Yorkshire Chess History Site

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Colin Patterson
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Colin Patterson » Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:51 pm

Okay, this also seems plausible, but are there really no instances during his lifetime when a journalist referred to him, in writing, by his full name?

Irritatingly, BCM appears to have exclusively used FD Yates, and I think I got the same sense on a general trawl of The Times. Even in his obituary at The Times, they avoid using his full name throughout; something they repeat in their follow-up article about the circumstances of his death. This all seems very suspicious to me - like there was some sort of cloak of secrecy surrounding his name.

Perhaps Tim is correct with his penultimate comment. Maybe Yates never saw his own birth certificate and was as confused as everyone else.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:08 am

Tim Harding wrote:
Gordon Cadden wrote:The Yorkshire Chess Association was established before the British Chess Association, forerunner of the British Chess Federation.
That is a rather loose and inaccurate picture of events. The first Yorkshire Chess Association was established in 1840 and became firstly The Chess Association and ultimately the (first) British Chess Association which collapsed around 1874.

A West Yorkshire Chess Association was founded about that time (precise date anyone?) to look after local chess and that is what presumably evolved into the present-day Yorkshire Chess Association.

A second B.C.A., founded by Hoffer and others in the 1880s also failed after less than ten years. The BCF was founded in 1904, principally on the initiative of the Northern and Southern counties unions and the London League.

I hope Steve Mann's site can be revived as it was indeed a useful resource. I agree that if he doesn't want to do it any more then the Yorkshire organisation should take it over.

From 'The Era' 6th July 1856
The Era - 6th July1856 - p.5.jpg
The Era - 6th July1856 - p.5.jpg (96.29 KiB) Viewed 1010 times

Tim Harding
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Tim Harding » Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:18 am

Thanks Gerard. I knew I had the answer somewhere in my files but that cutting is very useful.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'

Anthony Taglione
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Anthony Taglione » Fri Sep 01, 2017 5:53 pm

Thank you so very much for your link to the wayback engine. Steve Mann's site was the only one I could ever find which listed Yorkshire Individual Champions.
Gerard Killoran wrote:Steve Mann's site - which has not been updated for some time - has finally gone down.

e.g. http://www.sjmann.supanet.com/People/Wo ... 0Edwin.htm

Does anyone know why?

It can still be accessed - for now - via the Wayback Engine...

https://web.archive.org/web/20160623144 ... 20Home.htm

...but surely it needs a new permanent home on the internet.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Sep 27, 2017 4:43 pm

Good news, Steve's site is back online at


...and to celebrate, some Yorkshire pictures for his site - if he wants them.
Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 12, 1912.jpg
Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 12, 1912.jpg (301.35 KiB) Viewed 743 times
Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 8, 1926.jpg
Sheffield Daily Telegraph February 8, 1926.jpg (143.26 KiB) Viewed 743 times
Sheffield Daily Telegraph December 6, 1928.jpg
Sheffield Daily Telegraph December 6, 1928.jpg (208.3 KiB) Viewed 743 times

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:34 am

Continuing with Yorkshire History stuff I've picked up recently, here's a biographical sketch of Yorkshire-born R. B. Wormald, written by the eminent literary scholar, William Prideaux Courtney (1845–1913).

THE Gentleman's Magazine, VOLUME 300, JANUARY — JUNE 1906 pp. 178-182


R. B. Wormaid

Dear Mr. Urban, — Thirty years ago, when whist was the card-game of the nation and Cavendish’s “Principles of Whist” was its text-book, the mention in the historical preface of the fact that Wormald had on the banks of the Thames found a small set playing the game with the addition of “squabbers” arrested my attention. The name was employed as if it were familiar to all. To me it was new. From that time I took note of all references to him which occurred in print, and during the last two months have made diligent inquiries about him. The following is the result of my labours.

Robert Bownas Wormald was baptised at Bramham Church, near Boston Spa, Yorkshire, on May 12, 1834. His father was described in the parish register as Samuel Wormald, woollen-draper, of Leeds. His mother was Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Robert Bownas, vicar of that parish. On matriculating from Lincoln College, Oxford (June 2, 1852), he was entered as the third son of Bryan Wormald, gent.

Wormald was Bible clerk at the college from 1852 to 1856 and graduated B.A. in 1857, being awarded the honorary degree of fourth class in classics, Michaelmas Term, 1856. At the installation of the Earl of Derby as Chancellor of the University (June 1853) recited in the theatre a "congratulatory ode" of forty-eight Latin hexameters. They will be found on page 35 of the volume of "congratulatory addresses" (1853) and on page 72 of the “proceedings at the installation” (1853).

During these years the undergraduates at Lincoln College comprised a set of men of "great intellectual activity” who are described by Canon Overton in Longman's Magazine, January 1887. Wormald was one of them and great things were expected of him. Then and throughout life his popularity was unbounded, and at the University, as afterwards in London, he was affectionately known as “Tommy” Wormald, from a fancied resemblance to “Uncle Tom” of Mrs. Beecher Stowe’s novel. His height was over six feet, and he was well and strongly built. All sports came easy to him, but he was famous throughout Oxford as a first-class oarsman, a leading boxer, and as the best chess-player in the University. His difficulties, if he had any, arose from a gaiety of disposition and thoughtlessness in living, but they formed, says Canon Overton, rather the subject of jest than of serious consideration.

A problem by him is said to have been inserted in the Illustrated London News when he was aged fifteen. The details of a game “still pending between Messrs. Wilkinson and Wormald, two of the finest players of Oxford,” are given in the Chess-player's Chronicle, i. n.s. (1853), pp. 239-40, and the first of several problems and papers by him appeared in the same journal, p. 256. He played a match against Charles Kenny, a prominent amateur, in 1858, and won every game. Next year he fought with Campbell, "the rising star of English chess," and after fourteen drawn games Campbell led by seven to five.

Wormald in 1855 belonged to the Hermes Chess Club. He was the hon. sec. of the St. James’s Chess Club in 1861, and about this time his figure was conspicuous among the experts of the game that frequented the Philidorian Chess Rooms in Rathbone Place. When the Westminster Chess Club was founded in June 1866 he was invited to join it, and he served on its first committee. He won the first prize in the handicap tournament of that club in 1868, and acted as one of the two examiners and judges when the committee started a problem tournament in the spring of 1871. At the problem tournament in 1872 of the Congress of the British Chess Association he was one of the committee of examination. There existed "no pleasanter opponent, no more accomplished player," than Wormald. He was a master of openings and of end games, and played the middle part with great ingenuity as well as judgement. His weak point was "... an unwillingness to take the trouble thoroughly to analyse the position when extremely complicated."

Wormald was more than a chess-player ; as a composer of chess problems he occupied the first place, and this combination of practice and theory rarely exists. In his enigmas there was "evidence of an intellect fertile in elegant and pleasing ideas, not beyond the apprehension and enjoyment of the budding amateur," and his volume of "Chess Openings" was long, the best English book on that subject. It appeared early in 1864, preface being dated in December 1863 from 2 Tanfield Court, Temple, rooms which are said to have been occupied previously by Shirley Brooks. Many games and problems by Wormald were inserted in the "Westminster Chess Club papers," and among them was a series of contributions, beginning at vol. iii. 121 (December 1, 1870), which had been prepared for a second edition of his work. This new edition came out in 1875, but "though nominally a second edition, it is in reality a new book" says the preface. A savage review of it, by Wilhelm Steinitz, appeared in the “City of London Chess Magazine,” II. 297-304, 331-6. G. A. Macdonnell says that the article “filled eight octave pages, took Steinitz eight months to write, and his friends eight years to forget.” Reviews of books, so runs the fable, have sometimes killed the authors ; this killed the magazine.

Several of Wormald’s problems are inserted in the Chess World 1866-69, 4 vols., and in "English Chess Problems, ed. James Pierce and W. Timbrell Pierce, 1876." After the death of Howard Staunton on June 22, 1874, conducted until his own death the chess department of the Illustrated London News, and he edited Staunton’s "Chess Theory and Practice, 1876," which the author had left in manuscript. The article on chess (pp. 467-513) for the "Every Boy’s Book, 1855," of George Forrest, Esq., M.A., i.e., the Rev. J. G. Wood, was by him, and he contributed papers on whist to vol. i. of the "Popular Recreator" (1873-74, 2 vols.).

Wormald played a busy part in journalism. He contributed occasionally to the Saturday Review, wrote regularly for the Field on rowing and fishing, was the permanent yachting correspondent of the Daily News, and sometimes wrote a leader for it on sporting subjects. In 1861-62 he was employed on the Literary Budget of Saunders and Ottley, and during the short life (January 5, 1867-December 26, 1868) of the Imperial Review his pen was at its service. When the Sporting Gazette was started on November 1, 1862, Wormald was numbered among its contributors ; in the earliest days (1865) of the Sportsman he was on its staff ; and he is said to have been joint-editor, with H. Smurthwaite, of Bell's Life. With the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News he was connected from the first number to his death. He wrote the “Answers to Correspondents” in its chess-column of December 2, 1876, and a posthumous story (“The Last of our Family Ghost”) by him appeared in the Christmas number of December 16. The last paper which he joined was, so I am informed, the Morning Advertiser.

For many years Wormald was a martyr to rheumatic gout, and the winter of 1875-76 laid upon him the additional burden of bronchitis and congestion of the lungs. Still he used to drop into the Divan in the Strand, was always merry, and never left without saying some good things. A week before his death he talked of being better in health when he moved into a new house. He died at 23 Angell Road, Brixton, December 4, 1876, and was buried at Norwood Cemetery. His wife, Frances, daughter of Thomas Kell, of an old Border family and land-agent for George Lane-Fox, lives at 26 Huntly Road, Fairfield, Liverpool. They were married at Bramham in 1865.

[Times December 8, 1876, p. 1 ; Chess-players' Chronicle, 1877, pp. 20-21 ; Westminster papers, October 2, 1876, and January 1, 1877 ; Foster’s Alumni Oxon. ; Illustrated London News, December 9, 1876, p. 566 ; Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, December 9, 1876, p. 247 ; G. A. MacDonnell, “Chess Life-pictures,” pp. 45-8 ; MacDonnell, “Knights and Kings of Chess,” pp. 39-40, 64, 109, 141 ; I. O. Howard Taylor, “Chess Skirmishes,” pp. 147-9, 161-2 ; information from Rev. E. G. Wadeson, Vicar of Bramham ; Mrs. Wormald ; Rev, T. Vere Bayne, of Christ Church, Oxford; and Mr. Falconer Madan, of the Bodleian.]

W. P. Courtney.

John Townsend
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by John Townsend » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:45 am

Thank you, Gerard, for bringing this interesting biographical sketch to our attention.

The account contains an inconsistency over the name of Wormald's father (which I believe was Samuel). Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses states that Wormald was the third son of Bryan [Wormald], of Bramham, Yorks., gentleman, which Courtney notes without much comment, having previously said that his father in the baptism register was Samuel Wormald. Is that simply an error on Foster’s part? In general, Foster seems to maintain a decent level of accuracy, considering the large amounts of detailed data he had to handle.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Yorkshire Chess History Site

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:02 pm

Steve Mann's page on Wormald...

http://mannchess.org.uk/People/Wormald, ... Bownas.htm

...has him having a grandfather and brother called Bryan, which might explain the confusion.

Courtney also gives a different explanation for the nickname 'Tom' - which seems more plausible than that suggested by Steve Mann.

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