Edinburgh Chess League - The Beginning

The first season of the Edinburgh League was 1903-4. The following extracts provide details of the formation of the League, the teams involved, the results and a description of the trophy presented to the winning team by Dr Knight, the first president of the League. The Working Men's Club and Institute won the League in the first three seasons.

BCM January 1904, page 29:
A meeting was held on the 23rd November, at Edinburgh Club, for the purpose of discussing a proposal to form a Chess League in the city. Mr W.M. Whitelaw presided, and it was unanimously agreed to form a league, with the following office-bearers: President, Dr Knight; Vice-Presidents, A. Fraser and W.G. Cruikshank [Cruickshank ?]; Secretary, W. Cruikshank [Cruickshank ?], junr. The committee is to consist of secretaries of clubs joining the League.

BCM February 1904, page 62:
As announced last month, the Clubs of Edinburgh district have formed a Chess League, for the purpose of promoting the interests of the game in the Scottish capital. The Clubs will be brought into close touch with one another by matches, etc. The office-bearers are as already stated, with the addition of Lord Provost Sir Robert Cranston, who accepts the Honorary Presidentship. An annual inter-club contest has been arranged, each unit playing one match with every other.. The teams will be of six players; "drawn" matches to count 1 point, "won" matches to count 2 points; time limit, twenty-four moves an hour; Club scoring highest to be champion of the League - individual player scoring highest to be individual champion. The following clubs have joined:- Edinburgh CC (except "A" Team), Deaf and Dumb CC., University Union CC., Philosophical CC., Insurance CC., Inland Revenue CC., Working Men's Institute, Portobello CC.

BCM May 1904, page 195:
In matches under League auspices, the Working Men's CC tied for first place with "B" team of Edinburgh CC., each club scoring ten points-winning five matches and losing 1. The tie was played off, with the result that the Working Men's CC was successful in defeating Edinburgh "B" team by four games to two, thus winning the "Knight" Cup and League championship. Mr A. Fraser, of Edinburgh Insurance CC., has won the individual championship of the League, winning the possible of six games, playing at top board.

BCM June 1904, page 243-4:
The first season of the seven local clubs known as the Edinbugh Chess League was brought to a successful termination on Saturday, 7th May....In the evening a dinner was given to about seventy gentlemen by Dr Knight. Sir Robert Cranston (hon. president of the League) was in the chair, and he was supported by Sir Ludovic Grant (president of the University Union Chess Club), Mr C. Meikle, Mr Rankine Simson, W.S., Dr Macdonald (champion of Scotland), and others. The Lord Provost proposed in felicitous terms the loyal and complimentary toasts. He also presented to the Working Men's Club, on behalf of Dr Knight, a solid silver tankard, to be held for one year by them as winners. This trophy, which will be known as the 'Knight' Cup is of Celtic design, and is three chess Knights of solid silver. The cover is jointed with a King for the thumb piece, and on the top is a Knight. The cup is richly chased with Celtic ornament, and the body has three flated bands. Mr Waight acknowledged the presentation. Speeches were delivered by Sir L. Grant, in responding for the toast of "The Guests", and by Mr Finlayson, who gave "The League"....A very handsome gold medal was presented to Mr A. Fraser as having the best individual score in the League matches during the past season. This is also the gift of Dr Knight, of Portobello. Four new clubs are expected to join the League next season.

The Edinburgh Working Men's Club and Institute with the Knight Cup on the ground.
On the table can be seen the original Spens Cup, won by the club in March 1905. This trophy went missing during 1939-45 and had to be replaced.
Standing, l to r: R.H. Smith, F. Cruickshank, A.D. Marshall, E.E. Parker.
Sitting, l to r: R. Jordan, H.H. Waight, W. Cruickshank, R. Boyd.

(Thanks to Joe Parks, Ayrshire, for observations regarding the Spens Cup.)

NOTE: This photo was made into a postcard, which was given to or delivered - there is no stamp - by H.W. (likely H.H. Waight in the photo) to 'Maggie', dated 30.6.05. The full details of the addressee on the card are: Miss M. Cockburn, 105 Giles Rd, Edinburgh.
The photo was taken sometime after the club won the Spens Cup in March 1905.
The image was donated to the Edinburgh CC by someone who thought it relevant to that club. David Archibald of Edinburgh CC passed it on for use by Chess Scotland.
Richard Jordan, seated front left, was considered by many to be the finest draughts player in the world. By the time this photo was taken he had already resigned his World Champion title.

Alan McGowan