Shropshire chess has moved into historic new territory with the launch this week of the county’s first online league season – with the wonders of the internet meaning players will be taking part from as far away as Paris.
With face-to-face chess still a distant prospect, the new league will take the place of the “normal” county league and be based on existing teams, while at the same time being very different. Some stalwarts will be missing because not everyone likes playing chess online, and among those who do, most prefer not to play long matches.
The upshot is that the time control is much faster than in the regular over-the-board league. And as they will be playing in the comfort of their own homes rather than having to travel to a chess club venue, it opens the door for teams to field players from far and wide.
Veteran Telepost Chess Club member John Casewell made contact with Bill Clarke, the original founder of the club, who is in his 80s now and lives in the French capital. Bill has rejoined the club after 25 years’ absence and will be playing in the online league from his Paris home. “John Casewell’s invitation for me to rejoin the club a few weeks ago came out of the blue and it didn’t take much thought to agree. I was absolutely delighted of course, even at my old age. Ironically without Covid it would not have been possible and this has led to the explosion of online chess,” he says.
Meanwhile inter-county games are also being played online. Shropshire lost 8-4 in the latest encounter against Worcestershire. For Shropshire, there were wins for Chris Lewis and James Holyhead, and draws for Nat Paul, Phil Zabrocki, Andy Grillage, and Robert Nield.
You can read more of Bill Clarke’s reflections here (ed.)