There’s not many obvious similarities between elite Premier League footballers and your average chess player in Shropshire. While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah are in peak physical condition, spend hours in the gym and are well versed in theatrical displays to win free kicks and penalties, chess players benefit from sitting still for long periods of time, operate in near silence and in some cases enjoy their favourite pint while playing.
But now the Shropshire Chess League is taking a leaf out of the Premier League’s book by introducing the possibility of a winter break for the coming season. Teams will have the option of taking a break from over-the-board league fixtures during the winter months – probably December and January – if they wish to play in the association’s online league.
The idea, which was put forward by Oswestry’s Charles Higgie and was approved with amendments at the recent Shropshire Chess Association AGM, is for the online league to run while weather is poorer, avoiding the need for postponements. Teams taking part in the online league would then resume their regular league fixtures in early spring.
It was discussed as part of an at times heated discussion over the future of leagues and competitions in the county. A contentious proposal to axe the county’s online league put forward by Newport’s Chris Lewis was convincingly defeated after lengthy debate – during which it emerged some teams were considering dropping out to play in the nationwide Four Nations Chess League’s online competition instead.
But members of clubs not keen on competing in Shropshire’s online leagues were not prepared to accept a blanket winter break to the regular league season. A compromise was agreed whereby teams who wish to have a winter break must inform league controller Adrian Zdanowski in advance of the new campaign.
The make-up of next season’s over-the-board Shropshire Chess League was not resolved at the meeting, but it looks likely that it will be made up of two divisions rather than the traditional three. A plan to register Shropshire Chess Association as a charity was also approved, while a proposal put forward by Telford’s Richard Parry to amend time controls in the rapidplay league to prevent games being decided by people running out of thinking time was rejected.
Reports were also received from association president Matthew Clark and junior organiser Lewis, who reported on a very busy year of activities including many local juniors competing recently in the UK Chess Challenge. Some trophies were also presented, including Maddocks B captain Tony Preece receiving the Shropshire Chess League division two trophy (pictured) and his clubmate Glyn Pugh receiving the Shropshire Individual trophy and Colin Roberts Memorial Trophy for the best game of the season.
The minutes of the annual general meting are available here.