Yorkshire Chess History

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Narrative: 8) The British Chess Association is Born











Made in Yorkshire



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The next meeting was to have been at Birmingham in 1856, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen and was postponed to 1857, and since there was an Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester that year, it was decided to hold the next meeting in Manchester in 1857.  In drawing up the notices of the meeting, the Manchester Chess Club decided to drop the “Northern & Midlands Counties” prefix, and advertised the event as the fourth meeting of the “Chess Association”.  This change in name was not to extend the scope of the organisation, but to recognise what it had already become, a nationwide chess association.  This meeting was held at Manchester from 5th to 8th August 1857.


The fifth meeting of the Chess Association, taking the N&MCCA meeting of 1853 as the first, was held at Birmingham from 24th to 27th August 1858.


The next meeting should have taken place in Worcester, but it didn’t come to pass, so the sixth meeting of the Chess Association was held at Cambridge from 28th to 31st August 1859.  This was one of the least successful meetings, highlighting the dangers of relying on the abilities of a local club to organise the event.


The seventh meeting of the Chess Association was held in Bristol from 10th to 14th September 1860.


The next meeting of what was the direct descendent of the original Yorkshire Chess Association, was held in London.  For this meeting, the epithet “British” was appended to the name.  This in itself could be seen as a cosmetic tidying up; the prefix “British” might easily have been added at the same time that “Northern and Midland Counties” was dropped.  The Association still saw itself as dating back to 1853.  However, there were numerous policy changes introduced which turned it into a significantly different organisation, with significantly different objectives, from what had gone before.


It was decided to organise an international tournament, and whilst the result was highly praiseworthy, it effectively burnt out the Association, and there was no event during the next three years.  The BCA became London-based, never leaving the capital until Yorkshireman Isaac McIntyre Brown managed to bring the meeting to Bradford in 1888.  Not only was the policy to hold its events in London, aiming to cater for the elite rather than the grass-root players, but events were no longer annual.


After the 1862 international tournament, domestic ones incorporating an Amateur Cup were held in 1866, 1868-69 and 1870.  A second international tournament was held in 1872, again burning out the organisation, which run nothing thereafter until a third international tournament was held in 1883.


The apparent moribund state of the BCA after 1862 was probably what spurred to the Rev. Arthur Bolland Skipworth into action.


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Copyright © 2012 Stephen John Mann

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