A Short History of Scarborough Chess Club in the Yorkshire League - by Neil Pennock

The Yorkshire Chess League is one of the oldest club competitions in the country. The main competition is for the Woodhouse Cup which has been running since 1884.

The Bradford Observer Trophy was held for smaller teams and a separate competition for second teams started in 1885 and was later renamed the IM Brown Shield.

In 1896 the Scarborough Chess Club entered the Bradford Observer Trophy and had to play against York, Malton, Whitby and Bridlington in a group. There was also a West Riding Group and the winners then would play a final. Details of this are still to be researched.

The Scarborough Chess Club first played in the Woodhouse Cup in 1930/31.

In 1929/30 a combined Hull and Scarborough Team was due to play in the Woodhouse Cup but in the end Hull seem to have played alone. The teams in Section A of the league were Leeds, Bradford, York and Hull. The league was of four teams playing matches were home and away during the season.

In 1930/31 a combined York and Scarborough Team played in the Woodhouse Cup. The other teams in Section A of the league were Leeds, Bradford and Hull.

In 1931/32 Scarborough did not participate.

In 1932/33 Scarborough played in Eastern Section of Hull, York, Scarborough and Wakefield.

The matches were played home and away. Wakefield appeared to have withdrew as no matches have been found with the other teams. Hull Won the Section and lost to Leeds in Final.

It appears that the Club bid not again play again until after the Second World War when Scarborough when on to play in the IM Brown (Second Division) for two years. In 1948/49 it was Hull YPI, Bradford, Hull and Scarborough and 1949/50 it was Hull, Hull YPI, York and Scarborough.

What happened in the 60s and 70 is is still to be established as details of this are difficult to find and further research is needed.

In the modern era the information is much easier to find.

It was not until 1980 that the club made a return to the league in what can be called the modern era.

Scarborough Chess Club played in the Yorkshire Chess League from the 1980/81 Season to the 2002/03 Season, a total of 23 Years. In 1980 the club was thriving and members were keen to play more competitive chess to the in addition to Club events and friendly matches. The best option was the Yorkshire Chess League, although this would involve considerable travelling for away matches. The Club joined in the fourth division and played its first match on the 11 October 1980 which resulted in a 4-4 draw. Despite this modest start the Club when on to win the Division.

The following year the Club won promotion again now to the Second Division followed by promotion to the First division in 1983/84. Playing in the First Division was a step too far with having to play over 10 boards rather than eight in the other divisions and facing some very strong opponents on the higher boards. The Club was regulated back into the Second Division.

In the following years the Club settled firmly into the Second Division. In most years it was challenging for promotion but did not achieve promotion again until 1994/95. This was the same year that the Club also entered a Second Team into the Fourth Division for the first time. The Club at its meeting had a detailed discussion about accepting or declining the promotion because of the result of the previous season in the First Division. The decision was to accept promotion if a number of strong players from the Whitby and Bridlington areas and further afield were willing to play and thus strengthen the team to make it more competitive. Correspondence Grandmaster Richard V Hall was able to play for the Club and is probably the strongest player that has played for the club as he achieve silver in the 25th World Correspondence Chess Final Tournament. The season resulted in many closer matches but Scarborough eventually had five loses matches by five and a half points to four and a half points and two losses six points to four points. It did manage to draw one match. Although this was disappointing it was a far more enjoyable experience than the first venture into the first division. Meanwhile the B team had won the fourth division without losing a match. Unfortunately, the Club was unable to put together two teams for the 1996/97 season with players that had been willing to play in the First Division not wishing to play in the Second Division.

The team did again make it into the First Division again for the 2000/01 Season. It was not able to attract as many strong players and was not as competitive but did achieve its only won match in the First Division against Sheffield A. The Club did play a further two seasons in the second division before withdrawing from the league. One match was played in 2003/04 but the other matches were not played. It was becoming increasing difficult to field teams as the pool of players willing to play reduced significantly and many players only played in matches and not at the Chess Club with nobody willing to carry out the significant organisation required for running a team in such circumstances. In the end the Club played in the modern era approximately 260 matches and approximately 2100 games in the Yorkshire League and travelled thousands of miles during the 23 years.

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