Wrekin Congress - January 2011

Local stars shine over Wrekin - Shropshire Star 11/01/2011
Shropshire players scored their best results for years in what could be the last ever Wrekin Chess Congress held at Madeley Court Centre in which 88 contenders from far and wide battled for glory and cash prizes totalling over £1,000. There were home wins in two of the three sections and chief controller David Thomas said that he had not seen so many Shropshire players among the prize list in his 25 years' of involvement with the tournament.
Roger Brown, of the Shifnal & Telford club, scooped the £200 first prize in the Minor by steamrollering the opposition, winning all his five games, including the vital last round match against Shrewsbury's Ivor Salter.
"I went into the final round needing a draw to be certain of first place. I did offer a draw a couple of times, and it was refused. Then, just as I was about to win a pawn, I was offered a draw - and I refused. A pawn up, I was able to force the win. I'm very pleased," said Brown.
Newport's Gavyn Cooper, on his Christmas break from Durham University, had a dramatic win in his final game to seal victory in the strongest section, the Premier, on four points out of five. "It's great," he said. "I played quite well - and a bit of luck helps."
Only in the intermediate Major section were Shropshire players shut out, where five players shared first place on a surprisingly low score of 3.5 out of 5 - Tom Robinson (Redditch), Brendan O'Gorman (DHSS), Tim Lane (South Birmingham), Adrian Walker (Leamington), and Phil Bull (West Bromwich).
Four Shropshire youngsters, Heath Pearson, Francis Rooney, Peter Mellor, and Matthew Best, nabbed the tournament's junior prizes. Among other locals grabbing a share of glory was Graham Ives of Oswestry, who was runner up in the Minor, and there were no fewer than eight in third spot, three of whom, Tim Skidmore (Shifnal & Telford), Richard Szwajkun (Newport), and Louise Coxon (Solihull), were awarded grading prizes. The other five were Ivor Salter (Shrewsbury), Jonathan Hockey (Wellington), Anthony Meakin (Rugeley), Richard Leaper (Westminster), and Matthew Wilson (unaffiliated).
Stefan Tennant (Shifnal & Telford) won the grading prize in the Major, and Colin Roberts (Wellington), John Footner (Shifnal & Telford), and Francis Best (Shrewsbury), won grading prizes in the Premier - grading prizes, incidentally, are awarded to players who are among the lowest graded in their section but nevertheless turn in good scores. Second place in the Premier was shared by Don Mason (Shirley), Russell James (Rushall), and Andy Baruch (Warks).
Organiser Richard Thompson said: "It all went pretty smoothly and everybody seemed to be fairly happy. Numbers were a little bit down, but I think that seems to have been the pattern with congresses during the last few months. "It was a good result for Shropshire, with outright wins in two of the sections. "I'm pleased with how it went."
A question mark hangs over the January 2012 congress, because Madeley Court  Centre is due to close with the opening of the new Abraham Darby Academy which is currently under construction about a mile away. But Mr Thompson said he was not sure whether or not it would be the last congress at the Court Centre.
"When we spoke to the people there last night there seemed to be a little bit of doubt as, while things will be starting to move to the new place in the later part of this year, it was not by any means certain they would have stopped using Madeley Court by the beginning of next year, so we may possibly get in one more congress there."We are trying to come to an arrangement with them whereby if there's space in the new place, and Madeley Court is not still running, we can make a booking for the same week next year for whichever site is available." - Toby Neal
Minor champion Roger Brown 5 / 5 (Shifnal / Telford) has black in the final round against Ivor Salter (Shrewsbury). Premier champion Gavin Cooper (Newport 191) also has black in round 5 action against Mark Page (Coventry 195).
Link to Full Results - Graham Ives

Nigel Ferrington (Telepost)
Graham Ives (Oswestry)
Gavin Cooper (Newport)
John Whittaker (Ludlow)
Richard Thompson (Shifnal-Telford)
Minor section
Link to Full Results - Graham Ives