Battles of world’s elite broadcast across globe – thanks to Shropshire chess sets

Some of the world’s top chess players did battle at a prestigious international tournament with enthusiasts from around the world watching – thanks to boards and pieces from Shropshire.

Super-grandmasters such American duo Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana, Anish Giri and British number one (formerly of Russia) Nikita Vitiugov were among those who played on live boards provided by Shropshire Chess Association at the FIDE Grand Swiss Open on the Isle of Man.

The boards enable games to be broadcast live on the internet, meaning chess lovers and followers of the game’s elite were able to follow every move as they were made wherever they were in the world.

The unusual claim to fame is another feather in the cap for organisers of the game locally, who are looking to expand their reach and contacts within the sport.

The tournament, which was won by rising Indian star Santosh Vidit, was played shortly before Christmas – but the use of the county’s live boards emerged at a recent meeting of the SCA trustees.

The boards are usually pressed into service at local events such as the annual Shropshire Chess Congress, other weekend events in the wider region and for occasional local league and cup matches of significance.

The county association currently owns nine live boards, and is hopeful of confirming funding to buy a tenth set in the near future.

The live boards will also be in use at the upcoming Shropshire Junior Chess Congress, which is just a few weeks away. Entries are flooding in fast for the event, which will be held at Charlton School in Wellington on March 23.

There will be sections for under eights, under 10s, under 12s, under 14s and under 18s, with trophies for the top boy and girl in each section. FIDE master Jonathan Blackburn, who hails from just across the county border in Staffordshire, will provide live commentary on the live boards, which will be used for the top boards in each section.

The fast-growing event is one of the major junior events held in the county, and with interest in the game among youngsters in the county booming it offers young players the chance to play competitively for trophies.

Organiser Chris Lewis has urged families interested to find out more information and sign up for the tournament by visiting

Finally, efforts to increase opportunities for women to play chess in the local area have been boosted by the appointment of Telepost Chess Club’s Kate Walker as the SCA’s new women’s officer.

The post is one of many new roles drawn up at the county AGM in the summer, and will include encouraging more women to join local clubs and participate in events.

Matthew Clark, association president, said he was delighted Kate had accepted the role.

In league action, division one of Shropshire Online Chess League is set for a final day shootout for the title.

Defending champions Oswestry B sit top of the table having played all six of their fixtures – but cannot retain their title. Shrewsbury A and Oswestry A are both one point adrift and play each other in the final fixture in March 21 – a win for Oswestry A would give them the title by a point, while a draw would be enough for Shrewsbury to be crowned champions on points difference. In that scenario, all three teams would finish the season on eight points.

Latest results (for lineups visit

Shropshire League division one: Telepost C 0.5-4.5 Newport A; Shrewsbury A 1-4 Maddocks A.

Division two: Telepost B 0.5-4.5 Newport B; Telepost E 1.5-3.5 Oswestry B; Maddocks B 5-0 Telford B; Oswestry B 4.5-0.5 Telepost B; Telford B 2-3 Newport B; Maddocks B 4-1 Telepost E.

Division three: Telepost D 3.5-0.5 Telepost Junior, Newport C 1.5-2.5 Newport Junior; Maddocks C 3.5-0.5 Telford Junior; Newport Junior 2-2 Church Stretton A; Telepost D 1-3 Maddocks C; Newport Junior 3-1 Telepost Junior; Shrewsbury B 2-2 Telepost F; Church Stretton A 4-0 Newport C (match defaulted); Maddocks C 3-1 Telepost Junior; Telepost F 2-2 Newport Junior; Shrewsbury B 3-1 Telford Junior.

Rapidplay league division one: Shrewsbury A 0-4 Telepost A (match defaulted), Telford A 2-2 Maddocks B; Telford A 4-0 Shrewsbury A (match defaulted), Maddocks B 0.5-3.5 Telepost A; Maddocks B 4-0 Shrewsbury A (match defaulted), Telepost A 2-2 Telford A.

Online league division one: Shrewsbury A 1.5-2.5 Oswestry A; Oswestry B 2.5-1.5 Telford A.

Online league division two: Shrewsbury C 2-0 Newport A.

*This article was written on March 3rd 2024