1903 and 1904 – The early days of the BCF

Alongside Yorkshire (current setup founded 1896) who had a checkered history as did Lancashire (current setup founded 1897), several county associations were formed in the latter part of the 19th century including Cheshire (1888), Cumberland (1884), Essex (1898), Hampshire (1890), Kent (1889), Staffordshire (1897), Surrey (1893) and Sussex (1882). At the turn of the century these were followed by Warwickshire in 1900, Hertfordshire (1901) and Cornwall (1902). The County Unions were formed towards the end of the century. The NCCU (in 1899), the SCCU (in 1892) and the MCCU (in 1897).

Talk turned once again to forming a robust national federation. in 1902 the LCA meeting in July urged the NCCU to renew efforts with other county unions to create a national body. Eventually, in May 1904, the BCF was formally established.

In the meantime, the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire continued. In 1903, Lancashire and Yorkshire met for their 12th match, this time it was the 1st round of the NCCU championship and took place at the Victoria Hotel in Bradford. This grandiose setting was also the venue for the very first meeting between Lancashire and Yorkshire in 1871. (Photo by John Yeadon, further details Bradford Victoria Hotel).

Lancashire ran out winners 14.5 – 10.5, and scored another victory over the White Rose county. Of of the 12 matches to date, Lancashire had won 9 of the matches. The score stood at 9 victories, 1 drawn, and 2 losses. Yorkshire would eventually fight back, but that story is for another day.

Taken from the Bradford Observer, we have an insight into those early games from the table below. The first match was an agreed draw, due to 9 undecided games when play had to end and no adjudications in place.


The featured game we have from this match was the short game between WG North (White, Yorkshire) and HV Crane (Black, Lancashire). An enterprising Four Knights, Italian Variation, Noa Gambit. A line that these days is known to favour Black.

By Chess-Coach

A chess player for over 40 years, I have volunteered with Lancashire Chess Association for over 30 years. Have held several posts in that time, Treasurer, Junior Organiser, Junior Team Manager, Junior Team Coach, Web Author. I have managed the Lancashire Chess Association websites since 1997.