Cyberspace superstars reach national online final

A Shropshire team will compete in the final for the title of Britain’s best online chess team for the first time ever. Shropshire & Friends 1 will take on Wessex Some Stars A in the division one final of season 8 of the Four Nations Online Chess League on Tuesday (December 19. It comes after the team, led by Oswestry’s Charles Lowick Higgie, topped their group with six wins out of seven before defeating Hampshire side Farnham A 3-1 in last week’s semi-final.

There’s certainly a cosmopolitan feel to the Shropshire side – grandmaster Keith Arkell, who hails from Devon but has previously played for Ludlow and Newport in the Shropshire Chess League, played on top board in the semi-final win while competing in the Chessable Sunway Sitges International Chess Festival – a high-level over-the-board grandmaster tournament – in Spain. Other stalwarts of the side include Mehmet Altinsoy, who is based in Turkey, and Marcus Walsh, who plays his over-the-board chess for Shirley & Wythall in the Birmingham area. The Shropshire side defeated Wessex Some Stars A 3.5-0.5 in the group stage – but know that will count for nothing in Tuesday’s final.

There are four Shropshire & Friends teams competing in the 4NCL Online competition, with locally-based players forming the backbone of these teams. Shropshire & Friends 2 finished midtable in division two, while Shropshire & Friends 3 finished bottom of their group in the same division and face being relegated. Shropshire & Friends 4 also finished bottom of their group in division four and will be relegated to the bottom fifth tier.  Telepost Dark Knights fielded just one team this season, finishing 17th out of 32 teams in division five.

Meanwhile, defending Shropshire Chess League champions Maddocks A have suffered a further blow to their hopes of retaining their title after slipping to a 3-2 loss away to Oswestry A. The result leaves the Oakengates side in midtable with two wins, a draw and two defeats from their opening five fixtures. To compound Maddocks’ misery, runaway leaders Telepost A made light of being without two of their top three players to record a resounding 4-1 win in the county town derby away to Shrewsbury A. The visitors fell behind, but were assisted by early Christmas presents from Olusegun Ilesanmi and Mark Smith, who both gave away a piece in the early stages of their matches on boards one and three, as Telepost roared back to win with something to spare.

Oswestry A and Newport A are Telepost’s closest challengers, but already lie three points adrift. Newport impressively dismantled Telford A in an east of the county derby, winning 5-0 away from home.

Telepost A are also clear at the top of division one of Shropshire Rapidplay Chess League. They didn’t play in the latest round of matches at Newport – but the hosts had an unexpected slip up against Maddocks B that has left them five points off the pace. The next round of fixtures will be hosted by Shrewsbury – the first time at their new Frankville home – on Wednesday (December 20).

Shrewsbury A are in a strong position themselves in division one of Shropshire Online Chess League – they were awarded a 4-0 walkover against Telford A that leaves them a point clear of defending champions Oswestry B with a game in hand.

Latest scores:

Shropshire Chess League division one:

Telford A 0-5 Newport A – M Keady 0-1 C Lewis, R Parry 0-1 I Jamieson, T Neal 0-1 J Greenwood, R Szwajkun 0-1 P Love, S Tennant 0-1 C Parker

Shrewsbury A 1-4 Telepost A – O Ilesanmi 0-1 N Ferrington, P Kitchen 0-1 D Hilditch-Love, M Smith 0-1 M Clark, D Lockett 0-1 F Bench, S Priestley 1-0 A Flavell

Oswestry A 3-2 Maddocks A – R van Kemenade 0-1 A Grillage, C Lowick Higgie 1-0 T Preece, R Bryant 1-0 G Pugh, A Bailey 0.5-0.5 G White, J van Kemenade 0.5-0.5 S Tarr

Division two:

Telepost E 1-4 Newport B – G Shepherd 0-1 K Thimmegowda, N Holmes 1-0 D Griffiths, C Pileggi 0-1 P Love, V Crean 0-1 M Layton, A Brims 0-1 A Jones

Telford B 1-4 Telepost B – R Brown 0.5-0.5 S Hollands, J Footner 0-1 J Westhead, S Tennant 0-1 N Holmes, R Barton 0.5-0.5 C Pileggi, T Skidmore 0-1 S Wilson

Oswestry B 1-4 Maddocks B – J van Kemenade 0-1 S Tarr, G Slegg 0-1 G White, A Grocott-James 0-1 S Maydew, M Smith 0-1 I Jamieson, K Grice 1-0 H Hrubis

Oswestry B 0.5-4.5 Telepost E – J Smith 0-1 S Hollands, G Slegg 0.5-0.5 G Shepherd, A Grocott-James 0-1 N Holmes, M Atherton 0-1 C Pileggi, A Loe 0-1 A Brims

Division three:

Telepost F 3-1 Telford Junior – P Billington 1-0 S Szwajkun, Z Herd 0-1 H Heys, P Sharp 1-0 H Benfield, E Sharp 1-0 D Cotterill

Maddocks C 2.5-1.5 Newport C – M Billington 0-1 M Layton, I Jamieson 1-0 D Lovegrove, G Viszokai 0.5-0.5 M Price, K Verma 1-0 B Zelawski

Telepost D 2-2 Telepost F – C Bethune 0-1 P Billington, S Sweeney 0-1 N Sharp, J Casewell 1-0 Z Herd,M Ayres 1-0 E Sharp

Maddocks C 2.5-1.5 Church Stretton A – M Billington 0-1 C Lear, I Jamieson 0.5-0.5 T Williamson, G Viszokai 1-0 T Wilson, K Verma 1-0 P Barratt

Rapidplay league division one:

Newport A 4-0 Shrewsbury A – N Rutter 1-0 F Best, I Jamieson 1-0 O Ilesanmi, C Lewis 1-0 D Lockett, D Griffiths 1-0 M Smith

Maddocks B 3-1 Telepost B – S Tarr 0.5-0.5 D Hilditch-Love, M Morrison 0.5-0.5 M Clark, G White 1-0 A Brims, S Maydew 1-0 S Wilson

Newport A 1.5-2.5 Maddocks B – N Rutter 1-0 M Morrison, I Jamieson 0-1 S Tarr, C Lewis 0-1 G White, D Griffiths 0.5-0.5 S Maydew

Telepost B 1.5-2.5 Shrewsbury A – D Hilditch-Love 1-0 F Best, M Clark 0.5-0.5 O Ilesanmi, A Brims 0-1 D Lockett, S Wilson 0-1 S Priestley

Telepost B 0-4 Newport A – D Hilditch-Love 0-1 N Rutter, M Clark 0-1 I Jamieson, A Brims 0-1 C Lewis, S Wilson 0-1 D Griffiths

Shrewsbury A 4-0 Maddocks B – O Ilesanmi 1-0 S Tarr, D Lockett 1-0 M Morrison, M Smith 1-0 G White, S Priestley 1-0 S Maydew

Online league division one:

Oswestry B 1.5-0.5 Oswestry A; Telford A 0-4 Shrewsbury A (match defaulted)

Online league division two:

Oswestry C 2-1 Newport A.