Yorkshire Chess History
1865: Huddersfield – Sheffield Athenaeum Match
In the winter of 1864, the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club issued a challenge to Huddersfield Chess Club to contest a “home-and-home” match”, i. e. one match with one club at home, and one match with the other club at home. The first such match was played against Bradford, resulting in a win for Bradford. Subsequently, a 12-board match against the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club took place in two parts, the first on 23/11/1865, at Huddersfield, and the second on 03/12/1865, at Sheffield.
The Leeds Mercury of 06/12/1865, page 3, carried a report, probably penned by John Watkinson, which commenced as follows:
There followed the moves of a game form the match, between Watkinson (White) and Latham (Black), and, finally, the results, as follows:
TOTAL SCORE OF THE MATCH
Without clocks such matches frequently resulted in abandoned games, due to lack of adequate time. Sometimes on-the-spot adjudications took place, but in this case simple abandonment was necessary in six games.
The Chess Player’s Magazine, 1865, p 29 carried a report which was evidently based on that printed in the Leeds Mercury, but changing the basis of scoring on a given board, claiming that on a given board, “the victory to be decided by the winning of the first two games, and the club which wins the majority of the games to carry off the honours.” Though expressed a little differently, the game results at each board given by the two reports, and the players’ names, were in agreement.
Both reports offered no explanation as to how colours were determined, or indeed whether White always moved first. One assumes such things alternated from one game to the next on a given board. It appears that in some systems colour and move remained unchanged after a draw. Colour and move in the first game on a board might have been determined by lots, independently for each board, or else alternating down the board order. Such things were far from standardised in the early years.
It appears from the Leeds Mercury report that the “Total Score of the Match” represented the combined results of games played both on 23/11/1865, at Huddersfield, and on 03/12/1865. The Chess Player’s Magazine seems to have regarded the quoted results as being those at Huddersfield on 23/11/1865, stating that a return match, in Sheffield, was to be held on Saturday 03/11/1865. This appears to have been an understandable misinterpretation of the circumstances.
The Chess Player’s Magazine’s report concluded with the following paragraph.
Presumably “Mr. J. E. Watkinson” meant “Mr. J. Watkinson”.
The person submitting the report to the magazine was most probably John Watkinson, and in any event was clearly a Huddersfield person, as initials are given for most Huddersfield players, but the Sheffield players have only their surnames. One feels Watkinson would have submitted full initials had he known them.
The identities of the players concerned would appear to be:
Copyright © 2012, 2014 Stephen John Mann