C&NWCA has its origins in the Cheshire Chess Association, formed in 1888, and the North Wales Chess Association, which was formed on 16th December 1908. The two associations merged in 1968.
Cheshire played its first full inter-county match against Yorkshire on 18th April 1896, before the NCCU was formed, Cheshire winning 13½ – 11½. Cheshire was a founder member of the NCCU in 1899, providing its first Treasurer (Mr. Rhodes Marriott). Cheshire also had the honour of contesting the first county match organised by the NCCU, against Lancashire on 26th January 1901. Lancashire was the winner 18-4. Cheshire won the NCCU Championship for the first time in 1909-10, but then not again until 1950-51, 40 years later! In all, Cheshire/C&NWCA has won the championship on 6 occasions, the most recent being 1986-87, and the Correspondence Chess Championship 4 times.
Travel was difficult in the immediate post-war period, but this did not daunt enterprising chess players. The matches against Northumberland in 1949-50 and 1950-51 were played by telephone. The Cheshire end was played at the Police Training Centre at Warrington. The photograph below is from one of these matches.
There have been some difficult times for the association, most notably following the county boundary changes in April 1974. In 1975 The Greater Manchester County Chess Association was formed, and in 1977 so was the Merseyside Chess Association. These changes removed a large number of members and affiliated clubs (and with them, finances), reducing playing strength and bringing the need to re-build the county organisation. Earlier in 1964 the county was in dispute with NCCU over the affiliation of Manchester University. The University wished to affiliate to C&NWCA rather that Lancashire, NCCU supported Lancashire, C&NWCA was threatened with expulsion and considered affiliating to the MCCU.
Better times followed. 1988 was our centenary year, and in celebration, the reigning World Champion Garry Kasparov gave a simultaneous display against 30 leading C&NWCA players in Chester in May 1989. Robert Furness and David Tebb were victorious. Richard Furness produced an excellent history of ‘The Cheshire Hundred (1888-1988)’ (from which most of this material has been gleaned).
In recent years it has been difficult to find captains and players for county teams, for which the alternative attractions of the numerous weekend congresses and rapidplay events are often blamed. Sadly it has not been possible for us to field teams in the Open and U175 competitions since 1995-96, but we keep trying and live in hope. We have at least been able to run teams in the U150, U125 and U100 competitions, where enthusiasm seems stronger, and we are able once again to enter the Correspondence Chess championship. Our juniors go on from strength to strength with the enthusiastic and energetic organisation of George Davison, and our rapidplay congresses at Frodsham and Chester continue to thrive. Our weekend congress at Llandudno has its ups and downs but continues.
Chess activity will no doubt change radically over the next 100 years and we look forward to playing our full part with the NCCU in promoting chess as the future unfolds.