WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Read Toby Neal's Column in the Shropshire Star on Tuesdays for the latest Shropshire Chess news. Here are some recent cuttings.
If you have a news item email - TNeal@shropshirestar.co.uk.
Exciting online finals night - 16/06/2015
Newport A are the Cox Trophy champions after a dramatic night of chess broadcast from Telford live on the internet.
The summer knockout competition was played simultaneously with the Minor knockout final in a double header at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises using digital chess boards which meant the moves could be followed online in real time.
Many of the games went the full distance, leaving the result in doubt until almost the last moment. On top board in the Cox, a spectacular tactic saw Nick Rutter go two pawns up against Shrewsbury's Francis Best who, with under two minutes left on the clock, resigned. On board two a long struggle between Daniel Lockett and Nathanael Paul ended in a draw, while on board three David Everington inflicted a neat checkmate on Simon Maydew.
Final score was Shrewsbury A 1.5, Newport A 2.5, with full result being: F Best 0, N Rutter 1; D Lockett 0.5, N Paul 0.5; D Everington 1, S Maydew 0; M Best 0, C Lewis 1.
In the Minor knockout between Church Stretton A and Telepost B, things could not have been closer, as the match result was a 2-2 draw. However, Telepost win the title on the countback tiebreak system in which the result on the bottom board was discounted, which left a 2-1 victory for the Shrewsbury-based club.
Full result was: T Brotherton 1, K Tabner 0; S Rooney 0, S Kempsell 1; K Wakefield 0, J Westhead 1; D Hodge 1, V Crean 0.
|Final to be live on internet - 09/06/2015
Shropshire's summer knockout chess competitions reach their climax on Thursday (June 11) with a double-header which is making history because it is being broadcast live on the internet.
The Cox Trophy final, which is for Division One teams, and the Minor knockout final which is for teams in the other two divisions, are both being played at the premises of the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford.
It will be the first time both have been broadcast simultaneously to a potential worldwide audience, thanks to hi-tech digital chess boards which link up to the internet, and will be a spectacular finale to the season.
Viewers will be able to follow the action through a "live chess" link on the Shrewsbury chess club website http://www.shrewsburychessclub.org . The chess club website can also be reached through the "chess clubs" tab within the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org .
There is no commentary, but viewers will be able to make their own assessments of best moves and who is doing well.
The Cox Trophy final sees Shrewsbury A taking on Newport A, while the Minor knockout final is between Church Stretton A and Telepost B.
Telepost reclaim rapidplay trophy - 02/06/2015
Telepost have reclaimed the Shropshire rapidplay trophy with just 12 seconds to spare in a dramatic climax to the tournament held in Telford.
With the running score 2-2 in the final, all eyes were on the top board where Nigel Ferrington and Francis Best were going head to head in the last game to finish and which in the circumstances had become a winner-takes-all encounter.
Best had what looked like a dangerous passed pawn but Ferrington had it under guard with his knight. As so often, Ferrington showed how adept he is at playing with only a few seconds to spare on his clock, and turned the situation round, queening a pawn and delivering checkmate in ultra fast order.
It meant Telepost won the title they last held in 2013. They did have some extra help as they turned up at the tournament at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises a player short, and Mark Keady of Brewood, who came along to the event in the hope of getting a game, was roped in to make up the numbers.
The other Telepost players were Phil Zabrocki, Matthew Clark, and John Bashall.
Six teams took part in the competition in which the time limit of 15 minutes to complete all the moves of the game saw some fast and furious chess.
Third place was taken by Newport A.
Summer knockout action - 19/05/2015
It's summer knockout time on the Shropshire chess scene with action under way in both the Cox Trophy, which involves the leading teams, and the Minor Knockout.
Priorslee A got off to a winning start in their defence of the Cox, seeing off Telford A by a 2.5 - 1.5 scoreline - teams are of just four in this competition. Most eye-catching result however was in the Shrewsbury derby, in which Telepost A were beaten 2.5 to 1.5 by their rivals Shrewsbury A.
The semi finals will see the Lions take on Shrewsbury, and Wellington A, who had a no-show by Oswestry, face Newport.
In the Minor, Telepost B are through to the semi final, having enjoyed a bye in the second round. Shrewsbury B and Church Stretton A are going head to head this week in one of the standout fixtures of the current round.
Meanwhile the clock is ticking down to the summer quickplay tournament being held at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford on May 31, with the deadline for entries being the end of this week. This is a team competition in which players will only have relatively little time on the clock for each game.
Players wanted for 4NCL - 12/05/2015
Organisers of Shropshire's team in the Four Nations Chess League are hoping to field a second team next season - and are on the lookout for players.With Shropshire no longer fielding teams on the inter-county chess circuit, the 4NCL is a way for local players to take on opponents from further afield.
In the last weekend of the season, Shropshire lost 4-2 to Iceni 1, but beat West Is Best 2 by a score of 4.5 to 1.5, and North East England 2 by a very strange score, of 5.5 to minus a half - the opponents were given a minus score as they defaulted two boards, incurring half point penalties for each default.
One of the Shropshire team organisers, Nathanael Paul, said: "The two best performing players, according to their overall performance percentage as well as including players that played at least five games, were Richard Bryant with a score of 4.5 out of 7 and Steve Tarr with 5 out of 8.
"Shropshire finished on 13 points, one point better than last year, and finished 14th in the final Division Three combined table. The victory in round 11 also confirmed our status in the next season's revamped Division Three.
"Due to our matches taking place in Telford next season, at the Park Inn Hotel, Chris Lewis and I are aiming to organise at least two teams and hopefully more, but that does depend on interest. We would very much like to hear from players who want to play, either as an official member or as a reserve. So for those players please can they either contact me via my email email@example.com , or my home phone number 01952 878739."
Meanwhile Shropshire's team summer rapidplay tournament has been set for May 31 at the premises of the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford.
Up and down week for Telford - 21/04/2015
Telford A are being relegated from the top flight of Shropshire Chess League – and they don't care that much.
The reason? The A-teamers can take the drop with a shrug because the club's B team have finished their Division Two campaign in one of the promotion spots and will be going up next season, passing the A-teamers going in the other direction.
In other words, Telford will still have one team in Division One and one in Division Two. For practical purposes, unless B-team players who fought a successful promotion campaign dogmatically assert their right to play in the upper tier, the club will have the option of simply “rebranding” the B team by filling it with this season's A team players.
Oswestry A had looked the more likely to go down from Division One, but their win against Telepost A and Telford's defeat against Wellington gave the borderlanders just the combination of results they needed to stay up on "goal difference."
Meanwhile Priorslee Lions A added more lustre to their taking of their first league title for 18 years by beating their nearest rivals Newport A, ensuring the Lions have completed the season undefeated.
Champions! - 14/04/2015
Priorslee Lions A held a special photocall to celebrate winning the Shropshire Chess League championship for the first time since 1997.
From left are George Viszokai, Steve Tarr, William Bates, Marvin Carbin, Glyn Pugh, Gary White and Adrian Zdanowski.
Back in the 1990s the team were called Coddon A, so it is the first time that they have taken the title under their new name which was adopted in 2011.
And tonight, Tuesday April 14, they have a new target - that of finishing the season unbeaten. Their opponents in the last game are Newport A, who are runners up in the league and have already secured the title of Shropshire's quickfire chess champions as they have won the Shropshire Rapidplay League at a canter, eight points clear.
Defaulty Towers - 31/03/2015
Are Church Stretton A the team in Shropshire Chess League that nobody wants to play against?
The Stretton team have clinched the Division Two title, but not in the style they would have wanted as, for the third time in six matches, their opponents - in this case Wellington B - defaulted against them.
Wellington, who have struggled to raise a full side because captain Derrick Powell has mobility problems and is currently unable to walk, are now definitely relegated, as to add to their default defeat they were defeated over the boards by Priorslee Lions B, who ensured themselves survival in the division in the process.
Joining Stretton in promotion are Telford B, despite being whitewashed by Telepost B. With Telford's A side still not safe in Division One, two possible scenarios have developed - that the B side going up will pass the A side as it comes down, or that Telford will be fielding two teams in the top flight next season.
In Division One, newly-crowned league champions Priorslee Lions A retained their unbeaten record with a draw against Shrewsbury A and only need to get a result from their last match, against second place Newport A, to stay undefeated for the entire season.
Champions at last - 24/03/2015
They've done it! Priorslee Lions have brought back memories of their glory days by winning the Shropshire Chess League championship for the first time since the 1990s.
Victory against last season's league champions Telepost A took the Lions over the finishing line in a season in which, despite not being the strongest team on paper, they made all the running. They still have two matches left and their next target will be to stay unbeaten.
As Coddon A, the Lions won the last of six consecutive league championships in 1997, but have missed out on league silverware ever since. The club changed their name to Priorslee Lions when they had to move from their Coddon sports and social club venue at Donnington when it closed in 2011 and moved to the Lion pub at Priorslee, so this title is their first under their new name.
With the running score in the crucial match at 1.5-1.5, Gary White glanced over to see that colleague Steve Tarr was clearly winning against Peter Crean. White himself had trapped Keith Tabner's queen on bottom board, and these two Lions' victories took them to a 1.5-3.5 win. The team is having a photo shoot at The Lion on March 30 to celebrate their triumph.
Things are starting to shake out at the other end of the table where Telford A were victors in the dog-eat-dog battle against Oswestry A which leaves Oswestry two points adrift at the foot of the division with just one match to play.
In Division Three, Newport B have guaranteed that they will join Church Stretton B in promotion. Their next ambition will be to leapfrog Stretton, over whom they have a game in hand, to go up as champions.
Seaside capers - 17/03/2015
Oh Shropshire players do like to be beside the seaside - as Salopians returned with plenty of plunder from the Blackpool Chess Conference.
In the Major section, Richard Bryant from the Oswestry club hung on to the lead and shared first place to become £300 richer, while in the Intermediate section Gary White of Priorslee Lions was one of three winners, bringing home £200 in his best performance in the event in 25 years. Nick Holmes of Telepost won a grading prize in the Minor section, his loot amounting to £100.
In Shropshire Chess League, Vinny Crean ran out of steam for Telepost B as they deepened Wellington B's relegation worries.
Driving to Wellington's venue, Crean's car ran dry of water. He limped there somewhat late and started his game with Derrick Powell, asking for dispensation to have his mobile phone available - there's a new rule which says if your mobile phone goes, you automatically lose.
A rescue truck duly appeared outside. With the game in its early stages and material equal, Crean resigned, shook Powell's hand – Powell did try unsuccessfully to persuade Vinny to play on for at least a while - and was away to deal with his car recovery.Nevertheless, Telepost still won the match to leave Wellington rooted at the bottom of Division Two.
Church Stretton A meanwhile handed out a 5-0 thumping to Shrewsbury B to secure promotion to the top flight in emphatic fashion.
Lions almost there - 10/03/2015
It's all over bar the shouting in the title battle in Shropshire Chess League with Priorslee Lions A all but certain to be crowned champions without having to move a piece.
A draw between the only teams to have an outside chance of ruining the Lions' party hands the championship to the Telford-based side, bar some improbable results in the remaining fixtures of the season. In fact the Lions could not bother turning out for their last three matches and would still be favourites to take the title.
They sat out last week's fixtures but Glyn Pugh of the Lions went along to the match between Newport A and Wellington A to keep an eye on developments. Their draw leaves Newport two points adrift with them having just one match to play. That match is against the Lions, who have a superior "goal difference" and in any event have three matches in hand, so they only need to draw against Telepost A this week to seal the championship for the first time in 18 years.
Things have meanwhile clarified at the foot of Division One, where Shrewsbury's narrow win over Oswestry leaves the county town side with some breathing space above the relegation zone. Oswestry and Telford however have it all to do to avoid the drop.
In Division Three, Newport B and Church Stretton B have sealed promotion, the only issue left being which ones will go up as champions.
Another walkover for Stretton - 03/03/2015
Church Stretton A will have mixed feelings about their latest victory which keeps them firmly on course for promotion from Division Two of Shropshire Chess League.
For the second time this season, the opposition failed to field a team against them, gifting Stretton both points through a defaulted match. Priorslee Lions B were the opponents and apparently were only able to find one player.
Stretton's B team have already guaranteed themselves promotion from Division Two, the only issue being whether they go up as division champions.
Meanwhile Newport Juniors are celebrating their first win of the season, the defeated opponents being Oswestry B.
The latest round of games in Division One of the rapidplay league was enlivened by one of the oldest disputes in chess.
It happened during the encounter between Wellington's Colin Roberts and Priorslee Lions' Adrian Zdanowski in one of those typical highly complicated positions that you get in speed chess.
Roberts moved his rook towards a square and then, realising it could be taken, quickly swept it away again.
Zdanowski said: "You let go of it. You made the move."
"No I didn't," replied Roberts.
Short of there being a slow motion replay, there was no definitive way of resolving the dispute, as there was no agreement either among those watching. The rule is that once you let go of a piece, that completes the move, and you cannot change your mind and make a different move.
Eventually, under protest, Roberts gave way, saying that if it had been a league game he would have fought his corner more fiercely. As the disputed move was a losing one, he resigned, which ensured a match victory for the Lions.
Time gentlemen please - 24/02/2015
Priorslee Lions A are on the brink of taking the league championship title after a draw against Wellington A leaves them needing two points from their last three matches to become outright winners.
Wellington experimented with a switchabout of their top three boards but if anything it backfired, as the upshot was lost two, drew one.
The home side were actually ahead in the running score when the last game, between Colin Roberts and Glyn Pugh, was still being played and a draw by Roberts would have won the match for Wellington. However, not only was he losing over the board, but his flag had also fallen, meaning an automatic loss on time - but only if Pugh noticed.
For about 10 minutes Roberts kept moving instantly, in the hope that Pugh would not look at the clock. Among Pugh's watching colleagues this caused quiet amusement, rather than anxiety, as he himself had plenty of time on the clock. Roberts' final gambit was to give all his pieces away in the hope of getting a stalemate. But there was no stalemate and finally Pugh glanced at the clock and it was all over.
At the other end of the table, Shrewsbury A whitewashed Telford A in a dog-eat-dog encounter but things remain very tight.
In Division Two, Shrewsbury B lost their unbeaten record with a crushing defeat by tabletopping Church Stretton A, a result which, followed by a draw against Telford B, sees Shrewsbury drop away from the promotion spots.
Stretton look good for title - 17/02/2015
Church Stretton A are in pole position for promotion from Division Two in Shropshire Chess League after whitewashing struggling Wellington B. Stretton head the table on points difference over Telford B, over whom they enjoy a game in hand.
Less satisfactorily, Stretton gained two effortless points after Telford C defaulted their match against the south Shropshire side. With an automatic 5-0 margin, this gives Stretton what could prove an important "goal difference" advantage of their promotion rivals.
With Shropshire no longer taking part in inter-county chess competition there remains an outlet for local players who want to play on the bigger stage through the Four Nations Chess League.
Here a team competes under the Shropshire banner and had mixed fortunes in the latest rounds, beating e2e4 3 in round 5 by 3.5-2.5 and narrowly losing in round 6 to Downend & Fishponds by the same score. It means Shropshire are on 8 points from a possible 12.
Lions close in on title - 10/02/2015
Priorslee Lions A have taken a huge step towards securing their first league title in the Shropshire Chess League for a generation by chalking up another win giving them a four point lead at the top of Division One.
With just four games to play, only a drastic loss of form will deny them the championship trophy which they last won in 1997 when they were known as Coddon. They were the dominant force in Shropshire chess and had a run of six consecutive title victories.
It will be their first championship trophy under the new name which was adopted in 2011 when they had to leave the Coddon Pavilion venue at Donnington on its closure, and set up a new home at the Lion pub at Priorslee.
Their latest win was against Oswestry A, who ran the league leaders close and for whom defeat leaves them perilously close to the relegation spots.
The Lions' next opponents are Wellington A who realistically must win to keep the championship issue alive.
Division Three honours were shared in the top-of-the-table clash between Church Stretton B and Newport B.
Not the best of mates - 03/02/2015
A deft save against a player described by Shrewsbury B's captain Ian Davies as "the silent assassin of female chess" ensured the county town side retained their unbeaten record in Shropshire Chess League.
Rather unusually, all five games in the Division Two Telepost B v Shrewsbury B derby match were drawn, but it was a close call for Andrew Lewis who went a piece down against Kate Walker and seemed destined to become the next assassin's victim.
Davies says: "Andrew showed great tenacity and later on regained the piece, but Kate had a very dangerous pawn on the seventh rank poised to join in the kill, when something very bizarre occurred. After chasing Kate's king around the board with his rook, Andrew announced checkmate and started apologising for having won the game after looking to be dead in the water. So convincing was he that Kate believed him as well, and looked like she was about to resign when they discovered that it wasn't checkmate after all.
"What strange things happen at the end of chess matches. The game continued and then ironically, Kate was about to place her king on a square which surely would have won her the game when she changed her mind at the last second, because she thought it allowed a mate - it didn't. Finally a draw was agreed. Phew!"
Meanwhile it is Telford B who have moved into pole position for promotion at the head of Division Two after their win over a shorthanded Wellington B, who remain rooted at the bottom of the table. Although Telford and Shrewsbury have equal points, Telford are top due to their slightly better "goal difference.".
However third placed Church Stretton A will still fancy their promotion chances. They are two points off the leaders, but have two matches in hand, and their next two opponents are both in the relegation spots, followed by a real cruncher - against Shrewsbury B.
Fond Farewell to Alan Wright - 27/01/2015
Tragedy has struck the world of Shropshire chess with the death of Alan Wright of Ludlow A shortly after a match against Oswestry.
The 88-year-old passed away peacefully in the back of the car as the team made the long journey home to south Shropshire. He was the only Ludlow player to win his game that night.
Paul Munday and the Ludlow team have decided to withdraw from Division One for the remainder of the season as a mark of respect to Alan.
Club secretary Richard Croot said: "He regularly attended the club and played in the Birmingham leagues too. These words from Peter Hallett of Ludlow chess club express the sentiment of club members: 'It was always a pleasure to accept an invitation to a game from Alan, despite the fact that I never expected to win, and never did, except on one notable occasion when he could easily have won had he so wished.
"The term 'gentleman' certainly seems the most appropriate one to apply in this case. I was never made to feel that I was an unworthy opponent and, while I no longer attend the club, I am sure that he will be sadly missed at all levels.''
And Munday said: "Alan was a valued member of the club for some 15 years, always ready to play if needed and also provide transport to matches. He was a true gentleman and sportsman who took a keen interest in the running of the club, holding the office of treasurer. He was held in high regard by all who knew him and we will much miss his presence at the club. He was also an active member of Birmingham chess club, playing for them over many years."
Ludlow's league match results for the season are now voided and their withdrawal will mean just one team of the remainder in Division One will now be relegated.
On a happier note, Newport's Nathanael Paul won the Nottingham U160 rapidplay with a score of five out of a possible six. He was unbeaten with four wins and two draws, taking home £100 in prize money.
Division two's a must for Shrews - 20/01/2015
Shrewsbury B have surged to the top of the Second Division in Shropshire Chess League and can start dreaming of a promotion in which it is conceivable that they will pass the club's A team going the other way. Because while the B-teamers are doing well and are unbeaten, a fourth defeat of the season for Shrewsbury A sees them hovering precariously just above the Division One relegation zone.
Shrewsbury B's victory was against Priorslee Lions B, who were missing some top players and also defaulted the bottom board. In the top flight, the A team's loss came at the hands of Wellington A, who consequently closed the gap on table-topping Priorslee Lions A to three points.
Rather unusually, all the games in the Wellington A v Shrewsbury A encounter went virtually the full distance on the clocks. It meant that even while Colin Roberts was pondering a draw offer from Shrewsbury's Daniel Lockett, games around him were being completed to leave a running match score of 2.5-1.5. The upshot was that Roberts had the luxury of accepting the draw in the knowledge that it would take Wellington over the winning post to victory.
Title rivals both slip up - 13/01/2015
Priorslee Lions have strengthened their position at the head of Division One after the first Shropshire Chess League matches of 2015 - without having to move a piece. The Lions' match against Shrewsbury on Friday was postponed, at the Lions' request, but the fall of other results were to their advantage.
Wellington A's hopes in the title race were further dented with a defeat at the hands of visitors Oswestry A, while reigning league champions Telepost A similarly made no progress in their efforts to close the gap at the top, going down to a heavy defeat against Newport A. The upshot is that while the Lions' five point lead stays the same, there is now a bunching of six teams with just three points separating them, and any of them could find themselves facing relegation.
Ludlow A, adrift at the bottom of the table, had the satisfaction of gaining their first point of the season, with a draw against Telford A.
In Division Three a tremendous battle is shaping up between Church Stretton B and Newport B, who both started the second half of the season with thumping 4-0 victories, with Newport's being very much an in-house affair, as their opponents were that club's C team.
In the Four Nations Chess League, Shropshire lost 5-1 to Celtic Tigers 1, but then knocked over this year's top seed, Poisoned Pawns, 3.5-2.5. It leaves Shropshire in joint fourth place with six points out of a possible eight.
Congress a huge success - 06/01/2015
A record entry of 156 players, including about 15 juniors, saw Shropshire Chess Congress enjoy its most successful ever tournament, with a host of Shropshire players among the winners and taking a share of the prize fund of over £2,000. Ten digital chess boards were in operation, meaning some of the top games could be followed by a global audience online.
"It's been very successful with the highest numbers ever," said one of the organisers, Steve Rooney. "The spread of ages has been from eight until well into the 80s."
The tough competition was underlined by the fact that there were no outright winners in any of the three sections.
The strongest section, the Open, saw a four-way tie on four points out of a maximum five, with the winners being expatriate Salopian John Cox, who is an International Master; Nigel Ferrington, who is Shropshire's highest graded player; Ryszard Maciol; and Gordon Scott.
Among those collecting grading prizes for best performances by players graded under 180 were Trevor Brotherton, Richard Bryant and, in a very creditable performance as he was one of the lowest graded of all, Steve Tarr.
Joint winners in the Major on 4.5 out of 5 were Ian Emery and Nigel Holyroyd, and taking third place was the Priorslee Lions player Glyn Pugh. Under-145 grading prizes went to Matt Best, Colin Fell, and Karl Lockett.
There was another tie in the Minor section, again on 4.5 out of 5, with the winners being Marco Ho and Kieran Newell. Equal third were Jim Barrett, Phil Burgess, Jason Madden, and Telepost's Kate Walker.
Newport's Dave Lovegrove and Paul Broderick of Telford were among five players to share the grading prize for best performance by players graded under 105.
The competition was held at the premises of the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford.
Lions are roaring - 23/12/2014
Priorslee Lions A are beginning to look unstoppable at the top of Division One in Shropshire chess league, surging to five points ahead with a thumping win over Newport A.
An indication of how everything is going right for the Lions is that William Bates was still able to draw against Nathanael Paul despite having a lone pawn against Paul's two queens. Paul was desperately short of time and his flag fell before he could administer checkmate although, with just a single second left on his clock, he made sure he took Bates' pawn first, otherwise he would have actually lost on time despite his huge material advantage. A lone pawn counts as "mating material" - pawns can of course become queens - so if Bates had still had it on the board when Paul ran out of time, he could, under the rules, theoretically have won himself.
The Lions' cause has been helped because, while they remain unbeaten, those in the chasing pack have faltered. Even at this half way stage, they now look odds-on favourites to take their first league championship title as Priorslee Lions, and their first league title since the glorious era when, as Coddon A, they won six championships in a row from 1992 to 1997. They changed their name when the Coddon social club closed and they moved to the Lion pub at Priorslee.
It was however the last game of the season for the Lions by Munroe Morrison, as he is going to Qatar.
Ludlow's defeat by visitors Shrewsbury sees them still rooted at the bottom of the division, while Wellington A, who had refused a request from Telford A to postpone their match, almost paid a price for their lack of Christmas goodwill and only narrowly scraped a draw. John Footner seemed to be moving smoothly to a win over Colin Roberts which would also have secured the match victory for Telford when Roberts uncorked one of those complicating moves which are a nightmare to deal with when you are short of time - as Footner was. It proved enough to persuade Footner to acquiesce to a draw, which drew the match.
Unity between Shrops and Staffs - 16/12/2014
Shropshire took the honours in the Unity Cup chess encounter against Staffordshire, winning by 25.5 to 19.5.
The format of the fun event at Newport chess club proved a success, having been rejigged after the original intention of having a purely in-house Shropshire club competition proved impossible because of lack of support from Shropshire players.
Nathanael Paul , who organised the event with Richard Clarke, said: "It went really well. The Staffs team included a handful of Shropshire players. This was due to short notice, as well as county matches on the Saturday, which resulted in Staffordshire not being able to raise an entire team of just Staffs players. This was also shown by the inclusion of players from Wolverhampton areas in their team.
"Richard Clarke and I are aiming to have the same event next year in early November, which will be a Shropshire vs Staffordshire match. However, we are also looking into the possibility of adding an additional team which will include players from the Wolverhampton areas. Overall 46 players took part. Next year we are very optimistic that the event will consist of significantly more participants."
In a bizarre incident in the Wellington B v Shrewsbury B league encounter, Shrewsbury's top board Norman O'Connor took one of his own pieces.
He removed his knight from the board believing John Lenton had taken it with his bishop. There followed an intense discussion between the two veteran players, with Lenton insisting that he had not taken the knight - it would have been a straight exchange of pieces with no real effect on the balance of the game - and had instead made a quiet pawn move. After a minute or two of debate, O'Connor relented, replaced his knight, and the game continued, ending in a draw.
Elsewhere Derrick Powell's piece sacrifice against Shrewsbury captain Ian Davies didn't quite work after which he was fighting to save the game, but he bounced back strongly and for a while a win seemed a distinct possibility. Davies was giving what looked like perpetual check when Powell's flag fell - meaning an automatic loss on time. In the last game to finish, Mani Ananth found a nice checkmate against Tony Purser on bottom board. This ensured a draw for Wellington in a match in which for a few moments their first victory of the season had been tantalisingly close.
Entries are building up for Shropshire Chess Congress on January 3 and 4, and there is a financial incentive to get in entries early, as the fee is £6 extra after December 22.
Lions lead the way - 09/12/2014
Priorslee Lions have roared into a four point lead at the top of Division One in Shropshire Chess League after a comprehensive victory over reigning league champions Telepost A giving the Telford-based team their best start to a season for years.
Shrewsbury-based Telepost have been hard hit by the loss or unavailability of some top players and actually gifted the Lions a point by defaulting bottom board.
Priorslee's performance this season has been remarkable as they are, on paper, by no means the strongest team, but their big three of Adrian Zdanowski, William Bates, and Glyn Pugh have been in fine form - all are unbeaten in the league in this campaign - and were once more instrumental in securing both points. Pugh had already won before Bates had the luxury of being able to wait 30 minutes on his move just to see how things were going on other boards. He then played a series of checks forcing a draw by perpetual check and ensuring the Lions would at the very least draw the match.
Steve Tarr then won, which meant the outcome of the top board encounter between Zdanowski and Nigel Ferrington, Shropshire's strongest player, was academic as the Lions had already secured both match points. In a complex bishop and pawn endgame, Ferrington offered a draw with just a minute left on his clock to leave an impressive 4 - 1 final scoreline.
Meanwhile Gary White of the Lions has seen the end of his run of four chess congresses in which he has come away with prize money. He just missed out on the cash at Leicester congress, where he played in the Minor for players graded under 130 and was joint fourth.
His next chance to be in the prizes is the biggie - Shropshire Chess Congress, which is at the premises of the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford on January 3 and 4.
The clock is ticking down and by the end of last week there were already over 30 entries. On past form, around another 100 entries can be expected, and there is a big incentive to enter early as those who throw their hat in the ring after December 22 have to pay an extra £6 as a late entry fee.
New format for Unity Cup - 02/12/2014
Shropshire take on Staffordshire in the second Unity Cup challenge which is being held at Newport Chess Club on Sunday, December 7. It is a change to the original format, which was a competition between Shropshire clubs, but unfortunately the level of interest has not been enough to support an in-house Shropshire event. Venue is the Royal British Legion and there will be two rounds, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, with each player having 95 minutes to complete all their games.
Event organisers are Nathanael Paul and Richard Clarke.
With there being no Shropshire teams taking part in inter-county chess any more - again because of lack of support - the flag for the county is being flown by the team which plays under the Shropshire banner for the Four Nations Chess League. The Salopians got off to a good start in their opening matches, winning both 4-2, against "Hackney 2" and "Anglian Avengers 3".
In Shropshire chess league action, Oswestry A chalked up a victory against an under-strength Shrewsbury A who become perilously close to the relegation zone as a result.
There was better news however for Shrewsbury's B team who have climbed into second place in Division Two after beating Telford C. Mark Smith got things going by winning a king and pawn endgame and captain Ian Davies says after being gifted a piece "I gave a master class in attacking chess against an exposed king and finished the game off by winning the queen by forcing his king onto a square where I could fork both pieces with my knight. Tal (legendary attacking chess player) would have been proud!"
And in Division Three, Church Stretton B's juggernaut rolls on with a win against a short-handed Newport Juniors.
Lions show their teeth - 25/11/2014
Priorslee Lions have savaged Ludlow A to stamp their authority at the head of Division One.
The Telford-based outfit profited too from a stumble by rivals Wellington A, who went down to their first defeat of the season despite looking on paper to outgun Newport A. Priorslee have broken clear at the top with a two point cushion, although with some of the teams which are currently off the pace seeming at last to get into their stride they will be taking nothing for granted.
Colin Roberts needed to beat Nathanael Paul in the last game to finish to salvage a draw for Wellington against their visitors, but with seconds left on the clock in a rook and pawn endgame he had no time left to do anything other than share the point.
Newport have incidentally lost one of their super strong players, Gavyn Cooper, who has permanently moved from the area.
Reigning champions Telepost A won their third consecutive match and have moved into third place.
In Division Three, Church Stretton B still remain top, but Newport B are keeping pace with them and have a game in hand.
Changes are afoot in the Unity Cup tie scheduled to be held on Newport on December 7. It had been shaped up as a West Shropshire v East Shropshire fun extravaganza, but it has become apparent that there is a struggle to find players for a West Shropshire team, so now organisers Nathanael Paul and Richard Clarke are seeing if there is potential for a Shropshire v Staffordshire head-to-head.
Rapidplay league starts to shape up - 18/11/2014
Division One in Shropshire's rapidplay league could not be closer after the latest round of matches - as all six teams are tied on equal points.
Appearances, though, are deceptive as, because some teams are given a "rest" in some rounds, Shrewsbury A and Church Stretton A have played six matches, while all the rest have only played half that number.
The rapidplay league is only in its second season and is running in tandem with the normal league, the chief difference being that in rapidplay matches players only have 20 minutes on the clock to complete all their moves. In the normal league the time limit is 95 minutes.
Things are similarly skewed in Division Two where Newport B lead the table having won all four of their matches. However, three teams, including newcomers Brewood, have played no matches at all yet.
Latest matches in the normal Division Two of Shropshire Chess League have made no significant difference to standings at the top, where Church Stretton A enjoy a two point lead and must already be favourites for promotion due to the strength of their team. The real issue of the division may be who joins them in the step up. A second defeat for Wellington B sees them rooted at the bottom, although they have games in hand.
In Division Three, Newport C were busy, with matches on consecutive nights, both of which they won - firstly against Telepost C, and then in their in-house derby against Newport Juniors.
Top-of-the-table battle - 11/11/2014
The score was a draw but Priorslee Lions emerged moral victors of the much anticipated top-of-the-table clash with Wellington A.
Priorslee Lions A were significantly outgraded on the top four boards but were the ones who came closest to taking both points.
With the running scores on the night level, it boiled down to the top board clash between Adrian Zdanowski and Toby Neal. Zdanowski was a piece up but Neal's rooks were powerfully placed, doubled on the seventh rank. The Priorslee player had to acquiesce to a draw as his only hope of squeezing out anything more would have involved giving up his extra piece, which would have been a throw of the dice in an even position with time very short.
The honours shared in this match mean that the chasing pack has been able to close the gap on the two leaders, with Telepost A and Shrewsbury A winning their games to be the principal benefactors.
In Division Three, Church Stretton B are in top spot after victory over Priorslee Lions C, who were massively outgraded - Priorslee's top board Michael Reynolds was only slightly higher graded than Stretton's bottom board John Casewell.
It's only November, but all is already in place for the Shropshire Chess Congress, which is on January 3 and 4 at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford, with details on the Shropshire chess website www.shropshirechess.org .
Sad end of a chess era - 04/11/2014
It's the sad end of a chess era with the decision to pull out the last Shropshire team still taking part in county competition.
The withdrawal of the Shropshire team in the under-140 grade section means that there are now no Shropshire teams at any level, following the loss of the open team two or three seasons back because nobody came forward to act as captain. The problem has been that many players do not want to play or are not available to play at weekends, which makes being a team captain a thankless task.
Gary White of Priorslee Lions said: "I always considered it to be an honour and a privilege to be asked to play for the county, whether it was at Shifnal or a distance to travel to an away fixture. It is a sad reflection of the times that such a philosophy is not felt the same throughout Shropshire. It was only two years ago that our U140 team went further into the competition and actually became national champions. There were plenty of players available to play for those 'glory' semi-final and final matches, but where are they now?"
The future vitality of the local chess scene will, of course, depend on juniors coming through, and there was some encouragement for Newport Juniors in their latest league match, against Oswestry, when the youngsters picked up their first point of the season.
Meanwhile, Gary White has been in the money yet again on his chess travels. He was among 356 players who took part in five sections at the 38th Scarborough Chess Congress. He entered the U136 Minor - that is, the Minor section for players graded under 136 - with 62 entries, and finished joint third with five others on four points out of five to pick up £50.
"This is without doubt the best start to a season I have ever had, with prize money in four consecutive congresses and unbeaten in five league games. My current record is played 26, won 16, drawn five, lost five, which equates to just over 71 per cent."
And, just to prove luck can play a part in chess, White made a terrible start to his fifth round game, with post-match computer analysis putting him the equivalent of over seven pawns down at one stage, only for his opponent to falter and then fall.
Man of the moment - 21/10/2014
It's that man again... Globetrotting Gary White of Telford has been on his chess travels again and picked up some more prize money cheques.
"The first one was for an incredible £7.50 from Hull," said Priorslee Lions player Gary.
"Apparently, I shared the grading prize - with six others - despite only finishing the U140 section with what I considered to be a disappointing 2.5 out of 5, so it was a bit of a consolation prize.
"My love of the Isle of Man continues, after finishing joint second in the U141 Minor section of the week-long Pokerstars International Tournament, in Douglas. I had five wins and two losses to finish on 5 out of 7 along with two others, just half a point behind the overall winner, to win £200.
"Next up - Scarborough!"
Arrangements have been finalised for the 2014 Unity Cup, organised by Richard Clarke and Nathanael Paul. It is to take the form of a Shrewsbury v Telford match and will be at the Royal British Legion, Newport, on December 7.
Latest league action has been a round of fixtures in Division Two with two draws, the main result of which has been to lift Telford C off the bottom of the table.
Tough start for the champions - 14/10/2014
Two matches, two defeats, and two of their strongest players missing - reigning Shropshire Chess League champions Telepost A have had a tough start to the new campaign.
Their board two stalwart of last season, Richard Bryant, has opted to play for promoted Oswestry A and so has been permanently lost to the Shrewsbury-based club, and Phil Zabrocki was again unavailable for their latest match, against Wellington A whom they had denied the league title in an epic winner-takes-all finale to last season.
This time round Wellington gained at least a measure of revenge thanks to stand-in Derrick Powell's win over Steve Kempsell which secured victory. But it was not without some anxious moments. With Wellington 2-1 up in the running score, Powell needed to convert an overwhelming advantage of queen and pawns against Kempsell's lone king and a few pawns to clinch a match win.
Kempsell's position was hopeless, except in one respect - Powell was down to his last two minutes. After seeking advice from his captain, Kempsell played on rather than resigning. Derrick is well known for having difficulty with the clock, and an added handicap to fast play is that he has multiple sclerosis, so Wellington players watched with a sinking feeling as he committed such time trouble sins as forgetting to press his clock, but then there was relief when he checkmated Kempsell with seconds to spare.
South Shropshire took on North Shropshire in a Ludlow A v Oswestry A encounter, and the journey was rewarded for Oswestry as they came away with a win, while Priorslee Lions A are joint top of the table after beating Telford A, who were missing their top players.
Church Stretton look so strong - 07/10/2014
Church Stretton A have forged an early lead in Division Two and even at this stage of the season look prime contenders for promotion.
With the likes of Trevor Brotherton on top board and Steve Rooney on board two, the south Shropshire team look hard to beat, and handed out a whitewash to Telford C in their second outing of the season.
In a Shrewsbury derby match, Shrewsbury B scored a resounding victory over Telepost B. After two draws, Ivor Salter's Albin Counter Gambit against Quentin Mills saw the Telepost player struggle to get developed and then lose a piece, putting Shrewsbury in the lead. Ian Davies played what he thought was a killer rook sacrifice against John Casewell, who saw through the trap and gobbled up a pawn instead, but made a mistake soon afterwards which took Shrewsbury over the finishing line.
Telford start season in style - 23/09/2014
Shropshire league chess action has resumed after the summer break, but the Telford chess club has already hit the ground running.
The club also plays in the Wolverhampton league and has scored a stunning victory in the Pittaway Cup against Lichfield despite being outgraded on almost all boards. In this handicap competition, Telford needed three points to get through, but in the event scored 5.5.
"It was a great win and the best start to the season we could have had," said Richard Thompson of the team.
Back on the Shropshire league scene, the first matches of the season have been in Division Two, with just one fixture last week in Division Three. Church Stretton's 3.5-1.5 win over Telepost B saw David Hodge playing his first competitive match for a number of years, and he celebrated his return by chalking up a win against Kate Walker.
This week sees Division One action begin and reigning champions Telepost A start their defence with a tough battle against Newport A.
Looking further ahead, plans are being drawn up to play a "Unity Cup" tournament some time in December which could take the form of an East v West battle in the county.
Tribute to John Randle - 12/08/2014
Shropshire chess is mourning the passing of the founder of the Sutton Hill chess club in the 1970s.
John Randle was 85 and lived in Little Dawley. Sutton Hill's moment of glory came when, led by Alan Stearn, it won the league in 1974, but later the club became defunct.
However John was still to be seen on the Shropshire chess scene until quite recently, popping along to the county's chess congress with his chess-playing son Glyn to watch the action, although he would never actually play.
The funeral was held on August 5.
Good turnout for summer blitz event - 22/07/2014
There was a two-way tie in the first of the summer blitz chess competitions held at Newport chess club, which had a good turnout of 24 players.
Bill Bates of the Newport club, and Wellington's Colin Roberts, came top with a score of five out of six, with Newport's Nick Rutter third on 4.5 points.
Danny Griffiths took the prize for players graded under 153, and Zach Maydew won the under-133 grading prize.
The tournament was a handicap in which the strongest players in the competition had to make all their moves of the game in a maximum of three minutes, with the lowest graded players having up to eight minutes for their moves.
The next tournament is on August 5.
AGM rings the changes - 15/07/2014
Brrr, brrr.... you've lost your game!
A new rule cracking down on the use of mobile phones in Shropshire chess has been agreed by the county chess association at its annual meeting. And it means that if a player's mobile phone rings during a game, they automatically lose. Players will have to ensure that their mobile phones are turned off during matches, although in practice this happens anyway.In exceptional cases, phones will be allowed to remain on by prior agreement between the players - an example might be if a player's wife is about to give birth.
The other major crackdown agreed was on the controversial use of players from division one to play for different clubs in lower divisions. This has been allowed as a way to help struggling teams raise a full side, but the effect has been for some division two teams to make themselves artificially stronger at key points in the season by bringing in heavy artillery from the top flight.
Peter Crean of Telepost club said that the use of strong "imports" had had a distorting effect and had influenced the promotion and relegation battles. Presented with three options, the meeting agreed his proposal which bans any division one player graded 150 or above from playing for a different club in division two, and bans any "import" graded above 140 from playing for a different club in division three.
However, there was a loosening of the regulations in another area. From next season any player who plays for a higher team on five occasions is then tied to playing only for that team for the rest of the season. The present rule ties players to a higher team once they have played for that team on a third occasion.
Nick Rutter - nine times county champion - 01/07/2014
Away from the board, the annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association is being held on July 8 at the Telepost Chess Club in Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, at 7.30pm.
Newport's Nick Rutter has moved into the realms of being an all-time Shropshire chess legend after a record-equalling win of the county's individual championship.
Rutter has now triumphed in the competition nine times, putting him on a par with the nine wins of another county chess legend, David Everington. Rutter secured the title with a draw against Richard Bryant in the last round of the seven-round competition, which is played over the entire chess season.
Rutter described has triumph in the competition as "lucky", although in fact he has been at or near the top of the county chess tree ever since moving to Shropshire in the late 1980s.
He ended the tournament on 5.5 points, which was actually equal to two other players, Wellington club's Colin Roberts and Toby Neal, but Rutter takes the trophy by virtue of the "sum of progressive scores" tiebreak system. This essentially gives extra credit for scoring better in the initial rounds, rather than finishing from behind, which is the easier route.
Possibility of new club in new season fixtures - 24/06/2014
A new chess club is knocking on the door of the Shropshire league, which could potentially mean a new fixture which will take teams to Whitchurch for the first time.
For the past two years Malpas & Whitchurch Chess Club have been playing in the Chester & District League, winning its third division easily in their first season. Last season, in division two, they finished near the bottom. The club also entered Wirral Chess League. However, according to club secretary Charles Higgie, there is a question mark over the continuation of the Chester league, and he is now sounding out the Shropshire league with a view to potentially playing in that.
"At present we play at Tilston, in Cheshire, so we would have to find a new venue in Whitchurch, but I am sure that would not be impossible. In the league we play in, we often travel up to an hour for our away matches, so we would be quite happy to journey to most other clubs. "Ludlow would be too far, but Richard Thompson has suggested that any match with Ludlow could be played at a neutral venue, maybe in Shrewsbury," said Charles.
The potential addition of the club has been put on the agenda for the annual meeting of Shropshire Chess Association, which is on July 8 at Telepost chess club in Shrewsbury at 7.30pm.
Meanwhile Shropshire's individual championship is heading for a grandstand finish. After the final round two Wellington players, Colin Roberts and Toby Neal, are tied on 5.5 points, but could be overtaken by Newport's Nick Rutter, who has yet to complete his final game in the seven-round tournament.
Rutter's opponent is Richard Bryant and a victory for Rutter, who is currently on 5 points, would make him outright winner of the competition, while a draw would see the title shared three ways.
Priorslee Lions show their teeth - 10/06/2014
Priorslee Lions have won the Cox summer knockout trophy in a nailbiting final against Newport A in which the teams were only separated in a tiebreaker after drawing 2-2.
The board elimination rule was brought in to play in which the bottom board result is discounted, and after wiping the slate clean of Chris Lewis' win against Jim O'Neill the result became a 2-1 win to Priorslee. Priorslee should have won more convincingly with a 3-1 score, but Glyn Pugh blundered in Gavyn Cooper's time trouble.
Full result was: Priorslee Lions 2, Newport A 2 - Adrian Zdanowski 1, Nick Rutter 0; Glyn Pugh 0, Gavyn Cooper 1; William Bates 1, Nathanael Paul 0; Jim O'Neill 0, Chris Lewis 1.
Jim O'Neill made an unsound sacrifice in the opening, while William Bates crushed Nathanael Paul. The pressure was on Newport as Bates was first to finish. Gavyn Cooper's attack met with stern defence and the counter attack meant Cooper sacrificed the exchange, but it was not good enough, only for Pugh to make a losing mistake at the end.
Zdanowski had an excellent game and slowly ground Nick Rutter down.
In the fun simultaneous event at Newport chess club in which three high graded county players took on allcomers, it was the allcomers who had all the glory, comprehensively beating their supposed chess betters 9.5-3.5.
A total of 13 players took on Nick Rutter, Gavyn Cooper, and Toby Neal in a simultaneous display, in which the trio went round the 13 boards making their moves in turn against the challengers. Among the notable achievements was a creditable draw by upcoming junior Dominic Holmes.
"It was a very enjoyable night with lots of exciting chess, great banter and excellent food. I will be aiming to organise a similar event for Christmas," said organiser Nathanael Paul.
Meanwhile there are prospects for al fresco chess in Telford. Five chess tables are being created as part of the new Southwater development in the town centre, overlooking the new lake. Pieces can be hired from the nearby information point.
Newport take quickplay title - 03/06/2014
Newport are Shropshire's new quick-on-the-draw chess champions after scoring a convincing victory in the county's annual rapidplay tournament.
The Newport team took the trophy in decisive style, ending the hopes of Shrewsbury-based Telepost of scoring a hat-trick. Telepost had taken the title in the two previous years but the Newport outfit of Nick Rutter, Gavyn Cooper, Nathanael Paul, Simon Maydew, and Chris Lewis were just too strong for the opposition, going through the tournament unbeaten.
They topped the table in the league stage and then saw off Telepost 4.5-0.5 in the semi final. In the other semi final Shrewsbury beat Telford 3-2, setting up a final between Newport and Shrewsbury.
Newport went into a 2-0 lead but then Matt Best pulled a point back for Shrewsbury to raise the tension. Chris Lewis' win against Ivor Salter on bottom board however put the issue beyond doubt.
Six teams entered the competition and players had to complete all moves of the game in 25 minutes. The tournament was held at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford.
Organiser Toby Neal said: "Newport were worthy winners on the day and few teams got any change from them. Chess at these time limits can get very frenetic, which is all part of the fun."
Full result in the final was: Newport 3.5, Shrewsbury 1.5: N. Rutter 0.5, F. Best 0.5; G. Cooper 1, D. Everington 0; N. Paul 1, D. Lockett 0; S. Maydew 0, M. Best 1; C. Lewis 1, I Salter 0.
Third/fourth place playoff: Telepost 2, Telford 3: N. Ferrington 0.5, T. Brotherton 0.5; R. Bryant 0, N. Nazif 1; J. Bashall 0, S. Tennant 1; M. Clark 1, R. Gillespie 0; K. Tabner 0.5, W. Peck 0.5.
Shropshire mourns John Tunks - 27/05/2014
Shropshire chess is mourning the passing of veteran John Tunks, a tough competitor on the playing scene for many years.
Paying tribute, club colleague Eugene Raby said: "I have the sad job of informing Shropshire chess that John Tunks passed away last Tuesday night at the Shrewsbury hospital.
"John Tunks would himself like to be remembered for his encouragement and support to young players throughout his chess-playing years. John first started playing chess seriously in the early 1960s but was given his first showing with Shropshire when he moved into the area in the early 1970s when he helped form the Sutton Hill chess club. This club quickly grew and won the league at their first attempt.
"John then joined GKN Sankey's which within two seasons became very successful, producing many strong youngsters. John contributed greatly. Then in the early 1980s Sankey's needed a new venue and moved to the famous Coddon club which went on to become one of Shropshire's most successful until the club's closure in 2011 when they relocated to the Lion at Priorslee.
"John continued to enjoy success even at his later years, but had to endure a bypass operation in his mid-sixties and through grit and determination recovered well to play some of his best chess.
"One thing anyone knew when they sat down to play John Tunks is they were in for a tough game. Sadly for John during his last few weeks his health suffered and he passed away quietly at hospital.
"I am sure everyone who knew John will offer his family their deepest thoughts and respect."
Meanwhile there is chess action on Sunday, June 1, with the Shropshire rapidplay tournament held at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford. Seven teams have entered. The title is currently held by Telepost.
Cox Trophy first round upset - 20/05/2014
Who would have thought it? Telepost A 0, Shrewsbury A 4.
The big county town derby in the first round of the Cox Trophy summer knockout competition saw a thumping win for Shrewsbury over an admittedly under-strength Telepost side.
Elsewhere Newport A cruised through the first round with a 3.5-0.5 win against Telford A, and Wellington A had a walkover against Condover & Church Stretton A, who were unable to raise a team.
Action in the Minor knockout, which is for teams in the lower divisions of Shropshire Chess League, saw Wellington B beat Newport C and, in another derby, Shrewsbury B beat three-man Telepost D 3-1.
Shropshire individual championship is heading for its climax with a clutch of players on 4.5 points with a chance of taking the title. However favourite has to be Nigel Ferrington, of Telepost, who has a game in hand. In the seventh and final round he takes on Wellington's Colin Roberts. In the other key encounters, Oswestry's Richard Bryant, on 3.5 points, takes on Nick Rutter of Newport, who is on 4.5, while Condover & Church Stretton's Trevor Brotherton, on 2.5 and with a game in hand, takes on Toby Neal, on 4.5.
Leagues complete but chess action continues - 13/05/2014
Wellington B have saved themselves from relegation as the last match of the season settled the only outstanding issue in the league - who was going to go down from Division Two. Wellington's win against promoted Ludlow A took them to safety on 15 points and means that Newport B joint Telepost C in the drop. With only two points separating five teams in the bottom six, the relegation battle has been nailbiting. With all the other games being drawn, the crucial result was on top board where Nazif Nazif beat Richard Croot. It proved the difference between the teams.
Although the league season is over, there's still plenty of chess action in coming weeks, with the Cox Trophy summer knockout competition starting this week with the pick of the fixtures being Telepost A taking on county town rivals Shrewsbury A. The Minor knockout is already under way.
June 1 sees the team rapidplay at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford and on June 10 there is a three-way simultaneous event at Newport chess club in which Nick Rutter, Gavyn Cooper, and Toby Neal will be taking on allcomers. Entry fee is £5 and details from organiser Nathanael Paul on nathanaelpaul92@googlemail.
Team Shropshire finished their inaugural season in the Four Nations Chess League on a respectable 12 points, putting them joint 18th out of 63 teams in Division Three.
In the final round of matches they beat Oxford 2 despite being a player down, and then had to endure a 5-1 thrashing from BCM Rhinos (2) before chalking up another victory, this time against e2e4.org.uk (4).
Team organiser Nathanael Paul said: "Overall, the 2013-14 4NCL season was a very satisfactory debut season. Both Chris Lewis and I will be running the Shropshire team next year so if anyone wants to play please can they contact us. We are aiming to confirm the team by the end of the summer."
Top two finish in style - 15/04/2014
Ludlow A and Oswestry A are promoted from Division Two with something to spare, but for four teams in the lower part of the division it is going to be a nailbiting climax to the season as they seek to avoid joining Telepost C in the drop.
Telepost C finished their campaign however on a relative high, achieving a draw with high-flying Oswestry to get their only point in 14 matches.
Above them are four teams separated by just two points, and games in hand make the picture complicated. Telford B improved their prospects of survival with a win against Wellington B.
Promoted from Division Three are Telford C and Shrewsbury C.
Shropshire's team in the Four Nations Chess League had a double dose of success in the latest round of matches. Their 3.5-2 win over West Is Best 2 was helped by their opponents defaulting the bottom board, and a win by Chris Lewis against The Rookies took them over the finishing line for a 3.5-2.5 victory.
Dramatic finish as Telepost clinch title - 08/04/2014
Telepost have clinched the Shropshire chess league title with just 23 seconds to spare in a night of tension and high drama in the climatic match of the season.
But for a few short minutes it seemed Wellington's time had come and that they were to secure their first championship in 45 years. The winner-takes-all match made history as the first Shropshire league match with the moves broadcast live on the internet thanks to the use of digital boards.
Nigel Ferrington gave the visitors an early lead, then there was a long wait before James Kuczynski, whose excellent form has been a key reason that Wellington have been challengers for the title, beat John Bashall to level the scores. A few minutes later Wellington's new star Tiago Faustino gave the home side a 2-1 lead with two to go.
On bottom board Stefan Tennant had ridden out a lot of pressure from Matthew Clark to achieve a positional and material advantage that was completely winning - and a victory would have given Wellington an unassailable 3-1 match lead and given them the title for the first time since 1969. Alas, Stefan only had seconds left on his clock and ran out of time, meaning an automatic loss, levelling the scores.
On board two Wellington's Colin Roberts had had a strong position which was undone in just one move as opponent Richard Bryant came up with a mating threat which forced Roberts to give up his queen. The drama continued, as a draw would have meant a match draw - a result which would mean Newport A would win the title.
Bryant checkmated Roberts with 23 seconds left and Telepost breathed a sigh of relief, while Wellington could only rue what might have been.
In the other key end-of-season issue, Telford A completed their great escape by beating Shrewsbury A. It means Telford, who had once looked virtually doomed to relegation, stay up and Condover & Church Stretton A are relegated.
There was more misery for the Condover & Church Stretton club in Division Three, where defeat by the B team against Shrewsbury C mean they miss out on promotion.
Crunch match to be broadcast live - 01/04/2014
Shropshire chess history will be made tomorrow (Wed April 2) when a league match will be broadcast live on the internet for the first time, potentially attracting a global audience.
And what a match!
Wellington A and Telepost A will be battling for the league title in a winner-takes-all encounter as the league season reaches a stunning climax.
It is being played at the premises of Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford town centre, rather than Wellington's usual venue of the Sir John Bayley Club in Wellington, so that hi-tech digital chess boards can be used. These boards link up to the internet so that the games can be followed online in real time through a link on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org .
Arrangements have been made by Francis Best of Shropshire Chess Association. While it is not the first time that the digital boards have been used in Shropshire - they were used at this year's Shropshire Chess Congress - it is the first time they are being used for a league game, and they will be in action also later in the week when Shrewsbury A play Telford A. Telford will have to win or draw, or be relegated.
Whoever wins between Wellington and Telepost will win the league title - a title Wellington have not won since 1969. However, if they draw, third-placed Newport A will probably take the title, depending on their result against relegated Priorslee Lions B tonight (Tuesday).
In Division Two, Ludlow A are promoted and Oswestry A look virtually certain to join them, but there is still some sweating to do lower down to see who will join Telepost C in the drop.
Title race goes to the wire - 25/03/2014
The battle for the title of kings of Shropshire chess is heading for a winner-takes-all showdown in the final league game of the season between Telepost A and surprise contenders Wellington A.
Both lead Division One on 19 points, with Newport A in third spot on 18 points. With a much worse "goal difference" than Telepost, only a win is good enough for Wellington if they are to achieve their first league title for 45 years. If Telepost win, they take the title. If Telepost draw, the door could be open for Newport, with goal difference coming in to play. Telepost's goal difference is 21 points, and Newport's is 20 points. Newport's last match of the season is against bottom-of-the-table Priorslee Lions B.
Wellington kept in contention at the top with a victory over Shrewsbury A in which they unveiled their new secret weapon, in the form of Tiago Faustino, who used to play for Church Stretton a few seasons back but now lives in Wellington. Tiago, who hails from Portugal, has a grading estimated in the 160s and his win against David Everington took Wellington over the finishing line even before the last game had finished.
Shrewsbury now find themselves in the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand over Condover & Church Stretton A and Telford A, which are battling to avoid joining Priorslee Lions B in the drop.
Newport player Nathanael Paul has grabbed some more glory on the congress circuit thanks to a win at the Hereford Open with a score of 4.5 out of 6. Nat was outright winner, chalking up four wins and a draw, with his one loss being against another Shropshire player, Richard Bryant, who was one of four runners up. Paul brought home £70 winnings.
Oswestry now close to Ludlow - 18/03/2014
Oswestry A are now rubbing shoulders with league leaders Ludlow A at the top of Division Two, with only points difference separating the sides. Oswestry's fortunes have been boosted by the arrival of Richard Bryant on top board, showing just what a difference being able to field a super-strong player can make.
Shrewsbury B's victory over Telepost C, helped along by another victory for Daniel Lockett who is undefeated in 17 league games, means they still have an outside chance of taking the league championship if the top two falter. Wellington B, currently third from bottom, have three games in hand and could also theoretically take league title - or alternatively be relegated.
Another Shropshire player who chalked up a long unbeaten run was Nathanael Paul, of Newport, for whom his recent loss against Jim O'Neil was his first in 18 league matches. Amazingly, Paul's grading has actually gone down in the latest gradings list, which is explained by the fact that he plays in many congresses. However his feat in scoring four out of five to finish runner up in the Major section of the Blackpool Congress will do his grading no harm. Kate Walker of Telepost picked up a grading prize in the Minor section.
One of the players taking on Grandmaster Michael Adams in the recent simultaneous display in Telford was Carl Portman, once a big name in Shropshire chess but who moved away some years ago. Carl has just taken on an English Chess Federation role as manager of Chess in Prisons.
Telford win hole match - 11/03/2014
There's never a good time to have your car expensively trashed by a pothole, but for Steve Rooney his troubles came at the worst possible moment for his club Condover & Church Stretton - just before the most important match in the short history of the club.
Having had to wait nearly two hours for recovery, things went from bad to worse when Rooney arrived at the crunch match against fellow relegation strugglers Telford A.
"Everyone knew I was rushing to get there but my opponent had already stopped the clock and claimed a default," said Rooney. "I was happy to play the game with around 30 minutes left, but he refused.
"This left us two down after an early loss on board four and the rest of the team were under huge pressure to win. Graham Shepherd was an exchange up and Trevor Brotherton looked fine early on but, given the match position, they probably over-reached their positions and we eventually went down 4.5-0.5."Default times are there in the rules for a good reason, but in extreme circumstances you might expect some flexibility."
Opponent Richard Thompson said: "Steve didn't arrive a little late - he arrived very, very late, and although I had delayed starting his clock for as long as was reasonable, he had been timed out some time before his arrival, without any need from me to claim the game. He was certainly sore about the incident, but I had been as flexible as I could under the circumstances. I can well understand his frustration and do sympathise with him."
Had Condover & Church Stretton won the match they would have had a four point cushion with two matches to go, but the upshot of Telford's victory is that after being six points adrift not so long ago, they are now level.
Meanwhile the Wellington A bandwagon creaks on after a win over Priorslee Lions A which the watching William Bates described as a mugging. With the Lions winning on three boards and doing fine on the remaining two, the clocks proved the best Wellington players and Wellington had a somewhat fortuitous 3.5-1.5 victory.
Steve Rooney takes the honours - 04/03/2014
Mickey Adams 33.5, Shropshire 2.5 was the score as Britain's top Grandmaster took on 36 players from Shropshire and further afield in a simultaneous display in Telford. And Steve Rooney was the toast of Shropshire as he became the only player to beat Adams - an impressive feat to add to a chess CV. Three other players were able to take draws. They were William Bates, Francis Best, and Peter Kitchen.
A simultaneous display involves a top player taking on a number of challengers at once, moving around the chess boards making his or her moves continuously. Generally the players acquitted themselves with honour as in a previous simultaneous display staged by another top Grandmaster, Nigel Short, a little while ago the county players had only managed to rack up a measly two draws.
Although Adams is one of the top 20 players in the world, and was once the world number four, there were no quick wins for him with even the shortest game lasting for 22 moves. Five of the games were played on special digital boards, allowing them to be broadcast live on the internet. The event was at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford.
Shropshire's team in the Four Nations Chess League had high hopes of chalking up a win in its latest round of matches but all ended in disappointment. Against KJCA Knights Trevor Brotherton did not arrive because of severe traffic, resulting in the opposition gaining a point and the Salopians being penalised a point under the competition rules. Although the Salopians outgraded their opponents on the remaining boards, they lost 3-2 overall. In the weekend's second match, against Iceni 2, they drew.
In the league, Ludlow A have virtually guaranteed promotion from Division Two with a win against Telepost C, while Oswestry A, two points behind but with a game in hand, look favourites to join them in the step up
Grandmaster to take on 40 players - 27/02/2014
Up to 40 chess players are to take on Britain's top Grandmaster in a special event in Telford on Saturday March 1 - which will also see some games broadcast live over the internet.
Michael Adams is among the world's best chess players and will be giving a simultaneous display, in which he will continuously move round the boards making a move at each every time he passes. Over 30 players have already signed up to take on Adams, although there are still some places available. They include some of Shropshire's best players, but also players from B and C teams who just want to grasp the opportunity to do battle with a chess Grandmaster.
And the event will see a return to Shropshire of Carl Portman, a great enthusiast who for years was a part of the county chess scene. He plays these days for Banbury. The event at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises includes a lecture and demonstration by Adams in the morning, with the simultaneous display in the afternoon. A number of hi-tech digital chess boards will be used, allowing the games to be broadcast on the internet in real time.
In a similar event by another top British player, Nigel Short - who once was a contender to be world chess champion - Short took on 35 Shropshire players, winning all but two games, which were drawn. Entry details for the Michael Adams event are on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org .
In Shropshire Chess League, it's another week, and another team topping Division One. Telepost A have come up on the rails to claim the top spot after a victory over county town rivals Shrewsbury A, who were actually leading 2-1 but then lost the last two games. In the relegation battle, it's time for Condover & Church Stretton A to start sweating, as Telford A have closed the gap between them to just two points.
Ludlow head race for glory - 18/02/2014
Ludlow are continuing to set the pace in the Division Two promotion battle with another victory to keep their two-point lead at the top.
Nearest challengers Oswestry are however continuing to breathe down their neck thanks to a narrow win over Shrewsbury B.
With the running score level, things had been looking good for Shrewsbury whose top board Matt Best had engineered a technically won endgame against the super-strong Richard Bryant, who only had five minutes left on his clock. However, even when short of time Bryant was able first to level the endgame, and then win it.
On the remaining boards John Davies came back from an inferior position to defeat Ivor Salter, sealing the match victory for Oswestry and meaning Daniel Lockett's win for Shrewsbury in the last game to finish was mere consolation.
With the season starting to head for the home straight, Ludlow and Oswestry - who have a game in hand - must now be promotion favourites after one of the tightest battles for years.
In Division Three, things are no less tight, with a lot of points still to play for and only a three point gap between Condover & Church Stretton B at the head of the table and Priorslee Lions C in fifth place.
Seven Shropshire players did battle in the Frodsham congress, of whom the most successful was Paul Broderick, who was equal second in the Minor section, with a score of four out of five. Graham Shepherd scored a respectable 2.5 out of 5 in the Major section, but suffered a particularly painful short defeat in which his opponent, S.M. Fanning, took his chance well.
Here's the game, with Shepherd with the black pieces: 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 d5 3 c4 c6 4 Nc3 Bf5 5 cxd5 cxd5 6 Qb3 b6 7 Ne5 e6 8 Bg5 Be7 9 Qa4 check Nfd7 10 Bxe7 Kxe7 11 Qb4 check Kf6 (Out of the frying pan... ) 12 g4 Bg6 13 Nxd5 chk exd5 (Shepherd now realised it was all over, but played on to let his opponent come up with a nice finish) 14 Qd6 chk Kg5 15 h4 chk Kh6 16 Nxf7 checkmate.
|Newport A go a point clear at the top - 11/02/2014
Newport A have nudged their noses in front as Shropshire's chess season enters the home straight with the field starting to be strung out for the first time in this campaign. A convincing win over Condover & Church Stretton A sees Newport go a point clear of nearest challengers Telepost A, who moved up to second place on the back of a victory over Priorslee Lions A.
At the other end of the table Telford A picked up a valuable point against Wellington A to give them hope of avoiding relegation, especially as their next two games are against bottom of the table Priorslee Lions B, and then Condover & Church Stretton, who are Telford's target to send down in their place. However, player unavailability is likely to be a major issue for Telford in their remaining games and, four points adrift, they have a mountain to climb.
In Division Three, Condover & Church Stretton B, in fourth place, are poised to take advantage of draws last week by all top three sides. They are scheduled tonight (Feb 11th) to play Newport Juniors, who are bottom of the table having lost all their eight games. A win must therefore be on the cards for Condover & Church Stretton, which would leapfrog them to the top of the table.
Chance to take on Britain's top player - 04/02/2014
Shropshire's chess players are being given the chance to take on Britain's Number One in an event in Telford in March.
Michael Adams, who is among the best players in the world, will be taking on allcomers in a simultaneous display for which there are still some boards available. The event hosted by Shropshire Chess Association is on March 1 at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford. Adams will be taking on 40 other players at once, playing a move in turn at each board. The day includes a lecture and demo by Adams. Full details on the Shropshire chess website, www.shropshirechess.org .
Meanwhile the latest round of fixtures in Division Two has thrown up a clutch of results which keep the title race open. Ludlow A beat Oswestry A in a clash of the titans to put them two points clear of the rest of the field, although Oswestry have a game in hand and only five points separate seven out of the eight teams.
In the drawn Shrewsbury B v Telford B clash, Matt Best beat Simon Maydew to give him his first defeat in 16 league games.
Telepost B lost the chance to move up after defeat against Wellington B, who were bolstered by the appearance on top board by Nazif Nazif , who is a Telford player. It was another example of a league rule which has caused some controversy of late, allowing players to turn out for different clubs in different divisions. Nazif was a last-minute call-up in exceptional circumstances - he was drafted in to replace Wellington captain Derrick Powell, whose wife had had a fall and had gone to hospital.
Meanwhile the latest grading list has been published, giving an idea of up-to-date form.
|All change at the top - 28/01/2014
The lead has changed yet again at the top of Division One in Shropshire Chess League in what has turned out to be the tightest season for many a year in all three divisions. Newport A's win over Telford A sees them going a point clear, but with three teams breathing down their neck. Shrewsbury A's bid for the title has suffered a setback after defeat against Priorslee Lions A, and the county town side are now three points adrift.
David Everington, a multiple county champion, had a torrid evening at the hands of William Bates. "I have lost much shorter games than this but can't recall being so badly savaged for a long time," said Everington. "William just decided to go for it and used little more than 20 minutes for the whole game."
Everington had the black pieces and the game went: 1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 e5 Bg4 4 Nc3 e6 5 Ne2 Nd7 6 d4 Ne7 7 h3 Bxf3 8 gxf3 Ng6 9 c3 Be7 10 Be3 Bh4 11 Qd2 O-O 12 O-O-O f6 13 f4 c5 14 Rg1 Qe7 15 f5 exf5 16 Rxg6 hxg6 17 dxc5 fxe5 18 Qxd5 check Rf7 19 Qxb7 Rb8 20 Qxa7 Qe8 21 c6 Nf6 22 Qa4 f4 23 Nxf4 exf4 24 Bxf4 Ra8 25 Qb3 Kh7 26 Bb5 Bxf2 27 c7 Be3 check 28 Kb1 Qe4 check 29 Bd3 Qxf4 30 Qxf7 Rc8 31 Bxg6 check Kh6 32 Bc2 Qg3 33 Rd8 Rxc7 34 Rh8 check Kg5 35 Qg6 check Kf4 36 Qf5 checkmate.
At the foot of the division Telford A and Priorslee Lions B have a mighty task if they are to save themselves. With the Priorslee Lions club having two teams in the first division, it was always going to stretch resources, as demonstrated by the B team having to default a board in their latest match. As for Telford A, a win in their next match will be crucial to narrow the points gap and give them hope.
Telford C's win over Oswestry B takes them to joint top spot in Division Three, with only one point separating four teams.
|Return of the prodigal son - 21/01/2014
He's back! Richard Bryant has rejoined the Oswestry team after many seasons away, which will boost the Oswestrians' chances of securing promotion from Division Two. Oswestry is the local team for super-strong Bryant who, as he is allowed to do under Shropshire Chess League rules, will continue to play for Shrewsbury-based Telepost A in Division One.
Bryant had not played for Oswestry since the 1990s and he had an instant impact, his top board win over Richard Gillespie helping Oswestry to a comfortable 4-1 victory over Wellington B, taking them to joint top of the table but with a game in hand. With just four points separating seven of the eight teams in the division, Bryant's ability and experience will be invaluable as the second half of the season unfolds. However, if Oswestry do secure promotion, he will be forced to choose whether to play for that team or Telepost in the top flight next season.
With there being no Shropshire open team in county competition these days, top players are taking part in the Four Nations Chess League under the county banner, with their latest mixed bag of results being a loss against MK Phoenix 2 and a win over Bucks Juniors in their first victory of their campaign so far, putting them on course for their pre-season target of a high mid-table finish.
Away from the league scene, Shrewsbury's Francis Best took part in the London Chess Classic rapidplay for players graded under 170 and only dropped half a point over the six rounds to finish outright winner on 5.5 and bring home a £100 prize.
|Chess action resumes after festive break - 14/01/2014
Chess action has resumed after the festive break with the title race as unpredictable as ever, with pre-Christmas tabletoppers Shrewsbury humbled by Condover & Church Stretton and Newport A moving into the lead after beating Wellington A. Five teams at the head of Division One are separated by a single point and Condover & Church Stretton A are not out of the championship mix either despite being just above the relegation zone.
Newport's win at Wellington saw the end of the 14-game unbeaten run in the league by Wellington top board Toby Neal, whose exchange sacrifice against Nick Rutter proved an act of self-destruction. It was Neal's first loss in 22 league matches for Wellington, although he did lose in the league more recently playing as a guest for Shifnal & Telford B against William Bates. Wellington's only win of the night was by Stefan Tennant, who had just 16 seconds left on the clock when he secured victory over Chris Lewis.
Shrewsbury A had beaten Condover & Church Stretton 4-1 earlier in the season, but it was a very different story in the return fixture. After an early draw, it was all downhill for Shrewsbury, with Graham Shepherd taking full advantage of a positional mistake by Peter Kitchen, and Mark Smith's pursuit of a mating attack against Francis Rooney rebounding on him. Steve Rooney put David Everington on the back foot from early on before converting his advantage, while Trevor Brotherton snaffled up a couple of Francis Best's pawns and crushed his valiant attempts to defend.
Newport C head Division Three after whitewashing Newport Juniors in an in-house affair, but here too things are tight, with six of the eight teams in the division all with a chance of grabbing a promotion spot.
Winding back to just before Christmas, 15 players took on Gavyn Cooper, Trevor Brotherton and Nigel Ferrington in a three-handed simultaneous event at the Newport club. William Bates, Steve Tarr, and Chris Paul won against them and everyone else lost, despite chaotic games in which the top trio kept ruining each others' plans.
|Players check out streaming moves - 07/01/2014
Shropshire's record-breaking chess congress went global on the internet in a new innovation which saw the top games in the tournament streamed as live online broadcasts. It was the first time the four hi-tech chess boards had been in action.
"Each year we've tried to add new innovations. We think it's important it isn't just the same each year. We haven't had the viewing figures back yet. A number of players who took byes on the Saturday night tell me they watched the live games at home," said one of the organisers, Steve Rooney.
The games are viewable through the Shropshire chess website ( www.shropshirechess.org ) and he added that organisers hoped in time to transcribe the scoresheets of some of the other games so that they will be online as well.
"It's been another excellent congress," said Rooney. "We've had just under 140 entries. We've just pipped our previous record."
The event, in which players each played five games over the weekend, was held at the Wrekin Housing Trust premises in Telford and attracted competitors from all over Britain, competing in three sections. They were the Open, in which the very strongest take part - there were two International Masters; the Major; and the Minor. Cash prizes totalled over £2,000.
There were slim pickings for Shropshire players who were largely shut out of the top prizes, with the trophy for best performance by a county player going to Nigel Ferrington, of the Shrewsbury-based Telepost club. He scored an impressive four points out of five in the Open, beating his Telepost clubmate Richard Bryant in the final round. In the Major, Shropshire's Athar Mehmood was joint runner-up with Philip Bull, of Wolverhampton, and Graham Shepherd (Condover & Church Stretton) was one of six to share third place. Gary White (Priorslee Lions) took a grading prize, and Matthew Best (Shrewsbury) the junior prize.
In the Minor, Telepost's Kate Walker won the grading prize.
Chess king of the event was Mike Surtees of Bolton. Surtees is renowned for his unconventional and idiosyncratic play which can bewilder the opposition and he won all his five games to bulldoze his way to outright victory in the Open and pick up a £400 cheque in the process.
Full results: Open - first, Mike Surtees; second, James Cobb (Clifton); third, Nigel Ferrington. Grading prize: Peter Mulleady (Rossendale).
Major: First, Joshua Pink (Coventry); equal second, Philip Bull and Athar Mehmood; equal third, Stephen Chadaway (Olton), Robert Clegg (Huddersfield), Douglas Hamilton (Kilmarnock), Martyn Harris (Newcastle-under-Lyme), Richard Parry (Bushbury), Graham Shepherd.
Minor: First, John Brooke (Bradford); equal second, Fred Dickson (South Birmingham), Mark Keady (Brewood), Peter Loach (Boldmere), Marek Shroeder (Birmingham), Roy Watson (Kenilworth). Grading prize, Kate Walker.