History

The Formation of the English Draughts Association

Slava Gorin (Russia) has made a great attempt to pin point the date of when the “English Draughts Association” was first formed. A search of the current publications of the period does not record this detail. Likewise it may have been recorded in the minute books of the EDA, but these went missing some years ago while in the custody of Frank Burgess. However, two newspaper articles from Australia during this period that were sent to me by Slava Gorin, in conjunction with a search of the available literature of the period, may hold the key to answering this question.

Introduction:

There had been talk about organising the game of draughts for many decades during the second half of the 19th century. Firstly there was the appearance of organised clubs from the 1860’s who initially promoted the game within their local area, then it expanded to inter-club, inter-city, and inter-county challenge matches. International matches (between Scotland and England) appeared from 1884 onwards [1]. 

It was a natural consequence of players getting together from different areas to engage in conversations about the need to organise the game in a better way but as we know talk doesn’t always equate with action. Take for example the proposed “British Draughts Association” of which there was much talk during 1892 but which faded into oblivion a year later. 

Scotland:

In my opinion the formation of the “Scottish National Draughts Tournament Committee” in November 1892 (established to organise the 1st Scottish Draughts Championship in 1893) was the first successful committee in the British Isles to take up such a major challenge, to remain together, and to grow and expand in line with the growing demands of the game which cumulated in the formation of a national organisation - the “Scottish Draughts Association” (SDA) in November 1896 [2] .   

(Note: This was not the 1st national draughts organisation established as the SDA was preceded by the formation of the “New Zealand Draughts Association” (NZDA) some months earlier)

With the formation of the SDA in late 1896 it was only natural that there was a renewed focus on the organisation of the game south of the border.

England:

There were a number of developments that stimulated the process of establishing a national body in England during this period, such as the hosting of the England v Scotland International match at London during 1894 and the formation of the Lancashire Draughts Association later the same year. However, it was the lack of an English Championship tournament that provided the most impetus. The English Championship had remained un-played since Alf Jordan’s success in 1892 primarily because there was no single body tasked with its organisation. 

This challenge was primarily taken up in the North-West of England where the interaction and communication between the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, and their commuter districts was already strong following the establishment of the Lancashire Draughts Association (1894). They organised a local committee to investigate the feasibility of holding the 4th English Championship Tournament at Liverpool during Easter 1897. However at a meeting held in Liverpool on 18th Feb 1897 it was decided to defer these plans “until such time as a National Association should be formed [3]. They set about contacting other clubs to explore this possibility. We note that this proposed National Association was discussed at a committee meeting of the London Draughts Association three weeks later. [4]

We learn from an article in the “Western Mail[5] that J. K. Lyons of Liverpool (acting on behalf of a “provisional committee”) issued a circular letter dated 21st December 1897 to draughts clubs throughout England, inviting their support in the formation of an “English Draughts Association”, and therein promising that if sufficient support was forthcoming they hoped to hold their (EDA) first tournament in Liverpool at Easter 1898. A further report the following month recorded that at a meeting of the provisional committee held at Warrington on Wed 26th January 1898, J.K. Lyons reported that 20 clubs had promised their support and that it was resolved that the provisional committee had “sufficient grounds for proceeding with the formation of the association... The committee also agreed to meet at the “Mitre Hotel” in Liverpool on 2nd February to draw up rules for submission to subscribers.” [6]

We note a report in the “Draughts World” during March 1898 that the “The proposed English Draughts Association has become an accomplished fact[7]. It is also recorded that the 4th English Championship was held at the “Mitre Hotel”, Dale Street, Liverpool during Easter (it commenced on 9th April 1898) under the auspices of the EDA and that “The prizes were presented by Mr. Frank Dunne, President of the English Draughts Association” [8]. It also notes J. K. Lyons (Liverpool) as the Hon. Secretary, and Allan Hynd (Manchester) as the Hon. Treasurer. The 1st AGM of the EDA was held later that same year - 29th October 1898 [9] and contains details of the outgoing and incoming committee.

So to go back to the original question posed by Slava – when was the English Draughts Association formed?      - the evidence would seem to indicate that it was formed at the meeting held at the “Mitre Hotel”, Dale Street, Liverpool on 2nd February 1898.

 

Hugh Devlin, 12 July 2013.


[1] England Vs Scotland International Match Book (1884).

[2]Draughts Players Weekly Bulletin” (5th Dec 1896) and “Draughts Review” 1896 p.1002

[3]Draughts Players Weekly Bulletin”, (6th March 1897, page 213. No.18, V.1.)

[4]Draughts Players Weekly Bulletin”, March 13th 1897, page 218.  (No.19, V.1.)

[5]Western Mail”, Perth, Australia. Fri 18th Feb 1898. P.49

[6]Western Mail”, Perth, Australia. Fri 25th March 1898. P.41

[7]Draughts World” March 1898, page 297.

[8]Draughts World” May 1898, page 321

[9]Draughts World” December 1898 page 462.

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