Yorkshire Chess History



1860: George Lumley in Yorkshire











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George Lumley was a Manchester-born player who didn’t learn chess until after him went blind after being struck on the head by a cricket ball at the age of roughly 10 to 13, going on to acquire a level of skill which enabled him to achieve a plus score in a simultaneous display over four or so boards in most provincial chess clubs.


In 1860, while passing northward through the country, he visited Yorkshire chess clubs in Hull, Leeds, York, Bradford and Settle.




The Hull Packet of 17/02/1860 (as yet unseen in detail) referred to this visit.




George Lumley visited Leeds Chess Club on Monday, 27/02/1860, when, according to the Leeds Mercury of Thursday, 01/03/1860, he played simultaneously “four of our first players.”  The article didn’t mention the names of the four Leeds players, but one was evidently Henry Millard, as his game with Lumley was given.  This is somewhat enigmatic, as Henry Millard, who was then sighted, eventually lost his own sight, at some time from 1871 to 1881.


White: Lumley, George, Black: Millard, Henry, 27/02/1860

(one of four games played simultaneously by Lumley)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. e5 Nd5 5. Qxd4 Nb4 6. Qd1 d5 7. c3 N4c6 8. Bb5 a6 9. Qa4 Bd7 10. Bxc6 Bxc6 11. Qb3 Nd7 12. O-O Nc5 13. Qc2 Be7 14. Be3 Nd7 15. Bd4 Nf8 16. Nbd2 Ne6 17. Rae1 Bb5 18. c4 dxc4 19. Bc3 Bc6 20. Ne4 Qd3 21. Qxd3 cxd3 22. Ned2 O-O 23. Re3 Rd8 24. g3 Bc5 25. Ree1 b5 26. b4 Bb6 27. Ne4 Bd5 28. Bd2 Bd4 29. a3 draw agreed due to insufficient time to finish the game, ½-½


The time was 11.00 p.m., so a draw was agreed.


The Mercury article didn’t record the results of the other three games, but its report on the visit to Settle mentioned that Lumley won three games, and drew one.




George Lumley’s visit to the Ebor Chess Club, as York’s chess club of the time was called, was heralded in both the York Herald and Yorkshire Gazette of Saturday, 03/03/1860.  A report on the visit, on Monday, 05/03/1860, was carried by the same papers on Saturday, 10/03/1860 (as yet unseen).  George took on four opponents.  Play ran on to about a quarter past midnight.  George defeated Messrs. Habersak(?!), Birks, and Bedford, but eventually lost to “Mr. Ball”, who is identifiable as Alfred Ball.




A report on George Lumley’s visit to Bradford, on Tuesday, 13/03/1860, was carried by the Bradford Observer of Thursday, 15/03/1860 (as yet unseen).  Lumley won three games and lost one.




Settle Chess Club, like Grosmont Chess Club later on, was one of the North Riding chess clubs which seemed disproportionately strong for the size of its home town or village.  Thus, in 1859, Settle had beaten not only Burnley, but also Bradford, rather as later the modestly sized village of Grosmont got into the habit of regularly beating Whitby.  On this occasion it was George Lumley’s turn to fall victim to Settle Chess Club.


A report on George Lumley’s visit to Settle, on Saturday, 24/03/1860, was carried by both the Bradford Observer and Leeds Mercury of Thursday, 29/03/1860.  The report, as given by the Leeds Mercury, serves well to outline the general format of George Lumley’s simultaneous displays, which followed the usual format of the single player being White in all games.  The article, which adopted the erroneous spelling “Lumbley” throughout, read as follows:


CHESS. – Mr. Lumbley, of Manchester, the celebrated blind chess player, last week visited Settle, where arrangements were at once made for a grand match to be played on Saturday last, Mr. Lumbley engaging to play four of the members of the Settle Chess Club, the four games to be simultaneous.  Mr. Lumbley is on a tour through the provinces, and has been playing matches on the above terms in Leeds, Bradford, Hull, York &c.  At Leeds he won three games and drew one; at Bradford [he won] three, and lost one, and never until Saturday last [had he] lost more than two games in a match.  The match at Settle was made against Messrs. Armistead, Stansfeld, Brown, and Burrow.  Play commenced at 6.30, and the chess room was soon well filled, several ladies being amongst the spectators.  The games were numbered thus: Mr. Geo. Stansfeld’s game, No. 1;  Mr. Allan Brown’s, No. 2; Mr. John H. Burrows, 3; Mr. Jno. Armistead’s, 4.  Mr. Lumbley, had the first move in each game, and in each case played pawn to K’s 4th.  The following was the result: - Mr. Lumbley, at the 14th move, resigned game No.3 [Burrows]; at the 24th move he resigned game No. 2 [Brown]; at about the 50th move No. 1 [Stansfeld] resigned tp Mr. Lumbley; and at the 78th move Mr. Lumbley resigned No. 4 [Armistead].  Mr. Lumbley thus won one and lost three games.





Stephen John Mann

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