West of Scotland Championship

The immediately interesting point to note about the inauguration of this event is that it 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 with 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, provided by Alistair Maxwell. This suggests the first trophy was provided in 1877 and won outright by Hunter in 1879.] Competition for the second challenge cup was fast and furious. In 1881 the reports show that by April Spens [Sheriff WC Spens] had challenged Jenkins, beaten him 4-2 and won the cup, defended it successfully against Gilchrist 4-2, but lost it to Mills 2-4. It would be unkind to suggest that they must have been playing 5 minute chess, but it certainly was not 5 hour chess. A game normally took about an hour, which is why two or three games could be played in an afternoon of an East-West match.

'The challenges for the West of Scotland cup continued to fly, and by June [1881] the dauntless Sheriff had won it back from Mills 4-3 but by July had lost it to him again...In 1881 it is reckoned that the challenge cup changed hands eight times and in 1882 when Mills left Glasgow it was presented to him in recognition of his being "a bonnie fechter" and of his contribution to West of Scotland chess.'

Some references from chess periodicals of these early years:

'We understand that Sheriff Spens has challenged Mr. Hunter, the present holder of the West of Scotland Challenge Cup.'
The Chess Player's Chronicle 1878, p 89.

'The score in the West of Scotland Challenge Cup Tourney stands as follows:-'

Note the word 'Tourney'. , then lists the eleven competitors and their scores. It is clear that the requirement was to play two games against each opponent. The leading scores are shown as:- Mr J. Jenkin won 17½ - lost 2½; Mr DY Mills won 14½ - lost 5½; Mr J. Crum won 14 - lost 5 - to play 1; Mr J. Court won 13 - lost 3 - t play 4....

Mr Jenkin has thus secured the first prize, while the second lies between Messrs. Court, Mills, and Crum.
The Chess Monthly December 1880, page 104.

In Scotland the only Chess item of importance with which I am acquainted relates to the West of Scotland Cup. 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 wou 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.

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 au appropriate acknowledgment of his services.
British Chess Magazine 1882, p 101.

'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.'
British Chess Magazine 1886, p 479.

First Challenge Cup  
A. Hunter 1877
A. Hunter 1878
A. Hunter (Retained the trophy) 1879
Second Challenge Cup  
DY Mills 1880
DY Mills 1881
DY Mills (Retained the trophy) 1882
Third Challenge Cup 1883
J. Gilchrist 1888
GE Barbier 1889, 1890, 1891, 1892
J. Russell 1893
J. Gilchrist 1894
J. Russell 1895
J. Russell 1896
WC Spens 1897
J. Russell 1898
JR Longwill 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902
W. Black 1903
Dr RC Macdonald 1904

W. Gibson
(Retained the 5th Challenge Cup after his third consecutive win 1920 - tournament suspended in 1919.)
The 6th Challenge Cup starts 1921.

1905, 1911, 1913, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1929, 1930, 1931
JA McKee 1906, 1907, 1909, 1912, 1914, 1921, 1923
W. 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 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