Herefordshire Chess History
Hereford 29 November 1812
Foundation of the City's first Chess Club. This early documented date makes Hereford one of the earliest English cities outside of London to have a club. Worcester and Liverpool Clubs boast a documented foundation (re-foundation in the case of Worcester) date of 1837. Members of the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club have researched a picture of Hereford Chess players by the Royal Academy artist Leeming dating from this period.
Leominster 6 February 1842
Birth of Mary Rudge, the first winner of an international chess tournament for women. Mary was taught to play by her father and won the Class II Tournament of the Counties' Chess Association in 1874. Her farther died shortly after and she moved to Clifton, Bristol, which not only had a chess club, but admitted women at a time when many clubs were for men only. She won the Bristol & Clifton Chess Club's Challenge Cup in 1889, the Ladies' Challenge Cup at Cambridge 1890, and the first ever international chess tournament for women held in London 1897 with the score of 19½ from 20 games. For a biography and a few of Mary's games visit John Richard's website.
London 28 March 1873
Edwyn Anthony, a barrister born in Hereford and proprietor of The Hereford Times, represented Oxford University in the first Varsity chess match against Cambridge at the City of London Chess Club. Edwyn won both his games in the double round match helping Oxford to a 9-2 win.
Ross 31 July 1873
Thomas Blake, the M.P. for the Borough of Leominster. gave to the people of Ross "The Ross Free Library, Reading-Room, and Recreation-Grounds" situated in Broad street. This was a two storey building which was well furnished, lighted and ventilated with news and refreshment rooms on the ground-floor, and reading-room, book-room, chess-room [my emphasis] on first floor.
The 20th British Counties Chess Association Congress was held in Hereford. The Hereford venue was promoted by Lord Lyttleton, President of the CCA. First was Joseph Blackburn with 8 followed by HE Bird and E Schallop on 7½ and Captain George Henry Mackenzie, the US Chess Champion, on 7 points.
The British Chess Magazine dated August 1885 reported: "Counties Chess Association- The meeting of this Association at Hereford which commenced on 3rd inst. is of peculiar interest. As the 20th anniversary of the Society's existence, it was desired by its promoters to celebrate this with special honour and accordingly the resolve was taken to extend for this once its usual boundaries by including in the programme a tourney open to all the world, with largely augmented prizes. The Congress was opened by the President at 6 p.m. with an eloquent and appropriate address, in which he alluded to the past history of the Counties Chess Association, and spoke kindly words of welcome to the assembled players. At 7 p.m. the games in both sections of the first class, and also in Class 2, commenced but the open or Master Tourney did not begin til next morning. The scene of action was the large Assembly Room of the Green Dragon Hotel and a more commodious place for carrying out the important contests could hardly be wished."
Hereford Chess Club was meeting in the Temperance Hotel daily at 7pm with subscriptions set at 5 shillings (25p) founded according to The Chess Players' Annual and Club Directory (Mr & Mrs TB Rowland eds, 4th edn, 1890, Dublin) in 1888. President was Charles Anthony of Ross-on-Wye and Secretary was W Collins of High Town.
According to the Rowlands, Kington Chess Club was also founded in 1888 and met at The Burton House Hotel on Fridays subscription also being 5 shillings. Robert W Satchell was Secretary.
From A Guide to Ledbury, Herefordshire by E. Freeman (1892)
"THE READING ROOM AND LIBRARY is situated near the Market House at the corner of the Church Lane. Strangers to the town and neighbourhood may use the Reading Room by paying one penny per visit. A box is placed in the room for receiving these contributions. The Library contains upwards of 1,000 volumes, and additions are made to it from time to time. There are about 30 newspapers and periodicals supplied to the Reading Room. Attached is a smoking room, which is also used for chess and draughts.
The Hereford Times reported a simultaneous blindfold simultaneous display by Joseph Blackburn against 6 players. At his 20th move in the game against Mr Collins, Blackburn "to the astonishment of the spectators, announced mate in six moves and proceeded, to their further amazement, to call out with the utmost rapidity the whole of the [...] variations, which exhaust the position".
Herefordshire & Shropshire 1950s
Hereford City Club played in the Shropshire League for many years. During the three years 1954, 1955, and 1956, they dominated the league and won championship titles. Members of the victorious team included: S.G Richards, Dr. P Gawick, G Williams, W.H Williams, W Harrison, H.W Burley, C.W.J Pearson, and G.R Maw.
Ledbury 9 September 1976
The Ledbury Reporter article stated Ledbury Chess Club members were offering to vist housebound players for games and members of the public were encouraged make donations for this service.
Webpage design for Herefordshire CA by Ray Collett to whom corrections or comments should be sent