First published on SCCU website 28 June 2016
Everyone knows that the main function of trophies is to provide work for Trophy Recovery Sub-Committees. Apathy and carelessness are the main culprits, though war has played its part. (Theft has not, as far as we know, with the SCCU trophies. But it occurs. Your Webmaster claims to be the only person ever to have had five silver trophies stolen from his car and found six months later buried on Tunbridge Wells Common. The dents that defied repair are now part of their history.)
Bothersome they may be, but good trophies are worth it. A nice set of Trophies, old for preference and solid and durable, and properly engraved, adds an undeniable something when you do get them all to an AGM. It is disappointing that the Union has only two (or it may be three) surviving pre-war trophies.
Valuations. We give insurance valuations for some of the trophies. These are replacement values, and include engraving. It is curious that one silver trophy increased in value by more than 50% between 1988 and 1996, while another went down by 30% in the same period.
To the best of our knowledge, this page now (7.4.03) lists all recorded SCCU Trophies, extant or not. But much remains obscure. There must be people out there who remember one or two of the missing ones. Contributions, anyone? The trophies are listed below in their order of acquisition, give or take some rationalisation here and there.
Amboyna and Ebony
The early twenties were fertile in trophies and new competitions. The Ebony was actually the Union’s first trophy, and was first awarded (and engraved) in 1922. The Amboyna followed in 1925. The original trophies were styled Shield. They were shields in the woods their names suggest, and each bore “a half-set of ivory chessmen”. The Shields escaped the blitz, as some trophies did not, but they became very dilapidated and were eventually judged beyond repair. They were replaced in 1980 with the Phillips & Drew Amboyna and Ebony Trophies, which are traditional silver-plated cups. 2005 valuations: Amboyna £500, Ebony £300.
The Montague Jones, a silver cup hallmarked 1922 and engraved with winners’ names from 1925, has always, in one sense or another, been the Union’s “Division II” trophy for county teams. It was presented in 1923 by Major E Montague Jones, Chairman 1915-20. The Montague Jones is our oldest surviving trophy. Height 7½ inches plus plinth, 2005 valuation £1762.
The Stevenson Trophy was presented in 1932 for a new inter-county knock-out competition. The donor was Major E Montague Jones. A remark of his in the Council minutes appears to suggest that he thereby got his own back on RHS Stevenson for donating the Montague Jones. However it is elsewhere recorded that the Montague Jones was donated by Montague Jones. Perhaps the remark was a more contemporary allusion to the Fleming Trophy, which Mr Stevenson donated in that year.
The existing Stevenson Trophy is not the original. The earliest description we have of a Stevenson Trophy is in a 1954 insurance schedule (original proposal 1932). It lists the Stevenson as a silver trophy, having the same value as the Montague Jones. Later in 1954, the Executive remarked on the deplorable condition of the Stevenson (it is also described as “cumbersome”) and agreed to replace it with a shield. The wooden shield we have now was made in 1955 by the then Congress Secretary at no charge to the Union. It was given a new silver shield engraved with all winners’ names back to 1933.
Cumbersomeness, in silver trophies, is generally seen as a mark of distinction. There is a silver BCF trophy no less cumbersome than decrepit, and revered for all that. It seems curious that an SCCU trophy in this mould, however deplorable its condition, should be replaced by a wooden shield. It gets curiouser. The Executive had intended to renovate the original trophy and decide later on its future use. In the end the renovation did not occur: the Congress Secretary agreed to accept the old trophy, in its unrestored state, in exchange for the new silver shield he had supplied. But an estimate for renovation had been obtained. The estimate was “for renovating the set of men at £7-10s-0d and a further £5-10s-0d for renewing the moulds to the board, scraping and polishing”. We cannot be talking about the trophy on the insurance document.
Presumably the Board and Set was the Stevenson Trophy. The moulds must surely have carried its name. They also carried, no doubt, the names of previous winners. The Executive would hardly have copied winners’ names which did not tally with these, and the names they copied are confirmed as Stevenson winners by AGM minutes from 1933 onwards. So the silver trophy was something else, misnamed by insurers since (coincidentally?) 1932. The coincidence is worrying, but insurance documents do misname trophies. If this was not the Stevenson, could it have been the Stevenson Memorial (see below)? Perhaps, in 1954, but scarcely in 1932 if the Stevenson in question was RH Stevenson who was still alive. Whatever this trophy was, it is lost now.
The replacement wooden-shield Stevenson Trophy is engraved from 1933 to 1970. It is not clear how long the original knock-out competition survived. By the fifties the trophy had already for some time been awarded on the basis of the league competitions, usually to a winner from the non-Metropolitan counties. This continued into the sixties (on a handicap basis, from 1966). Its function in the seventies is a matter for conjecture; see below, Stevenson Memorial: the second incarnation. In the eighties and nineties the Stevenson was out of use, and there was even a proposal in 1986 to write it off (again, see below). It escaped this fate. There was then, in the late nineties, a brief scare regarding its whereabouts. It was found in July 1999 safely stored in someone’s attic. In March 2000 the Executive concluded that the Stevenson appeared to have been, in the seventies, the runners-up trophy for the Championship division. It was resolved to restore it to use in this function, and it was so presented to Bucks at the 2000 AGM. 2005 valuation £535.
Kent, Mr Stevenson’s County, has a Stevenson Cup which surely is connected with him. Information, anyone? Tunbridge Wells Chess Club, in the same County, has a (silver, and very handsome) Stevenson Memorial Rook; but it’s a different Stevenson.
Stevenson Memorial Trophy
This trophy is a mystery. Its whereabouts have been long unknown, and it may never have existed. It does not appear in any of the insurance documents we have, unless it is the “Stevenson Trophy” of the 1954 list. But it appears a few times in SCCU minute books of the fifties and eighties, in two different guises and perhaps always in error.
The SCCU Championship tournament held at Bognor from 1954 to 1965, and before that at Southsea, was known as the Stevenson Memorial Tournament. The SCCU (closed) Championship trophy, then as now, was the Glenroy Cup. It has “Stevenson Memorial Tournament” engraved on it, and it is possible that the Stevenson Memorial Trophy is simply the Glenroy under another name. However, this would not explain the “Stevenson Trophy” of the 1954 list, because the Glenroy is on it as well. Was there a second trophy going with this tournament? There is some evidence for one:
Foreign masters regularly competed at Bognor, with the Glenroy going to the highest SCCU player. Council minutes 1957: “Mr Lomax [the Congress Secretary] reported that the Bognor Congress had been well supported with an entry of 172 competitors. The Stevenson Memorial Trophy had been won by S Gligoric of Jugoslavia, and the Union Championship by RG Wade (Middlesex).”
This Stevenson Memorial Trophy comes up once more, in some 1959 minutes. We have found it nowhere else, in minutes or Congress Reports, before or since. Ken Whyld tells us 6.8.99 that it is not mentioned in BCMs of the period, and enquiries have revealed no one else who has heard of it. The words “Stevenson Memorial Tournament” occur repeatedly in SCCU minutes, and the minuted “Trophy”, in both these cases, could be a mistake for “Tournament”. But a Trophy, whatever became of it, would neatly explain the 1954 “Stevenson Trophy”. Maybe it disappeared with the Tournament, and is in a controller’s attic. Maybe it’s still with its last winner or his heirs. We live in hope that someone will come up with a photograph of it being presented.
About photos 20.8.99
Arthur Hall and Chris Ravilious have both sent a photo (Chess magazine) from the 1961 prizegiving. In pride of place on the table, unfortunately still waiting to be presented, is a large silver cup not identifiable as any SCCU trophy we know. An earlier group photo (BCM) of the 1952 winners at Southsea has Dr S Fazekas, SCCU Champion, sitting next to the Glenroy Cup; and DA Yanofsky, tournament winner, sitting next to no trophy at all. Not unless the set and board at his elbow is a trophy, but let’s not go down that path.
The second incarnation
A belief arose, apparently in the early eighties, that a missing Stevenson Memorial Trophy was runners-up trophy in the Championship division. Unfortunately the earliest evidence we have found for a Stevenson Memorial in this connection is some minutes of 1984 recording that it is missing. (It remained missing. Later records of its presentation to runners-up at AGMs are there for form’s sake.)
No doubt memories of the first incarnation come into this. The Executive seems to have known in 1984 that the Championship runners-up were supposed to get a trophy, and that it was a “Stevenson” one. It knew that a wooden-shield Stevenson Trophy existed. But not much was known of its history, and it was argued that its winners, as engraved up to 1970, were inconsistent with its being the runners-up trophy.
They are. But this Stevenson had already had more than one job, and might have had another in the unengraved seventies. It is actually a good candidate for runners-up trophy. It comes up a few times in minutes of that period under “Presentation of Trophies”. Mostly the references are infuriatingly vague (and the Bulletin is no help). The winners are recorded only for 1977 and 1980, and even then with no mention of what they won it for. But in both cases they turn out, on investigation, to have been the Championship runners-up. On the face of it the second Stevenson Memorial is a myth, and the runners-up trophy was the wooden shield.
The Executive in 1986 resolved not only to write off the “missing” Stevenson Memorial Trophy and replace it with a Board (“to be named and valued”); but also to write off, and not replace, the “Stevenson Wooden Shield”. Nothing happened. The Board did not materialise, and the shield is still there.
This trophy, for annual competition between Beds and Bucks, was donated in 1932 by RHS Stevenson to mark the achievements of RM Fleming, joint Hon Secretary of the Union. It took the form of a set of carved ivory chessmen in a glass case.
It does not take that form now. There have been either two or three Fleming Trophies, maybe four. Probably no one knows. When Beds won in 1937 it was discovered that the ivory-chessman Trophy, which for the last three years had been in Buckinghamshire, was missing. (Perhaps Bucks had not been bringing it along once a year for people to look at.) A “handsome replacement” was bought, and there was £6-10s-0d left over from the £15 insurance money. We have no description of the replacement, beyond the fact that it was handsome.
By April 1940 the old trophy had turned up, and had been bought back from the insurance company (for much less than £15). Since they had a new one it was agreed to present the old one to Mr Stevenson “for competition at the National Chess Centre”. Disaster struck five months later. The fire at the National Centre claimed one Fleming Trophy, and most likely both. From the accounts quoted under Shannon Trophy below it is clear that the new one at any rate was lost.
Perhaps, like the Shannon, it was rescued. Perhaps it was replaced after the war from the Trophy reserve. Perhaps neither of those things. There were two Fleming matches in the immediate post-war years. There was then a ten-year gap, and when competition was resumed in 1957-8 it was recorded that the trophy had been missing “for twenty years”. Executive minutes of 1959 record that a refurbished “Leckford Trophy”, a Union trophy for many years out of use, is to be put into service as a replacement Fleming Trophy. (The Leckford Trophy was a silver cup which, at the time, was in a damaged condition. We have no other information on it.) There are interim reports on the refurbishment, but no record of its completion. At all events the Union believed itself to have a Fleming Trophy in 1984, because in that year there was an unsuccessful proposal to pass it to the newly formed EACU, of which Beds was a founder member.
The existence of the current Trophy is not in doubt. It was competed for, and presented to Beds, in September 2002. Then after a period of inactivity it was restored, in 2005, to the safekeeping of the Tournament Controller. At least, so it was thought. Five years later it emerged that the Tournament Controller had not got it. Investigation revealed that it had found its way back to Bedfordshire in 2006, after valuation in 2005 along with other Union Trophies, and was still there. When after further inactivity the series was revived in September 2012, the Trophy was present at the match and was handed over to the winning Buckinghamshire team.
The current trophy is variously described as “handsome”, “hideous”, and “a monster piece of silverware”. This Website had never seen it till three days ago, when someone kindly sent a good-quality photo taken at the 2014-15 match 14.9.14. It is a chunky silver cup which, judging from the photo, very much resembles the Glenroy. Its 1937 hallmark (same as the Glenroy’s!) suggests that it may actually be the (rescued and re-discovered) first, pre-war, replacement. Width approximately 8½ excluding handles, height 10 inches plus plinth, 2005 valuation £1950.
The SCCU Inter-Counties Championship trophy, and sadly not the original. The competition began in 1893-4, one year after the foundation of the Union. Surprisingly, it had no trophy until 1934-5 (by which time four lesser competitions had trophies of their own). The original Shannon Trophy was commissioned and made in that season from funds donated for the purpose by Mrs AMS Shannon FRGS, splendidly match captain of the Croquet Association Chess Circle. A photo of the trophy, to a design chosen by the Union, appears in the 1935-6 Yearbook of the English Counties Chess Unions. It is a remarkable silver trophy, in the shape of a mountain with a castle on top. This was a compliment to Mrs Shannon, who was well known in mountaineering circles. We’ll set a precedent and show you the Photo if you want to click on it. It’s in a fresh page, but you can come back here afterwards.
The Trophy was lost on 23rd September 1940, along with other Union property, when the National Chess Centre was totally destroyed by fire in a German bombing raid. A set of 1941 accounts includes a reserve for replacing “equipment, stationery & Shannon and new Fleming Trophies lost by enemy action”. (The Union’s insurance claim for War Damage was a very considerable £137-6s-0d.)
That was as it appeared in 1941. In 1947 it was reported to Council that the Shannon had been recovered in a damaged condition after the fire, and had since been in the Secretary’s safekeeping. It was repaired and restored to service. An insurance schedule dated 1954 gives it the highest value of any trophy listed (25% higher than the Glenroy Cup, and 67% higher than the Montague Jones).
There is no happy ending. The Shannon Trophy, having survived the blitz, finally went astray in the seventies. Perhaps not finally, who knows. Somebody’s got it somewhere. The story is worth telling, since it’s typical. Cambs, the 1973 Champions, failed to return it for the 1974 AGM. (To be fair, when they won it in 1971 they never sent anyone to collect it. These things matter more to some people than others.) Apparently no one chased the trophy in 1974, and the 1974 Champions never saw it. Cambs won it again in 1975, so it was in its rightful place once more and there was no further reason to chase. Cambs did not retain the title in 1976, but they again retained the Trophy. Investigations continued into 1978. The Cambs match captain of 1973 agreed that he had received it, but said he no longer knew where it was. His college said they hadn’t got it, and there was an end to the matter. The current Shannon Trophy, a silver-plated rose bowl, is a replacement bought in 1980. 2005 valuation £837.
Footnote 4.12.99. We have often admired, but never before closely inspected, the Kent Association’s Ladies Championship Trophy. It is a very nice silver rose bowl, in a different league from the rose bowl of the previous paragraph. We had a good look at it today at the Whitstable Congress, where they were holding the Ladies Championship. The engraving on it records its donation by Mrs AMS Shannon in 1936. We are delighted that one Shannon Trophy at least survives.
This is the Union’s Individual Championship trophy, presented to the Union in November 1937 by HC Duffell Esq, on whom we have no information. It is referred to variously in 1938 minutes as the Glenroy Hall trophy, the Glenroy Hotel Cup, and the Glenroy Cup. It is a large silver cup, hallmarked 1936 or 1937 depending which valuer you believe*, and engraved from 1937. The original competition, from 1936-37, was for “Nominated Representatives of Counties affiliated to the Union”. Its status was enhanced after the war, with a new name in honour of RHS Stevenson. A silver shield on the plinth of the trophy bears the words: “Stevenson Memorial Tournament. After 1948 this cup became the Championship Trophy of the Southern Counties Chess Union.” Width 8½” excluding handles, height 10 inches plus plinth, 2006 valuation £3250.
* Note 20.1.11 Positively 1937. We’ve googled the date letter.
Junior Individual Trophies
The Union’s extant trophies, or those known to be so, appear under bold italic headings at the foot of this item. The rest is history, where not fairy tale.
Once upon a time there were four Junior Individual trophies. Their names were Southdean Cup (Senior Boys), Montrose Cup (Senior Girls), Montrose Cup (Junior Boys), and Montrose Cup (Junior Girls), and they were all competed for at the Bognor Congress. This isn’t fairy tale. Three were the gift, in 1958, of the then President JN Fishlock-Lomax. The Executive resolved, in the same year, to apply for BCF funds to purchase a fourth. Presumably these funds were received. All four trophies are listed, as silver cups, in an insurance endorsement dated June 1958.
We do not know what became of them. The Executive noted in 1972 that the “U12, U14 and U16” trophies were missing. This already does not sound like the Bognor trophies, unless their function has changed. The last holder of the U16 trophy, “some years ago”, is named in the minutes*. Its recovery proved impossible, and in 1973-4 a new U16 trophy was purchased. There is no mention of the U12 and U14 trophies at this point, though U12 and U14 events were held in that year alongside the U16. Finally in the seventies, Executive minutes of January 1975 note the purchase of an U18 Girls trophy (but do not mention a lost earlier one).
Then from the eighties there are reports of (probably) two SCCU trophies, U18 and (?)U14, awarded annually at the Junior Individual Championships when they were held in conjunction with the Lloyds Bank tournament. More than one organiser claims to remember these trophies. But details are scant, and there seem to be no written records of them except a mention of “SCCU Trophies” on the Lloyds Bank entry form for 1985. The Executive, apparently unaware of any SCCU Junior Individual trophies at the time, asked the Secretary to investigate this. The result of his investigation is not recorded, but the organisers’ accounts for that year are later quoted as including £40 for trophies (plural) and £10 for engraving. The following year has a much larger item for engraving. The last U18 Champion of the eighties, Demis Hassapis as he then was, recalls that he received a trophy, in poor condition, which he was invited to keep. We have no description of it. Whatever other trophies there may have been, they all seem to have vanished into the nine-year gap 1990-1998 in which the Junior Championships were not held.
* But not in the Champions page, because we have no other record and no date.
So our current trophies are all modern.
Hassabis Trophy for the Union U18 Championship. A silver-plated cup purchased November 2000 from funds donated by Demis Hassabis. Engraved from 1998-9, and first presented at the London Junior Championships 9.12.00.
Trophies acquired December 2001. Four silver-plated cups, the gift of an anonymous donor, for the Under 14 (Open and Girls) and the Under 9 (Open and Girls). First presented at the London Junior Championships 16.12.01.
Trophies acquired 2003 / 2010. Three silver-plated cups, for the Under 18 Girls and the Under 11 Open and Girls. First presented at the London Junior Championships 30.12.03. It was noted in 2007 that all three of these trophies had gone astray. Replacements, bought new in 2010, were presented at the 2010 LJCC.
This trophy, not otherwise known to us, appears on the same insurance endorsement as the junior trophies of 1958. It is listed as “Silver Walker Cup (Lightning)”, with a value of £15 (compared with £25 for the Senior Boys trophy). No doubt it went with a Lightning event at Bognor. It is presumably the same as the “Waller Cup” noted as missing in 1983.
A silver trophy donated in 1958-9 by Miss L Anness, President 1959-60, for the SCCU Junior County Championship. Engraved 1959-1967 and not again until 1998, but it is accepted that this trophy is for the SCCU (Open) U18 Jamboree. Height 10½ inches plus plinth, 2006 valuation £1280.
Sometimes called the Fleming Memorial Board. An inscribed board with set, “to the Junior players of the SCCU”, presented in 1961 by the family of RM Fleming following his death in June 1960. The original set of pieces has been lost, and it appears (May 2015) that the replacement set may have followed suit. The Board, engraved from 1962 to 1968, was originally the SCCU’s “Metropolitan Counties” U18 trophy. The competition was a league, over 60 (later 40) boards. There was also sometimes a Metropolitan U18 Jamboree, but it appears to have been a separate event. The league existed before 1962 and continued long after 1968, in one form or another, but is not currently active.
The Board, long out of use, was re-assigned in July 2000 to the U14/U90 competition. 1996 valuation £300.
A shield presented in 1962-3 by GW Henlen, the then President, for the Annual Team Jamboree. Some details of this event appear in the Adult Team Champions page. The last Jamboree of which we have a record was in April 1973, and the Executive noted in 1983 that the Shield was missing.
A board presented by RCA Lee-Pentecost in 1982 for the highest-placed second team in the Montague Jones (Second Division) tournament. It was not unusual, at that time, for the first teams of weaker counties to play in this division. The Board was last presented in 1992, and Executive minutes of 1993 record that it is missing.
A decorative glass vase presented by RCA Lee-Pentecost in 1986 for the match captain of the Champion County. Last awarded, in 1998, to the Kent match captain; current whereabouts uncertain.
The Union’s trophy, acquired around 1987, for the annual U180 SCCU Jamboree. The minutes appear to be silent on this trophy, and we are ashamed to say that we don’t know where it came from. But we assume it was the donation of Douglas Opie, the then County Match Controller, perhaps on his retirement from office in 1988. 2005 valuation £343. The Trophy is in a non-traditional style, and nearly went the way of all trophies when it was mistaken for a beer pump. But you’d have to look in the Ragbag for that story.
Under 18 Minor Trophy
A silver-plated cup acquired in 1988-9 and awarded annually to the winner of the SCCU Open Minor Jamboree (or, in default of a Minor Jamboree, to the runners-up in the main tournament). 1993 valuation £105. It turned out in 2010 that this Trophy was missing, and investigations are under way.
Harry Woolverton Cup
A silver-plated cup acquired in 1996, partly with funds from Essex CA, for the (nearly) new U100 team championship. Its name commemorates an Essex stalwart who had lately died. This trophy set what must have been a new record by going astray even before it was engraved. Kent, its first recipients at the 1996 AGM, sheepishly admitted a year later that they couldn’t find it. It has been said, with what truth we don’t know, that it was left on the roof of a departing Kent motor car on the day of the Final. Kent bought a new trophy like it, and the replacement (engraved back to the start of the competition in 1994) was in service in the following season. 2005 valuation £240.
Girls Team Trophies
(a) A silver-plated cup, anonymously donated February 2002, for the annual U18 Girls Jamboree. First presented to Surrey 10th February 2002. 2005 valuation £100.
(b) Zoë Ryle Trophy: A silver-plated cup, donated by Zoë Ryle of Middx in April 2003 for the new U11 Girls Jamboree and first presented to Surrey 6th April 2003. 2005 valuation £100.
(c) A silver-plated cup, purchased by the Union in April 2003 for the new U9 Girls Jamboree and first presented to Surrey 6th April 2003. 2005 valuation £100.
John Philpott Trophy
A silver-plated cup, donated by John Philpott of Essex in April 2003 for the annual U135 Jamboree. First presented to Hertfordshire 6th April 2003. 2005 valuation £180.
David Smith Trophy
A silver-plated cup, donated in 2009 by County Match Controller David Smith for the new U75 (now U100) team championship. First presented to Kent 24th October 2009.