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Chess column of 'Our School Times'

We have now removed from this site all the page images from this long-lost Irish chess column, dating from 1878-1884. The history of the column is as follows.

William Henry Stanley Monck (1839-1915), who has an entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography, was a philosopher, amateur astronomer, and barrister. Originally from Kilkenny, Monck was mostly privately educated before becoming a scholar of Trinity College Dublin.

From the mid-1870s to the early 1900s, Monck was also a prominent Irish amateur chess-player. As my history of Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland shows, he was a very active postal player who competed in the UK-USA ‘postcard match’ that began in 1878. Download a file of his games (PGN).

Monck wrote for Our School Times on both logic and chess between 1878 and 1884, at the invitation of Maurice C. Hime, MA, LLD. Monck’s book An introduction to logic appeared in 1880, and in it the author states that logic articles in the school magazine were the basis for some it.

Dr. Hime had been Headmaster of the (Church of Ireland) Diocesan School, Monaghan, where he apparently started the school magazine, probably in 1872 or 1873. Monck appears on the subscribers list for probably the first time in the December 1874 issue (Vol 3 No 1 p7). Monck’s address was given in the magazine as (house) 6, Trinity College, where the students' union is now based.

In 1877 Hime moved to Derry to become Head of Foyle College, which in recent times amalgamated with other schools to become Foyle and Londonderry College, and it seems that he there relaunched Our School Times.

The chess column is mentioned in some primary sources, e.g. The Chess Player’s Chronicle (February 1879 p. 42), and so it found its way into Whyld’s bibliography of chess columns. However, the periodical is not in the Waterloo Directory of Irish periodicals or in library catalogues.

Thanks to Robert Montgomery, who responded to an enquiry I sent to the school some years ago, a bound volume of the school magazine was found in 2010 at the Duncreggan campus of Foyle College, and some more copies turned up subsequently. The magazine seems to have continued until 1890 at least, at Foyle College, but the last chess column found was in 1884. Thus many (if not all) copies of the column have now been traced and made available here. Chess historians owe a debt to Mr. Montgomery for making this important discovery and being so helpful.

The first article, signed 'W. H. S. M.', appeared in the September 1878 issue of Our School Times, and another in October. It seems the original intention was just to have a short series on chess but the November issue, according to Mr. Montgomery, says the Irish Daily Express noticed their paper and recommended that a regular chess column appear.

The editor had also been in correspondence with John Watkinson, the editor of the Huddersfield College Magazine, which the Daily Express considered to be the best chess paper in England. Watkinson closed the Huddersfield College Magazine in the autumn of 1880 in order to start British Chess Magazine in January 1881.

During the Victorian period, several schools had chess columns in their magazines at one time or another. The first in Ireland appears to have been the Rathmines School Magazine in the 1870s, with articles by Thomas Long, and later the Wesley College Quarterly had chess articles and ran chess problem composing tourneys in the 1890s.