Higgie hopeful of national league revival after relegation reprieve

Shropshire’s national league team can be competitive in division three of the Four Nations Chess League this season after receiving a fortunate reprieve from the drop. That’s the view of captain Charles Lowick Higgie, who took heart from seeing the team – which competes under the name Shropshire & Friends – push stronger opposition hard before falling to two narrow defeats during the opening weekend of matches. 

Higgie will also be hoping that “home advantage” can help him field a strong team – fixtures in Division 3 Bishops were played at Telford’s Mercure hotel and the league will return to the venue for the next round of fixtures in January.  It comes after the team finished bottom of its pool last season and only avoided a drop to the basement division four after the withdrawal of other teams.

Shropshire & Friends opened the season with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Chessable White Rose 3, with Glyn Pugh (Maddocks) winning in board three and Oswestry pair Richard Bryant and Gary Slegg picking up draws. The following day they got even close to a result – going down 3.5-2.5 to Barnet Knights B with five of the six boards finishing as draws and Shropshire’s Robert Taylor losing on board two.

Shropshire were outgraded in both matches, and Higgie took heart from seeing his team push supposedly stronger outfits close. He said: “I was delighted by the results of our first 4NCL weekend. This time last year we were in the relegation zone and stayed there all season, and we avoided relegation because a team dropped out. This season I am hopeful we can avoid relegation on our own merits. However, it will be a challenging season – we will have a lot of tough matches and we need to get our strongest possible team out every time. In both matches over the weekend we were outrated on all boards – in some cases by a massive amount – we still managed to get some points on the board.”

Division three is split into two pools that play at different venues in each round, with the bottom two teams in each pol set to be relegated to division four and the top two promoted to division two.

Oswestry pair Rudy and Julie van Kemenade also featured in the opening weekend – but the weekend before in the other pool (Division 3 Bishops), which saw them travel to Milton Keynes to play for Welsh team Rhyfelwr Essyllwg. Rudy lost on board three to Paul Habershon as his team narrowly defeated MK Phoenix 3.5-2.5 on the Saturday. Rudy then drew with Ian Calvert on the Sunday while Julie lost to Ian Reynolds on bottom board in a 3.5-2.5 loss to Iceni 1.

Other Shropshire players also took part in the Telford weekend in division four. Maddocks duo Steve Tarr and Munroe Morrison made up the middle order for War and Piece A, a team with military connections. Tarr was beaten and Morrison drew as the team narrowly beat England Deaf Chess Association 3.5-2.5 on the Saturday. Both players drew their games on the Sunday in a 4-2 win over Ashfield 3.

Locally, Telepost A are two points clear at the top of Shropshire Chess League division one with three wins from three, while potential challengers Newport A have suffered 4-1 losses to both Telepost A ad defending champions Maddocks A in recent weeks.  Telepost B have also won their first three matches to top division two. Newport B and Shrewsbury B lead the way in division three, while Telepost Junior humbled the club’s senior F team 4-0.

League results:

Division one:

Telepost A 4-1 Newport A – N Paul 0.5-0.5 C Lewis, N Ferrington 1-0 I Jamieson, P Zabrocki 0.5-0.5 P Love, D Hodge 1-0 D Griffiths, F Bench 1-0 K Thimmegowda

Shrewsbury A 3.5-1.5 Telford A – F Best 1-0 D Hollands, O Ilesanmi 0.5-0.5 R Parry, M Smith 1-0 T Neal, I Salter 0-1 R Szwajkun, R Vernon 1-0 R Brown

Maddocks A 4-1 Newport A – A Grillage 1-0 C Lewis, W Bates 0.5-0.5 I Jamieson, T Preece 1-0 J Greenwood, G Pugh 1-0 P Love, S Maydew 0.5-0.5 D Griffiths

Oswestry A 3-2 Telepost C – R van Kemenade 0-1 D Hilditch-Love, C Lowick Higgie 0.5-0.5 K Walker, R Bryant 0.5-0.5J Holyhead, A Bailey 1-0 N Holmes, P Fisher 1-0 D Bonner

Division two:

Telepost B 4.5-0.5 Oswestry B – M Clark 1-0 A Grocott-James, R Nield 1-0 J Smith, F Bench 0.5-0.5 G Slegg, S Kempsell 1-0 M Smith, A Flavell 1-0 K Grice

Telepost E 2.5-2.5 Maddocks B – S Hollands 0-1 S Tarr, G Shepherd 0.5-0.5 S Maydew, C Pileggi 0-1 G White, V Crean 0.5-0.5 M Morrison, A Brims 1-0 G Viszokai

Newport B 2.5-2.5 Telford B – K Thimmegowda 1-0 R Szwajkun, P Love 1-0 R Brown, C Poole 0-1 S Tennant, D Lovegrove 0.5-0.5 R Barton, M Layton 0-1 S Szwajkun

Division three:

Telepost F 2-2 Newport C – P Billington 1-0 M Layton, Z Herd 0-1 A Jones, G Wood 1-0 M Price, P Sharp 0-1 P Broderick

Telepost Junior 2.5-1.5 Telford Junior – R Beford 1-0 H Heys, M Curtis 0-1 S Szwajkun, R France 0.5-0.5 J Cotterill, H Bedford 1-0 E Cotterill

Telford Junior 0.5-3.5 Newport Junior – T Skidmore 0-1 K Thimmegowda, H Heys 0-1 B Zelawski, J Cotterill 0.5-0.5 J Jom, I Heys 0-1 E Bowler

Shrewsbury B 2.5-1.5 Telepost D – T Akinruli, 1-0 C Bethune, I Davies 0.5-0.5 S Sweeney, I Salter 0-1 J Casewell, R Vernon 1-0 M Ayres

Church Stretton A 3-1 Telepost F – J Lear 1-0 P Billington, T Williamson 1-0 Z Herd, T Wilson 1-0 P Sharp, P Barratt 0-1 J Bashall

Newport C 3.5-0.5 Telford Junior – M Layton 1-0 H Heys, D Lovegrove 0.5-0.5 J Cotterill, A Jones 1-0 H Benfield, M Price 1-0 I Heys

Maddocks C 0-4 Shrewsbury B – M Billington 0-1 T Akinruli, I Jamieson 0-1 I Salter, G Viszokai, 0-1 R Vernon, H Hrubis 0-1 M Green

Telepost D 1.5-2.5 Newport C – C Bethune 0-1 A Jones, S Sweeney 0-1 M Price, J Casewell 0.5-0.5 D Lovegrove, M Ayres 1-0 default)

Telepost F 0-4 Telepost Junior – P Billington 0-1 R Bedford, P Sharp 0-1 M Curtis, J Bashall 0-1 E Sharp, default 0-1 H Bedford).

Rapidplay league division one:

Shrewsbury A 1-3 Newport A – F Best 0-1 I Jamieson, O Ilesanmi 1-0 C Lewis, D Lockett 0-1 K Thimmegowda, M Smith 0-1 B Zelawski

Telford A 1-3 Telepost A – T Neal 0-1 N Ferrington, D Hollands 0-1 N Paul, M Keady 0-1 P Zabrocki, R Szwajkun 1-0 D Hodge

Telepost A 4-0 Newport A – N Ferrington 1-0 I Jamieson, N Paul 1-0 C Lewis, P Zabrocki 1-0 K Thimmegowda, D Hodge 1-0 B Zelawski

Shrewsbury A 2.5-1.5 Telford A – F Best 1-0 T Neal, O IIlesanmi 0-1 D Hollands, D Lockett 1-0 M Keady, M Smith 0.5-0.5 R Swajkun

Newport A 2-2 Telford A – I Jamieson 1-0 T Neal, C Lewis 1-0 D Hollands, K Thimmegowda 0-1 M Keady, B Zelawski 0-1 R Szwajkun

Telepost A 4-0 Shrewsbury A – N Ferrington 1-0 F Best, N Paul 1-0 O Ilesanmi, P Zabrocki 1-0 D Lockett, D Hodge 1-0 M Smith

Online division one: 

Shrewsbury A 3-1 Oswestry B – F Best 0.5-0.5 M Altinsoy, R Green 0.5 0.5 R van Kemenade, P Kitchen 1-0 P Lovatt, S Priestley 1-0 A Bailey

Telford A 0.5-3.5 Oswestry B – M Keady 0-1 F Rhine, R Brown 0-1 M Altinsoy, S Tennant 0-1 R van Kemenade, R Thompson 0.5-0.5 A Bailey

Oswestry A 3-1 Telford A – F Rhine 1-0 M Keady, R van Kemenade 1-0 R Brown, P Fisher 0-1 R Thompson, G Slegg 1-0 S Tennant

Online division two:

Newport A 0-3 Shrewsbury C – C Parker 0-1 N O’Connor, M Price 0-1 A Purser, E Baker 0-1 R Vernon

Oswestry C 2.5-0.5 Shrewsbury B – M Atherton 0.5-0.5 I Salter, A Groctt-James 1-0 A Purser, A Evans 1-0 R Vernon