It’s like the T20 version of chess – and it’s coming back to Shropshire this week after a two-year break, writes Peter Kitchen.
Shropshire Rapidplay Chess League will start on Friday, when Shrewsbury Chess club will host the opening night at the Nerdy Café in Mardol. Shrewsbury A, Telepost A, Maddocks A and Maddocks B will all play each other in the first of seven evenings that will run until July. This season’s competition will be run over just one six-team division, which will also feature Newport A and Telford A. It normally runs in tandem with the regular league season, but was delayed due to uncertainty over playing over-the-board chess during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Matches are played over a shorter time control of a straight 20 minutes for all moves – compared to one hour 25 minutes with extra time for each move played in the over-the-board league and 45 minutes for all moves with increments in the online league. Teams can also agree to have 10 minutes thinking time for all moves with 10 seconds increment per move. Newport A are traditionally the masters of this format, and won the last rapidplay league during the 2019/20 season. But much will depend on player availability and those willing to play over-the-board during the current campaign.
Meanwhile, Telford A have gone top of division two of Shropshire Chess League after a convincing 4.5-0.5 win over struggling Telepost C. Richard Parry, Toby Neal, Richard Szwajkun and Stefan Tennant all won, with Dennis Bonner salvaging some pride for the hosts and averting a whitewash by drawing his game with Roger Brown on board four. Telford – somewhat fallen giants of the Shropshire chess scene following relegation a few years ago – have moved a point clear ahead of Maddocks B, although their Oakengates-based rivals do have a game in hand.
It is looking like being a good season for the Telford club, as their B team is currently top of division three. Again their nearest pursuers are a team from Maddocks – Maddocks C this week kept up the heat on the leaders by defeating Telepost E 3-1.
In division one, the match between Oswestry and Telepost A was postponed due to Covid-19 cases.
In the online league, Shrewsbury A enjoyed a big win in their county town derby against an under-strength Telepost A, winning 4-0. Shrewsbury have given themselves a chance of finishing second in the online division one table having now finished their campaign, but last season’s online league champions Telepost A have been mathematically consigned to finishing bottom of the four-team division.
Shrewsbury B retained their two-point lead at the top of online division two, beating fellow promotion contenders Telford A 2-1. The match hinged on a tight opposite coloured bishops ending between Shrewsbury’s Ivor Salter and Telford’s Richard Thompson – Thompson had been on top for much of the game but a fatal slip allowed Salter to promote a pawn to a queen, forcing Thompson’s resignation. Elsewhere in the division there were wins for Oswestry C and Newport Juniors, while troubled Newport A defaulted their match against Telepost D and are now bottom of the table.
Oswestry P-P Telepost A.
Telepost C 0.5-4.5 Telford A: K Tabner 0-1 R Parry, P Billington 0-1 T Neal, N Holmes 0-1 R Szwajkun, D Bonner 0.5-0.5 R Brown, J Holyhead 0-1 S Tennant
Online division one
Shrewsbury A 4-0 Telepost A: F Best 1-0 S Rooney, P Kitchen 1-0 M Clark, D Lockett 1-0 J Casewell, S Priestley 1-0 M Ayres
Online division two
Telford A 1-2 Shrewsbury B: M Keady 0-1 M Smith, R Brown 1-0 S Priestley, R Thompson 0-1 I Salter
Telepost B 1-2 Oswestry C: K Walker 0-1 K Grice, N Holmes 0-1 J Smith, J Holyhead 1-0 A Evans
Telepost C 0.5-2.5 Newport Juniors: F Bench 0-1 S Hilditch-Love, S Sweeney 0-1 T Holmes, J Casewell 0.5-0,5 J Greenwood
Telepost D 3-0 Newport A: match defaulted.