Year Book 2019-20 Contents
Thing of the Day
(Click on underlined link) \/ to end of list \/
Impact of 19th Century European Wars on Yorkshire Chess
The Second World War broke out while an Olympiad was in progress in Buenos Aires. This had the amusing effect of organisers having to avoid pairings like Great Britain v Germany. Of the Polish players, Miguel Najdorf decided to stay in Argentina, and thereby gave an important boost to the development of chess in that country. Just as Hitler thus had a major effect on chess in Argentina, so too did Napoleon give a boost to chess in Halifax. This flimsy theme is adopted as a basis for choosing some games.
A certain Wilhelm Georg Otto von Kronhelm, as a German soldier during Napoleonic Wars, somehow became attached to some British forces which were then captured and taken prisoner. At the end of the war this batch of prisoners was repatriated, with Wilhelm among them, landing in Plymouth. Wilhelm stayed in England, and a subsequently born son of his, Frederick William Cronhelm, ended up in Halifax, where he became the prime mover of chess activity in Halifax, in particular becoming the president of Halifax Chess Club at its formation in 1840. His fourth son, Edward, became probably the better player of the two.
When St Georges Chess Club was formed in Halifax, seemingly formed to exclude the riff-raff, Edward Cronhelm, with Black, played the following game against an unnamed opponent. It is badly played by White, but is interesting in that it provides an early instance of the Grand Prix Attack (1. e4 c5 2. f4), and ends with forced mate in 4 terminating in double check and mate.
Position after 11. Qd5-f3. Black mates five moves later.
Edward moved to Ireland, where in 1865 he finished 2nd in a 17-player all-play-all amateur event run alongside the first Irish Championship.
1848 French Revolution
Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint Amant had attended the annual meetings of the original Yorkshire Chess Association in 1846 and 1847. In 1846, after the Rev. Robert Garvey had proposed a toast to St. Amant, the latter responded at length, in French, with the above Frederick William Cronhelm translating into English. In 1847, amongst the games played, where two between St. Amant and leading Yorkshire players John Rhodes and Robert Cadman in consultation. The Yorkshiremen won one game and drew the other. The game they won reached the following position:
How did White continue? (You’ll probably get this wrong.)
St. Amant was again invited to the 1848 meeting, but as he was an officer in the palace guard, he had to tender his apologies for absence due the Revolution taking place in France at the time. The YCA meeting was thus deprived by the Paris rabble of one of its honoured guests. (He did manage to get along again in 1850 and 1858.)
1848 Hungarian Revolution
Johann Jacob Löwenthal had been a civil servant under the Kossuth regime, and after the ultimate crushing of the revolution he fled to the United States and then moved to England. This had an impact on Yorkshire chess in that he ended up playing board 1 for Grimsby against Hull Church Institute, pushing the rest of the team down the board order. (The Hull team still won.) Since Löwenthal made a major contribution to English chess, we can perhaps forgive him for turning out as a “ringer” against Hull CI, but had it not been for the Hungarian Revolution, the Hull CI team would have won by a greater margin.
The Crimean War may not have directly affected chess in Yorkshire, but along with a legacy of the Napoleonic Wars, it provided the first 6 years of employment of Dr. William John Wilson who later settled in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, not very far outside Yorkshire (and currently in the Sheffield & DCA). As “Dr. Wilson of Clay Cross” or similar, he cropped up at various chess events in Yorkshire. He had seen service in the Crimean War, presumably as an Army doctor, and this must have been his first “job” after qualifying. Back home in Westmorland, five of his seven sisters were contributing to the war effort, not by volunteering with Florence Nightingale’s nurses, but by running a gunpowder factory! His next job was at Dartmoor prison, which owed its existence to the Napoleonic Wars, having been first built to house prisoners from that conflict. So, the first 6 years of his career were facilitated by European Wars, giving him the taste for in-house institutional medical posts which brought him to Clay Cross to work for a mining company, the Clay Cross Company, and then the North Midland Railway.
At the 1863 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting he won the 8-player knock-out tournament, so becoming an early unofficial Yorkshire Champion of a sort.
At the 1866 Redcar tournament won by Cecil Valentine de Vere (of London), the Clay Cross doctor, though finishing 5th out of 8, won his game against 2nd-placed Edmund Thorold, who got a little over-optimistic in their game, which reached the following position with Thorold (White) to move. So, what did White do?
What he did was play sacrificially with 24. Rxe7. If it had worked, then it might have been a brilliancy! Actually, Chess World questioned the wisdom of Thorold’s move, and Wilson in fact went on to win.
A certain game published on the internet is recorded as being played at the British Chess Association 1862 congress in London, presumably a casual game in the fringes of the event, in which William John Wilson beat Wilhelm Steinitz (but lost 2 others as well). Dr. Wilson, though not a competitor, was indeed a member of the “Co-operative Committee” of the event, so the opportunity would arise. After Steinitz had played 15. … Qg4, the position was as follows, with Dr. Wilson (White) to move:
What did White do now?
(An original source for this game has not been found yet. As James Wilson Rimington Wilson, of Bradfield, Sheffield, was present as a participant in the Handicap Tournament, there is a niggling uncertainty as to the true identity of White in this game.)
For biographical data on above mentioned players click on the name below: