Yorkshire Chess Association


Year Book 2019-20 Contents

Thing of the Day


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Accuracy of club information &

Yearbook: further copies

Message from the President

Officers 2019-20

YCA Honorary Life Members

Annual Fees (as revised 2019)

County Match Fees (as revised 2019)

YCA League Fixtures 2019-2020

YCA League Match Venues

Match Correspondents ‑ Woodhouse Cup

Match Correspondents ‑ IM Brown

Match Correspondents ‑ Silver Rook

Secretaries of Competing Clubs

Junior Chess Contacts

Contact Details Index

Chess Clubs/Organisations in Yorkshire

ECF Aug 2019 Grading List Extract

Notes on Grading List Extract

List of Clubs in Yorkshire-based Leagues

League Tables & Match Results 2018-19

County Match Results 2018-2019

Correspondence Chess 2018-19

Yorkshire Junior Activity 2018-19

Recent Winners of YCA Events

YCA Constitution

YCA League Rules (as revised 2019)

Index to Rules

Individual Championship Rules

Event Calendar 2019-20

Yorkshire Individual Championship 2020

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< Thing of the Day Index


First Lady of Yorkshire Chess


The title is of course somewhat meaningless without explanation.  It could refer

(1) to the first Yorkshire lady to be recorded as playing competitive organised chess;

(2) to the first lady to represent Yorkshire at chess;

(3) to the strongest Yorkshire lady chess-player.  It could even mean

(4) the current most senior and respected Yorkshire lady as regards her extensive curriculum vitae as player and organiser.

Looking at those in reverse order, then the fourth would be Margaret Rowley of Harrogate.

The third, if we define “Yorkshire” by residence, would be Sue Maroroa, though Sveltana Sučikova is in hot pursuit.

The second would seemingly be the late Yacoba Ives, though confirmatory documentary evidence has yet to be unearthed.

The lady to whom the intentionally confusing title actually refers is Miss Eliza Maria Thorold.


As one of the entrants to a ladies’ tournament (which she won) at the Redcar Congress of 1866, she is one of the first Yorkshire ladies recorded as playing competitive organised chess.  (The names of the other contestants seem yet to have been unearthed.)  That makes her the first unofficial Yorkshire Ladies’ Champion!  In her time, she would have been the strongest Yorkshire lady chess-player, and for a while possibly in earlier days the strongest English lady chess-player, being eclipsed later my Miss Mary Rudge.


Older brother Edmund Thorold was one of the strongest “provincial” chess-players in his day.  Another brother and a nephew also played chess, but to nowhere near Edmund’s standard.  Her father was one of the landed gentry, his land being in the vicinity of Barnby Moor (Eliza’s birthplace) in Lincolnshire, while more distantly related Lincolnshire Thorolds were baronets.


“Miss Thorold”, as she tended to be referred to, besides playing at Redcar in 1866, played in lower sections, usually “Class II”, of various Counties Chess Association Congresses (e.g. those of 1882, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1887, 1891, 1892, and 1893), when brother Edmund would usually be playing in the top section.  She also played in the British Chess Association’s Amateur Championships of 1888 (in Bradford) and 1890, and the Yorkshire Amateur Championship run alongside the 1888 BCA tournament at Bradford.


Edmund’s wife had died in 1876, and that may have resulted in Eliza spending periods of time staying with Edmund in Bath, as she kept popping up playing for Bath against Bristol (e.g. on 07/061883 and 27/05/1886) and for Bath against Wiltshire on 26/11/1890, although technically resident in Yorkshire!  Similarly, she played against Joseph Blackburne in his 28-board simultaneous display at Bristol on 05/12/1889.


The 1st International Women's Chess Tournament was held in London from 23/06/1897 to 03/07/1897.  This was won convincingly by Miss Mary Rudge with 17½ out of 18 in an 18-player all-play-all event.  Second was Mrs. J. G. Fagan (née Louisa Matilda Ballard) on 14½.  Third was our heroine on 14 points.  At this point she was probably very nearly 62 years of age, whereas Mary Rudge was 52, and Louisa Fagan was 47.


Scores of games played by Eliza Mary Thorold are hard to come by.  The following position is from a game from round 10 of the Amateur Section of the 6th British Chess Association Congress, held in Manchester, played on 04/09/1890.  Eliza has White against Bradford’s John Edmund Hall.  Black has just played 19. … Rac8, which in itself is a very reasonable move, but for the fact that it ignores trouble brewing on the other side of the board.



Position after 19. … Rac8.  How did White continue?  (No, it was not with 20. Bxh6; try again!)

(Click here to play through the game a see how Eliza Thorold finished off the game.)

(Use the browser’s “back” function to return to this page.)


It is difficult to find another reasonably interesting game of Miss Thorold’s from the limited supply, but the end of her game, with White, against Birmingham’s James Pollard Lea, with Black, on 04/08/1885, in round 2 of the 15th Counties Chess Association Congress, in Hereford, is quite interesting.  The position after White had played 23. Ng3e4 was as follows:



The obvious threat is 24. Nf6+, at least winning the exchange, whilst still having an attack.  You would think that in the above position Black would play 24. … Kh8.  Yes, it looks dicey, but there seems no immediate crushing win.  So, retaining material parity seems expedient.  In the event Black opted for 23. … Rdd8.  The curious thing here is that the Re8 started at a8, and the Rd8 started at h8! 


Play continued 24. Nf6+ Kh8 (not 24. … gxf6 25. gxf6+ winning the Black queen) 25. Nxe8.


You might ask if 25. Nxh7 (threatening 26. Nf6+) was better.  Now, neither 25. … Kg8 26. Qh4 (threatening 27. Nf6+) nor 25. … Ng6 26. Nf6+ is any good for Black, so he might try 25. … Nxh7.  Now, 26. g6 seems to win, e.g. 26. … Rf8 (to clear the f-file for Black’s king – no good is 26. …Rd5 to cover h5, due to 27. Rxh7+ Kg8 28. Qh3) 27. Qh5 Rxf1+ 28. Kxf1 Qf8+ (alternatively either 28. …Qf6+ 29. Kg1 Kg8 30. Qxg7+ Kf8 31. Rf3, or 28. … Kg8 29. Qxh7+ Kf8 30. Qh8#) 29. Kg1 Qg8 30. Qg4 Qe8 31. Rxh7+ Kg8 32. Qh5 Kf8 33. Rh8+ and wins.  That analysis may not be watertight, so the pragmatic harvesting of material with 25. Nxe8 may be expedient, and possibly better!


After 25. … Rxe8 (posing the question as to whether 25. … Qxe8 was better), the following position was reached.



The question now is how did White continue in the above position?

(Click here to play through the game and see the finish.)

(Use the browser’s “back” function to return to this page.)


Click here for biographical data on Eliza Maria Thorold and relatives.

Click here for biographical data on Bradford player John Edmund Hall.

Click here for biographical data on Birmingham/Bath player James Pollard Lea.