SHEFFIELD Chess History

 

Contents:

The “Annual Match”: Association v Works

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The Sheffield & District Chess Association came into being in 1883.  Thereafter chess-playing increased, not only in volume, but in terms of the economic and social “class” and playing strength of those to whom organised competitive was available.  So it was that in 1922 the Sheffield Works Chess League came into being, lasting for about 86 years, having been wound up in about 2008.

 

The two associations operated in parallel, in which context the S&DCA was generally known to local chess-players simply as the “Association”, while the Works League was known simply as the “Works”.  As might be expected, there were players who were involved in both organisations simultaneously.  The Association’s league was largely stronger than that of the Works, but some works teams nevertheless tries entering the Association’s league, so as to encounter stronger opposition.

 

It was not long after the formation of the Works League that the idea of a large-scale annual match between the two local leagues was instituted.  Though relatively small as regards number of boards in the early years, by the 1960s it was normal to aim for a 100-board match.  In practice, on the evening, the players presenting themselves for the two teams might not be equal, so it was normal for the better-supported team to lend (weaker!) players to its opponent to even up the numbers on the evening.

 

The second Woodhouse Cup (owned by the Sheffield & District Chess Association) came to be presented to the winning team of the Annual Match, probably first in 1967, and the engraving on the plinth added to the Cup provides a convenient summary of the results of the Annual Match, as follows:

 

ANNUAL CHESS MATCH

 

SHEFFIELD ASSN.

 

S & D W S A

1925-66 26 WINS

1 TIE

4 WINS

1968

1979

1967

1972

 

1969

1973

 

1970

1974

 

1971

1975

 

1989

1976

 

1990

1977

 

 

1978

 

 

1980

 

 

1981

 

 

1982

 

 

1983

 

 

1984

 

 

1985

 

 

1986

 

 

1987

 

 

1991

 

 

 

1988 appears not to be mentioned.  Thus there were recorded 43 Association wins, 2 draws, and 10 Works wins.

 

Some of us still remember how former Association president F. J. (“Jack”) Baxter held the Annual Match to be the highlight of the chess season.  While not all would feel quite the same, one could reasonably claim that if there was one single number which provided a reasonable measure of the vigour at the time of chess in Sheffield, then it was the number of boards played in the Annual Match.

 

There exists a photographic record of the 1971 Annual Match played in the staff canteen at Sheffield Twist Twill & Steel Company (later Dormer Drills) on Cemetery Road, Sheffield, the “Works” being at home on that occasion.

 

Around the 1970’s, the typed report of final league tables occupied noticeably more space than the corresponding report for the Manchester League, something the present writer noticed at the time with some surprise.  Nevertheless, the decline and/or reorganisation of Sheffield’s traditional industries led to disruption of the underlying structure on which the Works League was based, and numbers both of clubs and players shrank, and the Works League disappeared completely, and so, necessarily, did the “Annual Match”.

 

 

 

Created

04/08/2014

Copyright © 2014 Stephen John Mann

Last Updated

04/08/2014