle is just over the border, in Lincolnshire, but this gentleman also had a foothold in Yorkshire, at Warmsworth Hall, on the periphery of Doncaster. All but one of the others present were, as one might expect, from the Leeds, Wakefield, Huddersfield and Halifax clubs. The remaining attender was G. B. Wagner of Hamburg, who appears in due course to have settled in Leeds.
There were no strong visitors from outside the county on this occasion.
The meeting was presided over by W. Briggs of Halifax, “supported” by the Rev. Edwin Colman Tyson, president of Wakefield Chess Club, and the Rev. Richard Garvey of Wakefield. Henry Ralph Francis (Hull) and Frederick William Cronhelm (Halifax) were vice-presidents.
The main chess-playing session ran from just after ten o’clock in the morning to five o’clock in the afternoon. Interestingly, this chess-playing was described as the “tournament”, with quotation marks in the report’s text, though it was not an organised attempt to determine a “winner”.
As was common in the early years of such meetings, reports omit any mention of who played whom, let alone what the results were. Nevertheless, John Rhodes of Leeds appears to have dominated, as Edward Cronhelm proposed a toast during dinner to John Rhodes as “The Champion of Yorkshire”, a title which the recipient declined to accept when he replied to the toast.
The dinner commenced at five o’clock. There were the usual speeches and toasts, to which the greater part of the press reports were devoted. Some speakers contrasted chess with other games by pointing out the meritorious scientific and mathematical nature of chess. Frederick William Cronhelm was his usual self, alluding as ever to classical warfare and the like.
After the end of the dinner, the assembly seems to have broken up, whereas on other occasion we are told that play was resumed and continued, for the hard core, to a late hour. On this occasion the need to set off home probably was more urgent.
The following are the attenders listed by the Halifax Guardian, along with the writer’s opinion as to their identities.
Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann