SHEFFIELD Chess History



1870: Four-Club Correspondence Tourney

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At the suggestion of the Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle, some of the stronger “provincial” clubs started a correspondence competition.  Paired clubs would play two games.  The first was to be to a set opening which was thereby to be tested.  The second game was unrestricted as to opening, and would only count for scoring in the event of the first game being drawn.  The clubs involved, and prizes, were as quoted below from the CPQC of June 1870.


The was also an “Amateur Class” running at the same time.


The Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle, April 1870, p.61, announced:

THE CORRESPONDENCE PLAY.-Very little progress as yet having been made in some of the games, we shall not publish any moves until the next number.  We shall be glad to receive all the moves in the various encounters on May 15th.  In order to prevent unreasonable delay, which seems in some cases to have taken place, it would be well that the parties should make some arrangements as to the time for making a move, and any party failing to carry them out to be liable to be called upon by us to resign the game.

***Should any dispute arise, the parties must show their conditions of play, and must accept our decision as final.


Clearly there had been no conception, at the outset, of rules of play for correspondence chess competitions.


The Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle, June 1870, p.88, announced the progress of the correspondence tournament between Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sheffield (i.e. Sheffield Athenaeum) Chess Clubs, as follows:


The Chess Clubs of Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Sheffield, probably among the strongest of our provincial clubs, are taking part in the Correspondence Tourney, proposed by the Editors of this magazine, in order to test some particular openings.  The prize is a £5 5s. set of Staunton Chessmen, in ivory, given by G. O. Cutler, Esq., of Sheffield, and a £2 2s. board by the Editors of Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle.  Birmingham has been paired against Bristol, and Newcastle against Sheffield.  Two games were commenced by each club, no second game counting, unless the first is a draw, the openings of the first games being selected, those of the second games being entirely without restriction.

We give the moves to the present time, the italics showing the opening that was chosen.



There followed the first 13 moves in Birmingham-Bristol game I, i.e. the moves to date, and the comment that game II “Was not considered sufficiently advanced for publication, and the moves have not been forwarded to us.”


The first fifteen moves of the Newcastle-Sheffield game I were similarly given, with the comment that game II “Has been won by Newcastle, the Sheffield players having resigned, after making a mistake in transmitting their 8th move.


It continued:


The Bradford Club was prepared to play, but unfortunately there was no antagonist.


In the AMATEUR CLASS, twelve are playing.  We find that we have not space to give the moves from time to time, but we intend to publish the best games as they are concluded; we have already two very interesting ones for the next number.  The prizes will be of the value of £2 10s. at least, given by the Editors.  We need not trouble competitors in this class to send any moves until the games are completed.


The Chess Players’ Quarterly Chronicle, August 1870, p.113, gave the remaining moves in the game between Newcastle and Sheffield, the completed game being as follows:


White: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Black: Sheffield

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Be2 d5 8. Bf3 dxe4 9. Bxe4 Bxd4 10. cxd4 O-O 11. g4 Qh4 12. Bf3 f5 13. Rg1 f4 14. Bc1 Be6 15. Na3 Rae8 16. Nc2 Bd5 17. Qd3 Nf5+ 18. Kd1 Bxf3+ 19. Qxf3 Nfxd4 [The CPQC says ambiguously “Kt. takes Kt.”, but Nfxd4 is here assumed.  Either way it ends up the same after the next capture.] 20. Nxd4 Nxd4 21. Qg2 f3 22. Qf1 Re2 23. Be3 Qf6 24. Bd2 Qg6 White resigned.


The CPQC’s comment on the game was:

***White’s eleventh move was deliberate suicide, and the game in consequence is no test of the opening that was adopted.   Black’s play is correct and good throughout.


The remaining games in the tourney seem not to have been published in subsequent issues of the CPQC.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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