Ferrington clinches title after play-off drama

Nigel Ferrington is the chess champion of Shrewsbury for a record-breaking fifth time after coming out on top in a tense four-way playoff.

Ferrington, who plays for the county town’s Telepost club, defeated tournament surprise package Stephen Priestley of Shrewsbury in his playoff tie, while fellow contenders Matthew Clark (Telepost) and Dan Lockett (Shrewsbury) fought out a draw in the other game. It makes Ferrington comfortably the most successful player in the event’s relatively young history. The tournament was first held in 2010 and Ferrington previously won it in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016. Former Shrewsbury player Jamie Hopkins is his nearest challenger with three titles.

It marked quite a turnaround for Ferrington, who as the second highest rated player in the county had gone into the tournament as the clear favourite. But he lost to clubmate Clark in round two, and had to win all his remaining games to make up the lost ground and reach the playoff.

Clark and Priestley will both wonder what could have been after the pair quickly drew their final round match, enabling both Ferrington and Lockett to catch them on 4/5 and force the playoff. But it was a fitting end to a fiercely competitive tournament that had a line-up of 20 players and was excellently marshalled by tournament controller Paul Billington. Priestley did have the consolation of being named the competition’s under 1700 ECF champion, while Telepost newcomer Alex Brims was named under 1400 champion after scoring an impressive 3.5/5 for an overall share of fifth place.

Meanwhile, Newport A are the early pacesetters in Shropshire Chess League division one with two wins and a draw from their opening three matches, although defending champions Maddocks A are just a point adrift with a 100 per cent record. The two will meet in Oakengates for a juicy-looking tie on November 24.

The first county town derby of the season between rivals Shrewsbury A and Telepost A finished all square. Shrewsbury were given a 1-0 headstart thanks to a bottom board default, but John Bashall equalised for the visitors and Shrewsbury were grateful to hang on for a point as they were outgraded on every remaining board.

Telepost B have made an intriguing signing by snaring promising teenager Daniel Hilditch-Love from rivals Newport A. Hilditch-Love made his bow against his former side and impressively drew with the county’s top player Nick Rutter on top board. But it wasn’t enough to stop his new side falling to a third straight 4-1 defeat. Maddocks B, newly promoted as champions of division two, picked up their first points with a 3-2 win over Oswestry A.

Telford A and Telepost C lead the way in division two, with both having won all of their opening three matches.

Elsewhere, Newport A also hold a narrow lead over Maddocks A after the opening round of rapidplay division one fixtures at Telford Chess Club. Newport won all three of their matches – including a 3-1 win over reigning champions Maddocks – to be the early leaders. The player of the night was Shrewsbury’s Nathanael Paul, who won all three of his matches on top board including beating Newport’s Rutter and Maddocks’ Athar Ansari with the black pieces.

The county’s online league is also under way – and division one has seen two inter-club derbies. Title holders Oswestry A, featuring international master Paul Littlewood, edged out Oswestry B 2.5-1.5, while Shrewsbury A narrowly averted an upset as they drew 1.5-1.5 with newly-promoted clubmates Shrewsbury B.

Finally, in the nationwide 4NCL Online competition, Shropshire & Friends 1 are well placed in third place in division one group A after five of the seven rounds as they seek a top two berth for a playoff spot. In division two, Shropshire & Friends 2 are fourth in their pool but Shropshire & Friends 3 are facing a fight to stave off relegation as they are seventh in their eight-team group. Shropshire & Friends 4 are bottom of division four group B.

In division five, Telepost Dark Knights 1 are in the running for promotion as they lie sixth in the 36-team division. The club’s second team sits comfortably in mid table with two wins and three defeats so far.

Full scores:

Shropshire Chess League division one:

Telepost B 1-4 Newport A – D Hilditch-Love 0.5-0.5 N Rutter, S Kempsell 0-1 C Lewis, F Bench 0-1 I Jamieson, J Holyhead 0.5-0.5 T Holmes, S Wilson 0-1 S Ross

Maddocks B 3-2 Oswestry A – S Tarr 1-0 R van Kemenade, G White 1-0 C Lowick Higgie, S Maydew 0-1 R Bryant, M Morrison 0.5-0.5 P Fisher, M Billington 0.5-0.5 G Slegg)

Shrewsbury A 2.5-2.5 Telepost A – N Paul 0.5-0.5 N Ferrington, M Smith 0.5-0.5 P Zabrocki, D Lockett 0.5-0.5 D Hodge, I Davies 0-1 J Bashall, R Vernon 1-0 default

Division two:

Telepost E 0.5-4.5 Telford A – P Billington 0-1 R Parry, C Pileggi 0-1 T Neal, S Hollands 0-1 R Szwajkun, C Bethune 0.5-0.5 R Brown, G Humphreys 0-1 S Szwajkun

Telford B 1.5-3.5 Telepost C – J Footner 1-0 K Walker, S Tennant 0-1 F Bench, R Thompson 0-1 J Holyhead, T Skidmore 0.5-0.5 V Crean, R Barton 0-1 D Bonner)

Maddocks C 3-2 Telepost D – M Billington 0-1 J Bashall, G Viszokai 0-1 P Billington, I Jamieson 1-0 J Gough, J Hill 1-0 S Sweeney, K Verma 1-0 M Ayres

Rapidplay league division one:

Maddocks A 1-3 Newport A, Telford A 0-4 Shrewsbury A

Shrewsbury A 1-3 Newport A, Maddocks A 4-0 Telford A

Newport A 2.5-1.5 Telford A, Shrewsbury A 1.5-2.5 Maddocks A

Online league division one:

Oswestry A 2.5-1.5 Oswestry B – P Littlewood 1-0 P Beckett, M Altinsoy 0.5-0.5 C Lowick Higgie, B Whyte 0-1 R van Kemenade, A Bailey 1-0 P Lovatt)

Shrewsbury A 1.5-1.5 Shrewsbury B – N Paul 1-0 M Smith, F Best 0-1 S Priestley, P Kitchen 0.5-0.5 I Salter

Online league division two:

Telford A 3-0 Shrewsbury C – M Keady 1-0 T Purser, R Brown 1-0 W Apted, R Thompson 1-0 R Vernon