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1861: Match between Watkinson and Thorold

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John Watkinson - Edmund Thorold Match, Huddersfield & Sheffield, 1861

 

John Watkinson and Edmond Thorold were the strongest players in their respective home towns of Huddersfield and Sheffield, and were among the strongest players in Yorkshire at a time when there was no formal system in place for determining a Yorkshire county champion.  There was in fact no formal English or British Championship, nor was there a formal World Championship.

 

In this context, Edmund Thorold of Sheffield issued a challenge to John Watkinson of Huddersfield, to play a match to determine which was the stronger.  This challenge was accepted.  Years later Watkinson described this match in the Huddersfield College Magazine [Vol.6 p.160] as “the most important contest we engaged in during our Chess Career”, and set out some details of the encounter.

 

He suggested the conditions agreed for conducting the match be adapted and adopted for future similar encounters.  These conditions were as follows:

1.    That the match commence at Huddersfield, Feb. 23rd, 1861, and be continued alternately at Sheffield and Huddersfield, at the convenience of the players.

2.    That the winner of the first seven games be the victor in the match.

3.    That the move in each game be taken alternately, drawn games included.

4.    That each player be free to adopt any opening he may please.

5.    That the games played be the property of either player, for publication anywhere.

6.    That in case of either player being hindered from play by illness, or an important engagement, he shall send information to the other before the day fixed for play.

7.    That the rules of play be according to those contained in Staunton’s Treatise.

 

A common practice of the day was to draw lots both for the first move and for colour.  Thus “Black won” could mean the player who moved first won, which can make historical data confusing.  Modern collections of games from that era usually “correct” the colour to represent the player of the first move as White.

 

All eleven games were published in the Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1861.  Watkinson published four of them in the Huddersfield College Magazine volume 6, 1877-78.

 

Though not stated in the above conditions, which appear to have been followed, the first player to move took Black or White alternately in each successive game.  Thus the player to move first in game one had the black pieces (“White” was black), and the player to move first in the second game had the white pieces.  When Watkinson published four of the games in the Huddersfield College Magazine he adjusted the colours as necessary to conform to contemporary convention of the first player being “White”.

 

It’s not terribly clear from the Watkinson-Thorold conditions whether draws were to contribute to the winning score of seven, but it seems they weren’t.  The second condition appears to mean the winner would be the first to score seven wins irrespective of draws.  In the event there were no draws!

 

Alternation of who moved first, regardless of the result of games, was different from the sometimes-adopted old practice of sticking with the same first player after a draw.  That old practice made sense in the context of a once-common system of draws being void and not counting towards the score.

 

Thorold won the first game with first move.  Watkinson won the second game with first move.  Thorold then won the next three games.  Watkinson had thus had his serve broken, so to speak, when he lost game four with first move.  The score at this stage was 4-1 to Thorold.

 

In the account in the Huddersfield College Magazine, Watkinson quoted an article by Boden printed in The Field:

With regard to the late match between these two expert amateurs, we may observe that, like several other hard-fought Chess matches of late years, its result was remarkably different from the promise of its earlier stages.  The heavy losses sustained by Mr. Watkinson in the outset of the match were by him attributed, in some measure, to the games being played in public, with a rather numerous company present; and, although such disturbing influences did not in the least affect his opponent, they must have been very material, for, from the sixth game (at which Mr. Watkinson requested that the match might be conducted in the quiet of a private room) success lay entirely with the Huddersfield Champion, who gained the last six games without a break.  As regards the play, both amateurs have evinced a very competent knowledge of the game, and, in the course of the contest, many good things were done on both sides.  Mr. Thorold’s play strikes us as the more ingenious and imaginative, but in the more practically telling qualities of steadiness, caution, and sound judgement of position, Mr. Watkinson has it; in knowledge of the openings and in power of resource, a near equality appears, Mr. Thorold being, we suppose, the quicker player.  Finally, we must give to both gentlemen all credit for the spirit in which their match was undertaken (journeying alternatively, as their leisure might permit, between the two towns, in order to enjoy a fair trial of their relative skill in the most many of all sedentary sports) as well as for the unbroken friendly rivalry which ran through the whole struggle.

 

Watkinson won game 6 with white, which might be expected, but then came a collapse on the part of Thorold.  Watkinson won the next five games to win the match 7-4.

 

No.

1st Move

C

Result

2nd Move

C

Venue

Date

Moves

Opening

HCM

CPC

1

Thorold

B

1-0

Watkinson

W

H’field

23/02/1861

51+

Evans Gambit Acc’d

 

1861 p.69

2

Watkinson

W

1-0

Thorold

B

S’field

02/03/1861

33+

Evans Gambit Dec’d

Vol.6 p.161

1861 p.113

3

Thorold

B

1-0

Watkinson

W

H’field

09/03/1861

44

Ruy Lopez

 

1861 p.114

4

Watkinson

W

0-1

Thorold

B

S’field

16/03/1861

63

Ruy Lopez

Vol.6 p.214

1861 p.115

5

Thorold

B

1-0

Watkinson

W

H’field

 

53

Evans Gambit Acc’d

 

1861 p.141

6

Watkinson

W

1-0

Thorold

B

S’field

06/04/1861?

69+

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5

 

1861 p.177

7

Thorold

B

0-1

Watkinson

W

H’field

20/04/1861

46

Petroff

Vol.6 p.182

1861 p.179

8

Watkinson

W

1-0

Thorold

B

S’field

 

27

1.e4 e5 2.d4

 

1861 p.180

9

Thorold

B

0-1

Watkinson

W

H’field

 

64

Philidor

 

1861 p.216

10

Watkinson

W

1-0

Thorold

B

S’field

08/06/1861

34+

French Defence

Vol.6 p.248

1861 p.218

11

Thorold

B

0-1

Watkinson

W

H’field

03/08/1861

49

King's Gambit Dec’d

 

1861 p.273

Tot.

Watkinson

 

7-4

Thorold

“HCM” and “CPC” references are sources of games in the Huddersfield College Magazine and Chess Player’s Chronicle.

 

The Chess Player’s Chronicle of 1861, page 197, announced that after the tenth game, when the score was 6-4 in Watkinson’s favour, so that Watkinson needed but one more won game to win the match, that continuation of the match had been postponed for several weeks due to Thorold’s absence from home.  The eleventh game was played eight weeks after the tenth!

 

Game 1, 23/02/1861, Huddersfield

Thorold - Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Qa4 Bxf3 11. d5 Bg4 12. dxc6 bxc6 13. Qxc6+ Bd7 14. Qd5 Be6 15. Bb5+ Kf8 16. Qd3 f6 17. Kh1 Ne7 18. Ba3 h6 19. f4 Kg8 20. e5 Nf5 21. Bc4 Bxc4 22. Qxc4+ Kh7 23. Nd5 fxe5 24. fxe5 Qg5 25. Qe4 Rhf8 26. g4 Rae8 27. Rxf5 Rxf5 28. e6 Rxe6 29. Qxf5+ Qxf5 30. gxf5 Re5 31. Nxb6 axb6 32. Rc1 c5 33. Rb1 Re3 34. Bc1 Re1+ 35. Kg2 b5 36. Kf2 Rd1 37. Ke2 Rh1 38. a3 Rxh2+ 39. Kd1 Rf2 40. Rxb5 Rxf5 41. a4 h5 42. a5 h4 43. a6 Rf8 44. a7 Ra8 45. Rb7 h3 46. Bf4 Kg6 47. Bxd6 Rd8 48. Rb8 Rxd6+ 49. Ke2 Ra6 50. a8=Q Rxa8 51. Rxa8 Kf5 “and White [i.e. Watkinson] soon resigns”, 1-0 [CPC 1861 p.70]

 

Game 2, 02/03/1861, Sheffield

Watkinson - Thorold

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bb6 5. c3 Nf6 6. d4 Nxe4 7. Bd5 f5 8. Bxe4 fxe4 9. Bg5 Ne7 10. Nxe5 O-O 11. Qb3+ d5 12. Bxe7 Qxe7 13. Qxd5+ Be6 14. Qxe4 Rad8 15. O-O Bd5 16. Qg4 c6 17. Nd2 Be6 18. Qg3 Rf5 19. f4 Rdf8 20. Rae1 Qd6 21. Ne4 Qc7 22. a3 Bd5 23. h3 a6 24. Kh2 Qe7 25. Ng4 Kh8 26. Qf7 27. Nxd5 cxd5 28. Ne5 Qc7 29. Re3 g5 30. Ref3 gxf4 31. Rxf4 Rg8 32. Qxg8+ Kxg8 33. Rxf5 [“and wins”, Watkinson, HCM Vol.6 p.161] [“and Black resigned”, CPC], 1-0.

 

Game 3, 09/03/1861, Huddersfield

Thorold - Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 Nf6 7. Bxc6 dxc6 8. Nxe5 Be7 9. Qe2 Be6 10. d3 Nd7 11. Bf4 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 O-O 13. Nd2 Qd7 14. Ne4 Re8 15. d4 Bd5 16. Qh5 Bxe4 17. Rxe4 Qd5 18. Rg4 f6 19. c4 Qe6 20. Bf4 f5 21. Rg3 g6 22. Be5 Bf6 23. Re1 Bxe5 24. dxe5 Qxc4 25. Qh6 Qxa2 26. h4 Qf7 27. h5 Qg7 28. Qf4 Re6 29. Qc4 Re8 30. hxg6 hxg6 31. f4 Qf7 32. Re3 Kg7 33. Rg5 Rh8 34. Rg3 Rh6 35. Qd3 Kh7 36. Qd4 Qe7 37. Rd3 Rd6 38. Qb4 Re6 39. Qd4 a5 40. Rg3 Kg7 41. Rd2 Kf7 42. Rd3 Rh8 43. Qe3 Re8? 44. Rd7 and Watkinson resigned, 1-0

 

Game 4, 16/03/1861, Sheffield

Watkinson - Thorold

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. h3 Na5 9. c3 Nxb3 10. Qxb3 Be6 11. Qc2 c5 12. d4 cxd4 13. cxd4 Rc8 14. Nc3 exd4 15. Nxd4 O-O 16. Nxe6 fxe6 17. Qb3 d5 18. exd5 b4 19. Rxe6 Kh8 20. d6 Bxd6 21. Ne4 Nxe4 22. Rxe4 Qf6 23. Be3 Be5 24. Rxb4 Rb8 25. Rb1 Bd6 26. Rxb8 Bxb8 27. Qb6 Qe5 28. Rd1 Qh2+ 29. Kf1 Qh1+ 30. Ke2 Qxg2 31. Rd8 Qf3+ 32. Ke1 Be5 33. Bc5 Qe4+ 34. Kd2 Qf4+ 35. Kd3 Qf5+ 36. Kc4 Qc2+ 37. Kd5 Qd3+ 38. Bd4 Qb5+ 39. Ke4 Qe2+ 40. Be3 Qf3+ 41. Kxe5 Qf6+ 42. Qxf6 gxf6+ 43. Ke6 Rxd8 44. Kxf6 a5 45. h4 Kg8 46. Ke5 a4 47. Bd4 Kf7 48. Ke4 Kg6 49. Kd3 Kh5 50. Kc3 Rf8 51. Be5 Rxf2 52. Kb4 Re2 53. Bf6 Kg6 54. Bc3 Re4+ 55. Ka5 Rxh4 56. b4 Rc4 57. Be5 Kf5 58. Bd6 Rd4 59. Bc5 Rd5 60. Kxa4 h5 61. Kb5 h4 62. Kc6 Rxc5+ 63. bxc5 h3 and White resigns, 0-1

 

Game 5, 23/03/1861 or 30/03/1861, Huddersfield

Thorold - Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Qa4 Bxf3 11. d5 Bg4 12. dxc6 bxc6 13. Qxc6+ Bd7 14. Qd5 Be6 15. Bb5+ Kf8 16. Qd3 f6 17. Kh1 Ne7 18. Ba3 h6 19. f4 Kg8 20. e5 Nf5 21. Bc4 Bxc4 22. Qxc4+ Kh7 23. Nd5 fxe5 24. fxe5 Qg5 25. Qe4 Rhf8 26. g4 Rae8 27. Rxf5 Rxf5 28. e6 Rxe6 29. Qxf5+ Qxf5 30. gxf5 Re5 31. Nxb6 axb6 32. Rc1 c5 33. Rb1 Re3 34. Bc1 Re1+ 35. Kg2 b5 36. Kf2 Rd1 37. Ke2 Rh1 38. a3 Rxh2+ 39. Kd1 Rf2 40. Rxb5 Rxf5 41. a4 h5 42. a5 h4 43. a6 Rf8 44. a7 Ra8 45. Rb7 h3 46. Bf4 Kg6 47. Bxd6 Rd8 48. Rb8 Rxd6+ 49. Ke2 Ra6 50. a8=Q Rxa8 51. Rxa8 Kf5 52. Ra5 g5 53. Rxc5+ and White resigns, 1-0.

 

Game 6, 06/04/1861?, Sheffield

Watkinson - Thorold

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 e4 4. Qe2 f5 5. Ne5 Nf6 6. Qb5+ Nd7 7. d4 a6 8. Qb3 Bd6 9. c4 Nxe5 10. dxe5 Bxe5 11. Be2 O-O 12. Nc3 b6 13. Bd2 f4 14. O-O-O Bf5 15. h3 Qd7 16. Rg1 Bg6 17. g4 fxg3 ep 18. fxg3 c6 19. dxc6 Qxc6 20. Be3 Rb8 21. g4 Rc8 22. Kb1 Nd7 23. Nd5 Qe6 24. c5 Kh8 25. cxb6 Bf7 26. Rd1 Qc6 27. Bxa6 Nxb6 28. Bxb6 Rxb6 29. Qxb6 Qc2+ 30. Ka1 Rb8 31. Bb7 Qa4 32. Nb4 Bf6 33. Qc7 Bxb2+ 34. Kxb2 Qxb4+ 35. Ka1 Rxb7 36. Rd8+ Bg8 37. Rxg8+ Kxg8 38. Qc8+ Kf7 39. Rf1+ Ke7 40. Qf8+ Ke6 41. Qf5+ Kd6 42. Qf4+ Kd7 43. Rd1+ Ke8 44. Qc1 Rb8 45. a3 Qb6 46. Qc3 Kf8 47. Rc1 Qf6 48. Qxf6+ gxf6 49. Rb1 Ra8 50. Kb2 Kf7 51. Re1 Re8 52. Kc3 Kg6 53. Rf1 Kg5 54. Rf5+ Kh4 55. Rh5+ Kg3 56. Rxh7 e3 57. Rd7 e2 58. Rd3+ Kf2 59. Rd2 Kf1 60. Rxe2 Rxe2 61. h4 Rg2 62. g5 f5 63. Kd4 Re2 64. h5 f4 65. h6 Rh2 66. Ke4 Rh4 67. Kf5 f3 68. g6 Rxh6 69. g7 and White wins, 1-0

 

Game 7, 20/04/1861, Huddersfield

Thorold - Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bc4 d5 6. Qe2 Be7 7. Bb3 O-O 8. O-O Bg4 9. d3 Ng5 10. Bxg5 Bxg5 11. h3 Re8 12. Qd1 Bh5 13. Nc3 c6 14. g4 Bg6 15. Nxg5 Qxg5 16. f4 Qh4 17. Qf3 h6 18. f5 Bh7 19. Ne2 Nd7 20. d4 Re7 21. Qg3 Qf6 22. Rae1 Rae8 23. Qh2 Re3 24. h4 Qe7 25. Rf2 Nf6 26. Rg2 Rf3 27. Qe5 Qd8 28. Qh2 Ree3 29. g5 Nh5 30. Rf2 Rh3 31. Qg2 Rhg3 32. Nxg3 Rxg3 [and Black wins, Watkinson, HCM Vol.6 p.182] 33. g6 fxg6 34. Qxg3 Nxg3 35. fxg6 Bxg6 36. Rf4 Kh7 37. c4 Bd3 38. Kf2 dxc4 39. Bxc4 Bxc4 40. Kxg3 Qd6 41. Re5 Bd5 42. h5 c5 43. Rff5 cxd4 44. Kf2 Bxa2 45. Ke2 Be6 46. Rxe6 Qxe6+ and “Black” [i.e. Thorold] resigned, 0-1.

 

Game 8, date?, Sheffield

Watkinson - Thorold

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. c3 dxc3 5. bxc3 Be7 6. Bc4 d5 7. exd5 Bg4 8. dxd6 ep Qxd6 9. Qa4+ Bd7 10. Qb3 Nh6 11. Bxh6 gxh6 12. Bxf7+ Kd8 13. O-O Kc8 14. Nd2 Nc6 15. Re1 Na5 16. Qc2 Qf6 17. Ne5 Bd6 18. Nf3 c6 19. Rd1 Bxe5 20. Nxe5 Bf5 21. Qa4 b6 22. g4 Be6 23. Rd6 Bb3 24. Qa3 Qf4 25. axb3 Kb7 26. b4 Rd8 27. bxa5 and Black resigns, 1-0

 

Game 9, Huddersfield

Thorold – Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 exd4 4. Qxd4 Bd7 5. Bg5 f6 6. Bh4 Nc6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. Bc4 f5 9. Bxg8 Rxg8 10. Qd5 Rf8 11. Bxe7 Qxe7 12. Nd2 Be6 13. Qb5 fxe4 14. Ng5 O-O-O 15. Nxe6 Qxe6 16. O-O e3 17. Nf3 Rxf3 18. gxf3 Nd4 19. Qh5 e2 20. Rfc1 Rf8 21. Kg2 Rf6 22. c3 Rf5 23. Qg4 Nc6 24. Re1 g6 25. f4 Qd5+ 26. Qf3 Qxf3+ 27. Kxf3 g5 28. Rxe2 Ne5+ 29. Kg2 gxf4 30. f3 Rg5+ 31. Kf2 Rh5 32. Rh1 Rh3 33. Kg2 Rh6 34. Rd1 Rg6+ 35. Kh1 c5 36. Rg2 Rh6 37. Rg8+ Kc7 38. Kg2 b5 39. b4 Nc4 40. Rg7+ Kb6 41. bxc5+ Kxc5 42. Kh1 a5 43. Rd4 Re6 44. a4 Re3 45. Rxf4 Rxc3 46. Rf5+ Kd4 47. axb5 a4 48. Rg4+ Ke3 49. Kg2 a3 50. Re4+ Kd2 51. Rd5+ Kc2 52. Re2+ Kc1 53. Kf2 Rc2 54. Rxc2+ Kxc2 55. Ke2 a2 56. Rd1 d5 57. f4 d4 58. f5 d3+ 59. Ke1 Nb2 60. b6 Nxd1 61. b7 d2+ 62. Ke2 Nc3+ 63. Ke3 a1=Q 64. b8=Q Qg1+ and Black [i.e. Thorold] resigned, 0-1

 

Game 10, 08/06/1861, Sheffield

Watkinson - Thorold

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 exd5 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Nc3 Be6 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. Bg5 c6 8. Ne5 h6 9. Bh4 Qb6 10. Qd2 Qxd4 11. Ng6 Rg8 12. Nb5 Qxb2 13. Nxd6+ Kd7 14. O-O fxg6 15. Rb1 Qa3 16. Rxb7+ Kd8 17. Qf4 Nd7 18. Re1 g5 19. Nf7+ Ke7 20. Qe3 Re8 21. Nd6 Kf8 22. Nxe8 Rxe8 23. Bg3 a5 24. Bg6 Qxe3 25. Rxe3 d4 26. Re1 Ke7 27. Bxe8 Nxe8 28. Ra7 h5 29. Rxa5 h4 30. f4 hxg3 31. f5 gxh2+ 32. Kxh2 Nc7 33. fxe6 Nxe6 34. Rxg5 after a few moves Black resigned.

 

Game 11, 3/08/1861, Huddersfield

Thorold – Watkinson

1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 Bg4 5. Be2 Nc6 6. b4 Bb6 7. d4 Bxf3 8. Bxf3  Nxd4 9. a4 Nxf3+ 10. Qxf3 a6 11. f5 h6 12. Na3 Nf6 13. a5 Ba7 14. c4 Qe7 15.  Nc2 c6 16. Ne3 d5 17. c5 Nxe4 18. O-O O-O-O 19. Bb2 Nd2 20. Qe2 Nxf1 21. Rxf1  f6 22. Kh1 Bb8 23. Qc2 h5 24. Ra1 Qd7 25. Rd1 Bc7 26. b5 axb5 27. Ra1 d4 28.  Nf1 h4 29. h3 Rh5 30. Qd3 Qxf5 31. Qa3 Rg5 32. a6 Qf2 33. axb7+ Kd7 34. Qf3 Qxf3 35. gxf3 Bb8 36. f4 exf4 37. Bxd4 Kc7 38. Bf2 Kxb7 39. Bxh4 Rh5 40. Bf2 Rxh3+ 41. Kg2 Rdh8 0-1

 

 

Created

25/04/2012

Copyright © 2012, 2014 Stephen John Mann

Last Updated

14/04/2014