Brothers lead the charge as juniors star in Staffordshire

Brothers Rudi and Henry Bedford were the stars of the show among the Shropshire delegation at Staffordshire Junior Chess Championship. Rudi, who also plays for the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club, came joint first in the under 10s section with 5/6, which included a first win over his long-time rival Lucas Zheng. Henry had what Shropshire junior organiser Chris Lewis described as “the tournament of his life”, finishing undefeated on 5/6 to finish joint second in the under 12s with 5/6. 

They were among a series of Shropshire youngsters to compete strongly for honours in the tournament – the latest boost for the county’s thriving junior chess scene. Krishna Thimmegowda (Newport) came joint third in the U18 section on 4/6, while Joe Cotterill (Telford) won his first three games before finishing on 50 per cent in the U14 category.

Elsewhere in the U12 section, Ellick Spiers and Freddie Wyatt of Shropshire Junior Chess Club scored 3.5 and 3 respectively, while Newport’s Malcolm Fletcher scored 2/6 in his first ever tournament. Seven-year-old Isaac Wilderspin (Shropshire Juniors) also played in his first tournament and scored an excellent 4/6 in the under 8s to finish fourth.

Lewis said: “Henry played the tournament of his life, remaining undefeated. He tied for second place in the under 12s and was the only player to score anything against the eventual winner. It goes to show that if you persevere you can achieve anything. Rudi’s pre-tournament preparation paid off as he finally achieved his goal of defeating long-time rival Lucas Zheng. One player entering their first tournament was seven-year-old Issac Wilderpsin. He has entered tournament chess with a bang, finishing fourth with a score of 4/6 in the U8s.  He even outplayed the highest rated player in the section and it was only a blunder that cost him the game. With results like these we are expecting great things in the future!”

Meanwhile, the eagerly anticipated clash between reigning Shropshire Chess League champions Maddocks A and this season’s pacesetters Telepost A finished as a tense 2.5-2.5 draw.  William Bates (Maddocks) defeated Nathanael Paul in the top board clash, which was played online 24 hours before the rest of the boards. Telepost were able to level the scores on the match night itself thanks to wind for Phil Zabrocki and Fred Bench on boards three and five, although Phil Bull’s win over Dan Hilditch-Love on board four ensured a share of the spoils.

Despite the result ending Telepost’s perfect start to the season, they are two points clear at the top with Maddocks now their closest challengers. It is a congested division with all of the teams from third to sixth all just a point behind Maddocks, with Telford A joining the midfield gaggle after a tight 3-2 win in the battle of the promoted sides away to bottom-of-the-table Telepost C.

Two big wins have seen Church Stretton A leap to the top of division three, although Shrewsbury B are just a point behind with a game in hand and both Newport C and Maddocks C are close behind in the chasing pack.

Finally, Oswestry’s Gary Slegg has picked up some welcome silverware on the weekend congress circuit after a fruitful trip to south London. Slegg finished in a three-way tie for first place in the major category (under ECF 1750) at Coulsdon Chess Congress. A fabulous Saturday that saw him pick up three wins from three games proved the foundation for his success, and on Sunday he then drew with fellow eventual winners Susan Chadwick (with the black pieces) in round four and Joshua Doyle (as white) in round five.

Latest scores:

Division one:

Maddocks A 2.5-2.5 Telepost A – W Bates 1-0 N Paul, N Walker 0.5-0.5 N Ferrington, T Preece 0-1 P Zabrocki, P Bull 1-0 D Hilditch-Love, G Pugh 0-1 F Bench

Telepost C 2-3 Telford A – D Hilditch-Love 0.5-0.5 D Hollands, K Walker 0-1 R Parry, J Holyhead 0-1 T Neal, N Holmes 1-0 R Szwajkun, D Bonner 0.5-0.5 S Tennant

Division three:

Newport Junior 2-2 Maddocks C – K Thimmegowda 1-0 M Billington, B Zelawski 0-1 I Jamieson, J Jom 0-1 G Viszokai, J Woolley 1-0 K Verma

Telford Junior 0.5-3.5 Church Stretton A – H Heys 0-1 J Lear, J Cotterill 0-1 C Lear, H Benfield 0-1 T Wilson, I Heys 0.5-0.5 P Barratt

Church Stretton A 3.5-0.5 Telepost D – J Lear 1-0 G Shepherd, C Lear 1-0 C Bethune, T Williamson 0.5-0.5 J Casewell, T Wilson 1-0 M Ayres

Telepost Junior 2-2 Shrewsbury B – R Bedford 1-0 I Davies, M Curtis 0-1 I Salter, N Sharp 1-0 R Vernon, H Bedford 0-1 M Green