By guest columnist Peter Kitchen
It has taken a move from social clubs and pubs to the online pathways of cyberspace – but the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club has finally ended Newport’s five-year dominance of the Shropshire Chess League. The Abbey Foregate-based club’s A team has completed a main league and rapidplay league double – both competitions that have been played online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Matthew Clark’s side had already sealed a first league title since 2014 – ending Newport A’s run of five consecutive titles – before the final round of fixtures. Now the team has secured the rapidplay title, which is the league’s answer to cricket’s Twenty-20 format as players have just three minutes’ thinking time with two seconds extra per move made.
Telepost’s return to the summit of the county game has been due in no small part to the signing of Nathanael Paul from title rivals Newport. Paul scored a magnificent 10/11 on top board, winning nine and drawing two of his games. And Clark said it was hoped Paul would continue to turn out for the club when over-the-board chess returns, hopefully in the autumn. He described the rapidplay competition – where Paul captained the team – as a “really tough competition” and said all involved were really pleased to have won it.
Elsewhere in division one, Telepost’s county town rivals Shrewsbury A saw their sorry season come to a demoralising end as they were beaten 3.5-0.5 by Maddocks A – despite outrating their opponents for the first time all season. The Shelton-based club finished bottom of the table with just a solitary draw from their 12 matches.
Meanwhile, the first round of Shrewsbury Town Championship is complete. While there were few surprises as most of the seeded players won their games, Shrewsbury’s Norman O’Connor produced one of the results of the round by holding clubmate and second seed Francis Best to a draw. The second round draw has thrown up some interesting ties, including Clark taking the white pieces against tournament favourite Paul in an all-Telepost clash. 22 players have entered this year’s tournament, with prizes for the overall town champion and for the highest finishers rated under 1700 and 1400.