Chapter 9 – 2000-2005

The Balance of Power Changes

The new millenium opened with a first league championship for Shrewsbury based Telepost A. The team of Nigel Ferrington, Dave Bryan, John Bashall, Keith Tabner, and Neal Allen had been unchanged for seven years narrowly missing the title throughout the 1990s. Now, with Richard Bryant and Steve Rawlins added, Telepost retained their crown for five of the six years under review, just being pipped by Shrewsbury A in 2004. The summer cup was a different story however with three wins for Shrewsbury and one each for Telford, Telepost (the 2003 double), and Newport.

The County Individual Championship was won twice each by Nick Rutter and Nigel Ferrington, and once each by Jamie Hopkins and Trevor Brotherton.

It was on the junior front however that the most exciting changes were taking place. Alan Shaw had been running his Shropshire Junior Chess Academy at Dothill School since 1992 and in 2004 he retired from that role. By then the fruits of his labours were evident for all to see, with five junior international players amongst the many graduates from Dothill.

In 2005 at age 16, Simon Fowler became the youngest Shropshire player to beat a grandmaster and ended the year as the county’s strongest player, a position that Nick Rutter had held for many years. In 2003 at age 13 Thomas Pym won the prestigious Junior Masters title at Ampleforth, a remarkable feat which he repeated in 2005. Louis Graham, Peter Mellor (England) and Iain Fenton (Wales) also became junior international players in their respective age groups. In addition the UK Chess Challenge encouraged many schools in Shropshire, and indeed the whole country, to introduce chess to a new generation of youngsters.

Also in 2005 John Cox, a former Shropshire County Champion now based in London, won his third and final I.M. norm.

The Shropshire County Teams are normally heavily outgunned by other much larger counties. Surprisingly this period saw our teams enjoy considerable success. In 2003 Martin Patterson and Steve Jones led the County U100 team to be Midlands Champions. The following year captain John Westhead led the County U125 team to be Midlands Champions, and then onwards to be National Champions defeating Middlesex in the final!

In 2005 the County Open Team led by Windsor Peck reached the quarter finals of the National Championships for the first time in their history, before being beaten by a very much stronger Kent team. 

From 2002 until 2004 the 4NCL used the Telford Moat House as a regular weekend venue. This not only gave local players the opportunity to see many of the world’s top GMs in action, but also allowed several Shropshire players to take part and gain valuable experience.

In 2003 Graham Shepherd handed his stewardship of the Wrekin Chess Congress on to David Gostelow. League Controller John Casewell introduced a new annual event, the Darwin Chess Festival, to Shrewsbury’s summer season, whilst the Oswestry Rapidplay continued to be successfully organised by Keith Grice. 2003 also saw the launch of the new Shropshire Chess website, the brainchild of Vinny Crean and Keith Tabner, with Nick Rutter, Colin Roberts, John Casewell and John Westhead heavily involved. 

In 2001 Market Drayton Chess Club joined the league. The following year the Shrewsbury based Perkins Club closed, and the Shifnal and Telford clubs merged.

The 2005 season ended on a sad note with the death of Telepost’s team captain, Neal Allen


Simon Fowler – Coddon

Coached in turn by Alan Shaw, Carl Portman, and IM Robert Bellin, in 2005 at age 16 Simon Fowler (189) overtook Nick Rutter as Shropshire’s strongest player. Already he has tournament experience across Europe, national titles at U12 and U16 levels, and is an U18 level England International.
His finest result to date is 3rd place in the Jersey Festival of Chess 2005 ahead of several titled players and including a win against GM Jonny Hector. This is the game which makes him the youngest Shropshire player to beat a GM.

Jonny Hector (2516) – Simon Fowler (2116) [C15]
Jersey Open St Helier (6), 18.02.2005
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nge2 dxe4 5.a3 Be7 6.g4 Nc6 7.Bg2 e5 8.d5 Na5 9.Ng3 e3 10.Bxe3 Nc4 11.Bc1 Bg5 12.0–0 Bxc1 13.Rxc1 Qh4 14.Re1 Nh6 15.Re4 Nxg4 16.h3 Nd6 17.Rxg4 Bxg4 18.hxg4 0–0–0 19.Nce4 Nxe4 20.Bxe4 Qg5 21.c4 g6 22.c5 c6 23.Qc2 Qf4 24.Bg2 h5 25.Ne2 Qxg4 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.b4 h4 28.Qa4 e4 29.Qxc6+ Kb8 30.Kf1 f5 31.f3 Qg5 32.fxe4 h3 33.Bh1? fxe4 34.Qxe4 Rhf8+ 35.Bf3 (This should have been played on move 33) 35…Qg2+! (The move the Swedish GM had missed) 36.Ke1 Qxf3 37.Qxf3 Rxf3 38.c6 Kc7 39.Nc3 a6 40.Ke2 Rf5 41.a4 Re8+ 42.Kd3 h2 43.b5 Rh8 44.Rh1 Rg5 0–1


Thomas Pym – Newport

Thomas Pym is another strong junior to emerge from Alan Shaw’s junior chess academy. British Under 12 Chess Champion in 2002 and U13 Champion in 2003, he also has considerable international experience with England juniors and tournaments throughout Europe. In 2003 at age 13 Thomas won the biggest prize in British chess, the Ampleforth Junior Masters, with prize money and scholarship worth £20,000 and qualification to the British Champonships. He repeated this feat in 2005. He has appeared in the British Championships in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Here is one of those games.

Westwood, R (2030) – Pym, T (2059) [B23] BCF-ch Scarborough (11.27), 13.08.2004
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 d6 3.Bc4 g6 4.d3 Bg7 5.Qf3 e6 6.Nge2 a6 7.a4 Nc6 8.0?0 h5 9.Bb3 Bd7 10.Bf4 Qe7 11.Qg3 h4 12.Qe3 Nd4 13.Qd2 h3 14.Nxd4 cxd4 15.Ne2 hxg2 16.Rfe1 Bh6 17.Kxg2 e5 18.Bxh6 Nxh6 19.Rh1 Qh4 20.h3 Ng8 21.Ng3 Bxh3+ 22.Kg1 Nf6 23.Qb4 0?0?0 24.Qc4+ Kb8 25.Qxf7 Ng4 26.Bd5 Rh7 27.Qxg6 Nxf2 28.Kxf2 Qf4+ 29.Ke1 Bg4 30.Qxh7 Qxg3+ 31.Kf1 Rf8+ 32.Bf7 Qf3+ 33.Kg1 Qe3+ 34.Kg2 Bf3+ 35.Kh2 Qf2+ 0-1


J.R. Hopkins – Shrewsbury

When Jamie Hopkins took up a teaching post in Shrewsbury in 1999, his 187 grading put him amongst the top echelon of Shropshire players. He won the County Individual Title in 2002 and led Shrewsbury A to the league title in 2004.

Here in the Channel Isles grandmaster Chris Ward finds him a tough nut to crack.

Ward,C (2513) – Hopkins,J (2032) [D39]
Jersey Open St Helier (2), 17.02.2003
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e4 Bb4 6.Bg5 c5 7.Bxc4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 Qa5 10.Bxf6 Qxc3+ 11.Kf1 gxf6 12.Rc1 Qa5 13.h4 Nc6 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.Rh3 Ke7 16.Rd3 Rd8 17.Rxd8 Qxd8 18.Qh5 Qd4 19.Be2 Rb8 20.Qa5 Qb6 ½–½


The Telepost A players who won five league championships between 2000 and 2005 – left to right Keith Tabner, Neal Allen, Dave Bryan, John Bashall, Richard Bryant, Nigel Ferrington, and Steve Rawlins. 


County U100 Team

Here are some of the team which won the 2003 Midlands Championship.
Left to right Gareth Hampson, ????, Martin Patterson, Paul Broderick, Keith Grice, Steve Jones, Steve Cooper, and Roger Brown.


National Champions

Shropshire Captain John Westhead proudly displays the National U125 Championship Trophy presented at the 2004 county AGM. Other members of the winning team in the picture are (l. to r.)Richard Thompson, Roger Brown, Steve Tarr, Eugene Raby, Graham Shepherd, Steve Jones, Martin Patterson, David Williams, and Derrick Powell.


The Darwin Chess Festival

John Casewell first organised this festival in 2003 as a novel way to bring chess closer to the general public. Various fun chess events are staged in the shopping centre with everyone encouraged to join in. The giant chess pieces were commissioned by the Darwin Centre and created by artist Jaqueline Leach.

In this 2005 picture Nick Rutter (Newport), Nigel Ferrington (Telepost), and Francis Best (Shrewsbury) seem pleased with their trophies.


Winners and Organisers at the 2003 Wrekin Congress held in the Madeley Court Centre.


Highest BCF Grades 2000-2005

198 – NJ Rutter – Newport175 J-TS Pym – Newport
189 J-S Fowler – Coddon174 – DW Gostelow – Telford
185 – N Ferrington – Telepost173 – D Everington – Shrewsbury
183 – TS Brotherton – Church Stretton170 – R Bryant – Telepost
181 – JR Hopkins – Shrewsbury170 – AF Footner – Shrewsbury