League swells to three divisions as new teams sign up in numbers

Shropshire’s chess league is set to increase in size by more than 50 per cent for the coming season – a further sign of the boom in interest in the game. Eight more teams have provisionally entered Shropshire Chess League – taking the number of sides from 14 last season to 22 this time around – which has allowed league organisers to reintroduce division three for the coming season. 

It includes the return of a team from Church Stretton, Telepost entering a record seven teams, Shrewsbury B coming back into the league in division three after a two-year hiatus and Oswestry B also returning to the fold in division two. In addition, three new junior teams – Newport Junior, Telepost Junior and Telford Junior – will compete in division three, making it the first time that three clubs have entered teams for under 18s in the league.

Fixtures have now been published, with matches due to get under way from next week. There will be seven teams in division one, six in division two and nine in division three. The league reverted to a two-division format last season due to a number of players being reluctant to return to over-the-board chess in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The previous season the bottom tier had only had four teams.

The Shrewsbury-based Telepost club has capitalised most on the rising popularity of chess, and with a membership around the 50 mark has been able to enter seven teams across the three divisions. Unsurprisingly, that means a number of inter-club derbies during the opening round of fixtures. Telepost A will take on newly-promoted Telepost C in division one, while in division two relegated Telepost B will play Telepost E and in division three Telepost Junior will play Telepost D.

Reigning division one champions Maddocks A must wait until the second round of fixtures to start their defence at home to Shrewsbury A on October 12, while newly-promoted Telford A start at home to Oswestry A. The returning Shrewsbury B and Church Stretton sides will face each other in their first matches back in division three on October 4. Newport Junior face an opening day derby against Newport C in the third tier, while Telford Junior will start against Maddocks C.

Division two fixtures will start in the week beginning October 2.

Opening round fixtures

Division one: Telepost A v Telepost C (Monday, September 25), Shrewsbury A v Newport A and Telford A v Oswestry A (both Wednesday, September 27).

Division two: Telepost B v Telepost E (Monday, October 2), Telford B v Oswestry B (Wednesday, October 4), Maddocks B v Newport B (Thursday, October 5).

Division three: Telepost Junior v Telepost D (Monday, September 25), Newport Junior v Newport C (Tuesday, September 26), Telford Junuor v Maddocks C (Wednesday, September 27).