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SHROPSHIRE COUNTY INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIP
JUNIOR CHAMPIONS

David Everington reports on post-war junior successes in this event.

Philip Gough was a Ludlow schoolboy who won the individual in 1952, beating Otto Schalsha in the final. This was quite a feat as Schalsha (born Upper Silesia, died in Trench, Telford 1975) was a real force in the fifties and won the championship himself in 1951, 1953 (shared with Gough) and 1963. The championship had a "final" in those days because the players were divided into two all-play-all sections with the two winners meeting to decide the title in a single game, colours tossed for on the day! This rather unfair system was replaced with a two-game final after 1964-5 when losing finalist Dr Gemmell rightly raised the matter at the subsequent AGM.

White: Otto Schalsha Black: Philip Gough Queen’s Gambit Declined

Shropshire Championship Final 1951-52 Season

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 dc 4.Nc3 b5 5.e3 Bb7 6.b3 b4 7.Ne4 c3 8.Nc5 Qc7 9.Bc4 e6 10.a3 Bc5 11.dc a5 12.Ng5 Nf6 13.O-O h6 14.Nf3 Qe7 15.Ne5 Qc5 16.Nd3 Qe7 17.f3 Nbd7 18.e4 c5 19.Be3 O-O 20.Re1 Rfc8 21.Qe2 Nb6 22.Ne5 Nc4 23.Nc4 Ba6 24.Qf2 Bc4 25.bc Nd7 26.f4 Nf6! 27.Qf3 Qb7 28.Bf2 a4 29.f5 e5 30.Rab1 c2 31.Rb2 b3 32.Qe2 Qe4! 33.Qd2 Qc4 34.Be3 Ne4 35.Qc1 Rd8 36.h3 Nc3 37.Bd2 Ne2+ 38.Re2 Qe2 39.Bh6 Rd1+ 0 – 1

Gough shared the title with Schalsha the following year and won it for a third time in 1954. He then seems to have disappeared without trace, presumably to university never to return.

John O’Reilly was the eldest of three brothers who lived at Turreff Avenue, Donnington. All three were fine players who learned the game at Adams Grammar at Newport and the former GKN Sankey Club. They were the key constituents when Newport Chess Club was formed and when Newport first won the division 1 championship in the mid 1960s it was with a team consisting entirely of Adams Grammar School boys. Middle brother Michael seems to have drifted away from the game to hockey in his teens so some great potential was lost. The youngest and best, Gerard, probably ranks with John Cox and Charlie Morris as the best of our post-war home-grown talent. Of John’s opponent here, I can only say that he was a strong Ludlow team member, always immaculately dressed, probably in his late fifties when this was played. The winner was 16 or 17 at the time.

White: John O’Reilly Black: A de M’Chesterman Queen’s Gambit Declined

Shropshire Championship Final 1963-64 Season

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd2 5.e3 Be7 6.Rc1 O-O 7.Nf3 c6 8.Qc2 h6 9.Bh4 a6 10.Bd3 dc 11.Bc4 Nd4 12.Be7 Qe7 13.Nd5 ed 14.Bd3 Nf6 15.h3 Bd7 16.Ne5 e8 17.Qc5 Qc5 18.Rc5 Nd2 19.Nd7 Bd7 20.b4 Rae8 21.Kd2 g6 22.a4 Kg7 23.b5 ab 24.ab b6!? (24…Ra8 looks a better chance) 25.Rc3 cb 26.Rc7 Bc8 (26…Rd8 27.Ra1 and simply doubles rooks on the seventh) 27.Bb5 Rd8 28.Rfc1 Kf6 29.R1c6+ Be6 30.Rb6 Ra8 31.Rc2 Ra1 32.Ke2 Kg5 33.Bd3 Rg8 34.Kf3 h5 35.Rc5 Kh4 36.Rb1 Rb1 37.Bb1 Rb8 38.Ba2 Rd8 39.Kf4 f6 40.Rc6 g5+ 41.Kf3 g4+ 42.hg Bg4+ 43.Kf4 f5 44.Rb1 1 – 0 mate follows.

I remember being very impressed by the calm assurance of John’s play when he showed me the game a few weeks after playing it. Around the mid 1970’s John was ordained a priest in the Catholic Church – I attended the ceremony at Donnington – and then worked abroad for a while. Some years later I had to make some arrangements on behalf of Telford Development Corporation (for what, I forget) with the RC Bishop of Shrewsbury who was based at Birkenhead. I telephoned the office and was astonished to find myself talking to John who was by this time back in the UK as the Bishop’s secretary

White: David Everington Black: Dr H D Gemmell Nimzo-Indian Defence

Shropshire Championship Final 1964-65 Season

1.d4 e6 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 d5 5.cd ed 6.Bg5 c6 7.e3 Bc3+ 8.Qc3 Ne4 9.Bd8 Nc3 10.bc Kd8 11.Rb1 b5 12.Bd3 Be6 13.Nf3 f6 14.O-O a6 15.Rfe1 Nd7 16.R2 f5? 17.Ng5 Ke7 18.e4! fe 19.Be4 de 20.Re4 Nf8 21.Rbe2 Re8 22.Ne6 Ne6 23.Re6+ Kd7 24.Re8 Re8 25.Re8 Ke8 26.Kf1 Ke7 27.Ke2 Ke6 28.Kd3 Kd4 29.f4 a4 30.g4 c5 31.dc Kc5 32.h4 b4 33.cb+ Kb4 34.f5 Ka3 35.g5 Ka2 36.f6 1 - 0

The winner of this game, 18 at the time, was, of course, the old git who still plays for Shrewsbury nearly 40 years on. Happily, Dr Gemmell is also still with us although retired from competitive chess.

The next two finals also featured Dr Gemmell. In 1965-66 he drew in a two-game final with another Adams GS junior, Graham Elkes, and they shared the title. In 1966-67 he drew with John O’Reilly, by this time no longer a junior, thus sharing the title with him. I don’t have these game scores.

By 1968 I was into my twenties and this youngest O’Reilly kid turns up in a three way final (the number of entries had shot up) which also included a talented junior from Whitchurch called David Lewis, trained there by the outstanding lady player Miss C M Murphy. Each finalist played two games against the others. This was the game that clinched Gerard’s championship win at, I think, 14!

White: David Everington Black: Gerard O’Reilly Nimzo-Indian Defence

Shropshire Championship Final 1967-68 Season

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bc4 4.Qc2 Nc6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.e3 d6 7.a3 Bc3+ 8.Qc3 a5 9.Be2 Qe7 10.O-O a4 11.b4!? ab 12.Bb2 Ne4 13.Qb3 f5 14.Qc2 Na5 15.Ra1 b6 16.Rfd1 Ba6 17.Nd2 d5 18.Ne4 fe 19.c5 Be2 20.Qe2 Nc4 21.Rc4! (best chance in a bad position) 21….dc 22.Qc4 bc 23.dc Rad8 24.Rd8 Rd8 25.g3 Qf7 26.Qe4 Rd7 27.Qa8+ Qf8 28.Qf8+ Kf8 29.Bc3 Rc2 30.Bb4 e5 31.Ba5 c6 32.Bc7 e5 33.a4 Kf7 34.Bb6 Ke6 35.a5 Ra2! 36.Kg2 Kd4 37.h4 h5! 38.g4 hg 39.Kg3 Kc5 40.Kg4 Rf2 41.a6 Kd3 42.a7 Rf8 43.Kg5 Ke3 44.Kg6 Kf3 45.Kg7 Ra8 0 - 1

This was at least a hard-fought game. In the following year’s final, just two players this time, Gerard retained his title, simply taking me apart in the process. If this looks too easy, bear in mind that I was graded around 180 and still rising at the time. In the second game I got nothing out of the opening as White and was offered, and took, a draw once I had ruined my position trying to win.

White: Gerard O’Reilly Black: David Everington French Defence

Shropshire Championship Final 1968-69

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd2 6.Bd3 Nb4 7.Be2 c5 8.c3 Nc6 9.O-O f6 10.ef Qf6 11.Nb3 c4 12.Bg5 Qf7 13.Nbd2 Bd6 14.b3 b5 15.a4 b4 16.bc bc 17.cd ed 18.Bb5! Nd4? 19.Nd4 cd 20.Qe2+ Kf8 21.Bc6 Rb8 22.Ne6+ Kg8 23.Bd5 Nb6 24.Ba2! 1 - 0

The next junior to take the title was Shrewsbury’s Paul Bishop in 1977 when the event had been transformed into a Swiss of seven rounds, exactly as it is now. Paul seemed to appear from no-where and disappeared soon after his victory. But if you want an entertaining game just enjoy this dramatic escape from the clutches of Norman Andrews who, in those days, was a danger to anyone:

White: Norman Andrews Black: Paul Bishop Sicilian Defence

Shropshire Championship 1977

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Be2 Nf6 8.O-O Bd6 9.f4 Nd4 10.Qd4 e5 11.Qd2 O-O 12.Nd5 Nd5 13.ed ef !? 14.Bf4 Bf4 15.Rf4 Qe5 16.Raf1 Qb2?! (Several spectators wrote Bishop off after this – perhaps rightly! – but Norman fails to capitalise) 17.Bd3 Qb6+ 18.Kh1 Qh6 19.Qf2 f6 20.Rh4 Qg5 21.Bh7+ Kf7 22.Bf5? (22.d6 b5 23.Re1 looks crushing) 22….d6 23.Rg4 Qh6 24.Bg6+ Kg8 25.Bf5 Qh5 26.Bc8 Rac8 27.Qg3 Qf7 28.c4 Rcd8 29.h4 Rfe8 30.Rg6 Kh7 (Otherwise 31.R [either] f6!) 31.h5 Re5 32.Qh3 Rde8 33.g4?! Re1 34.g5?! fg! 35.Kg1 R8e3 36.Qg2 Rf1+ 0 - 1 If 37.Qf1 Rg3+ 38.Kh2 Qf1 and wins. The little joke arising from this was that Alan Knight was to be asked to present Paul with his prize at the AGM so that the photo-caption could read Bishop takes Knight cheque!

As some consolation, Norman Andrews beat the rapidly rising John Cox in this event.

John Cox finally won the title at the age of 16 in 1979. I say finally because he might easily have won it much sooner but had seemed to be jinxed in this event during the previous couple of seasons. This win is a fine example of his play then. Around this time Alan Knight (twice champion himself) was having great results with the French Winawer, a line in which he was very hard indeed to beat.

White: John Cox Black: Alan Knight French Defence

Shropshire Championship 1979

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 de 5.a3 Be7 6.Ne4 Nf6 7.Neg3 O-O 8.Be3 Ne4 9.Ne4 f5! 10.Nc5 f4 11.Bc1 Qd5 12.Nb3 Nc6 13.Qf3 Qf3 14.gf e5 15.Bc4+ Kh8 16.d5 Nd8 17.Bd2 Bf5 18.O-O-O a5 (Knight needed a win at all costs in this last round game if he was to force a play-off, hence the line opening pawn sac) 19.Na5 Bc5 20.Bb4 Bb4 21.ab e4 22.fe Be4 23.Rhe1 Bg6 24.Re7 c5 25.dc e.p. Nc6 26.Nc6 bc 27.Bd3 Bh5 28.R1e1 Rfb8 29.Rc7 Rb4 30.R1e7 Rd5 31.b3 1 - 0 Black will lose a pawn and remain totally passive against the White rooks.

The penultimate entry in this section is that of James Clarke who won the title in 1984. James played for the NALGO Club which was the forerunner of Telepost. I don’t have any very exciting game of his from the championship itself, but just look at this destruction of Warwickshire’s board three in the year when he took the title:

White: D Johnson Black: James Clarke Bird’s Opening

Shropshire vs Warwickshire 1984, board 3

1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.b3 g6 4.Bb2 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 c5 7.O-O Nc6 8.Qe1 d5! 9.ed Nd5! 10.Bb6 Nd4 11.Nd4 cd 12.Na3 Bf5 13.Qf2 a6 14.Bc4 Ne3!! 15.Re1 (Of course, 15.de de is lethal) 15….b5 16.Bf1 Rc8 17.c3 Ng5 18.Qf3 dc 19.Bc3 Qb6+ 20.Kh1 Nf2+ 21.Kg1 Nh3+ 0 - 1 The Warwickshire player must have been shell shocked.

And finally we come to Paul Mukherjee, like James Clarke a junior member of the Telepost Club. Paul won his title in 1986, beating another very talented young player in the final round:

White: Alistair Gilbert Black: Paul Mukherjee Sicilian Defence

Shropshire Championship 1986, round 7

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Nb3 Be6 10.f4 Na5 11.Na5 Qa5 12.g4 Qb4 13.f5 Bc4 14.Bc4 Qc4 15.Qf3 d5 16.ed Qg4+ 17.Kh1 Qf3+ 18.Rf3 Rfd8 19.Bc5 Nd5 20.fg hg 21.Nd5 Rd5 22.Be7 Re8 23.Bh4 Re2 24.Bg3 Rc2 25.Re1 Bb2 26.Re8+ Kg7 27.Re7 Rd1+ 28.Be1 Bf6 0 – 1

So, juniors who won the title in the post war period were:

1951-52 Philip Gough
1952-53 Philip Gough (jointly with Otto Shalscha)
1953-54 Philip Gough
1963-64 John O’Reilly
1964-65 David Everington
1965-66 Graham Elkes (jointly with Dr Gemmell)
1967-68 Gerard O’Reilly
1968-69 Gerard O’Reilly
1976-77 Paul Bishop
1978-79 John Cox
1983-84 James Clarke
1985-86 Paul Mukherjee

There have been some tremendous juniors who were unlucky never to have won. Outstanding amongst them would be Charlie Morris who had a remarkable international career for Wales – although he learned the ropes at Shrewsbury – and actually beat GM Tony Miles in a one-to-one encounter at the West Wales Congress in 1981. As far as I can recall, the only other winner against GM’s was John Cox who trounced Leonid Shamkovitch of the former USSR in the Lloyds Bank Masters in 1980 – a game which was published in Leonard Barden’s column in the Financial Times. John also won a best game prize for his absolutely magnificent win in a simul against the then world champion Anatoly Karpov in 1982 – a couple of high points amongst many which I published in the irreverently titled D is for Dummkopf in 1984.

The astonishing thing is that since 1986 there hasn’t been a junior who has taken the title – indeed John Jeggo set a record in the other direction when he won in 1999 at the age of 60!

We have the best crop of juniors in this County for years at the moment. They have really livened the whole scene here and none of the established senior stars can feel safe against the best of them.

So THE CHALLENGE is: who will be the first Shropshire junior to take the title since 1986?
David Everington 20/11/2003

Click here to see the full list of County Champions

The Wakeman School

The Wakeman School in Shrewsbury has a proud chess heritage. In the 1980's Brian Nichols was a strong chessplayer in the Shropshire league. However it is as a teacher and school chessclub organiser that Mr Nichols really made his mark with his drive and enthusiasm. Bill Clarke (NALGO Club Secretary) described the school at that time as "a hotbed of chess". The school had close links with NALGO chess club (now the Telepost Club) in the Shropshire League and this combination produced many excellent players.
James Clarke became Shropshire County Champion in 1984 at age 17, an early age at which to take this prestigious crown. He went on to attain a grade of 212 BCF making him one of the strongest players in Shropshire history.
Paul Mukherjee also became County Champion (1986) as a young 17 year old before going to university.
Other talented players emerging from the Wakeman School into the Shropshire League in the 1980's include Jeff Chapman, Rupert Brindley, Andrew Cowdroy, Humphrey Dunn, Ivor Bundilis, and the Carter brothers.
The Wakeman School Chess Club continues to go from strength to strength with Mr Arkwright now the teacher holding the reigns. We look forward to seeing the next generation of young players in the Shropshire Chess League.