1914 British Columbia Championship

In 2015 the 100th B.C. Closed Championship was held, which would indicate the 1st edition took place in 1916. So why are we discussing a championship two years before that date? The first B.C. individual championship did indeed occur at Easter 1916 (despite later published reports of there being a B.C. champion in 1915), but ‘championship’ was the term used by newspapers of the time for a series of 1914 team matches. For example, the Victoria Daily Colonist of February 20, 1914:

As a result of a challenge received from Vancouver by the local Chess Club, the first of two matches to decide the championship of British Columbia has been arranged to take place on Saturday evening next. The matter has been under the consideration of both clubs for some time past and a keen interest is being taken in the event.
At the time the Victoria Club was the senior club in B.C., having been founded in 1892 and won its spurs by drawing a telegraph match with San Francisco in 1895. There had been various clubs in Vancouver at an even earlier date, but the then current Vancouver Chess Club had only existed 7 since March of 1913. Despite being much younger than the Victoria C.C., the Vancouver club had been bolstered by the waves of immigration which had occurred in the previous five years and could boast a number of strong players from the old country. The challenge was thus to determine which club held the supremacy in British Columbia, much as the 1895 matches had tried to make the same determination for the Pacific Coast as a whole. The contest was conceived as two matches; the first took place at the Camosun Club Building in Victoria on 21 February 1914 with a playing session from 8-11pm, at which point any unfinished games would be adjudicated.

1B.A. Yates½½F. Parsons
2R.G. Stark10A. Gibson
3A. Stevenson10J.T.L. Meyer
4R.C. Haines10A. Gonnason
5C. Birmingham01W. Marchant
6A.C. Hope10J.S. Benson
7A. la C. Evans10M. Enke
8G.W. Melhuish01H.J. Sanders

Vancouver won the first match handily; three of the games were published, with brief annotations, in the chess column of the Vancouver Daily News Advertiser:

[Event "Team match"] [Site "Victoria"] [Date "1914.02.21"] [Round "2"] [White "Gibson, A.."] [Black "Stark, R.G.."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B30"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "1914.02.??"] [EventType "team"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "DNA 01/03/1914"] [SourceDate "2006.03.14"] [WhiteTeam "Victoria"] [BlackTeam "Vancouver"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 {Unusual, and of doubtful value.} e6 4. Bxc6 { This exchange rather favours Black.} bxc6 5. Nc3 d5 6. exd5 ({This gives Black too free a game.} 6. d4 {should have been played.}) 6... cxd5 7. d3 Bd6 8. O-O Rb8 9. Re1 Nf6 10. Rb1 O-O 11. Bg5 a6 12. b3 Bb7 13. d4 Rc8 14. Ne2 Be7 15. c3 Ne4 16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Rc1 cxd4 18. cxd4 Rxc1 19. Nxc1 Rc8 20. Ne5 Qh4 21. g3 Qe7 22. Ned3 ({A weak move.} 22. Ne2 {might have been played, but Black has all through had much the superior position.}) 22... Qf6 23. Nf4 g5 24. Nh3 Rc3 25. Re3 $2 Nxf2 {A good move.} 26. Nxf2 Rxe3 27. Ng4 Qf3 28. Nxe3 Qxe3+ 29. Kf1 a5 30. Kg2 Ba6 {Good again, preventing White moving his N.} 31. h3 f5 32. Qg1 Qd2+ 33. Kf3 (33. Kh1 {would give a little more trouble, but White is hopelessly shut in.}) 33... e5 34. dxe5 d4 {Excellently played by Mr. Stark, taking full advantage of White's weak opening and never giving him the slightest chance of victory.} 0-1 [Event "Team match"] [Site "Victoria"] [Date "1914.02.21"] [Round "3"] [White "Stevenson, Archibald"] [Black "Meyer, J.T.L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C27"] [PlyCount "47"] [EventDate "1914.02.??"] [EventType "team"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "DNA 01/03/1914"] [SourceDate "2006.03.14"] [WhiteTeam "Vancouver"] [BlackTeam "Victoria"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. d3 O-O 5. f4 exf4 6. Bxf4 d6 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 Be6 9. Bb3 Bd4 {If he intended exchanging he should have played Bb4 on his third move.} 10. Nf3 Bxc3+ 11. bxc3 c5 12. O-O Nbd7 13. c4 Qc7 14. Qe1 Ne8 { A mistake, losing the exchange.} 15. Be7 f5 16. Bxf8 Nxf8 17. exf5 Bxf5 { Giving White an overwhelming attack; better to have abandoned the P and played 17...Bf7.} 18. Nh4 Bd7 19. Qe7 Nf6 20. Nf5 Ne6 21. Nxh6+ gxh6 22. Rxf6 Rf8 23. Rg6+ Kh8 24. Rxh6+ {and mate next move.} 1-0 [Event "Team match"] [Site "Victoria"] [Date "1914.02.21"] [Round "7"] [White "Evans, A. La C."] [Black "Enke, Max"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C02"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "1914.02.??"] [EventType "team"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "DNA 08/03/1914"] [SourceDate "2006.03.14"] [WhiteTeam "Vancouver"] [BlackTeam "Victoria"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 {Not good.} c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. b3 Qb6 (5... cxd4 { should have been played and if} 6. Nxd4 ({if} 6. Bb5 Bd7 {and White e-pawn is left weak.}) 6... Nxe5) 6. Be3 Bd7 7. Bd3 cxd4 8. Bf4 Rc8 9. O-O h6 10. c4 g5 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Bg3 Bg7 13. Re1 Nge7 14. a4 a5 15. Bb5 Nf5 16. Bxc6 Rxc6 17. Na3 g4 18. Nh4 h5 19. Nxf5 Bxf5 20. Nb5 Bc2 21. Nd6+ Rxd6 ({A bad blunder. If he had played} 21... Kf8 {followed by 22...d3 he should win.}) 22. exd6+ Kd7 23. Qxc2 d3 24. Qxd3 Bxa1 25. Qf5+ Kd8 26. Bh4+ f6 27. Bxf6+ Bxf6 28. Qxf6+ Kd7 29. Qxh8 Qxd6 30. Qe8+ {He must lose the queen.} 1-0

The return match took place at the Little Brown Inn in Vancouver two weeks later. “Contrary to expectations the Capitals won comfortably, in fact the match was a series of disasters for Vancouver similar to those suffered by Victoria a couple of weeks ago.” [Vancouver Daily Province, 9 March 1914]

1W. Marchant01B.A. Yates
2F. Parsons½½R.G. Stark
3M.A. Fredricson10R.C. Haines
4J.T.L. Meyer10A. Stevenson
5E. Gibson10E. Lacaille
6W. Gonnason01A. Frazer
7R. Sanders01C. Birmingham
8M. Enke10C.J. Baker
9F. Berson10A. la C. Evans

[Event "Team match"] [Site "Vancouver"] [Date "1914.03.07"] [Round "1"] [White "Marchant, William"] [Black "Yates, Bertram Arthur"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D41"] [PlyCount "116"] [EventDate "1914.03.07"] [EventType "team-match"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "DNA 16/08/1914"] [SourceDate "2006.03.14"] [WhiteTeam "Victoria"] [BlackTeam "Vancouver"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c5 5. cxd5 (5. Bg5 {is the usual move.}) 5... Nxd5 (5... exd5 {should have been played, as White could have replied by 6.e4 with the more open game.}) 6. e3 Nc6 7. Be2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. a3 a6 10. h3 b5 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. dxc5 Qxc5 13. b4 Qb6 14. Bb2 Bb7 15. Qb3 Rad8 16. Rfd1 Bd6 17. Qc3 f6 18. Qb3 Bc8 19. Rac1 Kh8 20. Rd3 (20. Nd4 {would have retained White the better position. There seems nothing to be gained by the line taken.} ) 20... e5 21. Rdc3 Ne7 22. Qc2 Bb7 23. Rd1 Bb8 24. Ne1 {Weak play. In fact, White's last three or four moves seem objectless.} e4 {From now on Black assumes the offensive.} 25. Rc1 Nd5 26. Rc5 Qd6 {Winning the exchange.} 27. g3 Ba7 28. Ng2 Bxc5 29. bxc5 Qe6 30. Bd4 Bc6 31. Bg4 f5 32. Bd1 Rf7 33. Bh5 Rb7 34. Qb2 Qh6 35. Be2 Qxh3 36. Rd1 Re8 37. Be5 Qh6 38. Bd6 Qf6 39. Qb3 Nc3 40. Rd2 Nxe2+ 41. Rxe2 a5 42. Rd2 b4 43. Bf4 Qc3 {Forcing the exchange of queens or winning material.} 44. Qxc3 bxc3 45. Rc2 Rb3 46. Kh2 Rxa3 47. Bc7 Ba4 48. Rc1 Bb5 49. Bxa5 {Desperation. He might have resigned.} Rxa5 50. Rxc3 g5 51. Ne1 Re6 52. Nc2 Be2 53. g4 Bxg4 54. Nd4 Rh6+ 55. Kg2 f4 56. Rc1 Bh3+ 57. Kg1 f3 58. c6 Bg2 0-1
The return match having resulted in the victory of the latter [Victoria], making one each, it will be necessary to play again to decide the supremacy. The Vancouver chess players were under the impression that they had rather an easy task, perhaps they suffered from overconfidence. Personally, I think there is not much to choose between the teams, but expect Vancouver to win the odd event. [Daily News Advertiser, 15 March 1914]
Originally the deciding match was to be played around Easter, but a search of various newspapers does not reveal any chess event around that time. Instead, there is a reference in the Daily Colonist to the telegraph match played on 14 November 1914 as being the “third of a series of inter-city matches.” On this basis we conclude that this contest was the deciding match; the chess season normally was in the autumn and winter, so it is quite conceivable that the third match was delayed until after the summer. By that point the First World War had begun, which may have been a factor, plus playing by telegraph would eliminate the problem of one team having to play away from home. Be that as it may, Vancouver won the telegraph match with two wins and five draws.

1B.A. Yates10Gibson
2R. Stark½½Parsons
3A. Stevenson½½Marchant
4R.C. Haines10Meyer
5R. Dickson½½Sanders
6E. Lacaille½½Patrick
7H. Dobrin½½Gonnason

Of the players, Yates, Enke, Gonnason, Lacaille, and Dickson have been discussed elsewhere; King Sorab Patrick (1873-1949) was a civil engineer, Archibald Campbell Hope (1870-1942) an architect, Robert Geoffrey Stark (1886-1929) was a broker, John Thornton Ludwig Meyer (1849- 1935) a real estate agent, George William Melhuish (1880-1938) a building manager, Archibald Stevenson (1874-1966) blended teas for Spencers Ltd. Alfred la Combre Evans (1885-1916) was a bookkeeper who joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in July 1915 and was killed in the war seventeen months later; William Marchant (1854-1935) originally ran an import business but at the time of the matches was a customs inspector. He subsequently entered municipal politics and served as Mayor of Victoria 1921-1922.