Yorkshire Chess History
1907-08: County Matches
At the Council Meeting of the British Chess Federation held on 19/10/1908, at St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster, the idea was put forward, and well received, that the champion counties of the three unions, Northern, Midland and Southern, should play off for the honour of being English County Champion.
So it was that 1907-08 was the first season of the English Counties’ Championship instituted by the British Chess Federation which had itself only recently come into existence in 1904. The English Counties’ Championship, then as now, was contested between winners of the separate Unions’ county team championships (or the Unions’ nominees). In 1907-08 there were only the Northern, Midland and Southern Unions. The West of England and East Anglia had not yet broken away to form separate unions.
The Southern Counties’ CA’s tournament had started out with sections of which one was won by Middlesex, beating Essex and Surrey. Devon then defaulted against Middlesex in the SCCU semi-finals. Middlesex then beat Kent in the SCCU final.
Warwickshire won the Midland Counties competition.
Yorkshire won the NCCU Counties’ Championship by beating Cheshire and Lancashire, and thereby qualified to meet Warwickshire in the English Counties’ Championship semi-final. Meanwhile Middlesex had a bye.
By beating Warwickshire Yorkshire qualified to meet Middlesex in the first ever English Counties’ Championship final, and not too surprisingly lost.
Initial newspaper reports of these matches often necessarily listed unfinished games on which the captains had not been able to agree an adjudicated result and which had had to be sent off for third-party adjudication. Tracking down missing adjudication results can be a problem. Games which required adjudication are denoted below by “@”.
Northern Counties' Championship, Round 1
played at the rooms of Stockport Chess Club,
on Saturday, 18/01/1908,
over 25 boards.
(@ = unfinished game to be adjudicated)
A report on the match was carried by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 20/01/1908.
The results of the adjudications are not yet known to the present writer, but the final score was given in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 23/03/1908.
Cumberland did not enter a team this season, so Lancashire got a bye in round 1, so progressing to the final.
Northern Counties' Championship, Final
played at New Shades Restaurant, Manchester,
on Saturday, 21/03/1908,
over 30 boards.
The New Shades Restaurant was the home of the North Manchester Chess Club.
(@ = unfinished game to be adjudicated)
“A. C. Conde” was presumably the Mexican, A. G. Conde.
Some adjudication results still as yet evade the present writer, though the final score is known
An initial report on the match was carried by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 23/03/1908.
English Counties' Championship Semi-Final
Played at YMCA, St. Peter’s Churchyard, Derby,
over 16 boards.
Joseph Woollard appeared on board 5 as a substitute for the originally nominated player, W. P. Wildman, who unavoidably was unable to attend.
At cessation of play, the score stood 7½-6½ with two games remaining unfinished. The adjudicator, H.E. Atkins, of Leicester (though he was to move to Huddersfield in 1909), awarded a win to Yorkshire on board 16, but the position on board 2 was taken away for more-detailed analysis. The Chess Amateur of November 1908, p.32, reported the final score as 9-7, so board 2 must have been adjudged a draw.
An initial report was given by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 12/10/1908. Although it gave the openings at each boards, it tantalising neglected to mention colours.
English Counties' Championship Final
Played at Holland’s Cafe, Fargate/Chapel Walk corner, Sheffield,
over 17 boards.
All the Middlesex players were from London, and 14 were “first class” players of the City of London Chess Club. Another City London Chess Club member, Redcar-born G. E. Wainwright, exercised his birth qualification the play for Yorkshire.
The non-playing captains were I. M. Brown for Yorkshire, and W. M. Hardman for Middlesex.
After the match, the players were entertained to tea by the Sheffield Chess Club, which had recently assumed responsibility for running chess in Sheffield, after the temporary demise of the Sheffield & District Chess Association.
A. E. Mercer was former Sheffield player Arthur Emerson Mercer.
A report on the match was carried by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 14/12/1908. This report enigmatically gave “(Lincoln)” by the name of Yorkshire’s board 10, J. Wilson, though elsewhere “Halifax” was given. This was evidently Halifax-born, Louth-resident Joseph Wilson playing for Yorkshire on the basis of his birth qualification to do so.
Stephen John Mann