Shropshire’s chess-playing community has been left saddened following the death of former county elite player Ray Cox. Ray’s best achievements included being part of four title-winning Shrewsbury teams in the 1970s – the first success of which dates back more than 50 years. Despite spending several years away from the game, he returned to Shrewsbury more than three decades later in 2010, where he spent two more seasons playing for the club’s A and B teams, losing just twice in 11 appearances.
Ray first started playing chess in the county as a junior in the late 1950s and was part of “Pop” Allender’s academy of young talent that emerged from the former Priory Boys Grammar School in Shrewsbury. He also played for the county’s open team during the 1960s and 1970s, and was part of the Shrewsbury squad that won the Shropshire league in 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1976. He retired from competitive over-the-board chess in 2012, but continued to actively play the game right up until his death on February 8 and was described as a “formidable postal chess player” by his friend and former player Peter Dearnley.
Francis Best, Shrewsbury’s current first team captain, said: “Ray was a very likeable and sporting player who could give anyone in the county a good game. He had a natural feel for chess and was able to continue this in the postal chess arena, even when physical frailty prevented him from competing over the board.”
Matthew Clark, president of Shropshire Chess Association, said condolences had been sent to the family on the organisation’s behalf. He said: “Ray was a key member of Shrewsbury Chess Club in the 1960s and 1970s I understand, and was one of the strongest players in the county in that period.”
Ray’s funeral will be held at St Peter and St Paul’s Church in Wem on Thursday (March 2) at 11.30am. All are welcome.
Meanwhile, in local league action Telepost C have struck a crucial blow in the race to clinch the second promotion place in Shropshire Chess League division two. Aided by a first league appearance of the season by Trevor Brotherton on top board, they convincingly beat one of their nearest rivals Telford B 4.5-0.5 to open up a four point gap on their opponents and Newport B – although the latter do have a game in hand. Brotherton – considered one of the county’s elite players – was held to a draw by David Hollands on top board. But Kate Walker, James Holyhead, Vinnie Crean and Dennis Bonner all won to seal their side’s seventh win from nine matches this season.
Telford A continue to blaze a trail at the top of the table – they now have nine wins from nine matches and a four-point cushion to Telepost C. But they were made to work harder than expected by lowly Telepost E before eventually securing a 3-2 win. There was also some joy for Telepost D, who picked up their first league point of the season at the ninth attempt by drawing with mid-table Maddocks C.
In division one, Newport A have closed the gap on leaders and defending champions Maddocks A to two points after a convincing 4-1 win over struggling Oswestry A.
Shropshire Chess League division one:
Newport A 4-1 Oswestry A – N Rutter 0.5-0.5 R van Kemenade, C Lewis 1-0 C Lowick Higgie, I Jamieson 0.5-0.5 R Bryant, S Ross 1-0 A Bailey, P Love 1-0 J van Kemenade
Shropshire Chess League division two:
Telepost C 4.5-0.5 Telford B – T Brotherton 0.5-0.5 D Hollands, K Walker 1-0 S Tennant, J Holyhead 1-0 R Barton, V Crean 1-0 S Szwajkun, D Bonner 1-0 T Skidmore
Telepost D 2.5-2.5 Maddocks C – G Shepherd 1-0 G Viszokai, P Crean 0.5-0.5 I Jamieson, A Brims 1-0 K Verma, C Bethune 0-1 M Reynolds, M Ayres 0-1 J Hill
Telford A 3-2 Telepost E – D Hollands 0-1 S Greenwood, R Parry 1-0 P Billington, T Neal 0-1 C Pileggi, R Swajkun 1-0 T Humphreys, R Brown 1-0 Y Smart