Shropshire’s Charles Higgie has shone on the international stage after picking up two of his best ever results while competing for Wales at the World Senior Teams Championships. Higgie, who lives in the Malpas area and plays his chess for Oswestry in the Shropshire Chess League, defeated a titled player for the first time when he beat Scotland’s top board Andrew Burnett – a FIDE master. He then surpassed that achievement in the final round against Ireland by securing a richly deserved draw against grandmaster Alex Baburin.
Higgie was top board for the Welsh second string at the tournament, held for players over the age of 50 in the ancient city of Acqui Terme in Piedmont, north west Italy. The competition was won by England 1, whose team featured the likes of former World Chess Championship challenger Nigel Short and former world number four Mickey Adams – both of which have played simultaneous displays in Shropshire in the not-too-distant past. Higgie’s Wales Cymru side finished 22nd out of 23 teams.
Despite on paper being one of the weakest top board players at the tournament based on gradings, Higgie made life difficult for several of his opponents, including Italy 1’s GM Alberto David who had to work hard to win a tense game in round two. In a post on his Facebook page, he said he was “honoured” to play on top board and said he had ended the tournament with a performance rating of 2105 – well above his current grade of 1926. He put his win against Burnett down to his higher-rated opponent trying too hard to win a position that was probably drawn, and attributed good opening preparation to his draw against Baburin as he was able to prepare a solid line that even left him with a slight edge in the final position.
Higgie has entered both games for consideration for the Colin Roberts Memorial Trophy, where an independent panel will decide the best played game by a Shropshire player during the season. *
Back home, Maddocks A have completed an impressive double by adding the Shropshire Rapidplay League title to their championship-winning Shropshire Chess League campaign. Maddocks had already wrapped up the league title ahead of the final round of fixtures played at Shrewsbury Chess Club’s Nerdy Café home on Friday (July 1). But two wins and a draw from their final three games saw them finish 11 points clear of their nearest challengers Telepost, with Maddocks B over-achieving by finishing third.
Meanwhile, long-time leaders Shrewsbury B have secured the Shropshire Online Chess League division two title. With one game result yet to be confirmed, they hold an unassailable six point lead over nearest rivals Telford.
Finally, the annual team rapidplay tournament has been postponed. Due to be held in late June, the competition was put on hold due to a low number of entries. But it is now hoped it could be rearranged to act as a curtain-raiser for the new season in September before league fixtures are due to start.
- Editor’s note: the shortlist of games for this year’s Colin Roberts Memorial Trophy can now be viewed here.