Unbeatable Maddocks seal the deal with a stylish win

Members of the victorious Maddocks A squad celebrate after their 4-1 win sealed a second successive league title. Pictured (from left) are Steve Tarr, Tony Preece, Glyn Pugh and Andy Grillage

Maddocks A are the champions of Shropshire Chess League for a second successive year after a convincing 4-1 win over Shrewsbury A. Tony Preece’s side wrapped up the division one title, in a match played on live boards on the internet, with two games still to play. It extended their amazing unbeaten run over the past two seasons to 18 games – of which just two have been draws.

This season’s triumph is one built on adversity, as Maddocks lost four key players from last season’s squad. But they have been able to call on West Bromwich’s Nick Walker and Wolverhampton’s Phil Bull on boards one and three, and have always been a step ahead of the field for the whole campaign. It marks a stellar campaign for the Oakengates club, who are very much in contention for a double as their A team also lies top of Shropshire Rapidplay Chess League division one with two evenings to go.

Preece, who took over the captaincy at the start of the season, said: “We’ve lost Athar Ansari, Adrian Zdanowski, William Bates and Dave Gostelow for one reason or another – it was like losing our whole A team. So to do it in those circumstances is great, and we have been able to call on some friends in the West Midlands in Nick and Phil. It’s very pleasing. All the players have contributed and we have played at a consistently high standard all season – and we have been lucky enough to have a consistently strong team for every match. The B team players who have come in when needed have also played extremely well.”

Despite bringing in strong reinforcements, it was the Maddocks old guard who ensured the celebrations could start in earnest. Preece himself got the ball rolling against Shrewsbury, putting his side ahead with victory over Richard Vernon on board five. Glyn Pugh and Andy Grillage then secured convincing wins with the white pieces on boards four and two against Dan Lockett and Francis Best respectively to put the result beyond doubt. Peter Kitchen was going well for much of the night against Bull, and for a long time was an exchange up. But the Maddocks man built up an initiative and turned the game around as his opponent ran chronically short of time to make it 4-0. Nathanael Paul did claim a consolation for Shrewsbury, playing a knight ending very accurately to defeat Walker on top board.

Newport A remain in pole position to claim the runners up spot after a 4-1 win over Maddocks B which relegated their opponents, while Telepost A moved up to third after a 2.5-2.5 draw against mid-table Oswestry A. Shrewsbury are one place further back with a game in hand – and can still claim second place if they win their final two games away to Maddocks B and at home to Newport A.

In division two, Telford A have wrapped up the title after a convincing 4.5-0.5 win away to closest challengers Telepost C. David Hollands, Richard Parry, Toby Neal and Stefan Tennant all won their games to seal an 11th win out of 11 for the champions. Telepost C are almost assured of second spot, and just have to avoid a heavy defeat to their club’s E team in their final fixture to make sure.

Oswestry B have clinched the Shropshire Online Chess League division one title for the first time thanks to a 4-0 win over Shrewsbury B. The champions ended the season undefeated with four wins and four draws from their eight matches. Shrewsbury A look likely to finish second after beating deposed champions Oswestry A 3.5-0.5 with the aid of a top board default, while Telepost A will need a result in their final game against Shrewsbury A to avoid finishing bottom of the table.

Meanwhile, the draw has been made for the first round of Shrewsbury Town Championship. The competition, which will run throughout the summer months, is for players belonging to the Shrewsbury and Telepost clubs and this year has attracted a record 30 players, including several of Telepost’s growing number of juniors.

Defending champion Nigel Ferrington will start his campaign with the white pieces against one of those juniors, Rhys Macmillan. Three-time winner Trevor Brotherton has entered for the first time since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic and is the second seed – he will start as black against Nick Holmes.  Third seed Peter Kitchen is the highest rated Shrewsbury player in the field, and he will be white against clubmate Tony Purser in round one.

The full draw can be found at www.shropshirechess.org

Latest results:

Shropshire League division one:

Telepost A 2.5-2.5 Oswestry A – N Ferrington 1-0 R van Kemenade, M Clark 0-1 C Lowick Higgie, D Hodge 1-0 R Bryant, J Westhead 0.5-0.5 A Bailey, F Bench 0-1 G Slegg

Newport A 4-1 Maddocks B – N Rutter 1-0 S Tarr, I Jamieson 1-0 G White, T Holmes 0.5-0.5 S Maydew, J Greenwood 0.5-0.5 M Morrison, P Love 1-0 M Billington

Maddocks A 4-1 Shrewsbury A – N Walker 0-1 N Paul, S Grillage 1-0 F Best, P Bull 1-0 P Kitchen, G Pugh 1-0 D Lockett, T Preece 1-0 R Vernon

Shropshire league division two:

Telepost C 0.5-4.5 Telford A – S Greenwood 0-1 D Hollands, J Holyhead 0-1 R Parry, V Crean 0-1 T Neal, N Holmes 0.5-0.5 R Brown, D Bonner 0-1 S Tennant

Telford B 0.5-4.5 Newport B – J Footner 0-1 J Greenwood, R Thompson 0-1 D Griffiths, R Barton 0.5-0.5 P Love, H Hrubis 0-1 A Jones, JC 0-1 D Lovegrove

Maddocks C 2-3 Telepost E – M Billington 0.5-0.5 S Greenwood, G Viszokai 0-1 P Billington, I Jamieson 0.5-0.5 C Pileggi, J Hill 1-0 T Humphreys, K Verma 0-1 A Flavell

Online league division one:

Telepost A 0-4 Oswestry A – match defaulted

Oswestry B 4-0 Shrewsbury B – R van Kemenade 1-0 S Priestley, P Lovatt 1-0 I Salter, P Fisher 1-0 T Purser, G Slegg 1-0 R Vernon

Oswestry A 0.5-3.5 Shrewsbury A – M Altinsoy def-1 F Best, B Whyte 0.5-0.5 P Kitchen, A Bailey 0-1 S Priestley, J Smith 0-1 R Green

Online league division two:

Telford A 3-0 Oswestry C – R Brown 1-0 A Grocott-James, R Thompson 1-0 M Atherton, S Tennant 1-0 A Evans