Chapter 6 – 1970-1979

The Shropshire Chess Explosion

Grandmaster Robert J Fischer has probably never heard of Shropshire yet his influence on chess in the county has been extraordinary. The 1972 Fischer v Spassky World Championship Match was the biggest chess media event in history. The whole nation was enthralled by the dramatic events unfolding in Reykjavik, and all over Shropshire people were searching cupboards for dusty old chess sets to follow the games. Soon new chess clubs started to spring up across the county, whilst the existing Shrewsbury and GKN Sankey (which had now merged with Wellington) clubs grew rapidly. The league expanded from one up to three, and for a time even four, divisions. 

Most importantly Shropshire’s schools at last started supporting chess. A schools chess league was formed with twelve school teams competing in the Telford and Shrewsbury area under the auspices of the Shropshire Schools Chess Association. This gave a whole generation of young players the chance to hone their skills. Soon they too were joining the chess clubs in the county – indeed some of them are still playing today. 

New clubs in the Shrewsbury area included Bomere Heath (1977), Shrewsbury School, Rolls Royce, Salop Health, and Nalgo (1978). The Telford area saw new clubs including Telford, Stirchley, Broseley and Sutton Hill whilst elsewhere in the county clubs appeared at Church Stretton, Market Drayton, Shifnal (1976), and even the small village of Marchamley. Oswestry chess club re-appeared, Cosford disappeared, and Newport continued but soon lost its supply of junior stars. The 1978 grading list included 138 Shropshire players with grades ranging from 60 to 211. 

In 1970 Gerard O’Reilly led the Newport Greens team of strong juniors to the league title. With most of his team-mates he then left the area to go to university returning only during holidays. The 1978 grading list shows his grade falling from 199 to 189 as he gave up the game for other pursuits. Alan Knight took the individual title in 1970 and 1978 and led GKN Sankey to the 1979 league title. 

David Everington was the dominant figure in Shropshire chess during much of this period, winning the individual title each year from 1971 until 1976 when he withdrew to take over the organisation of the event. His team, Shrewsbury A, also won the league title in each of these years broken only by Alan Stearn‘s Sutton Hill team who won in 1974. Telford, with Norman Andrews, won their first title in 1977 when Paul Bishop took the individual crown. In 1978 Oswestry, led by their rising star Jonathon Bourne, completed a remarkable run. From 1976 to 1978 they won Divisions 3, 2, and 1 in consecutive years! In 1979 Shropshire’s most exciting junior talent, John Cox took the individual crown to close the decade on a note of optimism.

On the national scene Tony Miles of Birmingham had become Britain’s first grandmaster in 1976. It was a major event therefore when, on Sunday 29th April 1979, he took on 63 players in a simultaneous display at GKN Sankey chess club in Telford. – – Keith Tabner


Dr.J.J. Cox – County Secretary

Dr Jeff Cox, with tremendous support from his wife Nancy, played the outstanding role in the transition of Shropshire chess affairs during this period of unprecedented change. Amongst a number of able and dedicated organisers he was supreme. In his various jobs as Secretary of Shrewsbury Chess Club, Secretary of the County Chess Association (in succession to Jack Baldwin), and as founder and controller of the Shropshire Open Tournament (1974 onwards) he sought at every turn to get more and better chess played in the county. By inviting promising juniors and strong players from elsewhere to stay at his house while competing in the Open, he ensured that Shropshire players had hard tournament experience. This would stand them in good stead and be reflected in improved county performances. Whilst many of his decisions were not popular with other local players, he nevertheless succeeded in dragging Shropshire chess into the twentieth century.


Alan Phillips – British master

Alan Phillips has enjoyed chess competition for most of his adult life and though always remaining an amateur player, he scored fine wins against many of his illustrious contemporaries. High points of his chess career include joint victory in the British Championship of 1954 and a place on the England team at the Moscow Olympiad two years later. Shropshire was fortunate that he moved to the county in the mid seventies giving the county team a board 1 of real quality until his 1981 departure.

Beach,R – Phillips,A [C44]
Shropshire v Staffordshire Board 1, 1978
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.e5 Ne4 6.cxd4 Perhaps 6 Qe2 is stronger here. Nevertheless Richard Beach seems to be unbalanced by Black’s unusual 4th move and never gets another chance to get on top6…d5 7.exd6 Bxd6 8.Bb5 0–0 9.0–0 Bg4 10.Nc3? Nxd4! A beautiful move which effectively decides the game.11 Qxd4 Bxf3! wins – so white must take the other knight and has his king side wrecked as well as losing a pawn. 11.Nxe4 Bxf3 12.gxf3 Nxb5 13.a4 Nd4 Forced but very strong. This knight cannot be taken due to the threat of Bxh2+ 14.Bg5 Qd7 15.Nxd6 Qxd6 16.Ra3 c5 17.Kh1 Rfe8 18.Re3 h6 19.Rxe8+ Rxe8 20.Be3 Rd8 21.Rg1 Qf6 22.f4 Qc6+ 23.Rg2 Ne6 24.Qg4 f5 25.Qh5 Not Qxf5 Rd1 mate! 25…Qxa4 26.Rg1 Qe4+ 27.Rg2 Nxf4 28.Bxf4 Qxf4 29.Qe2 Qe4 0–1


A.J.Knight – County Champion 1970,1978.

Alan Knight, a local Shropshire produced player, was a founder member of the GKN Sankey club. He followed his 1968 Division 1 title with the first of his two individual titles in 1970. His skills on board 1 brought five more team Division 1 titles including four between 1989 and 1994 for his new club Coddon .He also scored some fine wins on top board with the county team.

Cox,J – Knight,A [A08] Shropshire Championship, 1977
In this match Knight puts an end to a young John Cox’s hopes of the title. He would have to wait another two years.
1.e4 e6 2.d3 c5 3.Nd2 d5 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Qc7 7.0–0 Bd7 8.Re1 0–0–0 9.e5 Ng8 10.Nb3 Be7 11.Bf4 h6 12.d4 g5 13.Be3 c4 14.Nc1 g4 15.Nd2 h5 16.c3 Nh6 17.b3 Na5 18.bxc4 Nxc4 19.Nxc4 dxc4 20.d5! For the temporary loss of a pawn, white’s cramped pieces gain range and mobility and his game suddenly comes to life. 20…exd5 21.Rb1 Bc6 22.Bxa7 Qd7 23.Ne2 Nf5 24.Nd4 Nxd4 25.Bxd4 Rhg8 26.Bb6 Rde8 27.Qd4 Bd8 28.Red1? leading to the loss of his e pawn which has an important cramping effect on black. Bxd8 looks a better bet. 28…Bxb6 29.Rxb6 Qc7 30.a4 Rxe5 31.a5 Rge8 32.a6 bxa6 33.Rxa6 R8e7 34.Qc5 Bb7! Now clearly white does not have enough compensation for the pawn. 35.Qxc7+ Kxc7 36.Rh6 R7e6? Knight misses a spectacular win here – [36…Re1+ 37.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 38.Bf1 d4 39.cxd4 c3 40.Rxh5 etc] 37.Rxe6 fxe6 38.h3 Kd6 39.hxg4 hxg4 40.Bf1 Ke7 41.Rd4 Rg5 42.Be2 e5 43.Rxg4 Rxg4 44.Bxg4 d4 45.cxd4 exd4 46.Kf1 c3 47.Ke2 Ba6+ 48.Kd1 d3 49.Kc1 Bc4 50.Bd1 Kf6 51.f4 Kf5 52.Bc2 Amusing if nothing else. Black could now throw it all away by .. 52…Kg4 [52…dxc2?? 53.Kxc2 followed by Kxc3 and draws.] 53.Bd1+ Kxg3 54.f5 Kf4 55.f6 Kf5 0-1


J.J. Cox – County Champion 1979

Probably the best home-reared player to come out of the county, John Cox started to play at age 6 with his father Jeff (see above) joining Shrewsbury Chess Club at age 7. At age 10 he became joint Shropshire lightning champion. He was 16 when he won the 1979 county championship though much of his early success was outside the county. He gained his first FM norm at the 1980 Lloyds Bank Masters where he became the first Shropshire player to beat a GM (see below), also drawing with IM’s Ligterink and Pytel. In 1981 he gained his third norm and the FM titleat Ramsgate together with his first IM norm. Though now based in London, he is still a regular visitor to the local Wrekin Congress.

J.Cox – L.Shamkovitch [A36] Lloyds Bank Masters, 1980
1.c4 c5 2.g3 g6 3.Bg2 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.e3 e5 …e6 is very drawish so Shamkovich plays a somewhat riskier line for a win 6.Nge2 Nge7 7.d3 d6 8.a3 a6? He should have played a5 to prevent white’s next 9.b4! an imaginative pawn sacrifice to upset the symetrical nature of the position 9…h5 Very deep. Before accepting the pawn, Black ensures that, some move later, he will have an open h file. 10.h3 To answer h4 by g4. 10…cxb4!? Very risky. Better was b5. 11.axb4 Nxb4 12.Ba3 Nbc6 [If 12…a5 13.Bxb4; or 12…Nec6 13.Qa4 with pressure.] 13.Ne4 Nf5 14.g4 hxg4 15.hxg4 Rxh1+ 16.Bxh1 Qh4 Now we see why the GM ensured that the h file would be opened in the line which has arisen – but white has a simple answer. 17.gxf5 Qxh1+ 18.Kd2 Qxd1+ 19.Rxd1 Bxf5 [Also possible was 19…gxf5 20.Nxd6+ Kd7 21.Nxf7 with an edge to white] 20.Nxd6+ Kd7 21.Nxb7 Rb8 22.Nc5+ Ke8 23.Nc3 [If 23.Nxa6 Rb3! winning the d pawn.] 23…Bf8? 24.Nxa6! Rb3? But now it does not work! Black was presumably upset at missing the point of 24 Nxa6! and didn’t even consider 24….Bxa3 when John gives the following study-like analysis [24…Bxa3 25.Nxb8 Nxb8 26.Ra1 Bd6 27.c5! Bc7 (Not 27…Bxc5 28.Ra8 Bd6 29.Nb5!) 28.Nb5 Bd8 (Not 28…Kd7 29.Ra7; or 28…Kd8 29.Ra7 trapping the bishop) 29.Ra8 Nc6 30.d4 with excellent chances.] 25.Nc7+ Kd7 26.Bxf8 Kxc7 27.Nb5+ Kd7 28.Kc2 Winning material by force. The game is virtually over. 28…Na5 29.e4 Ke8 30.Ra1 Bxe4 31.dxe4 Kxf8 32.Rxa5 and Black resigned a few moves later. 1–0 


C.F. Morris – Welsh International

Another very strong Shropshire reared player (b.Oswestry), Charles Morris won the Shropshire open jointly in 1976 (age 16) and outright in 1977. He followed his Mexico Student Olympiad appearance with, in 1978, a win against British Champion IM George Botterill and went on to score heavily in several congresses. He later left the county for Wales where his grade reached FIDE 2258 BCF 213. Joint Welsh Champion in 1990, he played in a number of Olympiads and European Championships for the Welsh team achieving one IM norm. Played Bd 1 for the Welsh correspondence team from 1982 to 2000.Now living in Llangollen, plays for South Wales Dragons in the 4NCL.Here is his first win against a grandmaster, Britain’s Tony Miles.

C.F. Morris – A.J.Miles[A10] West Wales Congress, 1981
1.c4 b6 2.Nc3 Bb7 3.e4 e6 4.Nf3 Bb4 5.Bd3 Ne7 6.0–0 0–0 7.e5 Ng6 8.Be4 Qc8 9.d4 Bxc3 10.Bxb7 Qxb7 11.bxc3 Nc6 12.Re1 Na5 13.Ng5!? A startling move which Black may have overlooked. 13…f6 [If now 13…Nxc4 14.Qh5 h6 15.Ne4 with the nasty threat of Bxh6; 13…h6 14.Ne4 with a similar threat] 14.Nxh7! Nh4 [ If 14…Kxh7 15.Qh5+ Kg8 16.Qxg6 with advantage. Black now threatens Qxg2 mate] 15.d5 Kxh7 16.Qh5+ Kg8 17.Qxh4 exd5 White’s attack seems to be runnung out of steam and his pawns are shattered but suddenly, as if from nowhere……. 18.Bh6!! Qc6 Trying to get back to the kingside. [If 18…gxh6 19.Qxh6 wins in all lines e.g. 19…Kf7 20.exf6 Rg8 21.Re7mate: a very attractive knock out punch] 19.Qg3 Rf7 20.cxd5 Qxd5 21.exf6 Qd6 Hoping to save the game by exchanging queens – but Black’s position is in ruins – Charlie’s heart must have been pounding as he realised what he was about to do! 22.Qxd6 cxd6 23.Bxg7 d5 24.Re3 Kh7 25.Rd1 d6 26.Rh3+ Kg6 27.Rg3+ Kf5 28.Re1 Nc6 29.h4 Kf4 30.Rg5 White will continue g3+ and Re3 mate. 1–0


J.Haynes – GKN Sankey / Telford

Jos’ Haynes’ move to Shropshire in 1978 gave GKN Sankey, and later Telford, a formidable top board and strengthened the county team (1980 grade 191). His departure for Australia in 1982 left a void. Nonetheless this win over Alan Phillips in 1979 with the near dormant Evans Gambit surprised everyone.

J.Haynes – A.Phillips [C51] Telford A v Shrewsbury A Bd 1, 1979
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0–0 Bb6 8.cxd4 d6 Reaching the famous “Normal Position”, much analysed in the late 19th century. For once Phillips plays inaccurately and soon gets punished. 9.Nc3 Bg4? 10.Bb5! a6 11.Ba4 Bd7 12.e5 dxe5 13.d5 Nb8 14.Nxe5 Ne7 15.Qg4! devastating 15…0–0 16.Nxd7 Nxd7 17.Bxd7 h5 18.Qh3 Bd4 19.Bb2 Nxd5 20.Rad1 Bxc3 21.Bxc3 Nxc3 22.Qxc3 c6 23.Qe5 g6 24.Bxc6 1–0


J. Footner – British Correspondence Team

John Footner’s arrival in Shropshire was a stroke of luck for us all. British Postal Champion and a regular member of the British team in the World Correspondence Championships, he immediately became one of the county’s strongest over-the-board players (1979 grade 200).

In this Shropshire v Worcestershire Board 1 clash the play certainly matched the occasion. With the score standing at 7.5 – 7.5, this was the last game to finish and the whole weight of the match rested on John Footner’s shoulders. The tension was terrific. The young Keith Arkell, already Worcestershire County Champion, had not yet attained his grandmaster title.

K. Arkell – J. Footner [D86] Shropshire v Worcestershire Bd 1, 1979
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 Bg7 7.Bc4 0–0 8.Ne2 Qd7 9.Be3 b6 10.h4 Ba6 11.Bxa6 Nxa6 12.h5 c5 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Qb3+ Rf7 [If 14…e6 15.0–0–0 with an edge for white since 15…cxd4 is met by 16.Nxd4] 15.Rxh7!? e5! He had seen White’s 15th coming: this neat answer turns the whole position to Black’s advantage. 16.Rh3 cxd4 17.cxd4 exd4 18.Rd1 Nc5 19.Qc4 Nxe4 20.Bxd4 Rd8! 21.Qc2? Better was Rhd3 21…Nxf2! 22.Rh4 Qe7? [Missing 22…Nxd1 which he thought unplayable because of 23.Qxg6 Qf5 24.Rh8+ Kxh8 25.Bxg7+ Only afterwards did he realise that Black now won easily after 25…Kg8 ] 23.Bxf2 Rxd1+ 24.Kxd1 Rxf2 25.Qc8+ Kf7 26.Qc4+ Qe6 27.Rf4+ Rxf4 28.Qxe6+ Kxe6 29.Nxf4+ Kf5 Coming down to a relatively simple ending. From now on the result is not in doubt. 30.Nd5 Be5 31.Ne7+ Kf6 32.Nc6 a5 33.Ke2 Bd6 34.a4 Ke6 35.Kd3 Kd5 36.Nd4 Kc5 37.Nc2 Be5 38.Ke4 Bg7 39.Kf4 Bf6 40.Ne3 Kd4 41.Ng4 At adjudication white resigned without further discussion – a lesson in good manners which was not always displayed on these occasions. 0–1


P.Bishop – County Champion 1977

Here is how Paul Bishop, a junior from the GKN Sankey club, became county champion. In 1979 (grade 168) he disappeared from the Shropshire chess scene as quickly as he had appeared. In this seventh and final round he was not without luck – but no winner of this event ever has been – and it took nerves of steel to keep going in the earlier stages of Norman Andrews’ attack. 

Andrews,N – Bishop,P [B49] Shropshire Championship, 1977
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 Nc6 7.Be2 Nf6 8.0–0 Bd6 9.f4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 e5 11.Qd2 0–0 12.Nd5 With Black so badly cramped the routine plan of f5 followed by g4 and a K-side pawn storm might have taken some stopping. 12…Nxd5 13.exd5 exf4? He is far too far behind in development to allow the position to open up like this. 13…. e4 looks safer. 14.Bxf4 Bxf4 15.Rxf4 Qe5 16.Raf1 Qxb2? Some of the many spectators wrote Bishop off after this – and perhaps they were justified. 17.Bd3 Qb6+ 18.Kh1 Qh6 19.Qf2 f6 20.Rh4 Qg5 21.Bxh7+ Kf7 22.Bf5? [22.d6 looks stronger.] 22…d6 23.Rg4 Qh6 24.Bg6+ Kg8 25.Bf5 Qh5 26.Bxc8 Raxc8 27.Qg3 Qf7 28.c4 Rcd8 29.h4 Rfe8 30.Rg6 Kh7 31.h5 Re5 32.Qh3 Rde8 33.g4 Re1 White’s position has become very shaky. Better was Qd3. 34.g5?? fxg5! 35.Kg1 R8e3 36.Qg2 Rxf1+ If 37 Qxf1 Rg3+. 0–1


D.G. Edwards – Lightning Champion

Gareth Edwards of the GKN club was prominent in both league and individual championship events from the mid 1970s when he arrived from Staffordshire until the mid 1980s when family committments became a priority. However it was at lightning chess that he excelled, winning the title for three consecutive years – 1973, shared with John Cox & Alan Knight, 1974 outright, and 1975, this time a 4-way split.The competition was run as a 6 round Swiss team competition in the afternoon, followed by a 7-round individual in the evening – each player moving as the buzzer sounded.

Gareth Edwards – John Illingworth [A43] 1980
In this GKN v Shrewsbury league match it is John Illingworth, a strong player who only remained in the County for a short time, who comes out on top. 
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3?! Best is Bd2 with good chances 7…Nxe4 8.0–0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 [The last chance to make something of it was 9.d5 with the Moller Attack] 9…d5 10.Bd3 0–0 11.Re1 f5 12.c4 Nb4 13.Bxe4 fxe4 14.Ba3 Bg4 15.Bxb4 Rxf3 16.Qc2 [Not 16.gxf3 Bxf3 and black mates quickly] 16…Qg5 17.cxd5 Bh3 18.g3 e3 19.fxe3 Re8 20.e4 Black has a lovely looking position – but how does he finish it off? 20…a5! Very nice! This quiet looking move forces the white bishop off its diagonal so that he can double rooks on the f file. 21.Bxa5 Ref8 22.Bd2 Rxg3+ 0–1


Mrs.E. Ingram – Wellington Chess Club

Mrs.Ingram, (pictured in 1957) like her team mate Miss Murphy, was prominent on the county chess scene for some thirty years until the mid 1970s. Coincidently they lived in the same road in Whitchurch. Viennese but married to an Englishman, she was a consistent scorer in the county team, she also performed well in the county championship. As a veteran in 1972-3 she managed to finish third in that event, second in the County Correspondence Championship, and first with a remarkable 100% score in the Lightning Championship. In this match she thwarts Alan Knight’s County Championship challenge.

A. Knight -Mrs E Ingram [A43] 1970
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Nge7 6.Na3 Nf5 7.Nc2 Be7 8.Be2 0–0 9.0–0 cxd4 10.cxd4 a6 11.Ne3 f6 12.Ng4 fxe5 13.Ngxe5 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Bd7 15.Bd3 Be8 16.g4?! Knight is pressing for the full point, but this creates a fatal weakness on f3 16…Nh4 17.Nd4 Bd7 18.Qc2? Rc8! 19.Qe2 Bc5 20.Nb3 Nf3+ 21.Kg2 Qh4 22.h3 Bb6 23.Be3 Bxe3 24.Qxe3 Rf7 25.Nd4 Rcf8 26.Nxf3 Rxf3 27.Qxf3 Rxf3 28.Kxf3 Qxh3+ 29.Ke2 Qxg4+ 30.f3 Qd4 31.Rh1 h6 32.Rag1 Qxb2+ 33.Ke1 Qxe5+ 34.Kf2 Qd4+ 35.Ke2 e5 36.Rxh6?? White blundered but he was quite lost anyhow 36…Qxg1 0–1


Extract from Gary Lane’s book – Find the Winning Move.
– Courtesy Kevin Curran 


Ingram-Cox

Correspondence 1972
Black to move 
The remarkable Mrs E. Ingram was known as the “Star of Whitchurch” due to her success on the English chess scene. Here she suffers a reverse. Can you see how Black won?


Shropshire County Team

The massive local government reorganisation of 1974 produced, amongst other things, the big new metropolitan authorities of which Greater Manchester was one.A substantial group within this area declared that this gave them the right to go it alone as a new chess “county”.This caused a major rift within the Lancashire Chess Association who persuaded the Northern Counties Chess Union to reject their application for membership. However the Greater Mancunians, not to be denied, amazed the establishment by applying to join the Midland Counties Chess Union where they were accepted as full members with all rights including that to field county teams!.Thus ever since then Shropshire have competed with, not only neighouring counties but also the might of Greater Manchester.

By the time David Everington became Shropshire county captain for three years in the late 70s the county had several very strong players and were competing on even terms with Cheshire, Worcestershire and Staffordshire with regular winning performances. For example in the 1978 13 – 5 win over Worcestershire, the county, boosted by the return of several expatriates, fielded grade 174 Jonathon Bourne on board 10! On the top half dozen boards the county could even match the larger Warwickshire and Greater Manchester teams but never had the strength in depth to win on the lower boards, although there were some surpringly close games.


Tony Miles

On 29th April 1979 Britain’s first grandmaster, Tony Miles, took on 63 opponents in a monster simultaneous display at the GKN Sankey ballroom. Over 100 spectators turned up to watch the nine hour epic. At the end Miles had lost to David Anderton, Jonathon Bourne, Charlie Morris, Alan Knight, Bill Evans, and Norman Andrews.
Miles, for his part, said the display was the toughest he had ever taken on and that he would not be repeating such a high number.

This Blumenfeld Gambit took the best game prize.
A.J. Miles – J.Bourne [A43] Simultaneous Display 1979
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 c5 3.d5 b5!? Boldly throwing the GM into some wild tactics – probably the best idea in this sort of event. 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Qd3 Nxg5 6.Nxg5 e6 7.Nxh7!? But this outdoes black for daring! – though I doubt that Miles would play this against a fellow GM. 7…c4 8.Qh3 exd5 9.Nc3 Bb7 10.Nf6+ Qxf6 11.Qxh8 Na6 12.0–0–0 d4 13.Nxb5! [Not 13.Nb1 Nb4 and black is clearly better] 13…Qg5+ 14.e3 Qxb5 15.Rxd4 Bd5 16.Qh5 Nb4 17.Re4+! Miles has worked out a neat win of the troublesome c4 pawn – but it still isn’t enough in the long run 17…Kd8 18.Qh4+ f6 19.Bxc4 Qa4! 20.Bb3 Nxa2+ 21.Bxa2? Qxe4 [Also possible was 21…Bxe4 22.Bb1 Rc8 23.c3 Rxc3+! with a winning attack – but Bourne sticks to what he can analyse clearly.] 22.Qxe4 Bxe4 23.f3 Bc6 24.e4 Bd6 25.h4 Ke7 26.c4 Bf4+ 27.Kd1 Rb8 28.b3 after which ugly but necessary move white soon resigned. 0–1


In 1978 Oswestry (pictured left) completed a remarkable and unique treble by taking the Division 1 title, after having won the Division 3 crown in 1976 and the Division 2 title in 1977 with much the same group of players.
Back row:- Frank Harris, Bill Evans, Eddie Starling, Roy Haynes, Nick Thomas.
Front row:- Glyn Phelps, Peter Evans, Jonathan Bourne.

In this 1971 photograph from Shrewsbury Chess Club (l to r) Colin Mills, Andrew Glaze, Peter Rans, Desmond Mease, Jim Samworth, and David Everington. The four younger players all honed their chess skills at Priory School in Shrewsbury.

A late 1970s scene from GKN Sankey Chess Club. (l to r) Glyn Pugh, George Viszokai, Geof Maiden, Geof Mansell, and Jack Baldwin display an impressive array of trophies.

This picture (right) from the early 1970s was taken at GKN Sankey sports pavilion which, at the time, was home venue for Shropshire’s largest chess club. Roy Haynes of Oswestry has the black pieces against John Jeggo for the home team. “In that particular game against Haynes (which I managed to win after a hard struggle) I had two strong bishops which controlled the board” John Jeggo 

The interested spectators are (l to r) John Gorvin, Ken Quinn – company director, Jack Baldwin, Hubert Becker, and Lew Prescott.

Unfortunately in the mid 1980s the company had to close their sports pavilion, leaving the chess club to find a new home. Thus was founded Coddon Chess Club which, in turn, this season has re-invented itself as Priorslee Lions.

How fashions have changed over the years. Everyone in the scene is wearing a tie, the players have their cups of tea, and even the rounded chess clocks are rarely seen today. 
(pic courtesy John Jeggo)


In this 1972 schools encounter the Shropshire player, Peter Rans, is efficiently demolished by a young Tony Miles. Four years later Miles had become Britain’s first grandmaster and the rest as they say is history. Rans later moved to the United States.

Rans, P – Miles, A [B03] Sunday Times Schools Tournament, 1972
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.c4 Nb6 4.d4 d6 5.f4 dxe5 6.fxe5 Bf5 7.Nf3 e6 8.Be3 Bb4+ 9.Nc3 c5 10.a3 cxd4 11.Bxd4 Be7 12.Be2 Nc6 13.Bf2 0–0 14.0–0 Nd7 15.Bg3 Bg4 16.Re1? Qb6+ 17.Kh1 Rfd8 18.Qc1 Bxf3 19.Bxf3 Nd4 20.Rb1?? [20.Bf2!] 20…Nxf3 21.gxf3 Rac8 22.Ne4 Qb3 23.Nd2 Qd3 24.b3 Nf8 25.Rd1 Ng6 26.f4 Rd4 27.Nf1?? Qf3+ 28.Kg1 Rxd1 29.Qxd1 Bc5+ 0–1


Highest BCF Grades 1976 – 1979 (Earlier Grading Lists are not available)

216 – A Phillips – Shrewsbury191 – JJ Cox – Newport
200 – J Footner – Telford191 – J Haynes – GKN Sankey
199 – CG O’Reilly – Newport182 – D Everington – Shrewsbury
198 – CF Morris – Shrewsbury174 – JD Bourne – Oswestry
195 – J Blore – GKN Sankey174 – AJ Knight – GKN Sankey