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BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Britbase: British Girls' Chess in the 1920s and 1930s

Last Edited: Wednesday December 13, 2023 3:11 PM

Links: 192619271928192919301931193219331934


1926 Girls Championship

Photo: BCM, February 1926, opposite page 53

[BCM, January 1926, p22] The Girls’ championship commences at the Imperial Chess Club, 62 Brook Street, London, W., on Tuesday, January 12th [1926]. There are still one or two vacancies for this competition for the Challenge cup presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell. Competitors must be under twenty-one years of age, and entries should be sent to Mrs. Arthur Rawson, at the club address, as above.


This interesting event took place at the Imperial Chess Club, 62 Brook Street, London, from January 12th to 16th [1926]. A very handsome challenge cup had been generously provided by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell, and other prizes were added, so that none of the entrants went away empty-handed.

Directly it became known that Miss Vera Menchik, the strong Russian girl-player of Hastings, was competing, it was felt that the first holder of the cup was indicated; but the four other girls showed promising form and great keenness. Next year Miss Menchik will be over the age limit (21), so a change of ownership is assured. An amusing incident marked the opening ceremony. On presenting themselves for the first round on January 12th, the girls found no less than twenty-three press photographers in the room, and eight others came later in the day! It would indeed have been poetic justice if one of the girls had insisted on taking a picture of the photographers.

The following is the full score:

1926 Girls' Championship Residence 1 2 3 4 5  Total 
1 Vera Menchik Hastings
1 1 1 1 4
2 (Winifred) Muriel Brown Belvedere 0
1 0 1 2
3 Olga Menchik Hastings 0 0
1 1 2
4 Miss B J Spencer   0 1 0
5 Aileen Isobel Green   0 0 0 ½

The second prize was a silver goblet (also given by Lady Margaret), and a play-off was necessary to decide the winner of this. Eventually Miss Muriel Brown of Belvedere, Kent, beat Miss Olga Menchik in a good game which lasted over three hours. The non-prize-winners each received a copy of Griffith and Goldstein’s Modern Chess Openings from the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-Russell, while Mrs. Rawson gave each girl a box of chocolates at the finish.

A silver miniature replica of the cup will be retained by the winner, Miss Menchik, who wound up the proceedings by giving a simultaneous display to thirteen members of the club on Saturday afternoon, January 16th. She won 9, drew 2 and lost 2. Mr. [Enos] Green [1867-1926] and Mr. [James Henry] Brown [born 1882, Beaford, Devon], fathers respectively of two of the competitors, played in this event; the latter winning his game and thus partially avenging his daughter’s defeat.

Miss Menchik wound up a most strenuous day by fulfilling an engagement at 10-30 p.m. with the British Broadcasting Company to give the result of the tournament over the wireless!


London Girls' Championship 1927 - was held at the Imperial Chess Club, London, in January 1927.

1927 English Girls' Championship

(The above photo appeared on page 113 of BCM, March 1927)

Full names of players where known - Rita Mary Abraham Gregory (1910-2000; world women's junior champion in 1928, 1929 and 1930); Ena Florence Hazelden, from Hastings - born 1906 (so she was 20 at the time of this tournament), died 2000. in 1928 she married fellow Hastings CC chess player (William) Arthur Winser, a well-known player and coach in the area who was strong enough to have played in the Hastings Premier and the British Championship. They later divorced: she married Harvey Pendleton in 1974; Miss (Winifred) Muriel Brown (of Belvedere, Kent, 1906-1995, dau. of James Henry Brown, married Walter C Pond, 1932, Dartford, Kent, continued playing chess under her married name of Mrs Winifred Muriel Pond); Miss Aileen Isobel Green (1907-1983); Mrs Agnes Bradley Stevenson (née Lawson - see Archive 1930s for details of her tragic death in 1935); Ella Frances Rawson (a.k.a. Mrs Arthur Rawson).

Miss Olga Menchik (1908-1944); Miss Vera Menchik (1906-1944), became the second Mrs RHS Stevenson in 1937, women's world champion 1927-1944. Both the Menchik sisters, along with their mother Olga, were killed in an air raid, 26 June 1944. All three were cremated on 4 July 1944 at Streatham Park Crematorium, London SW16 (n.b. this extra info added in case anyone should be misled by the entirely spurious and misleading information given about Vera's 'grave' on the Findagrave website).

[BCM, February 1927, p67]


Two tournaments for girls under 21 years of age have recently been held. The first, which was held at the Imperial Chess Club, London, was arranged by Mrs. Arthur Rawson and was the second annual competition for the challenge cup presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell. There were 6 entries and might easily have been more as only illness and distance prevented another 3 at the last moment from attending.

The entry of Miss Vera Menchik, one of the strongest lady players in the world (who is not 21 for two months) made the first prize quite certain, but Miss Brown, who last year took second prize was quite out of practice and lost to Miss Olga Menchik, younger sister of the champion. Miss Rita Gregory, who like Miss Brown is a Kentish girl, came third and has evidently learned a good deal from her father, who plays for Woolwich Arsenal.

1927 London Girls Championship 1 2 3 4 5 6  Total 
 1  Vera Menchik
1 1 1 1 1 5
2 Olga Menchik 0
1 ½ 1 1
3 Rita Mary Abraham Gregory 0 0
1 1 1 3
4 Ena Florence Hazelden 0 ½ 0
½ 1 2
5 (Winifred) Muriel Brown 0 0 0 ½
6 Aileen Isobel Green 0 0 0 0 0

The second prize was a miniature board and set of men presented by Mrs. Rawson, while each other girl received a memento from the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-Russell consisting of either a copy of Modern Chess Openings (Griffith and Goldstein) or a pocket board.

1927 Scottish Girls Championship

1927 Scottish Girls Championship
(The above photo appeared on page 113 of BCM, March 1927)

[BCM, February 1927, p67, continued...] The other tournament was held in Edinburgh on January 6th or 7th, and was arranged by Miss [Stella Violet Aline] Malcolm with all the skill and detail which will always be expected of her after her very successful conduct of the British Chess Federation Congress in August last. Here there were four entries, the winner being Miss Mollie Weatherill (scored 5 out of 6).

Miss Jean Ritchie (daughter of the former Scottish lady champion) was second after a tie with Miss Doris Cowan.

Prizes were given by Miss Mair, LL.D. (president of the Edinburgh Ladies’ Chess Club), and Miss Malcolm; and each girl received a box of chocolates and a book on chess at the finish.


1928 Girls Championship
Photo: Daily Mirror, 10 January 1928. In the foreground, the girl on the left looks like Rita Gregory, while the girl on the right, wearing a monocle is Sheila Marie Gaunt (1909-1986, married surname de Moleyns), daughter of Australian-born Admiral Sir Ernest Gaunt (1865-1940) - see press cutting below. The 'Miss Menchik' referred to in the photo caption is Olga Menchik.

1928 Sheila Gaunt wearing a monocle
Photo: Leeds Mercury, 13 January 1928. Sheila Gaunt (1909-1986) wearing a monocle.

1928 Girls Championship
Photo: BCM, March 1928, facing page 57. Note: the year in the printed caption is wrong - should be 1928

16 January 1928, Westminster Gazette
16 January 1928, Westminster Gazette

1928 Scottish Girls' Championship

1928 Scottish Girls Chess Championship
Photo: BCM, March 1928, facing page 57.

GIRLS’ OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP. [BCM, February 1928, p69]

The Third Open Girls’ Championship was held at the Imperial Chess Club, London, from January 9th-14th [1928] and resulted in a tie between Miss Rita Gregory (Woolwich) and Miss Olga Menchik (Hastings), the former winning the title at the play off. Third and fourth prizes were shared by Miss Sheila Gaunt, daughter of Admiral Sir Ernest Gaunt and Miss Aileen Green. The Silver Cup, presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell, will be held by the Kentish girl for the year, but she will permanently keep a beautiful silver replica also provided by the generous donor.

Mr. C. Gregory, father of the winner, has played chess all his life, and has appeared for Kent and for Woolwich Arsenal Chess Club quite frequently during the last twenty years.

The second prize, won by Miss O. Menchik, was a magnetic board and men, presented by the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-Russell, and was much admired. Each girl also received a box of chocolates.

Mrs. Arthur Rawson, President of the Imperial Chess Club, presented the prizes, congratulated the girls and in a Press interview, which appeared in some of the leading papers, appealed strongly to Head Mistresses of schools to include chess in the sports curriculum.

1928 Scottish Girls' Championship [BCM, February 1928, ppn 67-68]

The second Tournament for girls under the auspices of the Edinburgh Ladies Chess Club, arranged by Miss Malcolm, Hon. Secretary, was held at the Club rooms, 4 Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, from January 4th to 7th [1928].

The winner, Miss Doris Cowie, aged 14, who tied for second place last year, made the good score of 9 games, having only lost one to Miss Betty Mason, aged 13, the second prize winner, who only began to learn last summer, her score was 7½ games.

At the presentation of prizes, which took place on Saturday morning 7th, Miss Malcolm intimated that as it was clear that the event was likely to be an annual one, and as popular in the future as in the past, it gave her much pleasure to provide a challenge cup for annual competition, as she wished to encourage girls to take up the study of Chess, and this cup might prove an incentive to friendly rivalry in the game. She wished the name of last year’s winner, Miss Mollie Weatherill, to be inscribed on the cup, so that it might be a record of this movement from its inauguration.

The Cup was then presented to Miss Doris Cowie by Mrs. Mill, Vice-President of the Club, in the absence of Miss S. E. S. Mair, L.L.D., President, who had provided a personal prize consisting of a fitted writing case. The second prize, provided by Miss Malcolm, was a wooden polished Chess board and weighted set of Chessmen, All the competitors also received boxes of chocolates provided by Mrs. Mill.

The following is the full score1 :—

1928 Scottish Girls Championship School, age 1 2 3 4 5 6  Total 
 1  Doris Cowie Queen St School, aged 14
1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9
2 Betty Mason St Orans, 13 0 1
3 Kate Young Craigmount, 18 0 0  
4 Molly Weatherill Craigmount, 15 0 0    
5 Jean Ritchie St George's, 14 0 0      
6 Doris Simpson St George's, 14 0 0        

1 BCM gives what purports to be a crosstable of the 1928 Scottish girls' championship but it doesn't show clearly who beat whom. Schools and ages have been added from newspaper reports.


[BCM, February 1929, p55]

The Fourth Annual Girls’ Championship was held at the Imperial Chess Club on the first five days of 1929. There were eight entries, seven being new to the competition, but the eighth was the holder, Miss Rita Gregory, who succeeded in retaining her title after some very hard play. Her chief competitor was Miss Hilda Ryan from the neighbouring club of Eltham, and a play off was necessary before Miss Gregory, who plays for Woolwich Arsenal Chess Club, won the cup for the second time.

1929 Girls Championship
Photo: Daily Mirror, 2 January 1929

Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell again presented a silver replica of her handsome challenge cup for the winner to keep, and the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-Russell gave each girl a copy of Modern Chess Openings and a dainty box of chocolates to sweeten it with.

The special prize given by Major C. H. Chepmell was won by Miss Hilda Ryan.

The third girl, Miss Hilda Cole, is the daughter of the well-known player, H. H. Cole, who makes a welcome re-appearance after twenty years’ absence from the game. She has only been playing chess for a year, and her effort in this tournament was distinctly good.

1929 British Girls Championship Residence 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  Total 
 1  Rita Mary Abraham Gregory1 Woolwich, aged 18
½ 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Hilda Ryan Eltham ½
1 1 1 1 1 1
3 Hilda Yvonne Cole2 (later Pattison)   0 0
½ 1 1 1 1
4 Heather Scott   0 0 ½
0 1 1 1
5 Pat Dalby   0 0 0 1
1 ½ 1
6 Cecile Marie (Cissie) Larthe (later Hirsch)   0 0 0 0 0
1 1 2
7 Vera M Beardow (later Thomas)   0 0 0 0 ½ 0
8 Jeanne Lucia Wall (later Dossi)   0 0 0 0 0 0 0

1 Rita Gregory took the title after a play-off with Hilda Ryan. Rita Mary Abraham Gregory (8 September 1910 - 2nd qtr of 2000)
2 Hilda Yvonne Cole married John Henry Pattison, Kingswood, Surrey, 20 August 1931. She was the daughter of Henry Holwell Cole. She was aged 20 at the time of her marriage and her husband a 43-year-old widower. She died in 1994 (St Albans, Herts).

1929 Scottish Girls Championship

[The Scotsman - Monday 07 January 1929]


The annual tournament, under the auspices of the Edinburgh Ladies Chess Club, for the cup presented by Miss Malcolm last year for competition amongst Scottish girls was held at the Ladies Club rooms during Thursday, Friday and Saturday [3-5 January 1929].

The entry, six. was smaller than was anticipated, and the absence of Miss Weatherill, and Miss Young, robbed the competition of considerable interest. Miss Mason, last year's runner-np, looked like winning the cup until in the last round she lost her game against the winner.

Miss Jean Ritchie, who though somewhat fortunate in obtaining a draw from Miss Cowie otherwise deserved the honour of holding the cup for the year.

A table giving full score and results is appended. The cup and prizes are to be presented this afternoon, at the Ladies C.C., 4 Melville Crescent.

1929 Scottish Girls Championship 1 2 3 4 5 6  Total 
 1  Jean Ritchie
1 1 ½ 1 1
2 Betty Mason 0
1 1 1 1 4
3 Verna Ellingsen 0 0
1 1 1 3
4 Doris Cowie ½ 0 0
1 1
5 Jean Ellis 0 0 0 0
1 1
6 Helen Logan 0 0 0 0 0

[Linlithgowshire Gazette - Friday 25 January 1929] "In the rooms of Edinburgh Ladies' Chess Club, Miss S. Mair, president, presented the challenge trophy and prizes in the recent tournament arranged for girls under 20. In congratulating the winner, Miss Jean Ritchie (4½ points), and the runner-up, Miss Betty Mason (4 points), Miss Mair pointed out that the Ladies’ Club was the only club in Scotland which encouraged and ran tournaments for young people. The president also remarked that chess was more than a sociable game—it was an occupation—and could be played as well at 80 as at 18."


THE GIRLS’ CHAMPIONSHIP [BCM, February 1930, ppn 74-75]

The Girls’ Chess Congress held its annual meeting at the Imperial Chess Club during the mornings of January 1st—4th. The efforts of Mrs. A. Rawson and Lady Margaret Hamilton Russell attracted no less than twenty entries, of whom only two were considered sufficiently experienced to play for the Championship Cup presented by the latter in 1926. The other eighteen, whose ages ranged from 18 to 11, were divided into three equal sections, each of which played a double-round American Tournament, characterised mainly by lightning play, especially in Sections II and III, which contained the younger competitors.


Girls Chess
Photo: BCM, February 1930, p74

The principal event was reduced to a match of 4 games between Miss Rita Gregory, the holder, and Miss Hilda Ryan, who lost to her last year after a tie. The first game was not played till January 2nd, when Miss Gregory, defending a Queen’s opening, won a piece at an early stage and soon forced a win. The second game, on the Friday, was a Sicilian defended by Miss Ryan, who appeared to have a good game but soon lost a Pawn. Miss Gregory then skilfully developed a strong attack on the Queen’s side, where Black has castled. After 3 hours’ play the game was adjourned, and won the next day by Miss Gregory, who thus required only one drawn game to win the match.

The third game resulted in a win for Miss Ryan, but Miss Rita Gregory won the 4th game and, therefore, the match by 3—1 and she remains the holder of the 'Lady Hamilton Russell' cup for another year. This is her second successive victory and as she is still eligible to compete may still further improve her excellent record. She is a member of the Royal Arsenal Chess Club, Kent.

1930 British Girls Championship  1   2   3   4   Total 
 1  Rita Mary Abraham Gregory 1 1 0 1 3
2 Hilda Annie Ryan 0 0 1 0 1

In the Secondary Tournament, Section I fell to Vera Shearman, 7 out of 8, after a tie with V. Beardow. Neither of these played Honor Bullen, who won 5 out of 6, but was absent one day. Irma Branca won all her 8 games in Section II, Ena Shearman being second with 5½. In Section III Hilda Wyatt scored 7 out of 8, Mary Bleach and Muriel Ballard tying for second with 5. All three section winners and most of the other prize-winners, were members of the Oratory Central School, Chelsea.


Girls' Chess in the 1930s
Photo: BCM, February 1930, p75

The play-off between the section-winners was decided by a single-round American Tournament. Vera Shearman, winning both her games, took first prize, Hilda Wyatt the second, and Irma Branca the third. No less than 14 of the 20 competitors received prizes, given away by Mrs. Rawson, while the others received consolation Prizes. The "Mystery Prize" awarded to R. J. Pocock caused much speculation and amusement. C. D. Locock acted as manager.

1930 Rita Gregory vs Hilda Ryan play-off
Photo: Australian Women's Mirror, 29 April 1930

The writer hopes that this Secondary Tournament may develop next year into a Junior Girls’ Championship, say for those under seventeen. This would serve to feed the senior competition, which is at present short of members. C.D.L. [Charles Dealtry Locock]


1931 Honor Bullen1931 Honor Bullen
Photo (left): Australian Women's Mirror, 17 March 1931, p20; (right) The Sphere, 10 January 1931, p67

Honor Rosemary Evelyn Bullen (born 12 March 1914 – 27 December 2007) won the British Girls' Tournament in 1931 and 1932. She was also a successful competition tennis player and umpire. She lived at an address in Putney as of 1976 and later married someone surnamed Quy.

[BCM, February 1931, p72]

The Girls’ Championship

The annual competition for the Challenge Cup presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell in 1926 was held again at the Imperial Chess Club on the mornings of December 30th—January 2nd [1931]. Last year the contest had resolved itself into a duel between Miss Rita Gregory, the holder, and Miss Hilda Ryan, neither of whom could find time to play this year. Miss Hilda Cole was also a regrettable absentee. Six entries were, however, secured with some difficulty. Two were quite beginners, and one of these did not arrive. Probably the favourite was Miss Honor Bullen, with Miss Vera Beardow, who played in the competition two years ago, and tied for first place in one of the sections of the Secondary Tournament last year, fancied for second place. But after Miss Bullen had won 7 games out of 8, Miss Irene Casserley won her last two games and tied for first place, Miss Beardow being third, Miss Ita D’Arcy fourth, and Miss Joan Bennett fifth. In the play-off for the Cup and replica Miss Bullen beat Miss Casserley by two games to love, after a severe and interesting struggle in which both players made serious blunders. Both of these players are still under 17, and the standard of play was naturally not up to that of last year. But Miss Bullen especially should improve rapidly, since she has the rare gift of remembering what she is taught.

1931 British Girls Championship 1 2 3 4 5  Total 
 1  Honor Rosemary Evelyn Bullen (later Quy)
1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 7
2 Irene Cecily Olga Casserley 0 1
1 1 1 1 1 1 7
3 Vera M Beardow (later Thomas) 0 0 0 0
4 Ita M D'Arcy1 0 0 0 0  
5 Joan Bennett 0 0 0 0    

1 Ita M D'Arcy (9 January 1910 - 1984). By an astonishing coincidence, which I have only just discovered, she was my infants class teacher when I first went to school in Loudwater, Buckinghamshire, in January 1958 - JS, 27 April 2023. Photo of Ita D'Arcy on Flickr.

1931 Play-Off Match  1   2   Total 
 1  Honor Rosemary Evelyn Bullen (later Quy) 1 1 2
2 Irene Cecily Olga Casserley 0 0 0

The Secondary Tournament of last year gave place to a competition for the Junior Challenge Cup for girls under 16, presented by Mrs. Arthur Rawson. The entries numbered 18—the same as last year—and were divided into two sections. But since two of the players in one of the sections failed to appear, it was found possible to play a double-round competition in that section. Here Patsy Kemp (not yet 14) scored 10 games out of 12, as against ½ out of 10 last year, a most striking improvement, for which she was awarded a special prize. Josephine Dalliard and Ellen Broom were equal second. But for losing her last two games by default the latter might have tied for first place. Edith Davey was fourth.

In the other section Muriel Ballard (6 out of 8) was first, closely followed by Sheila Banfield with 5½. Jessica Lamb and Barbara Titchener being the next two. In the play-off between the section-winners Muriel Ballard defeated Patsy Kemp by 2 games to 1, and thus became the first holder of the Junior Cup and winner of the silver medal. Many of these girls will improve greatly when they are old enough to play more slowly.

The prize-giving took place on the Saturday, when the Challenge Cups were presented by the donors. C. D. Locock again acted as manager and Mrs. Rawson attended to the other needs of the players.—C.D.L. [Charles Dealtry Locock]


GIRLS’ CHESS CONGRESS [BCM, March 1932, ppn 107-108 - no photo]

This was held on the afternoons of January 23, 24, 30, and February 6 [1932]. Hitherto it had taken place on three or four consecutive mornings. The alterations in date had a twofold object. Firstly, girls engaged in business were able to play on Saturday afternoons; and secondly, the tournaments being held in term time, instead of in the Christmas holidays, pupils at boarding schools near London, most of whom are away in the country for their holidays, were also available. The result was a record entry of twenty-seven. The difficulty was in the finding of a place to play in, since neither the Imperial Chess Club nor the Empire Social Chess Club were available on Saturday afternoons. This difficulty was quickly overcome by the kind offer of the Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell to lend her house at 3 Cambridge Gate for the whole congress, an offer which included the provision of tea for all competitors and visitors. Play took place from 2 to 6-30 each day. The arrangements were ideal, every detail having been thought out and provided.

For the Girls’ Championship and Challenge Cup there were seven entries, including Miss Honor Bullen, the holder. Her most dangerous rival was clearly Mrs. J. H. Pattison—better known till recently as Miss Hilda Cole [BCM misprints her married name as "Mrs G. H. Pattison"]. As it happened they did not meet till the last round, when both had a clean score, though Miss Bullen had an adjourned game to finish. Mrs. Pattison had the better position and won a Pawn, but a subsequent miscalculation cost her a piece and the game. Miss Bullen afterwards won her adjourned game against Miss Ballard, who had been a pawn ahead at the adjournment. Neither Miss Ballard nor Miss Casserley, last year's runner-up, had kept in practice since leaving school. Consequently, their play, though slower than last year, did not save them from many fatal oversights. Both succumbed to Miss Esmé Meade, late of Allenswood, who took the third prize with a score of 3½, Miss Casserley being 2½, Miss Ballard 2, Miss D’Arcy 1½, and Miss K. Keller, also of Allenswood ½. The latter gave Mrs. Pattison considerable trouble, and should make a good player if she perseveres. On the whole the quality of the play was better than last year; Mrs. Pattison’s performance in the Women’s Tournament in the following fortnight is alone proof of this.

1932 British Girls Under-21 Championship Resid/School 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  Total 
 1  Honor Rosemary Evelyn Bullen (later Quy)  
1 1 1 1 1 1 6
2 Mrs Hilda Yvonne Pattison (née Cole)   0
1 1 1 1 1 5
3 Esmé Mary Meade ex-Allenswood 0 0
1 1 ½ 1
4 Irene Cecily Olga Casserley   0 0 0
1 1 ½
5 Muriel Ballard   0 0 0 0
1 1 2
6 Ita M D'Arcy   0 0 ½ 0 0
7 K Keller Allenswood 0 0 0 ½ 0 0

The twenty entries for the Junior Cup (under 16) were divided into two sections. In Section I, Josephine Dalliard, who had won all her eight games in the under 15 competition last Easter, was the favourite, and this time she won eight out of nine, losing only to Anna Fabbi. Joan Mitchley, another member of the Oratory School, tied for second place with Renée Withers of St. Vincent’s, Westminster, who had only played for two months, and is clearly one of the coming players. Each of these scored 7. Sheila Banfield was 6, and Nellie Casanova and Penelope Otto (the best of the Allenswood juniors) 5 each. Section II was unfortunate. Two competitors were not well enough to come, and two others became ill during the tournament and their scores had to be cancelled. Eileen Wadley won all her 3 games, Peggy Marshall and Barbara Titchener, both also of the Oratory School, being second with 3 each. In the play-off Josephine Dalliard defeated Eileen Wadley by 2 games to 0. By far the most promising player in this section was Barbara Bairnsfather, aged 9, but she failed to do herself justice and lost 3 games. She should be the first to break down the monopoly which the Oratory School has hitherto held in this competition.

The prizes were given away on February 6 by Mrs. Arthur Rawson. Mr. Locock again acted as manager. C. D. L. [Charles Dealtry Locock]


8th Girls’ Chess Congress 1933

[BCM, February 1933, p65]

The 8th Girls’ Chess Congress finished on January 21 [1933], and as usual provided an enjoyable time for all concerned. The standard of play improves every year, and double rounds were played in both Senior and Junior Sections.

The Girls’ Championship Cup has been accepted by the F.I.D.E., and the championship is conducted in accordance with the wishes of the Federation. The winner is recognised as Girl Chess Champion of the World.

Entries have been well maintained. As against seven in 1932, there were six this year, but one competitor failed through illness and another because the date fixed for the contest was after the termination of the holidays, and two others did not enter for the same reason.

Illness, and particularly the prevalent ’flu, also interfered with the Junior Cup Competition, and the original good entry dwindled down to eight, and eventually only six finished their games. The contests, however, lost nothing in interest and enthusiasm.

A new-comer (unfortunately for one year only) was a young Swiss girl 20 years of age, Miss Edith Zimmermann, who was inspired to enter forty-eight hours before the commencement of the Championship Tournament, although up to that time she did not even know the moves. Nevertheless she succeeded in winning one game against Miss Irene Casserley, and in making a very good fight in most of the others. She is far-sighted, clear-headed and, considering her very limited experience, seldom makes bad oversights. She should go far.

Miss Honor Bullen proved undefeatable in the Championship, and again, as last year, won all her games, 6 points, thus equalling Miss Rita Gregory’s record on winning in three successive years—a triumphal progress of which she has reason to be proud. All offer her their warmest congratulations on a fine and popular win. Irene Casserley was second with 3 points, and Muriel Ballard third with 2.

The Junior Girls’ Challenge Cup, presented by Mrs. Arthur Rawson in 1931, was also competed for, and was won "hands down" by Miss Renée Withers, quite one of the most promising of all these young players. She has only played chess for 14 or 15 months, but tied in 1932 for second place for this Cup, and has this year come through with flying colours—winning 9 out of 10 games in a manner most devastating to her opponents. From all appearances she must have worked hard, as her game has become steady and settled, and she plays with enviable coolness and foresight, and is a quiet and generous player. Altogether she richly deserves her splendid success. Eileen Wadley and Eileen O’Dell tied for second place with 5½, and Gladys was fourth with 5 points.

The promoters and competitors offer the committee of the Imperial Chess Club, 62 Brook Street, London, W.1, their most grateful thanks for so kindly allowing the play to take place at the Club. Several prizes were offered through the generosity of the members, who subscribed to the Prize Fund, and boxes of chocolates presented to all non-winners of prizes.

The Championship Cup carries with it a small replica, presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell, and the Junior Cup a silver medal given by Mrs. Arthur Rawson.

1933 Honor Bullen
Photo: Daily Mirror, 23 January 1933, p12

1933 British Girls Under-21 Championship Resid/School 1 2 3 4  Total 
 1  Honor Rosemary Evelyn Bullen (later Quy)  
1 1 1 1 1 1 6
2 Irene Cecily Olga Casserley   0 0
1 1 1 0 3
3 Muriel Ballard   0 0 0 0
1 1 2
4 Edith Zimmermann Switzerland 0 0 0 1 0 0

[BCM, February 1933, p65, continued...)

Previous winners of the Girls’ Open Championship are :—

1926 Miss Vera Menchik. 1930 Miss Rita Gregory.

1927 Miss Vera Menchik. 1931 Miss Honor Bullen.

1928 Miss Rita Gregory. 1932 Miss Honor Bullen.

1929 Miss Rita Gregory. 1933 Miss Honor Bullen.

[written by] M.R.H.R. [in all probability, Margaret Rachel Hamilton-Russell - Wikipedia, photo at BritBase]

[The Times, 23 January 1933]

The Girls' Tournament, which has been somewhat interfered with by influenza, has now been finished. Yesterday the prizes were presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell at her residence in Cambridge Gate, N.W. The Girls' Open Championship, carrying with it the world title, has again been won by Miss Honor Bullen, who thus wins the event for the third time. The final scores were:—Miss Honor Bullen, 6 points; Miss Irene Casserley, 3; Miss Muriel Ballard, 2; Miss Edith Zimmerman, 1.

In the junior section the final scores were: — Miss Renée Withers, 9 points; Miss Eileen O’Dell and Miss Eileen Wadley, 5½ each; Miss Gladys Kay, 5; Miss Margaret Belson, 3; Miss Barbara Bairnsfather, 2.

In both sections the girls played two games with each other.


9th Annual Girls' Chess Tournament 1934

(BCM, March 1934, p109)

1934 English Girls Championship

"The Girls’ 9th Annual Chess Tournament.—Through the kind hospitality of Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell, a cheerful and happy afternoon was spent at 3 Cambridge Gate on Sunday, February 4, when the girl chess competitors received their prizes. The silver gilt cup (including replica) presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell for the F.I.D.E. championship for girls of any nationality under 21 years of age was won by Miss Muriel Ballard. The silver cup (including medal) presented by Mrs. Arthur Rawson for girls under 16 was won by Miss Beatrice Walsh. Other prizes were awarded, and unsuccessful competitors were consoled by receiving a box of chocolates. Miss Elaine Saunders, aged 8 years, played remarkably well, and has become a member of The Imperial Chess Club, 62 Brook Street, Grosvenor Square, W.1."

[BCM, February 1934, ppn 58-59]


The Girls’ Open Chess Championship, and the competition for the Junior Girls’ Challenge Cup, which began on January 6 [1934], were brought to a successful conclusion on Saturday, January 13.

The competitors in the Championship numbered only three this year, while there was an unusually large entry for the Junior Cup. This is chiefly accounted for by the fact that several former competitors in the Championship are now over age, while there is a large number of players under 16, still eligible for the Junior competition, who will shortly be moving up into the higher class.

Regrets were expressed on all sides at the absence of Miss Honor Bullen, the winner in 1931-2-3. Although Miss Bullen is still eligible for the blue ribbon of Girls’ Chess, she writes that she is now too busy to keep up the game, and has in fact completely given it up. This is indeed bad news, for she is a fine player, and it is to be hoped that she will think better of it, and take it up again in the near future. Miss Bullen kindly sent a beautiful prize to be competed for in this year’s Congress.


1934 British Girls Under-21 Championship  Total 
 1  Muriel Ballard 5
2 Renée Withers 5
3 Irene Cecily Olga Casserley 2

n.b. each of the three players played each other four times.

1934 Play-Off (Best of Three)  1   2   Total 
 1  Muriel Ballard 1 1 2
2 Renée Withers 0 0 2

The new champion is Miss Muriel Ballard, who gained third place last year, and all Miss Ballard’s friends are delighted at her well-earned success. She made a very good fight against Miss Fatima in the simultaneous display on November 11, by the two British Empire Champions, and though it is not easy for young girls as they grow up, to keep their chess going, she seems to have succeeded in doing this to a useful extent, and has kept her standard high.

The runner-up was Miss Renée Withers. She and Miss Ballard tied with 5 points each, and in playing off, Miss Ballard won the first two games which, being the best of three, gave her the coveted laurels. Miss Renée Withers’ performance was extremely creditable seeing it is her first year in the championship rank, though as she was the easy winner of the Junior Cup last year, it is not so surprising.

Miss Irene Casserley, being rather out of practice, did not do herself justice, and only secured third place.

1934 British Junior Girls Challenge A  Total 
 1  Beatrice Walsh 12½
2 Hilda Norris 11
3 Gladys Kay 11
4 Eileen O'Dell 10
5 Margaret Gurney
6 Irene Clark 8
7 Elizabeth Mobbs
8 Irene Manley 3
9 Peggy Northwood 0
1934 British Junior Girls Challenge B  Total 
 1-2  Aurora Tasselli 8
1-2 Elaine Saunders 8
3 Margaret Belson
4 Mary Clouter 4
5 Barbara Bairnsfather
6 Annie Beckett 2
1934 Challenge B Play-Off  Total 
 1  Aurora D Tasselli1 won
2 Elaine Saunders lost

1 Aurora D Tasselli (1919-1939 - see below for a press cutting reporting her tragic death in an air crash)

1934 Junior Challenge Play-Off  Total 
 1  Beatrice Walsh 2
2 Aurora D Tasselli 1

There were 17 entries for the Junior Cup, amongst them many players who have had two or three years’ experience, but several are new-comers.

Amongst the latter, those who specially stand out are the eventual winner, Beatrice Walsh, of Section A, and the two who tied with each other in Section B for the honour of playing in the final with Miss Walsh—namely, Aurora Tasselli and Elaine Saunders.

Aurora Tasselli defeated Elaine, but perhaps this was to be expected, as she has the advantage in age by about six years.

Elaine Saunders, competing with girls nearly double her age, put up a truly remarkable performance. Her eighth birthday occurred on the second day of the Congress, yet she plays with the utmost confidence and coolness, and thinks long and deeply over each move—neither is she the least bit put out if she loses a game or over-elated if she wins. All this, despite the fact that she can scarcely be said to get more than a fore-shortened view of the board, and would do no better were she to stand, since, seated, her feet are very far from reaching the ground. If she does not become a great player one day, it will very much surprise those who have been watching her methods and notable results.

The presentation of the prizes will take place on Sunday, February 4.

The thanks of the competitors and of the Girls’ Chess committee are gratefully tendered to the Imperial Chess Club committee for their kindness in allowing the games to be played at the club, 62 Brook Street, W.1. M.R.H.-R. [Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell?]

Aurora D Tasselli (1919-1939)

1939 Aurora Tasselli
Photo: Daily Mirror, 10 May 1939. Aurora D Tasselli finished second to Beatrice Walsh in the 1934 British Girls Junior Chess Challenge

[BCM, May 1934, ppn 195-196]


The fourth annual competitions for girls under 18 and under 15—the second for the present Cups and Medals—took place on the afternoons of March 17, 18 and 24 [1934], at the Oratory Central School, Chelsea, by kind permission of the School Managers and the Headmistress, who not only lent the school dining-hall for the tournament but also provided most excellent teas each day for all competitors and visitors.

The number of entries was ideal—4 and 16—the seniors playing a double-round tournament and the juniors being divided into two sections.

Eileen O’Dell, the holder of the Junior Cup, was still eligible for that event, but sportingly entered for the Senior Cup to assist Gladys Kay in repelling the "foreign" invasion. As it happened, the latter was quite able to look after herself, since the more dangerous of the two "outsiders," after being an hour late on the first day, on which she lost two games to Gladys Kay, failed to appear again (and will not appear in the list of entries next year). In the circumstances results were calculated on the percentage of all games actually played, Gladys Kay (15) being easily first with 5½ out of 6, and Eileen O’Dell (14) second with 1½ out of 5. These two played the best game in the tournament, a long drawn game of some 60 moves, of which the first 40 moves, and probably the rest—were free from anything that could be called a blunder.

Five competitors from the Fulham Central School—three others were unfortunately unable to enter—all chanced to be drawn in Section 1. They created a mild sensation by playing throughout in handcuffs, an example which Eileen O’Dell decided to follow in the game mentioned above. Enquiries as to the reason merely evoked the reply that they "found they played better like that"—which indeed was the case. Though hardly more than beginners, they averaged 3 games each out of 7, and the youngest of them, Aileen Woollacott, came out second with 4½, Aurora Tasselli winning the Section with 6.

Section 2 was appreciably stronger, though three of the Oratory girls proved to be little more than cannon-fodder. Hilda Norris and Mary Clouter went off with the lead, each winning 6 games on end. When the two met in the last round Mary Clouter, who is only reserve in the Oratory School Eight, was the winner. Hilda Norris was of course second, and Beatrice Walsh, the holder of the Under 16 Cup, tied for third place (4 games each) with Margaret Gurney and Elaine Saunders. In playing off the tie the latter, who is only 8¼, defeated the other two and so qualified to play Irene Clark for the fifth prize, which, after a prolonged struggle, resulting in a game to each, was converted into cash and divided. The usual intersections match decided the order of the prizes. At board 1 Mary Clouter beat Aurora Tasselli by 1½ to ½, and so won the Cup, while at board 2 Hilda Norris defeated Aileen Woollacott by 2 to 0, thus taking the third prize, and her opponent the fourth.

The Headmistress presided at the prize-giving, when Muriel Ballard, the girl-champion and previous holder of the Under 18 Cup, and Eileen O’Dell handed over their Cups to their successors. A gift of flowers to the Headmistress concluded the ceremony.

Thus the Oratory School still holds all the four Challenge Cups for girls; but since their best juniors will be over age next year, the Junior Cup—unless adequate successors can be discovered—looks like falling into the hands of Elaine Saunders or Aileen Woollacott next year. C.D.L. [Charles Dealtry Locock]

Main sources: BCM; CHESS Magazine; British Newspaper Archive; Chess Scotland Biography Pages; article on women's chess in Scotland; Ancestry/FindMyPast websites

File Updated

Date Notes
1990s? Data first added to this page
27 April 2023 Turned into a page exclusively covering British girls' championships of the 1920s and 1930s.
15 October 2023 Added some data relating to (Winifred) Muriel Brown and Aileen Isobel Green, resulting from a discussion on the English Chess Forum between Chris Kreuzer, Jon D'Souza-Eva and John Townsend, to whom many thanks.


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