The blue riband event of the Shropshire chess calendar will make a return in the new year – three years after it was last held. The 2023 Shropshire Chess Congress will be held at Wrekin Housing Trust’s headquarters in Telford over the weekend of January 6 to 8, organisers have confirmed. It will be the first time the event has been held since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and those behind the tournament will hope to attract a bumper entry.
First held in 2015, the congress regularly attracted well over 100 entries each year across multiple sections and also attracted some of the nation’s top players. The 2016 open section was shared between three top British grandmasters – Keith Arkell, Danny Gormally and Mark Hebden. But it last took place in January 2020, with the pandemic and ongoing restrictions on large indoor gatherings putting paid to holding such a large-scale chess tournament since – until now.
Already a trickle of entries have been received, and it is hoped many more will be received in the run-up to Christmas. There will be five rounds played from the Friday night to the Sunday afternoon at the Colliers Way venue, for all four sections. They include an Open section with a top prize of £300, which will also feature a trophy for the highest-placed Shropshire-based player. The Major will be for players with an ECF grade under 1950, the Intermediate for players graded under 1750 and a Minor for those rated under 1500. Players will have one hour and 40 minutes of thinking time to make all of their moves in each game, with an increment of 10 seconds per move.
For more details or to fill in the online entry form visit www.shropshirechess.org and follow the links for Shropshire Chess Congress.
Meanwhile, Shropshire’s national league team got off to a disastrous start at the opening weekend of the Four Nations Chess League in Daventry. Hit by unavailability, Shropshire and Friends had to default a board in both their Division Three West matches over the weekend, incurring further penalties. It included the ignominy of recording a negative score against Chessable White Rose 3, going down 5.5 to minus 0.5. They defaulted two boards against Manchester Manticores on the Sunday, going down 4-0.
The Shropshire Chess League season is under way. Reigning champions Maddocks A already lead the way in division one with two wins from their opening two matches, while Shrewsbury A ended a run of four consecutive league defeats away to Oswestry A dating back to early 2018 with a surprise 3.5-1.5 win in their opening fixture.
In division two, both Telford A and Telepost C have won their opening two fixtures to set the early pace.
Fixtures have also been released for both the online and rapidplay leagues. Online fixtures were starting this week, while Telford will host the first night of division one of the rapidplay league on Wednesday (November 9).
Shropshire Chess League Division One:
Telepost A 4-1 Telepost B – N Ferrington 0.5-0.5 R Nield, M Clark 1-0 S Kempsell, D Hodge 0.5-0.5 G Shepherd, J Bashall 1-0 S Wilson, F Bench 1-0 J Gough
Maddocks A 4-1 Maddocks B – P Bull 0.5-0.5 S Tarr, A Grillage 1-0 G White, G Pugh 1-0 S Maydew, T Preece 0.5-0.5 M Morrison, M Billington 1-0 G Viszokai
Oswestry A 2.5-2.5 Newport A – R van Kemenade 0-1 N Rutter, C Lowick Higgie 0.5-0.5 C Lewis, R Bryant 0-1 I Jamieson, A Bailey 1-0 T Holmes, G Slegg 1-0 S Ross
Telepost B 1-4 Maddocks A – R Nield 0-1 A Ansari, J Westhead 0-1 A Grillage, F Bench 1-0 G Pugh, G Shepherd 0-1 T Preece, S Wilson 0-1 G White
Newport A 3-2 Telepost A – N Rutter 0-5-0.5 N Ferrington, C Lewis 1-0 P Zabrocki, I Jamieson 0.5-0.5 M Clark, T Holmes 0.5-0.5 D Hodge, S Ross 0.5-0.5 J Bashall
Oswestry A 1.5-3.5 Shrewsbury A – R van Kemenade 0-1 N Paul, R Bryant 0-1 F Best, A Bailey 0.5-0.5 M Smith, P Fisher 0-1 D Lockett, G Slegg 1-0 R Vernon