THE PAPERS SAY
Read Toby Neal's Column
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a news item email - TNeal@shropshirestar.co.uk.
Shropshire Congress on track for record entry - 17/12/2013
Entries for January's Shropshire Chess Congress are running ahead of those at this stage for the record-breaking event held at the beginning of this year, say organisers. However, most players book in the last fortnight, so it will not be until the final countdown that a good idea will be had of the total entry for the event, which is the biggest annual competition in the county's chess calendar, attracting players from all over Britain.
The congress is on January 4 and 5 at Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford, and among the innovations will be the use of "live boards" in which the action in some of the top games will be broadcast both in the venue and on the internet in real time. The congress, backed by Shropshire Chess Association, has invested in the latest technology in the form of digital chess boards which will enable people to follow the games as they happen without crowding around the boards.
January's event will also see a book and equipment stall run by the London Chess Centre, which will supply a complimentary copy of Chess magazine to congress entrants. Booking is available online at www.shropshirechess.org and the congress is open to players of all abilities. More information from Steve Rooney at email@example.com or 07530 649195.
Meanwhile one of the congress organisers, Steve Rooney, has enjoyed some early family success at the Bury Rapidplay. He was joint first, with three others, in the Major section, while son Francis was joint third in the Minor and also won the prize for players graded under 120.
In the league, Ludlow A are going into the Christmas break leading Division Two after a win against an under strength Shrewsbury B. There was consolation of sorts for Shrewsbury in that Andrew Lewis extended his unbeaten run to 11 games. Margins in the division are so fine that seven of the eight teams have a realistic chance of fighting for the promotion spots - and will also be looking over their shoulders to avoid the relegation spots at the same time.
Tonight (Tues 17/12/13) sees a Christmas event at Newport chess club in which three top players will be taking on allcomers in a simultaneous display. The trio, Nigel Ferrington, Gavyn Cooper, and Trevor Brotherton, will not be able to confer, which is a significant disadvantage because they will have to guess what their counterpart had in mind in making the preceding move, and will probably end up in many games saying "that's another fine mess you've got me into".
Too close to call - 10/12/2013
With just three points separating seven of the eight teams in Division Two, only two points between the top four teams in Division One, and three points separating the top six teams in Division Three, Shropshire chess league is the most hotly contested it has been for years as it approaches the Christmas break.
Shrewsbury A and surprise package Wellington A head the first division, with Shrewsbury inflicting a heavy defeat on their travels to Telford A , who find themselves in the relegation zone - a worrying position for them at this stage of the campaign as it is almost a Telford tradition that some of their stronger players become unavailable in the second half of the season.
Wellington kept up their good form with a win against an under strength Telepost A. There was a notable encounter on top board which matched two players who have won every game so far this season, Nigel Ferrington and Toby Neal, so something had to give. In a dynamic game both missed wins and with both flags hanging the players repeated moves three times - making it an automatic draw, with honours shared, but important for the match result as it secured Wellington the match victory.
This week's division two fixtures are the last of the normal league action for 2013, but December 16 sees a bumper round of ties in the Shropshire rapidplay league, being hosted by the Telepost club in Shrewsbury.
And the following evening sees three top Shropshire players taking on allcomers in a fun Christmas event at Newport chess club at 7.30pm. Details are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org .
Fun Christmas event in prospect - 03/12/2013
Chessboard chaos is in prospect when three of Shropshire's top players take on allcomers in a fun Christmas event at Newport chess club.
Trevor Brotherton, Nigel Ferrington and Gavyn Cooper will be in a simultaneous event on December 17, going round the challengers playing moves in turn - and as the trio are not allowed to talk to one another, it will definitely not be a case of three heads being better than one.
"We have aimed to choose players with differing styles in order to cause chaos on the chess boards. This will hopefully occur because the three players cannot confer so will not be aware of each other's plans," said organiser Nathanael Paul.
The event is at Newport RBL at 7.30pm and will include a buffet and prizes, with a cost of £10 for adults and £5 for juniors.
"The event should be great fun and we will make great efforts to make the food and prizes of the highest possible quality."
Further details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile the clock is ticking down for the biggest annual event in Shropshire's chess calendar - Shropshire Chess Congress, which takes place on January 4 and 5 at The Wrekin Housing Trust, Colliers Way, Old Park, Telford. There was a record entry for the January 2013 congress and the event in the New Year will include live transmission of action on some of the top boards and increased prize money.
Shropshire's team for players graded under-140 went down to a 7-9 defeat in their encounter against Nottinghamshire at Shifnal. Shropshire winners were Peter Crean, Gary White, and Roger Brown, and draws came from Richard Gillespie, Christopher Paul, Richard Szwajkun, Neil Sampson, John Westhead, Colin Mace, Andrew Jones, and Andrew Lewis.
In Division Two Ludlow A and Telepost B are neck and neck at the top, with Shrewsbury B and Oswestry A just a point behind - and the Oswestry outfit with a game in hand.
Veteran players Norman O'Connor of Shrewsbury and Derrick Powell of Wellington faced each other across the board for the second time in a matter of days. Both had been stand-ins in a recent A team encounter, with Powell's draw securing a Wellington victory, and the latest encounter was with the clubs' B teams. This time Powell won - once more securing a Wellington victory.
It's so tight at the top - 25/11/2013
Only two points separate the first six teams in Division One in what is shaping up to be the most open title battle in the Shropshire chess league for many years.
An indication of how fine the margins are comes from the fact that Wellington A's win over Shrewsbury A lifted them from just above the relegation zone to the heady heights of being joint leaders.
Wellington's hero on the night was bottom board stand-in Derrick Powell, who needed only a draw to secure the victory for the home team but was being put under much pressure by veteran opponent Norman O'Connor, who is graded almost 20 points higher. Wellington players watched anxiously as it was a position in which it would be easy to make a mistake. Powell however deftly defused O'Connor's threats and transformed the position to one in which, if anything, he was better. With his prospects of a win now unrealistic, O'Connor offered a draw, which was accepted, and the match was decided in Wellington's favour.
In Division Three, Shane Sweeney delivered a smart queen and knight mate early in his game to help Church Stretton B to a win over Oswestry B.
With there being no Shropshire first team playing competitive inter-county chess any more, because nobody has come forward to captain it, a group of county players have set up a Shropshire team to do battle on the national scene as part of the Four Nations Chess League. Their debut matches saw them gain one point out of four, with a 3.5-2.5 loss to Ashfield-Breadsall and a 3-3 draw with Bristol University in matches in which the Salopians were very much the underdogs. Against Ashfield- Breadsall there was a win by Chris Lewis and draws by Trevor Brotherton, Nathanael Paul, and Glyn Pugh, and against Bristol University there were wins by Paul and Lewis, and draws from Colin Roberts and Steve Tarr.
Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 has its first match of the season on Saturday, November 30, against Nottinghamshire, being played in Shifnal at 1pm, and captain Roger Brown is appealing for available players to let him know they can play.
Shepherd springs trap - 19/11/2013
John Lenton became the latest victim of a devilish and ancient trap as Ludlow A cruised to a 4-1 win against Wellington B in Shropshire Chess League.
In what must be one of the shortest games in the league so far this season, opponent Graham Shepherd sprung the difficult-to-see trap on the eighth move to give Lenton the proverbial early bath.
Here's how it went, with Lenton playing with the white pieces: 1 c4 Nf6 2 d4 e5 (the Budapest Gambit, turning it into a tactical game) 3 dxe5 Ng4 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bf4 (holding on to the extra pawn, although some players with the white pieces don't bother) 5...Bb4 check 6 Nbd2 Qe7 7 a3 Ncxe5 8 axb4 Nd3 checkmate.
It turns out that this is the so-called Kieninger trap which was first recorded in 1925.
Elsewhere in Division Two, wins by both Shrewsbury B and Telepost B means that Shrewsbury-based clubs top the table in both the first and the second divisions.
And it's the same story in Division One of the new Shropshire Rapidplay league, in which players have only 20 minutes to complete the entire game. Telepost A are currently the class of the field after the latest round of fixtures, with rivals Shrewsbury next best, but some way adrift.
In Division Two, Priorslee Lions A chalked up another three wins out of three, which means they remain undefeated and are seven points clear at the top.
Shrewsbury topple champions - 11/11/2013
Shrewsbury A have returned to the top of Division One after winning against the odds against a full strength Newport A side - the reigning league champions.
On paper the home team, already missing some key players, were outgunned, having an average grading of 154 against their visitors' average of 170, and all seemed to be going with the form book as Francis Best lost to Shropshire's strongest player, Nick Rutter, on top board, and a draw on board four meant it was all to do for Shrewsbury in the three remaining games.
Ed Goodwin then levelled the scores with a win over Gavyn Cooper, and an immense tussle between David Everington and Nathanael Paul in which the advantage swung this way and that resolved itself into a drawn endgame.
The match now turned on the result of the board five encounter between Chris Lewis and Mark Smith, where Smith bounced back from a passive position to a winning one, securing his team all the points.
Elsewhere Priorslee Lions A beat Wellington A in a match notable for the end of the 14-game unbeaten run by Wellington's James Kuczynski, although the circumstances were rather special as he "took one for the team". The last game to finish, he turned down a draw offer from Glyn Pugh in the knowledge that he had to win his game to save the match for Wellington, and played on in an inferior position, ultimately losing on time, although things on the board were by then clearly hopeless anyway.
This week sees the second round of matches in the new Shropshire rapidplay league, in which players have just 20 minutes on the clock, in contrast to the 95 minutes allowed in normal league games.
|Shropshire enter team in 4NCL - 29/10/2013
With Shropshire no longer having an open team competing on the county chess circuit, a group of players have got together to form a "Shropshire" team to compete on the national stage in the Four Nations Chess League.
The 4NCL team is being run by Nathanael Paul and Chris Lewis and comprises Trevor Brotherton, Gavyn Cooper, Dave Gostelow, Nathanael Paul, Colin Roberts, Steve Tarr, Chris Lewis, and Stuart Ross, with Graham Shepherd reserve.
The league is a team tournament over three divisions and the Shropshire 4NCL team is giving the opportunity for top county players to play team chess at this level as part of a county team for the first time since the county's open team folded, essentially because nobody was willing to take on the job of running it.
In the Shropshire chess league Shrewsbury A have been knocked off the top spot and have suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of county town rivals Telepost A, who were able to field their three strongest players for the first time this season.
Unexpected league leaders now are Wellington A who were promoted from division two at the end of last season. It must be many years since Wellington led the league even temporarily, and the last time they actually won the championship was in the 1960s.
New rapidplay league kicks off - 22/10/2013
A new venture has got under way on the Shropshire chess scene with the advent of the county's first-ever rapidplay league.
With the exception of Oswestry, every club has entered.
Whereas in the "normal" league, players have 95 minutes to complete all their moves, in the new rapidplay event they have just 20 minutes, leading to some hectic chess in which fortunes can change quickly. The quick time limit means that the league is being run as mini-tournaments, arranged monthly on nights in which there are no "normal" league fixtures, in which teams each play three matches back-to-back.
The first round of matches were played at the Telford venue for division one teams, and at Wellington for division two teams. In the top flight Telepost A were the class of the field, winning all three matches and going to the head of division one, while Priorslee Lions A were similarly dominant in the division two ties, racking up three wins.Next rapidplay match nights are on November 12 at Condover for the first division, and November 13 at Telford for the second division.
In the normal league, Shrewsbury B's victory over Oswestry A sees them heading division two.
James Kuczynski shines as Wellington go top - 15/10/2013
James Kuczynski extended his remarkable unbeaten run in the league to 14 games as his win against John Footner helped propel promoted Wellington A to a brief 48-hour spell at the top of Division One. You have to go back to February 2012 to find the last time Kuczynski was beaten. Although impressive, it does not yet match that of Shrewsbury's John Parrott who was unbeaten in 16 matches in 2010 and 2011 in a run which included 15 consecutive wins.
Telford A arrived with a team packing plenty of firepower for their encounter with Wellington but now find themselves pointless at the foot of the division in the early days of a season in which it would be a brave person to predict who will take the championship, let alone who will be relegated.
This was underlined by the defeat of the once invincible Telepost A by Priorslee Lions A. Telepost are one of a number of top teams which have lost the services of key personnel - Noel Kiffin has gone and new shift patterns have hit the availability of Phil Zabrocki
Shrewsbury regained the top spot thanks to a victory over Priorslee Lions B, the other promoted club. It boiled down to the last game which Marvin Carbin needed to win against Matt Best to salvage a match draw for Priorslee. With under two minutes left on the clock, he couldn't find a way through Best's defences and repeated moves, in effect accepting a draw, which meant the hosts won the match.
Condover & Church Stretton A scored their first victory of the season over reigning league champions Newport A
In Division Three Heath Pearson made his league debut for Shrewsbury C on his 13th birthday.
Tomorrow (Wed Oct 16th) sees the start of the new Shropshire Rapidplay league, with the first series of matches - all with a time limit of just 20 minutes for the entire game - being played at the Wellington and Telford venues.
Black night for Wellington B - 08/10/2013
It was not far from a case of "it'll be all white on the night" for Telepost B as they took on Wellington B in their Division Two clash in Shropshire Chess League. Because Telepost ended up playing with the white pieces on four of the five boards, when under the rules they, as the away team, should have had white on boards one, three, and five.
The mix-up came on board four, where Wellington's Dele Ogundipe was going head-to-head with John Westhead. Arriving late, Ogundipe sat down on the wrong side of the board, to play with the black pieces. His mistake was not obvious because the table on which board four was being played had been set up away from most of the other tables.As playing with the white pieces and starting first is reckoned to be a slight advantage, Wellington's cause was, in theory, although probably not in practice, harmed by the error. In any event, Telepost ran out 1.5-3.5 winners and are now joint leaders of the division.
Elsewhere in the division the winning start to the season from all three sides fielded by Shrewsbury chess club has been halted by Telford B, who drew against Shrewsbury's B team. With four games completed, Shrewsbury were guaranteed a draw in the running score and needed Ivor Salter to beat Richard Szwajkun in the last game to keep their 100 per cent record intact. However despite recovering from a seemingly hopeless position Salter remained on the back foot and was not able to stave off defeat.
Shrewsbury march on - 01/10/2013
Shrewsbury continue to be the early league leaders thanks to a hard-fought 3-2 victory against Priorslee Lions A.
It was a tough match for the home side who had Francis Best drop out at short notice which meant Daniel Lockett being called in as a last-minute stand-in. Apart from an eight-move draw between Peter Kitchen and Andy Tunks, the other games were all tense and the decisive encounter was on board two between David Everington and William Bates. It was a difficult heavy piece ending which went into a 57-move epic, with Everington coming through the complications to triumph.
It means Shrewsbury chess club's three teams all have a 100 per cent record, although the A team will have their work cut out to stay at the top of the pile as their strongest player, Jamie Hopkins, has stepped down as captain because of family commitments and expects to have limited availability to play for the rest of the season as a consequence.
In Division Three, the 2-2 draw between Condover & Church Stretton B and Telepost D was notable for a winning start by Alisdair Benjamin on his league debut.
Shrewsbury are tops - 24/09/2013
Shrewsbury Chess Club is riding high - with its teams topping all three divisions of the Shropshire Chess League after the opening round of the campaign.
Division Two action began a week after the other two divisions, and Shrewsbury B are early joint leaders after their victory over Newport B.
Shrewsbury went into a 2-0 lead, but then Norman O'Connor lost on time against Chris Paul, giving hosts Newport a chance to come back. Daniel Lockett sealed the points for Shrewsbury with a win against Stuart Ross.
Meanwhile, the new Shropshire rapidplay league is taking shape. This is a separate league in which all games will be played at a rate of 20 minutes per player for all their moves - in the "normal" league the time limit is 95 minutes.
Every Shropshire club apart from Oswestry and Ludlow have entered at least one team, which means there will be two divisions. The opening round of fixtures in both divisions will be on October 16.
Hot welcome for league newcomers - 17/09/2013
Shrewsbury A ruined the welcoming party for Shropshire chess league newcomers Condover & Church Stretton by meting out a heavy 4-1 defeat in their first ever league fixture.
And, although the match was closer than the scoreline suggests, in doing so Shrewsbury threw down a marker that they could be serious contenders for the title in a new season which is seeing new-look teams and one or two new faces.
Condover & Church Stretton have been formed by the merger of the two respective clubs. Among the players is Michael Bukojemski, who first played in a Cox trophy match last season. He lives in South Shropshire and has returned to chess after a break of about 14 years. He played a lot of junior chess in Poland.
There was better news for Condover & Church Stretton in Division Three, where their B team got off to a winning start.
Back to Division One and newly promoted Wellington A only had four players against reigning league champions Newport - the in-form James Kuczynski had, it turned out later, had to cry off because of babysitting problems and his "I can't play" message had not got through. But then Ken Hickmott's win on bottom board and Toby Neal's rare victory over Nick Rutter meant a potential upset was on the cards, as Colin Roberts had won a piece against Gavyn Cooper. However, despite being down to his last seconds, Cooper successfully frustrated any progress on Roberts' part, and their draw sealed a match draw.
Priorslee Lions have two teams in Division One - very much a double-edged sword as it stretches resources, as was demonstrated by the mutual default of bottom board. The B side tweaked the noses of their supposed A team betters, winning 2.5-1.5.
Rounding up some late news from the summer, Richard Szwajkun of Telford chess club was outright winner in the under-135 section of the e2e4 Bank Holiday congress at Coventry. He scored 5.5 points out of seven, with no defeats.
League gets up to speed - 10/09/2013
Shropshire chess action gets under way again this week for the new season with some new-look teams and a new rapidplay league to run in tandem with the regular league.
And it is time to pay our last respects to the old Shifnal Chess Club, all traces of which have now died away with the decision by Shifnal & Telford Chess Club at its annual meeting to drop the name "Shifnal" from its title.
Shifnal used to be a club in its own right with a line-up of strong players, but with numbers dwindling it merged in August 2000 with the Telford club, which played in those days at the Barley Mow, Madeley.However, over time almost all those Shifnal links have faded away.
The season will also see a new club enter the fray - Condover and Church Stretton Chess Club. This has been formed by a merger of the well-established Church Stretton league outfit, and Condover Chess Club, which has been playing social chess. The merged club meets each Tuesday at the Condover Social Club.
Details are awaited of the new rapidplay league being organised by Matt Best. This will be a separate league, playing games at the rate of 20 minutes per player, running alongside, but not clashing with, the "normal" league, in which the time limit is the much more leisurely 95 minutes per player.
Incidentally the latest grading list - gradings are the chess "form book" based on players' results - show Best to be Shropshire's most improved player, leaping from 114 to 147. Newport's Tom Pym has leapt to a massive 217, the same as Grandmasters Chris Ward and William Watson, making him Shropshire's strongest player for years. It can be no coincidence that Newport A won both the league championship and Cox Trophy last season but, alas for them, Pym has now moved to Southampton so they will be without his services in the current campaign.
Proposal for Shropshire 4NCL team - 30/07/2013
With Shropshire facing another season without an Open team in county competition, moves are afoot which would still give top Salopian players a chance to play at regional and national level.
The county first team has fallen moribund due to the lack of anyone to come forward to serve as Captain, but Nathanael Paul and Chris Lewis of the Newport club is now seeking to get together a pool of players to play in the Four Nations Chess League.
Nathanael said: "We are looking for eight to nine players to make a team. If more players are interested then we are open to running two teams, but we would need around 16 players to achieve that. Ideally four of these players can play all games and the others can be rotated.
"There are 11 rounds and five match weekends. The team fee is £125 for a team in division three, which is very reasonable. All matches are taking place at Daventry, therefore players do not need to worry about travelling down south."
The pair are now looking for club secretaries to spread the word to canvass interest. Deadline for submitting a team is September 30, and Nat and Chris want to finalise a team or teams early September at the latest.
Anyone interested can contact Nat directly at email@example.com and the 4NCL website is at www.4ncl.co.uk .
Nat has also been the organiser of the series of summer rapidplay tournaments held at the Newport club, the penultimate of which is tonight (Tues July 30), with kick off at 7.45pm.
National Champions - 23/07/2013
Shropshire players are the kings of English chess after victory over Kent in the national final played at Warwick.
Things were looking grim for the Salopians as they quickly went down 4-1 in the running score, but they then staged a comeback which saw them edge to a 9-7 win to take the title of English Chess Federation county champions in the category for players graded under 140. A grading of 140 would be around a lower A team or upper B team standard at club level.
Captain Roger Brown said: "After five games ended relatively early we were 4-1 down - we lost three and drew two of them. games then began to go our way.
"The last game playing was that involving Richard Thompson in which Richard had the edge and his opponent had less than five minutes left . Richard knew that with the score at 8-7 he only needed a draw. Richard completed the match by winning the game - 9-7 to Shropshire.
"An interesting position occurred in Chris Lewis' game in which his opponent took his queen with his rook, only to find himself checkmated in two moves on the back rank.
"Thanks to all who played in many close matches in the campaign on the way to victory. A total of 26 Shropshire players played and contributed to the victory."
Winners in the final were Richard Thompson, Andrew Tunks, Peter Crean, Gary White, Chris Lewis, and George Viszokai, and draws came from Graham Shepherd, Ivor Salter, Jonathan Newey, Roger Brown, Windsor Peck, and Ian Davies.
SCA Annual General Meeting - 15/07/2013
Shropshire Chess Association is to tighten up on rules which allow players to play for more than one club at a time.
The moves follows complaints over what were described at the annual meeting as "ringers" who are called in by teams to play for them at short notice, sometimes having a decisive influence on results in key games.
As currently framed, the rules allow a certain amount of flexibility in which, subject to conditions, players can play for one club in one division and for a different club in another. The intention is to help teams which might otherwise struggle to find enough players. But under measures agreed at the meeting, all players will have to be pre-registered.
Meanwhile a new quickplay league may be started next season, dovetailing with the current chess league. The idea has come from Matt Best of Shrewsbury chess club and there would be teams of four, with a half hour time limit for each player - the time limit in "normal" Shropshire league games is 95 minutes.
Teams could either be based on current league teams, or be composites from different clubs, and fixtures would be arranged to avoid clashes with normal league games.
Matt is now to canvass interest in the idea before moving ahead with the plan.
And Shropshire chess is marching into the digital age. The association agreed to go ahead with the purchase of a digital chess board at a cost of around £500. Such boards can display games being played on them live on the internet or on screen.
Jamie Hopkins is crowned champion - 01/07/2013
Jamie Hopkins is Shropshire's new individual champion after an exciting climax to the seven-round competition.
Four players were in with a chance of the title and all the decisive games in the last round were played simultaneously at Shrewsbury Chess Club. Trevor Brotherton was in pole position for the championship, half a point ahead of Nick Rutter, Hopkins, and Richard Bryant, which meant that he only needed to draw to win the trophy or, at the very least, share it.
But in a tense game he went down to defeat against Rutter - which meant Rutter would himself be champion if the game between Hopkins and Bryant was a draw. As Rutter waited to see the result, Hopkins had the advantage, and won a queen and pawns endgame. It put Rutter and Hopkins on equal scores, but Hopkins is crowned champion on the tiebreak system.
Further afield, Chris Lewis and Nathanael Paul of Newport chess club took part in the South lakes congress, and Lewis won his section, for players with a grading below 151, outright with a score of 4.5 out of a possible 5, returning home with £300 prizemoney.
In the latest of the summer blitz tournaments at Newport chess club, William Bates won with 6 points out of 7, with Jim O'Neil, Danny Griffiths, and Nathanael Paul runners up on 5 points. Jim Eadon won a grading prize.
Newport and Wellington win silverware - 25/06/2013
Newport A and Wellington A are the winners of Shropshire chess' summer silverware - the Cox Trophy and the Minor Knockout title.
Newport took along a super powerful team to do battle with Telepost A in the final of the Cox Trophy, which is for Division One teams, and chalked up a 3.5-05 win. John Bashall dropped a piece against Newport's Gavyn Cooper early on to see Telepost go one down, and then Keith Tabner, who seemed to have a decent position against Nathanael Paul, opened too many lines and went down to Telepost's second defeat.
Phil Zabrocki played the French Defence against Tom Pym, whose advancing pawns decided matters in an endgame, which meant the draw by Nigel Ferrington on top board against Nick Rutter was no more than a consolation.
Full result: Newport A 3.5, Telepost A 0.5 - N Rutter 0.5, N Ferrington 0.5; T Pym 1, P Zabrocki 0; G Cooper 1, J Bashall 0; N Paul 1, K Tabner 0.
In the Minor Cup competition, for lower division teams, Wellington A beat Ludlow 3-1 in the final. The match was poised at 2-1 to Wellington, which meant that Ludlow's John Whittaker had to beat Toby Neal on board two to tie the score - which would have in fact won the match for Ludlow on the board count tiebreak system.
Both players had trumps. Whittaker's was that he had 15 minutes left on his clock while Neal only had two, while Neal's was a passed pawn on the seventh rank, although it seemed blockaded. In the event it was the passed pawn which proved decisive, as it led to loss of material.
Full result: Wellington A 3, Ludlow 1 - C Roberts 0.5, R Croot 0.5; T Neal 1, J Whittaker 0; R Gillespie 0.5, R Woodley 0.5; J Lenton 1, A Wright 0.
Awarding the player of the tournament title, competition organiser Jon Smith said: "Special mentions to Jonathan Newey, Chris Paul and Ivor Salter who all excelled with three wins out of three, but the player of the tournament has to be Toby Neal , Wellington captain, who also had three wins out of three and guided his team to victory in the final."
Whether Wellington will be presented with the cup is questionable, as there is some confusion as to its current whereabouts, or indeed whether a cup for the Minor Knockout exists in the first place.
Shropshire through to national final - 18/06/2013
Shropshire have reached the national chess championship finals in dramatic fashion after coming back from being two points down with just three games to go in their semi final against Hampshire.
And because of the intracies of the board count tiebreak system, the Salopians needed to win all those three remaining games to go through. They soon chalked up two of the wins, levelling the scores. And as Roger Brown, captain of the side for players graded below 140, explained, a draw would not have been enough, meaning the pressure was all on the shoulders of Windsor Peck to win in his last game to finish.
"If the match result was a draw the winner would be decided on board count - the numbers of the boards won by each team would be added, and the team with the lower total would win.
"So as Shropshire had lost on four of the top six boards and only won on one of them, an 8-all result would have given Hants victory.
"It left Windsor Peck playing and he achieved victory following a pawn promotion 'race' which Windsor correctly calculated, and a careful move of his queens to stop a pawn promotion by his opponent and also avoid stalemate."
Shropshire winners were Steve Tarr, Jonathan Newey, Windsor Peck, Ian Davies, Matthew Best, and Andrew Lewis, and draws came from Graham Shepherd, Roger Brown, Stefan Tennant, George Viszokai, and Colin Mace.
"The finals of all the county championships will be at Trident Centre, Trident Park, Poseidon Way, Warwick, Warwickshire, on July 13."
* The annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association has been fixed for July 10 at 7.30pm at the Telepost Chess Club, Shrewsbury.
Munroe Morrison - RAF Chess Champion - 11/06/2013
Shropshire chess player Munroe Morrison is flying high after becoming the new RAF chess champion.
Morrison, who plays for Telford-based Priorslee Lions, took part in the Combined Services Chess Championships held at RAF Wittering and scored five out of a possible seven points to take the title of RAF Chess Champion 2013.
On the Shropshire scene, Church Stretton Chess Club has decided to merge with the Condover Chess Club, which has been playing social chess, and from season 2013/14 will be known as Condover and Church Stretton Chess Club and will meet each Tuesday at the Condover Social Club.
Steve Rooney will be the point of contact with assistance from John Casewell. To launch the new club Nigel Ferrington will be playing a 12 board simul on September 17. It is hoped to put two teams in the league. Any prospective new members please contact either Steve on 01694 723724 or John on 01743 871172
The first blitz chess competition held at Newport Chess Club was won by Glyn Pugh, of Priorslee Lions, with a score of six out of a possible seven. Second was Gavyn Cooper, and third, Jonathan Newey. Nineteen players entered. The next event is on June 25.
A feast of summer chess - 28/05/2013
Summer's here - which means a feast for players who like quick-on-the-draw chess, starting with the first of a series of rapidplay tournaments open to allcomers at Newport Chess Club tonight (Tuesday May 28). Organised by Nathanael Paul , it is a time handicap in which the strongest players get only four minutes to complete all the moves of their game, while weaker players get double that. Start time is 7.45pm and the winner will get 40 per cent of the entry pot.
Meanwhile Sunday (June 2) sees seven teams doing battle in the Shropshire team quickplay tournament running all day at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford. It will take the form of a league, followed by a semi final and final.
Adding to a busy summer will be a new event being organised by Richard Clarke, whose son Lewis plays for Newport D. Called "The Unity Cup", it is a team competition in which clubs will field 12 players, and is scheduled to take place at the Newport club's venue, the Royal British Legion club in the town, on July 6. It will be played at normal league time limits.
One of Shropshire's most successful players on the national circuit is Telepost's Richard Bryant. And he's done it again in the e2e4 Solihull congress, where he was one of three who shared the first prize in the section for players with a FIDE rating of under 1950, and came away with £175.
Shropshire's win over Lancashire which takes them through to the semi final of the national competition for players graded under 140 turns out to have been less straightforward than first appeared.
Shropshire captain Roger Brown says: "The controller has found that three members of the Lancashire team are not current members of the ECF and so their results for the official score have become wins for Shropshire. So the game Steve Tarr lost now shows as a win for Steve, although for grading purposes it will still be regarded as a loss. The match that Ivor Salter drew now shows as a win. The other non ECF member lost his game anyway, so result stays the same.
"So the team score then changes to Lancashire 3.5, Shropshire 12.5. Now in addition to this, the three infringements also count as three game points away from Lancashire - so result then shows as Lancs 0.5, Shropshire 12.5.
"In any case Shropshire, go through to the semi final and will play against Hampshire."
County team continue winning streak - 21/05/2013
Shropshire's triumphal progress in national competition has continued with a 5-11 thumping of Lancashire which takes them into the semi finals. The match for players graded under-140 took place at Newcastle-under-Lyme on Sunday.
Winners were Andrew Tunks, Peter Crean, Gary White, Christopher Lewis, Jonathan Newey, George Viszokai, Ian Davies, Alan Pickles, and Andrew Lewis, and draws came from Graham Shepherd, Ivor Salter, Roger Brown, and Stefan Tennant.
Elsewhere Newport's Nathanael Paul came joint first with two other players in the U1900 section in the e2e4 Nottingham congress. With a tally of three wins and two draws, he scored four points out of a possible five, and came away with £175.
Newport A are Champions - 30/04/2013
Newport A have clinched the Shropshire league championship trophy after nearest rivals Telepost A stumbled to a shock defeat against the bottom of the table side in circumstances which have led to a call for a new look at the league rules.
Telepost went down 3-2 against relegated Shifnal & Telford B in a match Telepost would normally have expected to win easily.
A win would have propelled Telepost to the top of Division One, setting up a grand finale to the season for rivals Newport A, who would have needed to get a result on their travels to Shrewsbury two nights later to leapfrog Telepost and secure the trophy. However, the climax became a dead rubber, with Newport already having the title in the bag thanks to Telepost's slip-up. Nevertheless Newport validated their right to the title by a thumping 4-1 victory.
A crucial element in Telepost's downfall at Shifnal & Telford was that that team's captain Stefan Tennant had invited Wellington player Toby Neal to turn out for them on top board, and his win over county individual champion Nigel Ferrington, who was to rue his acceptance of a pawn in an uncommon gambit ("I should have played the English," he said afterwards) proved the difference between the teams on the night.
Wellington play in division two, and league rules allow, within certain constraints, a player in a club in one division to play for a different club in a higher division. The intention is to help teams which may otherwise struggle to raise a full team.
There were no complaints from Telepost on the night but now Colin Roberts, a former general secretary of Shropshire Association who has been worried about how the system has been operating for some time, has contacted league controller Vinny Crean.
"I feel the end of the season has been ruined because of the persistent use of a loophole," he said.
He said the original rule was designed to accommodate people who were genuinely members of two clubs, and paying two club subscriptions, as opposed to players who were effectively turning out as "guests." Roberts wants to see the rule either abolished or clarified.
Away from the league, the dates of a series of summer blitz chess tournaments at Newport chess club have been changed, as the club now meets Tuesday nights. The new dates are: May 28, June 25, July 30 and August 27
| Wellington win promotion - 23/04/2013
Wellington A have secured promotion from Division Two with a win against Telepost C - but the big question is whether they will go up as champions. Their last game of the season will be the rescheduled match against the only team who can overhaul them, Priorslee Lions B, and is shaping up to be a showdown.
However Priorslee have some work to do first as they must beat Shrewsbury B this week to close the gap to just one point on the leaders and set things up for a climax when they take on Wellington on April 29.
In fact Priorslee will be facing Shrewsbury B twice in the matter of a few days, having inflicting the heaviest defeat of the season on them last Friday on their travels to the county town. This week's return fixture is another of Priorslee's matches which has been rescheduled for the end of the season.
At the other end of the division Shifnal & Telford C and Priorslee Lions C are both relegated.
All to play for as season nears climax - 16/04/2013
The battle to be king of Shropshire chess is on a knife edge with six players on 3.5 points as the tournament moves into its sixth and penultimate round.
Reigning champion Nigel Ferrington of the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club has the advantage as he has a game in hand over his rivals, who are Nick Rutter - his sixth round opponent - Colin Roberts, Jamie Hopkins, Glyn Pugh, and Richard Bryant.
In the league championship, wins for the leading pair Newport A and Telepost A means the fight will go down to the last match of the season. Telepost are a point behind Newport but face bottom of the table Shifnal B, who are already relegated and defaulted their last match, so victory for Telepost looks a formality on paper.
That would put them at the head of the table, meaning that Newport would have to get a result against Shrewsbury A two nights later, in their last match, to re-establish their place at the top and secure the championship.
Shrewsbury are a hard nut to crack and Newport face a nervous evening. Much will depend on whether they are able to field their strongest team - if not they could potentially face the prospect of waving goodbye to their league title ambitions.
In Division Three, Oswestry A have secured their promotion with a win against Shrewsbury C. Shrewsbury are among three teams in the hunt to join them in taking the step up, with complicated permutations determining which one that will be.
Exmouth win for Shepherd - 09/04/2013
Graham Shepherd has become the latest Shropshire player to return with plunder from the weekend congress circuit. Shepherd won a first prize in the West of England Chess Union Congress, held in Exmouth over the Easter weekend. The Church Stretton player scored five wins and two draws to win the first prize of £190 with six points out of seven. He was taking part in the Minor section, for players with a grading of under 140.
Meanwhile summer blitz action for players who are fast on the draw is on the way shortly. Nathanael Paul has organised five tournaments at Newport Chess Club, on May 30, June 27, July 25, and August 29, all with the start time of 7.45pm. It's a handicap, with a sweat-inducing time limit of four minutes for stronger players - in other words, they have to complete all their moves in four minutes or they automatically lose. Intermediate players have six minutes, while the weaker entrants will have a slightly more comfortable eight minutes to complete all their moves. The turn-up-on-the-night entry fee is £2, and first prize will be 40 per cent of the total entry fees.
League action resumes this week after the Easter break. Title contenders Telepost A travel to Shifnal & Telford tomorrow (Wed.April 10), while Newport A, who are a single point ahead in the championship race, entertain Priorslee Lions A on Thursday.
Priorslee Lions close the gap on leaders - 26/03/2013
Priorslee Lions B have taken further steps towards securing promotion from Division Two with an important 3-2 win over hot rivals Newport B.
New star Adrian Zdanowski on top board scored his fifth straight win this season - latest victim was Danny Griffiths - to help Priorslee on their way in a close match. The upshot was to close things up at the top of the table as leaders Wellington A, missing some regulars, went down to their first defeat of the season against Shrewsbury B. Newport B are in the second promotion spot on 19 points but Priorslee Lions are just one point behind but crucially have two games in hand.
Wins on the bottom two boards gave Shrewsbury the advantage against Wellington, and on board three Colin Mace had sacrificed material to build up a powerful attack against Norman O'Connor's king. Mace went for the kill but said later that he had got his move order wrong, missing a defensive resource which enabled O'Connor to turn the tables.
"I'm gutted to be honest," said Mace after he went down to defeat.
Of Wellington's consolation wins on the top two boards, Colin Roberts had the satisfaction of gaining his revenge over Mark Smith, who had beaten him earlier in the season, while at one point Ivor Salter had a forced checkmate in three against Toby Neal - difficult to see because it involved a quiet waiting move - but the chance slipped away and he lost on time in a losing position.
Oswestry A are promoted from Division Three after a win against Telepost D, the only question being whether they will go up as champions. There's a real dogfight among three teams looking to go up with them, of which Shrewsbury C have the advantage of a game in hand, although with Oswestry A being one of their last two opponents of the season things remain on a knife edge.
Blackpool Big Dipper - 19/03/2013
A chess-playing trip to the seaside saw veteran John Davies of the Oswestry club return to Shropshire £550 richer after smashing aside all opposition at the Blackpool Chess Conference.
Davies won all his five games in the Minor section to take the £500 first prize and, in addition, he was also awarded the Veterans prize, which added another £50 to his haul.
He was not the only Shropshire players to return home with plunder from the event, which attracts players from all over Britain. Stefan Tennant of the Shifnal & Telford club won a grading prize in the Intermediate section. His score of 3.5 out of five meant he received £100.
In the Shropshire Chess League, things are heading for a nailbiting climax, with just one point separating leaders Newport A and challengers Telepost A with just two matches left in this season's campaign. Telepost kept up the pressure with a win over a team which could easily have proven a banana skin - Church Stretton A - while Newport had their big guns out and overpowered Shifnal & Telford A.
Defeats for both Shifnal & Telford B and Telepost B in the latest round of matches mean they are both relegated.
Shrewsbury C have moved to the top of Division Three on "goal difference" after a win against a Shifnal & Telford D outfit which was short of two players. With third division games being four-player affairs - in the top two divisions teams are of five - it meant the best the home team could hope for was a draw, but Ian Davies' win against Brian Malone quickly blew that possibility out of the water, with Shrewsbury going on to take the match 3.5-0.5.
| Shropshire top the Counties league - 12/03/2013
Shropshire have moved to the top of the Midland Counties league with a narrow 8.5-7.5 win over Staffordshire which guarantees a place in the national quarter finals. And should the Salopians beat Warwickshire on March 30 in their final group match, and so win the group, it would most likely mean their opponents will be Essex or Kent at home. Second place in the group would mean the less enticing prospect of an away fixture to Cornwall.
Currently the Shropshire team, which is for players graded up to 140 - which is roughly a B team club standard and below - has eight points, two points clear of Staffordshire and Warwickshire, who each have a game in hand.
Meanwhile in the Shropshire league Wellington A have placed one hand on the Division Two championship after a 3-2 victory against promotion rivals Priorslee B, thanks to good performances on the bottom boards. John Lenton set Wellington on the winning trail with a quick victory over George Viszokai, and James Kuczynski continued his incredible run of form with his sixth straight win this season, his latest victim being Gary White.
A draw agreed between Graham Shepherd and Richard Gillespie on board three meant Wellington were 2.5-0.5 up, putting the onus on the Lions' new star Adrian Zdanowski on top board and Munroe Morrison on board two to win both their games if Priorslee were to salvage a point from the match. Morrison had equal material against Toby Neal but, surveying his position without enthusiasm, offered a draw, which was accepted.
With the match result now decided in Wellington's favour, it meant the Roberts and Zdanowski encounter was freed from any worries about how it might affect the match result. Roberts had been on the back foot from early on and Zdanowski spurned his draw offer to press for victory. With passive defence hopeless, Roberts tried to spook his opponent into a mistake with a desperate counter-attack, but Zdanowski saw through the tricks to score the Lions' only win of the night.
Newport B are second place in the division and their "goal difference" has been boosted by a 5-0 win over Ludlow who, sad to say, defaulted the match.
Shrewsbury B could have guaranteed Division Two survival had they won against lowly Shifnal & Telford C, but went down to a 2-3 defeat which gives the Telford-based side new hope of staying up.
Tense battle between county town rivals - 05/03/2013
Wins for both Telepost A and league leaders Newport A keep things tight in the championship race with the one point gap at the top being unchanged.
Newport were always going to be too strong for relegation zoners Telepost B, but Telepost A had their work cut out against county town rivals Shrewsbury A.
Shrewsbury were bolstered on board three by the availability of Ed Goodwin, who weathered a storm against Phil Zabrocki and secured a draw, while on top board Jamie Hopkins continued his unbeaten run with a draw against Nigel Ferrington.
With Francis Best beating Richard Bryant on board two, the match score was at 2-2 with all depending on the bottom board where Dan Lockett and Keith Tabner were doing battle in a lively Benko Gambit.
Despite dropping a piece Lockett took things to a tricky endgame but despite huge time pressure Tabner brought home the bacon and secured a personal and team victory which keeps Telepost's title challenge on track.
In Division Three, honours were shared in the promotion scrap between Shrewsbury C and Newport D, a result which leaves Oswestry A still two points clear at the head of the division.
Match of the season - 12/02/2013
The inside story has emerged of the "match of the season" which may have given Newport A a decisive advantage in the battle for the Shropshire chess league championship title. In what already has boiled down to a two-horse race, Newport A scored a 3.5-1.5 victory over reigning champions Telepost A.
Newport's Nick Rutter reports: "Both teams fielded strong teams and all the games looked close early on. Keith Tabner declined a draw offer from Tony Holdford on board 5 and then won the exchange. The game went down to two rooks versus a rook and knight, Tony was in time trouble too. In the end Keith moved his king out of check a little too quickly and Tony had a mate in three.
"On board 2, Richard overpowered myself with a strong attack on the queenside, winning the exchange. Tom Pym and Nigel Ferrington had an exciting tussle after Nigel sacrificed a pawn in the opening. Tom seemed on top until he played Qxc5 leaving his king wide open to a quick attack, which would have won for Nigel. But Nigel chose a different plan and when the dust settled Tom took the point.
"Nathanael Paul over-extended himself on board 4 against John Bashall, losing the exchange, but was lucky when a perpetual check saved the day.
"Gavyn Cooper and Phil Zabrocki were the last to finish, with Phil needing a draw to tie the match. Gavyn was heavily down on the clock, but with the better position. After a frantic time scramble Phil put his rook on the wrong square allowing mate in two.
"Newport had most of the luck on the day and go one point ahead."
For his part, Telepost's Richard Bryant said: "Everybody realised that this game could easily decide the league champions and all the games were closely contested. After an hour and a half's play I thought we were heading for victory, only to finish up losing. It was the reverse of our previous league match with Newport when, staring defeat in the face, we managed to gain a victory."
Meanwhile in Division Three a win by Wellington B against leaders Oswestry A has really stirred up the promotion mix, with three points separating four teams.
Newport A go top - 05/02/2013
Shropshire's match of the season has seen Newport A score a crucial blow against hot championship rivals Telepost A.
Newport's victory over the Shrewsbury-based club has seen them go to the top of the table with a slender one-point advantage, but with plenty more matches in the pipeline it looks like it might go down to the wire.
Telepost will have known that their backs were against the wall when they saw the strength of the Newport team rolling up to their Abbey Foregate venue, with Tom Pym and Nick Rutter, who are the strongest and third strongest players in the entire county, sitting down at boards one and two, and Gavyn Cooper, Shropshire's fifth strongest player, taking his place at board three.
Despite Richard Bryant's feat in beating Rutter, a player 26 grading points above him, Telepost were overpowered and went down 3.5-1.5. Newport A are now six points ahead of the third place chasers, which means that realistically the championship battle has boiled down to just two teams.
Equal on 10 points in third place are Shrewsbury A and Shifnal & Telford A, who played each other in the latest round of matches, with Shrewsbury A taking the spoils. Shrewsbury were without Jamie Hopkins, who was ill, and Daniel Lockett, but their opponents were also short of some key players.
In the top of the table clash in Division Three, Oswestry A and Newport D drew, which means the Oswestry outfit retain their lead. Wellington B's draw against Oswestry B meant they were unable to close on the leading pair.
Congress victory for Stefan Tennant - 29/01/2013
Shropshire's Stefan Tennant scored a victory in the West Bromwich Chess Congress and in doing so overcame a most unusual challenge - opponents who, literally overnight, suddenly became much stronger.
Tennant, who plays for Shifnal & Telford, came home from the event £300 richer thanks to a score of 4.5 out of five games in the Minor section, for players graded under 130. His own grade is, or rather was, 126. But the congress also coincided with the publication of the updated grading list, which is in effect the chess "form book".
"In my fourth game on Sunday morning I thought having won the first three games, that if I got a win or a draw I would be okay. The new grading list had come out that morning and I had a look at them, and my opponent had gone up from 128 to 143. I had gone down to 123. I thought: 'Crickey,' " said Tennant.
During the game Tennant got the upper hand, and casually offered a draw. His opponent said he would think about it. Tennant then left the room for a while and when he returned found that his opponent had reset the pieces. "He had accepted the draw." It meant Tennant went into the crucial final round on 3.5 points, playing an opponent also on 3.5 points, with the rest of the field trailing.
"I also offered him a draw, and said we could share the first prize, but he said he would play on. When I went to look at his new grading, he had gone from 129 to 144." In the event, Tennant soon went two pawns up and soon secured a win. "Afterwards he told me he only played in congresses, and said he had won four out of the last five he had played in, so it was a big scalp to have."
In the Shropshire chess league, Wellington A have pulled out a two-point gap at the head of division two after a win over Newport B which was closer than the 4-1 scoreline suggests. Stuart Ross was roughly equal against Richard Gillespie before making a move which seemed to win a knight, but in fact lost the exchange, and he found himself in a hopeless ending, while Steve Cooper, who was becoming desperately short of time, pragmatically agreed a draw against John Lenton in a game in which he was winning.
In-house derby games cause no surprises - 22/01/2013
Next Monday (Jan 28) will see the match of the season in Shropshire chess when the two hot rivals for the league championship go head to head.
Newport A will travel to Telepost A in the knowledge that a victory will see them leapfrog the Shrewsbury-based outfit at the top of the first division in what is already looking a two-horse race. Newport's only loss so far this season was against Telepost, who are themselves unbeaten.
The latest round of results has seen Newport keep pace with the leaders with a narrow win over Church Stretton A, while Telepost A predictably overcame Telepost B in an in-house derby.
Another in-house derby, this time at Oswestry, has seen Oswestry A cement their place at the top of division three, following a 3-1 victory over the club's B team.
Shropshire Chess Congress Report - 07/01/2013
Over 135 players took part in Shropshire Chess Congress fighting it out for biggest-ever cash prizes in what may have been the largest field ever in the event's history. And the icing on the cake was that there was a good crop of Shropshire winners among a field including players from all over Britain, although the strongest section, the Open, was predictably won by the only Grandmaster entrant, Stephen Gordon, who was a class apart and only dropped half a point in his five games.
The strength of the field can be judged by the fact that nine players graded over 200 took part in the Open. Only two players in Shropshire are graded over 200.
In the Major section, for players up to a grading strength of 160, which is a mid-ranking club standard, Toby Neal of Wellington Chess Club was one of three winners, all on four points. The others were Nigel Holroyd and 12-year-old Ashwin Kalyana.
And there was a double dose of Shropshire joy in the Minor, which was jointly won by George Viszokai of Priorslee Lions and Matthew Best of Shrewsbury, both on 4.5 points.
Joint organiser Steve Rooney said: "We had 136 playing, although some withdrew during the event. This is certainly, if not one of the biggest, one of the strongest congresses held."
Older players were left racking their brains to try to remember a larger entry in a competition which in some years has struggled to attract 100 contenders.
Unless they took the option of having a half point bye in one of the early rounds, all competitors played five games over the two days of the weekend in the competition held at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford, being paired in each round against a competitor on equal points.
Runners up in the Open were International Master John Cox, an expatriate Salopian now living in Ruislip, who was the only player to come away with anything from an encounter with Gordon - they drew - and Iolo Jones.
Top performance by a Shropshire player in the Open was Newport's Gavyn Cooper who magically turned round what looked to be a lost game into a won one in the final round, while John Footner of the Shifnal & Telford club won the prize for players graded under 170.
Ivor Salter of Shrewsbury and Graham Shepherd of Church Stretton won the under-135 and under-150 grading prizes in the Major.
In the Minor, five local players were just behind the winners on four points - Roger Brown, Jonathan Newey, Chris Paul, Francis Rooney and Adrian Zdanoswki - while John Davies of Oswestry took the under-100 grading prize, and Jonathan Newey of Newport and Francis Rooney of Church Stretton shared the under-115 grading prize.
Only days to go to Shropshire Congress - 01/01/2013
With days still to go, entries to Shropshire's premier chess tournament have already topped the 100 mark, with competitors coming from as far as Scunthorpe and Huddersfield to do battle and bid for the attractive cash prizes totalling well over £1,000.
So far 107 players are down to take part in Shropshire Chess Congress, which is being held over the two days of the weekend (January 5 and 6) at the premises of Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford town centre.
All players play five games over the weekend, unless they opt to take a half-point bye in one of the rounds, and are paired in each round against an opponent on equal points, which will mean that Sunday afternoon will be showdown time as the leading players face each other.
The prospect of a £350 first prize, which is possibly the biggest prize in the competition's history, in the strongest section, the Open, has done wonders. There are 29 entrants in this section which in the past has tended to be less well supported. Among the 10 highest graded entrants, only one Shropshire player - Nigel Ferrington, of the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club - features. While on paper the odds are against a Shropshire player winning, other factors apart from playing strength can play a big part in the rigours of congress play, such as stamina, aggressive chess, good preparation, and even simple luck.
The Major, which is for players graded up to 160, which is a medium-ranking club standard, has 37 contenders to date, the strongest trio of which are all from "away" - John Cawston (Lady Anne Middleton club), Roger Greatorex (Llangollen), and Nigel Holroyd (Railway), with a grading of 159, although local players Glyn Pugh (Priorslee Lions) and David Everington (Shrewsbury) with a grading of 158 mean there is a fighting chance of a home win.
Biggest battle of all will be in the Minor section, which takes in players ranging from beginners to those graded 125, which is a B team or lower club standard. There are 41 entries, and good hopes for a Shropshire victory from the many capable local players in the field, headed by John Westhead of Telepost, who comes in just under the grading limit, at 124.
Full congress details are on the Shropshire chess website www.shropshirechess.org
Entries pour in for Shropshire Congress - 18/12/2012
Shropshire's biggest annual chess competition already has over 50 entries - good going for the week before Christmas - and some super-strong players are lined up to do battle in the Open section.
"It's looking good for a splendid turnout," said Steve Rooney, joint organiser of Shropshire Chess Congress being held on the weekend of January 5 and 6 at the premises of Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford town centre.
The competition has three sections, to cater for all strengths. The Open is for the very strongest players and has an attractive first prize of £350. The Major, for players of intermediate strength, and the Minor, for all other players, from novices up to a grading of 125, each have a first prize of £250. Various other prizes include those for best performance by a junior player, and grading prizes for good performances by players who are weaker on paper than the opposition.
"The Open has two players graded 200-plus, and our regular IM visitor John Cox is hoping to play, so it should make it a good contest at the top. The other sections are also building up well with a lot of likely contenders for prizes in the Major and Minor," said Steve.
"As well as additional playing space at the venue this year we will also have a bookstall with the latest books, software, sets and equipment. If there are any non-playing partners that would be willing to help us with the bookstall, we would be very keen to hear from them."We should also remind people that there is a late entry fee after December 24."
Competitors in the congress all play five games over the weekend, although they can opt to take a half point bye in one of the first three rounds - Saturday night's round is most often chosen, with players wanting an evening off. They are paired in each round against an opponent on equal points, so in the final round the contenders for the prizes are going head to head in a dramatic chess showdown.
Entry details are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org.
Newport A hot up the title race - 11/12/2012
Newport A are breathing hard down the necks of league leaders Telepost A after a 3.5-1.5 victory over Shrewsbury A, who now look to have fallen by the wayside in the title race.
With a super-strong Newport trio on the top three boards of Nick Rutter - who is Shropshire's strongest player - Tom Pym, and Gavyn Cooper, it was always going to be tough for Shrewsbury and wins by Pym over Francis Best and Tony Holdford over Ivor Salter were decisive.
With the season now at its half way stage, Newport look to be the only side capable of halting the Telepost juggernaut. They are one point behind, while others are five points adrift and can only hope for a serious drop in form by the leaders in the New Year.
In Division Three, two promotion contenders, Wellington B and Newport D, went head to head, with the spoils shared, meaning Wellington remain at the top of the division, a point ahead of Newport D and Oswestry A, who have a game in hand.
It was the closest of calls when Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 went down to a narrow defeat against Derbyshire in a match played at Belper.
Wins came from Richard Thompson, Richard Szwajkun, Gary White, Ivor Salter, and George Viszokai, with draws from Andrew Tunks, Steve Tarr, Ian Davies, Colin Mace, and Steve Szwajkun. In the end the Salopians were on the wrong end of a 8.5-7.5 scoreline.
Congress countdown has started - 04/12/2012
The countdown has started to Shropshire's premier chess event - the county chess congress being held on the weekend of January 5 and 6 - which attracts players from all over the country.
A new organising team ran the event last January, at a new venue - the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford - following a crisis prompted by the closure of the "traditional" venue at Madeley Court Centre.
The congress in the New Year is promised to be even better, with extra room to cater for increased numbers, and increased prize money.
In the Open section, which is for the very strongest players, the winner will pocket a very handsome prize of £350. In the Major and Minor sections, where the chances of a local winner are better, the first prize is £250 in each.
Competition details are on the Shropshire chess website www.shropshirechess.org and organisers are encouraging online entry.
Meanwhile over 20 players are competing for the title of king of Shropshire chess as the county individual championship moves into its second round. It is the one competition which gives players in lower divisions the chance to take on some of the strongest players, but there were no shocks in the first round with all the favourites chalking up victories. In fact every match was decisive, with no draws.
Only Division Two saw league action in the latest games with promotion contenders Newport B and Priorslee Lions B going head to head. Priorslee took the spoils and head the division with Newport, and Wellington A - who kept up the pressure by beating Shrewsbury B - only a point behind.
There's a crucial Division One scrap on Thursday (Dec 6th) when Newport A entertain Shrewsbury A. Already three points adrift of leaders Telepost A, Shrewsbury's title hopes will look forlorn it they lose.
Shrewsbury A too strong - 27/11/2012
Dan Lockett broke his duck to help Shrewsbury A to a crushing 5-0 victory over an under-strength Telepost B.
Lockett was promoted into the A team this season but has found the going tough, with four defeats. He got off the mark against Dean Pinnington, a player whom he had beaten in the Shrewsbury Town Championship this summer. With all the other Shrewsbury players chalking up wins over their opponents, the county town side are now on eight points, three adrift of league leaders Telepost A.
It was not the only game of the night at Shrewsbury's new venue at the Redwood Centre, Shelton, as also in action in a Division Three encounter were Shrewsbury C against Shifnal & Telford D. Sadly the visitors were only able to field two players, meaning the best they could hope for was a draw - in Division Three teams are four a side, whereas in Divisions One and Two the matches are five a side.
Ian Davies agreed a quick draw with Tim Skidmore, ensuring that a Shrewsbury win was in the bag, despite Roger Brown going on to end Andrew Lewis' unbeaten run.
Shifnal & Telford B are in the relegation zone but their win over Church Stretton A will give them heart. It was their first win of the season and means Stretton are only a point ahead. Stretton's cause was not helped by a default on the bottom board.
Meanwhile Wellington B have gone to the head of the third division with a win over Newport C.
Beware - B's can sting - 20/11/2012
Title hopefuls Shrewsbury A were given a big fright by lowly Shifnal & Telford B who were 2-2 in the running score before Francis Best managed to clinch victory in a tight game against Simon Maydew and ensure the county town outfit scraped a narrow match win.
It was the second outing in two days for Maydew, who earlier in the week had turned out for Shifnal & Telford's A team against Newport A. This time he won his own game, but again his team went down to defeat by the same 3-2 margin.
Newport A's win mean they are continuing to keep pace with league leaders Telepost A, who themselves chalked up another two points on their visit to Church Stretton.
Shifnal & Telford B seemed on paper to be easy meat for Shrewsbury A, with the smallest grading gap on board three, where David Everington outgraded Richard Szwajkun by 29 points.
But with Stefan Tennant managing to trap Peter Kitchen's queen, and Dan Lockett dropping a piece in time pressure leaving him a whole rook down against Steve Szwajkun , the scene was set for potentially the upset of the season.
With all turning on the Best-Maydew scrap, Maydew gave up a rook for two pieces, only to miss an in-between move which lost a pawn and saw Best infiltrating with his queen and eventually turning his advantage into victory.
One of Shropshire's most travelled players is Richard Bryant of Telepost who has been topping the early leader board for the English Chess Federation Grand Prix, ahead of a field including Grandmasters and International Masters. Although it is a slightly false position and is likely to change when others join him in completing the maximum number of events, it is still a fine achievement for a Shropshire club player.
A fine win for County U140's- 06/11/2012
Reigning league champions Telepost A have delivered a crushing psychological blow against their rivals from across town, Shrewsbury A, who have been leading the challenge to the title this season.
Telepost scored a 3.5-1.5 victory in their encounter, giving them a two point lead in the early Division One table.
Shrewsbury had been able to play Phil Makepeace in their last league game, but with both him and Francis Best unavailable this time they were unable to field their strongest side, although in fact it was wins on the bottom two boards by Keith Tabner and John Westhead which proved vital in Telepost's victory.
This week Telepost play Priorslee Lions A which will be a good indication of whether any team in the division is able to stop them building up momentum at the top.
The Shifnal & Telford club has both an A and a B side playing in the top flight, but this is very much a double-edged sword, as it places a strain on playing resources, and defaulted boards in both sides' latest fixtures tell their own story.
In Division Two Priorslee Lions B's narrow win against Ludlow A sees them at the top of the table.
Away from league action, Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 scored a 9-7 win against Worcestershire in a match played at Shifnal.Peter Crean and Andy Tunks on top and second board set the tone by both winning. Others gaining a full point were Ivor Salter, Stefan Tennant, John Westhead, and George Viszokai, while draws came from Steve Tarr, Richard Thompson, Graham Shepherd, Christopher Lewis, Richard Szwajkun, and Roger Brown.
More miles for Gary White - 30/10/2012
Priorslee Lions' Gary White, who is probably Shropshire's most travelled chess player, brought home £75 after scoring a joint second place in the Isle of Man congress.
White, who takes part in events all over the country and even as far afield as Gibraltar, scored 3.5 out of 5 in the section for players graded under 140. He shared the runner-up prize with three others.
Early results suggest that it will be a close battle for the league championship this season. Newport A currently head the leader board in Division One, but only on points difference.
Unbeaten Shrewsbury A are breathing hard down their necks following a 4-1 win over Church Stretton in which they had Phil Makepeace available for top board and, amazingly, were able to field multiple county champion David Everington on board five, who chalked up the first win of the evening when opponent James Carless lost his queen. On board four Francis Rooney managed to engineer a winning position against Peter Kitchen, only to miss the critical move which would have forced mate, and Kitchen went on to swindle a fortuitous victory.
This week Shrewsbury will be facing eternal county town rivals Telepost A in what will be a crucial litmus test of form and strength.
New season kicks off - 25/09/2012
The big hitters of Shropshire chess are back in action this week as a new season begins for Division One with a campaign in which it would take a brave person to predict who will take the league championship.
Shrewsbury and their county town rivals Telepost have been the class of the field for the past two seasons, but Newport look a very strong outfit on paper, especially as Tom Pym is included in their nominated line-up. How much he will be able to play, if at all, remains to be seen - he has played so rarely in recent years that he is not even included on the national grading database.
Games in the top division and Division Three start this week, but Division Two began a week early, the first match of the season being an in-house derby in which Priorslee B beat their C team colleagues.
Ludlow made the trip to Wellington's new venue at the Sir John Bayley Club and looked on course for a whitewash until Alan Wright, in a position which was going downhill fast, won on time against John Lenton.
Shrewsbury B would normally be considered promotion candidates but got things off to a bad start by crashing to a 1-4 home defeat at the hands of Telepost C.
All clubs are on the lookout for new recruits and to that end Shropshire Chess Association held a stall at the market as part of Ironbridge's World Heritage Site anniversary festival at the weekend, with joint organisers Gary White, Glyn Pugh, and Toby Neal taking on passersby in a fun chess challenge to promote interest in the game.
Neal said: "Gary did a great job in printing out signs which made the stall look really eye-catching and professional. We were in almost constant action for almost the entire eight hours of the market, and the time really flew. Some, especially children, really caught the bug and kept coming back to play again and again. A lot of people gathered round to watch the games or try to work out the chess puzzles Gary had set up on a giant board. "As a way of publicising chess, it was well worthwhile."
Exciting finale for Minor Cup - 10/07/2012
The final of Shropshire's Minor Cup chess knockout proved to be a great climax to the tournament, with all four games lasting over three hours as Telepost C scored a surprise victory over reigning champions Shifnal & Telford B by 2.5 to 1.5.
On board one a close game between Noel Kiffin of Telepost and Simon Maydew of Shifnal &Telford was finally decided when, under extreme time pressure, Maydew's position began to crumble and he finally resigned with just seconds remaining on his clock.
Board two saw another another close game between Charles Micalef of Telepost and Richard Thompson. It was finally decided when Thompson doubled up a rook and a queen and smashed through Micalef's defence to achieve mate - an oversight by Micalef, but as both players had just a couple of minutes left on their clocks it was an understandable mistake.
Board three saw a truly fascinating game. Windsor Peck of Shifnal &Telford had a rook and three pawns against John Westhead's lone king, but with only seconds left on his clock Peck stalemated his opponent - an automatic draw. It is probable that Peck would have run out of time anyway before he could force checkmate.
Stefan Tennant of Shifnal & Telford made an early mistake against Vinny Crean on board four and lost a piece. However he battled ferociously till the very end and and again both players had perhaps two minutes left on their clocks when Crean finally forced mate.
Afterwards organiser Jon Smith announced that Noel Kiffin was to be awarded the Player of the Tournament prize, saying: "With two wins and a draw on board one for Telepost C, his contribution was decisive, although Richard Thompson of Shifnal &Telford B and Keith Tabner of Telepost B are also deserving of a mention as both had 100 per cent records with three wins out of three."
New date for rapidplay - 26/06/2012
A rapidplay chess competition which was due to take place at Newport Chess Club on Thursday (June 28) has been postponed - because of the Euro 2012 competition.
Organiser Nathanael Paul took the decision last week when it seemed that England might be in the semi final being played on Thursday, meaning that there would probably only be a small turnout for the rapidplay tournament.
"I would not usually change the date but as the Euros is not a regular event it seems fair to let players have the opportunity to watch it. And delaying it by a week should not do any harm," said Nathanael, who has rescheduled the rapidplay for July 5.
The Minor Knockout final has also been delayed, although for different reasons. It will now take place on July 3. Pitting Shifnal & Telford B against Telepost C, it had been due to be played in the week beginning June 4.
Athar shines in Crawley - 12/06/2012
Newport's Athar Mehmood missed by a whisker scoring a dramatic victory against international competition in a chess congress in Crawley. The teenager took part in the e2e4 Congress for the first time, doing battle in the Major section, for players with a FIDE rating of under 1800.
"My best games were against players from Norway, Latvia,and Wales," said Athar. "In my section there were 57 players and in my final game competing for first place I ran out of time."The best score in the section, out of seven games, was six, with second place on 5.5. It was nice to come home with £125, of which I shall donate £25 to charity. "To my surprise my FIDE performance from this tournament was 1992."
Meanwhile the Minor knockout final has squared up Shifnal & Telford B against Telepost C - it was due to be played last week but, assuming the match went ahead, the result is not yet through.
Shifnal & Telford reached the final with a 3-1 victory over Newport B - W Peck 1, D Griffiths 0; S Tennant 0, A Mehmood 1; R Brown 1, C Paul 0; T Skidmore 1, default 0.
Telepost C drew against their club's B team, but progressed to the final on the tiebreak system - Telepost B 2, Telepost C 2: J Bashall 0.5, N Kiffin 0.5; S Kempsell 0, C Micallef 1; K Tabner 1, V Crean 0; M Clark 0.5, J Westhead 0.5. Under the board countback tiebreaker, the bottom board results are elimated in turn until a decisive result is arrived at.
| Church Stretton win Cox Trophy - 05/06/2012
Church Stretton A won the final of the summer cup competition, the Cox Trophy, beating higher-rated Newport A by 2.5-1.5 in a match played at a neutral venue, the Telepost club in Shrewsbury.
Early wins for Tiago Faustino and Karl Wakefield put Church Stretton 2-0 ahead. Faustino managed to extricate his queen and evade Nathanael Paul's attempts to trap it and emerged two pawns up to continue an unbeaten run stretching back to his first matches for the Stretton club in January.
An exchange sacrifice by Nick Rutter on board one broke through for a fatal attack on Trevor Brotherton's king, leaving Stretton captain Steve Rooney needing at least a draw in the final game against Gavyn Cooper, as a match tie of 2-2 would have given the match to Newport under the countback rules. In the last encounter between the two at the start of the league season, Rooney won in a tense time scramble, and this game also went to the wire.
Rooney reports: "Gavyn turned down one draw offer but eventually realised he couldn't break through and offered one himself when we were both down to the last five minutes."
Full result: Church Stretton 2.5 Newport A 1.5 - T Brotherton 0, N Rutter 1; S Rooney 0.5, G Cooper 0.5; T Faustino 1, N Paul 0; K Wakefield 1, C Lewis 0.
Two days later Cooper was in action at the Newport rapidplay event, where he swept the board ,winning all his seven games despite being given the handicap of having a mere three minutes to complete all the moves in his games. He won £15. Runners up were Colin Roberts, Jim O'Neil and Tony Holdford, with a pensioners' prize shared between Steve Cooper, Sellick Davies, and Malcolm Price.
Six of the best for champ Ferrington - 29/05/2012
Nigel Ferrington is Shropshire's king of chess after winning the county individual championship for the sixth time. With one round still to go Ferrington, who plays for the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club, is on an unbeatable 5.5 points, a full 1.5 points clear of the rest of the field. He clinched the title by beating Toby Neal in round six.
Here is that decisive game, with annotations by the loser (myself), who was playing with the white pieces.
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 (For anybody wondering what's wrong with taking the pawn, the answer is nothing, but most players prefer to decline the gambit) 3 Nc3 c5 (With Nigel, you never know what to expect. This is the Tarrasch Defence. I vaguely recalled that the recommended response is to saddle black with an isolated pawn and then work on it) 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 e3 Nf6 7 g3 (I find out during this game why this does not sit well with my earlier 6 e3) 7...Be7 8 Bg2 O-O 9 O-O Bg4 10 a3 cxd4 11 exd4 (Now I've got an isolated pawn too, which wasn't the plan) 11...Qd7 12 Be3 Rfe8 13 Rc1 Ne4 14 Qb3 Nxc3 15 Qxc3 Bf6 16 Qd2 Bh3 17 Bxh3 Qxh3 18 Rc5 Qf5 19 Ne5 (A miscalculation) 19...Bxe5 20 Rxd5 Qe4 (Now if dxe5 21...Nxe5 is deadly because of the threat of a winning fork on f3) 21 Rd7 (A forlorn attempt to complicate matters) Bf6 22 Qc3 (If Rxb7, Nxd4) 22...Rad8 23 Rxd8 Rxd8 24 Re1 Bxd4 25 Bxd4 Qxd4 26 Qb3 Qd7 27 Qf3 h6 (A precaution against tricks on the back rank) 28 b4 a6 29 Qb3 Nd4 30 Qc3 Qc6 and that awful hole on f3 means I've no choice but to exchange queens after which there's no point in playing on. It's resign time.
Tonight (Tuesday May 29) sees the final of the Cox Trophy summer knockout competition, with Church Stretton A taking on Newport A.
Newport were somewhat fortuitous in the semi final against Shrewsbury A, in which Gavyn Cooper and David Everington played a wild game and, with just seconds left, Everington resigned as he was a rook down. What he had not noticed was that he also had a forced checkmate in two moves. Cooper's win levelled the match score, which brought the tiebreak system into play, in which the result on the bottom board was eliminated. Under this, Newport won 1.5-0.5. The final is being played at a neutral venue, the Telepost club in Shrewsbury, so that it doesn't clash with Thursday's rapidplay tournament being held at Newport chess club.
Cox Trophy semi final results - Church Stretton A 3, Shifnal & Telford A 1: T Brotherton 1, I Wilson 0; S Rooney 1, R Gillespie 0; K Wakefield 0, W Peck 1; E Elwell 1, A Jones 0.
Newport A 2, Shrewsbury A 2 (Newport win on board count tiebreak system): N Rutter 0.5, J Hopkins 0.5; G Cooper 1, D Everington 0; N Paul 0.5, F Best 0.5; C Lewis 0, D Lockett 1.
Drama in Shropshire Quickplay - 22/05/2012
A dramatic finale with a twist in the last few seconds saw Shrewsbury-based Telepost A lift the cup in the Shropshire Quickplay chess tournament in Telford. It all boiled down to a frenetic finish in the last game to finish, squaring up young star Gavyn Cooper of Newport A, and Telepost's Phil Zabrocki, whose aggressive playing style has been commented upon by no less a figure than English grandmaster and world title contender Nigel Short.
With Telepost 2.5-1.5 up on the running score in the final, Cooper had to beat Zabrocki to draw the match and take the result to a tiebreak. And, because of the intricacies of the tiebreak system, that would have meant Newport winning the trophy. Cooper had an overwhelming advantage of two connected passed pawns and a knight against Zabrocki's lone king, meaning the win was only a matter of time - a commodity of which he was enormously short as his clock moved into its last 10 seconds, meaning he had to move instantly.
With Cooper down to just three seconds the flurry of moves came to a sudden halt with Zabrocki saying: "It's stalemate!" The watching crowd broke out in applause in appreciation of both players' efforts as it sunk in that, with no time to think, Cooper had left Zabrocki with no legal moves and, as his king was not in check, this was not checkmate, but stalemate - an automatic draw.
Full result was Telepost A 3, Newport A 2: Nigel Ferrington 1, Nick Rutter 0; Phil Zabrocki 0.5, Gavyn Cooper 0.5; William Bates 0.5, Nathanael Paul 0.5; John Bashall 0, Athar Mehmood 1; Noel Kiffin 1, Chris Lewis 0.
Had Cooper won and the match been drawn, under the tiebreak system the bottom board result would have been treated as if it never have happened - and Newport would have won 2.5-1.5.
Third were Church Stretton A, who thrashed Wellington A 5-0 in the third/fourth place playoff.
Competition organiser Toby Neal said: "It was a great day's chess with worthy winners, as Telepost and Newport were the class of the field. Once again the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford proved an excellent venue."
Eight teams from across Shropshire took part in a seven-round league, followed by the knockout stages. Players had 20 minutes to complete all the moves of their game.
Semi-final lineup confirmed - 15/05/2012
Shifnal & Telford A have taken their place in Thursday's (May 17) semi finals of the Cox Trophy summer knockout competition with a 1.5-2.5 victory over Wellington A.They face a tough task, meeting Church Stretton A, who took the scalps of league champions Telepost A in the first round.The other semi final will be between Shrewsbury A and Newport A.
In the Minor knockout, for teams in divisions two and three, it will be an all-Telepost affair in one of the semi finals, where that club's B and C teams do battle and will meet in the final the winner of the Shifnal & Telford B v Newport B clash.
Meanwhile eight teams have entered the summer quickplay being held at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford centre on Sunday (May 20). Run experimentally last year as the Cox Trophy competition, it has now become a stand-alone event and will be providing a full day's chess starting at 10am. The competition is being run as a league - so seven league games - followed by semi finals, and final, with a time limit of 20 minutes per player. The playing schedule and rules are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
Richard Bryant had the misfortune of coming up against Nick Rutter in inspired form in their encounter in the individual championship. Here is the game, with Rutter with the white pieces: 1e4 e6 2d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Ne2 dxe4 5 a3 Bxc3 check 6 Nxc3 Nf6 7 Bg5 Nc6 8 Bb5 Qd6 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nxe4 Qf4 11 Bxc6 chk bxc6 12 Qg4 Qh6 (if Qxg4, then Nxf6 wins back the queen and picks up a pawn into the bargain) 13 Qf3 Ke7 14 Qc3 Bd7 15 Qc5 chk Kd8 16 O-O Rg8 17 f3 f5 18 Nc3 Qg6 19 Rf2 h5 20 Rd1 h4 (Rutter now came up with a stunning move) 21 d5! exd5 22 Nxd5! (if the knight is now captured, Qxd5 threatens both immediate checkmate and also the rook on a8) 22...Qe6 23 Nf4 Qe7 24 Qxc6 and here black resigned in a hopeless position. Once the rook on a8 moves, Re2 is deadly.
Athar stars in quickplay - 01/05/2012
The first Newport quickplay event got off to a good start with 17 players taking part, of whom 12 were from the host Newport club, and five were from Shifnal & Telford.
It was a seven round handicap won by young Athar Mehmood with a score of six, who picked up a £10 prize. There was as four way tie for second on five points - Gavyn Cooper, Nathanael Paul, Richard Gillespie and Simon Maydew - winning £6 each.
"It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and I will be looking forward to seeing the same players as well as some others at the next on May 31," said organiser Nathanael Paul.
Church Stretton A are through to the semi final of the summer Cox Trophy following a narrow win against league champions Telepost A.
Stretton's Steve Rooney reports: "A comfortable win by Tiago Faustino against Phil Zabrocki on board three put the visitors in front and then Trevor Brotherton launched a kingside attack against Nigel Ferrington on board one. Nigel appeared to overlook the strength of the attack and found his pieces misplaced and unable to come to the rescue; 2-0 to Stretton.
"Trevor had sprung a surprise in the opening by deploying the London System with the avowed intention of 'sending him to sleep'. Evidently it worked!
"The final two games ended in wins for Telepost with Graham Shepherd running out of time to hold his position on four and myself succumbing after an earlier exchange sacrifice, but the countback rules meant that Stretton won despite the tied scoreline."
Under the countback tiebreak system, the bottom board result is eliminated as if it had never happened, and the result is taken from the remaining boards.
Full result details: Telepost A 2, Church Stretton A 2 (Stretton win): N Ferrington 0, T Brotherton 1; R Bryant 1, S Rooney 0; P Zabrocki 0, T Faustino 1; P Crean 1, G Shepherd 0.
In other first round games Shrewsbury A beat Ludlow A by 2.5-1.5: D Everington 0.5, J Watson 0.5; F Best 1, J Whittaker 0; I Davies 0.5, R Woodley 0.5; M Best 0.5, P Munday 0.5.
And Priorslee Lions A went down 1.5-2.5 against Newport A: G Pugh 0, N Rutter 1; J O'Neil 0, G Cooper 1; W Bates 1, N Paul 0; S Tarr 0.5, C Lewis 0.5.
There were two Shropshire successes in the Nottingham congress. The much travelled Gary White came joint second with four points out of five games in the Intermediate section (for players graded under 135) and Paul Broderick won the Minor Section (for players graded under 110) outright with a score of 4.5 out of five. He won all four of his games and had a bye.
Clash of the Titans - 24/04/2012
Nigel Ferrington has opened up a clear lead in Shropshire's chess championship after chalking up a victory in a "clash of the titans" crossing of swords with Nick Rutter, who has held the title for the past two years.
"Fezza", who plays for the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club, beat Rutter, who plays for Newport and is the county's highest-graded player, in a hard-fought encounter in which, amazingly, at least the first 20 moves were known theory.
The opening was one of brainbusting complexity, the Botvinnik variation of the Semi-Slav Defence which has been analysed by grandmasters past move 30 in some variations.
Ferrington will have known that the Semi-Slav is a favourite weapon of Rutter's, but nevertheless chose to tackle it head on. Here is the game, with Ferrington with the white pieces, and the annotations by Rutter.
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 e6 5 Bg5 dxc4 6 e4 b5 7 e5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Nxg5 hxg5 10 Bxg5 Nbd7 11 g3 Rg8 12 h4 Rxg5 13 hxg5 Nd5 14 g6 fxg6 15 Qg4 Qe7 16 Qxg6 check Qf7 17 Qxf7 chk Kxf7 18 O-O-O Nxc3 19 bxc3 Nb6 20 Bg2 Nd5 21 Kc2 Rb8 22 Rh7 chk Bg7 23 a3 a5 24 Ra1 ("I thought at this point black was winning comfortably. It was a question of how best to expand on the queenside with b4 or c5 without allowing too much counterplay.") 24...Kg8 25 Be4 Bd7 26 Kd2 c5! 27 Rah1 Be8 28 f4 Rd8 29 R7h2 cxd4 30 cxd4 c3 chk 31 Kc2 b4 32 axb4 Ba4 chk 33 Kd3 Bb5 chk? ("The obvious move 33...axb4 would be winning") 34 Kc2 axb4 35 Kb3 ("Now white can hold the position) 35... Rc8 36 Bxd5 exd5 37 Kxb4 Bd3 38 Rc1 c2 39 Kb3 Rb8 chk (Instead 39... Kf7 draws after 40 Rhxc2 Bxc2 chk 41 Rxc2 Rxc2 42 Kxc2 Kg6 43 g4 Bh6 44 f5 chk Kg5 45 f6 Kg6) 40 Kc3 Bc4? ("Black avoids the draw, but now white has winning chances.") 41 Kxc2 Bf8 42 Ra1 Rc8 43 Kd2 Bb3 44 Rhh1 Bb4 chk 45 Ke2 Bc3 46 Rac1 Bc4 chk ("Best chance to draw is 46...Rc4 but white is still better") 47 Ke3 Bb2 48 Rc2 Rb8 49 f5 Rb3 chk 50 Kf4 Bxd4 51 e6 ("Winning immediately would be 51 Rch2!") 51... Be3 chk ("51... Rb4 52 Kg5 Kg7 and black may hold on.") 52 Ke5 Bg5 53 f6 Re3 chk 54 Kf5 Bd3 chk 55 Kxg5 Bxc2? ("Better is 55... Re5 chk 56 Kg4 Re4 chk 57 Kf3 Rxe6 58 Rc8 chk Kf7 59 Rh6 Bg6 and black has some drawing chances.") 56 f7 chk Kg7 57 Rh8 and black resigned as the pawn will promote.
Ferrington is now on 4.5, a full point clear of the chasing pack, with two rounds to go.
Here are the latest results from the Minor knockout competition, involving division two and three teams:
Shifnal & Telford C 3.5, Priorslee Lions B 0.5 - R Szwajkun 0.5, M Carbin 0.5; R Brown 1, G White 0; T Skidmore 1, default 0; J Sloan 1, default 0.
Telepost D 0.5, Shrewsbury C 3.5 - J Casewell 0, I Davies 1; S Sweeney 0, E Inglis 1; K Walker 0.5, A Lewis 0.5; B Holford 0, A Purser 1.
Summer starts here - 17/04/2012
The summer's here - at least so far as Shropshire chess is concerned, with attention turning to summer knockout competitions now that league action has finished.
This week sees the start of the Minor knockout, for teams in divisions two and three. However, Newport C and Shifnal & Telford B got off the mark early and have already played their Round 1 match. Full result was Newport C 1, Shifnal & Telford B 3: W Gormley 0, S Maydew 1; D Lovegrove 0, R Thompson 1; S Davies 0.5, W Peck 0.5; J Newey 0.5, S Tennant 0.5.
Next week sees the start of the Cox Trophy knockout, for teams in the top division. With there being only eight teams taking part, it will be a three round competition, the last round being the final.
Meanwhile moves are going ahead to finalise details of a team summer quickplay tournament, likely to take place at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford on Sunday, May 20, and Nathanael Paul has organised a series of individual rapidplay events over the summer at the Newport club, on April 26, May 31, June 28, July 26, and August 30, with a 7.45pm start. Entry is £2 per player, which will go in to the prize fund.
Nathanael said: "The tournament will also be grade-handicapped in these following groupings: 209-180 (4min), 179-150 (6min), 149-120 (8min), 119-90 (10min), 89 and below (12min). However if someone is ungraded I will aim to give them an estimated grade unless they are complete beginners. "This may look quick but it allows for maybe a couple more rounds as well as maybe a break when we reach halfway. These times will also create great entertainment as there will be many time scrambles."If anyone has any queries they can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone me at 01952 878739."
Epic county town derby - 03/04/2012
Had things fallen differently, the epic county town derby clash between Telepost A and Shrewsbury A would have been the climactic match of the season on which all would have depended. As it happened, Telepost wrestled the league championship title from Shrewsbury a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, there were smiles all round among the Shrewsbury players as they rained on the Telepost parade, chalking up a win on their visit to the Abbey Foregate-based club in the final league game of the season.
"It was a fascinating evening's chess all round," said Shrewsbury captain David Everington. "It started when, to general astonishment, Jamie Hopkins drew with Nigel Ferrington in just eight moves. Francis Best had a tremendous game against Phil Zabrocki, which he gradually turned into a win."
This was Zabrocki's first loss of the entire season, and he was naturally gutted afterwards. Peter Crean on bottom board beat Ian Davies. Everington himself was under the cosh early on against Richard Bryant but in an exciting finish was a rook up, but Bryant had two running passed pawns. Both players queened at the same time, and a draw was agreed.
Peter Kitchen, who beat John Bashall, said: "I missed a chance to win a piece and then John was perhaps better. I was very short on time, with about 10 minutes left and he had the best part of an hour. He missed something which allowed me to liquidate to a won king and pawn endgame, and resigned on the spot."
Elsewhere Newport A's win against Priorslee Lions A ensured they finish runners up, ahead of Shrewsbury on "goal difference", and the return of John Footner and Dave Gostelow saw Shifnal & Telford back up to strength against Church Stretton A, scoring a 3-2 win.
In Division Two Shifnal & Telford B's 4-1 win over Oswestry means they go up on equal points with Telepost B. Telepost's better goal difference means that they are promoted as champions of the division despite losing to Priorslee Lions B.
With the league season complete, thoughts now turn to the knockout competitions - the Minor and the Cox Trophy - both of which get under way later this month, with fixture details on the Shropshire chess website www.shropshirechess.org
Endgame for league season - 27/03/2012
Shropshire's league season has moved into its final week with one mouthwatering clash still left among the remaining fixtures - tonight's county town derby between new league champions Telepost A and deposed champions Shrewsbury A, who will be desperate to secure the runners-up spot.
Telepost have been the class of the field and took the title a few weeks ago. Apart from the bragging rights at stake, Shrewsbury must get something from the match if they are to have any chance of usurping Newport A for the second place spot. Shrewsbury and Newport are both on 19 points, but Newport have the better "goal difference".
Telepost A are five points clear after their latest win, a narrow 3-2 victory over Church Stretton A. With all other games drawn, the difference between the teams was Phil Zabrocki's win over Karl Wakefield.
Shrewsbury A's win against Priorslee Lions A was helped by a defaulted board among the visitors.
Shrewsbury captain David Everington reports: "The game of the night was on board 2 where Andy Tunks played a tremendous defensive performance against Jamie Hopkins but mistakenly exchanged queens towards the end when he could have broken into his opponent's position and probably have forced a draw.
"Hopkins duly forced a won endgame, with mate approaching as his clock ran down to less than a minute, and Tunks resigned."
Shifnal & Telford A are always weaker in the second half of the season with the likes of John Footner and Dave Gostelow mostly unavailable, but nevertheless their whitewash at the hands of relegated Wellington A was a surprise.
In Division Two, Telepost B and Shifnal & Telford B are both promoted and can be relaxed about their final games, and it's already all over in Division Three, where Newport B and Shifnal & Telford C are promoted.
Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 scored a 8.5-7.5 victory over Staffordshire in the county team championship played at Newcastle-under-Lyme, despite having to default bottom board. Shropshire winners were Steve Tarr, Athar Mehmod, Marvin Carbin, Gary White, Andy Jones, and Tim Skidmore, with draws from John Westhead, Ivor Salter, Stefan Tennant, Richard Szwajkun, and Steve Szwajkun.
It all turned on the last match to finish, in which Stefan Tennant needed a draw to secure team victory. Short of time, he saw a clever move. His opponent, with the white pieces, had pawns on a7 and f5, rook on f7 and king on h7. Tennant, to move, had king on a8 and rook on g1. Can you spot the drawing move?
Shropshire visits Blackpool - 20/03/2012
With a whopping prize fund of £9,000 on offer, it is no wonder that a clutch of Shropshire chess players invest a weekend to travel up to the Blackpool Chess Congress.
Among them was Wellington's James Kuczynski who, in the best form of his life, had high hopes of coming away with some plunder in the Minor section, where there was a £600 first prize and £300 for runner up, with over 60 players battling it out. And with a score of four from a possible five, he was not to be disappointed, taking a grading prize.
"I had three wins, a draw, and a bye. I'm waiting to find out how much prize money I get, but it will be at least £125," he said.
He was not the only Salopian to win some loot.
Richard Bryant of Telepost took a £25 veteran's prize in the Major section with a score of three out of five, and Nathanael Paul, who plays for both Newport and Priorslee Lions, had a £25 grading prize with an impressive four out of five in the Median section.
On the county scene, Nigel Ferrington is leading the seven-game individual championship as the tournament goes into its fifth round. He is on 3.5 points in the bag, while his next opponent, Nick Rutter, is on 2.5, although with an outstanding game to complete.
In the leading group with three points is Priorslee Lions' Glyn Pugh, who took the not inconsiderable scalp of his teammate Dave Gostelow. Here is the game, with Pugh with the white pieces.
1 e4 c5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 f4 d6 4 Nf3 e5 5 Bb5 exf4 6 d4 cxd4 7 Qxd4 Nf6 8 Bxf4 Nh5 9 Bg5 f6 10 Bh4 Be6 11 O-O-O Qa5 12 Qe3 O-O-O 13 Bf2 Nb4 14 a3 Na2 check 15 Nxa2 Bxa2 16 Be2 g5 17 Be1 Qa4 18 Nxg5 fxg5 19 Qc3 chk Qc6 20 Bxh5 Rg8 21 Bg4 chk Kb8 22 Qxc6 bxc6 23 b3 Bg7 24 Bg3 a5 25 Rxd6 Rxd6 26 Bxd6 chk Kb7 27 a4 Bd4 28 Rd1 c5 29 h3 Kc6 30 e5 Re8 31 Bf3 chk Kd7 32 Bxc5 and Gostelow called it a day here.
|Church Stretton tame Shrews - 13/03/2012
Telepost A have clinched the league championship after county town rivals and last season's champions Shrewsbury A stumbled disastrously. Shrewsbury's travelled down the A49 to be entertained by Church Stretton and lost in a match they had to win to keep the issue alive. Telepost A now have an unassailable five point lead.
Surprisingly given what was at stake, Shrewsbury's top three boards all agreed quick draws, which meant that all hinged on the two bottom board battles involving Portuguese star Tiago Faustino and Peter Kitchen, and Graham Shepherd and Matthew Best. When Matthew dropped a piece, it was all over already by 8.50pm, with four of the five games finished and Shrewsbury down by 2.5 to 1.5.
Kitchen, who also lost, said: "Tiago's was certainly the performance of the night, even though the game ended abruptly on move 20 when I threw away a piece in time pressure and a very, very difficult position." "Credit should go to Church Stretton, who clearly did a job on the top three boards and cashed in lower down the order. They deserved their victory."
Faustino played 1 f4, the uncommon Bird's Opening, to which Kitchen responded with 1...e5, which is From's Gambit, and would have been expecting the normal 2 fe d6 3 ed Bxd6 after which, at the cost of a pawn, Black has attacking possibilities based on white's kingside weakness on the black squares. But Faustino played 3 Nf3, to which the recommended reply is the surprising 3...g5! This is not the sort of move many players unfamiliar with an opening would have the courage to play. Kitchen played conservatively and says he was in "a bit of a pickle" from early on. Here are the first few moves. 1 f4 e5 2 fxe5 d6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e4 dxe5 5 Bc4 Bc5 6 d3 Nf6 7 Bg5 0-0 8 Nc3 Be7 and, while black is still okay, Faustino had an open f-file for a kingside attack.
Meanwhile Shifnal & Telford club are on the move again. "Our new venue, the Madebrook at Madeley, has closed down after we'd been there for just two months, so we've had to move again, this time to The Mallard, Brookside Avenue, Telford," said Richard Thompson of the club.
Telepost A close in on the title - 28/02/2012
Telepost A have edged closer to the league championship title, staying three points clear thanks to victory over Newport A. Wins by Nigel Ferrington and Richard Bryant over Nick Rutter and Gavyn Cooper in the heavyweight battles on the top boards were crucial.
Shrewsbury A found things heavy going against bottom placed Ludlow A, the match being decided when Jamie Hopkins overcame his usual time trouble to win a razor sharp game with a position in which mate was forced.
Barring mathematical improbability, Church Stretton A ensured themselves first division survival with victory over Wellington A, who now look doomed.
History of sorts was made in the match by Dele Ogundipe's defeat on time against Graham Shepherd. An incredulous Ogundipe said afterwards: "That's the first time I have ever lost on time. I thought the clocks were turned back." Well yes, they were under old league rules which were changed years ago. Nowadays the entire game has to be finished in 95 minutes per player.
In Division Two Priorslee Lions B lost the chance to press hard at the top, going down to defeat at Telepost C. Telepost's John Casewell reports: "Noel Kiffin, promoted to board one with an estimated grade of 163, justified his promotion with a win. George Viszokai blundered a bishop away early on against me but I couldn't convert the advantage and had to settle for a draw. Vinny Crean produced a match-winning move to secure our second win in a row and third of the season."
Away from the league, a Shropshire qualifying event for the UK Chess Challenge takes place on Saturday (March 3).
Shropshire juniors have a chance to compete once again in this UK-wide competition that involves around 70,000 children aged from five to 18. The UK Chess Challenge gives everyone a chance to win a prize and the chance to qualify for regional and even national levels of the competition as it progresses towards identifying the best UK junior chess players of each age group.
The Shropshire qualifying event is open to chess players of all abilities and is at Trinity School, Butts Lane, Ford, near Shrewsbury, on Saturday from 9.30am to 1pm. The entry fee is £3, payable on the day, but entrants are asked to register in advance, preferably by email to email@example.com. For more information call Steve Rooney on 01694 723724 or Francis Best on 01743 821220.
VC - our only medal - 21/02/2012
Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 took a battering at the hands of Warwickshire in the county team championship.Only one Salopian, Vinny Crean, was able to chalk up a win as the side went down to a 4.5-11.5 defeat in a match played at Shifnal scout and guide headquarters on Saturday. It was not a great surprise as the visitors were higher graded on most boards, and this was particularly felt in the bottom two thirds of the line-up.Apart from Crean's solitary win, Shropshire's points came thanks to draws from Graham Shepherd, Steve Tarr, Marvin Carbin, Ivor Salter, Chris Paul, Stefan Tennant and Steve Szwajkun.
In the Shropshire Chess League, Priorslee Lions' hopes of promotion from Division Two have taken a knock with a narrow home defeat against Shrewsbury B.With all the other games drawn, the decisive result came on top board where Daniel Lockett felled Graham Shepherd.The loss means Priorslee Lions B lost the chance to go joint top in the division. They are now third, with their main rivals having a game in hand.In what was a bad night for the Priorslee Lions club, the C team simultaneously lost against Oswestry A.
In the dog-eat-dog encounter at the foot of the division, Telepost C whitewashed Wellington B 5-0, the Wellingtonians' cause not being helped through having to default the bottom board.
In Division Three, Newport C have moved closer to contention for promotion with a 3-1 over Telepost D, who are propping up the table.
It's snow joke for Shrewsbury - 14/02/2012
Shrewsbury A's prospects of retaining their league champions title have been dented after they were held to a draw by lowly Wellington A, allowing county town rivals Telepost A to pull three points clear on the back of a thumping of Priorslee Lions. Newport A also took advantage thanks to a defeat of Church Stretton A, and now displace Shrewsbury in second place thanks to superior points difference.
The match of Shrewsbury against Wellington was notable because, with snow forecast for the evening and dire warnings on the radio about the effects on travel, the hosts immediately offered to play at a quicker time limit so that visiting players could get away earlier for the journey home.
"Jamie won't agree," was the initial response of Shrewsbury players and the prediction proved correct because when top board Jamie Hopkins, whose middle names could almost be "time trouble", arrived, he looked aghast at the prospect. The upshot was that it was left to player discretion, with some games being played at a time limit of 75 minutes if both players agreed, and some at the full league time limit of 95 minutes.
Hopkins, playing Colin Roberts at the full 95 minutes, duly ran into severe time trouble in the last game to finish, with the match poised at 2-2 in the running score. Roberts had earlier offered a draw, which was turned down, and then as the clock ran down Hopkins offered a draw, but this time it was Roberts' turn to say he wanted to "play on a bit."
It turned out he had set a devilish trap which would win a rook through a knight fork. But Hopkins had seen further - that he would lose a rook, but have an unstoppable pawn, which would queen. Roberts had to abandon his plan and place all his faith on his own passed pawn, which still had quite a way to go. It proved to be enough, and after an exchange of captures a draw was agreed, drawing the match.
And the final twist was that the players emerged from the Oddfellows in Wellington to a snow-free scene. The forecast had been wrong!
Pride of Lions at Dudley - 07/02/2012
Chris Paul of the Priorslee Lions club is £40 the richer after a successful trip to the Dudley chess congress. Paul picked up his plunder for coming second in the Minor section, for players graded under 125.
Meanwhile new grading lists have been published, the first time this has happened mid-season. However, from the point of view of Shropshire league action, they are largely irrelevant as the county chess association had already decided that the gradings issued last August will be used as the benchmark until they are updated this August.
Nevertheless the mid season gradings will be of interest to Shropshire players as an indication of latest form. They show that the county's strongest player is Newport's Tom Pym, who leaps from 199 to 209, overtaking his club colleague Nick Rutter, who is up to 208 from 205. In reality Pym has rarely played on the county scene in recent years due to university studies and, although these are now over, he has now moved away from Shropshire, which means that Rutter continues to be the strongest player actively playing in the county.
Priorslee Lions player Nathanael Paul clearly has a great appetite for chess, turning out for Priorslee Lions B on Monday of last week, where his win against Graham Ives helped the team to victory against Oswestry A, and then the following night turning out for Priorslee Lions C, this time beating John Bashall and helping the team to victory against Telepost B. Those matches were both in Division Two. Paul is also playing as a regular in Newport A in Division One.
Shifnal & Telford B's win at Telepost C, coupled with Telepost B's defeat, sees them going into the lead in the division.
Gary White of Priorslee Lions is back from his trip to a major chess competition in Gibraltar, where he reports enjoying clear blue skies and blazing sunshine all week. He achieved a win and a draw.
Shropshire can't cuff Lincs - 31/01/2012
In advance of Shropshire's encounter with Lincolnshire, captain Glyn Pugh, who had only managed to find 14 players, made a prediction. "It's going to be 14-2," he said with tongue-in-cheek confidence. Amazingly, he got it spot on - but unfortunately the 14-2 scoreline was in Lincolnshire's favour."It was not a good result," he said afterwards.
Pugh had to travel to the midway venue at Syston in Leicestershire two short, partly because a number of players were taking part in various congresses including the much-travelled Gary White who, incredibly, had gone to Gibraltar to play. The Salopians had only four draws to their name, thanks to Graham Shepherd, Francis Best, Nick Rutter, and Nigel Ferrington.
And it was Ferrington who provided the most cheer. With a queen and king against his opponent's queen, knight, pawn and king, he performed a magical dance to elude his opponent's increasingly frustrated attempts to force checkmate or achieve decisive advantage. With only seconds left on the clock, Ferrington was having to move instantly and, in one cheeky touch, seemed to have lost his queen - only for his opponent to realise that to take it would have meant immediate stalemate. The upshot was that his opponent's clock ran down and eventually he made an illegal move, at which Ferrington immediately asked the arbiter for an extra two minutes on his own clock - which, as per the rules, he was granted. This immediately transformed the situation as it meant that his opponent was now the one in imminent danger of losing on time. Dispirited, he agreed a draw.
In league action, Shrewsbury A's apparently easy 4-1 win over Shifnal & Telford A was in fact, reports Shrewsbury captain David Everington, a real let off for the home team.
"On board two I started the match badly with a 'winning' queen sacrifice which wasn't! On board one Nazif Nazif found a neat opening sacrifice against Jamie Hopkins, eventually giving up two pieces for three pawns to get the Shrewsbury player's king stranded in mid-board. But Hopkins then came up with a superbly accurate defence to take the point. Francis Best won with the only normal looking game of the night on board three. Then Richard Thompson and Steve Tarr looked set to win the match for the visitors but Peter Kitchen and Dan Lockett battled on resourcefully to take both points in a time scramble. It was a cruel result for Shifnal & Telford."
Mid-term report - 24/01/2012
With action now well under way in the second half of Shropshire's chess season, it's a good time to take stock of how things are shaping up.
Telepost A are the team with the momentum, having opened up a two point lead at the head of division one and playing lowly Ludlow A tonight (Tuesday), a match they will be odds-on to win.
Reigning champions and early leaders Shrewsbury A have, in contrast, negative momentum - if there is such a thing - having lost their last two games and facing a potentially tricky encounter with Shifnal & Telford A on Friday.
Newport A are also in the title hunt and will be expected to keep pace with the leading pair after their visit by relegation-zoners Wellington A on Thursday.
Shifnal & Telford B's draw against Shrewsbury B sees them a point clear at the head of division two, but chasing Telepost B and Priorslee Lions B both have a game in hand.
In division three, Shifnal & Telford C and Newport B are neck and neck, with the only team close being Newport C, which would point to the Newport club reasonably sure, bar a major drop in form, of seeing at least one of its teams grabbing a promotion spot.
| Shropshire Chess Congress a great success - 10/01/2012
The biggest entry for years, the re-appearance of some of the county's chess legends, a successful new venue, and a welcome profit - no wonder organisers of the re-born Shropshire Chess Congress were pleased. The only thing missing was a local winner in any of the three sections, the Open, the Major, and the Minor.
Two expatriate Salopians, John Cox - son of original congress founder Jeff - and Simon Fowler shared joint second place in the Open, but had to defer to the victor from Vietnam, Tristan Cox, who was outright winner on 4.5 points.
Remarkably Tristan, who is no relation to John, had played no over-the- board chess for two years, and had only recently been bitten by the chess bug again after being confined for a fortnight by illness to his home in Hanoi, where he teaches English and chess, and with nothing to do.
The lifting by the reshaped congress of the "stars barred" restriction meant that John Cox, an International Master who lives these days in Ruislip, was able to play in his home competition for the first time in about 10 years, combining it with a visit to see his parents in Kynnersley, near Telford.
"I enjoyed it, although I'm not particularly thrilled with my performance. It's always nice to see people like David Everington who I first met in 1966 or 1967 when I first went to Shrewsbury Chess Club, aged four or five."Did you notice Gerard O'Reilly? He was just visiting. He was Shropshire's strongest player in the 1960s. He now lives in Oxford, but his mother still lives in Donnington."
Fellow runner-up Simon Fowler hails from Wellington but now lives and works in Gloucestershire.
Church Stretton's Trevor Brotherton won the under-175 grading prize in the Open.
Wiatt Ropp of Stratford took the £200 first prize in the Major section, for players graded 160 and below, with Simon Smith (Warley Quinborne) and Phil Bull (West Bromwich) joint runners up. Richard Gillespie (Shifnal & Telford) and Neville Belinfante (Bourne End) shared the under-145 grading prize.
Telepost's Peter Crean on 2.5 points won the £30 "slow starter" prize, saying: "I'm bemused at what it is, but I'll take the money."
In the Minor, for players graded 125 or under, winner was David Buckley of Bushbury, with Andrew Collins of Leamington runner up, and eight players in third spot, of which the "locals" were Ivor Salter (Shrewsbury), Christopher Paul (Priorslee Lions), Matthew Best (Shrewsbury), Simon Maydew (Shifnal & Telford), Francis Rooney (Church Stretton), and John Westhead (Telepost). Slow starter prizes went to Richard Szwajkun and Tim Skidmore, both of Shifnal & Telford, while James Kuczynski (Wellington) took the under-110 grading prize. Three players had prizes for best juniors in the tournament, including Matthew Best and Francis Rooney. Over 110 players took part in the five-round competition held at the premises of Wrekin Housing Trust in Old Park, Telford.
Shropshire's star comes home - 03/01/2012
He's back! Chess ace John Cox is making a return to his "home" congress at the weekend for the first time in years as Shropshire stages its big annual chess competition.
Shropshire Chess Congress is at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford centre on January 7 and 8 and has over 85 entries so far, which is an impressive figure considering that only three weeks ago the tournament looked to have been scrapped due to trouble organising a venue. However, thanks to Steve Rooney who stepped in at the last minute and in effect organised a totally new event in only a few days, the congress has been salvaged. It is being called Shropshire Chess Congress, whereas the previous event - held at Madeley Court Centre, which closed forever in December - was called the Wrekin Chess Congress. The changes go further than the name, venue, and organising team.
While the Wrekin had a grading cap to make it a "stars barred" competition, the Shropshire has no such cap and is open to the strongest players. And this means that super-strong John Cox, who hails from Shropshire but moved to London, is able to play once more. International Master Cox was a regular at the Shropshire congress before the grading cap was introduced when the old Shropshire folded and was superseded by the Wrekin. Understandably he was not very happy, as it meant he was barred from what he considers his home tournament.
Cox is the highest graded entrant at the time of writing. His grade of 228 is considerably higher than the next strongest player, Antony Hynes, graded 194. Then come Nigel Ferrington, of the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club, and Simon Fowler, who used to play for Coddon in the league before university studies removed him from the Shropshire scene. Both are graded 190. They are all in the strongest section, The Open. In The Major, for players graded 160 and under, hopes of a "home win" will rest with the likes of Ieuan Fenton and Glyn Pugh, both graded 159. In the Minor, for players graded 125 and under, George Viszokai is the strongest Shropshire entrant, but as always the competition will be tough.
The congress comprises five rounds, played on Saturday and Sunday. All players play all five games (unless they have a bye). Details from Steve Rooney on 07530 649195 or the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
In the latest county match, Shropshire's under-140 team were overpowered by Leicestershire, losing 10-6 in an encounter played at a neutral venue, Wall village hall in Staffordshire. Shropshire winners were Windsor Peck, Stefan Tennant, Stuart Ross, and Vincent Crean, with draws from Graham Shepherd, Steve Tarr, George Viszokai, and John Westhead.
Shropshire Chess Congress takes shape - 13/12/2011
Details have been announced for next month's Shropshire Chess Congress following its miraculous rescue led by Steve Rooney and Francis Best. And any thoughts that having to organise in days an event which usually takes months to bring together would result in some sort of makeshift, second-class congress, have been banished, as all the usual features are there, including attractive cash prizes for the winners in each section - £200 for first, £100 for second, and £50 for third.
The big question now is: will chess players turn out in numbers to support it?
A feature of the Wrekin Chess Congress, which "the Shropshire" now supersedes, was the large proportion of players from "away" it attracted. With organisation of the event unavoidably being very late, following the announcement only a fortnight ago that The Wrekin had gone belly up due to venue problems, will the players from away even realise that the tournament is still on? It is at The Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford on the weekend of January 7 and 8, the same venue which was used so successfully for Grandmaster Nigel Short's recent simultaneous display. There are three sections - the Open (for strongest players), the Major (for players graded 160 and below), and the Minor (125 and below).
The revival of an Open section potentially paves the way for Britain's top players to compete, although when there was an Open section in the past they never came in significant numbers. Another of Rooney's innovations is to set up the option of paying the entry fee online - details are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
In the league, the Shrewsbury derby match between last season's league champions Shrewsbury A and county town rivals Telepost A saw the Shrewsbury juggernaut derailed. Shrewsbury's David Everington reports: "After some early season luck, Shrewsbury finally got their come-uppance in this tense fixture. The home side was optimistic with the return of Philip Makepeace, but Nigel Ferrington took the full point in a complicated game. Francis Best dropped a piece against Philip Zabrocki but emerged with a bishop against two bishops, but with four extra pawns. They were not enough to win, so the point was shared. "The Bates-Everington game showed that the Exchange Variation of the French need not be at all drawish. Both sides missed winning chances before Bates clinched things in the ending."
In the dog-eat-dog battle Ludlow A gained their first points by defeating Wellington A, who now prop up the Division One table.
Shropshire's chess congress saved - 06/11/2011
Shropshire's chess congress has been salvaged thanks to a dramatic last ditch rescue operation led by Steve Rooney and Francis Best.
News last week that January's Wrekin Chess Congress had been cancelled due to venue problems sent shockwaves through the county chess community, as the weekend tournament is the biggest event in Shropshire's chess calendar, attracting around 100 players from far and wide, and is a much looked forward to curtainraiser to the new year. Thanks to intensive efforts by Rooney and Best, organising things in only days, it has now been reinstated, at a new venue - the Wrekin Housing Trust's training centre in Telford town centre - and renamed the Shropshire Chess Congress. The date is the same though, on the weekend of January 7 and 8.
Proceeds will go to Shropshire Chess Association, meaning the event has turned full circle. Years ago Shropshire Chess Congress was organised by the association, but then folded, only to be successfully revived by Graham Shepherd of Church Stretton chess club, rebranded as Wrekin Chess Congress. Later Shifnal & Telford chess club took over the reins of organisation. The latest developments mean it has moved from being a club-organised event, back to being wholly in the county chess association fold, and the "stars barred" element of the Wrekin Chess Congress has also been dropped, potentially opening the way for Grandmasters to play in the tournament.
Hero of the hour Rooney said: “We were all very disappointed to hear of the cancellation of the Wrekin event, but we were sure that there was a lot of interest among the county's players with many people already setting aside the regular January weekend in anticipation. "Within 48 hours we had a venue organised - thanks to the generosity of the Wrekin Housing Trust - and we contacted all the local clubs. The response from players in the county and elsewhere has been very enthusiastic with lots of offers of help, and despite the tight timescale, we believe that we can run a successful event.”
The congress will have three sections: an Open for allcomers; and sections for players graded 160 and below, and 120 and below. Entry forms will be circulated this week and available online at www.shropshirechess.org. More information is available from Steve Rooney on 01694 723724 or firstname.lastname@example.org on email.
Making his first appearance for 25 years in league chess, Keith Fradgley rescued a point for still unbeaten Newport B, after his side had trailed 2-0 in their Division Three encounter with Church Stretton B. Chris Paul was beaten fairly early on by J. Carless, and Newport went 2-0 down after Steve Cooper declined an unsound rook sacrifice and lost. Danny Griffiths won in the endgame against young Francis Rooney, before Tom Williamson's flag fell to give Fradgley the win in a tight game.
Wrekin Congress cancelled - 29/11/2011
No chess congress in January - that's the grim news for Shropshire players who were looking forward to the biggest event in the county chess calendar which typically attracts around 100 contenders from far and wide.The event, with a prize fund of £1,000, has bitten the dust due to problems finding a venue.
"Yes, it's true," said organiser Richard Thompson. "I couldn't be sure that we could be able to play at Madeley Court, and the only other reasonable venue I could find couldn't manage the weekend I wanted. Also, the equipment suppliers pulled out."
January's event would have been the 12th Wrekin Chess Congress. But there has been a question mark throughout the year because the venue which has served so well, Madeley Court Centre, has been due to close with the advent of the new Abraham Darby Sports and Leisure Centre being built about a mile away.
It was not until last week that things became clear, when it was announced that the Court Centre will close on December 18 and the new venue will become available on January 9.
One of the most depressing things for players is to play over their wins or defeats on a computer when they get home, with the computer cruelly pointing out all the good moves they missed.
But when Munroe Morrison of Priorslee Lions B analysed his win against Shrewsbury B's Mark Smith, it actually thought he had played well. Here's the game: 1 e4 Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 g3 g6 4 Bg2 Bg7 5 Nge2 Nc6 6 d3 d6 7 h3 0–0 8 0–0 Be6 9 f4 Qc8 10 g4 exf4 11 Bxf4 h6 12 Qd2 Kh7 13 Rf2 Ne7 14 Ng3 Neg8 15 Raf1 Qd7 16 e5 dxe5 17 Bxe5 Nd5 18 Bxg7 check Kxg7 19 Nce4 Qe7 20 c4 Nb4 21 g5 hxg5 22 Nxg5 Nc6 23 Qc3 chk Kh6 24 Qh8 chk Kxg5 25 Ne4 checkmate.
Division One leaders Shrewsbury A's winning run came close to being halted by Priorslee Lions A when Glyn Pugh held Jamie Hopkins to a draw on top board, and Jim O'Neil demolished David Everington's French Defence on board two.
Matthew Best then made his first score for Shrewsbury A on bottom board with a creditable draw. The match was decided right at the end of the playing session when Francis Best was gifted a piece in a technically tricky ending of rook, bishop and two pawns versus bishop, knight and two pawns.
"Peter Kitchen and John Tunks were both running out of time in what came down to a probably drawn rook and pawn ending, but John's flag fell first. Shrewsbury went home feeling very lucky indeed," reports Everington.
In the Oswestry B v Newport B tussle in Division Three Steve Cooper's old enemy - the clock - reared its ugly head again, when he lost on time despite being a rook and two pawns up, but fortunately his teammates' performances took Newport B to victory.
Fine individual results for Holdford and Viszokai - 22/11/2011
Shropshire's individual championship has got under way with Tony Holdford already scoring a notable result by drawing against his Newport clubmate Nick Rutter, the strongest player in the competition and consequently the favourite to win. Just over 20 players are taking part in the seven-round tournament, which is down on previous years. Other first round results in so far are a win by a former champion, Jamie Hopkins, over Graham Shepherd, and a draw by George Viszokai against Colin Roberts, which will go down as a moral victory for Viszokai who is rated almost 50 grading points lower than his Wellington opponent.
Battle lines are being drawn in league action and it is already clear that there is a gulf in standard in Division One between the upper and lower halves of the table which has not been present in recent seasons, in which things have tended to be tight. League leaders Shrewsbury A beat Church Stretton A comfortably and remain the only side to retain their 100 per cent record.
Telepost B and Shifnal & Telford B are joint leaders in Division Two, with the latter side benefiting from the winning debut of newcomer Nazif Nazif who was immediately fielded on top board and claimed the scalp of the tricky Derrick Powell. To rub salt in the wound it emerged that Nazif had previously been along to the Wellington club with the intention of joining up there but, finding nobody around, joined Shifnal & Telford instead.
The strength in depth at the Shifnal & Telford club is underlined by the fact that their C team heads Division Three with Newport B, who have a game in hand, the only close challenger as yet.
County captain leads team to victory - 15/11/2011
Shropshire chalked up a 10-6 victory against a Leicestershire team headed by one of Britain's top grandmasters in the Salopians' latest encounter in the Midland Counties Chess Union championship.
Captain Glyn Pugh was pleased on two counts - the county side won, and also he scored his first personal win as county captain. "Nick Rutter was unlucky to pick Grandmaster Mark Hebden and was black again, but that was where the bad news ended as, remarkably, there were no losses between board 2 and 14, meaning Shropshire gained a good victory," he said.
Winners were Jamie Hopkins, John Footner, Glyn Pugh, John Bashall, Nathanael Paul, Andy Tunks, and Richard Gillespie, and draws from Nigel Ferrington, Gavyn Cooper, Richard Bryant, Peter Kitchen, Chris Lewis, and John Whittaker.
Newport's junior Athar Mehmood has gained quite a reputation for getting good results in competitions around the country, and did it again at the 30th Bolton Rapidplay on Sunday, in which he played in the Major section, for players with a grading of 165 or below. "I won the Major section with a score of six out of six, and came back with the top prize of £120. I hope the members of the Newport Chess Club and Wrekin College will be proud of me. I will donate £20 to charity," he said.
Division Two is looking as if it will be a close battle this year. Oswestry A missed the chance to open a gap at the top when they went down 1-4 at home to Telepost B, who now head the division.
In Division Three, early leaders Shifnal & Telford C and Newport B shared the spoils in their encounter and occupy the top two places.
Ludlow give leaders a fright - 08/11/2011
Shrewsbury A remain early leaders in Division One after yet another close encounter, this time against lowly Ludlow A who are still looking for their first point.
Shrewsbury captain Dave Everington reports: "Our boards 3 and 4 set us on our way but then Matthew Best, standing in for Peter Kitchen, suffered a disaster. With four pawns and a bishop against Paul Munday's single pawn and knight, he blocked off his own last escape square with one of his own pawns to get mated by the knight in a most unusual position. "John Whittaker won a very nice game with a piece sacrifice against John Parrott but Jamie Hopkins rounded off a tense evening with a very accurately played positional win on board one to take the points for Shrewsbury."
In Division Two the Telepost C v Wellington B scrap saw a welcome winning return by Gordon Thomas, who helped the home team secure their first point of the season in the resulting draw. It came on a really busy night for the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club, with the A, B and C teams all playing at home simultaneously making, with their opponents added in, a total of six teams and 30 players in action.
"With some social chess going on as well it had all the atmosphere of a chess congress - great fun," said Keith Tabner of the club. "We just about had enough sets and clocks to cope."
Bryant v Bates spectacular - 01/11/2011
Richard Bryant and William Bates were involved in what is likely to be one of the most extraordinary battles over the board of the season in a game of fireworks and invention during the Telepost A v Priorslee Lions A encounter. In the end, like two exhausted heavyweights spent by a gruelling slugfest, they agreed a draw in a position in which, to the human eye, it looked as if Bates would have to give up a piece to stop one of Bryant's passed pawns.
Yet computer analysis afterwards shows a different story - that Bates could not only stop all Bryant's three passed pawns, but gobble them all up to boot. That would have then left Bates with a knight and bishop with which to checkmate Bryant's lone king. This is a very rare checkmate to execute, and probably the most difficult in the book for a club player - although Nick Rutter managed it a while back.
Bates had signalled his intent of stirring up wild complications as early as move 4 with a very unusual move in the French Defence. And while his position looked to be teetering on the edge of disaster, when analysed by the silicon chip monsters they just keep racking up his advantages until, by move 25, computer analysis astonishingly shows that his position is better by the equivalent of five pawns.
Here is the game, with Bryant playing white: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 f5 5 Ng3 c5 6 Bb5 check Nc6 7 Bxc6 chk bxc6 8 Qe2 cxd4 9 Bd2 g6 10 Nh3 Bg7 11 O-O Rb8 12 Ng5 e5 13 Bf4 Rb5 14 Rfe1 Ne7 15 c4 dxc3 16 Nh5 gxh5 17 Qxh5 chk Ng6 18. Nxh7 Qd6 19 bxc3 Kf7 20 c4 Kg8 21 Rad1 Nxf4 22 Rxd6 Nxh5 23 cxb5 Kxh7 24 bxc6 e4 25 g4 Nf4 26 gxf5 Bxf5 (The players afterwards gave the following possibility 26... Rg8 27 Kh1 Bxf5 28 Re3 Be5 29 Rd2 Nh3 30 Rg3 Bxg3 31 hxg3) 27 Re3 Rb8 28 Rb3 Rg8 29 Kf1 Bh3 chk 30 Ke1 Be5 31 Rb7 chk Rg7 32 Rd8 Ng2 chk 33 Kd2 Bxh2 34 Rxg7 chk Kxg7 35 Ra8 Bf4 chk 36 Kc2 Bf5 37 Kb3 Be6 chk 38 Kb4 Bd6 chk 39 Kb5 Bg3 40 Rxa7 chk Kf6 41 fxg3 e3 42 Ra4 e2 43 Re4 e1=Q 44 Rxe1 Nxe1 45 a4 and here Bates offered a draw, which was accepted.
Match result was a 3-2 win to Telepost A.
Elsewhere John Parrott's undefeated run of 16 league games has finally come to an end. The Shrewsbury A player had gone a pawn up against Wellington A's Toby Neal, with a second pawn doomed to fall, when Parrott simply left his bishop en pris, a mistake which proved ultimately decisive.
Athar Mehmood's successes at chess competitions around the country continues, with him being joint winner of the under-170 section of the Oxford University Chess Club Rapidplay. The young Newport star won 5 out of 6 games - his single loss was on time - and brought home £100.
|Gary's white hot on magic Manx mission - 25/10/2011
Gary White conquered the Isle of Man in a lucrative trip to the Manx congress which led to him bringing home £400 in plunder.The Priorslee Lions player was outright winner in the Isle of Man congress, with a score of 4.5 out of six - he scored three wins, and three draws.
"It really is such a beautiful island and I would encourage other chess players to make the journey for next year's event, as I will most certainly be going there again," said White. Here is is final round victory which secured him the prize in the under-145 section. The opponent, playing black, was S. Blackburn.
1 f4 b6 2 Nf3 Bb7 3 e3 e6 4 b3 Nf6 5 Bb2 Be7 6 d3 c5 7 Nbd2 Nc6 8 Be2 d5 9 Nf1 Rc8 10 a3 0–0 11 Ng5 h6 12 Nh3 b5 13 g4 Qa5 check 14 Nd2 d4 15 e4 Nh7 16 b4 Bh4 chk 17 Kf1 cxb4 18 axb4 Qc7 19 Nf3 Be7 20 Nxd4 Nxd4 21 Bxd4 Bxb4 22 Rxa7 Ra8 23 Qb1 Rxa7 24 Bxa7 Bc5 25 Bxc5 Qxc5 26 Rg1 Rc8 27 Bd1 b4 28 Rg3 Qc3 29 Ke2 Ra8 30 Qb3 Qd4 31 Nf2 Nf6 32 g5 hxg5 33 fxg5 Nh5 34 Rg4 g6 35 Qc4 Qd6 36 Rh4 Ba6 37 Qb3 Nf4 chk 38 Kf1 e5 39 Ng4 Nh5 40 Nh6 chk Kg7 41 Rxh5 ("A free piece!" says White. "If gxh5 then Nf5 check wins the queen!") 41...Qe7 42 Rh3 Qd7 43 Ng4 Bb7 44 Rh7 chk Kg8 45 Nf6 chk and the queen is lost anyway, and black resigns.
Grandmaster Nigel Short's simultaneous display in Telford last week - in which incidentally White was one of the players to take him all the way - overshadowed a significant happening in the league, in white Iain Wilson of Shifnal & Telford became the first person to stop the John Parrott steamroller by ending the Shrewsbury player's 16 game run of straight league victories.
In other league news, Newport's super-strong university stars Gavyn Cooper and Tom Pym have now finished their studies, but with Pym having moved to Birmingham and Cooper hoping to do air traffic control training which will put him out of action towards the end of the season, Newport's challenge for the league title may not be as irresistible as it might otherwise have been.
Nigel Short 33 Shropshire 1 - 18/10/2011
Jamie Hopkins and Nigel Ferrington were the toast of Shropshire after becoming the only players to score off top grandmaster Nigel Short in a 34-player simultaneous display in Telford. Both drew - everybody else lost. Hopkins also had the bonus of his game being chosen by Short for the best game prize. "I just played it solidly. I didn't let him in," said Hopkins.
Others were left ruing what-might-have-beens. Dave Gostelow reckoned he had a winning game at one stage, before the position went away from him. Graham Ives was defending a rook and pawns endgame before falling foul of a cunning trick.
To nobody's surprise the last game to finish was that involving Nick Rutter, Shropshire's strongest player, who seemed to have been giving chess ace Short quite a lot to think about. In the final moves it boiled down to Short having a king, rook, and bishop, and Rutter having a king, rook, and pawn, and Short magically conjured up an unstoppable checkmate.
The session lasted over five hours, and it was 2 hours 40 minutes before Wellington's Colin Mace became the first faller after 23 moves, although in truth a number of other players were already doggedly playing on in lost positions - and why not, as the chance to play (for a fee) a world championship contender comes once in a blue moon.
Steve Szwajkun, for example, had said goodbye to a knight on move 12, and Alf Evans had lost his queen after a classic knight fork on move 17. Youngest opponent Heath Pearson, aged 11, who goes to Oxon Primary School in Shrewsbury, took Short to 34 moves, sacrificing his queen in an attempt to force a draw but, of course, Short evaded it to score the full point.
Organiser Francis Best said afterwards: "We have all enjoyed a fantastic day."
Meanwhile Shropshire's open team narrowly lost to Worcestershire in a cliffhanger played at Shifnal.
The Salopians were leading in the running score, but defeats in late games brought things to 7-8, with all turning on whether Windsor Peck could win in the last game to finish to salvage a match draw. Unfortunately it was a bishop and pawns ending in which his young opponent needed only the minimum of care to hold the position and, with nothing he could do, Peck agreed a draw. Match result: Shropshire 7.5, Worcestershire 8.5. Shropshire winners were Chris Lewis, Nick Rutter, Nathanael Paul, Stefan Tennant, and Nigel Ferrington, and draws came from Glyn Pugh, John Whittaker, Graham Shepherd, Windsor Peck, and Gavyn Cooper.
Chess giant comes to Telford - 11/10/2011
British chess giant Nigel Short, who once challenged Gary Kasparov for the title of world champion, comes to Shropshire at the weekend to take on over 30 local players in a simultaneous display. Short will be in Telford on Sunday (Oct 16), along with English Chess Federation president and presenter of TV's Eggheads, CJ de Mooi.
Short was going to play 30 opponents at once, but with all places filled the number has been increased to 40. Nine boards are still available for those who want to take a unique opportunity to go head-to-head with one of England's strongest ever players, and perhaps take a win off the grandmaster to break his amazing 100 per cent record from the first leg of his simul tour earlier this year.
The event begins at 2pm with a lecture, "A Week in the Life of a Grandmaster", with a second at 3.15pm - "It's a Funny Old Game." The simultaneous display starts at 4.30pm. Shropshire Chess Association president Francis Best said: "We have a great line-up of Shropshire players to take on Nigel with some of the county's strongest represented, as well as lots of league players, including some juniors.
"There are plenty of spaces available for spectators on the day to help cheer on - silently - Shropshire's finest. "A superb venue is the setting for the event thanks to the generosity of Wrekin Housing Trust who have agreed to the use of their excellent training suite and catering facilities for the day. "Jacob Perry, the resident chef, will be offering a variety of chess-themed dishes to tempt the palate. "As this is one of the factors that has enabled us to keep the prices down, only refreshments purchased at the venue may be consumed on site and we ask all participants to support this policy.
The main event will start at 2pm but, if there is enough interest there will be an opportunity to buy Sunday roast beforehand during which there will be a showing of extracts from Nigel Short's “Greatest Hits” DVDs on the restaurant's plasma screen." Details and booking forms are available through the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
Junior player Athar Mehmood has added to his list of impressive achievements by becoming Staffordshire under-16 champion for the second successive year. Athar, who plays for Newport, took the 2011 title in the Staffordshire Junior Chess Congress and brings home £30 pocket money as a result. He was the 2010 under-16 champion at the same event. Athar, who is 14, attends Wrekin College.
Just a few seconds prove crucial - 04/10/2011
Shrewsbury A have set out on the path to retaining their league championship title with a dramatic win against a formidable Newport A side in their opening match of the season. Although Newport A were without Nick Rutter, they were able to field two of their big stars - Tom Pym and Gavyn Cooper - who are normally unavailable through university studies.Also in Newport's team this season is Nathanael Paul, a new recruit from the ranks of Priorslee Lions. Everything turned on the last match to finish, that of Shrewsbury's Francis Best against Chris Lewis.
Shrewsbury captain David Everington reports: "After much complication, Best won a piece for a couple of pawns but looked like losing on time. However, he kept pushing on and finally achieved mate with just six seconds left on his clock. "Had his flag fallen, the match would have been drawn as Lewis no longer had enough material to mate. As it was, the home side managed a victory that had looked most unlikely earlier on."
Another encounter to be decided by the last game to finish was the season opener between Priorslee Lions A and Wellington A. Glyn Pugh and Colin Roberts had been in a mighty tussle on top board and Roberts found himself in the position of having to win to salvage the match for Wellington, who were a full point down in the running score. Things were not looking good when Pugh landed what seemed to be the decisive blow in a complicated position in which both sides had threats. Roberts responded by cranking up the complications, which proved to be the right strategy as Pugh was critically short of time in which to work it all out, went wrong, and lost his queen. Roberts' victory tied the match score at 2.5-2.5.To rub salt in Pugh's wounds, when he later ran the game through his Fritz chess computer programme, it found various wins that he had missed.
In Division Three, Kate Walker made a sparkling start to the new season in the encounter between Telepost D and Oswestry B, and got her personal chess campaign off to a flyer with an impressive win in only her second competitive game, having joined Telepost late last season.
Nigel Short to take on more - 27/09/2011
Chess ace Nigel Short has thrown down the gauntlet to Shropshire's chess talent by saying "bring them on" - and offering to do battle with an extra 10 challengers. Former world title contender Short was already geared up to take on 30 players in a simultaneous display in Telford next month. But now the number of available spaces has been expanded to 40.
Francis Best, Shropshire Chess Association president, has been in contact with CJ de Mooi from Short's team, who suggested expanding the numbers. "This is on the basis that we are having to turn people down now for the simul and, as it's the first event in the tour, CJ thinks Nigel won't be too tired to tackle the extra number," said Best.
"This means that we now have up to another 10 places available. I will contact those on my reserves list but there are probably still a few available beyond this. There is a special prize available for the first person to beat Nigel Short and CJ says he would very much like this to be at our event. "Any extra fees earned will be split 50-50, so there is no financial risk to the association.
"Our event has already been well supported and CJ and Nigel Short don't want to disappoint people keen to take on the Grandmaster. "One of the later events in the tour has not been as successfully supported as ours and CJ has asked whether we would want to extend ours in some way. "This may or may not happen but I am thinking in terms of involvement with schools at the moment, maybe coupled with local radio and a smaller event at one club in the evening. If anyone would like to be involved in this extra event, then please drop me an email or call me."
The simultaneous display is at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford on October 16. Anyone wanting to play can contact Best on 01743 821220 or at email@example.com on email.
Meanwhile it's play action time in Shropshire Chess League with matches getting under way this week in divisions one and three, with those in the second flight having to twiddle their thumbs for another week.
Big boost for Church Stretton as new season gets underway - 20/09/2011
Promoted Church Stretton A will get a big boost in the coming season with the return of Trevor Brotherton to take the board one slot as they embark on their Division One campaign. Brotherton has been a bit of a nomad, and has played for Stretton before. He was part of the 2007-08 side which ran Telepost right down to the wire for the league championship, just missing a title victory on points difference. He has decided to return to Church Stretton following three years with Shifnal & Telford, last season as A team captain.
"We are delighted that Trevor is returning to Church Stretton for the coming season," says A team captain Steve Rooney. "Having won the division two title last year and with it promotion to Shropshire's top division, it will be a big boost to have one of the county's biggest hitters on board one for us."
Church Stretton is planning to run two teams for the coming season with Tom Williamson running the B team in division three.
Latest grading lists show that Brotherton remains one of Shropshire's top 10 players. Unsurprisingly, the list is headed by Newport's Nick Rutter, with a grading of 205 - gradings are an assessment of players' strength based on their results. Next strongest is Tom Pym on 199, who has been largely absent from the local chess scene because of university studies, while Shrewsbury's John Parrott climbs into third place (191) after an astonishing season in which he won all his games. Among those showing major improvements are Shrewsbury's Angelica Dean, whose grading of 125 is a massive leap of 50 grading points. Francis Rooney is up 19 to 113, Richard Szwajkun is up 19 to 116, and Matthew Best is up 18 to 117. Derrick Powell improves by 14 points to 119, and Eugene Raby is up 13 to 139.
League chess action resumes next week (week beginning Sept 26) and champions Shrewsbury A will be pitched against Newport A in their first match, being played at Shrewsbury on September 30. Assuming both are available to play, it will involve a mouthwatering board one clash between all-conquering Parrott, and county chess king Nick Rutter. Other highlights of the first fixtures are a local derby between Church Stretton A and Ludlow A.
Minor knockout decided on tiebreak - 26/07/2011
Shifnal & Telford B are the 2011 winners of the Minor Knockout after beating Priorslee Lions B on a tiebreak in the final.
The match result was actually a 2-2 draw, which meant the tiebreak system came into play, in which the result of the bottom board was discounted. The upshot was that Eugene Raby's victory over Windsor Peck on bottom board was disregarded, leaving a 2-1 score in favour of Shifnal & Telford from the other three results.
Full result across all four boards was: M Carbin 0, S Tarr 1; J Tunks 1, R Thompson 0; G White 0, I Wilson 1; E Raby 1, W Peck 0.
Marvin Carbin missed a potential win against Steve Tarr before losing, while Gary White lost a rook for nothing against Iain Wilson. John Tunks, who was the star of the competition, beat Richard Thompson well, and Raby had a good win against Peck.
Competition organiser Jon Smith said: "I had mentioned to a few people about having a player of the tournament award, and to that end I had a small trophy made and engraved with the name of John Tunks.b "Although on the losing side in the final he was the only player to win four out of four games, and three of them against higher rated opponents."
|Hot topics debated at the AGM - 19/07/2011
Team sizes, the riddle of a missing trophy, and carrot and stick proposals to try to prevent league matches being defaulted were the hot topics under debate at the annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association.
Following the successful introduction of four-player teams in Division Three last season, John Casewell stirred things up with a proposal to extend the idea to the first two divisions, which still have five-player teams. However, he met particularly strong resistance from Division One players. Richard Thompson said he could see no reason for reducing the size in the first two divisions, and Nick Rutter said the move would mean that a fifth of the current Division One players would find themselves playing in Division Two. Casewell's proposal was defeated on a vote, as was a compromise of just slimming down Division Two teams.
Also making little headway were proposals by Daniel Lockett to try to cut down on defaulted matches. He offered two ways - the first being a requirement that teams explore the possibility of playing at a neutral venue as a last resort, and a more draconian alternative of docking points from teams who default matches. League controller Vinny Crean pointed out that only three matches had been defaulted in the whole of last season while Peter Crean said: "You are likely to create a monster for no good reason."
Under review was the experiment of playing the Cox Trophy as a one-night rapidplay. General feeling was that it had been a success and should be kept. However, Keith Tabner said rapidplay chess wasn't everyone's cup of tea and was given the go-ahead to organise a Cox Trophy knockout on traditional lines. It will mean there are now three summer competitions - the Cox Trophy, the summer rapidplay, and the Minor Knockout.
Meanwhile the Cox Trophy, which is in fact a shield, has become the latest Shropshire chess silverware to mysteriously disappear, and it was not possible to present it on the evening as nobody knows where it is, although various theories were advanced.
On the county team scene, with there being no other volunteers Glyn Pugh stepped forward to captain Shropshire's open team. The meeting heard that there had been problems last season in getting enough people willing to play which led to Windsor Peck putting forward the idea of some sort of link-up with Worcestershire. In taking up his new post Pugh said "I will take on board Windsor's suggestion" - raising at least the possibility of some sort of combined Shropshire-Worcestershire team in future.
Major changes proposed for AGM - 05/07/2011
Moves which could shrink the size of teams in all three divisions in the Shropshire Chess League are going before next week's annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association. The proposal is that teams throughout the league should comprise just four players. Last season, as a trial, the size of teams in Division Three was reduced from five to four, in a bid to make it easier for clubs to field full teams and, consequently, reduce the number of defaults. Divisions One and Two continued with five-player teams.
Among other measures on the agenda are further ideas aimed at reducing the number of defaulted matches. Last season there were three defaulted matches in Division Two - but two of those ultimately decided the promotion battle. The unplayed matches have been blamed on reluctance to travel long distances, together with end-of-season weariness and lack of flexibility.
Two suggestions are being put forward. One is that in fixtures that require a lot of travelling, such as Oswestry v Ludlow, teams would be allowed, as a last resort, to play at a "compromise venue". For Oswestry v Ludlow, Shrewsbury would be a likely choice. The other suggestion is that teams that default without offering alternative dates or venues should be docked two points.
The AGM is at Telepost chess club, Shrewsbury, on July 13 at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile the last outstanding league issue has been settled - that of the Division Three championship. Coddon C and Wellington B finished on equal points and could not be separated by normal methods, so a play-off was arranged. Coddon C won 3-1 and are now crowned champions. Details were: J Tunks 1, N Sampson 0; A Pickles 0, D Ogundipe 1; C Paul 1, D Powell 0; G Viszokai 1, D Wright 0.
The Minor knockout final between Priorslee Lions B and Shifnal & Telford B has been arranged for next Monday (July 11). Competition organiser Jon Smith said: "I have been hoping to present a Player of the Tournament award and as the best two teams have reached the final it is fair to say that most of the candidates for the award will be playing in the final. But one name on my shortlist won't be in the final and he is Alan Pickles of Priorslee C, with three wins out of three and all against good players. Well played Mr Pickles."
Tiebreak decides Minor KO semi-final - 28/06/2011
Priorslee Lions B will face Shifnal & Telford B in the climax of the summer minor knockout competition after going through to the final by the narrowest possible margin. The board count tiebreak system had to be used to separate Priorslee Lions and Telepost B after they drew their crunch semi-final 2-2. Under this system, the result on the bottom board is disregarded, repeatedly if necessary, to arrive at a decisive match result. And so it was that the lopping off of John Westhead's bottom board "win" - ironically, it was a win by default as Priorslee Lions could not field an opponent to face him - that created a 2-1 match victory for Priorslee Lions.
Competition organiser Jon Smith says, to avoid delaying the competition, Priorslee Lions had agreed to the match date, even though they knew they would be a player short, and he is thanking them for "getting on with it."
Incidentally, Priorslee Lions is the new name for the Coddon chess club. With the closure of the Coddon Sports and Social Club in April, the chess club had to find a new venue, and its new home is the Lion Inn at Priorslee. To mark the new chapter in the club's existence, it has adopted a new name, inspired by its new venue - which as it happens is also going to be the venue of the final of the competition.
Full match result was: S Kempsell 1, M Carbin 0; K Tabner 0, G White 1; P Crean 0, J Tunks 1; J Westhead 1, default 0.
The Shifnal & Telford B v Priorslee Lions C semi final resulted in a clear-cut 2.5-1.5 victory for Shifnal & Telford.Details were: S Tarr 1, G Viszokai 0; W Peck 0, A Pickles 1; I Wilson 1, C Paul 0; S Tennant 0.5, P Mellor 0.5.
Coddon's Chris Paul said: "It was a great game. It was a great experience for us to play in this tournament."
Meanwhile the annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association has been fixed for July 13 at Telepost Chess Club at 7.30pm.Players with any proposals to be put on the agenda should contact Glyn Pugh by June 30. Already on the agenda are a review of the Cox Trophy - which was played as a experiment in May as a one-night competition - and the future of September Council meetings.
Minor KO Update - 14/06/2011
Minor Knockout organiser Jon Smith has been forced to crack the whip to keep the competition to schedule, threatening to default one of the quarter finalists for not playing their match on time.
Coddon B and Shrewsbury B have been given a final deadline to play their match, with the threat that one of them will be kicked out of the competition if they fail to make it. Smith hasn't said how he will choose which one to default if it comes to the crunch, but no doubt will access who has been most to blame for the delay.
Smith, running the competition for the first time, said: "I am very pleased that it has actually gone very well. One Shrewsbury team pulled out before the competition started, but otherwise all the games have been played, and pretty much on time.
"We have three semi finalists. Coddon B and Shrewsbury B are badly over the deadline and I have reluctantly had to tell them that if the game was not played by yesterday (Monday June 13) one of them will be defaulted. It's not necessarily easy to be strict with people but if the alternative is another failed competition then I am prepared to risk offending people.
"Shifnal & Telford look very strong and it is hard to see them not beating Coddon C in one semi final. In the other half of the draw is Telepost B, who will be playing either Shrewsbury B and Coddon B. It's very hard to predict which of those will make the final.
" I am hoping to arrange the final at Priorslee, make a bit of an occasion of the new venue of Priorslee Lions. "However that will depend on the opinion of the two finalists."
In the latest match, Oswestry A went down at home to Coddon C in a 3-1 defeat - A Peile 1, G Viszokai 0; S Tulett 0, A Pickles 1; A Evans 0, C Paul 1; E Stevenson 0, P Mellor 1.
Wellington find going tough - 07/06/2011
Shifnal & Telford B and Wellington had anything but a level playing field in their encounter in the latest round of the Minor Knockout competition. The Shifnal & Telford players arrived at their venue to find all the sets locked up in their cupboard - and nobody had a key. With a lot of sets needed quickly, Richard Thompson rang Wellington A's Toby Neal to ask to borrow his sets. They were quickly taken down to the venue but, on opening out all the plastic chess boards, a problem became apparent. Because they had been stored in a suitcase, they had all become rucked up with the result that when laid out, they had the appearance of a ridge and furrow field. Pieces placed on the boards stood at crazy angles.
"Normally I put the plastic boards on my heated car seat to flatten them out, but because it was all at a rush I forgot," said Neal.
The players ploughed on (no pun intended) regardless, with the boards gradually settling down as they warmed up and with the weight of the pieces. Stefan Tennant set Shifnal & Telford on their way with a quick win over Martin Walsh with an unstoppable attack down the h-file. Meanwhile on top board Neil Sampson lost a pawn out of the opening, albeit with some compensation, and went on to lose against Steve Tarr. It was John Lenton who was the only Wellington player to emerge with anything, drawing against Richard Thompson.
After their 3.5-0.5 win, Shifnal & Telford now go into the semi final.
Meanwhile Shropshire chess players are being urged to take the opportunity to take on one-time English world title contender Nigel Short, who is coming to the county for a simultaneous display in October. Organiser Francis Best said: "We have had a strong interest in the event but, as so often seems to be the Salopian way, quite a few of those expressing interest have not actually translated this into a firm commitment and booking. "Similarly, a number of Shropshire's strongest have yet to sign up for the event and it would be nice to give Nigel a good run for his money, if nothing else!"
The aims of the event are to raise the profile of Shropshire chess, generate a surplus to plough back into future events, but mainly to be a great event for chess players Further details available from Francis Best.
Exciting climax to Shropshire individual championship - 31/05/2011
Shropshire's individual championship is moving into its final round with six players in with a shout of the title of the county's chess king.
Newport's Nick Rutter goes into his last game in the lead on five points needing only a draw to guarantee him at least a share of the title. His seventh round opponent is Shrewsbury's David Everington on four points. The other crucial games are those between Telepost's Nigel Ferrington (4.5) and Shrewsbury's Jamie Hopkins (4), and between Glyn Pugh of Priorslee Lions and Shifnal & Telford's Trevor Brotherton (4.5).
Pugh is on three points but has a game in hand, thanks to an unfinished sixth round encounter against clubmate Andy Tunks, who has 3.5 points in the bag. Tunks faces Richard Bryant in his last game and, as he could still potentially reach 5.5 points, Tunks may yet come up on the rails to take a share of the title.
In the penultimate round Newport's Tony Holdford played his favourite King's Gambit against Everington, giving up a pawn as early as move two to create attacking possibilities. Everington, playing black, successfully negotiated the minefields and went on to win.
Here is the game, with annotations from the tournament bulletin:
1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 f5 4 exf5 d5 5 d4 Bd6 6 Bb5 check c6 7 Bd3 Qf6 8 O- O Bxf5 9 Bxf5 Qxf5 10 Ne5 Bxe5 11 Qe2 Ne7 12 dxe5 Ng6 13 g4 Qe6 14 Bxf4 O-O 15 Bg3 Rxf1 chk 16 Kxf1 Nd7 17 Nd2 Rf8 chk 18 Kg2 Nf4 chk 19 Bxf4 Rxf4 20 h3 Qxe5 21 Qxe5 Nxe5 22 Re1 Ng6 23 Kg3 Kf7 24 Nf3 Ra4 25 a3 h6 26 Ne5 chk Nxe5 27 Rxe5 g6 28 h4 Rd4 29 Re2 Rd1 30 Rf2 chk Ke7 31 Kg2 Re1 32 Kg3 Re3 chk 33 Kg2 c5 34 c3 d4 35 cxd4 cxd4 36 Rd2 d3 37 Kf2 Rh3 38 Kg2 Re3 39 Kf2 Re2 chk 40 Rxe2 chk dxe2 41 Kxe2 Kf6 42 b3? (42 a4 leads to a draw) 42... g5! 43 hxg5 chk (the "open" sealed move. White resigns as hxg5 would now win).
It's been quite a month for teenager Nathanael Paul from Priorslee Lions, who was a key part of the team which won the Cox Trophy, and also chalked up an impressive individual victory in the Rhyl Congress, where he won the Major section with a score of 4.5 out of 5. His clubmate Gary White was also among the prizewinners.
Priorslee Lions win Quickplay Cox Trophy - 24/05/2011
Priorslee Lions gobbled up the opposition to gain a roaring success in the new-look Cox Trophy competition involving chess clubs from across Shropshire.
Nine teams took part in the tournament which, as a trial, was being held as a one-night event for the first time, with players up against the clock thanks to rapid time limits - 20 minutes for the entire game in the group stages, and just 10 minutes in the semi final and final. And it was the clock which sealed the victory for Priorslee Lions A in the exciting final in which their team - Glyn Pugh, Nathanael Paul, William Bates, Jim O'Neil, and Andy Tunks - squared up against a powerful Shifnal & Telford A outfit. With a running score of 2-2, all depended on the outcome of a massive time scramble involving O'Neil and the veteran Iain Wilson. It was Wilson's flag which fell first, to a round of applause from spectators for their dramatic finale.
It is the first silverware for Priorslee Lions under that new name. Formerly they were Coddon Chess Club. Sadly they will have to wait to receive their trophy as the Cox Trophy has mysteriously gone missing.
In contrast to the glory of the A team, Priorslee Lions B scored only half a game point, leaving team member Gary White wondering whether there might be a wooden spoon prize.
Fancied Shrewsbury A, the league champions, crashed out in the semi-final and had to be content with third place, winning the 3rd/4th place playoff with a 5-0 lashing of Ludlow.
Competition organiser Toby Neal said: "There was a great atmosphere. With nearly 50 players there, it must be many years since there has been such a big gathering of Shropshire players, and I include the Wrekin Congress in that. "Some players don't like rapid chess, but people seemed to enjoy the format, and the feedback I got was really positive. Priorslee A shone and came through against tough opposition and were worthy winners. It's just a pity we couldn't present the trophy to them at the end of the evening."
Cox Trophy Final result: Shifnal & Telford 2, Priorslee Lions A 3 - T Brotherton 1, G Pugh 0; D Gostelow 0, N Paul 1; R Thompson 0, W Bates 1; I Wilson 0, J O'Neil 1; S Tennant 1, A Tunks 0.
3rd/4th place playoff: Shrewsbury A 5, Ludlow 0 - D Everington 1, J Watson 0; F Best 1, J Whittaker 0; S Rooney 1, R Woodley 0; J Parrott 1, P Munday 0; M Best 1, Templeton 0.
Shropshire juniors shine at the Magafinal - 10/05/2011
A trip down the A49 to the Megafinal in Hereford - part of a nationwide series of chess events for juniors - saw Shropshire juniors return with four trophies and a number of qualifiers for the next stage of the UK Chess Challenge.
Six Shropshire juniors won their sections to be declared Supremos and qualify for the Northern Gigafinal that takes place in July. Two Shropshire junior academy members - Heath Pearson and Francis Rooney - won all their games at the Megafinal. Ten-year old Heath swept aside all opposition in his section to take the Supremo slot, and Francis Rooney won all six of his games in the tough combined section for 14 to18 year-olds and was under-16 Supremo.
The Shropshire winners list was: under-7 boys supremo, Billy Hudson, Castle House School; under-9 boys runner-up, Luca Ebola, St George's School; under-10 Supremo, Heath Pearson, Oxon School; under-10 girls runner-up, Rhiannon Wilson, Radbrook School; under-13 boys runner-up, Morgan Warcroft, Abraham Darby.
Under-15 Supremo, Matthew Best, Mary Webb School; under-15 boys runner-up, Ben Spicer, Bridgnorth Endowed; under-16 Supremo, Francis Rooney, Church Stretton School; under-17 Supremo, James Sloan, Idsall School; under-18 girls Supremo, Jade Bonner, Abraham Darby School; under-18 boys Supremo, Ben Treadwell, Abraham Darby School.
Winners of rosettes for those who scored at least 3.5 points from their 6 matches were: Ella Mates, St Lawrences U11G; Alfie Deal and Ben Sutton, Castle House U10B; Oscar Stone and Duncan Parry, St Georges U11B; Darren Ward, Abraham Darby U12B; Matthew Taylor, Idsall School U13B. Shropshire schools represented at the Megafinal were: Abraham Darby, Bridgnorth Endowed, Castle House, Church Stretton, Idsall, Mary Webb, Radbrook, St George's, and St Lawrence's.
Oswestry A captain Ashley Peile has angrily denied a claim by Shifnal & Telford B counterpart Stefan Tennant that he sent a draw offer by text days in advance of their end-of-season match and then, when it was refused by Tennant, followed it up with a no-show.
Shifnal & Telford players had the boards laid out and the clocks were ticking as they waited in vain for Oswestry to show up. But Peile says that he warned Tennant that he could only field two players, and has flatly denied that he ever offered a draw by text - and has challenged Tennant to produce any such text.
Peile said: "The Thursday before the Wednesday of the scheduled match, I left a message with a woman, I presume his partner, as he was out playing chess when I phoned. I explained we only had two players available that night and that they could either claim a default or, as our team were still interested in playing, to reschedule. "The next day I got a text message, saying that he had his team for Wednesday and that they played and lost at our club with a reduced side. I texted him back telling him we only had two players and if he didn't want to reschedule to take the default. He just replied, 'I will keep to Wednesday next week.'
"I informed the Oswestry team that we were defaulting and that Stefan was being an awkward git, by saying he was keeping to Wednesday even though I had told him to take a default." Peile said club colleague Graham Ives texted Tennant to tell him Oswestry could not field a team. "Unfortunately, I have since deleted all my sent messages to create space on my phone," said Peile, but added: "I would like to make very clear that I did not even mention a draw, let alone offer one, and I am quite offended by the comments."
All square at the top of Div 3 - 03/05/2011
Division Three's climax to the season has ended in a remarkable fashion - with an amazing dead heat at the top of the table which is going to be resolved by an unprecedented playoff to decide the championship title. Coddon C and Wellington B are on equal points, their "goal difference" is exactly the same, and they have both scored the same number of game points - 25 - meaning that they cannot be separated. League controller Vinny Crean is now in the process of arranging the playoff, which will be for glory, prestige and pride rather than promotion, as both teams are already guaranteed a place in Division Two next season.
Trevor Brotherton and Nigel Ferrington are in the lead in Shropshire's individual championship, with both on four points going into the sixth and penultimate round, in which they are paired against each other. Brotherton has a game in hand, as he has not yet completed his fifth rounder against Nick Rutter. Rutter is among three players in the chasing pack on 3.5 points, the other two being Andy Tunks and Jamie Hopkins.
The deadline has now passed for entries into the Cox Trophy summer knockout, which this time round is experimentally being played as a quickplay tournament on one night. Ten teams have entered the competition which will be at Shifnal & Telford club's venue at The Nedge, Stirchley, on May 18.
Organiser Toby Neal said: "I'm going to canvass captains about the format, but my plan is for a first round with a 20 minute time control - played in two back-to-back stages because the venue can only comfortably accommodate four simultaneous matches - with all other rounds having a 10 minute time control."Five winning teams and the highest scoring loser from the first round will go into the quarter finals. It will mean there are two quarter final spaces still available, and the four remaining first round losers will battle it out for these places in a special playoff. "It will mean everybody, even in losing teams, gets at least two games of chess on the night."
Teams taking part are: Shrewsbury A, Shifnal & Telford A, Shifnal & Telford C, Telepost C (probably a mixed team), Telepost D, Newport B, Ludlow A, Wellington A, Priorslee Lions (formerly Coddon) A, Priorslee Lions B.
Introducing Shropshire's new chess club - 26/04/2011
A new club is roaring onto the Shropshire chess scene - the Priorslee Lions. With the closure in April of the Coddon Sports and Social Club in Telford, Coddon chess club lost their home since 1987, but have now found a new venue at the Lion Inn at Priorslee. To reflect the new chapter in their history, they have changed their name to the Priorslee Lions. There's a new club night as well - Mondays.
In the final issue of the league, Ludlow A secured promotion to Division One with a 4-1 win over Newport B. Shrewsbury B pushed them all the way, their 1.5-3.5 victory over already-promoted Church Stretton A putting them on equal points with Ludlow, but their inferior "goal difference" means they miss out.
Elsewhere Shifnal & Telford B had the boards set out and the clocks were ticking as they waited for the arrival of Oswestry A. "I'm not expecting them to turn up," said captain Stefan Tennant as he played a social game to pass the time. His prediction was proven correct, and there was an Oswestry no-show. The abortive match may make history of a sort as it is possibly the first ever in Shropshire chess in which a draw has been offered by text in advance of the fixture.
Tennant says that Oswestry captain Ashley Peile had texted him offering a draw, as Oswestry could only rustle up two players, and nothing turned on the match. But Tennant resisted that, taking the view that his side had made the 80-mile round trip to Oswestry earlier in the season with a reduced team, and had also had to concede when he could not raise a team against Ludlow. "I said 'I'll see you next Wednesday', and that's how I left it."He got his answer on the night.
Date of this year's Cox Trophy has been definitely fixed for May 18 at Shifnal & Telford's venue at The Nedge, Stirchley. As an experiment to try to revive interest it is being played as a one-night quickplay knockout, with a probable 10 minutes per player time limit. Unlike previous years, teams will not be automatically entered - only those who want to take part will take part. Entries have to be in by the end of this month. Details are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
Parrott on top perch for champions - 19/04/2011
Dominant Shrewsbury A have won the league championship by an astonishing margin of nine clear points helped by a starring role by John Parrott who may have set a league record by winning all his 14 games over the season. Parrott, who took a break from chess a couple of seasons back, simply steamrollered all opposition as he returned refreshed to chess action.
In the end-of-season tie against Coddon B, Parrott once again played a vital role by beating Marvin Carbin to put Shrewsbury 2-1 up, and on course for a 3-2 victory in a match Coddon B had to win to ensure survival in the first division. Captain David Everington said his 100 per cent record over the season was possibly unprecedented. Of the match overall, he said it was the league champion's hardest of the season.
"The board 4 game had people clustering round to watch as Munro Morrison lost the exchange but retaliated by sacrificing a second exchange which left his minor pieces and queen hovering menacingly around Mark Smith's King. After deep complications which were hard work for both players Morrison won the argument. "Francis Best clinched it for Shrewsbury with some enterprising play which pushed John Tunks into time trouble which eventually cost him the game."
Coddon B's loss meant the next night's encounter between the two bottom-placed teams, Wellington A and Telepost B, was a winner-takes-all affair as whoever won would survive in Division One - and the loser would be relegated. In the event Telepost suffered their first whitewash in a long time and join Coddon in the drop.
Newport A's student stars, available thanks to the university holiday, helped the team cruise to victory over Shifnal & Telford A, whose captain Trevor Brotherton reports: "In the annual students vs old men fixture the games got off to a flying start, once we had selected the appropriate pair of spectacles to see the pieces. Sadly after this false dawn the Telford players began to suffer. The burden of making more than 20 moves in two hours was asking a little too much. Well done Dave Gostelow who got out while the going was good against fellow veteran Tony Holdford."
In Division Two all hangs on the final fixtures to see whether it is Ludlow A or Shrewsbury B who join Church Stretton A in promotion, while a draw by Wellington B was enough to ensure that they are promoted from Division Three, together with Coddon C.
On the congress scene, Shropshire's Paul Broderick was second in the Minor section of the Nottinghamshire Chess Congress.
Nail-biting finish at the foot of Division 1 - 05/04/2011
Division One's relegation dogfight is on a knife edge after bottom-placed Telepost B chalked up a vital win which gives them real hope of staging a great escape. They are now level on points with Wellington A - whom they meet in the last game of the season. Just one point ahead are Telford-based Coddon B, the team Telepost narrowly defeated in the latest round of matches.
It's time to get the slide rules out to work out the various permutations, but in simple terms Coddon can guarantee themselves survival if they beat runaway league champions Shrewsbury A in their final game.That won't be easy, and Shrewsbury underlined their form by dispatching Wellington A.
Shrewsbury captain David Everington reports: "The game of the evening was Wellington's only win. Toby Neal on board two was a pawn down with black against Jamie Hopkins but showed how opposite coloured bishops can be far from drawish with rooks and queens still on the board. "He got an iron grip on the white squares with his bishop and found a rook sacrifice to open up the white king in Hopkins' dire time trouble. "It might not have been a certain winner but Hopkins had no time to analyse the position and his flag duly fell.
"John Parrott on board five reached the remarkable score of 13 points from 13 and is just one game away from an unprecedented 100 per cent league score over the season."
In Division Three, Coddon C missed the chance to ensure being promoted as champions with a defeat by Wellington B, who are now favourites to join them in the step up, as third-placed Shrewsbury C have both to win their final game and also rely on certain scoreline permutations because of their inferior "goal difference."
There was a Church Stretton double at the Hereford congress when Francis Rooney and his dad Steve Rooney both came away with prizes. Francis took third place in the Minor (under-120) and the under-100 grading prize, while Steve was equal first in the Open. Francis was undefeated and finished on 3.5 points. He could easily have finished in second place but for a bizarre end to a rival's game in the crucial final round, when a local Hereford player resigned because he couldn't cope with the pressure of everyone watching, just when his opponent had managed to squander all of his advantage and create a dead-drawn position. Steve finished on three points - not normally enough to win a prize, never mind a share of first place - but the section was a low-scoring affair and was a much weaker field than you'd normally find at an Open. The event suffered from a very low entry overall.
Look south for promotion - 29/03/2011
South Shropshire's finest are knocking on the door of Division One, with Church Stretton A already securing promotion and Ludlow aiming to join them in the step up. Stretton made certain by putting Telepost C to the sword, and will now be out to ensure that they go up as division champions.
Ludlow A did not have to break sweat in their whitewash of Shifnal & Telford B, as they were gifted the match through default.
With two games to go, however, Shrewsbury B could still spoil their party and overhaul them.
Shropshire went down to a 9-7 away defeat against Derbyshire in a match for players graded under 140, and did themselves no favours by defaulting two boards. Wins came from Gary White, Windsor Peck, Alan Pickles, Ivor Saltor, Derrick Powell, and Richard Szwajkun, with draws from John Tunks and Roger Brown.
Meanwhile Shropshire chess has taken a technological step forward thanks to the efforts of Graham Ives of Oswestry Chess Club. He has programmed a results and player database. It means when team captains submit league results through the county's chess website, the database and league tables are automatically updated.
Storm clouds over Wellington - 22/03/2011
The mournful strains of the dirge-like Macca classic Mull of Kintyre summed up the mood for Wellington A as they crashed to defeat in a crucial relegation avoidance battle with fellow strugglers Coddon B.
In fact as Colin Roberts grimly surveyed the ruins of his position as the skirl of the bagpipes drifted in from the adjoining bar, he jokingly accused opponent Munroe Morrison of having put the record on the jukebox to depress him even more. "I object to that. I'm from Berwick-on-Tweed," Morrison retorted.
Morrison had made what had looked like a misconceived queen sacrifice after which it seemed all Roberts had to do was mop up in the pivotal game of the match. In returning to his seat after one of his occasional trips to the bar to keep an eye on the progress of Liverpool FC on the big screen, he found that Morrison had made a knight move which he had completely overlooked or underestimated, giving him a choice of losing his queen or suffering immediate checkmate. He chose the former, but was left with a hopeless position and resigned a few moves later.
Coddon B now climb out of the relegation zone at the expense of Wellington A, with all turning on the last two matches.
At the other end of the division Shrewsbury have sealed the league championship with a victory over Telepost B.
Shrewsbury's David Everington reports: "Telepost made a serious bid to beat the leaders. Despite an early loss on board two, the home side's increasingly impressive Philip Zabrocki held Jamie Hopkins to a draw on top board despite a grading difference of 26 points. "The game of the night was Peter Crean's win against Peter Kitchen in a tactical melee which attracted quite a crowd around the board as Kitchen pursued the enemy king to stave off a back-rank mate. Crean eventually found a shelter from checks for his monarch and won next move."
Top grandmaster to visit Shropshire - 15/03/2011
Shropshire players are to get the chance to take on one of the top English players of the modern age - Nigel Short, who unsuccessfully challenged Garry Kasparov for the title of world chess champion in the 1990s.
Chess star Short is undertaking a tour in which he gives simultaneous displays on 30 boards, and lectures, together with English Chess Federation president CJ de Mooi and, after canvassing views of local players and receiving positive feedback, Shropshire Chess Association president Francis Best has now booked Short to come on October 16. The event will be at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Colliers Way, Telford, and Best now wants to hear from players interested in taking part.
He said a few people had thought the proposed cost of £40 was a little high, but it was in fact only a suggestion and he would work to reduce it, and it would be much easier to do that if players made an early commitment to be involved. He is also looking for potential sponsorship or corporate support.
"Some people suggested that we don't have enough players within Shropshire to give adequate support for this event. For this reason, we will open up the event to neighbouring counties in due course," said Best. "I wanted to give initial preference to Shropshire players but again, this preference will be wasted unless people register in good time."
He added: "I intend to do all I can to make this a truly memorable event for Shropshire chess and have started to assemble a team to help with this. I would welcome contact from other Shropshire players to bolster this team – let's make this a substantial boost to Shropshire chess!"
In the league, Church Stretton A have moved three points clear at the head of Division Two thanks to a win over Shifnal & Telford B.
Reporting the result on his blog on the Stretton website, Steve Rooney says: "It was another line-up we haven't had before - will we get to the end of the season without playing the same team twice?
"An early win for Gerald Link on board four got us off to a good start, which was soon followed by Karl Wakefield winning on board two when Andy Jones' position crumbled under the pressure of two pins. A draw was agreed on board three between Graham Shepherd and Roger Brown which left the two Rooneys to finish.
"Francis on board 5 was a piece ahead but his opponent had better activity and gradually used his initiative to grind out a win. Steve Rooney on board one turned down a draw, which would have clinched the victory, but got the full point when Windsor Peck's flag fell in what was then a completely winning position for the Stretton captain."
Special award for Athar - 08/03/2011
Junior chess ace Athar Mehmood has received a special award in recognition of his national and international achievements.
The 14-year-old, who is a student at Wrekin College in Telford, was among 40 young people from schools across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin who were honoured at the annual John Beswick International Awards evening at the Shirehall in Shrewsbury. The event acknowledges the achievements of Shropshire's top young sports stars who have represented their county - and, in Athar's case, his country, as he played for England in a chess tournament in Poland. It also recognises his national achievements in the National Youth Chess Association.
Athar, who was nominated for the award by Wrekin College head of games Jim Mostyn, said: "I am very proud to have been nominated, and it is an honour to be chosen to represent England. I hope my school and Newport Chess Club are proud of me." As well as representing his own country, Athar plays on top board for the Staffordshire under-14 team which came sixth in the NYCA championship, with Athar winning all his four games.
Shrewsbury A have missed the chance to more or less wrap up the league championship by drawing against county town rivals Telepost A, bringing to an end Shrewsbury's long run of straight wins.
Shrewsbury's Peter Kitchen said: "Normally something exciting happens in the Shrewsbury town derby, but not in this case. They were all really dour struggles that fizzled out into a match draw, with no fireworks. John Parrott had taken us to the verge of the title by beating Charles Micallef on bottom board, but Jamie Hopkins lost the deciding game to Nigel Ferrington after getting into his habitual time trouble."
Struggling Telepost B and Coddon B have both chalked up wins which dramatically improve their chances of avoiding the drop. Telepost's victims were Shifnal & Telford A. In reporting the result, Shifnal & Telford's Trevor Brotherton wrote in the "comment box" simply: "Not printable."
It's interesting how others see you, and in Shropshire's 7-9 defeat against Worcestershire in the under-140 county team championship we have, unusually, the match report by Giles Stanton.
"It was a close run affair. One of Worcester's players had to withdraw at the last moment because his wife had a fall, resulting in a nasty head injury. "Kyle Reed played with assurance capitalising on his opponent's (Dele Ogundipe) mistakes to gain Worcs' first win.
"Worcester players Doug Bott and Francis O'Gorman regained their form to score wins. Doug with well marshalled troops overwhelmed his opponent's (Alan Pickles) castled king. Francis O'Gorman maintained an Iron grip on the position while his opponent (Roger Brown) fell behind on the clock, eventually losing on time. "Both of Worcester's Friar brothers sacrificed a pawn in the opening and used their superior development to score. In Joseph's case winning a piece (against Chris Paul) and James's case his centralised queen and knight threatening mate on the move: too much for his opponent (Eugene Raby) to cope with. "The board 15 game was hard-fought. Arnold Kirkland had what looked like a winning attack but Shropshire's Derrick Powell came in with counter threats and both sides were threatening to queen a pawn. With the threats nullified, a draw was agreed."
Brotherton in pole position - 01/03/2011
Trevor Brotherton is the early leader in Shropshire's individual championship, with three straight wins putting him half a point clear of his nearest challengers. Brotherton is paired against Newport's Tony Holdford in the fourth round. Among the chasing pack is Nick Rutter, who successfully rode out an attack from Andy Tunks. Here is that game, with Tunks with the white pieces and annotations from Rutter.
1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 e6 4 e3 Nf6 5 Qc2 Nbd7 6 Nf3 Bd6 7 g4 dxc4 8 Bxc4 e5!? 9 Bd2 exd4 10 Nxd4 Ne5 11 Be2 Bxg4 12 f3 Bh5 (I thought Bh3 might be best here, but couldn't resist the idea of playing Bg6) 13 O-O-O Bg6 (The bishop lies uneasy here as it may get trapped by the f or h pawn) 14 e4 Nd5 (a risky move in view of f4-f5) 15 f4 Nb4 16 Qb1 Be7 17 Be3 Nd7 18 f5 Bg5 19 Bd2 Bh5 20 Bxh5 Ne5 21 Be2 c5 22 Bb5 check (The move to play is 22 Ndb5 Ned3 chk 23 Bxd3 Nxd3 chk 24 Qxd3! Qxd3 25 Bxg5 and white is winning) 22... Kf8 (Now it's is level) 23 Ne6 chk fxe6 24 fxe6 (24 Rhg1 would be level) 24.. c4 (now black is clearly better) 25 Rhf1 chk Kg8 26 Bxg5 Qxg5 chk 27 Rd2 Rd8 28 Nd5 Ned3 chk 29 Qxd3!? (The more obvious Kd1 is simply better for black) 29... Nxd3 chk 30 Kb1 h6 (Not 30... Qxd2 31 Ne7 checkmate!) 31 e7 Kh7 32 exd8(Q) Rxd8 33 Rdd1? (33 Rfd1 is best, but black is well on top) 33...Qg2! This threatens checkmate on b2. Tunks resigned here.
Latest league action has all been in division two, where leaders Church Stretton A whitewashed Oswestry A, who are in serious danger of relegation. Oswestry A are one of those teams which look strong on paper - with Brian Whyte and Ieuan Fenton among their nominated players - but in the real world Whyte and Fenton have not played for them at all so far this season.
Church Stretton are two points clear at the head of the division, although second place Ludlow A have two games in hand. Newport B ran Telepost C close but stay rooted to the foot of the table after a run of eight straight losses and need a miracle turnaround if they are to avoid the drop.
Hearing is believing - 22/02/2011
League leaders Shrewsbury A have stretched their winning run after an extraordinary incident bordering on farce in which John Parrott put the "deaf" into the defeat of his opponent.
Parrott was losing on time and was also slightly material down when Coddon A's Graham Shepherd offered him a draw. Parrott, whose flag was on the horizontal, would have snatched his hand off - had he heard him. "But he uses earplugs in league matches and failed to hear the offer, carried on playing, and Shepherd somehow managed to lose!" reports Shrewsbury captain David Everington. Had Shepherd won, the match result would have been a draw, meaning Shrewsbury would have dropped a point for the first time this season. Earlier Everington had got the county town side off to a good start when Glyn Pugh walked into an ambush in the Latvian Gambit (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f5).
On the county scene, Shropshire's under-140 team scored a 8.5-7.5 win over Nottinghamshire in a match played at Shifnal. Wins came from John Westhead, Marvin Carbin, Ian Davies, Dele Ogundipe, Roger Brown and Derrick Powell, and draws from Peter Crean, John Tunks, Graham Ives, Ivor Salter, and George Viszokai.
In the league, Newport Juniors have had to withdraw from the third division. Captain Jamie Allan has struggled for several months to keep the outfit going but unfortunately only himself and one other junior player can commit to the rest of the season. Matches played so far will be declared void and the table adjusted.
There was a double for the Telford-based Coddon club at the Warwickshire Congress, with Gary White winning second prize and £70 in the under-145 section, with a score of four out of five, and Nathanael Paul winning the £20 grading prize in the under-170 section with a score of 3/5.
Here is White's fifth round victory over Matthew Wilson, which ensured him a share of the plunder. White was playing with the black pieces and annotates the game. He analysed it later on the Fritz chess computer programme - which reckoned that at one stage White was the equivalent of almost five pawns down, a resignable disadvantage. However a blunder by Wilson caused an amazing turnaround.
1 Nf3 b6 2 b3 Bb7 3 Bb2 e6 4 e3 d6 5 d4 Nd7 6 Bd3 a6 7 0–0 g5 8 e4 g4 9 Ne1 h5 10 f3 Qh4 11 d5 e5 12 f4 Bg7 13 Nd2 Nc5 14 Nc4 b5 15 Ne3 Ne716 a4 bxa4 17 b4 Nxd3 18 Nxd3 Bc8 19 g3 Qf6 20 fxe5 Qh6 21 Nf5 Nxf5 22 exf5 h4 23 Qe2 hxg3 24 exd6 check Kf8 25 Bxg7 chk Kxg7 26 f6 chk Kh7 27 Qe4 chk Qg6 28 Qxg6 chk Kxg6 (Fritz has this position at plus 4.68 to white, so not good for me!) 29 hxg3 (blunder! Ne5 is much stronger!) cxd6 30 Rxa4 Bf5 (Fritz 0.00) 31 b5? axb5 32 Rxa8 Rxa8 (now plus 2.03 in black's favour – what a turnaround in just four moves!) 33 Rb1 Bxd3 34 cxd3 Ra3 35 Rxb5 Kxf6 36 Rb4 Rxd3 37 Rxg4 Rxd5 38 Kf2 Re5 39 Ra4 Ke6 40 Ra6 f5 41 Kf3 Re4 42 Rb6 Ke5 43 Rb5 chk d5 44 Ra5 Rc4 45 Ra8 Rc6 46 Ra5 Rc3 chk 47 Kf2 Ke4 48 Ra8 Rc2 chk 49 Ke1 Rg2 50 Re8 chk Kd3 51 Rd8 d4 52 Rd5 Ke4 53 Rd8 Rxg3 54 Re8 chk Kd3 55 Rf8 Re3 chk 56 Kf1 Re5 57 Rh8 f4 58.Rh3 chk Re3 59 Rh4 Ke4 60 Rh8 d3 61 Re8 chk Kd4 62 Rd8 chk Kc3 63 Kf2 Kd2 64 Rf8 Re4 65 Ra8 Rc4 66 Rf8 Kd1 67 Ra8 d2 68 Re8 Kc1 and Wilson resigned.
U140 defaults prove decisive against Staffs - 15/02/2011
Two defaulted boards cost Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 dear in their home match against Staffordshire.
Home wins on four of the five top boards were more than offset by a string of noughts, including the two defaults, on boards 12 to 16, leaving a 9-7 scoreline. Winners were Peter Crean, John Westhead, Gary White, Marvin Carbin, and Vincent Crean, with draws from Stefan Tennant, John Tunks, Alan Pickles, and George Viszokai. Staffordshire fielded a strength-in-depth side, with only 18 grading points separating their strongest and their weakest player, whereas for Shropshire the difference was 34 grading points. The Paul family did a double at Nottingham rapidplay, where Chris Paul was equal first in the Minor section, earning him £75, and son Nathanael was joint second in the Intermediate section, coming away with £25.
Here are some of the inside stories behind some of the latest league encounters.
Shifnal & Telford A 1, Coddon B 4 - Trevor Brotherton reports: "'Enter the twighlight zone where reality is inverted. What can I say? Even Stefan Tennant who usually wins got turned over. I refused a draw and lost; Richard Thompson was 'Grobbed'; and Michal Wronski tried blitz chess. Sensei Iain Wilson managed to salvage our pride."
Newport A 2, Shrewsbury A 3: "With Jamie Hopkins and Francis Best unavailable this might have been Shrewsbury's first loss. But reserves Ray Cox and Norman O'Connor secured an important win after John Parrot won on board three for the visitors.
" Newport's top board played a long but very accurate game to grind down David Everington on top board but Tony Holdford finally beat Peter Kitchen with his favourite King's Gambit at the fourth attempt. In the three previous game he has played 3 Nf3 but this time varied with 3 Bc4 and won very neatly." (report by David Everington)
Coddon A 2.5, Telepost B 2.5: "My game against Steve Kempsell was a little on the wild side and I bet Steve could predict very few of my moves. In the cold light of day, my game was unsound most of the time but very frightening to be facing under time pressure." (report by Glyn Pugh)
| Leicestershire just too strong - 08/02/2011
Shropshire were left counting the positives after going down to a 10.5-5.5 defeat against a strong Leicestershire side in the Midland Counties Chess Union championship. In fact acting captain Glyn Pugh, who struggled to raise a side at all, declared it a good result in the circumstances. Short-handed Shropshire had to default two boards and, considering the strength of the Leicestershire team – which was playing Mark Hebden, a Grandmaster, on top board – it was a creditable scoreline. Shropshire highlights in the match, played away at Croft, included a win by Chris Paul, graded 115, against an opponent graded 158, and a captain's victory for Glyn Pugh.
Shrewsbury A are continuing their astonishing unbeaten run and have pulled well clear at the head of the first division. Barring a sudden drop in form, the league championship title looks a formality. At the other end of the division, Coddon B's hopes of avoiding the drop were given a fillip with a victory over Shifnal & Telford A, who generally suffer from player unavailability in the second half of the season. Coddon C have strengthened their position at the head of Division Three, although teams below them have games in hand.
Foxy Griffiths keeps Newport in the hunt - 25/01/2011
A cunning piece of sorcery by Danny Griffiths secured Newport A a thrilling last ditch victory in their encounter against Wellington A to keep them in the title hunt.
With league leaders Shrewsbury A beating an under-strength Shifnal & Telford A, anything less than a win for second placed Newport would have seen them lose ground in the battle for the league championship. Not for the first time Richard Gillespie found Wellington's hopes of salvaging the match resting on his shoulders, as he learned that the team needed him to beat Griffiths to draw the encounter. "No pressure then," teammate Colin Roberts informed him, more than once.
Gillespie had gone material ahead after landing a knight fork, at which Griffiths dropped his shoulders and said ruefully: "I've been looking for this all night." He played on, saying: "Let's see if I can do it."
His own knight then proved to be a very frisky steed and, while it didn't land a fork of its own, its leaping about and some passed pawns gave Gillespie a lot to think about - so much so, that when Griffiths lost the knight to go into the endgame a whole rook down, Gillespie's flag was already past the horizontal. Desperately trying to simplify, Gillespie captured a pawn to reach a position, the essentials of which was that he had rooks on b7 and b5, and Griffiths had a rook on c5 and pawn on e6, at which Griffiths pulled his rabbit out of the hat and played his pawn to e7.
At first sight - and with Gillespie having to make his moves instantly he didn't have time for anything else - this gave the illusion that black can only stop the pawn queening by Rxe7 (if Rb8, then Rxb5), thus losing his rook on b5. This is what Gillespie played and, with all hope of winning gone, then offered a draw which, on checking with his captain that that ensured his team victory, Griffiths accepted.
But there was a wrinkle in the position that they had both missed. Gillespie's king was on g7 and, as Colin Roberts pointed out afterwards, simply moving it to f7 would have ruined Griffiths' little trick. It may have been academic anyway, as Gillespie had only seconds left on his clock and it is questionable whether he would have had enough time to win the game.
|Shrewsbury storm on as Telepost toil- 18/01/2011
The contrasting fortunes of Shrewsbury's big two chess club have been underlined in the first results of the new year. Shrewsbury A have pulled out a four point lead at the head of the first division while reigning league champions Telepost A have seen their malaise continue with defeat at the hands of relegation zone dodgers Coddon A . As there seems no reason for Shrewsbury to weaken in the second half of the season, they must now be favourites to take the title. Telepost, meanwhile, find themselves in an unaccustomed mid table position.
The boys were back in town for Newport A - that is, their absent young stars who can only play occasionally because of their university studies. Wins for Tom Pym and Gavyn Cooper, getting in some league chess during their Christmas break, helped Newport to a 4-1 win over a competitive Shifnal & Telford side, propelling Newport to second place in the table.
Division Two's promotion battle is being headed by south Shropshire's finest, with Church Stretton A and near neighbours Ludlow both on nine points, but with Ludlow having a game in hand.
Only two matches have been played so far this year in Division Three, where as an experiment teams are running with just four players, rather than five in the other two divisions. Wellington B's win over Shifnal & Telford C means they are now breathing down the necks of leaders Coddon C.
December's bad weather played havoc with the second round of the individual championship, leaving many games unplayed, and a bit of a backlog.Two of the favourites will be going head-to-head in the third round - Nick Rutter and Nigel Ferrington - while another high powered clash will see David Everington and Trevor Brotherton do battle.
One of the junior stars of the Wrekin Chess Congress was Shrewsbury's Heath Pearson, aged nine.He got off to a good start with this victory against Graham Toone, who had the white pieces. Heath's coach Steve Rooney annotates.
1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qa5 4 d4 c6 (Heath has learnt the Scandanavian Defence) 5 Nf3 Qc7 6 Be2 Nf6 7 Bg5 Bf5 8 Ne5 e6 9 g4 h6 (An aggressive response, but that's the way he likes to play!) 10 Bh4 g5 11 Bg3 Qb6 (A little too aggressive, leaving the bishop on f5 en prise) 12 Nc4 Qd8 13 gxf5 exf5 14 Be5 Bb4 15 Qd3 f4 16 Qf5 Nbd7 17 Nd6 check (It's looking a bit tough for black here, but don't panic) 17...Kf8 18 Bh5 Qa5 19 0-0 Bxd6 20 Bxd6 chk Kg7 21 Rfe1 (Both players have missed the unprotected queens, so...) 21...Qxf5 (And now white has lost the leader of his attack) 22 Re7 Rae8 23 Rxf7 chk Kg8 24 Be2 (The final error. The bishop is heading for c4 for a discovered check, but white has forgotten that the rook on f7 is now unprotected) 24...Kxf7 And white resigned. Heath gets a win against a 109-graded player in his first competitive game!
Local stars shine over Wrekin - 11/01/2011
Shropshire players scored their best results for years in what could be the last ever Wrekin Chess Congress held at Madeley Court Centre in which 88 contenders from far and wide battled for glory and cash prizes totalling over £1,000. There were home wins in two of the three sections and chief controller David Thomas said that he had not seen so many Shropshire players among the prize list in his 25 years' of involvement with the tournament.
Roger Brown, of the Shifnal & Telford club, scooped the £200 first prize in the Minor by steamrollering the opposition, winning all his five games, including the vital last round match against Shrewsbury's Ivor Salter.
"I went into the final round needing a draw to be certain of first place. I did offer a draw a couple of times, and it was refused. Then, just as I was about to win a pawn, I was offered a draw - and I refused. A pawn up, I was able to force the win. I'm very pleased," said Brown.
Newport's Gavyn Cooper, on his Christmas break from Durham University, had a dramatic win in his final game to seal victory in the strongest section, the Premier, on four points out of five. "It's great," he said. "I played quite well - and a bit of luck helps."
Only in the intermediate Major section were Shropshire players shut out, where five players shared first place on a surprisingly low score of 3.5 out of 5 - Tom Robinson (Redditch), Brenda O'Gorman (DHSS), Tim Lane (South Birmingham), Adrian Walker (Leamington), and Phil Bull (West Bromwich).
Four Shropshire youngsters, Heath Pearson, Francis Rooney, Peter Mellor, and Matthew Best, nabbed the tournament's junior prizes. Among other locals grabbing a share of glory was Graham Ives of Oswestry, who was runner up in the Minor, and there were no fewer than eight in third spot, three of whom, Tim Skidmore (Shifnal & Telford), Richard Szwajkun (Newport), and Louise Coxon (Solihull), were awarded grading prizes. The other five were Ivor Salter (Shrewsbury), Jonathan Hockey (Wellington), Anthony Meakin (Rugeley), Richard Leaper (Westminster), and Matthew Wilson (unaffiliated).
Stefan Tennant (Shifnal & Telford) won the grading prize in the Major, and Colin Roberts (Wellington), John Footner (Shifnal & Telford), and Francis Best (Shrewsbury), won grading prizes in the Premier - grading prizes, incidentally, are awarded to players who are among the lowest graded in their section but nevertheless turn in good scores. Second place in the Premier was shared by Don Mason (Shirley), Russell James (Rushall), and Andy Barach (Warks).
Organiser Richard Thompson said: "It all went pretty smoothly and everybody seemed to be fairly happy. Numbers were a little bit down, but I think that seems to have been the pattern with congresses during the last few months. "It was a good result for Shropshire, with outright wins in two of the sections. "I'm pleased with how it went."
A question mark hangs over the January 2012 congress, because Madeley Court Centre is due to close with the opening of the new Abraham Darby Academy which is currently under construction about a mile away. But Mr Thompson said he was not sure whether or not it would be the last congress at the Court Centre.
"When we spoke to the people there last night there seemed to be a little bit of doubt as, while things will be starting to move to the new place in the later part of this year, it was not by any means certain they would have stopped using Madeley Court by the beginning of next year, so we may possibly get in one more congress there."We are trying to come to an arrangement with them whereby if there's space in the new place, and Madeley Court is not still running, we can make a booking for the same week next year for whichever site is available."
100 players accept the challenge - 04/01/2011
Around 100 players are expected to take part in the biggest event in Shropshire's chess calendar, which this year will be historic as the last ever held at the Madeley Court Centre venue which has served so well over many years. This weekend's (JAN 8 AND 9) 11th Wrekin Chess Congress has a prize fund of £1,000 and is a five-round tournament held over the two days.
The Court Centre has been a popular venue for the Wrekin Congress, and the Shropshire Congress which preceded it, but is scheduled to close in the autumn and will quite possibly have been demolished by the time the next congress is due in January 2012. Currently there are about 70 firm entries competing in three sections - the Premier, the Major, and the Minor, each with a first prize of £200.
"This time last year we had had 80, and ended up with about 110, but of course there were a lot of cancellations last year because of the snow," said organiser Richard Thompson. "At the moment the projection is for about 100 entries."
Shropshire hopes in the Premier, the top section for the strongest players, will lie with Nigel Ferrington, from the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club. Ferrington is currently the highest graded entrant, with a grading of 198. But as the grading "cap" is 210 it is possible that somebody higher graded may yet enter. He faces stiff opposition from "away", such as Don Mason of Shirley (graded 196), and Coventry's Mark Page (195). University studies have kept Newport's Gavyn Cooper (191) away from the Shropshire league scene but thanks to the university break he will be another Salopian battling for glory in the Premier.
Maximum grade in the Major is 160, so by definition Wiatt Ropp, of Stratford-on-Avon, must be favourite as his grading is 160. No Shropshire entry so far is graded over 150 and in fact the section, which encompasses club players of medium strength, is mysteriously under-represented in terms of home players.
The Minor is for players graded up to 125, which means it is the battleground for B and C team players, as well as novices and, quite often, those who have been away for chess for so long that they no longer have a grade. Shrewsbury's Ivor Salter and Oswestry's Graham Ives, both graded 124, must be in with a good shout.
Thompson said: "There's still plenty of time to enter, and I would prefer people to do so beforehand rather than on the morning of the tournament. The entry form is available as a download on the website (www.shropshirechess.org), or if people want to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their details, I'm quite happy to accept those entries." The congress is on January 8 and 9, with action starting at 10am each day, with a 45 minute lunch break. There are five rounds, with competitors being paired in each round against an opponent on equal points.
Two too close to call - 21/12/2010
Honours were shared in the battle of the giants of Division Two, which means Church Stretton finish the first half of the season in the top spot after scoring three wins and two draws. But second placed Ludlow, against whom Stretton drew in their latest match, have a game in hand.
Stretton's Steve Rooney has been keeping up with the twists and turns of the campaign with a blog. Stretton have only been running one team this season but have had rather an embarrassment of riches, with nine players regularly being available for the five playing spots. Rooney says that his policy has been to rotate players in the squad to give everybody a game, which is good for the long-term health of the club.
"In fact 'resting' some of our players doesn't seem to have affected our results too much either, with some great performances on all boards," he comments in his blog (http://churchstrettonchess.blogspot.com/)
"Notable individual scores include Chris Pimm Jones and Francis Rooney who both have two wins and a draw from three games, and Graham Shepherd with two wins and a draw from four games.
"Tom Williamson, Gerald Link and Adrian Thorpe all have 50 per cent records with one win and a draw from three games and newcomer this season Dean Pinnington has a 100 per cent record with a win in his debut against Telepost C. "Myself, as captain, am also on 100 per cent with three wins from three games and Eric Elwell has one draw from one game played. "And of course not forgetting Gordon Lyon, who stepped in to play for Church Stretton when bad weather meant we were a player short at Telepost C, by kind permission of Telepost. He held his own for most of his board four match but unfortunately lost out in the end."
Normally at this time of year the next chess action to look forward to is the Wrekin Chess Congress, which is at the Court Centre, Madeley, on January 8 and 9, but rather unusually there are some league matches scheduled in the preceding week. Congress players seeking to trim costs have missed the December 18 deadline for cheapest entry - there's an escalator pricing system to encourage entrants to get in their entries in good time. Next deadline in the escalator is December 31, with prices until then held to £15 for juniors, and £20 for adults. Fees after December 31 are £20 and £25 respectively. Entry details from the Shropshire chess website www.shropshirechess.org.
The congress is fast approaching - 07/12/2010
The clock is ticking down to the big event - and for Shropshire chess players that's not just Christmas, but the Wrekin Chess Congress which follows hard on its heels. And the congress on January 8 and 9 will mark the end of the era as it will be the last at the Madeley Court Centre venue which has served so well.
The Court Centre is due to close next autumn, with facilities switched to the new complex currently under construction on the Abraham Darby site about a mile away.Entrants for the congress have a financial incentive for getting in their entries early, as fees for entries after December 18 are higher. Congress details are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org
In the league, Church Stretton A are in provisional promotion spot in Division Two after victory in a close match against Telepost C.
For some Shropshire players, playing in the "home scene" is not enough to satisfy their thirst for chess action, and they ply their talents far and wide. Among them is Telepost stalwart Richard Bryant, a veteran of various tournaments around the country who also plays in the 4NCL - Four Nations Chess League. One of his games is featured in a chess blog in which another widely travelled Shropshire player, Phil Makepeace, has a controlling stake.
Here's the game, between Bryant with the white pieces, and John-Paul Taylor, who annotates: 1 e4 d5 2 Nc3!? (Oh, what the hell is this? I took a bit of a think to consider 2...e6 and 2...c6 hoping to transpose into a French or Caro-Kann, before realising I had no idea how to play either) 2...d4 3 Nce2 c5 4 Ng3 e5 5 Bc4 Nf6 6 Nf3 Bd6 7 O-O Bd7 8 d2 b5?! (Not the greatest of ideas. After 9 Bb3 I'd planned to chuck in 9... a5 and really go to town on his queenside, but 10 a4! rains on that bonfire) 9 Bb3 O-O 10 a4 c4!? (I'm still unsure whether this should get a !? or a ?! but I'm feeling generous. This was played partly out of anger that my a5 idea didn't work, partly because I didn't like the look of playing b4 giving white a delicious outpost on c4, and mostly because it looked like good fun. With open files aimed at the b and c pawns, and also weakening the e pawn I felt I had at least some justification for playing this) 11 dxc4 bxc4 12 Bxc4 Bc6 13 Qe2 Qb6 14 Bd3 Nbd7 15 Nd2 Bb4 16 Nc4 Qb7 17 f3 Qc7 18 f4 Ne8? (Either rook to e8 would've been prudent. Now comes the attack) 19 Nxe5 Nxe5 20 fxe5 Qxe5 21 Bf4 Qc5 22 e5 Nc7 23 Qg4 Ne6 24 Nh5 Kh8 25 Qf5 g6 26 Qf6 check Kg8 27 Qh4? (The knight can safely be taken, presumably my opponent didn't spot my 28th move. Instead, 27 Bh6! Qe7 - 27...Qd5? 28 Nf4! - 28 Qxe7 Bxe7 29 Bxf1 wins an exchange, and black's position is untenable) 27... gxh5 28 Qxh5 f5! 29 Bxf5 Rxf5 (Possibly not necessary, but with 11 moves still to make before the time control, I was keen to swat a few of the wasps buzzing around my king) 30 Qxf5 Nxf4 31 Rxf4 Be8 32 Qe4 Rd8 33 Kh1 Bg6 34 Rg4 Kh8?? (Both of us missing the win under time pressure: 35 Rxg6! hxg6 36 Qh4 check) 35 Qf4? Qb6 36 Qg5 Rd5 37 Rf1 Qe6 38 Qf6 chk Qxf6 39 exf6 Bxc2 40 f7 Bg6?? (Awful, and probably worth three question marks. The obvious 40...Rd8 gives black good opportunities to draw, but with seconds on the clock I hallucinated a mate and blundered away any chance of that) 41 f8=Q chk Bxf8 42 Rxf8 chk Kg7 43 Rf2 Re5 44 h4 Re1 chk 45. Kh2 Rd1 46 h5 (And I resigned. Sigh)
Wellington lose their "Star of India" - 30/11/2010
Alarm bells are ringing at Telepost B and Coddon B who are in danger of becoming adrift at the foot of Division One and are in serious need of chalking up some points.
But they can hope for a better second half of the season when some of the teams above them are likely to be significantly weaker.
Among them are Wellington A, who this week lose forever their "Star of India" Vikas Sharma who departs any day now for Mumbai, after a period living and working in Telford.
Sharma quickly established himself as the second strongest player in the county and went out with another win, the victim this time being Coddon B's Gary White.
Early in the game Coddon spectators came away smiling and muttering that White had played a "Gary move", although in the event his pawn-led attack foundered.
Sharma is leaving a legacy in the form of his own website (www.vikasworld.com), which includes many annotated Shropshire league games, latest of which, of course, is that against White.
The game (with Sharma's annotations) went: 1 e4 b6 2 d4 Bb7 3 Bd3 e6 4 Nf3 d6 (4...c5 5 c3 Nf6 6 Qe2 Be7 7 O-O Nc6 8 e5 Nd5 9 dxc5 bxc5 10 c4 is the main line) 5 O-O Nd7 6 Qe2 Be7 7 e5!? dxe5 (7...Bxf3 8 Qxf3 dxe5 9 Bb5 exd4 10 Bxd7 check Kxd7 11 Rd1 with compensation) 8 dxe5 Bxf3 9 gxf3 c6! (stops Bb5 and h1-a8 diagonal threats. Also, Qc7 is coming next move) 10 Nc3 Qc7 11 Re1 g5 12 Kh1 h5 13 Ne4 g4? (13...Nxe5 14 Bxg5 Ng6 15 Bxe7 N8xe7 16 Nf6 chk Kf8 17 Rad1) 14 Bf4 gxf3? (14...Nc5 15 Nd6 chk Bxd6 16 exd6 Qd7 17 b4 with advantage to white) 15 Qxf3 Nxe5?? (15...Nc5 16 Nd6 chk Bxd6 17 exd6 Qd7 18 Bb5 and white is better) 16 Qg3 f6 17 Qg7 O-O-O 18 Qxh8 Qb7 19 Bxe5 fxe5 20 Qxe5 Nf6 21 Nxf6 and Gary resigned.
Elsewhere Nathanael Paul was left holding his head in his hands when he did the chess equivalent of missing an open goal against a thoroughly outplayed and about-to-resign Toby Neal, and was gutted to agree a draw, which meant that Colin Roberts' win against Munroe Morrison, who under pressure both on the board and on the clock overlooked a one-move mate, decided the match in favour of Wellington.
In a county town derby Telepost B got off to a sparkling start against Shrewsbury A thanks to a win by Phil Zabrocki against David Everington, but hard-fought wins by Jamie Hopkins, Francis Best, and John Parrott, ensured Shrewsbury got all the points.
This is how the Zabrocki-Everington game went, with annotations from Everington: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 f5!? (The Latvian Gambit, a risky line, but Black has a score of about 80 per cent wins with it over the last six or seven years) 3 Ne5 Nc6!? (Fraser's Variation, dating from the 1870s. White sensibly avoids 4 Qh5 check g6 5 Ng6 Nf6 which is hard to meet without detailed knowledge) 4 Nc6 dc 5 d4 Qh4 6 e5 Be6 7 Be2 O-O-O 8 c3 c5 9 O-O cd 10 g3 Qh3 11 cd Ne7 12 Bf3 Bd5 13 Nc3! Bf3 14 Qf3 Nc6 15 Be3 Nd4 16 Bd4 Rd4 17 Rfd1 Rh4? (Thinking this forces 18 Qg2 Qg2 check 19 Kg2 Rb4 when the pressure is reduced, but...) 18 Qd3!! Qh2 chk 19 Kf1 Qh3 chk 20 Ke1 Re4 chk (The only move, giving up the exchange to survive) 21 Ne4 Qh1 chk 22 Ke2 Qe4 chk 23 Qe4 fe 24 Rd4 and White inevitably wins - and did so on move 38).
Dean Pinnington made his league chess debut in the Division Three encounter between Telepost D and Shifnal & Telford C, and got his personal chess campaign off to a flying start with a win. Also of note was a return of Gordon Lyons to Telepost from Shrewsbury.
County individual championship gets under way - 23/11/2010
One of the most intriguing encounters in the opening round of Shropshire's individual championship was the "Nick v Nat" game which pitted the county's strongest player Nick Rutter against one of the county's most improved players, the teenage Nathanael Paul. Although outclassed on paper, Paul had an excellent run in last season's championship and has shown that he can set top players problems. However the underdog went under in the game. Here it is, with Rutter playing white, and annotations based on those in the tournament bulletin.
1e4 e6 2 d4 d5 (The French Defence, which is popular at all levels) 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bd7 (This bishop is a bit of a problem piece for black in the French, being hemmed in by its own pawns, which explains Paul's manoeuvre to give it some air) 5 Bd3 Bc6 6 Nf3 Nd7 7 O-O Be7!? (The alternative move 7...Ngf6 allows 8 Neg5 which sets a few traps based around Nxf7 or Nxe6) 8 Ne5?! (Better just to play Re1 or Qe2) 8...Bxe4 (8... Nxe5 9 dxe5 Qd4 would give white some problems) 9 Bxe4 c6 10 c3 Ngf6 11 Bc2 O-O 12 Qe2 c5 13 Rd1 (This position is a little difficult for black) 13...Qc7 14 Nxd7 Qxd7 (Worse would be Nxd7 15 d5 and white has too many threats) 15 dxc5 Qc7 16 b4 Nd5 17 Rd3 Bf6 18 Rb1! Nxc3? 19 Rxc3 Bxc3 20 Qd3 g6 21 Qxc3 e5 22 Bb2 f6 23 b5 Rac8 24 Be4 Rfd8 25 c6 Qd6 26 g3 a6 27 Qb3 check Kg7 28 Ba3 Qd4 29 Bf3 axb5 30 c7! (and now Rxc7 and Rd7 both lose to Rd1) 30...Re8 31 Rd1 Qc4 32 Rd7 check Kh6 33 Qxc4 bxc4 34 Bxb7 and Paul resigned.
Rutter will now face Paul's teammate Andy Tunks in the next round, while Paul will take on George Viszokai.
One of the most travelled players in the chess league at the moment is Graham Shepherd, who is playing for his home club of Church Stretton in Division Two, and for Telford-based Coddon in Division One. Although he was not a winner in Stretton's trip to Shrewsbury B, the visitors did come away with both points and now head the second division. Shrewsbury are in a provisional relegation spot but it is early days and, with many of the teams looking on paper to be well matched, things are likely to be tight.
Shrewsbury A look to be title favourites - 16/11/2010
A resurgent Shrewsbury A have underlined their status as one of the title favourites for this season with a victory over reigning league champions Telepost A in the county town derby match. It is difficult to believe that just a year ago Shrewsbury were in a downward spiral and at one point were staring relegation in the face. The return of some strong players after a break, in particular John Parrott, has worked wonders. Their cause was helped by the fact that Telepost were missing Richard Bryant and Keith Tabner.
Shrewsbury's David Everington reports: "The top board game might have been a win to Shrewsbury after a complex struggle, but Shrewsbury's Jamie Hopkins was running out of time to calculate everything and sensibly accepted the draw. "Peter Kitchen's win against Philip Zabrocki in an Advance Variation of the French Defence was a bloodthirsty struggle which needs further analysis to establish what might have happened. "John Bashall, in a difficult ending, secured his draw by giving up his remaining bishop when Francis Best, now a bishop up, had his last pawn on the wrong rook-file to force the win."
Elsewhere Coddon A were missing some regular players when they travelled to Wellington A, and were harshly punished with a 5-0 loss, which does not reflect the closeness of some games. For Wellington it was their first win of the season, and an important one to get under their belt as their star player, Vikas Sharma, who is the second strongest player in the county, returns to India for good at the beginning of December, after a period living and working in Telford. Wellington are likely to struggle to pick up points after his departure.
As feared, the match between Shropshire's open team and Lincolnshire had to be scratched, although not for the lack of anyone to organise it. With Peter Kitchen having stepped down as captain, there has been a void, but in the event Stefan Tennant and Trevor Brotherton tried to rustle up a team for the fixture, being played at a neutral venue in Leicestershire. But they were only able to find 12 available, four short of a full side of 16, which meant it was not worth playing.
County chess stars check in with titles - 09/11/2010
Shropshire chess players have been returning with plunder from various chess tournaments around the country.
The teenager Athar Mehmood, who plays for Newport, took part in the Staffordshire Junior Chess tournament and is now the under-16 Staffordshire champion, for which he got a trophy.
Telepost's John Bashall came away from the Scarborough congress with a cool £500 after winning all five games to take first prize in the Major section, for players graded under 171.
Francis Best won the Major last year so that makes it two in a row for Shropshire, and this year his son Matthew Best was joint third in the Foundation section (U106) with 4/5.
A clutch of Shropshire players took part in the Birmingham rapidplay, where among the prizewinners were Vikas Sharma who was joint third in the Open with four points (out of six), Steve Rooney was joint second in the Major (U175) with 4.5/6, and Richard Szwajkun joint third in the Minor with 4.5/6.
On the home front Shropshire's team for players graded under 140 went down to a 7-9 defeat against Staffordshire at Shifnal. Winners were John Westhead, Gary White, Stefan Tennant, Ivor Salter, plus one default, and draws were from Peter Crean, Marvin Carbin, Ian Davies, Andrew Lewis, George Viszokai, and Derrick Powell. But Shropshire's open team is heading for a crisis unless a new captain - or team of people willing to take on the captain's role - is found. Next match against Lincolnshire is due on Saturday and, unless an organiser comes forward, will have to be scratched, meaning an effective end to the open team.
Coddon Chess Club has been the most stable of clubs in terms of venue, but that is about to change with news that the Coddon Sports and Social Club in Donnington is to close on April 2. There was a rumour some while back that the social club might close, so this latest development, although unwelcome, will not have come as a total surprise.
Kitchen bows out in fine style - 19/10/2010
Shropshire open team captain Peter Kitchen bowed out in style in the first match of the season - and his last as captain - against Derbyshire in the Midland Counties Chess Union Minor Championship. The result was a convincing 10.5-5.5 win at Shifnal.
Non-playing captain Kitchen reports: "Despite an unfortunate defeat inside 11 moves for debutant Ben Nickson, a series of wins in the middle and lower order propelled us into an 8-2 lead which we never looked like losing. "It was an important win as it is our only home match of the season, with the remaining three either away or at neutral venues. "This was my last match as open team captain and I'm delighted I was able to go out in style. I would like to thank everyone who has supported the team during my captaincy over the past two-and-a-half years for turning out both home and away.
"I'm stepping down due to increased work commitments but I've thoroughly enjoyed captaining the team, even when we were suffering heavy defeats against the 'giants' of the open championship two years ago. "For the record, Shropshire played seven, won two and lost five under my captaincy. "Importantly, we will need a new captain in place before our next match against Lincolnshire on November 13, be it an individual or a small team of people. Anyone with ideas or interested in taking on the job should contact Shropshire Chess Association president Francis Best."
Shropshire winners were Nigel Ferrington, Jamie Hopkins, Richard Bryant, David Everington, Brian Whyte, Toby Neal, Colin Roberts, John Whittaker and John Westhead, and draws came from Vikas Sharma, Glyn Pugh, and Nathanael Paul.
In the league, Shrewsbury A's good start continued against a shorthanded Newport.
David Everington reports: "Although Nick Rutter salvaged a point with a fascinating good knight vs bad bishop ending against Jamie Hopkins - which went right to the end of the session - Shrewsbury won the other games. John Parrott's return for the home side brought him a second successive win with a nice sacrificial kingside attack and Francis Best found a neat tactical breakthrough to win against Danny Griffiths' Sokolsky Attack - 1 b4 e5 2 Bb2 Bb4 3 Bxe5."
Vikas Sharma salvaged a point for Wellington A against reigning league champions Telepost A in what has become his trademark fashion - going into the time scramble with more time on his clock, and then keeping his head.
"I wish I had had another minute," said his defeated opponent Nigel Ferrington ruefully after his flag fell while defending a rook and pawn ending, during which he was having to make moves instantly, while Sharma had enough time left to do some thinking.
Oswestry default makes for low key start - 12/10/2010
Chess action has got under way in Division Two, albeit with an inauspicious start with an immediately defaulted match between two potential promotion candidates from either end of Shropshire.
Oswestry A are on paper one of the strongest teams in the division, but were on the wrong end of a 5-0 walkover at the hands of Ludlow A. The reason Oswestry defaulted their away encounter isn't immediately known, but a relevant factor may be that Oswestry and Ludlow are geographically the most widely separated clubs in the league. Oswestry are, though, generally good travellers, and it is normally the prospect of a long trip to Oswestry that has a noticeable effect on player availability for visiting teams to the border town.
The indications are that the promotion race could be a tight battle as a number of contenders look quite evenly matched. In a county town derby, Shrewsbury B came away from their trip across town to Telepost C with a 1.5-3.5 win in the bag. With three draws on the bottom three boards it was victories by Norman O'Connor and Mark Smith on the top two boards which carried the day.
Shifnal & Telford B opened their campaign with a 4-1 win against visitors Newport B.
Meanwhile, Shropshire's individual championship is soon to start. This gives players a chance to meet opponents - often much stronger opponents - they would never normally meet in league matches. There are cash prizes, including grading prizes for lower-graded players who perform well. Entry details from Nick Rutter (email@example.com), who happens to be reigning champion.
| Wellington face university challenge - 05/10/2010
Shropshire's strongest player, Nick Rutter, playing a league game down on board three? That was the nightmare which faced visitors Wellington A as opponents Newport A served up a real "University Challenge" in their opening fixture of the season.
Their young student stars Tom Pym, Gavyn Cooper, and Alex Taylor, have not yet departed for their uni studies, giving Newport a rare opportunity to play them all. In fact, in Rutter, Cooper, and Pym, Newport were fielding three of Shropshire's top six players. Rutter has never before found himself playing in such a lowly (for him) position. As it happened, the uni stars only scored one point out of three, but Newport still chalked up a 3-2 win.
The match was also notable for a debut for Wellington by Richard Gillespie whose powerful attack against Rutter was, as the watching Tony Holdford observed, one of those that makes you want to go home and play it all through a computer to find the best moves. Rutter successfully weathered the storm.
Meanwhile Shrewsbury A, strengthened by the return of Jamie Hopkins and John Parrot, were given a rough ride in their first outing of the season, against Shifnal & Telford A.
"On top board, Jamie Hopkins had a huge positional advantage against Trevor Brotherton's Stonewall Dutch Defence but started to struggle for time and the game was agreed drawn with both players down to less than a minute," reports David Everington. "Peter Kitchen was probably losing on board four when Windsor Peck let slip a huge time advantage and ended up with his flag falling first.
"The Gostelow-Best game was drawn fairly early after great complications in Gostelow's favourite, and tricky, Lowenthal Variation of the Sicilian Defence. John Parrot produced Shrewsbury's smoothest performance of the night to beat Iain Wilson's Nimzo-Indian Defence while John Footner produced an elegant positional win against my Queen's Indian Defence as consolation for the home side."
The county town's other club, Telepost, saw an in-house derby as reigning league champions Telepost A took on the B team. The B-teamers have embarrassed their "betters" on occasion, but not this time.
Division Three matches have also kicked off and this season there is an interesting experiment with four-person teams, instead of the previous five. The idea is to see if it cuts down on the number of defaulted games by making it easier to raise a side.
The new season kicks off - 28/09/2010
Battle starts tonight (Tuesday) in the Shropshire Chess League with a new season kicking off which, if it is anything like the last nailbiting campaign, should be a cracker.
"Jamie Hopkins will be playing again after a season out, but unfortunately for us it will be with Shrewsbury this time as Tuesdays are not good for him," reports Telepost's Keith Tabner. " And rumour has it that their former top board John Parrot may also come out of retirement. If true that will make our town rivals strong favourites to top the table this season."
"We're fielding an extra team at Telepost this year - though this will probably stretch our resources to the limit. In addition to our two Division One teams and our Division Three team, Matthew Clark will be captaining a new team in Division Two. And we are hoping to see a return by David Adderley, who hasn't played for a couple of years, and also Alan Cliff, who has been out of the game for a considerable period."
Elsewhere Shifnal & Telford's Richard Gillespie, one of Shropshire's most improved players last season, is expected to switch to Wellington, because he's now at college on Shifnal & Telford's Wednesday club night
Church Stretton club has reinstated their regular Thursday club night after the break, for social and casual chess as well as league games.Players will limber up on Thursday (30 Sept) when one of the county's top players, Trevor Brotherton, plays a simul against allcomers at the Church Stretton club.
On the junior scene, there are going to be a series of monthly tournaments in the Shropshire Junior Chess Grand Prix, all at Trinity School, Ford, on the first Saturday of each month (except December).There will be prizes for each tournament as well as a season-long Grand Prix with special end-of-season prizes.
First tournament is on October 2 from 10am to 1pm. Details from Steve Rooney on 01694 723724, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.shropshirechessacademy.co.uk
| Jamie Allan - Shropshire's rising star - 21/09/2010
Newport's Jamie Allan is the rising star of Shropshire chess, with the latest grading list showing a huge leap in his standing. Jamie is the most improved player in Shropshire, with his grading going up by 36 points, to 133. Gradings are an assessment of a player's strength based on their results.
Others who have made significant leaps are Alan Wright, up 21 to 116; Alf Evans, up 18 to 103; Daniel Lockett, also up 18, to 143; and three players who have gone up 16 grading points, Richard Gillespie (145), Nathanael Paul (147), and John Bashall (162).
Heading the table for the county's top 10 players in terms of strength is Newport's Nick Rutter, who has broken through the 200 barrier. His grading is now 201. While many players see their grading drift as they get older, Rutter has gone the other way and is now stronger than ever.
The rest of the top 10 includes a number of players who, because of university studies or other reasons, played little or no Shropshire chess last season.Into this category comes Coddon's Simon Fowler, in second place with a grading of 198, so in reality the second strongest active player in the county is now a newcomer, Wellington's "star of India" Vikas Sharma, at 197. Sadly for Wellington Sharma, who has been living and working in Telford, returns to India at the beginning of December.
The rundown is then: Tom Pym (195), Nigel Ferrington (194), Gavyn Cooper (191), Simon Hughes (189), Trevor Brotherton (187), Phil Makepeace (185), and Jamie Hopkins (181).
League action resumes next week, and league controller Vinny Crean is reminding clubs to register their players, and nominated teams, in time for the new season.
| Success for young Shropshire stars - 14/09/2010
One of the rising young stars of Shropshire chess, Athar Mehmood, has scored an international success. Athar, who is barely into his teens, plays for the Newport club. He took part in the Abu Dhabi chess tournament and won six of his seven games to take second place in a very strong under-16s section, winning 1,500 dirham and receiving a medal and certificate of merit.
Meanwhile another young Shropshire star has notched up success a lot closer to home. Coddon player Nathanael Paul went to the Leamington Spa rapidplay where he was outright winner in the section for players graded under 150, with a score of 5.5 out of six games. For his efforts Nat came away with some plunder - a first prize of £150.