Earliest English Chess Clubs

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Tim Harding
Posts: 1637
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Tim Harding » Wed May 03, 2017 12:04 pm

I wasn't aware that Eric Nowell had died. I met him in 2007 when he gave me two copies of "Chess and Manchester," one of which I still have. The other I donated to the chess collection at the Royal Dutch Library in The Hague.

As there are 188 pages of A4 it is certainly a substantial work, worthy of being called a book.

According to the catalogue of Manchester libraries, there is a copy in the Local Studies reference section at Q794.1Ch(352) at the Central Library in St Peter's Square.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

John Townsend
Posts: 296
Joined: Sun Aug 29, 2010 8:26 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by John Townsend » Wed May 03, 2017 12:51 pm

I searched for "Chess and Manchester" in the catalogues of the British Library and COPAC, but drew a blank in both cases. Assuming that I was searching for the correct title, it seems to be a pretty rare book as far as UK libraries are concerned, but, then, I think UK libraries are poorly stocked with chess history titles in general.

Mick Norris
Posts: 7020
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 10:12 am
Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester
Contact:

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Mick Norris » Wed May 03, 2017 1:50 pm

Yes, there's a few copies about in Manchester; certainly my club Bury had one, which I looked at a few years ago

Even if it only lasted for a few years, the original Manchester Chess Club was founded in 1817
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Tim Harding
Posts: 1637
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Tim Harding » Wed May 03, 2017 4:58 pm

John Townsend wrote:I searched for "Chess and Manchester" in the catalogues of the British Library and COPAC, but drew a blank in both cases. Assuming that I was searching for the correct title, it seems to be a pretty rare book as far as UK libraries are concerned, but, then, I think UK libraries are poorly stocked with chess history titles in general.
The publishers (in 1990) were the Manchester and District Chess Association. They did not obtain an ISBN number for "Chess and Manchester" so it is unsurprising libraries do not have it unless copies were donated.

There is no copyright line so if Alan Smith (the principal living contributor so far as I can tell) has no objection, it should be possible for that body to reprint it or put it online.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Gordon Cadden
Posts: 478
Joined: Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:57 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Gordon Cadden » Wed May 03, 2017 5:23 pm

Have two copies of "Chess and Manchester". published in 1990. Eric Nowell was responsible, as Archivist of the Manchester and District Chess Association. Extends to 188 pages, but a poorly produced publication, unlikely to be stocked in Public Libraries. A4 Format in softback covers, with just two staples holding the book together. Sad really, because the book contains many interesting biographies, and games from 1817.
If anyone is planning to publish their club history, please make certain that the book is a hardback, and finely bound.
The Bury and West Suffolk Club published their history in 1997. A fine hard back with gilt lettering. Adrian Thorpe even gave the book an ISBN
0 9530249 0 3 Other clubs should follow.

Gary Senior
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:37 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Gary Senior » Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:54 pm

Does anyone know when Leeds Chess Club started, I had a vague recollection it was the 1840s?

And does it still exist? I first went there around 1973 when club nights were above the Victoria Pub in central Leeds.


Tim Harding
Posts: 1637
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Tim Harding » Sun Apr 29, 2018 6:56 pm

More research is needed in my files. From a quick look: There certainly was, however briefly, a chess club in Leeds circa 1825 which started a correspondence match with a club newly established in Hull. (Manchester Guardian 17 Dec 1825 but no further reports.)
Around the same time Leeds had played against a Liverpool group (Kaleidoscope 11 Oct 1825).
In 1834 there was a Leeds-Doncaster match.
The new (third) Leeds club was founded in 1838 and played against Liverpool. See the book Chess Problems by R. A. Brown of Leeds. I am not sure of continuity after that.

In Stephen Mann's cited page it says:
There is evidence of a formally constituted Leeds Chess Club in the 1820s was once found in a copy of Chess Essays, by “a Hindoo”, published in Bombay, in 1814, residing in the Manchester Central Free Reference Library. This volume had on its flyleaf the faded but clearly legible inscription, “Leeds Chess Club, Novem. 1820, No. 5.”
Unfortunately this Manchester copy of Shastree's book has been rebound and the reference to an old Leeds club is no longer there.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

User avatar
Gerard Killoran
Posts: 358
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 am
Contact:

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Gerard Killoran » Fri May 04, 2018 2:58 pm

I think I can put the origin of the modern Leeds Chess Club a year earlier.

See...

Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 07 October 1837 p.4.jpg
Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 07 October 1837 p.4.jpg (60.57 KiB) Viewed 661 times

...and the presence of John Rhodes confirms this.

Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 14 October 1837 p.5.jpg
Leeds Intelligencer - Saturday 14 October 1837 p.5.jpg (54.88 KiB) Viewed 661 times

Gary Senior
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:37 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Gary Senior » Fri May 04, 2018 8:43 pm

Fascinating, thank you for your responses to my question

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat May 05, 2018 8:31 am

Nice to see chess is an "interesting amusement". The club is only open to "gentlemen", which reflects the times. Nowadays, you get all sorts of ghastly urchins playing.

Roger Lancaster
Posts: 478
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Roger Lancaster » Wed May 09, 2018 1:23 am

"Nowadays, you get all sorts of ghastly urchins playing."

Really?

User avatar
Michael Farthing
Posts: 1689
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:28 pm
Location: Morecambe, Europe

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Michael Farthing » Wed May 09, 2018 6:43 am

Absolutely, and most of them can't even notate their games properly. Try saying "King's Pawn moves to its king's fourth square" and they look at you blankly.

[After thought: And some of them don't even start their game with this move. I ask you!]

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 2536
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed May 09, 2018 8:25 am

"Absolutely, and most of them can't even notate their games properly."

Yes - some even use "N" instead of "Kt". I am just going through some score sheets of a former President of Redhill CC (founded 1891, so not even close to earliest), and he used notation like "R-Ksq", instead of Re1/Re8, until he gave up in the 1980s.

And I refuse to explain if I say something that is intended to be humorous.

Roger Lancaster
Posts: 478
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Re: Earliest English Chess Clubs

Post by Roger Lancaster » Wed May 09, 2018 9:24 am

I can only sympathise with Michael and Kevin on the evident decline in English chess standards.

Post Reply