The Hull & District Chess Association was formed in 1952, though there have been other Chess Associations within the area around the 1900-1930 period.
The Association promotes the game of chess at all levels by providing League and Cup tournaments for both teams and individuals. It also aims to provide links between local chess clubs.
For the last 48 years, the Association have staged an annual weekend Chess Congress which is very popular with players from all parts of the country.
In the early days, the Association had only about eight clubs playing in one division and this continued until around 1962.
It was about this time that the late Tom Atkinson was President of the Association and under his leadership, the Association progressed until there were approximately 36 - 40 league teams. Many of these teams, particularly those from local works and offices, have long been disbanded. Readers of a similar age to the Editor, will recall such names as, Hull Corporation Transport, Fenners, Hull Grammar Schools,John Goods, Needlers, Northern Dairies, Hull Daily Mail and many more.
The first Secretary was John Devine and he was followed by the late Alec Farquharson. John Lawson took over in 1962 and in 1964 the Association organised the very first Hull Chess Congress, which attracted 36 players at Carron House on Beverley Road.
The Congress then rapidly increased in size and therefore had to move from Carron House. Venues after this included Hull University, Clifton Street School, where a teenager named Murray Chandler played his first British Congress after leaving New Zealand, Hull City Hall, Riley High School, Hull Polytechnic, Hull Guildhall and Hymers College, Comfort Inn, Quality Royal Hotel in Ferensway.
This venue became far too expensive, particularly as entries were falling each year. From 2005 to 2008 the Association staged all Congresses at the Students Union at Hull University, thanks to the efforts of Secretary, Mark Ieronimo. In 2009 the Congress moved to its present venue, The Endsleigh Centre on Beverley Road where the facilities are excellent.
In 1972, the Fisher v Spassky World Championship in Reyjavik caused a big increase in chess interest which was reflected in the number of local teams being greatly increased. At its peak popularity, the Hull Congress attracted some of the top names in British chess, notably Tony & Jana Miles, the British No.1's of the day. Other prominent players over the years have been Plaskett, Hebden, Eley, Dunnington, as well as Hull's own Richard Britton, who at 18 was World Junior Champion.Tom Atkinson was President of both Hull Chess Club and The Hull & District Chess Association in the 1960's.
Tom was instrumental in promoting the Association when I became Secretary in 1962 and takes much of the credit for the organisation of our first Hull Chess Congress which was a modest affair attracting only 36 players in the first year. It was held in several rooms at Carron House on Beverley Road, the home of the Hull Chess Club. However, in the mid-1960's the Congress increased dramatically in numbers which necessitated moving to larger premises.
It was during Tom's term that the Association started to build on the original half dozen teams and by the end of his Presidency, when he moved to London, to be nearer his family, there were three divisions of about 6 teams. Tom was the Proprieter of the Beverley High Road Filling station, one of the first in the country to install automatic pumps. He also made boards for the Hull Club to replace the large heavy wooden boards used previously. BOB ROSS (1969-1975)
The late R. P. (Bob) Ross was an outstanding personality in Hull chess for very many years. He was several times Champion of Hull Chess Club and the Hull Y.P.I. Chess Club. In his younger days he was also a 2 handicap golfer who represented Yorkshire. In fact, he had the distinction of being a Yorkshire County player at both golf and chess at the same time.
Bob was very keen on encouraging Junior players and was always ready to help with their transport to Congresses in various parts of the country. He also took part in the BCF Championships and the Hastings tournaments over many years. It was during his Presidency that the Fisher-Spassky World Championship took place in Rekjavik in 1972. This match with all its' verbal brawling really brought chess into world wide prominence and was responsible for a huge increase in players entering the game for the first time. HDCA saw the number of teams in the league increase dramatically and over the next few years there were six divisions of 8 teams. Also, during this time the Hull Congress regularly attracted 150 - 200 players at the Hull City Hall.
It was around this time that John Lawson ran the weekly "Chess Pieces" column in the Hull Daily Mail which seemed to attract players to local clubs. The column featured competitions and articles of general interest as well as results and tables for HDCA competitions. John eventually handed over the column to his successor as Secretary, Dave Milton, and when he moved to Halifax, John Bycroft took up the baton. However, the Mails' interest declined significantly during later years, and in 2005 they stated that they would no longer support a regular chess column.
Bob was connected with the Ross Fish Group and was also a Director of Carmichaels, the Hull Jewellers.His name will be remembered in Hull chess circles, particularly since in his will, he bequeathed legacies to local clubs, the HDCA and many individuals. The R.P.Ross Four board League is an example of how keen he was to get more people playing chess.
BERT MILNER (1975-1979)
Bert Milner was a retired Schoolteacher whose enthuiasm for the game manifested itself with the birth of St Andrews Chess Club. This was originally just half a dozen members of the St Andrews Church at the corner of Baker Street in Hull. Within a couple of years, Bob had increased the membership to over 100. It was in the first couple of years that Bert approached John Lawson, Secretary of the Association, who conveniently worked next door to the Church at the Gas Board offfices in Baker Street. As a result, St Andrews were able to form several teams for the local League and Cup tournaments.
TED STARKEY (1979-1983)
Ted Starkey was a stalwart of the Hull Chess Club for very many years. In particular, he captained the Woodhouse Cup team for many years after the war and steered them to many Trophy wins. During the war, Ted served as a Merchant Navy Radio Officer and in 1942 as part of an attacked Russian convoy, he had to abandon ship which was on fire. His time in the water and his injuries caused him to have to spend some considerable time in a Russian hospital in Murmansk, where he was apparently far too strong a chessplayer for his Russian opponents. Ted captained the very strong Hull "C" team in Diivision 1 of the local league which ran up a series of Championship wins in the 60's and 70's.
Ted passed away on 21st January 2009 at the age of 92.
Ted Johnson, President of Hull & District Chess Association for the last 13 years, passed away on Thursday, 22nd June, 2006. He had been ill with leukaemia for the last 9 months and several courses of chemo-therapy had been unsuccessful. Despite this Ted was very positive and took each day at a time, and, like many other chess players refused to resign even though the position was bad. Ted will be sadly missed by all Hull chess players and will also be remembered by many chess players from all over the country who attended the Hull Congress which he organised for many years. He was also Treasurer of the Hull Chess Club and was a Captain of one of the clubs' Yorkshire teams, playing in the I.M.Brown Trophy. Ted was also a member of St Andrews (Hull) Chess Club for several years. He regularly attended Congresses at Scarborough and York. Before retirement, Ted was a Schoolteacher at Croxby Primary and previously at South Hunsley Schools and after retirement, he continued to promote Junior chess in the Hull Chess Club and at various schools. Ted's other interests were Bridge and Golf. He was a member at Hull Golf Club and Springhead Park Golf Club and he played regularly until his illness late in 2005. Ted's contribution to Hull & District Chess over many years was invaluable and a great deal of his success was due to the assistance he received from his wife, Edith.
Although Mike has been a member of Willows Chess Club for many years, we had to wait till he took up the Presidency on the death of Ted Johnson to really appreciate his efforts for the Association.
He has instituted many changes and in particular is promoting Junior chess in the area of Hull & District. The Association have staged two annual Junior Congresses which have been very successful and due to Mike's efforts, the Association have several local schools affiliated. There is also the Ross Junior Academy which aims to bring new players into local chess. Any Juniors will be made welcome at all clubs, but in particular, the Hull Chess Club hold Junior sessions every Friday evening at their club :- Newland Christian Community Centre Beverley Road (opp Haworth Arms) Car Park in St Johns Church, Clough Road, and walk past Church to back door of premises.
The Association owes a great debt to Mike for the many innovations during his four year term in office. In particular, he was instrumental in making the Ross Trust Fund more available to all member clubs. This fund was set up by the late Robert Ross, a stalwart in local chess and a former President of the Association. (See Pen Portrait of Bob Ross above) At the 2010 Annual General Meeting, Steve King was elected President. Older readers will recall that Steve played for Fenners for many years but now is a member of Hull Chess Club.
At various times John held the posts of Hull & District Chess Association President, Past President and General Secretary. He was a co-founder of the Hull Chess Congress in the early 1960's and acted as arbiter for the Congress on 44 occasions and was recognised for his contribution at the 2013 event. He was the initiator of the Hull & District Chess Association grading list and wrote a regular chess column in the Hull Daily Mail for nearly 30 years. He received the British Chess Federation’s President’s Award in 2001
Sadly John passed away in 2021. An obituary, by David Mills, can be found here