Yorkshire Chess History
Huddersfield College Magazine
In 1872, Huddersfield College produced the first of a long series of monthly magazines. The twelve issues of a given academic year, from October to the following September, constituted a single “volume” of the periodical. At the end of a twelve-month run a volume would be bound, with a table of contents for the whole volume. The chess column conveniently had its own sub-table of contents after the main contents, and in this way was already signalling that it was potentially a discrete entity.
The first editor of the new magazine was William John Clarke Miller B.A., one of the masters at the college, who happened to be a chess-player.
The magazine contained the sort of material any school or college magazine would be expected to contain, but it also incorporated, from the outset, its own chess column. In the opening article of the October 1872 issue, the editor wrote:
“We may speak with confidence of the Chess department of our Magazine, as a gentleman thoroughly qualified, and of high repute as a player, has kindly engaged to take charge of it; and we here express our thanks to him for doing so.”
That gentleman who had taken charge of the chess column was Huddersfield’s John Watkinson, who was one of Yorkshire’s strongest players in his time. He was one of the first pupils at Huddersfield College after its establishment in 1838. He’d left the college in 1848, and he spent most of his working life in a clerical capacity with the cloth manufacturer John Brooke and Sons, Armitage Bridge Mills, Huddersfield, but was a supporter of the cause of education generally and became involved in the Huddersfield Old Boys’ Scholarship from its institution in 1874.
The column covered chess activity in Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, and more widely in England and the world as a whole. As was common practice with chess columns, it had a section devoted to chess problems, developing a good reputation for the quality of problems published, and it ran problem tournaments. It avoided the petty habits of some columns and periodicals such as criticising and denouncing individuals and organisations.
The first game published had special significance as it was a consultation correspondence game conducted roughly fifty years earlier by two Huddersfield College masters of the day, as Black, against two members of Northampton Chess Club, as White. Those masters were G. H. Taylor and A. Bennett.
In 1876, the HCM’s editor, William John Clarke Miller, left Huddersfield College, and John Watkinson took over editorship of the whole publication from the July 1876 issue onwards.
Limitations of spaces precluded as many games appearing as Watkinson would doubtless have liked, which might have been part of the reason for what is now described.
After eight years it was decided to form an independent chess publication from the Huddersfield College Magazine’s chess column. The last column in the HCM was that of September 1880; it contained details of the plans for the new periodical, though at that stage a name for it had not been decided on. Thereafter, the Huddersfield College Magazine continued publication essentially as before, but without the chess column.
Originally it had been planned that the new chess periodical would follow on directly from the HCM in October 1880, but in the event the first issue of the new periodical was that of January 1881, thus each “volume” at least conveniently filled a calendar year rather than an academic year. The title settled on was “The British Chess Magazine”. The initial subscription rate was 6 shillings per annum post-free to all parts of the world.
The BCM has been in continual production since this start in 1881. It has always been privately run in the sense of being independent of any chess organisation such as the British Chess Association, British Chess Federation or English Chess Federation.
Ninety-six occurrences of the chess column had appeared the Huddersfield Chess Magazine. The eight volumes of the HCM which contained the chess column were:
Vol.1, October 1872 to September 1873;
Vol.2, October 1873 to September 1874;
Vol.3, October 1874 to September 1875;
Vol.4, October 1875 to September 1876;
Vol.5, October 1876 to September 1877;
Vol.6, October 1877 to September 1878;
Vol.7, October 1878 to September 1879;
Vol.8, October 1879 to September 1880.
Copyright © 2012, 2014 Stephen John Mann