Most of the history of Lancashire has been intertwined with the NCCU over the last 100 years, as reported in the earlier NCCU history web pages. The breakaway of a minority group in 1975 to form the Greater Manchester County Chess Association was a blow to the proud tradition of the Lancashire Chess Association. Indeed by the early-mid 1990’s there was a real threat of apathy removing Lancashire from the front line of NCCU commitment. Fortunately a mixture of new blood and past experience has allowed Lancashire to rise like a phoenix in recent years. Mike Conroy continued to lead the Open team to Open Championship dominance (excluding this, the Centenary year, but Mike vows we will be back next year!); Lancashire have won six of the nine U175 championships held in the 1990’s; The U150 title has gone to Lancashire for four of the last five seasons, and this season the team only lost on board count in the national finals; Lancashire have won the NCCU U125 championship for the last three seasons, leading to two national titles, captained by Ken McMahon and Bill O’Rourke; and this year the Lancashire U100 team got to the National finals – not bad for a team with an average age of 13 years!
Lancashire is currently a hot-bed for chess activity; 25 clubs are affiliated to the county, more than at any time. Within Lancashire 5 excellent congresses are held. The Blackpool Conference is the premier weekend congress in the county, with over 500 players during the LCA centenary in 1997. Chorley, Heywood, Preston and Rochdale also run first class congresses, and Heywood, Atherton and Leyland excellent rapidplays. The Lancashire Junior chess Organisation run five congresses per year, with attendances regularly over 200. In fact there is a real belief that Lancashire are on the threshold of another junior explosion such as seen during the Nigel Short era. A 40 page Lancashire Chess bulletin is produced every three months and is gaining recognition far and wide.
League chess is probably stronger than ever in Lancashire. Three leagues currently operate wholly within Lancashire, the East Lancashire League, the Blackpool and Flyde League and the Central Lancashire League. Clubs from these Leagues are prominent in their support of the NCCU club Championships. Indeed, the last two NCCU Open Club Champions have been won by Lancashire clubs Rochdale and Morecambe, with Crusaders also taking the NCCU Major Club Championship this year. Beyond the NCCU Centenary it is doubtful that Lancashire could be in better shape – and ready to continue as one of the leading counties within the NCCU.
More information about the LCA can be found on its website at:
A jubilant Lancashire U125 team clinching the national final in 1997