Houlding, Herring and Sidney

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Mrs. Mary Mills Houlding was born in England, but moved to Australia as a child. According to the 1958 Australia Encyclopedia, Mr. Houlding "lived most of her life at Wagga Wagga NSW When 60 years of age she returned to England and won the British women's championship three times."


Mrs. Sydney and "tiny" Mrs. Houlding
(BCM 1913)

Actually she returned to Newport Wales in 1899 at age 49 with her husband, H. M.Houlding.
          Syndey Daily Telegraph, Nov. 4, 1899
          Australians in England - Mr. and Mrs. Houlding, late of Narrandera,
          N.S.W., are now settled at Newport, Monmouthshire, where they
          have been cordially welcomed in chess circles.  Mrs. Houlding was
          challenged Miss Rudge, the English lady champion,, who resides at
          Bristol, and should the match eventuate, it is believed that the lady
          champion of N.S.W. will have a good prospect of winning.

She did win the British Ladies Chess Championship 3 times out of the 21 times she participated, 1910, 1911 and 1914. Obviously she was relatively old (in her 60s) when she accomplished all this.  The BMC in 1973 mentions that her third win of the British Ladies Chess Championship, at age 64, was accomplished with 10 wins and only 1 loss.  Her husband died in 1917.  She was a member of the Newport and County Chess Club, winning the championship of that predominantly male club in 1922 and 1928, the last time at age 78. She died on Feb. 19, 1940.
With all he chess achievements, what's considered of of her main ones is that, while women at that time weren't allowed to play in chess tournaments in Austrailia,  she taught the future Australian champion, Spencer Crakanthorp, the game of chess around 1892. Spencer was also the father-in-law of Cecil Purdy who gave us the folowing game by Mrs. Houlding:

A game from her Australian days:

Mrs. Frances Dunn Herring won her first British Ladies' Championship at Shrewsbury in 1906, after which the BCM wrote:
Mrs. Herring plays very steady thoughtful chess, and her victory was very popular.  She has competed in all the three Federation tournaments.  At Hastings, she tird with Mrs/ Anderson for second prize, with a score of 7½ points.  Last year at Southport, she won fourth prize, with a score of 7½ points.  She cometed in the Second Class Open Tournament of the Kent Association at Tunbridge Wells in 1902 and divided second prize with Mr. W. P. MacBean (London) and Mr. H. Ward, of Croydon.  Mrs. Herring achieved rank as a first class player of the county of Sussex by her success in winning the West Sussex Queen Trophy.  Previous to this success Mrs. Herring won the Sussex Ladies' Championship contest three years in succession.  We believe her first experience of public play was gained in Brighton chess circles some ten years ago.
(Mrs. Herring at the 1902 Norwich Congress - from the 1902 BCM)

After she won it the next year, the BCM wrote:

The Ladies' Championship produced a keen contest. Many of the competitors appear annually in this tournament, and as their relative  strength is well known, it was judged that there would be a race for premier honours between Mrs. Herring, the present champion, and Mrs.  Anderson, with Mrs. Houlding somewhere in the vicinity. This is not quite what happened, though near it. Mrs. Herring held the lead till the  eighth round, when Mrs. Anderson displaced her; but Mrs. Houlding, who defeated both these ladies and Mrs. Bowles in the last three  rounds, brought her score to 8 points, which could only be equalled by the lady champion defeating Miss Lawson. After a prolonged  contest, Mrs. Herring secured the point and tied with Mrs. Houlding for first and second prizes. A short match will be arranged to decide the  possession of the title and trophy. Mrs. Anderson followed the winner closely, with the score of 6½.

. . . and . . .

During these displays the final rounds in the Sussex county competitions were played. Mr. E. G. Reed, the past holder, again won the  Sussex championship; Mrs. Sidney wrested the ladies' championship from Mrs. Herring, the present holder, and who is the British ladies'  champion. For the East Sussex Queen, qualifying the winner as a first-class county player, Mr. T. R. Kirkpatrick, Mr. E. R. Willitt, and Mr. G.  Womersley tied, and will have to play off.


With Mrs Sidney the peculiar curiosity exists that no one seems able to agree on the spelling of her last name or exactly what her name should be.  The capation from the second photo from the top of this page (from the BCM 1913) refers to her as Mrs. Sydney, as do several BCM articles throughout the years. But the above photo and caption comes from no less an authority than Rhoda A. Bowles and her Womanhood chess column.
According to Richard James (of The Complete Chess Addict fame), Mrs. Sidney was both Eliza (possibly short for Elizabeth, a name she would later use) Truelove in 1853 and in 1883 she married a surveyor/architect named Paul Sidney who was 28 years older than she.  Eventually she would be known as Elizabeth  Helen Sidney. Her husband died in 1914 at the ripe old age of 89  leaving the youthful (61 years old) Mrs. Sidney to play chess.

Womanhood in 1901 further tells us:
In the Ladies'Championship for theCounty of Sussex, Mrs. Sidney, the well known Brighton player, who won last year, repeated her victory, and retained the title. The final tussle was with Mrs. Arthur Smith, an accomplished player, also of Brighton, who, however, only succeeded in drawing one game out of three played. Mrs. Sidney has been one of the strongest lady players in the country for many years, and will be remembered as a competitor in the Ladies' International Congress 1897. She is very strong in match play, seldom losing, and has been particularly successful against the Masters in simultaneous play, having scored against both Dr. Lasker and Mr. Blackburne.
Unlike Mrs. Herring who won the British Ladies' title twice, or Mrs. Houlding and Mrs. Anderson both who won won it thrice, Mrs. Sidney never won the title. However, in 1901 she won the West Sussex County Championship; in 1902 she beat out Mrs. Herring (and Mrs. Holloway, another future British champion) for the same championship; in 1903, she drew with Mrs. Herring for the title and in 1907, she beat out Mrs. Herring once again - at this time Mrs. Herring was the British Ladies' champion. (Mrs. Herring held the West Sussex title in 1904 and 1905.)

Mrs. Sidney was a long-time member and supporter of the Brighton and Hove Chess Club. The Brighton and Hove Club history contends that the championship trophy, inscribed with all the names of its winners from 1899 to 1938 was first presented by Mrs. E. H. Sidney. Mrs. Sidney won the trophy herself in 1922, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930, and 1934 (at age 81).  The history also informs us that Mrs. Sidney established the Brighton and Hove Boys’ Championship in 1922 for which she supplied the trophy (it also seems to have lasted only until 1925). Furthermore, we are told that Mrs. Sidney donated £150, a substantial sum in those days, to entice the British Chess Federation to hold its Congress in Brighton for the first time.
A story is told that Mrs. Sidney had a pet dog named Mick or Mr. Mick, also referred to as Monseiur le Chien, that accompanied her everywhere.  Since there had been complaints that her dog violated the "no pets allowed" rule at the chess club, Monsieur le Chien became a paying member to circumvent the rule.

Mrs. Sidney died around 1939-40 leaving behind a great legacy.
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