A record-breaking entry is helping this year’s Shropshire Minor Individual Chess Championship to be the most competitive yet. A number of first-time entrants are included in the field of 21 players – and two of them are right up there among the early pacesetters. Telepost’s James Holyhead is the current outright leader with a perfect score of three wins from three games, while Shrewsbury newcomer Robert Green joins the experienced George Viszokai of the Telford-based Maddocks club on 2.5/3 after the pair played out a hard earned draw in round three.
The high entry for the tournament, which is limited to players with an ECF rating below 1640, also shows the growing strength of the game at a local level. Players are able to compete for honours – and a £50 first place prize – without being outgunned by the county’s top players. Many of those taking part are, like Green and Telepost’s Cesar Pileggi, new to competitive chess, while a number of established players on the Shropshire scene – including last season’s runner-up Dave Lovegrove (Newport) and third placed finisher Richard Thompson (Telford) – also strengthen the field.
The tournament has also seen a number of upsets already, including Telepost’s Alex Brims defeating Thompson in round one and Green – who earlier this month made his competitive league debut for Shrewsbury – winning with the black pieces against Lovegrove in round two.
The competition was first held in 2017/18, and reverted to an online tournament to continue during the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s event is being held over the board, with no decision yet made on the format of next year’s contest. There will be seven rounds in total, with the draw for round four expected to be made early in the new year once the outstanding round three matches are complete. There is also a £30 runners up prize and three £25 grading prizes up for grabs.
Meanwhile, Telepost B have taken charge of Shropshire Rapidplay Chess League division two, opening up a five point lead at the top of the table after winning two of their three matches at the latest evening of fixtures. But they were matched by Maddocks C, who also picked up five points from a possible six and held the leaders to a 2-2 draw in the final round of fixtures. Both were assisted by default wins against Newport B, who failed to field a side for the night at Maddocks Social Club. Newport have been docked three points for failing to field at least one player in a match for each of the three games, and now have minus one points.
Meanwhile, the number of entries for Shropshire Chess Congress on January 6 to 8 has broken through the 100 barrier. They include international master John Cox, who plays for the London-based Cavendish Chess Club but has a long connection to Shropshire and has represented the county many times on top board in inter-county matches.
At the time of writing, 118 people had entered across the four sections, with players having until New Year’s Eve to enter without incurring late entry fees. Those entered will now be making their final preparations for the tournament at Wrekin Housing Trust’s headquarters in Telford, which will see five standard time control games played across the weekend – one on the Friday evening, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. For more details visit www.shropshirechess.org
Shropshire Rapidplay League division two:
Telford B 1-3 Maddocks C – S Tennant 0-1 M Billington, D Hollands 1-0 G Viszokai, H Hrubis 0-1 I Jamieson, default 0-1 M Reynolds)
Telepost B 4-def Newport B
Telepost B 3-1 Telford B – G Shepherd 0-1 D Hollands, K Walker 1-0 S Tennant, J Holyhead 1-0 S Szwajkun, N Holmes 1-0 H Hrubis
Maddocks C 4-def Newport B
Maddocks C 2-2 Telepost B – M Billington 0-1 G Shepherd, G Viszokai 0-1 K Walker, I Jamieson 1-0 J Holyhead, M Reynolds 1-0 N Holmes
Newport B def-4 Telford B.