The next generation of potential chess stars in Shropshire has clinched promotion on the national league stage – at the first time of asking.
Shropshire Juniors have finished sixth in the 34-team division four of the Junior Four Nations Chess League Online competition. Despite ending their campaign last week with a 3.5-1.5 loss to Colchester Juniors C, the team ended the season with four wins, one draw and two defeats from their seven matches and achieved a coveted place in the top eight of the table. It means they will be promoted to division three next season, exposing the players to stronger opposition as they learn more about the game and continue to play competitively.
Each match in the Junior 4NCL Online sees teams of four play their opponent twice, once with each colour. The Shropshire team ranges from nine to 13 in age – although they have playing opponents up to the age of 18. Their challenge has been led by Newport’s Jennifer Greenwood, who has scored 7/8, closely followed by Sam Hollands on 8.5/10 and Thomas Wilson on 6.5/8. The rest of the squad – Henry Bedford, George Eden and Ava Eden – have all contributed strongly too.
Christopher Lewis, county junior organiser, said: “As this was our first season I am so proud that the team did so well. At times the team would have been up against juniors far older and more experienced and so to achieve some of the results we did is just fantastic. We’re looking forward to the challenge of competing at an even higher level next season.”
There have also been celebrations this week at Oswestry, where the club’s A team secured the Shropshire Online Chess League division one title with one game to spare. The As beat clubmates Oswestry B 3-1 thanks to wins for Tim McMahon and Leon Cox on the bottom two boards against Peter Fisher and Gary Slegg respectively. Brian Whyte for the As drew with international master Paul Littlewood on top board, while Mehmet Altinsoy and Charles Lowick Higgie also shared the spoils on board two.
The result was particularly galling for Oswestry B, as they missed out on runners-up spot to Shrewsbury on points difference. A 2.5-1.5 defeat would have seen the two teams tied. For Shrewsbury, finishing second in the four-team division represented a drastic improvement on finishing bottom last season with just one point from 14 matches.
In over-the-board action, new Shropshire Chess League champions Maddocks A maintained their 100 per cent record with a 3-2 win over Telepost A. Despite Phil Zabrocki ending Athar Ansari’s own personal 100 per cent record for the season with a win on top board, the Maddocks trio of Adrian Zdanowski, Andrew Grillage and Gary White all picked up victories. Telepost’s Fred Bench did pick up a notable victory over home captain Glyn Pugh on board four. Maddocks now have seven wins out of seven and will travel to Telepost on May 30 hoping to complete a perfect season in division one.
In division three, Maddocks C closed the gap on runaway leaders Telford B by defeating Telepost E 3-1.
Division one: Maddocks A 3-2 Telepost A- A Ansari 0-1 P Zabrocki, A Zdanowski 1-0 M Clark, A Grillage 1-0 G Shepherd, G Pugh 0-1 F Bench, G White 1-0 Y Smart
Division three: Telepost E 1-3 Maddocks C – J Casewell 0-1 I Jamieson, A Brims 0-1 M Billington, M Ayres 1-0 G Viszokai, Y Smart 0-1 J Hill
Online division one: Oswestry B 1-3 Oswestry A – P Littlewood 0.5-0.5 B Whyte, C Lowick Higgie 0.5-0.5 M Altinsoy, P Fisher 0-1 T McMahon, G Slegg 0-1 L Cox