History of Shropshire Chess


Chapter 4 - 1950 to 1959

The league title was shared between four clubs in this period. Shrewsbury winning in 1950 and 1959, Ludlow from 1951 to 1953, Hereford from 1954 to 1956 and Wellington 1957 and 1958.

Reverend Lacy-Hulbert (pictured left), the long serving County Secretary resigned after an extraordinary twenty-four years in the post, with Jack Baldwin taking over in 1953.Otto Schalscha began his long tenure as President of the Association.

During this decade Ludlow schoolboy Philip Gough won the individual title three times, Otto Schalscha and Jack Baldwin twice each, whilst the title was won or shared once each by D.C Mease, J.T.Love, P.A.R.Mondelski, R.W.Lewis, H.D.Gemmell, and A.Ayris.

The Shrewsbury Chronicle reports mention "The Silver King" (the club championship trophy) and the Ward Higgs Trophy (?) neither of which have survived. Competition was still organised on a zonal basis to minimise travelling - one example from February 1957 - "Owing to petrol rationing, Church Stretton gave Wellington YMCA a walkover."

Extract from Lacy-Hulbert's Ludlow Standard column 2nd March 1951.
County Match Draw
At last we are able to report that, in the match played by Shropshire and Herefordshire against Worcestershire so long ago as October 28th J.Baldwin's game on board 9 against A.L.Homer has been adjudicated as a draw. Since on board 2 F.F.Fardon's game against R.D.Wormall had previously been given as a win for the former, this means that the match was drawn 9-9 on 18 boards.
A draw may not seem much to boast about, but since we have neither won nor drawn a match against these strong counties for the past 23 years(!), it is something to congratulate ourselves upon. Moreover had we not been without the help of four of our strong players, including our captain, we might well have won instead of only drawing. Next season we may hope for even better things.

Jack Baldwin County Secretary 1953 - 1973
Jack Baldwin (died 1991) originally of Wellington chess club and later of the new GKN Sankey Chess Club (now Coddon Club) was County Secretary from 1953 to 1973 and President for some years after that. Jack's relinquishment of the office of secretary to Dr. Jeff Cox in June 1973 thus ended a remarkable era in which we only had effectively two county secretaries from 1929 to 1973. How many other non-paying organisations could match that.? He was county Champion in 1956, 1957 and 1963. He first played for Shropshire in the early thirties and played through some bleak times up to and beyond the County's historic win against Worcestershire in 1969 - our first victory since 1916! He probably played for his county more than any other player. An interesting character, he was one of the earliest members of the Communist Party of Great Britain - his strong socialist beliefs being strangely contrasted with the Shropshire gentleness of his personality. His news column in the Shropshire Star still continues today - currently in the capable hands of Toby Neal (also of Wellington Chess Club) on Tuesday evenings.
Here is a typical win, in a match against Oxfordshire in 1951, with his favourite Ruy Lopez defence.
Hayward,R - Baldwin,J [C81]
Shropshire v Oxfordshire, 1951
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.Qe2 Be7 10.Rd1 Na5 11.Nbd2 Nxb3 12.axb3 Nxd2 13.Bxd2 0–0 14.Ba5 Qc8 15.b4!? f6 16.Nd4 c5 17.exf6 Rxf6 18.bxc5 Bxc5 19.Be1 Bg4 20.f3 Bh5 21.Kh1 Qb7 22.Nb3 Bd6 23.Na5? Qf7 24.Bc3?( better is Rd3) 24...Rxf3! 25.Qd2 Rf2 26.Qxd5 Bxd1 27.Qxa8+ Bf8 28.h3 Rf1+ 29.Kh2 Qf4+ 30.g3 Rf2+ 0–1

Otto Schalscha - County Champion 1951, 1953 ,1962
Otto Schalsa (born Upper Silesia, died in Trench, Telford 1975) of Shrewsbury Chess Club, who was long serving and highly respected President of Shropshire Chess Association well into the 1970's, is an amazing example of Lasker-like chess resilience. Already regarded as older generation when he won his third title in 1962, he continued to pop up with wins against the strongest county players in his later years. He astounded everyone by having a leg amputated after a period of illness and practically having to be restrained from visiting his local chess club from hospital. As soon as they did let him out a clock appeared as if by magic at his elbow and once again he was to be found, gracing by a charming manner and delicate wit, any chess event in the area.
Very few of us have the opportunity to face a grandmaster on even terms and even fewer could perform as Schalscha does here. At the time of this game GM Yanofsky was the Champion of Canada and playing for Oxfordshire by virtue of his stay at the University. He had beaten Botvinnik at Groningen in 1946 and over the next few years went on to defeat most of the world's great players at one time or another. Although the ending of this game went to Yanofsky on adjudication this decision was the subject of some controversy since, despite his strong looking passed pawn, Yanofsky had been quite unable to find any winning line at the end of the match. Presumably the decision was taken on general grounds - a most unsatisfactory system
. D.Everington
Schalscha,O - Yanofsky,D
Shropshire & Herefordshire v Oxfordshire Board 1, 1950
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.Bg5 Ne4 6.e3 (more usual is 6cd when black proceeds with the exchange which now follows anyhow) 6...Nxg5 7.Nxg5 e6 8.Nf3 0–0 9.Bd3 dxc4 10.Bxc4 (By exchanging first in the centre as previously mentioned white would have gained a tempo and a position considered equal. Black now gains the initiative but Schalscha hardly puts a foot wrong from now on) 10...c5 11.0–0 cxd4 12.Nxd4 a6 13.Nde2 Qe7 14.Rc1 Nc6 15.a3 b5 16.Ba2 Bb7 17.b4 Ne5 18.Ng3 Qh4 19.h3 Rac8 20.Nce2 Rxc1 21.Nxc1 Nc4 22.Bxc4 bxc4 23.Qc2 Rc8 24.Nce2 h5 25.Rd1 Be5 26.f4 Bg7 27.Ne4 Bxe4 28.Qxe4 Qe7 29.Qc2 Qa7 30.Kf2 Bf6 31.Nd4 e5 32.Ne2 exf4 33.Nxf4 Kg7 34.Nd5 Be5 35.Qe4 f6 36.a4 c3 37.Qc2 Qb7 game submitted for adjudication 0–1
Philip Gough - 3 Times County Champion
Philip Gough
was a Ludlow schoolboy, the first of his age group to rise to the highest levels of Shropshire chess. He first appeared in 1950 playing for Ludlow and soon made a dramatic impact, helping the club to win the league title three times from 1951 to 1953. He was county individual champion in 1952, 1953 (shared with Schalscha), and in 1954 after which he left for University. The photo from 1957 shows him, now an Oxford University player, making a winning appearance for the county during the Xmas break from college. Thus he was in the same team as veteran Reverend A.P.Lacy-Hulbert who had also played for Oxford half a century before.
Here he shows how to grind out a win on one of the high boards for the county team.

Gough,P - Duffield,C [C60] Shropshire & Herefordshire v Staffordshire, 1951 Bd.2
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d3 Be7?? 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Nxe5 Qd4 8.Nf3 Qb6 9.h3 h6 10.Qe2 Be6 11.0–0 0–0–0 12.c3 Qb5 13.Nd4 Qb6 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.a4 c5 16.Be3 Qd6 17.c4 Qxd3 18.Qxd3 Rxd3 19.Nc3 Nd7 20.Rad1 Ne5 21.Rxd3 Nxd3 22.b3 Bf6 23.Ne2 g5 24.Nc1 Rd8 25.Rd1 Nxc1 26.Rxd8+ Kxd8 27.Bxc1 Bg7 28.f4 gxf4 29.Bxf4 Although black has regained his pawn, he must cope with white's potential passed pawn on the king side 29...e5 30.Be3 Bf8 31.g4 Ke8 32.h4 Kf7 33.Kg2 Kg6 34.h5+ Kg7 35.g5 hxg5 36.Bxg5 Kf7 37.Kg3 Ke6 38.Kg4 Bg7 39.h6 Bh8 40.Bh4 Bf6 Black is almost in zugswang - if he does not allow this exchange he will soon run out of pawn moves - if he moves his king white will enter f5 with fatal results 41.Bxf6 Kxf6 42.h7 Kg7 43.Kf5 Kxh7 44.Kxe5 Kg7 45.Ke6 1-0

D.C. Mease - Wellington
A Yorkshireman by birth, Desmond Mease won the County Individual title in 1950 jointly with J.T.Love and outright in 1960. He still produced outstanding chess as a veteran (pictured in 1971) for the county team in the 1970's as in this battle of former champions of their respective counties.
Dudley,B - Mease,D [A01] Shropshire v Worcestershire Bd 5, 1973
1.b3 e5 2.Bb2 d6 3.d4 Nd7 4.g3 Ngf6 5.dxe5 dxe5 6.Bg2 Bd6 7.e3 0–0 8.Nf3 Qe7 9.0–0 Nb6 10.h3 Bd7 11.Nc3 Bc6 12.Qe2 Ne4 13.Nb5 f5 14.Nxd6 cxd6 15.c4 a5 16.Rad1 Nd7 17.Nd2 Ndc5 18.Nxe4 fxe4 19.Rd2 Rf6 20.Ba3 Nd3 21.f3 A desperate try but otherwise he will be strangled 21...exf3 22.Qxd3 fxg2 23.Rxf6 Qxf6 24.e4?? Bxe4! 25.Qe2 [25.Qxe4?? Qf1+] 25...Rf8 0–1

P.A.R.Mondelski - 1955 County Champion
Pal (pronounced Paul) Mondelski was a Pole who moved to the UK during the war. He ran a thriving chess club at the A.T. and E. Works (later Decca) in Bridgnorth. When the club folded c1964 Mondelski retired from active chess. According to Jack Baldwin, apart from his duties as Grading Officer, he used to keep a vast card index of opening variations and could quickly dig out the last word on any particular system.
David Everington recalls, "My last vivid impression of him comes from the Shropshire Worcestershire match of the 1963/64 season, having been recommended by my chess mentor, Jim Samworth, and, having lost on boards 14 and 12 against Warwickshire and Staffordshire respectively I had, naturally been promoted to board 9. In a desperate effort to avoid ending the season on a blank score I gambled in the opening and, as luck would have it, my opponent Ernie Underhill fell into one of the most well known traps in the Caro-Kann:
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 cd 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Qe2!? Ngf6?? 6.Nd6 mate.
The clocks had only been going for about five minutes and Mondelski turned with a look of disbelief and exclaimed in broken, excitable English that he had never seen anything like that before. He then buried his slowly shaking head in his hands and managed to regain sufficient concentration to draw his own game after getting into some difficulty.
R.W.Lewis - 1957 County Champion
In 1957 R.W.Lewis shared the County Individual Championship with Jack Baldwin. Although at the time he was still a schoolboy at Ludlow Grammar School, he also played on top board for the Ludlow team.
The 1957 club championship final for the Silver King Trophy was a double headed home and away tie between Ludlow and Wellington. The finalists for the individual championship were Lewis (Ludlow), Baldwin and Schalscha (Wellington), and Mondelski (Bridgnorth). It was agreed that the top board clashes in the club championship would also count for the individual event. Thus Lewis drew with first Schalsha and then Baldwin to share the individual crown but could not prevent Wellington claiming the Silver King.
Ray Cox - Shrewsbury
Incredibly Ray Cox was still a pupil of Priory Grammar School when this game was played, arguably at the time the best ever performance by a Shropshire schoolboy! It certainly surprised many people at the tournament and it deprived Warwickshire's Ritson-Morry, a regular competitor in the British Championship, of first prize.
Ray Cox left the county soon after but returned in the late 1960's to take an active part in playing and administrative affairs

Cox,R - Ritson-Morry,W
[B06] Birmingham Easter Congress, 1959
1.e4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.d4 d6 4.Nc3 Nd7 5.Bc4 e6 6.Bg5 Ne7 7.Qd2 h6 8.Be3 Nb6 9.Bd3 c6 10.0–0 Qc7 11.Rfc1 e5 12.dxe5 dxe5 13.Ne1 Be6 14.f3 0–0–0 15.Qe2 f5 16.a4 Kb8 17.a5 Nd7 18.b4 Nc8 19.Na4 Bf8 20.Rab1 f4 21.Bf2 a6 22.c4 c5 23.Nc3 cxb4 24.Nd5 Bxd5 25.cxd5 Qd6 26.Nc2 Ka8 27.Nxb4 Nb8 28.Rc3 Be7 29.Rcb3 Rd7 30.Bxa6 Nxa6 31.Nxa6 Qxa6 32.Qxa6+ bxa6 33.Rb8 mate 1–0

H.P.F. Swinnerton-Dyer -
An occasional but welcome recruit to the top board for Shropshire was Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer (b.1927), the son of Sir Leonard Dyer (see 1940's History). He has the distinction of being the only player to represent Shropshire who is mentioned in Modern Chess Openings (in the section on the rare Ponziani Opening). Sir Peter, 16th baronet and landowner of the Westhope Estate near Craven Arms, was later knighted for his outstanding contribution to Number Theory in his role as Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University.
Here he extricates himself from a bad opening against his well-known opponent and gains a pawn and then a piece when Black blunders in a bad position.
In the early fifties Sir Peter gave up chess in favour of bridge.
Swinnerton-Dyer,P - Wormald,R
[B45] - Shropshire & Herefordshire v Worcestershire, 1951 Board 1
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g3 Be7 7.Bg2 a6 8.0?0 0?0 9.Nb3 d6 10.Nd2? (intending to cramp Black for good with Nc4 followed by Ne3 but the manouvre is too slow and Black reacts vigorously) 10...d5! 11.exd5 exd5 12.Nb3 Bg4 13.Qd2 Bb4 14.a3 Bxc3 15.Qxc3 Rc8 16.Be3 Ne4 17.Qe1 Be6 18.c3 Nf6 19.Nc5 b6 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Qe2 b5 22.a4 bxa4 23.Qxa6 Qa5 24.Rxa4 Qxa6 25.Rxa6 e5 26.Bg5 e4 27.Bh3 Rc7 28.Bf4 Nb8? 29.Rxf6 1-0
Wellington Grammar School Chess Team 1951:- l to r - Espley, Baker, Padmore, ??, Hulley,Taylor, Maltby,??, ??, Hamer.- Courtesy Keith Padmore & Shropshire Relish June 08
The Shropshire and Herefordshire County Team 1957
Picture courtesy of Ray Cox
The picture, taken by the now defunct Wellington Journal and Shrewsbury News, is of the Shropshire and Herefordshire chess team at the Morris Hall in Shrewsbury in December 1957 prior to the annual match with Staffordshire which the visitors won 14 - 6. The names of the visiting team are not recorded.
Shropshire & Herefordshire  
0 - 1
0 - 1
Seated 2nd from right
0 - 1
Standing 8th from left
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Standing 7th from left
1 - 0
Standing 3rd from right
Miss C.M.Murphy
Seated 2nd from left
0 - 1
Standing 4th from left
0 - 1
Standing 9th from left
0 - 1
Seated 3rd from left
0 - 1
0 - 1
Standing 5th from left
0 - 1
1 - 0
1 - 0
Standing 4th from right
Seated 4th left with her own ornate clock
0 - 1
1 - 0
Seated far right - age 15
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Standing far right
6 - 14