New tournament unveiled as junior chess scene thrives

A tournament for junior players is returning to the Shropshire chess calendar for the first time in almost a decade, it has been revealed.  Shropshire Junior Chess Congress will be the latest chance for aspiring young players to show off their talent and gain valuable experience and is another short in the arm of the thriving junior scene in the county. It comes after Rudi Bedford of St George’s School in Copthorne, Shrewsbury, won the under nines section in Nottinghamshire Primary Schools Chess Association Championships – the first junior tournament win by a young player from Shropshire in many years. Meanwhile, a new junior chess club in Ludlow has been established in recent months and has now been donated equipment by Shropshire Chess Association to help its work.

The junior chess congress is believed to have last been held in 2014 and its return comes after the county hosted its first UK Chess Challenge Megafinal last year. It will be held at Charlton School in Wellington on March 18, with 17 entries already received from players ranging from under eights to under 14s, while there is also a section for under 18s. There will be six rounds played with a time control of 15 minutes for all moves with 10 seconds increment per move. Organiser Chris Lewis said it was hoped the junior congress would become an annual event that would run alongside the UKCC Megafinal.

At the Nottinghamshire championships, Rudi Bedford recovered from an opening round loss to Lee Enzo in the opening round to win his remaining five games – including defeating Joshua Phuah of Fernwood who would ultimately finish level on points with him. Merry Curtis of Highley Primary School and Rudi’s older brother Henry both performed competitively in the under 11s section, scoring 3/6 and 2/6 respectively. This earned Merry a share of 10th place out of 21 players, while Henry finished 17th.

The junior club in Ludlow has received three digital clocks, a pairing board to use for ladder tournaments and a demonstration board as club organisers look to grow interest in the game in the south of the county.

Elsewhere, a delegation of players from Shropshire competed in Blackpool Chess Conference – one of the biggest weekend congresses in the country. In the open category, Shrewsbury’s Nathanael Paul – seeded 12th – shared 18th place out of 44 with 2.5/5. The major section featured 60 competitors and Newport’s Chris Lewis shared 23rd place with a 50 per cent record.  Telepost’s Kate Walker and Maddocks’ Gary White shared 12th place out of 70 players in the intermediate category with 3/5, with Munroe Morrison of Maddocks coming joint 41st with 2/5.

Back on the local scene, Maddocks A have returned to the top of division one of Shropshire Chess League thanks to victories over Telepost A and Maddocks B. County town rivals Telepost A and Shrewsbury A are locked in a battle for third place, and both won against relegation-threatened sides in the form of Telepost B and Maddocks B respectively.

In division two, Telford A have opened up daylight at the top of division after closest challengers Telepost C lost at home to Newport C. Telford are now four points clear having won all eight league fixtures so far.

In division one of the online league, there was an upset as Shrewsbury A defeated defending champions Oswestry A in a match that saw both sides missing key players. The match was notable for seeing Shrewsbury line up with father and son Francis and Matt Best on the top two boards, which is believed to be the first time that has happened in the club’s long history. After all four boards between Oswestry B and Oswestry A ended as draws, the top three teams – Oswestry A, Oswestry B and Shrewsbury A – are now separated by a single point. Telepost A and Shrewsbury B both have two points and are fighting to avoid the division’s wooden spoon.

Latest results:

Shropshire League division one:

Maddocks A 3.5-1.5 Telepost A – N Walker 0-1 N Ferrington, A Grillage 1-0 M Clark, P Bull 1-0 D Hilditch-Love, G Pugh 0.5-0.5 J Bashall, T Preece 1-0 J Westhead)

Shrewsbury A 3-2 Maddocks B – N Paul 1-0 S Tarr, F Best 1-0 G White, M Smith 0-1 S Maydew, D Lockett 0.5-0.5 M Morrison, W Apted 0.5-0.5 M Billington

Telepost B 0.5-4.5 Telepost A – D Hilditch-Love 0.5-0.5 N Ferrington, S Kempsell 0-1 P Zabrocki, J Westhead 0-1 M Clark, S Hollands 0-1 F Bench, S Wilson 0-1 P Crean

Maddocks B 1.5-3.5 Maddocks A – S Tarr 0.5-0.5 N Walker, G White 0-1 A Grillage, S Maydew 0.5-0.5 P Bull, M Morrison 0.5-0.5 G Pugh, G Viszokai 0-1 T Preece

Shropshire League division two:

Telepost C 1.5-3.5 Newport B – K Walker 1-0 J Greenwood, J Holyhead 0-1 D Griffiths, V Crean 0-1 P Love, N Holmes 0-1 A Jones, D Bonner 0.5-0.5 D Lovegrove

Telford B 4.5-0.5 Telepost D – J Footner 0.5-0.5 G Shepherd, D Hollands 1-0 J Gough, S Tennant 1-0 A Brims, R Thompson 1-0 J Casewell, R Barton 1-0 M Ayres

Maddocks C 0.5-4.5 Telford A – M Billington 0.5-0.5 M Keady, G Viszokai 0-1 R Parry, I Jamieson 0-1 T Neal, K Verma 0-1 R Szwajkun, J Hill 0-1 R Brown

Online league division one:

Shrewsbury B 1-3 Oswestry A – M Smith 0.5-0.5 C Lowick Higgie, S Priestley 0.5-0.5 M Altinsoy, I Salter 0-1 B Whyte, R Vernon 0-1 A Bailey

Shrewsbury A 2.5-1.5 Oswestry A – F Best 0.5-0.5 M Altinsoy, M Best 1-def B Whyte, S Priestley 1-0 A Grocott-James, D Lockett 0-1 G Slegg

Oswestry B 2-2 Oswestry A – P Beckett 0.5-0.5 C Lowick Higgie, R van Kemenade 0.5-0.5 B Whyte, P Lovatt 0.5-0.5 A Bailey, P Fisher 0.5-0.5 G Slegg