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


Walter Gledhill


Not many Yorkshire Chess-players have had an opening named after them.  There is Edmund Thorold, older brother of Eliza Mary Thorold featured in the previous “Thing of the Day”, whose name features in the Allgaier-Thorold variation of the King’s Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ng5 h6 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. d4), and the similar Hamppe-Allgaier-Thorold variation of the Vienna Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 exf4 4. Nf3 g5 5. h4 g4 6. Ng5 h6 7. Nxf7 Kxf7 8. d4).  Similar such names exist, such as the Thorold-Allgaier-Kieseritzki variation of King’s Gambit.  In Bird’s opening there is the Thorold-Burn system: 1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 e6 4.b3 c5 which hardly seems worthy of its own name.  He is said to have introduced, around 1875, the move 5.d4 in the Cochrane Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7 Kf7 5.d4).  However, these “Thorold” variations were probably evolved while he lived in Bath, after he left Sheffield.  There is also John Edmund Hall after whom the Hall Variation in the Centre Game is named.  The only such eponymous Yorkshire player whose name is familiar to numerous players of today is Walter Gledhill.


Walter Gledhill’s best-known claim to chess fame is the Gledhill Attack, a variation of the French Defence named after him, characterised by the move 5. Qg4 after the opening moves 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7.  The July 1901 issue of the British Chess Magazine carried on page 277 comments and brief analysis by Walter on this system which came to bear his name, with the introduction “We have much pleasure in placing before our readers what we believe to be a new and interesting line of attack against the French Defence.”  The analysis was presented as a collaboration between Walter Gledhill and R. S. Sumner, earlier of Ilkley Chess Club, but by then resident in Wiltshire.


Walter explained the origin of his ideas as follows:


After losing a game to Mr. D. B. Kitchin (then of Harrogate), who had defended with a “French”, I examined the opening carefully, and came to the conclusions eventually: -


1. That [after the above four moves] 5. P-B4 is not good, the White QB being at home.


2. That the weak state of Black’s K wing invites the entry of White’s Q, which cannot be dislodged without causing a serious breach in Black’s defences.


3. That 5. Q-Kt4 permits such a rapid development of White’s remaining forces that the loss of a Pawn may well be risked.


Lasker reportedly described this as “an ingenious attack, full of possibilities.”


Later, on page 498, the 1901 BCM published a game between “Mr. Wright” and White, and “Mr. Michael” as Black, taken from The Literary Digest, and describing the opening as “French Defence - The Gledhill Attack”.  This was presumably one of the earliest instances of a game published using this new name for the opening.  Notes by Walter were appended.


Walter played over the board for Burley, Ilkley, to a limited extent Leeds, and of course for Yorkshire, and also played by correspondence on his own account and for Yorkshire.  Like so many people in those days, Walter would also turn his mind to chess problems, and in 1888 he won the YCA’s problem-setting tournament with the following:


For some reason or other, this diagram came to be entered in an autograph book of Walter’s daughter Carrie.  The WG monogram in the bottom right-hand corner rather implies it to have been penned by Walter himself.  The current holder of Carrie’s autograph book believes the diagram to have been entered therein around 1911. *

Click here to see the above position in conventional presentation, allowing access to the solution.

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When in 1895 Emanuel Lasker gave a simultaneous display in Ilkley, while recouping his health there prior to the international tournament in Hastings, Walter Gedhill was the only player to manage a draw.

Click here to play through the game Emanuel Lasker v Walter Gledhill.

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The British Chess Magazine’s obituary for Walter Gledhill included a blindfold game (or one played sans voir as the BCM put it) played between Walter Gledhill and friend George Brumfitt (secretary of Ilkley Chess Club), which game had an amusing end:

Click here to play through Walter Gledhill v George Brumfitt (blindfold).

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The same article contained a blindfold game played in 1897 between Walter and his nine-year-old eldest son Horace.  Walter was White, which seems a little unsporting!  Perhaps the father was playing sans voir while the son had sight of the board.

Click here to play through Walter Gledhill v Horace Gledhill (blindfold).

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Click here for more biographical data on Walter Gledhill and ill-fated son Horace.

Click here for more information about Lasker’s simultaneous display in Ilkley.

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* The image of Carrie’s autograph book were kindly supplied by David Jackson, grandson of Walter’s daughter Carrie, and great-grandson of Walter.