West of Scotland Championship

It is interesting to note that the inauguration of this event took place long before the formation of the Scottish Chess Association in 1884.

In the winter of 1871─72 a handicap tourney for a valuable prize took place at the Glasgow Chess Club. This was for a set of ivory chessmen presented by Mr A.K. Murray. The tournament was won by John Jenkin [Jenkins].

Jenkin was then challenged by William Scott, who offered to stake against the chess pieces a cup of equal value ─ eight guineas. In the event of Mr Scott winning the match he was to offer the chessmen for competition in a tourney open at least to members of the Glasgow Chess Club; on the other hand if Mr Jenkin won he would present the cup to the Glasgow Chess Club for competition in a tourney open to West of Scotland chess players.

Mr Jenkin won the best of three games match by 2-0. The club added two guineas to Mr Scott's stake for a trophy valued at ten guineas and purchased the first West of Scotland Challenge Cup.

Four players vied to be the first to win the trophy, that honour going to Andrew Hunter ahead of Archibald K. Murray, Mr McTarget and Alexander Berwick. 

As the title of the trophy suggests, an individual could challenge the cup holder to a match. One of the rules of the competition was that if the holder was unbeaten two years in succession then the trophy became his property. Over the next 22 months Mr Hunter defeated all challengers, including Sheriff Spens, W. Scott, A.K. Murray and others. However, just short of the two-year mark, Hunter lost in another challenge match against Sheriff Spens, which kept the cup in competition for at least another two years.

Much of the above information was taken from the Glasgow Weekly Herald of 8 March 1879. John Jenkin, reporting on a dinner in honour of Andrew Hunter, also included a history of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup. He continued:-

We do not remember the order in which the various winners' names appear, but we know that Sheriff Spens's name, like Mr Hunter's, appears on the cup three times, while Mr W. Scott and Mr Crum each won it once. Mr Hunter for the third time gained possession of it in January, 1877, since which time he has held it undisturbed. We may add that there are sufficient funds to purchase another cup.

Rules of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup competition

The rules were published in the Illustrated London News of Saturday, 7 December 1872. A few of them were:-

  • Open for competition to any player who has been resident in the West of Scotland for at least twelve months previous to the date of his challenge.
  • All the matches shall take place in the Glasgow Chess Club.
  • The loser in every match shall pay 10s. 6d. to a fund for the purpose of purchasing another cup.
  • The player who first scores four games shall be considered the winner─drawn games counting for nothing.
  • The cup shall become the absolute property of any player who shall hold it for two consecutive years.

First West of Scotland Challenge Cup
The cup was purchased in 1872. Details of the early years are incomplete. The following references at least provide some information, though it is believed that not all challenges were recorded.

1873 The Era, Sunday 16 March, p. 14
A match between Mr. A. Hunter (the present holder of the Cup) and Mr. W. Scott for the honour of holding this trophy was brought to a close last week, with the following result:- Mr Hunter 4 Mr Scott 1.

1874 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 3 October.
Sheriff Spens became the holder of the cup, having defeated Andrew Hunter

1874 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 28 November.
'Since wresting this cup from Mr Hunter, Sheriff Spens has defeated two aspirants to the honour of holding it ─ namely, Mr A.K. Murray and Mr W. Scott.

1874 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 26 December.
Sheriff Spens retained the cup by defeating the challenger W. MacTarget 4-0.

1875 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 23 January.
In a recent match, Sheriff Spens retained the cup by defeating A.K. Murray.

1875 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 24 April.
Sheriff Spens was challenged by Andrew Hunter. The score was Spens 4, Hunter 3, with 1 draw. The last article mentioned that Spens and Hunter had played seven matches. The first four were private matches, and two were won by each player; and the last three were Cup matches, the first being won by Hunter and the last two by Spens. 

1875 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 16 October.
Another challenge match took place between these players and the Cup was once again seized by Mr A. Hunter. The score was Hunter 4; Spens 3; drawn 0.

1875 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 25 December.
Reported on another match between Spens and Hunter with the same result: Spens 3; Hunter 4; drawn 0.

1876 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 12 August.
John Crum defeated W.F. Murray with a score of +4, -2, =0.

1876 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 16 September.
John Crum defeated another challenger, A.K. Murray: +4, -2.

1876 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 30 September.
Sheriff Spens challenged Crum and defeated him by 4-1. He then defeated challenger A.K. Murray by 4-0.

1877 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 17 February.
In January 1877 Sheriff Spens was challenged by Andrew Hunter. The score was Hunter 4; Spens 2; drawn 1.

Hunter then held the West of Scotland Challenge Cup for two years, after which it became his own property.

Mr Hunter was formally presented with the cup at a meeting of the Glasgow Chess Club on Saturday, 22 February 1879, and a dinner was held in his honour on Friday, 28 February, just before he departed Glasgow to live in London.

Andrew Hunter 1877
Andrew Hunter 1878
Andrew Hunter 1879

Second West of Scotland Challenge Cup
The second cup was purchased in 1880. The Glasgow CC arranged for a tournament to determine the first holder. It was open to any player resident in the West of Scotland for at least one year prior to 3rd April 1880, on which day the entries closed. The cup would become the property of any player who could hold it for two successive years.

There were 11 competitors, two games to be played against each opponent. The result:- J. Jenkin 17½; DY Mills 14½; J. Crum 14; J. Court 13; Sheriff Spens 11; John Gilchrist 11; W. Bryden 9½; Alex Berwick 7; J. Young 6½; G. Wilson 2; J.M. Nish 0.
The Chess Monthly, December 1880, page 104.

John Jenkin 1880

After Jenkin's success in being the first holder of the 2nd West of Scotland Challenge Cup, it wasn't long before the  challenges were being thrown down. The 1881 British Chess Magazine (p235) commented:-

 'This Cup, it may be remembered, was won by Mr. Jenkin in a tourney finished last year. The holder may be challenged to a match for the Cup by any player resident in the West of Scotland for twelve months on paying 10/6 to the Cup fund—the match being decided in favour of the player who first scores four games. Sheriff Spens played three such matches with Mr. Jenkin, and won the Cup with the third match. Mr. Gilchrist then played with the Sheriff and lost. Immediately thereafter Mr. D. Y. Mills won from the Sheriff, and since then no less than nine matches have been fought between these two players. In the first seven Mr. Mills was successful. The Sheriff won the eighth; but in a ninth match recently concluded the Cup has been restored to Mr. Mills'.  

And the following pertinent note is taken from the Glasgow CC records:-

'A most extraordinary series of competitions between Sheriff Spens and Mr D.Y. Mills took place for the cup. In nine months they each held it eight times. Mr Mills captured it on one occasion in two days, but the Sheriff beat the record by losing it and winning it back on the same day, and by the rules he required to win four games to do it. Mr Mills held it when he removed to Manchester, and on February 9, 1882, with the consent of all concerned, it was presented to him.'

The annual dinner of the Glasgow Chess Club took place on the evening of Thursday, 9th February, Mr. Duguid in the chair. At this gathering Sheriff Spens, for himself and the others interested, presented to Mr. D. Y. Mills the trophy known as the West of Scotland Cup. The requirements of business take Mr. Mills to Yorkshire. During the two years of his residence in Glasgow Mr. Mills has done much for the cause of Chess, and the presentation of the Cup was deemed an appropriate acknowledgement of his services. British Chess Magazine 1882, p 101.

Third West of Scotland Challenge Cup
The third cup ─ prepared by Mr George Jackson, Buchanan Street, Glasgow ─ was also a challenge cup, and remained so until 1887, when the competition was altered to an annual tournament.

Once again, a tournament had to be organised to determine the first holder of the cup. The winner was John Crum.

John Crum 1882

Some references to the matches during that time:-

1882 Glasgow Weekly Herald, 25 November, p. 7.

'This cup has at last been wrested from Mr Crum's hands, after he has held it for five months, and after several unsuccessful attempts to gain it. The final score was─Spens 4, Crum 3.'

 At one point Crum was leading 3-1, but Spens then won three in a row.

There had been two earlier failed challenges by Spens, Crum winning 4-1 and 4-0.

Sheriff W.C. Spens 1882

An unpublished history of the Glasgow Chess Club, described how the cup  changed hands nine times from Crum's success up to the end of 1886. It was held by  Sheriff Spens, John Gilchrist, Sheriff Spens, J.L. Whiteley, Peter Fyfe, John D. Chambers, John Gilchrist, Sheriff Spens, and James Marshall in that order. Of course, this does not take into account the many unsuccessfull challenges there must have been. 

1883 British Chess Magazine, April, p. 146.
John Gilchrist becomes the cup holder, defeating Sheriff Spens 4-2.

1883 British Chess Magazine, May, p. 183.
John Gilchrist defeats his challenger, J.D. Chambers, who failed to score. Gilchrist now facing a challenge from Thomson.

1883 British Chess Magazine, July, p. 247.
John Gilchrist defeated Thomson, but then lost to Sheriff Spens. 

1884 British Chess Magazine, June, p. 244.
The match between Sheriff Spens and Mr Whiteley, for the custody of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup, has terminated in the latter's favour, the score being, Mr Whiteley 4, Sheriff Spens 2, drawn 2.

1884 British Chess Magazine, November, p. 294.
A match between Mr J.L. Whiteley, the holder, and Sheriff Spens, was concluded on 17the October at the Glasgow Chess Club for the custody of the West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup. The holder retains the trophy-having won four games to his opponent's two.

1885 British Chess Magazine, January, p. 29.
The West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup has changed hands, the contest between Mr Whiteley and Mr Fyfe having terminated in favour of Mr Fyfe by 4 games to 2, and 2 draws.

1885 British Chess Magazine, August, p. 264.
A match between Mr P. Fyfe, the holder of the West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup, and Mr John D. Chambers, has terminated in favour of the latter with the score of - Chambers 4; Fyfe 1; Drawn 1.

1885 British Chess Magazine, December, p. 440.
Mr J.D. Chambers, who wrested the West of Scotland Challenge Cup from Mr Fyfe in May, still holds it, having defeated Sheriff Spens in a contest for it, by four games to three. Mr Gilchrist has challenged the holder, and a match is in progress.

1886 British Chess Magazine, January, p. 24.
The West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup is now in the possession of Mr John Gilchrist, he having won it from Mr Chambers in a match, the result of which was - Gilchrist 4 games, Chambers 0, Drawn 2. Sheriff Spens has challenged the holder.

1886 British Chess Magazine, March, p. 98.
In a match that terminated on 17 February, John Gilchrist beat his challenger, Sheriff Spens, 4-2.

1886 British Chess Magazine, pp. 364-5.
A very interesting and hard-fought match concluded on 13 June between John Gilchrist and his challenger, J.H.C. McLeod. Prior to the deciding game the score was 3-3 with 4 draws. Gilchrist won the next game to retain the cup.

1886 British Chess Magazine, p. 434.
John Gilchrist wins 4-0 against challenger Peter Fyfe.

1886 British Chess Magazine, December, p. 479.
Mr. John Gilchrist, who has held the West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup for about a year, was recently challenged by Sheriff Spens, who won every game in the match (four). Mr. James Marshall, a rising member of the Glasgow Chess Club, has challenged the holder, and the first game in the match has resulted in his favour.'

1887 British Chess Magazine, January, pp. 28-9..
The match between Sheriff Spens and Mr James Marshall for possession of the West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup, has been won by the latter, by four games to three. At one stage the score stood three games to one against Mr Marshall, but the steady manner in which he won the three succeeding games, shows that he is possessed of considerable staying power. Though the youngest member of the Glasgow Chess Club, Mr Marshall is now actually one of its strongest players.

The Format Changes to an Annual Tournament
New rules for the competition came into force in November 1887. by which it was to be competed for annually. The entry money 5/- went to the Cup Fund. Each competitor played two games with the other entrants and the cup was to become the property of anyone winning it three years in succession.

Applications to enter the first tournament were accepted up to the end of December 1887 and the January 1888 British Chess Magazine (p.89) listed the entries to date:- G. Barbier, G.M. Chamberlain, J.D. Chambers, J.M. Finlayson, Peter Fyfe, John Gilchrist, B. Law, John Russell, Sheriff Spens, James Young.

John Gilchrist 1888
G.E. Barbier 1889

1889 British Chess Magazine, July, p. 271.
A tournament played at the club [Glasgow CC] for the custody of the West of Scotland Chess Challenge Cup, has terminated in Mr G.E. Barbier coming out the winner with the excellent score of 12 wins out of a possible 14. The cup must be won three years in succession before becoming the property of the winner.

G.E. Barbier 1890
G.E. Barbier 1891

1891 British Chess Magazine, May, p. 229.
The West of Scotland Cup Competition has this year been won by Mr G.E. Barbier, for the third time in succession, and the trophy now becomes his property. He defeated Mr J. Gilchrist, in the final match, by 1½ games to ½.

Fourth West of Scotland Challenge Cup
The fourth cup was an exact replica of the third cup, according to an unpublished history of Glasgow Chess Club. It was donated by Andrew Bonar Law, a future Prime Minister.

G.E. Barbier 1892

1892 Scottish Referee, 4 April, p. 3.
Barbier won for the fourth year in succession. There were 11 competitors, thereby requiring 20 games in the double-round event. Barbier's score was +16, -2, =2.

John Russell 1893

 1893 British Chess Magazine, June, p. 264.
The West of Scotland Cup Competition has now been brought to a close, Mr John Russell having succeeded in carrying off the trophy.

Mr Russell rarely played in the Scottish Championship, maintaining that

'...the winter tourneys for the West of Scotland and Glasgow Championship were stiffer events than the SCA championship tourney played at Easter, usually with a small entry.'

British Chess Magazine 1919, p. 261.

John Gilchrist 1894
John Russell 1895

1895 British Chess Magazine, April, p. 165.
Mr John Russell has succeeded in winning the Glasgow and West of Scotland championships. In the former, he drew two of his games, winning all the others, while in the latter he scored every game he played, a record unequalled in the history of either competition. 

John Russell 1896
Sheriff W.C. Spens 1897
John Russell 1898
John R. Longwill 1899-1900-1901

1901 British Chess Magazine, April, p. 147.
The West of Scotland Championship has been won by Mr J.R. Longwill, and as this is the third year in succession that he has won it, the cup now becomes his property.

From an unpublished history of Glasgow Chess Club

The Longwill Cup was originally the fourth West of Scotland Challenge Cup and presented, according to the inscription thereon, by Mr A. Bonar Law. It was an exact replica of the Third Cup. Mr J.R. Longwill, presently (1941) Hon President, won the Cup outright in 1901 and eighteen years later presented it to the Club to encourage and develop the Gambit Tournament which was then struggling for recognition among Club competitions.

Fifth West of Scotland Challenge Cup

1901 From December British Chess Magazine, p. 489.
The entries for the West of Scotland Cup this year are only four. This is a cup competed for between individuals and not between clubs, and in view of the small number interested it seems doubtful whether it is worth while keeping up the competition and buying a new cup, which will be necessary owing to Mr Longwill having won the last cup outright.

Glasgow Herald chess column, 1 March 1924, p. 4.

'The fifth cup was first played for in the 1901-2 season. Mr Gibson won it in 1917, 1918, and 1920 - in 1919 there was no competition - and there being some doubt as to whether it was his property owing to the gap in 1919, the difficulty was solved by Mr Gibson waiving his right. At the same time the then committee of the Glasgow CC decided that the cup was not to be won outright - a policy which was by no means unamimously approved of.' 

JR Longwill 1902
W. Black 1903
Dr RC Macdonald 1904

W. Gibson

1905, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1929, 1930, 1931
JA McKee 1906, 1907, 1909, 1912, 1914, 1921, 1923
Walter Scott 1908, 1910
FG Harris 1916
DM MacIsaac 1927, 1928, 1938
WA Fairhurst 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937,
C. Mansfield 1939
No competition 1940-45
WA Fairhurst 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
AA Thomson 1950
WA Fairhurst 1951
PB Anderson 1952
WA Fairhurst 1953, 1954
PB Anderson 1955, 1956
Iain Morton 1957
CW Marshall 1958
WA Fairhurst 1959, 1960, 1961
DG Weir 1962
M. Fallone 1963
MT Partis 1964
DBA Hunter 1965
MJ Freeman 1966
G. Bonner 1967, 1968
DNL Levy 1969
G. Bonner 1970
J. Montgomery 1971
MJ Freeman 1972
BJ Denman & KB McAlpine 1973
CJ Lennox 1974
N. Gordon 1975
G. Bonner 1976
A. Reid 1977
DJ Findlay 1978
G. Bonner 1979, 1980, 1981
PM Giulian 1982
CSM Thomson 1983
PM Giulian 1984
AJ Muir 1985
CF Boyle 1986
C. Gibson 1987
ID Mackay 1988
CSM Thomson 1989
SR Mannion 1990, 1991
JK Shaw 1992
DM Bryson, SR Mannion, CF Boyle 1993
W. Buchanan 1994
AJ Muir 1995
JK Shaw 1996
SR Mannion 1997
JK Shaw 1998
JK Shaw, KS Beaton 1999
JK Shaw 2000
JK Shaw & A. Grant 2001
SR Mannion 2002
RM McKay 2003
RM McKay & SR Mannion 2004
SR Mannion & A. Stalker 2005
A. Grant 2006
D. McGowan & A. Grant 2007
SR Mannion 2008
A. Grant 2009, 2010
A. Grant & SR Burns-Mannion 2011
SR Burns-Mannion & C. Allor 2012

Compiled by Alan McGowan.

Updated 19/8/2022