SHEFFIELD Chess History

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Narrative: 1) 1841 to 1846: No Lasting Chess Clubs in Sheffield

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[This page was originally titled “Narrative: 1) 1841 to 1846: No Chess Clubs in Sheffield”, and contained the clause, “[1841] when, apparently, there was no chess club, as such, in Sheffield.”  Since then, one has surfaced, hence a little rewriting has been necessary.]


There is concrete evidence of a formally organised chess club in Sheffield back in 1840 and 1841.  How long this (first?) Sheffield Chess Club existed before and after those dates is unclear.


Sheffield players at the January 1841 YCA meeting in Leeds were “Deakin”, “Greaves”, “Lewis” and “Linley”.


Sheffield players at the November 1841 YCA meeting in Wakefield were “Lewis”, “Linley”, “Parker” and “Piper”.


It is probably safe to assume “Lewis” who attended these YCA meetings was John S. Lewis, secretary in 1841 of the above Sheffield Chess Club.  Reference to censuses and directories reveal too many people with the other surnames to allow identification of those chess-players attending the YCA meetings.


Looking at future members of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club we find no mention of Deakin, Lewis, Linley or Piper.  However, James Haines Greaves was an early member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, so he might possibly have been the above “Greaves”.  As for “Parker”, there were both Elliott Parker and “G Parker” who were members of the Athenaeum.  Either of them might have been “Parker”.  Even then, the identity of “G Parker” is uncertain, as there were at least two plausible suspects with that name in the directories.


Thereafter, the next occasion on which a Sheffield player was recorded as attending a YCA or similar meeting, appears to be 1857, when Edmund Thorold, still at Oxford University, attended the 1857 West Yorkshire Chess Association meeting in Wakefield, in the company of Robert Bownas Wormald.


This lack of engagement by Sheffield chess-players with the YCA in early years becomes understandable from reference to White’s General Directory of Sheffield, 1849, which on pages 315 and 316 describes the available public transport from Sheffield.  There were no trains yet to West Yorkshire.  The Royal Mail coach went to Wakefield and Leeds (venues of the 1841 YCA meetings), but Huddersfield and Halifax would be much more difficult to visit for a one-day meeting.


The next-earliest mentioned Sheffield chess-player who can be identified for sure is James Wilson Rimington, who later changed his name legally to the confusingly inscrutable James Wilson Rimington Wilson.  (“Rimington Wilson” was an unhyphenated double-barrelled surname which has caused confusion in the minds of indexers ever since.)  Rimington Wilson was listed as a subscriber to R. A. Brown’s book of problems etc, published in 1844.


The above Sheffield Chess Club seems to have become moribund at some time from 1841 to 1847.


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Copyright © 2012, 2014 Stephen John Mann

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