Five chess players will head into the final round of the Shrewsbury Town Championship with a chance of lifting the trophy in one of the most competitive competitions in recent years. Telepost duo Matthew Clark and Rob Nield and Shrewsbury’s Stephen Priestley all have scores of 3.5/4 going into round five, while top seed Nigel Ferrington (Telepost) and Dan Lockett (Shrewsbury) each have 3/4.
The draw has pitted four of the contenders against each other – third seed Clark has been drawn as white against last year’s under 1700ECF town champion Priestley, while Nield will have the white pieces against Ferrington. Lockett will be white against clubmate Richard Vernon.
Both Nield – a relative newcomer to the local chess scene – and Priestley have defied expectations by topping the leaderboard for much of the tournament, despite not being among the strongest players on grading. Clark claimed one of the upsets of the tournament by defeating clubmate Ferrington in round two, while Lockett – like Ferrington – has bounced back from a round two loss to win all of his other games.
It is the closest finish to the tournament for four years. Back in 2018, six players went into the final round with a realistic chance of glory, and the trophy was eventually shared between Shrewsbury trip Jamie Hopkins, David Everington and Peter Kitchen. This year, if two or more players are tied for the lead a playoff will be arranged sometime in October to determine the winner. It marks a dramatic climax to a successful tournament. Twenty four players from the county town’s two clubs entered, and 20 are still involved heading into the final round. The games must be played by the end of September. To see the full draw, visit www.shropshirechess.org and search under competitions for Shrewsbury Town Championship.
Meanwhile, final preparations are being made for the start of the competitive league season in the coming weeks. Clubs have been asked to declare how many teams they intend to enter in both Shropshire Chess Association’s over-the-board and online leagues, and it is hoped the over-the-board fixture list will be published soon. The online league is this year likely to be played over the winter months, with teams given the option of a “winter break” from the over-the-board league to play online league fixtures.