Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7277
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Jul 14, 2012 2:52 pm

General thread to cover anything on chess in the UK in the Victorian or Edwardian periods!

Starting off with some material from another thread that went off-topic:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Going back a few more years than that, I see that the 1912 British Chess Championships were held in "Richmond". Was that Richmond, Surrey (not Richmond, Yorkshire)? I'd never realised that. There isn't any particular reason why it would be recorded in the history of local chess clubs in the area including the one I play for (Richmond and Twickenham Chess Club), and I'm not sure the history of any of the local clubs go back that far (well, Harrow was founded before 1912), but I'd be interested in more details of the venue in 1912 if anyone knows that.
Richard James wrote:Richmond Surrey, but I don't know where. Will try to find out. There are references to Richmond (Surrey) Chess Club back in the mid 19th century but not sure how long the current club has been in existence. Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club was formed by the merger of Richmond Chess Club & Twickenham Chess Club in about 1958. Tim Harding and Brian Denman have given me some information on this & they will know more than me.

A quick look in the Times Archives only confirms that it was "Richmond on Thames" and that the weather was very much the same as it was to be 100 years later.
Clive Blackburn wrote:There is an interesting game here from the 1912 British Championships (see 5608. Wahltuch v Griffith)

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter47.html

Richard Griffith, the eventual winner of the championship, was winning comfortably but then allowed his opponent to force stalemate.

Part of the game score is shown, as published in the BCM at the time.
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Thanks Clive and Richard. I may dig around and see if I can find anything as well. What I was wondering was whether it would have been likely to have been held in a grand venue such as the Star and Garter Hotel, though thinking about it, probably not. What I'm looking for is an idea of the number of players participating, which would give an idea of the size of venue that might have been used at the time (or indeed the type of venue used for any of the major chess tournaments held in the UK in the last decades of the 19th-century and pre-WWI, i.e. the late Victorian and Edwardian period).

For instance, the 1899 tournament, according to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_189 ... tournament

was played "in St. Stephen’s Hall with a time limit of fifteen moves in one hour. Participants were entertained by the City of London chess club at Crystal Palace and the Star and Garter Hotel in Richmond. A banquet took place in the International Hall of the Café Monico on 29 June".

I have a vague memory that this is the St Stephen's Hall in the Palace of Westminster, but looking things up it seems that is wishful thinking:

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/london1.html

"The writer was unimpressed by the playing conditions: ‘I think it would have been difficult to find premises more shabby, more grubby and more unhealthy than St Stephen’s Hall"

Look at the picture, you can see St Stephen's Hall at lower right, part of or attached to the Royal Aquarium building. It sounds like it was no Simpsons in the Strand. The banquets would have been more pleasant.

Richard James
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Richard James » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:37 pm

The Castle Assembly Rooms, according to the 1912 BCM.

More information here, here and here.

Opposite the Old Town Hall, in whose palatial surroundings R&TCC met for several years during the Fischer boom in the 1970s.

The sections were: the British Championship, the Ladies Championship (whose competitors included Mrs Sidney, whose dog famously played for Brighton 3rd team), the Major Open, two Amateur First Class tournaments, two Amateur Second Class tournaments and two Amateur Third Class tournaments. In total I make that 9 sections, with, in theory, 12 players in each section.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7277
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:49 pm

Many thanks for that Richard. Fascinating bit of local history (for those that live in the area). The BCM you pointed to said "The chief tournaments will be played in the grand ball-room, the size of which is 80 feet by 35 feet." The number of players (from the sound of it, around 100-110) is interesting as well. Comparing that with the 600+ in recent years. I wonder if it is possible to track the size of the British over time?

I should mention here (given the thread title) that I just noticed in the July 2012 issue of CHESS, a review of Tim Harding's book Eminent Victorian Chess Players: Ten Biographies (406pp, McFarland). Looks to be an impressive piece of work.

User avatar
Matt Mackenzie
Posts: 2841
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Millom, Cumbria

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:46 pm

How were "classes" defined in those dim and distant days??
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Richard James
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Richard James » Sat Jul 14, 2012 7:00 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:How were "classes" defined in those dim and distant days??
The concept of 'class' tournaments at the British lingered on into the 70s and perhaps also 80s. The 'First Class' tournament, which I played in a couple of times, was below the Major Open. There was also, probably up to about the late 60s, a 'Second Class' tournament below that.

As far as I know, before the advent of the Swiss system, there was some entry committee that decided who should play in which section.

Richard James
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Richard James » Sat Jul 14, 2012 8:04 pm

Randomly googling, I discovered that the Richmond Chess Club minutes, cash books and match records from 1893 to 1939 are held in the Richmond Local Studies Library, which just happens to be in the Old Town Hall, where R&TCC used to meet, and opposite where the 1912 British Championships took place.

I really ought to investigate sometime.

Clive Blackburn

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Clive Blackburn » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:07 pm

This is the chess scene from the film "The Young Victoria"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjIC0tjma9g

Clive Blackburn

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Clive Blackburn » Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:36 pm

This site has details of some of the chess clubs which were established in Victorian London

http://www.victorianlondon.org/entertai ... sclubs.htm

Richard James
Posts: 956
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Richard James » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:10 am

Richard James wrote:The Castle Assembly Rooms, according to the 1912 BCM.

More information here, here and here.

Opposite the Old Town Hall, in whose palatial surroundings R&TCC met for several years during the Fischer boom in the 1970s.

The sections were: the British Championship, the Ladies Championship (whose competitors included Mrs Sidney, whose dog famously played for Brighton 3rd team), the Major Open, two Amateur First Class tournaments, two Amateur Second Class tournaments and two Amateur Third Class tournaments. In total I make that 9 sections, with, in theory, 12 players in each section.
A good photograph of the Castle Assembly Rooms here (2nd photo on page).

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18056
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:52 am

Richard James wrote: As far as I know, before the advent of the Swiss system, there was some entry committee that decided who should play in which section.
I rather think they ran in parallel. Hastings tournaments of the late sixties and early seventies were restricted to 32 players even for nine, ten or eleven round events. The magazines of the time talk in terms of "selection".

Stewart was in parallel to this inventing accelerated pairings and the monster Swiss.


User avatar
Gerard Killoran
Posts: 384
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 am
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:09 pm

As for Edwardian Chess...

Here's a post of mine which takes a closer look at a photograph taken at the British Championship tournament of 1908 at Tunbridge Wells.

http://ilkleychess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/ ... -time.html

User avatar
Gerard Killoran
Posts: 384
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 am
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Gerard Killoran » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:00 pm

Another post on an Edwardian chess conundrum

http://ilkleychess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/ ... story.html

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 6340
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:09 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:As for Edwardian Chess...

Here's a post of mine which takes a closer look at a photograph taken at the British Championship tournament of 1908 at Tunbridge Wells.

http://ilkleychess.blogspot.co.uk/2012/ ... -time.html
Who's the player on the other side of the board from the camera in the second row?

There's a small mystery from the round of your photo, involving Atkins winning on time early on in an apparently harmless position.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

User avatar
Gerard Killoran
Posts: 384
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 am
Contact:

Re: Victorian and Edwardian chess in the UK

Post by Gerard Killoran » Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:29 pm

Who's the player on the other side of the board from the camera in the second row?
Can you be more specific?

Post Reply