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News Archive
Read Toby Neal's Column in the Shropshire Star on Tuesdays for the latest Shropshire Chess news. Here are some older cuttings.
If you have a news item email - TNeal@shropshirestar.co.uk.
Rutter Roars to Rapid Treble By TOBY NEAL 07/11/06
Nick Rutter completed a hat-trick at the Oswestry rapidplay by winning the event for the third year in a row. Rutter, who plays for Newport, scored 5.5 points out of the six games.
A total of 32 players fought in the contest at Froncysyllte. Runner up was Telepost player Richard Bryant.
Grading prizes were won by Stephen Lloyd (Chester), Alan Silver (Church Stretton), John Simmons (Rhyl), and John Casewell (Telepost).
The junior prize was won by Alex Taylor (Newport) who got off to a great start by beating Glyn Morris (Urmston), who is graded 175, in round one.
l In the Shropshire league, Newport A have cemented their grip on the top spot with a whitewash of Shifnal & Telford B, who were simply overpowered by the strength of the Newport outfit.
In Division Three, Church Stretton B are already three points clear at this early stage in the season - a remarkable achievement considering that at the end of last season the Church Stretton club faced a question mark over its future because of the need for new blood.
However, the arrival of Trevor Brotherton, and Nick and Louis Graham, has bolstered the A team, and had a knock-on benefit by freeing up players for the B team.
Newport take league title By TOBY NEAL 04/04/06

Newport have won the Shropshire Chess League for the first time since 1999, ending a seven-year stranglehold by Shrewsbury-based clubs. Newport A were able to overpower Coddon A and gain the two points they needed to secure the title.
For the second season running the championship and key promotion issues turned on the last matches of the season.
Shrewsbury had kept up the pressure to the last by beating Telepost B, but their joy was tempered when they learned that Simon Fowler, the county’s strongest player, would not be playing for Coddon against Newport the following evening.
However, as Newport were without Tom Pym, perhaps the absentees can be considered to have cancelled each other out.
Shrewsbury poised to pounce By TOBY NEAL 28/03/06
Shropshire’s league season is in its final straight with key issues at the top of all three divisions — including the future home of the championship title — being decided this week.
Newport A, a point ahead of their rivals and with a better “goal difference”, need only a draw against Coddon A tomorrow to bring the trophy to Newport for the first time in seven years, breaking the stranglehold of Shrewsbury-based clubs on the title.
But defeat would surely let in either Shrewsbury A, who must be expected to win their game against relegated Telepost B tonight, or Shifnal & Telford A if they beat Telepost A — reigning champions who have under-achieved this season — tomorrow.
Telepost C are already promoted from Division Two, but the second promotion spot will go to either Wellington A or Church Stretton, who go head to head on Thursday in a “winner takes all” encounter.
Market Drayton are promoted from Division Three, but again there is a down-to-the-wire battle for the second promotion spot.
Oswestry are a point ahead of third placed Shifnal & Telford C, but Shifnal & Telford will surely beat bottom-of-the-table Newport Juniors.
Bizarre start then it’s a day of glory By TOBY NEAL 21 March 2006
Shropshire’s under-100 team have covered themselves in glory by becoming Midlands champions despite a hiccup which saw them begin hostilities in the final against Nottinghamshire with three players missing.
“It was quite a bizarre start,” said captain Ian Davies. “Our board two player, Andy Tunks , did not turn up. Luckily we managed to get in touch with Alex Taylor from Newport and he agreed to get there — it was played at Staffordshire University in Stafford — as quickly as he could.
“We also had two players who were about 45 minutes late because they got lost. Sellick Davies was bringing himself and Chris Lewis. They both had a lot of time to make up and both managed to win.
“Nottinghamshire outgraded us. They are quite a good team and had their full strength team out. We were very pleased with the result.”
The 7-5 victory means Shropshire are the Midlands Counties Chess Union champions in the section for players graded under 100, which is a B or C team club standard.
Stretton prosper from no-show By TOBY NEAL 14/03/06
Church Stretton have moved into the second promotion spot in division two of the Shropshire League thanks to a 5-0 victory over Coddon B in unfortunate circumstances.
Coddon were able to find only three players so decided to default the match, with a phone call received by Stretton’s Graham Shepherd at 4.40pm on the day.
It is possible to play, and even win, a match with only three players, but it may be that the distances involved in travelling from Telford to Church Stretton were a disincentive, especially as the travelling team would have begun the tie with a 2-0 disadvantage.
While Stretton would have been favourites to win anyway, the 5-0 whitewash margin through the no-show has, through no fault of their own, had a significant effect on the promotion race by lifting Stretton above promotion rivals Wellington on “goal difference”.
As it happens, Stretton and Wellington go head to head in their final game of the season, and this will obviously prove to be a crunch tie.
Newport may end Shrewsbury dominance 07/03/06
Star Chess Editor TOBY NEAL puts the spotlight on a thrilling chase for the Shropshire championship
Newport A are on the brink of winning their first league championship since 1999 after a convincing victory over reigning champions Telepost A.
It will also mark the first time since that year that a non-Shrewsbury club have won the title — Telepost and Shrewsbury have dominated things for the last few years.
Newport are three points clear at the head of the division with two games to play. Although their final two matches are against strong opposition, they must now be odds-on favourites to take the title. In their latest victory they were helped on their way by Telepost, rather unusually for them, defaulting a board with captain Richard Bryant snowed in.
Ludlow A are relegated and will be joined by either Shifnal & Telford B or Telepost B.
Should Telepost B take the drop they will probably be passed on the way down by Telepost C on their way up. The C team look almost certain to be promoted from Division Two.
County on brink of crown despite setback By TOBY NEAL 28/02/06
Shropshire are poised to become Midlands chess champions — despite a defeat at the hands of a strong Warwickshire team.
Because of the way results have fallen, Shropshire will only miss out on the MCCU Inter-Counties open championship title if super-strong Manchester lose to Lincolnshire, which is considered unlikely.
The Salopians lost 10-6 to Warwickshire at Shifnal Scout Hut on Saturday.
Captain Windsor Peck said: “Although the laurels of victory go to our three winners John Cox, David Everington and Nick Graham, it should be remembered that special thanks are due to everyone who fought a gallant fight, all against stronger opponents.
“We were outgraded on all boards except the top two. With four of our first line players absent this was a magnificent effort.”
Meanwhile, the Shropshire team for players graded under 100 will also be bidding for glory, in the under-100s competition. They meet Nottinghamshire in the MCCU Midlands final on March 18.
In the league, Ludlow, who are still without a point, ran reigning champions Telepost A close in their Divison One encounter. Telepost defaulted one game. Telepost C are looking good for promotion from Division Two after another convincing win. There is a close contest for the second promotion spot.
Parrott’s win puts rivals to flight By TOBY NEAL 21/02/2006
Shrewsbury A kept up their challenge in the Shropshire league title hunt with a win against Shifnal & Telford A — despite being without first team regulars Trevor Brotherton and Peter Kitchen.However, the home side were also without two of their big guns — John Footner and David Gostelow.
On top board Colin Roberts built up a huge positional advantage against Shrewsbury’s David Everington, and was still looking likely to win after losing the exchange for two pawns.
But, after all the pawns were exchanged, it came down to a drawn rook versus knight ending.
John Parrott’s run of good form continued with an attractive win from the black side of a King’s Gambit in which Jim Copley’s queen bishop and queen rook remained trapped behind doubled d-pawns for most of the game.
Iain Wilson got some consolation for the home side with a Houdini escape from a hopeless-looking position after he got his queen into the enemy position as Steve Rooney’s flag was about to fall.
Now county going for Midlands title By TOBY NEAL 07/02/06
Shropshire are to battle it out for the title of Midlands champions after a surprisingly easy victory over the normally strong Warwickshire side landed them a place in the regional finals.
The 7.5-4.5 win in the semi final at Shifnal takes Shropshire to the final of the Midland Counties Chess Union championship.
“Even if we lose that, we will still go through to the national quarter finals. The final is just to see who is the actual champion of the Midlands,” said Ian Davies, captain of Shropshire’s victorious under-100 graded team
Ieuan Fenton got the ball rolling for Shropshire with a win in only about 15 minutes, and thereafter the Salopians were always in the lead in the match. At one point they were 6-2 up, before Warwickshire clawed back some ground. Winners were Andy Tunks, Dele Ogundipe, Ian Davies, Derrick Powell, Gareth Hampson, and Ieuan Fenton, with draws from Roger Brown, Keith Grice, and Alan Pickles.
Shropshire will play either Worcestershire or Nottinghamshire in the final.
Shropshire’s best floored by Ufo By TOBY NEAL 10/01/06
A ‘Ufo’ landed at the Wrekin Congress and carved a swathe of destruction through the leading ranks of Shropshire’s chess players. Bel Ufodike beat the likes of Nick Rutter, Nigel Ferrington, and David Everington on his way to victory in the Premier, the top section of the annual tournament, the biggest chess event in Shropshire’s calendar. A point clear, Ufodike’s win was already in the bag when he took on Simon Fowler, Shropshire’s strongest player, in the final round. Had 17-year-old Simon won, he would have had a share of the first prize. But Ufodike, who plays for Whoberley (in Coventry), was anything but wobbly.
“Away” players also won both the Major and the Minor sections, meaning a complete shutout from the top prizes for Shropshire players. There were 103 competitors in the event held at Madeley Court Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
Champs Telepost crash to another loss By TOBY NEAL 20/12/05
Division One continues to throw up surprise results, with the once invincible Telepost A, the reigning league champions, going down to a third defeat and dropping towards the relegation zone.
After beating Shrewsbury A earlier in the season, Shifnal & Telford A beat Telepost for the first time in many seasons. Shifnal & Telford’s Steve Tarr says this was despite the side being without two key players, leaving them outgraded by over 20 grading points on all boards.
Junior player Christopher Lovejoy scored his first win for Shrewsbury B in their match against Coddon B, while in the Coddon C v Newport B encounter Coddon junior Nathanial Paul put up an impressive showing against Danny Griffiths, an opponent 68 grading points higher than him who was struggling at times, although young Nathanial lost in the end.
County makes right moves By TOBY NEAL 06/12/05
Shropshire’s team for players graded under 100 surged into an early 3-0 lead against Midlands champions Staffordshire A to set up a victory which takes them within one match of the play-offs.
It was Shropshire’s second match in the West Midlands zone and the final result was 8-4 to the Salopians, with wins coming from Keith Grice, Andy Tunks, Ian Davies, Chris Lewis, Derrick Powell, Sellick Davies, and Alan Pickles, and draws coming from Roger Brown and Andy Jones.
“Our next match is against Staffordshire B in early January and the way the results have gone if we win that one we will definitely go through to the play-offs,” said captain Ian Davies.
“Staffordshire A were last season’s national runners up, and also the champions of the whole of the Midlands. It was a match we had to win to keep our chances alive..”

Outsiders move to shift power balance By TOBY NEAL 22/11/05
With the new season still relatively young, there are early signs that the balance of power has shifted from Shrewsbury clubs, with three east Shropshire teams taking the leading places in the Division One table.
Over the past few seasons the county town duo of Telepost A and Shrewsbury A have shut out all opposition from the league title spot. Not since 1997, at the end of the glory years for Telford-based Coddon A, has a team from outside Shrewsbury taken the title.
But these “outsiders” are showing good early season form and Newport A, who are a very strong outfit when they can field their best team, are heading the table on “goal difference” from Shifnal & Telford A, for whom John Footner’s return to the chess scene is proving a match winner.
As if to prove the point, Shifnal & Telford beat Shrewsbury A in their latest encounter.
Shrewsbury’s David Everington reports: “It was a good win for Shifnal and Telford, owing much to an excellently played ending of queen and pawns by John Footner who exploited a 3-2 queenside majority with great skill and patience. ”

Forty five children took part in trials for the county under-9 and under-11 chess teams. The event involved a seven round tournament. In the under 9 section Athar Mahmood (Old Hall School) was the only player to win all seven games ahead of Harry Bridger (St Lucia’s) in second place with six points and Matthew Mellor (Ladygrove) third with five.The under-11 section resulted in a tough competition with two sharing first place. They were Henry Jackson (Packwood Haugh) and Jonathan Newey (Oxon), both on six points.

Telepost fail the B-test in early surprise By TOBY NEAL 11/10/05
Reigning league champions Telepost A have faltered in their campaign to retain the title, with a shock defeat at the hands of the club's own B team in the first match of the new season.
The 3-2 victory is not the first time the B-teamers have put a spanner in the works of their alleged betters and, with the title in previous seasons often hanging on just a couple of points, it could prove a crucial result at the end of the season.
Promoted Ludlow A were "welcomed" to Division One chess with a 5-0 thumping by Newport A, who outgraded them by 50 points on every board.
Tom Pym won in just 10 moves after winning his opponent's Queen: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cd 4 Nxd4 Nc6 5 Nc3 Nxd4 6 Qxd4 Nf6 7 Bc4 g6 8 e5 de?? 9 Bxf7 check Kxf7 10 Qxd8 and black resigned.
In the Coddon A v Shrewsbury A encounter, Shrewsbury's new recruit Peter Kitchen made a promising start with his win against a tough opponent in John Tunks. Peter works for the Shrewsbury Chronicle and is hoping to start up a weekly column with results and comments about the town's two clubs and Church Stretton.
Simon checks in as the king By TOBY NEAL 30/07/05
A Telford youngster is the new king of Shropshire chess after becoming the strongest player in the county at the age of only 16. Simon Fowler, from Wellington, has toppled veteran player Nick Rutter from his long-standing place as the man to beat. Simon's place at the top of the chess tree is revealed in the latest official chess grading lists, which are based on players results. An English junior international player, he has leapt 19 points to 189, leapfrogging Rutter, who has for many years been the highest-graded player in the county. But Rutter is up five grading points. Simon plays for the Telford-based Coddon chess club. Among his latest achievements is winning the National Junior Squad under-16 championship at Nottingham. Earlier this year he beat Swedish grandmaster Jonny Hector at the Jersey Festival. He is thought to be the youngest Shropshire player ever to beat a grandmaster. In the overall competition, Simon came third.

Tribute to club stalwart Neil Allen By TOBY NEAL 19/07/05
The Shropshire chess community is mourning the loss of one of its most popular players. Neil Allen, the captain of league title winners Telepost A, was only 33 and died at his Shrewsbury home on July 2. An inquest into his death has been opened and adjourned.
Allen, one of those players of middle-ranking strength who are always tough opponents and are such stalwarts of most chess clubs, also regularly appeared for the county side.
In a tribute, clubmate Keith Tabner said: "Neil learned his chess at Shrewsbury's Priory School and represented Shropshire Schools in national competitions. He was still a pupil there when he joined Telepost Chess Club as a junior in 1987. He continued to improve and in 1990 was promoted to the Telepost A team. The team was largely unchanged throughout the 1990's as it came closer and closer to an elusive league championship title. Eventually in 1999-2000 season Neil, together with team-mates Nigel Ferrington, David Bryan, John Bashall, and Keith Tabner, lifted the Shropshire Chess League Trophy.
Following a brief spell as successful captain of the Telepost B team which won promotion to Division I, Neil returned to captain the A team to another league title and a cup final in 2005. Sadly he will not now appear in that cup final.
As well as playing for the Shropshire county team, Neil also appeared regularly in the Wrekin congress where he was again a prizewinner in 2005.Away from chess he was a keen badminton player and rarely missed a Shrewsbury Town home football match. A dependable, well organised, likeable, and popular young man, both working within the postal service and socially, Neil Allen will be greatly missed by his family and his many friends and colleagues."

Meanwhile, Peter Mellor, of The Rock, Telford, was joint winner of the gigafinal in Manchester of a national competition for schoolchildren. Peter, who is 11, took the honours in the under-11 section, with a score of 5.5 out of six. He took home a half share of the £100 prize.

Depleted Shropshire win semi-final spot By TOBY NEAL 7th June 2005
In what must be one of the most remarkable ever county results, Shropshire's team for chess players graded under 125 pulled off an unlikely victory which takes them through to the national semi finals.
Shropshire were surprised to find themselves in the quarter-final of the national championships, having lost two of their qualifying Midlands Championship matches.
However, they had qualified as runners-up by virtue of their victories over the other two sides who also tied with them on seven points.
With their opponents Hertfordshire having smashed Kent 14.5-1.5 in their previous game, Shropshire could be excused for being a bit pessimistic in their quarter-final match.
Shropshire's sense of foreboding would have also increased when they had to concede two boards, managing only to field 14 players.
The first game was a fairly quick win for Shropshire by Vince Crean (outgraded by 15 points), followed by another one by Gary White, which erased the lead that Herfordshire had by virtue of the defaulted games. Wins by Dave Storey and Andy Tunks moved Shropshire two points clear, while several draws meant that Herfordshire were failing to pull any games back.
Further wins then came from Peter Crean, George Viszokai and John Whittaker, which added to draws from David Williams, John Westhead, Roger Brown (outgraded by 17 points), Martin Patterson (outgraded by 32 points) and Alex Taylor (outgraded by 44 points), meant that two consolation wins by Hertfordshire were not enough.
The final result was 9.5-6.5 to Shropshire.
County's semi hopes shattered By TOBY NEAL 24th May 2005
Shropshire's hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the national British Chess Federation championships were blown out of the water by a strong Kent side.
The Salopians had reached the quarter finals for the first time, but the odds were always stacked against them in the tie played at a neutral venue at Bedford.
Only five members of the Shropshire team had a higher grading than the player fielded on Kent's bottom board, which meant that the margin of defeat - 12-4 - was not without some honour.
Nick Rutter on board two, and Jamie Hopkins on board three, held players graded 204 and 200 respectively to draws, but the star performance was by teenager Simon Fowler who beat his 200-grade opponent.
John Footner and Nick Graham also overcame the odds to score victories.
Perfect Rutter faces Fowler again By TOBY NEAL 03/05/05
Nick Rutter has a perfect score of five wins out of five as he takes on Shropshire's teenage international Simon Fowler in the penultimate round of the county individual chess championship.
Rutter's wins along the way include victories against two past winners of the tournament.He overcame Jamie Hopkins in a 106-move marathon, and put away Nigel Ferrington in a 23-move miniature.
The sixth round Rutter-Fowler encounter echoes their meeting at the start of the year in the Wrekin Chess Congress when they were both playing for the title.In that game Rutter, who is Shropshire's highest graded player, offered a draw after gaining the upper hand, which young Simon accepted.Rutter was influenced by the fact that he had lost to Simon in the league only four days previously. He also lost to Simon in a league game in October.
The picture among the chasing pack is a little unclear as some games are still outstanding, but another junior, Gavyn Cooper, is on 3.5, and others on three points, but with games in hand, are Richard Bryant, Dave Gostelow, and Tony Holdford.
County chess stars facing national test By TOBY NEAL 26/04/2005
Shropshire's open team has made the national British Chess Federation quarter finals for what may be the first time in their history.
The Salopians will be taking on Kent, and Colin Roberts, general secretary of Shropshire Chess Association, is calling for the best turnout possible for the game in which they will inevitably be heavily outgunned.
"Let's treat it like our cup final and get the top 16 out," he said.
The match has to be played on, or by, the third Saturday in May.

Among talking points in the league, Shifnal & Telford's Steve Tarr is calling for a ban on relegated teams staying up in place of the newly-promoted teams from the same club.
"It makes me very angry and is damaging to the spirit of the game. By the way, I was opposed to this when my own club used this loophole in the league," he said.
In his own club's case a few years ago the A team were relegated from Division One while the B team were simultaneously promoted.This presented the club something of a dilemma which was resolved by effectively turning the B team into the A team. This meant that the B team players who had fought so hard for promotion found themselves still playing in the lower division.

Telepost A claim the county crown - TOBY NEAL 5th April 2005
Shropshire's chess season reached a dramatic climax which left the championship race and many promotion and relegation issues all turning on the last matches.
Now the smoke has cleared, Telepost A can be crowned league champions, having held off the challenge of county town rivals Shrewsbury A.
Telepost B are for the drop from Division One on "goal difference", and join Shrewsbury B on the way down, but will be leapfrogged by clubmates from Telepost C, who have won promotion from Division Two through a crucial victory over Church Stretton A.
Ludlow A were already safely promoted, joining the top flight for the first time since the formation of the club a few years back.
At the bottom of Division Two, Newport B's loss against Wellington A left them on tenterhooks, as it meant the drop - unless Wellington B, playing the same evening, lost. The Newport players must have breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that Wellington B had gone down 1.5-3.5 to Oswestry.
And in Division Three, where Shrewsbury C were already promoted, rivals for the second promotion spot Church Stretton B and Coddon C were both in nailbiting action. Coddon got the win they needed to guarantee promotion.
Check-out time all wrong for Telepost By TOBY NEAL 22 March 2005
Telepost A found themselves in the middle of a party but with nothing to celebrate when a bookings mix-up meant two crucial end-of-season matches had to be played in the middle of a big knees-up by lady darts players.
Players arrived at the Shewsbury venue to find Telepost's normal club room occupied by pigeon fanciers - and lady darts players had booked their annual charity "fiesta party" throughout the rest of the club.
Telepost's Keith Tabner admitted that he had known before the start of the season that the lady darters had booked the place, but had forgotten about it.
The frivolities made a lively backdrop to the two matches in which Telepost A - needing a win to seal the title - faced Newport A, and Telepost C needed to beat Newport B to keep up their push for promotion.
Tabner said: "Despite the general chaos and mayhem Newport A play well, winning the match 3.5-1.5 - the biggest defeat for Telepost A for several years."

Elsewhere, Shrewsbury A kept up the pressure with a 5-0 victory against Telepost B.
Shrewsbury's David Everington said: "It was earned with more difficulty than the score suggests."

Newport B and Oswestry had a thrilling finish which saw Oswestry relegated to division three, their only chance of survival having been to win their final two games.

County thriller has echoes of 2004 successes 08/03/2005 By Toby Neal
Shropshire's U125 side managed a thrilling 9-7 win in their final match of the season against Worcestershire at Shifnal.
Worcestershire were leading 6-4 after the first 10 games, despite wins by Andy Tunks and George Viszokai for Shropshire.
However Shropshire then produced a finish reminiscent of last year's run in the national championship, when John Liddell, Peter Crean, Mark Billington and Graham Shepherd won four of the last six games, while Roger Brown and Joe Pym both gained draws in the other two games.
Draws had come earlier from Dave Storey, John Whitaker, Keith Grice and Peter Binks.
Over the season Shropshire were unbeaten at home with two wins and a draw, though they struggled to get out their stronger players away from home and lost both their games.
Meanwhile Shropshire's U100 Team is on tenterhooks to see if they will progress further after beating Staffordshire 6.5-5.5 in the last match of the Midland Zone.
Only Worcestershire can catch them if they win their final game against Leicestershire A. News of this result is now awaited and whether Shropshire go forward to play the winners of the Southern Section will depend on both whether Worcestershire win, and if so, by what margin.
Is Simon's win our best ever? 01/03/2005
Simon Fowler's win against Swedish grandmaster Jonny Hector could be the best ever performance by a Shropshire player, according to Telepost's Keith Tabner.
He says I sold Simon short in reporting his win at the Jersey Festival of Chess, a top-level tournament in which Simon, who lives in Wellington and plays for the Coddon club, came third.
"His win over Jonny Hector makes him the youngest Shropshire player ever to beat a GM. Simon is 16. In 1980 John Cox was 17 when he beat GM L. Shamkovitch at the Lloyds Bank Masters," said Tabner.
"I may be wrong, but the only other Shropshire win over a GM that I am aware of was Charlie Morris' win over Tony Miles at the 1981 West Wales Congress, and he was 21 at the time.
"I'm trying to check my facts but, if true, Simon's win is also the first for 24 years. It may even be the best ever performance by a Shropshire player!"

Incidentally Tabner also took me to task for describing Telepost as reigning league champions last week - in fact their four-year run was broken by Shrewsbury last season.

In the top-of-the-table clash in Division Two, Wellington A narrowly beat Ludlow A, but a question hung in the air afterwards: Did time stand still during one of the crucial games?
The result turned on the last game to finish, my own top board encounter against Gerald Link, which Link had to win to salvage a draw for Ludlow. He had had a strong position but, with time ticking away, simplified to an endgame, which dissolved his advantage. With just two or three minutes left on his clock, and clearly by now on the defensive, he offered a draw, which I accepted.
The twist came when Ludlow were on their way home. Wellington's Stefan Tennant held up the clock and said: "Did you notice?"
He then said that during several of those closing minutes, the minute hand on my clock had failed to move, even though the clock was ticking.
On my own examination of the clock, the minute hand appeared to move normally, although by that time, of course, it had been picked up and no doubt jolted in the process.
Neither myself nor Link had noticed anything wrong. I thought Gerald was falling behind on time because he was taking longer to move. And the other Ludlow players watched the closing stages of the game, and none has (so far) mentioned anything being amiss.

Title battle will go to the wire - 22/02/2005
Shrewsbury A have moved to the top of Division One after a crucial win which means the battle for the league title will go down to the wire.
Reigning champions Shrewsbury lead county town rivals Telepost on "goal difference", but Telepost have a game in hand.
The bottom two boards in the match against Newport A won first to give Shrewsbury a cushion but the win was clinched with a superb performance by top board Jamie Hopkins who won a rook ending against Shropshire's top-graded player Nick Rutter.

Away from the league scene, teenager Simon Fowler scored an impressive third place in the Jersey Festival of Chess, in which he was taking part as a member of the national junior chess squad.
Simon, who plays for the Telford-based Coddon club, had a bad start. He was seasick after a rough ferry crossing, and then in the first round was beaten by IM David Howell, seen as the next great hope for the future of English chess.
He won his next three matches and drew the fourth against FM Juergen Brustkern.
The next round pitched him on top board against Swedish grandmaster Jonny Hector. Simon won.
This result put Simon in second place. His last opponent was South African International Master Watu Kobese. He drew, finishing the tournament in third position (£750), behind IM David Howell and GM Jonny Hector but ahead of a GM, an IM, and an FM!
Jonny Hector 2516 GM - Simon Fowler 2116 [C15]
Jersey Open, Round 5, Board 1
notes by the winner
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 dxe4 5.a3 Be7 6.g4 Nc6 7.Bg2 e5 8.d5 Na5 9.Ng3 e3 10.Bxe3 Nc4 11.Bc1 Bg5 12.0-0 Bxc1 13.Rxc1 Qh4 14.Re1 Nh6 15.Re4 Nxg4! 16.h3! (16.Rxc4 Qxh2+ 17.Kf1 h5 gives black attacking chances) Nd6 17.Rxg4 Bxg4 18.hxg4 0-0-0! (18.....0-0 is saner but probably worse) 19.Nce4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Qg5 21.c4 g6 22.c5 c6? (he suggested h5, but the position is too complicated to be certain what is right) 23.Qc2! Qf4 (23....cxd5 24 c6 is dangerous for black) 24.Bg2 h5 25.Ne2 Qxg4 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.b4 h4 28.Qa4 e4 29.Qxc6+ Kb8 30.Kf1 f5 31.f3 Qg5 32.fxe4 h3 33.Bh1? (33.Bf3 would have won) fxe4! 34.Qxe4? (34.Qb5+ would have drawn by perpetual) Rhf8+ 35.Bf3 Qg2+! (this is what he missed) 36.Ke1 Qxf3 37.Qxf3 Rxf3 38.c6 Kc7 39.Nc3 a6 40.Ke2 Rf5 41.a4 Re8+ 42.Kd3 h2 43.b5 Rh8 44.Rh1 Rg5 0-1

County is blown away in the semi - 16/02/2005
Shropshire's faint hopes of reaching the final of the Midland Counties open chess championship were predictably blown away in the semi final at Birmingham.
It was predictable because this Shropshire team were each between 20 and 30 grading points weaker than their Warwickshire opponents.
They went down to a 11.5-4.5 defeat.
However, Shropshire picked up points on four of the top five boards.
Overall there were wins for Dave Gostelow, Nick Graham, and Steve Tarr, and draws for Nick Rutter, Trevor Brotherton, and Colin Roberts.
Gostelow played his game over on the Fritz chess computer program on his laptop immediately after the match and it was interesting to note that, while Gostelow intuitively knew that his attack was winning, Fritz was assessing the position was roughly equal, before eventually changing its mind.
It was one of those cases where the human brain can "see" more than an artificial brain made up of silicon chips.

In the league, Jamaican star Ryan Palmer is making quite an impact in Division Two.
He won his fifth consecutive game for Newport B against fellow strugglers Wellington B, helping Newport to a victory which takes them clear of the relegation places.

Hopkins blasts the title race wide open - 08/02/05
Just when the league championship battle seemed all but over, reigning champions Shrewsbury have mounted a late challenge to retain their title with an emphatic victory over league leaders Telepost A.
And it was Jamie Hopkins, playing his first game for Shrewsbury this season, who made all the difference with a sparkling win on top board to continue his recent good run against Nigel Ferrington.
Shrewsbury's defeat of their county town rivals could have been even better, but Francis Best missed a clear win in a tricky bishops and pawns ending, just before his flag fell in the time scramble.
Hopkins effectively beat Ferrington in just 22 moves, which is quite a feat against "Fezza" - especially by a player whose fatherhood duties have meant that chess has been taking a back seat in recent months.
The game went: 1 b3 c5 2 Bb2 Nc6 3 e3 e5 4 Nf3 d6 5 d4 Bg4 6 Be2 Qc7 7 d5 Nce7 8 c4 g6 9 Nfd2 Be2 10 Qe2 Bg7 11 f4 f6 12 fe fe 13 Ne4 Nf6 14 Ng5 Bh6 15 Ne6 Qd7 16 e4 Nh5 17 O-O Ng7 18 Bc1! (wins a piece) Ng8 19 Rf8 check Ke7 20 Bh6 Nh6 21 Ra8 Ra8 22 Neg7 - and Black resigned a few moves later.
Shrewsbury are now just two points behind the leaders and share an almost identical "goal difference", so Telepost are under pressure for the first time this season.
Time running out as clocks can't be found 01/02/05
Wellington's B team struck another blow to the A team's chances of promotion when they ran off with the A team's chess sets on the night of a big A team match.
The upshot was that the senior team were left struggling to find enough boards, pieces, clocks, and scoresheets for their tie against Coddon B and took a 30-minute time penalty because of the resulting delayed start.
The comedy of errors began when I as the A team captain, called at the home of B team captain Derrick Powell to pick up the sets, as pre-arranged. But they were not there, and Powell had already left for a B team match in Church Stretton.
Assuming that somebody else must have picked them up, I went to the venue at the Cock Hotel in Wellington, to find the Wellington and Coddon players waiting - and no sets. Luckily I had picked up a suitcase full of second string sets from Derrick's house, "just in case". But there was just one clock.
Around this time an anguished message came through from Church Stretton saying that the B teamers had accidentally taken the sets there.
Derrick's wife came to the A team's rescue by ferrying all the chess clocks she could find to the Cock Hotel. This made four. Chess books were ripped up to provide scoresheets.
Match result was 2.5-2.5 and comes on top of the B team's embarrassing victory over the A team in the previous match.
The final twist in the sorry tale came next day when, looking in the suitcase in daylight, a box was noticed. Written on it was "6 chess clocks". They had been there all the time!
Bishop's Castle bid to start new club 25/01/05
Despite having perhaps the most apt name for any town in Shropshire aspiring to be a chess centre, Bishop's Castle has no chess club.
But an enthusiast is now appealing for chess players in and around Bishop's Castle to contact him with a view to setting up a club which, if the project took off, would take part in competitions and friendly matches throughout the county.
Behind the idea is Neil Lancaster, who says that there was apparently a chess club in Bishop's Castle years ago, but it seems to have faded away.
"I realise there are clubs in Ludlow, Church Stretton and Shrewsbury, but these are all 25 to 35 minutes away. The club will be known as the Zolkov Chess Club, named after a fine, but now deceased Hungarian player Zoltan Kovari, my one-time guru and mentor."
Mr Lancaster, who has already designed a club logo, said: "This will be a members club for all, from novices to international masters. I would love to participate in competitions and friendly matches throughout the county and beyond.
"One thing I am certainly going to do is find a really good location and not the usual dull backroom in the local crypt or a schoolroom humming with Dettol. Interested parties should contact me either by phoning me on (01588) 650221 or at zolkovchess@tesco.net."

In the league, Coddon A have stopped the Telepost A juggernaut, being the first team to take a point off them this season, thanks to crucial wins on the top two boards. Nevertheless, Telepost remain unbeaten and only a disastrous loss of form will see them failing to retain the league title.
Shrewsbury A overcame Shifnal & Telford B in a desperately hard struggle.
Shock opener at new home for Wellington 18/01/05
Wellington celebrated their first meeting at their new venue - the Cock Hotel - with a shock result when the club's B team beat the A team, giving the A-teamers' chances of promotion from Division Two a severe knock.
Wellington have moved from their previous venue, the Princess Royal Hospital, because of the advent of parking charges there. The charges are not waived in the evenings, which was making playing chess an expensive business.
There was nothing flukey about the B team victory, with deserved victories from Martin Walsh - his win against John Lenton must be one of his best-ever results - Dele Ogundipe, and Peter Binks.
And the net effect was to knock the A team from the top of Division Two.

Ambitious players keep on top of all the latest chess fashions in opening theory, but Shropshire's strongest player Nick Rutter, who was the joint winner of this month's Wrekin Chess Congress, has shown that old-fashioned moves in the opening that nobody plays any more can be effective surprise weapons.
The player on the receiving end has to go off "auto pilot" and start thinking for themselves, while their opponent is probably well primed and familiar with all the potential twists and turns in the position.

Congress proves to be home banker 11/01/05
Wrekin Chess Congress served up a "dream final" which pitted the new generation of Shropshire chess against the old.
In the fifth and final round the leading pair of Simon Fowler, the 16-year-old English junior international who lives in Wellington, and Nick Rutter from Newport, who for years has been Shropshire's highest graded player, went head-to-head in a game which would decide who would lift the top trophy.
Fowler, who plays for the Telford-based Coddon club, was the underdog on paper but went into the encounter with a psychological advantage, having beaten Rutter in a league game just a few days before.
And this contributed to the result - a fairly quick draw in a position in which Rutter was looking good.
The draw meant the pair jointly won the Premier section, the first time in many years that there has been a "home win" in the top section of the congress.
The new lowered maximum grading limit for entrants no doubt played a part in this by shutting out super-strong outsiders.
It was also the first time both players had won the congress, Rutter's best previous result being a second place.

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