SHEFFIELD Chess History



1870: Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club Annual Soirée

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The 1870 annual soirée of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club was held on Tuesday, 18th October, in the Sheffield Athenaeum Club’s newsroom.


The “soirée” was the opening evening for the coming season, and included an evening meal.  This was in contrast to the annual general meeting at which reports would be read, accounts presented, officers elected, and so on.


On this occasion there was a “full” turn out of the membership, who with friends totalled about fifty.


The president, Dr. John Charles Hall, announced that a member had donated a chessboard, valued at two guineas, which would be first prize in a handicap tournament which was being arranged.  The committee members were providing as second prize a set and board, value £1 10s., and as third prize a set, value £1 5s.  The entry fee was one shilling.  The Chess Player’s Quarterly Chronicle carried details of the workings of the handicap tournament.


The president congratulated the members on their victory in a correspondence match with Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and on the increase in the membership and the general satisfactory condition of the club.


It was also here announced, or it soon came to pass that, the club had accepted a challenge from the City of London Chess Club to contest a number of correspondence games.  Again, details were given by The Chess Player’s Quarterly Chronicle.


The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent of Thursday 20th October, 1870, carried the following description of the soirée:


SHEFFIELD ATHENAEUM CHESS CLUB. – The annual opening soirée of the above club was held on Tuesday evening, in the spacious newsroom of the institution.  There was a full attendance, and after an excellent repast, served by the steward in the dining room, the remainder of the evening was devoted to the game of chess.  The president, Dr. J.C. Hall, in a short speech, announced that by the liberality of a member of the club, a handsome chess-board, of the value of two guineas, has been placed at the disposal of the council, and would form the principal prize in the tournament now being arranged; and also complimented the members on the victory obtained over the Newcastle Club., in the recent correspondence game, and upon the numerical increase and generally satisfactory condition of the club.


The Chess Player’s Quarterly Chronicle of December 1870. pages 186-187, carried the following description of the soirée:



The annual soiree was held in the news-room, on Tuesday, the 18th October, when about 50 members and their friends were present.  The President announced that the club was in a flourishing condition, both financially and numerically, and that arrangements had been made for an annual Handicap Tournament.

The prizes in the Tournament are – 1st, Staunton Chess Board, value £2s.; 2nd, Staunton Men and Board, value £1 10s.; 3rd, Staunton Men, value £1 5s.

Players are divided into two divisions and each division into three classes.  1st Class gives to 2nd P. and move; 2nd Class gives to 3rd P. and two moves.

The winner in each division to play again for 1st and 2nd prize.  The two players next to the winners (one in each division) to play again for the 3rd prize.  Each player to play two games with every other player in the same division, drawn games counting half a game to each party.

Ten players have entered in one division, and eleven in the other.

These conditions have given general satisfaction, though somewhat different from those in previous Tournaments.

The 1st prize is given by a member, and the others by the Council, the entrance fee being one shilling.

The Club has accepted a challenge from the “City of London Club” to play a series of games by correspondence, viz.: - One or more open to the entire Club, others between two or three players on each side, and others where one only is engaged on each side.


The above explanation of the workings of the handicap tournament seems to omit the odds to be given by a 1st Class player to a 3rd Class player.





Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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