Yorkshire Chess History



1844 Nottingham Chess Meeting











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site


The Assembly Rooms, Low Pavement, Nottingham

Tuesday, 23th July 1844


As described in connection with the 1843 YCA meeting in Huddersfield, the Yorkshire players undertook to attend the chess meeting proposed by Nottingham Chess Club for 7th December 1843 (or 1844?).  The timing of this Nottingham event changed, leading to the postponement of the 1844 YCA meeting to the following year.


The writer has failed to find a write-up in the contemporary Nottingham newspapers, though picking the right one may be the problem.  A report was carried by the Chess Players Chronicle, Vol. V, 1844, page 279, which was as follows.


A Meeting of the Chess players of the Northern and Midland Counties took place at Nottingham, a short time since, in the Assembly Rooms, Low Pavement.


It has been customary for several years for similar meetings to take place in Yorkshire, and a number of players from Nottingham being present at the meeting held last November at Huddersfield, it was then agreed to assemble the following year nearer the southern players, at the "good old town of Nottingham."

Among those present we observed the following gentlemen .—

C. Paget, Esq., High Sheriff, Ruddington; T. Wakefield, Esq., Mr. Newham, Mr. Neuberg, Mr. H. Attenburrow, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Dodson, Mr. Sidney Smith, and Mr. Woodhouse, of Nottingham; Mr. Rhodes, and Mr. Cadman, Leeds; Mr. Forbes and Mr. Cronhelm, Halifax; Rev. R. Garvay [sic], M.A., Mr. W. Robinson, Mr. E. Shepherd, and Mr. A. Shepherd, Wakefield; Mr. Parrott, Mr. Mann, Mr. Kilner, Mr. Bradshaw, and Mr. Brierley, Huddersfield; M. Hanau and M. Rostall, Frankfort-on-the-Maine; Mr. Hudson and Mr. Kahrs, Derby; Mr. Hardy, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Kinton, and Mr. Bosworth, Leicester; Mr. Stubbs, London.


The large room at the place of meeting was appropriated to the players; and a number of boards were set out, exhibiting Chess men of every variety of pattern and style of workmanship; several of which were the deserved trophies of the successful play of our townsmen, in previous matches.


The play commenced at ten in the morning, and, with the intermission of an hour for lunch, continued until five in the evening. The arrangements, under the direction of Mr. Newham, were as perfect as possible and every attention was paid to the comfort of the players.


Shortly after five o'clock the company adjourned to dinner, which comprised every delicacy of the season. The wines and dessert were also excellent, and the greatest satisfaction was evinced by every gentleman present with the entertainment. The chair was occupied by C. Paget, Esq., of Ruddington, High Sheriff of the county of Nottingham, and the vice-chair by Mr. Neuberg.


The Rev. R. Garvay [sic] having said grace, and the cloth being withdrawn, [sic]

The chairman rose to propose the first toast usually drunk at public dinners, namely, "the Queen." (Applause.) He had no doubt the toast would be drunk with the greatest satisfaction by every one present, not so much because the Queen was the head of the State, as that she reigned and acted with an evident desire to promote the welfare of all her subjects. (Hear, hear.)  He concluded by giving "Queen Victoria," which was drunk with the greatest cordiality.


The chairman, on rising to propose the next toast, remarked that he was sure it would be well received by that company, as it comprised the health of an individual who was not only a patron of Chess, but also a good player. (Hear, hear.) If it were true that Prince Albert was playing at Chess when he received the first intimation of the high station he had since been called to fulfil, his Royal Highness would never think of Chess without the most agreeable recollections. (Hear, hear, and cheers.) He, therefore, begged to give '* Prince Albert and all the Royal Family."  (Applause.)


The Chairman next gave "Mr. Robinson and the Yorkshire Chess Associations." (Applause.)  One of the distinguishing features of the present times, was railway travelling, by means of which distant localities were connected with each other, and the remotest parts of the country were placed, as it might he said, within visiting distances of each other. None of the benefits showered upon trade and commerce by the quick transmission of merchandize, however, exceeded the advantages conferred upon society by the facility with which men of science from all parts of England or of Europe might be assembled together; and he believed the present meeting was indebted to steam for the presence of many of those gentlemen who surrounded that festive board. (Hear, hear.) Indeed, without the railway, he thought the players of Nottingham would never have had so good an opportunity of measuring their own skill with that of their Yorkshire friends. He concluded by giving the toast, which was drunk with hearty applause.


Mr. Robinson, in returning thanks for the honour conferred upon himself and the Yorkshire Association, wished that the duty had devolved upon some of the older members, who were better able than himself to perform it; he would however say, that no one could feel the compliment more than he did. (Hear, hear.) It was quite true, that the presence of the visitors from Yorkshire was owing to the advantages of the railway, and therefore he united cordially with the Chairman in celebrating its praises. He had long been delighted with such meetings of Chessplayers as the one they were engaged in, and disclaiming any egotistic feeling, although he had been a principal means of their establishment, he begged to state briefly the history of their origination. The Leeds Club having been for some time in a declining state, efforts were made by Mr. [John] Rhodes, the prince of Yorkshire Chess-players, Mr. Brown [Robert Alexander Brown], himself (the speaker), and others, to effect a revival. The consequence was, that several matches were made between players from the different towns in Yorkshire, who, although not the best players, were considered pretty equal in proficiency. Of course these matches could not be played in one day; and the consequence of the visits of the players of one town to the players of another was a general meeting. The first assembly of this description took place in 1840, and a great impetus being thus given to the progress of Chess, he was happy to say these annual gatherings had been kept up ever since. The next meeting took place in 1841, at Wakefield, when they were honoured by the presence of Mr. Newham, Mr. Marx, and other gentlemen from Nottingham. At Halifax, in the following year, the meeting was equally well attended by Chess-players of first-rate ability from different parts of the kingdom. In 1843, at Huddersfield, Mr. Newham had expressed his regret that the Midland Counties should be behind Yorkshire, and wished the next meeting to be held at Nottingham. From the high character of the Nottingham players his wishes were readily acceded to, and it was agreed that the meeting of 1844 should be at that town. He believed that gentlemen from the different Yorkshire clubs pledged themselves to attend the meeting, and he was sorry that they were not so numerous as he had expected. For himself, however, he would say that had the distance been twice as great, be would have attended. (Cheer*.) One reason why some Clubs in Yorkshire succeeded so well, was, that the best players were not permitted to waste their time in meeting inferior players upon equal terms; and great pains were taken to inspire the belief that at Chess it was no disgrace to accept odds. Every game was registered, and the inferior players were compelled to take odds. Thus, a new member played with all the old members ten games each; and if with any of them he should lose six, he is then compelled to take a Pawn or two Pawns, or a Knight, or any other odds which may be thought to equalize him with his antagonist. Should lie hereafter win a majority of ten games, the odds were reduced; and thus they could always tell whether their members improved, and exactly what the prowess of each was as compared with the others. It must also be an article of their creed that it was no mark of inferior intellect to be beaten at Chess. The most talented men might be bad Chess-players, and might be beaten by persons very much their inferiors in point of intellect. (Hear, hear.) He then apologized for the inefficient manner in which he had responded to the toast; and alluded to the number of games he had lost. He did, however, think that he was a match for several of his opponents, bnt that he had played that day as weak as a kitten. (Laughter.) He concluded by reiterating his heartfelt thanks.


Mr. Newham paid a high compliment to the Chairman (C. Paget, Esq.) for the exemplary manner in which he had discharged the duties he had so kindly undertaken, and proposed his health with three times three hearty cheers.


The cheering having subsided, the Chairman returned thanks in a neat speech.


Mr. Kahrs proposed the health of the Vice-President, who was not only entitled to the honour as a good Chess-player, but from the efficient manner in which he had filled the vice-chair. He also confessed a peculiar satisfaction in proposing this toast, as both Mr. Neuberg and himself owned a common extraction from the "Faderland." (Hear, hear.) He concluded by giving Mr. Neuberg's health.


The Vice-President returned thanks for the kind manner in which his health had been drunk; and declared that he should ever highly estimate the Chess-players of Nottingham, as the first friends he had made in the town, were members of the Club. (Hear, hear.) He thought social intercourse was much benefited by meetings like the present, when men could assemble and cultivate the best feelings of their nature, and for the time lose sight of the incessant strife kept up now-a-days by self-interest and excessive competition in trade. He was happy to express the delight he had experienced in the proceedings of that meeting, and feeling that they owed a debt of gratitude to those gentlemen who had cast aside the cares and anxieties of a long journey to visit them, proposed the health of the strangers from London, Leicester, Derby, Frankfort, and Hamburg, with three times three.


Mr. Rostall and Mr. Stubbs each acknowledged the compliment.


The Rev. R. Garvay [sic] wished to bear testimony to the liberal spirit in which the visitors generally had been entertained by the Nottingham Chess-players; indeed, their reception had been of the most generous description. (Hear, hear.) Some allusions had been made by Mr. Robinson, to the poor manner in which the Yorkshire gentlemen had redeemed the pledge they had last year given to visit Nottingham; but he could assure the gentlemen of Nottingham, that it was a fear of their prowess which had produced so small an attendance. (Hear.) For himself he had looked forward to the meeting with great interest, and had determined to be present if it were within the bounds of possibility. (Cheers.) When he informed them that he had come all the way from Scotland, where he was salmon fishing, those gentlemen who had experienced the delightful sport of throwing the fly upon one of the finest streams of that country, would feel that he had made no small sacrifice to attend th« meeting. (Cheers.) He was, however, happy to bear testimony to the high reputation of the Nottingham Club, and in proposing success to it, begged also to drink the health of one of the finest Chess-players in the provinces; he meant his talented friend Mr. Newham, whom he believed they all sincerely respected. (Cheers.) He would, therefore, conclude by giving "Mr. Newham and the Nottingham Chess Club," with three times three.


Mr. Newham returned thanks in an excellent speech. He felt grateful to the friends who had come from so great a distance, and thought the Nottingham players were bound to have met them in greater numbers, and given them a most hearty welcome. (Cheers.) He again reiterated his thanks for the honour conferred on himself and his brethren; and, in conclusion, begged to propose "the health of Mr. Staunton," the best Chess-player of the day.  While La Bourdonnais lived, he undoubtedly stood first; St. Amant had been called his lieutenant, but Mr. Staunton had successfully attacked his claim to that title, and had offered again to play, giving every point which St. Amant wished; but he still demurred, and the fact was that St. Amant dare not meet Mr. Staunton. —The toast was received with loud applause.


"The Ladies of Nottingham," "Prosperity to the Town and Trade of Nottingham," and several other toasts were drunk, after which the company retired to the large room, where coffee was served; and the play was resumed, which was continued till nearly midnight.


The following is an alphabetical list of those mentioned as present, along with some more-precise identifications, as perceived correct in the view of the writer.

Attenburrow, H











Brierley, Joseph



Cadman, Robert






Cronhelm, Frederick William






Forbes, Neil Macvicar

Garvay, Rev R, MA


Garvey, Rev. Richard, MA

Hanau, M














Kilner, John Hirst






Mann, W






Newham, Samuel

Paget, C





Parratt, Thomas



Rhodes, John

Robinson, W


Robinson, William Ledgar

Rostall, M



Shepherd, A


Shepherd, Arthur

Shepherd, E


Shepherd, Edward

Smith, Sidney






Wakefield, T










An analysis of the home locations of the players reveals how Yorkshire looks to have had more chess-players than the Midland counties:

County etc















Whilst the visiting Yorkshire players came from four clubs, the other counties were represented each by only one club, which is diagnostic of the state of organised chess in England at the time, suggesting that the Midland counties as yet had no clusters of clubs which might form a viable county association.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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