Talking Points - Shropshire Chess

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Resolutions for consideration at the Shropshire Chess Association AGM,
arising from the meeting held on Tuesday 9th May 2017


Every current club in the Shropshire Chess League was represented at the meeting held on 9th May, convened for the purpose of considering proposals for the league to be reduced to two divisions. This has been the subject of substantial debate on the Shropshire Chess Association website in the “Talking Points” section.

In summary, there was relatively little support for the notion of reducing the number of divisions down to two. However, a number of possible amendments to the current rules were considered and are presented below as proposals for voting on at the AGM. Not all proposals were supported by the majority of those present but it was felt that each proposal should be considered by the wider membership of the Association and all of the proposals were supported by a number of those representatives present.

The intention of the meeting was to allow time for debate, without the pressure of a formal meeting and I would say that there was a good quality of debate on the evening and a lot of issues were aired. Without wishing to stifle debate at the AGM, it would not be practical to have the full debate all over again in that formal session, so it would be my intention to limit the amount of time spent discussing these proposals, moving to a vote fairly quickly to ensure that the evening does not become unduly protracted.

Proposal 1

Add to rule 5: Nominated players must play for their team at least four times in a season. If this proves impossible on account of unforeseen circumstances (e.g. the player moving away from the area), the League Controller has discretion to accept an alternative nominated player for the remainder of the season. Normally, the alternative nominated player will be expected to play for the balance of the four games not played by the original nominated player. Any appearances of the new nominated player for a lower team prior to acceptance by the league Controller shall be disregarded from the point of view of rule breaches specified in rule 28.

Proposal 2

Replace all penalties specified in rules 24 to 28 as a “game point” shall be changed to a match point penalty.

Proposal 3

A player may only represent one club in the Shropshire Chess League (rewording of rule 8 would need adjusting accordingly).

Proposal 4

(Redundant if proposal 3 is approved)

Amend Rule 8 such that, “If a team in the second or third division uses a player who normally plays for another Shropshire club in a higher division during that season, then it is permitted only on

condition that the player has a current summer grade of below 150 for Div 2 and below 140 for Div 3.”


“If a team in the second or third division uses a player who normally plays for another Shropshire club in a higher division during that season, then it is permitted only on condition that the player has a current summer grade of below 125 for Div 2 and below 105 for Div 3.”

Proposal 5

Amend rule 6, such that the number of players in division 2 is 4.

Proposal 6

Amend rule 9d so that, “Where a player is used more than four times for a higher team, then (unless sub-paragraphs a, b or c apply) he / she becomes a member of the senior team on the fifth occasion for the remainder of the season,” is replaced with:

“Where a player is used more than four times for a higher team, then (unless sub-paragraphs a, b or c apply) he / she becomes a member of the senior team on the fourth occasion for the remainder of the season.”

Proposal 7

Add to rule 3: “The League Controller has discretion (after due consultation) to specify the number of times each team shall play each other team in a division. In the absence of specification to the contrary, each team shall play each team twice (once home, once away).”

Proposal 8

Prior to the AGM, Chris Lewis will ascertain the potential interest in a rating capped Quickplay league competition. If there is sufficient interest, specific proposals will be put to the AGM.

Francis Best
President, Shropshire Chess Association 09/05/2017

Possible Restructuring of the Shropshire Chess League

A meeting will be held on Tuesday 9th May 2017 at Telepost at 7.30pm

With regard to the debate concerning the future structure of the Shropshire league,

This date has been chosen as no team has a match commitment that night concerning Minor/Cox Trophy games.

It is important that at least one representative for each club is there to express the clubs views.
This email is addressed to the captains of existing teams, to get the widest coverage.

From this meeting, proposals will be made and put on the agenda for the AGM.

G Pugh - SCC General Secretary 20/04/2017


Possible Restructuring of the Shropshire Chess League

Francis Best 16/04/2017

Firs t of all, thank you to everyone who has made comments regarding this proposal.

I have a few observations to make and then a suggestion as to the way forward. First of all, the observations.

Observation 1: We had comments from people a few years ago, request ing more chess in a season.  A w inter knockout competition was organised but it failed to get off the ground and we didn't repeat the experiment.  I think we need to think carefully about uniformly increasing the number of games everyone has to play.  I would love to play more chess but other pressures of work and family life, for example, make this impractical.  Anything we do put in place has to work practically.

Observation 2: The fundamental reason why the number of teams in the league has diminished is that the number of available players has steadily decreased over recent years.  Some new players have joined clubs, replacing some who have left but the trend has been steadily downwards.  It seems to me that it ought to be a priority for us to create events, including competitions, to encourage new / improving players to join in the chess scene in Shropshire.

A move to two leagues, where essentially a lot of the opposition is going to be very tough for a new player and there is not much alternative, doesn't further this cause at all.  I have felt ever since I came to Shropshire eighteen years ago, that the three divisions actually provide an excellent balance of playing strengths to enable players of most levels to slot in naturally somewhere. 

The consensus from Shrewsb ury club seems to be that three leagues is about right and a move to two would be a retrograde step.

Observation 3: A pra ctical suggestion, which, again, most Shrewsbury players seem happy with , is to reduce the number of players in a team in all leagues to four. This should enable some clubs to field an extra team where, currently, that would be difficult or marginal. This is an immediate way of increasing the teams across all the leagues, which should generate more games, particularly in division three. This is not a long term solution to encouraging more players to get involved, of course.

Observation 4: The immediate problem has got to be increase the number of available games for division 3 teams.  This could be done in a number of ways by restructuring the competition.  The easiest way would be to increase the number of times the team s play each other.  This is a bit of a blunt approach, though, and increasing the number of matches played in a season from 10 to 15 (by each team playing each of the others for a third time, for example) might be a step too far.

There are other ways of doing it (e.g. by splitting division 3 into two sections , having an all-play-all in each section in the first half of the season , using that to order the teams into “ top”and “bottom” and having another all-play-all in the second half of the season ), essentially increasing the number of games played in a division over one season.

Observation 5: We all appreciate the scoring and reporting mechanism which Graham Ives, in particular, has developed for the website. It has been commented by others how this would take time to reconfigure, which is clearly true. However, I don't think this should be the driver of timescales or a reason in itself not to alter the league structure. We might have to manage with a more basic reporting system for a season, but the key thing is that we get the chess right and other things will follow from that.

Observation 6: Various comments have been made about amending the rules concerning substitutions and nominated players. I have no problem with reviewing this but it does seem to me that there are very different opinions on this – at both ends of the spectrum. At one end, there are some who suggest relaxing these rules further to enable more teams with more overlapping of players to happen, thus increasing the chess. At the other end, there are those who feel that the rules are too loose already and that the more flexible the make up of the teams is, the less meaningful the whole notion of a team is.  I have to say that I have sympathy with both of these views! On the whole, more debate is require, I feel.

Observation 7: Various comments have been made about the possible length of the season. Again, there doesn't seem to be a cons ensus but my gut feeling is that we have a different sub-population of players who play in different events, according to their wants and needs at different times of the year (Summer KO, Shrewsbury Town championship, Unity Cup, Newport Rapidplays ). To try to force a longer (or more intense season) on everyone doesn't seem like a good idea to me. A better solution would be to add other events, but that is assuming that there are indeed enough players who would be willing and able to play in such events (see my earlier comments on the winter knockout).

And so finally, to the way forward!

I have been looking at the SCA constitution and, despite all this talk of an EGM, there is actually no provision for anything other than an AGM.? Most constitutions talk about "General Meetings," of which Annual Meetings and Extraordinary, or Special Meetings are just examples. Not our constitution!

Our constitution talks about various committees and, in particular, says that the AGM shall (amongst other things):


allow debate and voting on proposed League Rule amendments submitted via the Rules and Disputes Committee. No other proposed League Rule amendments can be discussed. Amendments to the submitted proposals may be accepted on the night for discussion and voting, at the Chairman's discretion,


allow debate and voting on proposed amendments to the rules for the Summer Knock-out competitions and the County Individual Championship,


submit proposed Constitutional amendments to the Constitution Committee and ratify (or otherwise) the proposed amendments arising from that Committee,


allow debate and voting on proposed League Rule amendments submitted via the Rules and Disputes Committee. No other proposed League Rule amendments can be discussed. Amendments to the submitted proposals may be accepted on the night for discussion and voting, at the Chairman's discretion,


allow debate and voting on proposed amendments to the rules for the Summer Knock-out competitions and the County Individual Championship,


submit proposed Constitutional amendments to the Constitution Committee and ratify (or otherwise) the proposed amendments arising from that Committee,

On this basis, it appears that the constitution envisages these things being considered in detail by the Rules and Disputes committee, which would then submit a resolution to the AGM.

Whilst this seems a little odd (and there might be a case for reviewing the constitution at some point), I don't think it necessarily causes a problem.

The thing which takes the time is all the debate and discussion.? V ery sensibly, Nathanael has opened the debate widely and early.? As there seems to be some desire to discuss the proposals and alternatives in some kind of meeting, I don't see why we shouldn't arrange a get together to talk through the options.? This doesn't have to have to be an EGM as such; the important thing is that as many people as possible who want to, can get involved and have their say.? The aim of the meeting (which could be an evening, a Saturday afternoon, or whatever we decide) would be to put a proposal to the AGM which, as the debate will have largely occurred in advance, should be perfectly manageable for a vote at the AGM.

Clearly, there are lots of different views; the tricky thing is narrowing those views down to a limited number of proposals.? It should be doable, though, and in one way, having a "pre-meeting" like this, manages to keep options open, without too much pressure of having to get through a formal meeting.? It may be that there will be some details which don't get resolved, but these can be referred to the Council (which consists of SCA Officers, plus Club Secretaries), if necessary.

I propose to speak to our General Secretary to arrange an initial discussion session fairly soon, with a vi ew to formulating proposals to put to the AGM. Perhaps Secretaries could indicate to Glyn their prefere nce (weekend or evening) for that initial meeting and we'll take it from there.

Francis Best, President, Shropshire Chess Association 16/04/2017

Charles Higgie 19/04/2017
I would like to make it clear that although I play for Oswestry A, I am writing this as an individual.
I would like to express my support for keeping the Shropshire League in three Divisions, and make some suggestions for increasing the number of teams in lower Divisions and providing more games. I am not going to repeat the arguments against the re-structure.
I also play in the Chester & District and Wirral Chess League. Like the Shropshire League, both those leagues have teams of 5 in most divisions, but teams of 4 in the bottom division.
One thing that marks the Shropshire League as different from those leagues is that both those leagues have a handicapped knock-out. In the Chester & District League there are teams of 6 in the knock-out. The handicap is based on the total rating of the sides, with a maximum possible rating difference on each board, to stop a team fielding a very weak bottom board and claiming a massive handicap for it. 2016-7 was the first season it ran, and by and large I think it worked well. This is the system I would suggest Shropshire adopting. In the Wirral League there are teams of 7 in the handicapped knock-out and the handicap is based on which Division the Club's top side is in. 
Chester & District League also used to run an under 140 team knock-out cup too.
I can forward more details of these schemes if necessary. If necessary I'd be happy to co-ordinate this new competition, should Shropshire adopt it - and equally I would be happy to let someone else run it if they wanted to.
Also compared to these other leagues, in the Shropshire League it is much harder to play for players to play for more than one team of the same club than the other leagues. For instance there is hardly any overlap between the Oswestry A team and the Oswestry B team. In the Shropshire League teams in Division 1 and 2 have to nominate 4 players who cannot play for teams in lower Divisions. In the Chester & District League, only 3 players have to be nominated, so for instance, as well as playing in Division 1, I have also played in Division 3 this season, when necessary. In the Wirral League the rule is that if you have played board 1 or 2 in the higher Division, in that season, you cannot play for teams in lower Divisions. There are also ratings limits in Division 3 and 4.
As regards the number of matches in these leagues, in 2016-7 Chester & District is running with 6 teams in Division 1, 8 in Division 2 and 9 in Division 3, like Shropshire, teams play each other twice a season, home and away. In the Wirral League, there are 9 in Division 1, 10 in Division 2, 9 in Division 3 and 10 in Division 4 - but in the Wirral League teams play each other only once a season, so the number of matches is actually lower than the other leagues.
To conclude, I would suggest continuing with three Divisions, add a few extra matches by running a team knock-out competition or two, and encourage more teams in the lower Divisions by relaxing the current nomination rules.
Kind regards and best wishes. Charles Higgie 19/04/2017

Peter Crean 22/04/2017
The overwhelming opinions already expressed from a wide range of Shropshire players is that two divisions is not a good idea and I would add my weight to that as well.
So the meeting might just be a non-event !
There are plenty of opportunities for those who want more chess, including the Shropshire Individual with 7 extra games per season, which I used to play in for a number of years.
Also more league games puts extra pressure on those few people who can, or are willing to drive team members to away games.
Peter Crean 22/04/2017

Peter Kitchen 20/04/2017

Re: league restructuring, I'm strongly in favour of maintaining the existing three division set up.
Firstly, I think playing up to 18 league games under the two division proposal is unrealistic - I think teams will struggle to field teams for some matches, especially if the season extends into the summer.
I also feel that we would lose the competitive edge that currently exists at all levels. Take this season's division two - every team bar Wellington A (who had wrapped up the title and promotion) had something to play for right until the end of the season. Likewise, the title race in division one and the promotion race in division three were fiercely contested.
In a two division structure several teams will find themselves marooned in mid table facing matches with little riding on them.
I also don't quite follow claims that there aren't enough games for division three players. My understanding of last summer's rule changes was that it allowed more flexibility for players to represent multiple sides for their club, hence Telepost being able to field five teams. I think this needs time to bed in, see if, say, Oswestry enter another div 3 team or if Shrewsbury manage a C team or Juniors team.
I also fear moving to two divisions would accelerate the decline in the number of teams. We have 20 teams now, what happens when it's two divisions of 8, 7, 6 teams, etc. The current rules encourage more teams and that makes sense to me.
Peter Kitchen 20/04/2017


Mark Smith 19/04/2017
I have tried to talk to as many active members of Shrewsbury chess club as possible over the past couple of weeks.there does seem to be general agreement on the following
1-it would be a shame if division 3 ceased to exist as it does give beginners,juniors and lower graded players a chance to play competitive chess on  a more level playing field than would otherwise be possible .
2-concern was raised over the possible increase in the number of games,18 games was felt to be quite a lot ,maybe too much.
3-a possible solution could be to reduce the number of boards from 5 t o 4 across all 3 seems to me that there are advantages to this approach ,there is a transport advantage ie:one carload per match.also it is possible we might get a few more teams this way;if teams were reduced to four across the board I think that Shrewsbury could seriously consider forming a C team or a junior team next season ,with the rules as they are I don't believe it's possible.
As to a meeting I would agree that it's necessary and that it should be possible for as many people to attend as want course no date is universally acceptable to everyone ,for example if it takes place on a weekend this will suit some but not others(those like myself who work in retail for example),but this is not a reason for a meeting not to take place.
Mark Smith 19/04/2017

Possible Restructuring of the Shropshire Chess League

Throughout the season several players have been discussing what is the best way to encourage more teams, more matches and more games within the League, with one example being a restructuring of the league from three divisions to two. . The main two reasons for this are the following:-

1. Players want more chess, I have especially heard this from Division 3 captains & players
2. Currently it seems that the Shropshire league is decreasing in terms of its number of teams resulting in Division 3 approaching the point of being far too small. If the third division decreases to five or less teams then there is a likelihood it would have to fold anyway due to players not getting enough chess.
As this is quite a radical idea it is important to discuss this in length before the summer's Shropshire AGM. So to start this debate I would just like to outline what the proposed restructuring of the divisions would be, as well as some positives and negatives regarding this idea.

Potential New League Structure

1. A change from three divisions to two
Going by the current number of teams, both divisions would consist of ten
Ten teams in each division would result in eighteen games per season, so each team would still play each other home & away
All teams would consist of five players
Divisions 1&2 would have 3-4 relegation and promotion places respectively in order to 1. ensure each division is exciting, 2. give teams & players a greater opportunity to gain promotion, and 3. would ensure that the so-called 'elite' couldn't simply 'camp out' in Division 1 which would most likely happen if there are only two relegation places
To create the two divisions the following would happen: the current seven teams in Division 1 would be joined by the top three teams in this season's Division 2. Division 2 will then be made up of the remaining teams

Please be aware though, that the above is how I would set out a new two tier league format, so that can of course be debated as well. Now moving onto positives and negatives:

Positives of Restructuring League

1. All players & teams would have the same amount of league chess
Players would get more chess
Having two divisions of ten teams would ensure that each division would flourish equally and be as strong as each other, rather than the current situation of Division 3 consisting of only six teams
Due to playing considerably more chess, players will get the opportunity to play more players and hence test themselves against a wider range of chess playing ability
There would be greater opportunity for teams and players to test themselves in Division 1

Negatives of Restructuring League

1. All teams would have to consist of five players, hence player availability & transport issues could be problematic
Players, namely from the two lower divisions, may complain about playing too highly rated players
The league calendar could become too congested
Players might feel playing eighteen games is far too much
Having to nominate players, hence making them ineligible for lower teams, could become problematic for clubs especially because there would only be two divisions giving a greater chance of having multiple teams in the same division, which could then result in significant player availability issues

Before I leave this for you all to discuss, I would just like to give my opinion on points 2&3 in the 'negatives' section.

Regarding 'point 2', I agree this could be problematic, but it is important to remember, specifically for Division 3 teams, that all the other Division 3 players will be together in Division 2 so there will still be plenty of opportunity to play players of similar strength. 

And for 'point 3', I have discussed possible fixture congestion with the rapidplay league controller, Chris Lewis, and we both agree that we cannot foresee any difficulties in terms of arranging the fixtures. If a two tier league system was put in place, I would suggest that the season simply starts earlier in order to complete all matches, probably in mid-late August, and then the season would subsequently finish later, most likely in late April or early May.
I understand though that more chess, and only two divisions, could increase chances of clashes with either team matches or other dates which aren't convenient with teams and players, for example school holidays. However, similar to this season, both league & rapidplay controllers will take any issues into account and aim to avoid such difficulties.

I look forward to this debate and all of your opinions on the above subject. Hopefully it leads to an agreement in regards to next season's league structure before the commencement of this year's Shropshire AGM.

Nat Paul, League Controller -15/03/2017


Graham Ives - 21/03/2017
Chess is about problem solving. In most of the games I play, there comes a time when I have a tricky problem that I need to solve. I'm often tempted to play the first half decent looking move I can think of but I've learned over the years that this is likely to land me in even worse trouble. The best way to solve a problem, I've found, is to consider as many possible alternatives as I have time for, weighing up which of them best helps me to solve the immediate problem, which gives me the best longer-term advantages and which helps me towards achieving whatever it is I'm trying to achieve. Often the first solution I think of turns out to be not the best one at all.

We have a problem with the League. The number of teams seems to be declining with the result that there are some remaining teams and players who are not getting as many matches and games as they would like. The first solution we've thought of is reduce the number of Divisions to 2. But, have we considered all the alternatives? Focussing on one possible solution without considering other possibilities means we could end up choosing a poor solution and miss a much better one (just as I often do in my games unfortunately!). Might there be other better solutions that we haven't considered yet? In my view it is entirely wrong to focus this debate on whether or not we should reduce the League to 2 Divisions. The focus of this debate should be this: What is the best way to encourage more matches and more games within the League? I believe there are much better solutions to this problem than the proposal to reduce to two Divisions, and indeed I believe the apparent benefits of a 2 Division League turn out to be false and heavily outweighed by the disadvantages when looked at closely. So, please, can we centre the debate on the above question rather than concentrate on a particular solution just yet.

I should probably make a “declaration of interest” as it were – I wrote (with a great deal of advice and testing effort from Vinny) the webpage code that manages the League, allows results to be entered, and produces the fixture lists, results, tables and statistics. A move to a 2 Division League would mean that some of that would need to be re-written. I'm somewhat reluctant to do that until a firm decision is made, and the changes may then take more time than is available (depending on when that decision is made!). So, you might suppose that my views are not entirely unbiased. But, I am trying not to let that colour my thinking. If the consensus is that the code needs to change then I will do my best to change it, in time. It would be very unfair of me to do otherwise and stand in the way of whatever Shropshire decides is the best course of action. But, if we did decide to go to two Divisions, it would help me greatly if we were able to reach a decision very quickly (so I have time to change the code in my spare time, and test it, and have it working / running in time for Nat to create the fixtures lists sometime in July / August!) or if we could agree for the new arrangement to come into play in the 2018-19 season, after a decision this year.

I will try to do whatever the consensus decides is necessary but, regardless of that, I still believe that going to just 2 Divisions is not a good solution. Because:

1 The proposal would lead to there being two Divisions of 10 teams each – possibly as many as 12. That would involve between 90 to 132 matches in total over the season – between 18 and 22 per team. In order to cope with that many matches, and avoid clashes, the season would have to run from sometime in August to possibly the end of May or maybe even beyond that. My view is that such an extended season is not a good consequence at all! I think the League season should run from the end of school summer holidays, to Easter, with no matches outside that period – people have too many other commitments during the summer months and it becomes much harder for a team to field its best players during that time.

2 If we went to 2 Divisions, then teams currently in Division 3 would find themselves playing much stronger teams that were previously in Division 2, as well as those 3 or 4 that were just relegated from Division 1. I personally feel that playing over the board is enjoyable only if the players involved are of a reasonably similar playing strength. Playing against someone who is much stronger than you are can be enlightening if it happens occasionally, but if it happens often / regularly it is very off-putting and not much fun at all for either player! Neither player gains much from the experience and grading results for both players become quite distorted. I think it would actually turn off any new players coming into clubs who might be looking for competitive games, and discourage many of the players who are currently in Division 3.

3 The new Division 2 could be either 4 or 5 boards per team – this is one of the things everyone needs to discuss as part of the “2 Division” proposal. If it stays at 4 then it doesn't do much to help more players to get games. In fact, all the current Division 2 teams would need to field 1 less player than they are at the moment – so that doesn't help more people get games at all! Some clubs (including my club, Oswestry, a few seasons ago!) struggle to find more than 4 players for a regular B or C team, whereas other clubs have got lots of players looking for games and would prefer to have 5 boards per match. So, it makes sense to me that there should be a Division 2 and a Division 3 to allow both kinds of clubs to field B or C (or D, etc) teams that they have sufficient players for, rather than being stuck with a single Division where clubs are either not going to have enough players, or too many players.

4 With 2 Divisions, the rules on “nominated players” and players acting as reserves for “higher” teams would need a re-write and might be difficult to get right to prevent unfairness. At the moment 4 players have to be nominated for each team and can't then play for any other “lower” team. Also, reserves have to follow these rules:

a) Players graded below 100 can play for any of their club's teams in Division 3 without restriction.
b) Players graded below 120 can play up into any of their club's teams in Divisions 1 and 2 without restriction, providing that the lower team, for which the player normally appears, and the higher team for which the player wishes to appear as a reserve, are not both in the same Division, in which case the restriction in sub-paragraph d will apply. 

So players graded below 120 could no longer play for more than 1 team in Division 2! Again, this means less chess for everyone, not more.

5 The proposal for promotion and relegation is that it would be 3 or 4 up and down, between the remaining 2 Divisions. This would mean more strong Division 1 teams than before being relegated and then playing against teams that were previously in Division 3! And it doesn't offer much encouragement for teams that were previously involved in the Division 2/3 promotion / relegation battle each season – no such battle will exist. Many Division 2 teams will remain mid-table for seasons on end - incentives and interest much reduced – all a bit pointless really. And the teams at the top of Division 1 would be pretty much insulated every season from any possibility of relegation. In my view this would mean that the whole League would become pretty static and boring, which would be a shame.

So, as I said at the beginning, please let's not jump the gun and focus all the debate on the above. Let's, first, consider all the alternative possible ways of facilitating more chess and decide which of them is really best. I have a few alternative suggestions. It would be good to hear if anyone else has any others – let's consider them all before narrowing our focus to just one.

In my view, a solution has to:

- keep the current length of the season – September to April

- match players of comparable playing strength with each other in individual games, rather than generating lots of serious mis-matches

- allow as much flexibility as possible for players to move between teams, while also preventing clubs from exploiting this to gain unfair advantage in any promotion / relegation battles

- create promotion/relegation interest at several places in the overall League, to help maintain interest.

all of which means that there has to be more than 2 Divisions!

Also, in my view, Division 1 should always have at least 7, but preferably 8 teams and however many remaining teams there are, these should be split evenly between Divisions 2 and 3.

So, how to generate more games for players in Divisions 2 and 3, while meeting the above criteria? Other possibilities are:

- Division 3 should be 5 boards, not 4, if the teams involved agree this at the start of the season, or maybe individually before each match,

- any Division with less than (say) 7 teams could decide at season start (by vote?) to play everyone else more than twice. So, rather than playing 10 matches in a season, they would play 15, or maybe 20! – similar to the number that a team in a Division of 8 teams would play. (Any “third” match would have to be Home or Away by random coin toss or by agreement at the start of the season, or something.)

- players looking for more games could get more involved with the Rapidplay league, or the Knock-out competitions!

- the League could allow teams to be created using players from 2 or more clubs! For instance, if Oswestry have a couple of players who would like more regular games then why not allow them to get together with similar players in (e.g.) Telepost and create a combined team? We could decide to allow this regardless of whether any of the players involved already play for existing club teams or not. Home games could perhaps be played alternately at Oswestry or Telepost. As well as allowing more players to get involved in League chess this would also encourage more dialogue between clubs. Alternatively, Oswestry (for instance) could simply agree with Telepost to “borrow” a couple of their players (with their agreement) and field an “official“ Oswestry C team playing at Oswestry, and maybe next season this would transform into an “official” Telepost team playing at Telepost. And so on…. This could potentially create lots more teams and help to fill Divisions 2 and 3 and make more matches / games for everyone. Promotion could be problematic for such teams – would they still involve the same players if they earned a promotion place? So, maybe such “merged” teams should be excluded from promotion – they are just there to provide the opportunity for players to get more games under their belt.

- perhaps the rules around player nomination should be re-visited. I'm not sure any more what they are achieving, other than making it difficult for people to play for more than one team! Perhaps they are rather counterproductive now, if people want to be able to play more games? Relaxing them, perhaps even just for Division 3, or maybe 2 and 3, would make it easier for clubs to create additional teams in those Divisions, and create more spaces for the people who want to play more chess? If the rules were relaxed then perhaps  teams in Division 2 or 3 would be allowed to enter themselves twice into the Division and play two whole sets of matches. At present the rules on nominated players prevent this.

I'm sure that there are lots of other possibilities and I would welcome hearing all of them. That way, hopefully, our combined, problem solving, chess minds will find the best solution to the problem. I'm convinced we won't find the best solution to the problem if we concentrate all our thinking on just one possibility without even considering all the others first. And, I'm also convinced, unfortunately, that moving to 2 Divisions is not the best solution. I hope we can all find a good way forward to allow everyone to play as much chess as they want, and to keep the League alive and exciting.
Graham Ives - 21/03/2017


Keith Tabner - 23/03/2017

I am strongly in favour of keeping the existing three division league structure, although I do think that it would be substantially improved if only one team were promoted or relegated.
Let me make my case:-

This whole problem arose at the beginning of last season when three teams dropped out of the league very late in the day and too late to do much about it. The loss of Telford C and both Church Stretton teams left a gaping hole. As a result the third division was left with too few fixtures.
However I maintain that teams coming and going will always happen – this is a cyclical rather than a permanent change. We should not axe a division for a temporary problem.
Div 3 is particularly important to encourage new players to play competitive chess. I'm regularly told by newcomers “I'm not good enough to enter a league yet.”
I believe chess, like most sports, is about competing at somewhere near your own level so that you have some chance of getting a result. Continually being outplayed and getting thrashed is totally demoralising and can lead to players giving up the game.

With three divisions the season will end with three teams as champions – each with a trophy and a well-earned sense of achievement.
However under our present rules the runners up will not only miss out – but will be deprived of the chance to win that division next season. Instead they will be punished by being promoted to a higher league to be regularly well beaten and usually relegated.
Hence teams often trying to lose late matches in order to avoid that fate.

It would be so much better if our small divisions were one up and one down.

I applaud Graham Ives well made points – provided we know in good time that a division has too few teams, then additional fixtures / player sharing etc can be arranged.

At Telepost we do have 2 or 3 players who would like more chess – however we have many more who are not able to play anywhere near all of the games we already have.
Unfortunately by giving lower graded players additional games in a higher team, under present rules we just get teams relegated – taking the stronger players down with them.
This problem would be avoided by one up one down, thus encouraging players to play more games and thus improve.

And an already crowded calendar with league and rapidplay fixtures allows little time for our in house club competitions.

Keith Tabner - 23/03/2017


John Casewell

I have read with interest the views of the various contributors.
In my mind there are three seperate issues to deal with here.
Why are the number of teams in the Shropshire League reducing?
How to attract more players to league chess and how to cope, in hopefully the short term, with the problem. The first issue could be as a result of internet chess,the lack of junior chess in the county, few places in the county running chess clubs, lack of taster sessions to encourage new players and to the outsider chess does not appear a very sociable game.
Turning to my second point I think each club should where possible appoint a welcome officer to be on duty at a club night to be available for new prospective members.This could be run on a rota basis.We should use opportunities like the National Trust try a new sport weekend ,U3A and other organisations and various outdoor events to try and bolster our membership.Use our annual congress to invite anyone along to try the game. As a result of the publicity from this year's event Telepost gained a new member.
To deal with the current problem I would honour the promotion and relegation for this season and would continue with three divisions for season 2017/18, but support Keith Tabne's idea that it should be on a one up and one down basis from each division.I would continue with teams of four in division3, a suggestion I proposed some years ago, but retain five per team in the other divisions for now. If from what I read and hear is true Ludlow are considering a second team and Church Stretton could form a team and as things stand Telepost could put in a further team.
If we went to two divisions it would make division two top heavy if the above came to fruition,and judging by Grahem Ives comments his web redesign very time consuming. If the number of teams stay as they are for next season then I suggest in Division three the teams could play each other three times in a season leaving the controller to decide venues of third game.
I would also suggest a relaxation of the rules about players playing for more than one team from the same club in division three.Thinking now in particular of Telepost. I think with four players in a team division three is the perfect introduction to league chess.In my case I have rarely ventured outside of it!
Finally I would suggest a meeting soon after this season ends to discuss the issues raised by others and myself.

John Casewell 27/03/2017


Dennis Bonner

I have spoken with a couple of our players/captains and the basic answer is that we agree with the proposal of reducing to 2 Divisions but we all know it is not that simple. I have read the comments of Graham Ives and others with a great deal of interest.
Although this is only my first full season with Telepost I have enjoyed the chess and want to play as many games as possible so below I have listed answers to some of the relevant points made so far in this discussion;
a) All teams to consist of 4 players,as this makes it so much easier for the transportation of people to the various destination around the county as not many people have the luxury of 5 seater cars!
b) Relegation/Promotion to be 3 teams with the promotion from Division 2 have 2 automatic places and the next 4 teams would have a knockout to decide the 3rd promotion place,as is seen on the English Soccer leagues ,for example from Championship to Premier League.This will encourage more competitiveness for the teams to achieve 1st Division status.
c) As most people have already stated the rule 8 for the Substitutes will need to be carefully re-written . We would suggest that 3 players need to be nominated for each team,which would give some flexibility but within the same division players can play for their sister teams,without grading implications. If people,who are not nominated for teams,play more than 4 times for another of their sister teams,then they will get tied on the 5th time of playing for that team. The same rule can apply for 2nd division players playing for a 1st division team within their club,if they play more than 4 times then they are tied to their 1st Division team,as long as they are not nominated for another team within their same club.
d) We believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of playing in,for example the 2nd Division when an ex 3rd Division player has a much better chance of improving his/her grade as they will be playing a really good mix of grades. Currently a person in the 3rd division has not much chance of playing higher graded players and therefore the chance is that their grade remains static,which is not a good motivational tool.
e) Of course going to 2 divisions will extend the season going from September until May,not from August as many people will be away on holidays and teams do not want to start a long season with losses due to defaults. 
f) The League may need to reconsider the amount of Rapidplay games that are played and reduce to ,say,playing 3 or 4 times in the season. Maybe we could have a Rapidplay Individual competition,as played in the Summer at Newport,instead of a number of teams playing many Rapidplay games.
Of course there are many points and many different ideas for the Restructure and I would suggest one way to reach a conclusion would be for Nat to call a Special meeting of all the League Secretaries plus one other nominated person from each of the clubs. The meeting would then have the power to discuss all of these ideas and reach firm conclusions by way of a majority vote.This may mean more than 1 meeting but Feel sure that a meaningful conclusion can be reached.

Dennis Bonner  21/03/2017


Just a short note to express my support for the possible restructuring of the league into two from the current three . We have been discussing this already at Oswestry as a possible method to give our members more chess as we have to now share the games out between our members. It doesn't help that the teams in Division 3 are only four to a team instead of five as in Divisions 1 and 2. In conclusion I would be in favour of two strong divisions.
Regards Alf Evans 16/03/2017

It's an interesting idea on restructuring the league - As I read it I thought of a few points that might need looking at as well! 
What happens if clubs want to add more teams to the league - With the current structure and length of season defined in the rules - 9 teams per division seemed the maximum to me! 
You would probably want to define the maximum amount of teams per division - just for games played and length of season etc! 
This brings me onto the problem of the database. Currently It can only accepts 9 teams per division! - Graham would need time to rejig or create a new database to accommodate this. - Would need to give him lots of time to do this.
The length of the season would have to be extended - Not sure if August is a good time to start - school holidays etc! 
Also if you would like this to commence in the coming season the AGM will have to be moved forward a long way and probably we should change the rules allowing players to be substitutes - when there inevitably will be several club teams in the same division!

Vinny Crean 17/03/2017

Over the years the number of teams has fluctuated and I agree is currently in decline. In the past we have tried to keep a stable first division of 8 teams and tweaked the lower divisions to accommodate the number of teams. I would suggest keeping division 1 as is i.e. two up one down. This leaves two divisions of six teams. 10 normal games but with ample opportunity (from looking at this year) to play for a higher team if a player wants more chess. My feeling is that they're only getting 4 games less and with the inevitable need for subs in reality will probably get more than 14. Obviously this could all change once teams announce how many teams they intend running next year. 
Colin Roberts 17/03/2017

Good to see the initiative being taken regarding potentially restructuring the leagues.
I just have a couple of comments on the proposal to add to the debate:

Firstly regarding the following point: “Divisions 1&2 would have 3-4 relegation and promotion places respectively in order to 1. ensure each division is exciting, 2. give teams & players a greater opportunity to gain promotion, and 3. would ensure that the so-called 'elite' couldn't simply 'camp out' in Division 1 which would most likely happen if there are only two relegation places” the flipside of this would mean that for newly promoted clubs to the first Division the chances of survival would be significantly reduced. There might be more teams getting promoted, but if half of them are mathematically relegated by Christmas it would make for a fairly turgid season after that point. I appreciate the principle of creating a more dynamic league structure might be appealing for some, but it's also worth noting that a league with greater competitive balance might be more appealing – so rather than having, say, Shrewsbury and Wellington relegated every season and then being promoted straight back up, it's worth considering that an established elite is not necessarily always a bad thing. Perhaps, if this system was to be implemented, some kind of play-off system could be introduced rather than changing 40% of the divisions each season!

Next, the following comment :  “1. All teams would have to consist of five players, hence player availability & transport issues could be problematic”. Personally it would seem more logical that if all the teams have to consist of a uniform number of players (which isn't a necessity as far as I can see) to go with 4, since it would mean all teams currently out there would be able to continue in the new format, whereas some teams based on needing 4 players might struggle to expand to 5. Additionally, it would likely help prevent the continued shrinkage of the number of teams, would make transport easier and the issue of finding available players for 50% more matches over a longer time period – part of which is traditionally problematic for clubs to find players – would be alleviated by having to find fewer players for those matches.

A final question is whether there is some kind of potential halfway-house; the problem being that a change such as this, by its very nature, requires 100% conformity and thus any clubs who do not, in fact, want any more chess would be dissatisfied by the mandatory substantial increase. Perhaps reforming the Cox/Minor trophies to run with a preliminary group stage across the same time as the regular league season – or indeed just creating a whole new tournament (in Devon, for example, there are about 3 different leagues I played in last year and while I like the continuity of having a main event [i.e. the league] it's a workable alternative), maybe on weekends with longer time controls, or something like that. This way, clubs can opt into or out of the extra games without being forced into it.
Matt Best 16/03/2017

Regarding Vinny's point on the database, Graham Ives has also brought this to my attention. I have discussed this at length with Graham and he is currently investigating how long it would take for him to change the database code allowing league tables to consist of more than nine teams. Everything he suggested seems to point to this taking a considerable time, although I shall get back to everyone on this point once he has informed me of how long it will take him.  Although, yesterday evening before Newport A's Division 1 match against Oswestry A, Graham suggested the following proposal:  if Shropshire chess decides on restructuring the league, from three divisions to two,  for these changes to be applied for the 2018-19 season which will  then  give him enough time to make the relevant software changes to the database.
Nat Paul 19/03/2017

In terms of starting the league in August, that could of course be reviewed with the league commencing on the first week of September to avoid any potential clashes with school holidays. Vinny's point on reviewing certain rules will also need to be carried out. Particularly on the current grading and substitute rules. As this is a very important aspect of this debate, it would be ideal to receive some views on this. If there aren't any offered then such rules will need to be discussed at the Shropshire AGM. I am also in agreement with Vinny regarding bringing the Shropshire AGM forward this year (maybe the W/O April 24th directly after the conclusion of the rapid league season?), especially if it is decided that the restructuring of the league has to be applied for this season, as Graham will need a decision on this ASAP to give him more time to make the required changes to the database. However, as mentioned earlier, this may not be possible to achieve over the summer, but Graham will be getting back to me on this. 
Nat Paul 19/03/2017

Regarding Colin's comments, I personally would like to avoid having a situation where Division 1 next season has two extra teams compared to the bottom two divisions. This is especially because of the comments I have received throughout the season from various players complaining about the lack of chess. In my view, ten games per season for most players seems too low. However, I have been informed by Ludlow, Oswestry, Telford and Telepost that they are all thinking of adding an additional team to the league this season. Yet, apart from Ludlow, these suggestions do not sound completely confident. I have also heard rumours that Tom Williamson is considering running a Church Stretton team next season. But as you can all see, these are simply rumours and to base a decision to go against restructuring the league in the hope of new teams entering seems a bit strange to me, particularly if no new teams actually enter, which will lead next season to the current problems that we have of the gradual depletion of divisions 2&3. Although, if clubs were to give me a solid assurance , in time for the Shropshire AGM,  that they  will  be entering new teams in the current three division format then that could of course help to stave off this proposal of restructuring the league to two divisions.
Nat Paul 19/03/2017

To Matt's first comment about 3-4 relegation places in a two division format, I agree in terms of including four promotion and relegation places. Personally, I have slight worries for a team that comes fourth in Division 2 as it is likely they will be heavily out-graded in Division 1, and therefore could be relegated quite early on which isn't really good for anyone. That is why I would propose having only three relegation & promotion places. I think this is a good idea as having three spots will keep some established Division 1 teams on their toes, but will also give Division 2 teams a real chance of getting promoted and testing themselves against the highest graded players in Shropshire. Yet, I think for this proposal in particular, this should be decided at the AGM because it is important not to assume that Division 2 players do not want to get promoted to Division 1. In fact it could be the direct opposite. Regarding this, I have contacted all club captains in regards to the proposal of restructuring the league, and each of them will be getting back to me on what their overall views are. Likewise, I will be asking them to give me their views on how many relegation and promotion spots they would prefer. Once I have heard back from everyone I will submit the overall league mood of both these issues via this Talking Points page.
Nat Paul 19/03/2017

Regarding Matt's second point of having four players per team across both divisions, this is also something that I will contact all team captains about as it's a very important issue, particularly for those in Division 3 who currently have just four players. I agree that for some teams finding a fifth player could be difficult. Yet conversely, if all teams had just four players then some players could find it very difficult to get some game time. 
Nat Paul 19/03/2017

Finally, Matt in terms of your final point, I think for something like that to be proposed a detailed plan of what the new competition/s would be needs to be created and delivered to the Shropshire Chess Association for consideration. There are some very interesting ideas here, although I would suggest to remember not to over complicate something. And the suggestion of holding a competition over weekends could also be quite tricky, and would need someone to contact all clubs to see if players are able, and have an appetite for, extra Shropshire chess at weekends.
Nat Paul 19/03/2017


Well done for starting this long-overdue debate. 

I support your proposal for a two-division league. We have in recent years tinkered with the structures by changing eligibility rules, motivated both by a need to help teams remain viable and to enable those who wanted more chess to be able to play for more than one team. However, like you, I think the time has come for a more drastic overhaul and the two-division structure would re-energise the league.

I think that four promotion and relegation slots is too many, however, and two would probably suffice. I like the suggestion of a play-off system for second division promotion however, perhaps with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th clubs competing for one remaining slot with automatic promotion for the division two champions. One-up, one-down seems unduly restrictive and would reduce the interest for many clubs in the latter part of the season.

The question of the league software has been raised, but I don't believe that that should play any part in the decision, as indeed Graham Ives acknowledges. If the league decides to change its structure then we need to find a way to make that happen. I don't see any reason why we should delay until the 2018-19 season; if we decide to change, let's just get on with it and start in September.

Another point that has been raised is the fixture schedule but there is plenty of time to play all the league games between September and the end of April if we have some matches scheduled each week rather than fortnightly. This brings us to the issue of substitutions and eligibility. Two divisions may provide an opportunity for a review to create more logical rules on reserves and eligibility which are much simpler and less prone to controversy.

Steve Rooney 27/03/2017

Chess debate

Understandably, with such a debate, there are so many quality ideas supported by sound comments
However any changes must promote Shropshire chess and reflect the wishes of its members.
I would argue evolution not revolution.  Do not fix what is not broken
There seems to be a call for more games at the 'lower' end
Lower graded players DO NOT get involved with rapid play games on a regular basis
There is always a reluctance to change, meaning that compromise is always necessary

Suggestions (in no specific order):
Whatever changes are made they MUST be sustainable. We must get it right first time!
The season to remain the same length (September though to April), with the rate of matches to be about 1 every 2           weeks.  Eg 30 week season allowing for Christmas (~16 matches)
Requirement of promotion/relegation.  An essential and exciting  part of having 3 divisions.  You can argue about how 'many' and 'how' for ever so why not keep it at 2! Maintain 3 sustainable divisions. NOTE: Divisions with an odd number of teams always causes issues with teams having a week 'off' and not playing for a month.  An elite division 1 consisting of 8 teams giving 14 quality matches.  The remaining teams split into two divisions with an even number of teams in each whenever possible.  If the number of teams is only six then they play each other three times.
Player nomination and substitution to be revisited.  Current rules  seem to reduce the opportunities for players to offer themselves to play.

3 divisions with 2 promotion and relegation places as now.
Division 1 to consist of 8 teams  Division 2/3 to consist of an even number of teams where possible, as now.
Reduce the nominated players for each team by one which does away with the silly nomination procedure which many of us participate in each year. With the addition that any nominated player MUST have represented the club in a competitive game the previous season
Remove rule 9d which solves so many issues at a stoke!
I would argue for and early EGM with a single agenda item rather than wait for the AGM
Steve Szwajkun 03/04/2017


Sheila, wife of Wellington's club captain Derrick Powell, who died a few weeks ago, has been going through Derrick's chess stuff and has given me his chess books and videos with a view to finding them a good home within the chess community, where they will be put to practical use, rather than ending up in a charity shop.
There follows a list of the books and if anybody is interested in having any, please drop me an email at . As the object of the exercise is to distribute the books (rather than me being left with them), feel free to make a list of, say, five choices – more if you like. Depending on who chooses what, and how many come forward, I'll then allocate as fairly as I can.
I'm not going to post them, but will look to hand them over in person during the league season. Alternatively people can arrange to collect them.
They are free, but if you feel you would like to make a small donation to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, that would be a nice gesture.
The books are second hand condition, but perfectly usable.
Toby Neal - 24/11/2016

Books are:
1 Test Your Chess by Gerald Abrahams. 1963. Descriptive notation. You are challenged to assess a series of positions (answers and explanations at the back.)
2 The Penguin Book of Chess Openings by W.R Hartston. 1981. Descriptive. (Two copies, both a bit battered.)
3 The Art of Attack in Chess by V. Vukovic. 1963. Descriptive notation.
4 My System by Aron Nimzowitch. 1991. Algebraic notation.
5 Starting out: The Colle, by Richard Colle. 2007. Algebraic. Cover a bit curly but good condition inside.
6 Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres. 1974. Algebraic.
7 Three Steps to Chess Mastery by A.S.Suetin. 1982. Algebraic.
8 Pawn Structure Chess by Andrew Soltis. 1995. Algebraic.
9 The Right Way to Play Chess by D. Brine Pritchard. 1971. Descriptive.
10 Albin Counter-Gambit by Paul Lamford. 1983. Algebraic.
11 The Middle Game in Chess by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky. 1980. Descriptive.
12 From the Middlegame into the Engame by Edmar Mednis. 1987. Algebraic.
13 Beating the King's Indian and Grunfeld by Timothy Taylor. 2006. Algebraic.
14 Winning Chess Tactics by Yasser Seirawan with Jeremy Silman. 1992. Algebraic.
15 Chess Opening Essentials, Volume 1: The Complete 1.e4. 2007. Algebraic.
16 Chess Questions Answered by R.W. Bonham and R.D. Wormald. 1945. Descriptive. This is a little booklet.
17 Chess for Beginners by Robert S. Fenton. 1982. Descriptive.
18 The Best Move by Vlastimil Hort and Vlastimil Jansa. 1980. Algebraic (tests to find best move in various positions)
19 How Not To Play Chess by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky. 1959. Descriptive.
20 Laws of Chess (as of 1980).
21 Pocket Chess by Raymond Keene. 1988. Algebraic (an overview from moves, rules, brief coverage of openings etc).
22 500 Master Games of Chess by Dr S. Tartakower and J. Du Mont. Descriptive. 1952.
23 Winning With The Colle System by Ken Smith and John Hall. 1990. Algebraic.
24 Modern Chess Openings by Walter Korn. 1972. Descriptive.
25 Trends in the French Tarrasch by Andrew Martin. 1990. Algebraic. This is a monograph/booklet.
26 Play Chess 2 by William Hartston and Jeremy James. 1981. Algebraic. Tactic improving tips.
27 Combinations in the Middle Game by I.Z. Bondarevsky. Descriptive. A booklet.
28 Indian Defences i.e Nimzo, Queens, Grunfeld, King's, Old Indian, Benoni. Descriptive. Based on a 1967 work.
29 Bluff Your Way in Chess by B.W. Malpass. 1993. (text only, about players, the game, etc)
30 Pick of the Best Problems, compiled by B.P. Barnes. 1976. Algebraic.
31 Teach Yourself Better Chess by Bill Hartston. 1997. Algebraic.
32 The Game of Chess by H. Golombek. 1954. Descriptive. Covers openings, middle game, endings, combinations etc.
33 How To Play Chess Endings by Eugene Znosko-Borovsky. 1974. Descriptive.
34 How To Play The Chess Openings by Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky. 1935. Descriptive.
35 How Garry Kasparov Changed the World of Chess by Michael Khodarkovsky and Leonid Shamkovich. 1997. Algebraic.
36 Fighting Chess My Games and Career, Gary Kasparov. 1983. Algebraic.
39. Trends in the French Tarrasch, volume 2 (booklet/monograph). Algebraic.
40 Trends in the French Classical, Vol. 2. (booklet/monograph). Algebraic.
41 French Defence Tarrasch Variation by Raymond Keene and Shaun Taulbut. 1980. Algebraic.
42 Play the King's Gambit, Vol 1, King's Gambit Accepted, by Y Estrin & I B Glaskov. 1982. Algebraic.
43 The Sicilian Defence by Eduard Gufeld. 1983. Algebraic.
44 Chess by R.F. Green. First published 1889 (this is revised edition). Beginner's book. Descriptive.
45 Catalan Opening by Oleg Moiseyev and Grigory Ravinsky. 1984. Algebraic.
46 An Opening Repertoire for White by Raymond Keene. 1984. Algebraic.
47 Spanish: Schliemann by Leonid Shamkovich and Eric Schiller. 1983. Algebraic.
48 The Najdorf Variation Sicilian Defence. 1976. Descriptive.
49 Play The Caro Kann by E Varnusz. 1982. Algebraic.
50 Kasparov v Short 1987, by Raymond Keene. Games from a televised speed chess challenge, algebraic.
51 Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings (1. e4). Algebraic.

Videos :-
1 Foxy Openings. The French 1with Daniel King
2 Foxy Openings. The French 2 with Daniel King.
3 Foxy Openings. Nimzo Indian with Chris Ward
4 Foxy Openings. d4 Dynamite with Aaron Summerscale


Views on the subject of Substitute Players -Matt Best

I saw Gary's piece on the Shropshire Chess Website and thought I'd chime in with my two cents as a semi-outside observer. Again, all just my opinion but it seems a good idea to continue what will clearly be a relevant debate earlier than at next year's AGM.

My initial reaction to seeing the result on the website and the teams listed as they were was certainly one of surprise and I thought it was faintly ridiculous - Ludlow have done an excellent job at regularly recruiting strong new players over the last few seasons to the extent that they have gone from a side nearly in danger of relegation from Division 2 to one with a very real chance of challenging for the first division this year. As so many clubs are struggling to attract new and retain existing members, this is commendable and I'm sure we'd all love to hear their secret!

With regards to this specific game, the natural question is the one which Gary raises regarding the regularity of these new players. I have heard that it may not just be a one-off, and I should also make it clear that I haven't a clue regarding the logistics or reasoning behind it. Therefore, as far as I know, it may well be that the situation is entirely comparable with, for example, me (or Ed Goodwin) returning to Shrewsbury and playing a few games a season - with the notable difference of about 90 grading points. Newport, I seem to recall, were also beneficiaries with a group of strong players returning from University for a handful of games in a season. These instances were accepted, and so the question becomes how can one differentiate between a “ringer” and someone who just happens to play a few games in a season. In either case, it's unfair for the team who has to face the strengthened side. Is there any way in which it is possible to legislate this? Personally I don't see how. Perhaps the only real way is having a completely different league system with grading limits, but having experienced this in Devon I find it demeans the quality of the competition significantly. Another system that had been mooted previously (I believe at the time that the under 150 rule was introduced) was a slightly more complex issue where the nominated players system takes on a role – teams can then field a side whose average grade is equal (or within a set limit) to the average grade of its nominated players at the start of the season. That, too, has challenges – not least being the statistical invalidity of using the mean rating of players to ascertain the strength of the side (the Ludlow mean of 189 was above the grade of 80% of their players!), plus the issue of ungraded players, and furthermore what if Keith Arkell were to move to Ludlow and wish to start playing every game for them? So far, I don't really see a way to prevent this kind of thing. It's also worth noting that leagues are systemically unfair – in the Premier League, for example, Liverpool got the perfect time to play Arsenal and so won, whereas Chelsea played Arsenal when they were in full flow with all their star players back and were thrashed.

Finally, in response to the last paragraph: “ does this need to be regulated in some way – otherwise we could end up with matches involving 10 GM's and a load of Shropshire players just watching!” my view is that I'd happily play board 5 for Shrewsbury C in Division 4 while Nigel Short and Mickey Adams battle it out in the A team!

Matt Best 27/10/2016

P.S: Congratulations Gary on yet another tournament success at Scarborough!

Views on the subject of Substitute Players -Nat Paul

Gary, firstly, thank you for starting this debate as it is a very interesting one. Secondly, you raising this is also very helpful to me as league controller to see what players think of such league matters, especially in regards to the subject of substitutes and new players which, as you say, can be quite a contentious issue.

Regarding both your questions of whether Ludlow's actions were a) within the rules, and b) within the spirit and integrity of Shropshire Chess, I would categorically say yes to both. The current rules certainly allow for new players to join a club partway through the season, and secondly, I imagine only Ludlow know if their new players are going to be regulars or not. My understanding is that they could very well be playing in other Shropshire league matches this season. Also, the suggestion that Priorslee would have probably won that match if those three players weren't playing is a bit harsh to Ludlow because they have other strong players that weren't taking part, and who were not necessarily unavailable on that match night. Without those three new players Ludlow may have fielded the following team: Lee Davis (181), Perry Walker (181), John Wrench (157), Joe Watson (157), Richard Croot (151). That team is of course weaker, but still has a high grade average of 165.4, so on paper would still be stronger than Priorslee. Therefore, it probably would have been a really close match, and definitely could have gone either way.

Personally, I was delighted when I heard of Ludlow's new players, especially as a GM playing in the league is a very exciting prospect. Newport A are in fact playing Ludlow this evening, and as captain of Newport A I can say that I would not be disappointed in the slightest if the team that faced Priorslee is the one that my team and I come up against. Firstly, I would love to see Keith Arkell in action at Newport, and secondly, a team of that strength poses a significant challenge, and one that Newport A would very much look forward to taking on. I am also of the opinion that it is far better for all players to have a game rather than win by default. Therefore, putting restrictions on substitute players could definitely cause board and/or match defaults, especially for smaller clubs like Ludlow. We should definitely not be trying to restrict and/or stop new players playing in our league either, especially in the light of Church Stretton having to withdraw due to a lack of player availability. 

Overall, I cannot see how our league could stop a club playing substitute players. And if a club plays new players over other main members that are available, then that is ultimately a matter for that specific club. I also do not really see it as being unfair to the team that they face, for example the Ludlow team that played against Priorslee. That is just one of those things, and Priorslee just happened to be the team that Ludlow had to play next. Although, it is again important to remember that those new players may face other teams this season. Finally, I am perfectly happy keeping everything in terms of substitute players as it is because I see no negatives in new players playing. This sort of thing occurs in other leagues, such as the Wolverhampton league, and that never seems to cause any problems. Captains in that league just have to make sure the new player is registered five days before a league or cup match. And regarding your scenario of ten GM's playing in a match, that is obviously highly unlikely, but if that did happen then that is down to the respective clubs to decide, not the Shropshire league.
By Nat Paul - 27/10/2016

An Open Letter to all Shropshire Chess Players
on the subject of Substitute Players
by Gary White 25/10/2016

This issue has arisen as a consequence of the league match held on Monday, 10th October, between Priorslee Lions ‘A' and Ludlow ‘A'. I should point out that this is not any formal complaint, but simply my personal opinion only, and is intended to promote further discussion within Shropshire chess on the daunting subject of substituting players in order to make up a full team.

Ludlow arrived at The Lion, effectively, with only two recognised Ludlow players, Lee Davis (181) and Joe Watson (157). To make up a full team of five they had invited GM Keith Arkell (241), his brother Nick (184) and also Douglas Spencer (182). This upped the average grade of this “Ludlow” team to a staggering 189. This compared to the regular players of the Lions team, which have an average grade of just under 160. The fact that Priorslee managed to get a 2½ - 2½ draw out of this match is not only astonishing, but irrelevant. An under-strength Ludlow team, would, most likely, have been well beaten by Priorslee, earning 2 points as opposed to the 1 for the draw. The fact is that, most likely, no other team in Shropshire will face such a similar strength of opposition – so how can this be considered fair if these are not going to be regular players?

As we have seen recently with the demise of firstly the Church Stretton B team and then, subsequently, their A team, it is only too apparent that there is a continuing struggle for clubs to field full teams for league matches. Whilst the last thing I wish to see is defaulted boards, or worse, defaulted matches, the question does have to be raised as to whether the course of action taken by Ludlow is a) within the rules, and b) within the spirit and integrity of Shropshire Chess. We have in place strict rules on the substituting of players from lower teams, those in the same division, 135 grade limits, 150 grade limits for using players from other clubs, etc, but nothing to cover what has happened here.

Is this something we just allow to happen again in the future, or does this need to be regulated in some way – otherwise we could end up with matches involving 10 GM's and a load of Shropshire players just watching!




Church Stretton's Shropshire League Withdrawal - 01/10/2016

Dear Club Captains & Secretaries,
As some of you may have noticed on the Shropshire site's Division 1 page, Church Stretton have sadly had to fold from the Shropshire league due to a lack of player availability. I am sure everyone will agree with me that losing Church Stretton is a great loss to the Shropshire league and will be greatly missed. 

Church Stretton's withdrawal means the following for Division 1 teams:
1. The two match results Church Stretton competed in are now void, although the game results will still be graded
2. Church Stretton will automatically take one of the relegation spots meaning that only one team out of the remaining seven will be relegated. Promotion and relegation remain the same for the other two divisions.

Moving on, in terms of the situation regarding the remaining active Church Stretton players, I have decided that these players will now be allowed to find new clubs and can play in any division of their choosing. Steve Rooney has assured me that all these players will aim to find a new club as soon as possible. The only thing I will say on this is, and this is specifically to team captains, if a Church Stretton player/s joins your team, please ensure you let me know ASAP so I can register them with your respective club.

If anyone has any questions about any of this then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind Regards,
Nat Paul - league controller


Telford Chess Club is moving - 23/09/2014

With effect from tomorrow, Telford Chess Club are moving to:
The Royal British Legion, Station Road, Dawley, Telford  TF4 2NW.
Club night will continue to be Wednesdays at 7.30pm, when it will otherwise be fairly quiet.
  There is wheelchair access in the form of a ramp leading to a side, and lounge bar, where we will probably usually play, function room, where we will play otherwise, and toilets are all on one level.  Ample parking adjacent on a large free, well lit public car park. They don't usually open before 7.30, but we can get in beforehand, but won't be able to buy drinks until then.  They'll want us out by about 11.00, but that shouldn't be a problem.
The main reasons for the move are that the Mallard have recently put some sofas and armchairs in the room we use, limiting our capacity to stage more than one match at a time, and the lighting was inadequate for continued studying the chess board.  The new venue addresses both those issues.
Regards, Richard Thompson



Shropshire Chess AGM held 08/07/2014

Several important rule changes were agreed at AGM. The General Secretary will publish amended rules and minutes of the meeting shortly. Meanwhile here are the two major rule changes:-

Rule 8
Delete the sentence beginning - “ If a player is a member of more than one club, …………..etc”
And insert the following:-

“If a team in the second or third division uses a player who normally plays for another Shropshire club in a higher division during that season, then it is permitted only on condition that the player has a current summer grade of below 150 for Div 2 and below 140 for Div 3.”

Rule 9 (d)
is now amended and reads as follows:-

“Where a player is used more than four times for a higher team, then (unless sub-paragraphs a, b or c apply) he / she becomes a member of the senior team on the fifth occasion for the remainder of the season. Where a reserve wins by default the result will count as an appearance for the senior team.”

Keith Tabner


Changes in the laws of chess
New FIDE rules from 01/07/2014 - Details here
But check Shropshire AGM minutes to see how they will be applied locally. - Vinny Crean
Outdoor Chess
I just wanted to let everyone know that Telford Council are in the process of building 5 chess tables in Telford Town Park overlooking the new lake as part of the Southwater area. I saw them today and they look really good. I spoke to the warden and she said that they are officially opening them 2nd August (possibly earlier) and the pieces can be hired from the information point or bring your own. Here's a picture of them:
Kate Walker 12/06/2014

Newport Chess Club Christmas Event - Tuesday 17/12/2013
The Newport Christmas event went very well last night. Fifteen players turned up to play Gavyn, Trevor and Nigel with Bill Bates, Steve Tarr and Chris Paul winning and everyone else losing. All the games were tightly fought, apart from my own as I blundered a piece in the opening and subsequently resigned on move 7.
The games also became very chaotic after around 12 moves as the 3 players began to ruin each other's plans, this occurred frequently. The food was also very good and all players went away with either a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates.
We would have liked more players to attend but, as it was so close to Christmas and took place the night after the third round of the rapidplay league fixtures, we understood players reasons for not being able to join in. As it went down very well we will be holding a summer simultaneous event (again with three players giving the simultaneous), which I am sure will be even more successful.
Nathanael Paul 18/12/2013
Newport Chess Club Christmas Event - Tuesday 17/12/2013

This year Newport chess club will be holding a Christmas event, starting at 19:30, on December Tuesday 17th at the Royal Legion. We thought about holding a blitz event, but as our club have done so many recently as well as the many rapidplay league fixtures, we have decided to hold a simultaneous. This simultaneous will be given by three of Shropshire's strongest players - Nigel Ferrington, Gavyn Cooper, and Trevor Brotherton . We also aim 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.
Our club will be having a buffet (the same food that we had in the Unity Cup, which was excellent) as well as, hopefully, many prizes (these will be revealed at the event once attendance has been confirmed). Therefore, we will require all adults to pay £10 and juniors £5 for entry. This may seem a tad too expensive but the event should be great fun and we will try to our greatest efforts to make the food and prizes of the highest possible quality. Players will pay on the night, please can you ask them to not bring £20 notes in case we are short of change. The other stumbling block is that there is the 3rd round of rapidplay fixtures on the 16th. Obviously some players may not want two chess events in a week but we are still very optimistic that our event will have a good attendance.
Please can you all inform your respective members regarding the event in order for it to be a success, as well as providing the 3 players, who are giving the simultaneous, ample competition. And can you please inform all players, that want to take part, to email or phone me ASAP. This is vitally important as Newport chess club do not want players turning up on the night who have not informed us of their attendance, as we may arrive at the very embarrassing scenario of not having enough boards in order for all players to take part.
If there is no interest from a particular club then please can that club's secretary let me know ASAP.
Please get back to me by around the 10th December (preferably before) as the chef at the Legion would prefer to know how many players are attending in advance.
Kind Regards, Nathanael Paul 29/11/2013 . (Tel 01952 878739)

4NCL Rounds 1 and 2
For rounds 1 & 2 in this season's 4NCL we managed 1 point out of 4, with a 3.5-2.5 loss to Ashfield-Breadsall and a 3-3 draw with Bristol University. Below are the details of each round including everyone's ECF or FIDE grades (numbers in brackets are each teams average rating for that respective match:
Round 1 Shropshire (1936) vs Ashfield-Breadsall (1993):
Trevor Brotherton 191 0.5-0.5 Glenn Halfpenny 184 Nathanael Paul 171 0.5-0.5 Peter Mercs 202 Glyn Pugh 159 0.5-0.5 Andrew Walker 166 Steve Tarr 152 0-1 Derek Jarvis 162 Chris Lewis 146 1-0 Robert Taylor 153 Graham Shepherd 146 0-1 Neil Graham 150
Round 2 Shropshire (1898) vs Bristol University (1996):
Nathanael Paul 171 1-0 Robert Thompson 186 Colin Roberts 162 0.5-0.5 Guillaume Delay 2048 (doesn't have an ECF grade) Glyn Pugh 159 0-1 Louis  Brijmohun 180 Steve Tarr 152 0.5-0.5 Michael Meadows 158 Chris Lewis 146 1-0 Daniel Young 159 Graham Shepherd 146 0-1 Matthew Jnr Wilson 152
As you can all see we were underdogs in both matches so did very well to nearly win both! I would like to thank everyone for playing and a particular well done to Chris for his 2 victories! 
Rounds 3 and 4 will be played on 11-12 January. And to remind everyone, all our matches are played at the Daventry Court Hotel.
Shropshire 4NCL Team
We have entered one team called 'Shropshire' for this season in 4NCL Div 3. Both Chris Lewis and I are joint captains. The list of players in our team are below:-
Trevor Brotherton, Gavyn Cooper, Dave Gostelow, Nathanael Paul, Colin Roberts, Steve Tarr, Chris Lewis, Stuart Ross, and Graham Shepherd will be used as a reserve, so we are both very happy with this team of nine. Nathanael Paul 19/10/2013
e-mail:-nathanaelpaul92 @gmail .com

Possible Shropshire 4NCL Team
Chris Lewis and I are planning on running a Shropshire team in the coming 4NCL season. We are looking for 8-9 players to make a team. If more players are interested then we are open to running 2 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 5 match weekends. The team fee is £125 for a team in division 3, which is very reasonable. All matches are taking place at Daventry, therefore players do not need to worry about travelling down south. For details of the 4NCL here is the site: .
We currently have 6 players interested, which includes Chris and myself. Therefore as club secretaries we would be very grateful if you can spread the word regarding the possibility of a 4NCL team. If you have players that are interested please can you tell them to contact myself or Chris. Both our details are on the Shropshire chess site. And if you can all put something on your respective club sites (if you have one) about this proposal we would both appreciate it.
The deadline for submitting a team is Monday 30th September, so we would ideally like to finalise the team/s August, early September being at the latest. Therefore if you can let all your members know ASAP that will be great. - Nathanael Paul 20/07/2013

Proposed Shropshire Rapidplay League

After discussions at the Shropshire Chess Association's AGM, the potential formation of a Shropshire Rapidplay League is inching forwards. For those not present at the meeting, it would run throughout the main league season to act as a supplement for those people who feel there is not a sufficient number of games in the Shropshire Chess calendar, whilst allowing those who feel there are the right amount or even too many to continue without any hassle.

I have emailed all captains and secretaries for whom emails are provided on the SCA website. Could people please bring the provisional format to the attention of people at their clubs to allow discussion on it, so that any amendments can be made as necessary. The deadline for any amendments is the 31 st July, so suggestions will need to be made to me before then - either via email or phone (01743 821 220). Once the rules are confirmed, clubs will have until 31 st August to enter. Late entries may not be considered unless they fit into the schedule without any disruption.

The provisional guidelines are attached. If anyone has any trouble opening the attachment, please let me know.

Matt Best 16/07/2013

Proposed Shropshire Rapidplay League

* Four players per team
* Games would be half an hour for each player, or - if team captains agree and electronic clocks are available - a Fischer time control of 20 minutes plus ten seconds per move may be used. Both time controls are eligible for rapid grading.
* Matches would take place roughly once a month (subject to change depending upon the number of entries), preferably on weeknights at one of the clubs' venue when no league matches are scheduled to be played. Four teams would go to the venue (the dates won't be finalised until entries are confirmed and the main leagues' fixtures are confirmed) and would play each other team once on the night, meaning each team would play three matches per night. One team would be the nominal “home” team for each match on the night and therefore be White on boards two and four, which would then be reciprocated at the return fixture.
* There is no obligation for clubs to work in the same structure as the main league. For example, if Ludlow were only able to field 3 players, and Church Stretton and Condover the same again, the two clubs could participate as one team for the purpose of this event. Equally, if Shrewsbury and Telepost were both able to field two full teams and half a third team, those two incomplete third teams could merge to become one (named The Shrewsbury Sharks or something equally dubious!).
* Players would only be permitted to play for one club, although substitutions between teams within clubs would be permitted provided that the player is graded below 130. 

* Substitutes may only play 3 games for their second team (whichever team they play 3 matches for first is nominated as their team).
* The “10 point rule” will be used for determining board order. Rapidplay grades from the start of the season take priority, but standardplay grades from the summer list are to be used in the absence of a rapid grade. 
* Players with no standard or rapid grade may play on any board. However, if an ungraded player receives either a standard or rapid grade in the January list, then that will be used for the remainder of the season for the purposes of board order, but they may still play for another team as a substitute, even if their January grade exceeds 130 – this prevents clubs running short of players halfway through a season.
* If 10+ teams entered, then two divisions (based on the teams' current standings in the Shropshire Chess League) would be created.
* Players must record their moves, up until the final five minutes as in standardplay games– this makes games eligible for grading. Matt Best 16/07/2013

Proposed Shropshire Rapidplay League
Also raised at the AGM was the view that we should have more
interaction with the public to raise the profile of Shropshire chess.
Something along the lines of the recent Ironbridge display or the Darwin centre festivals
of a few years ago.
I believe we can kill two birds with one stone.
I would love to see your rapidplay events run over two (or four?) weekends (Sat + Sun)
One held in public in the Darwin Centre and the other inside Telford Town Centre.
At the same time we would also run several public participation activities
- giant chess set - display boards - challenge a Shropshire player -
info about our chess clubs etc.
And perhaps ask the venues to sponsor trophies.
I'd be happy to help organise same...
What do you think ?   Keith Tabner 17/07/2013

That's certainly a possibility Keith. I would certainly be up for something along those lines but my only concerns would be
a.) whether there is sufficient space available – the area we used for the old Darwin tournaments is currently occupied by a furniture stall
b.) whether there would be a large enough number of people available for weekends. I go to the football on Saturdays so would only be able to make alternate Saturdays, and others who play in congresses and county matches or have to look after children etc may also be unavailable.
It would be good if we were able to fix something, and if the league doesn't end up being held there then certainly should be some other event, a tournament similar to the old Darwin events in all probability, and perhaps a competition for casual players (maybe an ungraded section at the congress?) which we could advertise as an attraction for new players. Matt Best 18/07/2013

  I agree that a public event would be a great idea, but I'm not convinced that you could do it with the rapidplay as the concept is for a serious league which needs the conditions that you would have at a club venue rather than a public arena. A public event would be great but it is really a different entity and the Ironbridge-style challenge event seemed to be a very good model for that. Steve Rooney 21/07/2013

Chess Press Release 07/06/2013:- Condover and Church Stretton Chess Club

Church Stretton Chess Club have decided to merge with the Condover Chess Club, who have 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 Tuesday 03 September.

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.

Free photography sessions
My name is Carl Harrison and I own CDHPIX, which is a local Telford based photography business. I hope you will be able to help me, or possibly forward this onto the necessary person(s). Thanks.
I have been offering local businesses, organisations and charities, free photography sessions
to build up my own portfolio with no cost to their business/organisation.
I would like to offer the free same service to yourselves.
You would get player and staff photographs, along with the club premises, that you can use to promote the club, in print, or on line.
I would prefer to shoot on a week night or the weekend as I have a full time day job and as I said, I'm building up my portfolio so photography isnt my full time job, as yet. Any credits for the photographs used would be mostly appreciated. In return, I would like to use one or more images in my portfolio.
I am prepared to give away, free facebook sized images will be available for everyone in a size appropriate for their profile image that they can download without any payment.
For full size, super high quality images, these shots, I can offer to sell to the players from my website at a very reasonable £4 an image that they can then download and print as they wish. Payment is managed through Paypal so is easy. Those who are not internet savvy, we'll sort something out so no one misses out, if they so wish, even if I have to pop to Tesco and get some printed and sell at cost.
The club can have any of the images, full size, without watermarking, free of charge - to use as you wish, just dont give or sell the player images away please, if I can recoup some of my costs
(equipment, travelling and time) then thats a bonus for me.
Im hoping this could be something to benefit us both and perhaps turn into a regular event throughout the spring and summer, players will see a professional image of themselves, playing a game they love.
I can build up my portfolio, whilst possibly making a small profit to cover my costs and your club can use the images to promote itself at not charge.
Im very professional, I will not get in the way or interfere with players or club employees and even though CDHPIX is not part of your club, I know I will be represeting your club when I speak to players and therefore the utmost effort will be made to ensure my professionalism reflects on yourselves.
Please feel free to visit the CDHPIX homepage below or the facebook page, bearing in mind facebook has more images and requires no membership on your behalf.
I thank you for the time you have given in reading this and hope to hear from you soon.
- Kind Regards,
Carl Harrison CDHPIX Owner
07854 083389

Shrewsbury Chess Club New Venue
"The new Shrewsbury venue is much easier to get to than the old one, although still at the Shelton Hospital location.
 Drive along Somerby Drive, past both the previous entrances (to the right) and all the housing estates (to the left), more or less as far as you can go, until you come to a new building slightly to the right of the road, which is a glass fronted building, called (and signed) the Redwoods Centre.  It has coloured glass panels in the front façade. Turn right in front of the building and follow the one way system round into the car park, which is expansive and in front of the main building.
 The security guards are pretty friendly these days but may ask you to sign in, especially if you have parked a vehicle in the car park.  Shrewsbury Chess Club meets in the seminar rooms on the first floor." - Francis Best 26/11/2012


County U140 Team
It's that time of year when the new chess season is underway and the Shropshire U140 team needs players.
The first match of the season is "Home" and will be played in Shifnal starting 2pm (match time 36 in 1.5 hrs then extra 30 mins so total play = 4 hrs.).
The match is against Worcestershire.
The match is on Saturday 20th October.

In the next few days could you please tell me if you are willing and able to play in the first match and if it's O.K. to ask you to play in future matches this season. Maybe also include your phone number on your response so I can check I have the correct number for you.
If a favourable response I will contact you (Individually)  to confirm and discuss arrangements.
Roger Brown. 04/10/2012
Shropshire Chess U140 capt. (01746) 768 604



The 2012 Shropshire quickplay has been fixed for Sunday, May 20, starting 10am, at the Wrekin Housing Trust, Telford. 

Please have a look at the following details of the Shropshire quickplay and spread the word.

'Can team captains let me know before May 10 whether or not they will be entering a team. As late drop-outs would mess up the organisation, I would appreciate it if before entering you’d double check that the players you think will play, actually are willing!'

Closing date for entries is May 10. Can team captains canvass their players to see if they will be fielding a team and then let me know. (and please check that they are actually prepared to play, as late team withdrawals would be an organisational headache!)

Exact format and schedule will be announced after the closing date. This is because it will depend on the number of entries, but it is likely to be similar to last year with league or group stages followed by playoffs and semi finals and final, with a cup presentation probably late afternoon. The overall aim will be to get the maximum amount of chess for the maximum number of people for the maximum amount of time.

The time control will also be dependent on the number of entries. I imagine though that it will be a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes – it will be a trade-off between getting in more matches or having longer matches.

There will be a once-only board fee of £1 per player to help contribute to the costs of the venue. Also there will be a chef on site specially for us so can all players sustain goodwill by buying food and drink on the premises. I understand Sunday roast lunch will be available.

A world championship chess match between Anand and Gelfand is scheduled for the afternoon and live coverage of this may be linked in as an added attraction (Francis Best is looking into this).

It is possible that there might be an individual blitz competition after the quickplay tournament.

Here are the quickplay competition rules and guidelines. Any queries/observations/snags etc please get in touch.

1 Teams will be of FIVE players.

2 In each round team captains will toss for choice of having the white pieces on board one.

3 Players can only play for ONE team in the competition.

4 Subject to the above rule, teams can play substitutes from their club ranks during the competition. The intention of this is that if, say, a club has six or seven players interested in playing, those ‘extras’ will have, at their captain’s discretion, a chance to play in later rounds.

5 In the case of time control disputes, the arbiters in the first instance will be the two team captains. If they are actually involved in the dispute, the arbiter will be the competition organiser, consulting and taking advice as necessary from experienced players. (My default interpretation of the rules will be that a player whose flag falls automatically loses unless:  1. The opponent does not have mating material – and a pawn is mating material as it could promote; 2. The opponent is not trying to win i.e. is just messing about running the clock down).

6  Draws are permitted in the league/group matches (i.e. no need for board count tiebreaker). If necessary to determine which team progresses to the knockout stages,  ‘goal difference’ will be used to separate teams on equal points. If  points and goal difference are identical, the teams will play a five minute blitz decider.

7 In the semi final and final, if the match result is a draw, the result on the bottom board will be discounted, repeatedly if necessary, until a decisive result is achieved. If all the games are drawn, the team which played black on board one will be declared winner.

8 Team names should reflect the strength of the team. If, for instance, a club enters a C team, but in practice intends to play A team players in that C team (because its A team has not entered), then the C team should be redesignated as the A team.

9 There may be some players who would like to take part, but whose clubs have not entered a team. To ensure that they are not denied the opportunity to join in, they may arrange to play for a different club as a guest player. Teams will be allowed to field one guest player per round and the rule of thumb will be that they are not fielded in such a way as to bring the competition into disrepute. For example, a strong A team player should not be fielded in a D team as a guest.

10 If a team turns up unexpectedly short-handed, sympathetic consideration will be given to ad hoc arrangements on the day in which they rope in any grade-appropriate “spares” from another club. The intention of this is to avoid the disappointment to opponents of defaulted boards and to ensure everyone who wants to play, can play, the rule of thumb again being that such arrangements do not bring the competition into disrepute.

Toby Neal -- Summer quickplay organiser -- email:


Newport Rapidplay Events Summer 2012
I have organised some rapidplay events to be held at Newport during the summer on these following dates: 26th April, 31st May, 28th June, 26th July, 30th August. The events will start at 7:45 which will allow plenty of time for players to arrive.
These events are open to everyone, but to play you have to pay £2 which will go in to the prize fund. Prizes will be announced on the night because they will differ due to different numbers of players at each event.
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. 
Please can you inform all of your club members about these events.  If your club AGM is soon please can you put these events dates on your agenda as a notice to members of when they're occurring. If you can put these event dates on your club website that will be great as well.

If anyone has any queries about the events just tell them to email me:  or phone me: 01952 878739.
Kind Regards, - Nathanael Paul 11/04/2012

Summer Team Quickplay - 02/04/2012
Thanks to some wonderful spadework by Francis Best, we have the possibility of holding the summer quickplay tournament as a one-day competition at the Wrekin Housing Trust training suite in Telford centre on Sunday, May 20.
I think this is a wonderful opportunity. But before making a definite booking, I should appreciate feedback from players on whether they would be prepared to play on a Sunday at this venue. The alternative would be to have it as a one-night tournament at a local club – Telepost have kindly said they could host it.
Holding the competition over an entire day would mean more chess for competitors – probably a more generous time limit and more games. A board fee of £1 per player would be needed to cover costs. Also, there is an Anand-Gelfand match on May 20, which could be an interesting diversion during breaks.
Please let me know what you think before April 10 by emailing me on
Toby Neal - Summer rapidplay organiser


Shifnal & Telford on the move again? - 09/03/2012
Hi All,
Our new venue, the Madebrook 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, TF3 1LE

Directions: Leave the A442 Queensway at the Stirchley Roundabout and take the exit immediately before the Shell garage, signposted Brookside.  After ¼ mile, turn left at the 1st roundabout into Brookside Avenue.  The Mallard is about 100 yds along on the left.  There is ample car parking.
Unfortunately, it is not very disabled-friendly.  We would have to set up a board in the probably noisy bar on the ground floor for anyone unable to negotiate the stairs down (the site slopes down to a lake) to the clubroom.  But the ground floor is accessible by wheelchair and there is a Disabled toilet. I'm copying the secretaries of the clubs still due to visit us this season to ask you to ensure that your teams know where to go.  In particular, Priorslee Lions are due to come to us this coming Wednesday.
Keith and Toby, please could make the move known via your respective mouthpieces. 
Many thanks. Regards, Richard Thompson 09/03/2012

Shifnal & Telford Chess Club: new venue - 05/01/2012

Unfortunately we found out last night at about 6pm, and hour and a half before the scheduled start of a Wolverhampton League match, that the Nedge Tavern was shut up and showed no signs of life, and continued that way all evening. Didn't want to waste the evening, so we have found an alternative venue, which is:-
The Madebrook Inn,
Bridgnorth Road,
Madeley, Telford
Phone 01952 400649
That will be our new home with immediate effect.
Keith and Toby, could you please publicise this change in your own inimitable ways.
One potential problem is that all our equipment is still at the Nedge.  I spoke to the owner this morning by phone and he says he will meet me tomorrow afternoon to let me get it out, but he may have problems which prevent him coming, so I'm not assuming we'll get it soon. We have matches next Wednesday against Telepost A and Shrewsbury C.  Keith and Francis, could you please take particular care that your captains and teams are aware of the move.  And could they please be prepared to bring sufficient sets, boards, clocks and scoresheets to supply any deficiency that may occur.  We'll supply the beer!  That should give us some breathing space to replace it all if necessary.  If we do manage to retrieve it tomorrow, I'll let you know. Any questions, please ask.  Just don't ask me for directions, 'cos I don't really know the way there yet myself! - Regards, Richard Thompson

Francis and Keith, Just to confirm that on Friday, we managed to take possession of all our equipment and took it to the Madebrook.  So there's no need for your teams to bring anything.  But thank you anyway. I'll amend the deal.  We'll provide the sets, boards, clocks and scoresheets: you buy the beer! Regards, Richard Thompson 08/01/2012

Shropshire January Congress. Yes we can!
You may have read in Toby's column this week that January's Wrekin Congress is not going ahead because of problems with availability of the venue.
From conversations I have had with a number of people over the past few days it is clear that a lot of people had already earmarked the regular January weekend for chess. We could just sit at home that weekend, or worse still have to tackle that DIY list, or we could do something about it!
A potential venue has already been identified for the January weekend and if there is sufficient interest it is possible that we could still organise a congress.
Clearly time is of the essence and we would appreciate it if you could respond to this email as a matter of urgency to let us know:
a. Will you play in a Shropshire congress on weekend 7-8 Jan?
b. Would you be prepared to help by being part of an organising committee?

Look forward to hearing from you. Steve Rooney
Steve Rooney on 01694 723724 ( )
Francis Best on 01743 821220 ( )
Season 2010-11 and prior
Cox Trophy Summer 2011
The date has now been definitely confirmed as Wednesday, May 18, at Shifnal & Telford's venue at The Nedge social club, Stirchley, Telford. Players will need to be there at 7.20pm for a prompt 7.30pm start of the clocks – obviously sticking to a timetable is going to be crucial if all rounds are to be completed in one night.
It will, as in previous years, be for teams of FIVE players. So far there have been three confirmed entries – Shifnal & Telford A, Telepost C and Telepost D. Can team captains let me know by the end of the month whether they will be entering. If I don't get confirmation they are, I shall assume they aren't. Once definite numbers are known the initial draw can be made and circulated. Time control is likely to be 10 minutes per player but that is not set in stone because it will depend on how many teams enter.
The venue can comfortably accommodate four matches simultaneously, five at a push. It will mean that the first round, in which there will obviously probably be more than four matches, will have to be played in two back-to-back stages.As in previous years players will be only able to play for one team. However, I am proposing that substitutes will be allowed in later rounds so that, for instance, if a club has, say, eight players interested in taking part, the three “extras” could be fielded in later rounds (assuming of course they are not knocked out in round one).
A teams should be stronger than B teams, B teams stronger than C etc. If matches are drawn, the result of the bottom board will be discounted, repeatedly if necessary, until a decisive result is achieved. If every game in a match is drawn, the team playing black on board one will be declared winner. In the case of time control disputes, the two team captains will in the first instance act as arbiters. If they are actually involved in the dispute, then I suppose it will be me, taking advice if necessary from any experienced/strong player or players to help me. If anyone can see any problems with the above drop me a line as I can obviously change things if in my inexperience I've dropped a clanger. Toby Neal

Nigel Short and CJ de Mooi lecture tour and simul
Dear Chess Friends
I contacted some of you last weekend to indicate that we had the possibility of hosting an event as part of the Autumn tour by Nigel Short GM and CJ de Mooi, ECF President.  I was sufficiently encouraged by the response to commit us to participating and I am delighted to say that we have now secured Sunday 16 th October 2011 as a firm date.
I have attached a flyer for the day and please can all club secretaries publicise the event as widely as possible.
A few people expressed the view that the proposed pricing structure (which was in fact merely a suggestion from CJ de Mooi) was a little high for the simultaneous display in particular at £40.  As a response to this, I will undertake to reduce this price if at all possible.  This will be much easier if Shropshire players make an early commitment to be involved in at least some way, so I would urge people to register their interest as suggested on the flyer (there's no financial commitment to individuals at this stage – that will come later).  If we are able to raise sponsorship or corporate support in some way, then that would obviously help, so any interest along these lines would be welcomed – please direct enquiries to me.
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.  I wanted to give initial preference to Shropshire players but again, this preference will be wasted unless people register in good time.
Finally, some people expressed a view that we wouldn't be able to secure a reasonable venue for the event without adding significantly to the cost.  Well, again, I am pleased to say that, at minimal extra cost, we have secured an excellent venue at the Wrekin Housing Trust, Colliers Way, Telford TF3 4AW.  There is a first class training suite which we can use, superb catering facilities and ample parking.
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!
With best wishes to you all and thank you in anticipation of your support.
Francis Best - President, Shropshire Chess Association - 10 Mar 2011

Minor Cup 2011
I emailed recently  to make everyone aware of this years Minor cup knockout tournament which I shall be organising. I would now like to give details and rules of the competition
1)  Who is eligable to play?       Last year the rule was that no player rated above 135 was eligible to play. From the feedback I got from my first email it was clear that this rule was unpopular by some who thought that the cup should be for B and C league players.      Therefore the cup will be eligible to all players, except       i) nominated  A team players from the first division       ii) and players rated above 145. Its not perfect  but unless the cup is to be all inclusive then I don't think that there is a perfect solution,  some A team players in division 2 are rated as high ,or higher, than B team players in division 1. I cant see the justification for excluding some of these players but not others.
2)  Dates of fixtures.    A tournament of 16 teams would be ideal , with 4 rounds including the final.    Three working  weeks will be allocated to each round with the tournament starting on April 25.
    round 1  to be completed by 13 May
    round 2     "              "                3 June
    round 3     "              "               24 June
   the final      "              "               15 July
The date of each match will be considered to be the club night of the away team in week 3, but of course this is just a starting point, the team captains have a 3 week window to rearange the fixture if necessary.
3)  Venue     The whole tournament will be pre drawn so teams can see who who they are likely to play next.      If , in round 2, a team who played at home in round 1 is drawn at home to a team who played away in round 1 then the fixture will be reversed and the home team will become the away team .     If, in round 3 ,a team who has previously travelled twice is drawn away then their fixture will be reversed, unless their opponents have also travelled twice.    This rule is obviously to stop some teams having to travel in every round. It will probably be activated in round 2 so please be sure that you understand it (highly unlikely to be an issue in round 3)     The final to be at a venue to be agreed by the 2 captains, not necessarily nuetral but no home advantage to be inferred to either team.
 4)  Teams.      4 man teams, no player may play for 2 teams.      In the event of a 2-2 draw then the score on board 4 to be discounted, then board 3 etc...      if all 4 games drawn then the team who played black on board 1 will win, ie the home team as they play black on board 1.      95 minutes per player games, as in the league.
  5) Entries.       Closing date for entries April 8, the draw will then be made that weekend and sent out to all captains immediatly..        all I need is the name of the team being entered , the name of the captain and means by which I can communicate with them. I have probably missed something but its only February 3 so plenty of time yet. All I ask is please acknowledge this email , even if your club has no interest in the cup and no intention of entering a team Anyone I don't hear from within 2 weeks I shall try to contact by other means.  
         Thank you Jon Smith. 02/02/2011- (e-mail:-
Minor Cup
Hello all -       My name is Jon Smith, I play chess in Oswestry and I have been asked if I would organize the minor cup this year. I am emailing club secretaries to gauge the level of interest.                The tournament would be during may and june, ideally 16 teams and two weeks for teams to complete each round.               Previously the cup has been for 5 man teams ,and a player could play for a "lower" team as well as their own, I quite like the idea of 4 man teams  with no player allowed to play for 2 teams at all. However I am aware that the cup has previously suffered from lack of interest and I dont want to change any rules which might make it less popular.            Anyway please let me know any thoughts or opinions and if you would be interested in entering any teams. If we are to give people as much notice as reasonably possible I will be asking for entries by april 1st. (remembering of course that the cup is only open to players graded under 135).                     thank you, JJ Smith 15/01/2011
New MCCU Grand Prix event
Hello all, If you haven't visited the MCCU website recently or heard what arose at the MCCU AGM I would like to draw to your attention a new MCCU Grand Prix event.
We already have a standardplay Grand Prix which decides the MCCU Individual Champion. The AGM decided that an rapidplay Grand Prix would also be run, but wanted this to be aimed at a lower graded category, deciding on U150.
If you are running a rapidplay event during the coming season and are part of this newsgroup, it is likely that the event will qualify to be included in the GP. It doesn't matter what grading sections are used in your event, any MCCU player with a published rapidplay grade of U150 can have their results included in the GP.
All you have to do is contact the Events Director Cyril Johnson or myself at least 14 days before your event & ask for it to be included, then you need to send us the results - a link to a website where the results are shown will suffice. Letting us know well in advance will ensure your event gets listed on the MCCU website as part of the GP.
The full rules for the new GP are on the website - in the Grand Prix section.
So come on - get your event included! - it costs you nothing & might just encourage a few more entries. Regards Julie Johnson 28/08/2010
Teams of four players
I put forward the following idea for discussion for next season,that teams should consist of  four players. The benefits as I see it are that this would help clubs maintain, and in some cases increase the number of teams in the league and would make travel more comfortable ie 4 in a car rather than 5 and in some cases would ease travel costs.This would also hopefully cut down on the number of default games in the league. John Casewell 01/06/2010
Cox Trophy
I have replied to David Everington on this subject concerning a quickplay format for the cox trophy in 2011, I have already stated that though I can see the attraction for such a format to some individuals sadly quickplay has never been my game even less so as I have got a lot older, should this be passed I do wish you well with this but sadly I would not consider entering such an event myself?!    regards Eugene Raby 31/05/2010
Cox Trophy
Hi Toby - Good thinking - clearly the present format doesn't work - the rules are so tough that it's almost impossible to field a team.
At the Darwin Chess Festival 2003, John Casewell organised a team rapidplay event which proved popular. Held on Saturday in the Darwin Centre in Shrewsbury in full view of the shoppers, each club fielded one team of four players (as four can fit into one motorcar, he considered this to be most economical for transport costs). Any extra players went into a pool to top up incomplete teams - thus ensuring that every club was represented. It was great fun - perhaps that is the way forward? Keith Tabner 31/05/2010
Cox Trophy
I agree with Dave re. Telepost venue, although, would it be big enough? Newport British Legion would be big enough, but out of the way!! Toby, a good idea - Tony Holdford 31/05/2010
Cox Trophy
Toby - I like the idea. The present format is proving very difficult. Shrewsbury A had to pull out this year because I couldn't raise a team to go to Ludlow at two days notice. Perhaps the knock-out element could be dropped and we could have a quick-play team Swiss event at ten minutes each so everyone gets an evening's chess. Dave Lovegrove's idea of a Shrewsbury venue makes sense geographically but I imagine Telepost would not be big enough and Shrewsbury isn't much bigger - and has no bar!
However, why I think this might work, somewhere, is because the Summer quickplay tournaments which Jim Wilkinson used to organise when Shrewsbury had the former, quite large, venue were very popular and well supported. David Everington 31/05/2010
Cox Trophy
Toby, O.K. by me except it may be better if the venue was in Shrewsbury (Telepost ? with a bar also)  as this is a half way post so that the likes of Ludlow,Oswestry and Church Stretton were not disadvantaged with the travelling. Dave Lovegrove 31/05/2010
Cox Trophy
Hi everybody - I'm planning to put an idea to the Shropshire Chess Association AGM and would like you all to consider it as it will avoid having to explain in detail at the meeting.
I'm going to suggest that, as a trial, the Cox Trophy is held in 2011, as a one night knockout tournament played at a rapid time control. The idea is to try to make it a fun, social event, and revive some enthusiasm - there have been nine withdrawals already this year, and the danger is that a team could get to a late stage of the competition purely on byes, which obviously devalues the competition. Venue: Shifnal & Telford. (They are happy for this).
Time limit: 10 minutes per player. Organisers (probably me, I should imagine) would though have discretion for a slightly longer time limit if there was a low entry.
Organisation: If there was a full entry of 16 teams in round one, because of lack of tables and sets this would have to be played as two sets of four matches, played back to back. The same in round two (when other teams join the competition). If there was a lower entry, there would be scope for adapting this accordingly.
Substitutions: My first thought was none at all, but then I thought maybe there would be scope to allow teams to have a squad system, drawing on, say, seven players for each team. This would mean that if they did not have quite enough players to field two teams, they could at least give everybody a game - if they got through round one of course.
Finale: Trophy presentation. There could also be a 3rd/4th place playoff.
The idea is to bring a bit of a "buzz" back to the competition. Only those teams which wanted to take part in the Cox would take part. There is a bar at Shifnal & Telford so there would hopefully be a good atmosphere and it wouldn't be boring for players waiting (with a short time limit, there would never be a great wait).
Disadvantages are that half the field would only get a few minutes' of chess before being knocked out (with luck they would head for the bar and then become spectators for later games, especially if clubmates were still involved). And of course a lot of people don't like rapid time limits. Also, the standard of chess would not be great.
Feedback/suggestions/criticisms/improvements welcome! Toby Neal 30/05/2010

Summer Chess
Just a response to the request for ideas to liven up interest in the summer competitions. I like Steve Rooney's idea of trying something different, like experimenting with a rapidplay format for the Minor, or both. - Toby Neal 01/03/2010

Illegal moves
Due to a recent incident in a First Division match I have been asked to clarify the position regarding illegal moves. Please ensure that all your club players are aware of the FIDE rule 7.4a and b accordingly.
I sought the opinions from the President and two senior players unconnected with the two clubs involved. They all agreed with me that the player claiming the two minutes was entitled to do so. This would apply after the player making the illegal move has pressed the clock.
To quote from the President's response "My view is that (the player's) action is 'legal, normal and reasonable'. He is acting in accordance with FIDE rules and showing awareness of them, which is precisely what we have asked Shropshire players to do since last season's difficulties."
Vincent Crean - League Controller 15/02/2010
Article - 7.4 - From FIDE Laws of Chess
a. If during a game it is found that an illegal move, including failing to meet the requirements of the promotion of a pawn or capturing the opponent's king, has been completed, the position immediately before the irregularity shall be reinstated. If the position immediately before the irregularity cannot be determined the game shall continue from the last identifiable position prior to the irregularity. The clocks shall be adjusted according to Article 6.13. The Articles 4.3 and 4.6 apply to the move replacing the illegal move. The game shall then continue from this re-instated position.
b. After the action taken under Article 7.4.a, for the first two illegal moves by a player the arbiter shall give two minutes extra time to his opponent in each instance; for a third illegal move by the same player, the arbiter shall declare the game lost by this player. However, the game is drawn if the position is such that the opponent cannot checkmate the player's king by any possible series of legal moves.


Amended Fixtures Divs 2 & 3
Please can you ensure that all team captains are aware that there has been a shake up in both league Division 2 and 3 over the past few days / hours!!
a) Shrewsbury C in division two have sadly had to fold, - more information related to this can be found under "talking points" on the website.
b) I have allowed a very late entry in Division 3, for Ludow to field a 2nd team "Ludlow B". This is excellent news for promoting chess in the county (But quite some work for me !!)

In light of both these issues I have amended the fixtures accordingly - (I have scratched all Shrewsbury C's matches) and I have had to alter quite significantly the 3rd Division fixtures to include Ludlow B - I have however, kept the first games of the season (week begining 12th October) the same, so that you all have approximately 3 weeks to notify and rearrange fixtures with all chess players involved.
All the latest fixtures have been updated and are displayed on the website and can also be downloaded in excel format.
I hope this will not cause to many problems, however if you do have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
Many Thanks - Vinny Crean - League Controller 01/10/09

Shrewsbury C team has folded
I'm afraid that our C team has now definitely folded.  Ian Davies has had to relinquish his captaincy on account of work commitments and a number of the C team players have reduced their involvement with league chess.  The fixture against our B team last Friday couldn't be arranged so I don't see any hope for fixtures against other teams, I'm afraid.
Anyway, please could you put an announcement on the website and scratch the C team fixtures. Thanks very much. Francis Best 27/09/09

Shrewsbury Chess Club - Venue Change
For those of you who have not been to the club recently, you ought to be aware that our meeting room at Shelton Hospital has been changed.  We are now in the Shropshire Suite (IT Training Rooms).  This applies to all Shrewsbury teams, including the juniors.  Our club night is still Fridays.

To reach the new rooms, travel down Somerby Drive, away from Welshpool Road but carry on past the entrance to the old venue.  Carry on past Winterton Way and Napoleon Drive, both on your left.  As you come to the “No through road sign”, there is a sign to the right to the Shelton Hospital.  Turn right here and follow the road round to the right.  Carry on past the newer buildings on your right;  the road goes down to the left, leading towards the hospital chapel.  Park, if necessary, at this point.  The entrance to our building is signposted “Older People's Services” by a blue hospital sign (our building is opposite the chapel, to the left if your back is to the chapel).  Entrance is through an automatic(-ish) door.  Go up to the first floor, through the double doors and our rooms are on the left.
We will try to get in the habit of displaying a sign near the opening, so that you know you are in the right place! - Francis Best Secretary, Shrewsbury Chess Club 10/09/09

Lift to weekend rapidplay - can you help please?
We have a new player at Wellington, Vikas Sharma, who is over from India on a work contract. He is living and working in Telford and expects to be here about six months.
Vikas is a strong player (beats me every time, not that that's difficult) and particularly wants to go to weekend rapidplay tournaments i.e. one-day tournaments. But he has no transport.
Can the word go out that if there are any Shropshire chess players going to weekend tournaments around the country, could they mention it to Vikas as he might want to cadge a lift?
He is staying at The Rock, Telford.
His email address is - Toby 23/06/09
re Shropshire Chess Association AGM Wednesday 1st July 2009
Below is a copy for information of some proposals for amendments to league rules following discussions with other players this season. The league's constitution says that amendments can only be proposed by the Rules and Disputes Committee but Colin has agreed to send this to the other members of that committee (I think that is Ian Willson, Richard Thompson and Francis Best). They may decide to amend them or not accept them at all, but I thought it was worth letting you have sight of the original proposals. I don't imagine the proposals will be universally accepted but I think it is worth debating nonetheless.
Steve Rooney - Church Stretton 03/06/09

Shropshire Chess Association Proposed rule amendments
Each club must register its players with the League Controller at the start of each season, before the first fixture in which they play. Late registration may be carried out at any time during the season, as long as the information is received no later than the first match result involving the player(s). Each club shall notify the league controller before the first match of the season of four nominated players for each team represented in the league. Nominated players may not play for another team from that club in a lower division. Penalties for breaches of the rule are stipulated at rule 21.

The nomination of four players per team is already the practice, but is not actually mentioned in the rules.

A member of a club may represent only one team for that club, unless the reserve provisions in Rule 8 apply. If a club has more than one team in a division, members of that club may only play in one of its teams in that division, including as reserves. If a player is a member of more than one club, he/she may only play for one team within a division.

This would prevent reserves being drawn from another club team in the same division. Some have argued in the past that the current provision avoids defaulting of boards but the rule has led to controversy in recent seasons and is clearly open to abuse by clubs.

A reserve may be drawn from a team from the same club in a lower division, as follows:

Players graded below 90 can play up into a team in a higher division without restriction,

Players graded above 90 can play up into a team in a higher division on two occasions. He/she becomes a member of the team in the higher division on the third occasion for the remainder of the season. Where a reserve wins by default the result will count as an appearance for the team in the higher division.

Penalties for breaches of rule 8 are stipulated at rule 22.

This removes the terms 'higher' and 'lower' teams and clarifies that the provisions relate to teams in higher and lower divisions. The grading limits for reserves are amended to take account of changes in the ECF system next season and also simplified to have just above and below grade 90, rather than the existing three bands which are an unnecessary complication.


Players must be arranged in grading order according to the latest ECF grading list, except that players on adjacent boards whose grading differs by no more than 10 points shall be regarded as interchangeable for the purposes of this rule. Penalties for breaches of this rule are specified at rule 23.

This amendment follows the ruling made this year by the League Controller. The current league rules are ambiguous and are subject to different interpretations.


22. Where rule 8c is breached:

a) all results achieved by the player for the team in the lower division following his/her third appearance for the team in the higher division will be treated as losses by default for match purposes.

This is in line with earlier amendment about teams in higher and lower divisions