SHEFFIELD Chess History

 

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Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club Championship Trophy

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Around 1885, Arthur Davy provided a trophy for competition in the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club Championship.  The trophy was a purpose-built chess trophy.  Knights sit on ledges where a typical trophy would have handles.  The lid is clearly the top of a chess queen. 

 

The inscription on the front reads:

 

THE

SHEFFIELD ATHENAEUM CHESS CLUB

CHALLENGE CUP

PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT,

Arthur Davy

 

(Click here for photograph of the trophy.)

 

On the plinth is a square plate on which is engraved the following chess problem:

 

Athenaeum Problem.jpg

White to move and mate in two moves

 

The solution appears to be 1 Qe7; then:
1 ... Kf4  2 Ne2#
1 ... Bf4  2 Bh4#
1 ... Be5  2 Bxe5#
1 ... Bd6  2 Qxd6#
1 ... Bc7  2 Qxc7#
1 ... Ba7  2 Qc7/d6# or 2 Be5# 

 

It would be nice to say the problem was composed by a member of the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club, but it was published as a composition by Frank Healey in Chess Problems by J. & W. T. Pierce, in 1876.

 

The terms under which the trophy was furnished were that it would be won outright by a person winning it twice.  Successive winners’ names appear on shields affixed to the plinth.  these winners were:

 

Thus Frederick Edward Foster won the trophy outright.

 

An inscription was added to the reverse of the trophy, reading as follows:

 

WON BY

Fredk E. Foster

IN THE

CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENTS

1887 & 1888

 

The trophy remained in the possession of Foster and his descendants, eventually being conveyed to Llandudno by a family member who moved there.  This family member had an interest in Dandy Dinmont Terriers.  At the time, that breed was not recognised by the Kennel Club, but nevertheless there were competitions for that breed in some dog shows.  So it was that the émigré Sheffielder offered to furnish a trophy for best in that breed in a North Wales dog show.

 

He thought of adapting the Athenaeum Trophy to this new need.  This would involve removing the knights, erasing the chess-related engraving, and removing the chess problem on the base.  He made enquiries as to the potential cost of this scheme.  Fortunately his love of his native Sheffield – he’d named his house in Llandudno something like “Ranmoor” or “Lydgate”, I forget which – prompted him to track down the Association in Sheffield and offer the trophy for sale, with the plan of using the money from the sale to buy a suitable new dog trophy.

 

The timing of this neatly coincided with the birth of the fourth division of the Sheffield league, and so the Association bought the trophy for £50, and the trophy entered service in the fourth division.  The original engraving and the historical record it represents has been carefully preserved though it appears the lid has been lost.

 

Successive winners of the fourth division have been as follows:

 

1982

Ecclesall D

1983

Hoyland

1984

Banner Cross Trojans

1985

Banner Cross Trojans

1986

Rotherham B

1987

Hoyland

1988

Sheffield Nomads

1989

Midland Bank

1990

SASCA B

1991

Nomads B

1992

Rotherham B

1993

1994

Earl of Arundel Trojans

1995

Barnsley B

1996

Wombwell B

1997

Parkgate

1998

SASCA B

1999

SASCA B

2000

Nomads C

2001

Hoyland

2002

Darnall & Handsworth B

2003

Worksop C

2004

University

2005

Barnsley B

2006

SASCA B

2007

Chesterfield

2008

Rotherham

2009

University B

2010

Ecclesall C

2011

SASCA C

2012

Sheffield Deaf

2013

University A

 

(The 2004 winners are not recorded in the engraving.)

 

 

Created

14/05/2012

Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

Last Updated

04/09/2013