Read Toby Neal's Column in the
Shropshire Star on Tuesdays for the latest Shropshire Chess news.
Here are some recent cuttings.

If you have a news item email - TNeal@shropshirestar.co.uk.

International Master comes to Shrewsbury - 05/11/2019

Shropshire chess players will get a chance to play an International Master in an event organised by Telepost's Kate Walker on November 27.
Lawrence Cooper will be taking on allcomers in a simultaneous display at Nerdy Coffee in Mardol, Shrewsbury, at 7pm. Price for entry is £5 on a first come, first served basis. There are 15 spaces, although six have already been filled by Nerdy Coffee Co chess members.

Gary White has chalked up more success on his travels, this time in the Scarborough Chess Congress. White, who plays for the Oakengates-based Maddocks club, was joint winner of the Intermediate. He took a half point bye in the first round due to long drive and then had four straight wins.
Among other Shropshire players taking part in the congress was Francis Best from the Shrewsbury club, who won a grading prize in the Major section.

And Jamie Hopkins and Trevor Brotherton are the joint chess champions of Shrewsbury after finishing equal on four points in the five-round Shrewsbury Town Championship. The tournament is for players at the two chess clubs in the county town, Telepost and Shrewsbury. Three players were in the runners up spot on three points Mark Smith, Phil Zabrocki, and Matthew Clark.

In latest league action, Telepost A have drawn level with Maddocks at the top of division one after a draw with Shrewsbury B in which the standout result was a win by Olusegun Ilesanmi over Nigel Ferrington on top board. If anything the match outcome was a let-off for Telepost who were not at full strength and were actually outgraded on all of the rest of the five boards.

A grand time on the Isle of Man - 29/10/2019

Shropshire chess player Nathanael Paul became a "grand master" of sorts as he picked up winnings of a cool grand at a big chess tournament played on the Isle of Man.
Paul, who plays for Newport, actually brought home a total of £1,125 £825 for being a joint winner in the long play event and another £300 for outright victory in the rapidplay.
"The most I had ever won before was £250, I think," said Paul, one of three Shropshire chess players who took part, all of whom were in the money. "The three of us played in two amateur tournaments, a long play and rapid event. I came joint first with three others in the long play Major section with Dave Gostelow winning a grading prize. Gary White came joint fourth in the Minor, and then I came outright first in the Major rapidplay." In cash terms, Gostelow won £100, and White over £200.

And Kate Walker has achieved yet more chess success by winning all her recent matches in the Four Nations Chess League's first women's league and with her Wood Green team winning the trophy. In Shropshire league, Kate plays for the Shrewsbury-based Telepost team.
Meanwhile Shropshire chess now has its own Facebook page, set up by Kate, to complement the main website ( www.shropshirechess.org ). The Facebook page is at fb.me/shropshirechess .

Shortage of B's proves decisive - 15/10/2019

Promoted Shrewsbury B paid the price of being two players short on their travels to league champions Newport A in Shropshire Chess League.
Despite their B team status the Shrewsbury side have a strong playing pool, a quirk of many of the club's players being roughly of the same strength, and had they been able to field their full team would have been tough opponents for Newport, who were missing their super-strong top board Nick Rutter. And in fact the result over the three boards which were played was a 1.5-1.5 draw, but Shrewsbury's two defaulted boards took Newport to a 3.5-1.5 win.

The Oakengates-based Maddocks club have the challenge of fielding two teams in Division One which will inevitably stretch playing resources, but are doing fine at the moment as Maddocks A have moved to the top of the table thanks to a win over Newport B.

One of the stories behind that headline is the continuing impressive performance of the Newport junior Daniel Hilditch-Love. While his own grading is 105, he drew against Gary White who is graded 141, and in Daniel's only other match in Division One during this campaign he drew against Chris Lewis, whose grading is 170.

Wellington clinch a narrow victory - 8/10/2019

An under strength Wellington A came back from a 2-0 deficit to clinch a narrow victory over Shrewsbury A and share the early top spot of Division Two in Shropshire Chess League.
The fightback started on board one where David Everington showed that even a multiple county champion can overlook that his queen is under attack, and then Wellington newcomer Andy Grillage sacrificed rook for knight – he was already an exchange up – to reach a winning endgame and level the running match score.
So it was then all down to the action on board two, where Dan Lockett made what must have been a very tempting draw offer to Wellington's Mike Hollier. Hollier turned it down to press for a win, and it looked to have backfired when Lockett wove a mating net. However, as Lockett administered the coup de grace, he suddenly realised that Hollier had a check which not only averted mate but won the game.
There was bad news as well for Shrewsbury C, who similarly went down to a 3-2 defeat on their travels across town to Telepost C, who are now joint leaders of Division Two.
Reigning league champions Newport A got their campaign off to a winning start in their in house derby against Newport B.

Kate Walker, who is the ladies' champion in her category in the English Chess Federation Grand Prix competition, popped down to her Telepost club to show the trophy which, to her delight, she gets to keep.

Incredible Edison - 1/10/2019

Shropshire youngster Edison Xu has shot up to an incredible fifth place in the Open section of the English Chess Federation Grand Prix, putting him hot on the heels of some Grandmasters. Edison is now the second strongest player in England in the under-13 age bracket. And his grade has shot up to 182 – in April of last year he was "only" 149, which is still a very strong showing for a boy who was born in 2007.Edison plays for Newport chess club but local league players are being spared having to face him at the moment as he is at Magdalen College School in Oxford. The Grand Prix is a running competition with cumulative scores in qualifying events.

In Shropshire Chess League, the tables mean little at this early stage but for what it's worth Maddocks A lead Division One after a draw against Shrewsbury B, who despite their B team status are still a strong outfit. Maddocks went ahead through Adrian Zdanoswski's victory over Peter Kitchen and looked good to win on board three, only for Glyn Pugh to slip up in a winning rook and pawn endgame against Ted Eales to level the score. The visitors went back ahead when Dave Gostelow beat Francis Best on board two, and when Shrewsbury captain Mark Smith let slip a promising position to only draw with Tony Preece, Maddocks looked set to be on their way to victory. But Dan Lockett beat Gary White in the deciding game. Curiously, all three matches in the latest round in Division Three were all draws as well. Oswestry C and Maddocks C are early leaders.

Conundrum for Shrewsbury - 24/09/2019

Here's a Shropshire chess problem what do you do if your A team has been demoted to Division Two, and your B team has been promoted to Division One?
It was something for the Shrewsbury club to scratch their heads about as they faced exactly that situation going into the new season. In the rare occasions it has happened in the past, clubs have usually simply made their B team in effect the A team, so that their strongest players continue to play in the first division.
Shrewsbury have taken the approach that their B team players have won the right to play in the top flight, and have drawn up their teams accordingly. Peculiar circumstances have meant that the predicament hasn't actually made that much difference for Shrewsbury, as so many of their playing pool are broadly of similar playing strength.

In the latest league games, Shrewsbury C were in an in-house derby against Shrewsbury A, with unsurprisingly the A-teamers emerging victorious. Yet when Telepost B took on Telepost C, it was the C-teamers to win the bragging rights, with a narrow win.

In the top flight, Oswestry A have gone down to their second defeat on their travels to Newport B. It will have been a big disappointment as, although Newport have strength in depth, it was a match in which they would have fancied their chances.

Shropshire player tops the charts - 17/09/2019

Shropshire chess player Kate Walker dubbed "Killer Kate" by her clubmates has proven herself among the best women chess players in England by winning the English Chess Federation's women's Grand Prix in her category. Kate, who plays for Shrewsbury's Telepost club, was top in a field of 20 in the section of the competition for players with a grading between 120 and 139.
With a personal grading of 126, Kate's performance was head and shoulders above a number of contenders who were stronger on paper. The Grand Prix is a year-long competition based on players' results in qualifying events.

Two Newport chess players are revealed as Shropshire's most improved under the new grading list as the league season gets under way in earnest.Leading the charge is the junior Daniel Hilditch-Love, with an impressive 22-point rise in his grading. Daniel is now graded 105. Athar Ansari also sees a double-digit rise, from 166 to 179. Gradings are an assessment of playing strength based on results. Leading the county rankings are Nick Rutter, another Newport player, on 204, and Telepost's Nigel Ferrington on 201.

Making a return to the Newport chess club after a quarter of a century away was Andrew Grillage, although it was not a happy homecoming from Newport's point of view as he was playing for visiting Wellington A and his win contributed to Wellington's 5-0 whitewash of Newport C. Andrew is a former Newport player who last played in Shropshire in the 1990s, but then lived and worked in Malta and has recently returned.  

A new chess club, called the Nerdy Chess Club, is starting on October 2. Dennis Bonner of the Telepost club said: "It is at the bottom of Mardol in Shrewsbury and started as a board games club and will now be extended to chess from October 2. There will be a kids' club from 4pm to 6pm and 13-plus from 6pm to 10.30pm, each Wednesday."

New season is underway - 10/09/2019

Hostilities have commenced for the new season in Shropshire Chess League with a new league controller, penalties for late starters, and a brilliancy prize on offer for the best game of the campaign. And the big issue will be whether there is a team which can halt the juggernaut that is Newport A, serial winners of the league championship, who last season also won all other available trophies to boot.
Other contenders will be encouraged by the fact that this season Newport's nominated line-up does not include three star players Grandmaster Keith Arkell, his brother Nick, and International Master Lawrence Cooper whose use, albeit occasional, had proven somewhat controversial.

In their opening matches, Telepost A and Maddocks A have both served notice that they will be fighting at the top, with thumping wins.

In the wake of a decision by Shropshire Chess Association's annual meeting, home teams which fail to set up chess sets and clocks in time for a prompt 7.30pm start in league matches will face what is in effect a time penalty the clocks will be set as if the match had started on time.

A new trophy is being introduced in memory of the former general secretary and Wellington player Colin Roberts, who died last year. The Colin Roberts Memorial Trophy will be a brilliancy prize, for the best game by a Shropshire player in any competition during the course of the season, excluding blitz, rapidplay, and internet games. It has been made possible thanks to a £100 donation in his memory by his family.

New league controller is Adrian Zdanowski, who has succeeded Nathanael Paul in the role.

Some Shropshire players have been limbering up for the new season by taking part in various summer events. Richard Szwajkun was second in the Minor section of the Leyland Chess Congress, while a number of  Shropshire players took part in the weekend's UK Open Blitz Championship in Birmingham, including Athar Ansari, who was 11th in a field of 80.

Bryant shines in 4NCL Congress - 23/07/2019

Richard Bryant was the local success story as he won one of the top prizes at the 22nd 4NCL Congress held in Telford.

Bryant was one of five players to share first place in the Major section of the tournament for players with an international FIDE rating below 2000. The Oswestry player, who was one of several Shropshire-based players competing among the 160-strong field had to do it the hard way after suffering a shock opening round loss with the white pieces to Steven Potter of St Helens. But he then reeled off four straight victories to finish on 4/5, earning £190 in prize money.
Bryant was the only prizewinner among the "home" competitors but several others came close, particularly in the Major section.
Newport's Ian Jamieson was in contention throughout, but lost his final round game to Martin Burns to finish on 3/5. Phil Zabrocki of Telepost and Maddocks' Dave Gostelow were both unbeaten to finish joint third on 3.5/5.

In the elite Open section which featured grandmasters Keith Arkell and Mark Hebden Shropshire's players found the going tough.
Lee Davis who has previously played for Ludlow and Newport's Athar Ansari were the leading scorers with 2.5/5. Steve Tarr of Maddocks scored 1.5/5 including a spectacular victory over Sam Herring in round four while Newport pair Chris lewis and Stuart Ross scored 1/5.
The section was won by Hebden, while Arkell could only manage 3.5/5 for a share of ninth place, admitting afterwards it had been a very tough and competitive tournament.

In the Major section, former Shrewsbury player Ed Goodwin finished on 3/5, but others struggled.
  Shrewsbury's Peter Kitchen shared 32nd place on 2/5, suffering two chastening defeats to lower rated juniors. Tony Preece of Maddocks started well but finished on 1/5, where he was joined by Telepost's Graham Shepherd.

In the Minor section for players with an English Chess Federation rating under 135, George Viszokai (Maddocks) and Newport junior Daniel Hilditch-Love were the top scorers with 3/5, finishing joint 12th.
Roger Brown (Telford) and Kieran Lappin, who has represented Ludlow, scored 2.5/5, Kate Walker (Telepost) scored 2/5, and Ian Jamieson (Maddocks) scored 1/5.

Report by Peter Kitchen

Chris Lewis wins blitz handicap - 16/07/2019

Chris Lewis was the winner of his own tournament in the first of the summer blitz chess competitions hosted by Newport chess club. Lewis, who organised the event, scored 6.5 to take first prize of £15, winning six games and drawing his seventh. Bill Bates was second on 6, and Tony Preece in third spot and winning the grading prize for players graded under 150. Other grading prizes went to Rajeev Raghaven, Nick Holmes, and Dan Hilditch-Love.
The event was a handicap, with the strongest players having just three minutes to make all their moves, and less strong players having as much as eight minutes.

Newport's Athar Ansari is celebrating an impressive success at the Golders Green rapidplay tournament, which is FIDE rated. Taking part in the Open in the London event, he was joint winner.
"I played three FIDE Masters, the strongest of whom was rated 2294," said Athar. "This was my best performance, to win the Open section in London."

Athar and other Shropshire players will be involved in more chess action in Shropshire this weekend, with the Four Nations Chess League congress being held at the Ramada Hotel in Telford town centre from July 19 to 21, with a total field of around 150.
A number of Grandmasters have entered and will compete in the Open, which is the strongest section. Several Shropshire players have entered this section Chris Lewis, Nathanael Paul, and Stuart Ross, all from the Newport club, and Steve Tarr, from Oakengates-based Maddocks.
In the section for players with a FIDE rating of under 2000, Shropshire entries include Athar Ansari and Ian Jamieson (both Newport), Oswestry's Richard Bryant, Peter Kitchen from Shrewsbury, Tony Preece (Maddocks), and Graham Shepherd (Telepost).
And in the section for those graded under 135, Shropshire hopefuls include Roger Brown (Telford), Kate Walker (Telepost), and George Viszokai (Maddocks),

County teams to be re-established - 09/07/2019

Shropshire is making a return to the fray in inter-county chess competition after several years away.
At least two teams, an Open, and a team for players graded under 120, will be fielded next season, run by Matthew Clark and Dennis Bonner respectively. And Roger Brown is hoping to run a third team, for players graded under 140. The proposal was given the nod at the annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association.
Shropshire dropped out of inter-county competition because there was nobody to run the teams, and also trouble finding enough players 16 are needed for the Open team.

Among other headlines from the meeting are that home teams which fail to set up chess sets and clocks in time for a prompt 7.30pm start in league matches will face what is in effect a time penalty the clocks will be set as if the match had started on time and a new trophy is being introduced in memory of the former general secretary and Wellington player Colin Roberts, who died last year.
The Colin Roberts Memorial Trophy will be a brilliancy prize, for the best game by a Shropshire player in any competition during the course of the season, excluding blitz, rapidplay, and internet games. It has been made possible thanks to a £100 donation in his memory by his family.

Among more controversial resolutions were a proposal that a nominated Division One player must play in at least half the matches, or face a penalty a move to stop clubs nominating players who then do not play regularly. That was passed, but a move to strip Division Two or Division Three champions of the championship trophy if they decline promotion was narrowly defeated.

League controller Nat Paul has stepped down, to be replaced by Adrian Zdanowski, and Munroe Morrison is being lined up to take over as president from Francis Best.

Meanwhile Telepost's Kate Walker, who has acquired the nickname "Killer Kate," has been in the prizes again, winning joint first at the North Wales chess congress at Llandudno, taking home £200.

And the first summer blitz event at Newport chess club is being held on Thursday, July 11 , at 7.30pm for a 7.45pm start.