Newport A wasted no time in laying down a marker for their title aspirations in Shropshire Chess League as they beat reigning champions Telepost A in their first match of the season. It was the first face-to-face Division One league match since the Covid pandemic brought an abrupt halt to over-the-board chess in March 2020. Various protocols have been agreed to try to ensure chess action will be as safe as possible.
A look at team sheets suggests that there will be a strong challenge this season from the Oakengates-based Maddocks club, which has been boosted by the arrival of Athar Ansari and Andy Grillage from the Wellington club. Sadly a continuing drift away of players reached crisis point until things reached the point that it became obvious that Wellington – who had won promotion from Division Two – would not realistically be able to field a team this season.
Wellington captain Toby Neal said: “Even in the best circumstances, we would have had a maximum of five players, and it was clear that if we had attempted to field a team that we would have routinely defaulted boards, and probably have regularly defaulted matches as well, which would not have been fair on opposing teams and would have undermined the league itself. I advised the few players who could play to seek places at other clubs. The way I am looking at it is that Wellington is currently in hibernation for this season, but we shall see.”
Another absentee from league chess this season is Church Stretton A, who have withdrawn.
Maddocks A 4.5, Shrewsbury A 0.5: A Zdanowski 1, P Kitchen 0; D Gostelow 0.5, F Best 0.5; A Ansari 1, M Smith 0; A Grillage 1, D Lockett 0; G Pugh 1, M Kitchen 0.
Telepost A 2, Newport A 3: N Ferrington 1, N Rutter 0; P Zabrocki 1, C Lewis 0; M Clark 0, S Ross 1; J Bashall 0, D Hilditch-Love 1; F Bench 0, T Holmes 1.
Newport C 1.5, Telford B 2.5: A Jones 0, S Tennant 1; D Lovegrove 0, R Thompson 1; W Gormley 0.5, T Skidmore 0.5; M Price 1, R Benten 0.