Yorkshire Chess History

 

Contents:

1939-45: War Period

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The build up to World War II developed while the 1939 Chess Olympiad was in progress in Buenos Aires.  This led to the necessity of avoiding politically sensitive pairings.  Some nations’ teams were recalled.  Some individuals elected to stay in South America to avoid the trouble in Europe; in particular, top Polish player Miguel Najdorf stayed in Argentina, with great long-term benefit to chess in Argentina.

 

The final entry in the Leeds Chess Club’s result book of the time read,

(Image supplied by Rupert Jones.)

British Chess Federation

 

On the home front, the British Chess Federation suspended over-the-boards operations.  The BCF congress of 1939 went ahead at Bournemouth, but lacked a British Championship event, and there was no British Championship again until 1946, at Nottingham.  Some of the country’s top chess-players’ attention was, of course, diverted towards code-breaking at Bletchley Park, though chess remained a popular activity while they were not actually at work.  Despite the war, however, the BCF’s Correspondence Match Conductor, J. T Boyd, of Nether Kellet, near Carnforth, Lancs., continued the County & District Correspondence Championship, which ran uninterrupted through the war years.  (For Yorkshire’s performances, see below.)  The BCF problem-Composing Tourneys similarly continued to be conducted on behalf of the BCF by the British Chess Problem Society, under the management of F. F. L. Alexander.

 

In 1940, the BCF sent five hundred pocket chess sets to the Army Sports Fund.

 

In 1941, a match between British Forces and Allied Forces was played at Nottingham, with the British Forces winning by 6½ to 5½.

 

In 1942, a similar match was played at Leicester, with the Allied Forces winning this time, by 7 to 6.

 

In 1943, a British Army Championship was organised by J. du Mont, the winner being Captain R. H. Newman (latterly of Devon?).

 

In 1944, a Royal Air Force Championship was organised by J. du Mont, the winner being Flight Officer E. Brown.

 

In 1945, an Annual General Meeting was held, normal activity was re-launched, the next BCF Congress being fixed for 1946, at Nottingham.

 

Northern Counties Chess Union

 

The Northern Counties Chess Union’s county championship of 1938-39 was completed, but the winners, Lancashire, could not go on to compete in the normal way in the English Counties’ Championship, due to the war.  As the constituent county associations ground almost to a halt, the activities of the Northern Counties Chess Union were suspended.  Its officers remained in post, ready to resume activities after the end of hostilities.

 

Yorkshire Chess Association

 

For the Yorkshire Chess Association, the 1938-39 season’s activities were almost completed before war intervened.  The final of the individual championship, however, was not played, and the finalists were counted as joint winners.  Formal competitions were suspended, not to be resumed until the 1945-46 season.  Thus the Woodhouse Cup, I. M. Brown Shield and Yorkshire Championship were not contested in the six seasons from 1939-40 to 1944-45.

 

Though formal over-the-board-chess inter-county chess ceased in the Northern Counties, the County & District Correspondence Championship continued unabated, as described above.  Yorkshire’s performances during this war period, in summary form, were as follows:

 

 

1939-40

 

 

 

1940-41

 

 

 

1941-42

 

1

Berkshire

13½

 

1*

Lancashire

14

 

1

Lancashire

15½

2

Surrey

13

 

2*

Cheshire

14

 

2

Surrey

15

3

Yorkshire

13

 

3*

Kent

14

 

3

Kent

13

4

Kent

13

 

4*

Worcestershire

14

 

4

Warwickshire

12

 

 

 

 

5

Essex

12

 

5*

Somerset

11½

 

 

 

 

6

Yorkshire

11½

 

6*

Middlesex

11½

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7*

Leicestershire

11½

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8*

Berkshire

11½

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

Essex

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10

Yorkshire

10½

 

(26 teams competed)

 

 

 

(20 teams competed)

 

 

 

(23 teams competed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1942-43

 

 

 

1943-44

 

 

 

1944-45

 

1

Yorkshire

16½

 

1

Surrey

16

 

1

Warwickshire

14

2

Surrey

16½

 

2*

Oxfordshire

13½

 

2

Middlesex

12½

3

Lancashire

16

 

3*

Somerset

13½

 

3

Surrey

12½

4

Kent

12½

 

4*

Hampshire

13

 

4

Somerset

12½

 

 

 

 

5*

Leicestershire

13

 

5

Lancashire

11½

 

 

 

 

6

Berkshire

12½

 

6

Leicestershire

11

 

 

 

 

7

Warwickshire

12½

 

7

Oxfordshire

11

 

 

 

 

8

Staffordshire

11½

 

8

Yorkshire

11

 

 

 

 

9

Worcestershire

11½

 

9

Essex

11

 

 

 

 

10

Kent

11

 

10

Kent

11

 

 

 

 

11

Lancashire

11

 

11

Cumb’d & Westm’d

10½

 

 

 

 

12

Durham

11

 

12

Cambridgeshire

10½

 

 

 

 

13

Essex

10

 

13

Durham

10½

 

 

 

 

14

Monmouthshire

10

 

14

Yorkshire

10

 

 

 

 

15

Devonshire

 

15

Hampshire

10

 

 

 

 

16

Middlesex

9

 

16

Staffordshire

10

 

 

 

 

17

Suffolk

9

 

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

18

Cambridgeshire

 

18

 

 

 

 

 

 

19

Yorkshire

 

19

 

 

 

(23 teams competed)

 

 

 

(27 teams competed)

 

 

 

(26 teams competed)

 

 

Yorkshire is listed twice for 1944-45, in the results listed in the BCF Year Book 1938-1945; this is presumably a mistake, or else Yorkshire entered two teams.  Final placings of teams with the same score were determined by applying the board elimination rule.

 

The Yorkshire Chess Association secretary’s report at the end of 1945-46 included the following:

 

Many clubs ceased activities during the War; but the majority carried on in spite of the difficulties, and special mention should be made of the courage of the Hull Club.

In many cases the Club Tournaments were carried on, and old associations were maintained by means of friendly matches where distances were not sufficiently great to cause undue difficulty.

Although not all the clubs which closed down have revived, it is pleasing to observe that new clubs have been formed, and all report a steady influx of new members as well as the return of old ones.  The increase is expected to continue as more men are released from the Forces, where many have found the fascination of chess.

 

The war did of course lead to a number of people from continental Europe settling in this country after the war.  This resulted in various Polish, Latvian or Estonian social or ex-servicemen’s clubs being formed in this country.  Many of these provide meeting places for chess clubs, and led to teams such as Bradford Latvians participating in local and county association team competitions.

 

 

Created

18/08/2013

Copyright © 2013 Stephen John Mann

Last Updated

18/08/2013