West of Scotland Championship

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

With the introduction of the West of Scotland championship a Challenge Cup was provided. As the title of the trophy suggests, an individual could challenge the holder of the West of Scotland title to a match, as opposed to the way the event was run in later years. Also, if someone won the title in three successive years the trophy passed into that individual's personal possession, hence the number of cups in the early years.

Things are rather unclear in regard to the early years, and even the authors of Scotland's Chess centenary Book (Craig Pritchett and MD Thornton, 1984) were not able to provide definitive information.

'The West of Scotland championship also began in the 70's and is still strongly contested more than a century later. Now it is a formal tournament, but in the early years it was a matter of personal challenge. The first challenge cup was won outright, presumably after a number of successful defences, by Andrew Hunter in 1877. [However, see the table below, with information provided by Alistair Maxwell. Hunter won the cup outright in 1879.]

The unpublished history of the Glasgow Chess Club provides details about the origins of this competition:-

Mr John Jenkins, or Jenkin, won the ivory set of Chessmen presented by Mr A.K. Murray in a keenly contested Handicap Tourney. Mr Scott challenged Jenkin to play for the Chessmen and offered to stake against them a cup of equal value. 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 - "The Cup is to be called the West of Scotland Challenge Cup and if won two years in succession by the same player to become his property." Jenkin won the match and it was agreed that £2:2/- from the Club's prize fund be added to the amount staked by Mr Scott so as to make the value of the Challenge Cup ten guineas. Messrs Jenkins and Hunter were appointed to buy the cup and Mr Hunter was the first to win it.

A history of the competition, albeit incomplete, was given in the Glasgow Herald chess column of 10 November 1923 (p. 4).

There have been five West of Scotland cups. The first one was purchased in 1872 as the result of a match between Messrs. John Jenkins [sic-Jenkin] and William Scott, two prominent West players of that time. It was a challenge cup, and was to become the personal property of anyone who held it for two years. I have not so far been able to trace a full list of the winners of this cup, but it is known that it was won outright in 1879 by Mr Andrew Marshall [sic-Andrew Hunter]. It would be interesting to learn the names of the holders during these years. Can any reader supply the information?

The second cup was purchased was in 1880, 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 dats, 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." Again, it would be interesting to know if anyone else held the cup during this period.

The third cup was also a challenge cup, and remained so until 1887, when the competition was altered to an annual tournament. It is hoped to complete the history of the "West" in the near future. [This cup was provided by Andrew Bonar Law-see below.]

First Challenge Cup (purchased 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.

The first cup was purchased in 1872 as the result of a match between Messrs. John Jenkins [sic-Jenkin] and William Scott, two prominent West players of that time. It was a challenge cup, and was to become the personal property of anyone who held it for two years.

Glasgow Herald chess column, 10 November 1923 (p. 4).

This suggests that the above gentlemen had the idea of providing a trophy, because a reference in the Westminster Papers of 1st April 1879 (p. 254), referring to Andrew Hunter, stated:- "He was the first holder of this trophy."

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 Westminster Papers, 1st November 1874 Sheriff Spens of Hamilton has wrested the West of Scotland Challenge Cup from Mr. Hunter. The late holder of that trophy. The Sheriff’s victory has been singularly complete, for his adversary did not score a game.

1875 The Chess Players' Chronicle, Vol. IV, No. IX, June, p. 281:
A match for the Challenge Cup of the West of Scotland Chess Association has just been concluded at Glasgow. The players were Mr Sheriff Spens, of Hamilton, and Mr Hunter, of Glasgow. The former won the cup, by only the narrow majority of four against three.-Land and Water.

1875 City of London Chess Magazine, July, p. 132
A match has recently been played between Sheriff Spens and Mr. Hunter for the West of Scotland Challenge Cup. It was won by Mr. Hunter (the previous holder of the Cup) who scored four games against two won by the Sheriff.

1875 Chess Player’s Chronicle, August 1875, p. 312 Sheriff Spens is the holder of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup.

1876 City of London Chess Magazine, Vol. 2, p 106 The Glasgow Herald informs us that a match has been commenced between Sheriff Spens and Mr. A. Hunter for the West of Scotland Challenge Cup.

1876 The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, October 14, p. 70 West of Scotland Challenge Cup.-This trophy has again been won by Sheriff Spens, who defeated both Mr Crum and Mr Murray, the former by four games to one, and the latter by four games to nothing.

Andrew Hunter 1877
Andrew Hunter 1878
Andrew Hunter (Retained the trophy) 1879

The Chess Player's Chronicle, March 1879, p. 65

The West of Scotland Challenge Cup, having been held by Mr A. Hunter for the stipulated period of two years, becomes now, says the Glasgow Herald, the property of that gentleman.

1879 Westminster Papers, 1st April, p 254 However, we see by the Glasgow Herald that the West of Scotland Challenge Cup has now become the absolute property of Mr. Hunter. He was the first holder of this trophy, but it was afterwards wrested from him by Mr. Sheriff Spens. The latter, though he obtained possession of the cup three times, did not succeed in fulfilling the condition of winning it twice successfully; nor did that good fortune fall to the lot of any competitor, though Mr. Hunter won it a second time, while Mr. W. Scott and Mr. W. Crum [sic-John Crum] each gained it twice, as appears of record on the prize itself. In January 1877, Mr. Hunter a third time won the cup, since when he has held it undisturbed, no competitor being found bold enough to challenge his possession thereof. Our Scotch contemporary adds that there are sufficient funds to purchase another cup, so we may expect to see an active competition for the West of Scotland championship, the more so that Mr. Hunter has come to reside in London.

Second Challenge Cup  
John Jenkin 1880

1880 Chess Player’s Chronicle, April, pp. 87/88

...announces a West of Scotland Challenge Cup having been purchased, the Glasgow club has arranged for a tourney in order to determine who is to be the first holder; the tournament will be 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 close. The Herald publishes the rules of the tourney, as well as the match regulations, for those who may afterwards challenge the winner. The cup will become the property of any player who shall hold it for two successive years.

With the presentation of the Second Challenge Cup, a tournament was organised to ascertain the first holder of this trophy.

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.
1880 The Chess Monthly, December, page 104

DY Mills 1881

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'.

British Chess Magazine 1881, p 235

Sheriff Spens 1881
D.Y. Mills 1881
Sheriff Spens 1881
D.Y. Mills1881

DY Mills 1882

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.

Relevant information about the competition appeared in the Glasgow Herald chess column of 3 November 1923, p. 4, which referred to the recently deceased former British Prime Minister, Andrew Bonar Law, and his involvement with the Scottish Chess Association:

In the year of his presidentship of the S.C.A. it happened that D.Y. Mills won the association's cup outright, and Mr Law, acting on the motto, "Bis dat qui cito dat," at once presented the association with a new cup.

Third Challenge Cup [donated by Andrew Bonar Law]

The Third West of Scotland Cup was first won by John Crum 82 and up to December 86 changed hands nine times, Sheriff Spens, John Gilchrist, Sheriff Spens, JL Whiteley, Peter Fyfe, John D Chambers, John Gilchrist, Sheriff Spens, James Marshall being the holders in that order.

Unpublished history of the Glasgow Chess Club.

John Crum 1882
Sheriff Spens  
John Gilchrist  
Sheriff Spens  
J.L. Whiteley 1884

British Chess Magazine, June 1884, 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.

And from the November 1884 issue, 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.


Peter Fyfe

British Chess Magazine, January 1885, 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.





John D. Chambers

And from the August 1885 issue, 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.

And from the December 1885 issue, 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.










J. Gilchrist

British Chess Magazine, January 1886, 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 Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, Vol. 4, p 164

The interesting match for the West of Scotland’s Challenge Cup, between Mr John Gilchrist (the holder) and Mr. James H.C. McLeod (the challenger), was won by the former gentleman, who thus retains the cup. The contest was a very close one, the score standing, until the dayof the decision, 3 to each player and 4 drawn games, when Mr. Gilchrist won another game. The final score being Mr. Gilchrist 4, Mr. McLeod 3, and 4 drawn.


Sheriff Spens

And from the December 1886 BCM, 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.'








Sheriff Spens 1886

James Marshall

British Chess Magazine, January 1887, 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 a tournament.


No competition?
John Gilchrist 1888

1888  British Chess Magazine, January, p 14

…and a tournament open to players resident in the West of Scotland , for the custody of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup is being set on foot, entries being received up to 31st December.

British Chess Magazine 1888, p. 89

The conditions have been published (in the Glasgow Herald, of the 28th January), which are to govern the competition for the West of Scotland Challenge Cup. The tourney is open to all players residing in the West of Scotland on payment of 5/- entrance fee. The following have already entered:- G. Barbier, G.M. Chamberlain, J.D. Chambers, J.M. Finlayson, Peter Fyfe, John Gilchrist, B. Law, John Russell, Sheriff Spens, James Young.









GE 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.

GE Barbier 1890
GE 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 Challenge Cup  
GE Barbier 1892

1892 British Chess Magazine, May, p. 186

The West of Scotland Chess Cup has for the fourth time been won by Mr G.E. Barbier, of Glasgow. There were eleven competitors this year, Mr Barbier's score being 17 out of a possible 20.


J. Russell

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.


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.

J. Gilchrist 1894
J. 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.

J. Russell 1896
WC Spens 1897
J. Russell 1898
JR 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.

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 JR 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.

1901 From December BCM, 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.

Fifth Challenge Cup  
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

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.

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


Thanks to Alistair Maxwell of Cathcart CC for assistance.

Compiled by Alan McGowan.

Updated - 05/01/2019