A Team Continue Solid Start with Draw in Telford.

There was a sombre mood at Shifnal & Telford on Wednesday night on account of the fact that Iain Wilson, previous President of the Shropshire Chess Association, had died that afternoon.  Iain had been suffering from cancer for a while and was a good friend of Shropshire Chess over many years, as well as of many of us individually.  There was probably no better way of honouring Iain’s memory than by having a good scrap over the board, and it’s fair to say that each and every player duly obliged by giving it their all; no short, “grandmaster” draws!

On top board, captain Jamie Hopkins declined Dave Gostelow’s habitual early draw offer, feeling that he had a slight edge already, and maintained his 100% start to the season by managing to see off the challenge of Gostelow when he broke through to his 8th rank, leaving a fairly straightforward position then, and, even more remarkably, managed to finish with more time than his opponent!

Dan Lockett on board 5 started off OK, before his position deteriorated slightly and got worse from there on out! After a long think, he concluded that a potential attack on the Kingside wouldn’t work, so opted to attack even more by sacrificing the exchange in order  to force the issue. Unfortunately, this turned an inferior yet salvageable position into a lost one.

David Everington’s game against Richard Gillespie on board 4 is covered in more detail on the interesting games page – he managed to secure a victory.

With Peter Kitchen on board three having fallen to the dangerous Nazif Nazif in a Ruy Lopez (which meant that both games on boards three and four finished as a Black win in the Ruy Lopez), the pressure switched to the remaining game – Francis Best taking on John Footner on board 2. For full effect, I shall hand over responsibility of the narrative to Francis himself.

“My opponent, John Footner, is an experienced warrior, renowned for his deep, strategic play, particularly in correspondence chess over the years.  I therefore wanted to play something a little off-beat.  I ended up on the black side of a Chigorin defence against the Queen’s gambit.  Fairly early on, the position dictated that I swapped off both my bishops for John’s knights.  In addition, white had a central pawn majority, which could prove significant if becoming mobile.  I could see that a central advance by white, followed by an opening of the position to give wide scope for his bishops could well prove decisive.

The one saving grace of my position was that it was solid, without any major weaknesses, and I had managed to get active piece play early on.  This latter factor could easily be dissipated, however, once White consolidated.  There were some pawn weaknesses in the white camp too, although it was hard to see a way of exploiting them.

In the end, just as we were both getting fairly low on time, we exchanged down to an ending where John had a bishop and pawns against my knight and pawns.  Having temporarily sacrificed a pawn in order to prevent White’s rooks penetrating, I was somewhat surprised to find myself a pawn up, although I didn’t consider it enough to win.  In fact, clearly John felt he still had the upper hand and my team mates were a little apprehensive as time wore on.  As we were down to less than two minutes each, I offered a draw (partly insurance against a win claim on time by the opponent).  John declined, saying, “I think I’ll try for a win.”

Shortly afterwards, however, I was able to sacrifice my knight for white’s last remaining pawn and John conceded the draw.  It was only at this point that I realised that this was the last game to finish and the result determined the outcome of the whole match – a draw!”

Shrewsbury A 2.5-2.5 Shifnal and Telford A

  • J. Hopkins 1-0 D. Gostelow
  • F. Best 0.5-0.5 J. Footner
  • P. Kitchen 0-1 N. Nazif
  • D. Everington 1-0 R. Gillespie
  • D. Lockett 0-1 R. Thompson

Chess sets and equipment – message from Francis Best, Secretary

Despite our requests, the hospital remains adamant that we cannot store our equipment on site at the Redwoods Centre.  I have been holding off buying the new equipment agreed at the AGM until this matter was resolved but it looks like we will have to transport sets, boards and clocks back and forth each week, for the foreseeable future.

At the moment, the plan is for everyone to take at least one of each (board, clock and set) for safe custody home and back.  I also have a suitcase containing several of each type of equipment but this is unwieldy and I would rather not continue with this for too long.

Longer term, I will look into suitable carrying bags to buy, alongside the new equipment, so that it can all be transported back and forth without too much burden on any one individual.

I’ll keep you posted.


B Team Miss Out in Ludlow

Shrewsbury B narrowly missed out on a hard-fought result against recently relegated Ludlow. Deprived of both Mark Smith and Norman O’Connor, captain Matt Best opted to retain the services of Dan Lockett on top board with the former skipper yet to play 3 games for the A team and therefore still eligible, and Francis Rooney – the former Shrewsbury Junior without a regular team this season with Church Stretton B having been forced to fold.

The match got off to a fairly quiet start, with Best and Lewis picking up quick draws on boards three and five against higher graded opponents.

Things then got hectic. Firstly, Ivor Salter’s position on board two fell against John Whittaker, but Lockett secured an impressive victory immediately after on top board.

That meant that things were all level with board 4 the decisive game. Francis Rooney was black and was down a piece for a pawn. However, he defended superbly and got himself into a drawable position (see diagram, black to move).

However, instead of playing the drawing move (1…b4!), he promoted his f-pawn first. The correct moves were played, just in the wrong order, and Rooney slipped to a hugely unlucky defeat after some textbook defensive endgame play.

Ludlow 3-2 Shrewsbury B

  1. J. Watson 0-1 D. Lockett
  2. J. Whittaker 1-0 I. Salter
  3. R. Woodley 0.5-0.5 M. Best
  4. A. Wright 1-0 F. Rooney
  5. P. Munday 0.5-0.5 A. Lewis

Shrewsbury Moves!

Shrewsbury Chess Club have completed their relocation to the extremely smart Redwood centre (pictures to the left).

The centre is just 300 yards or so from the old playing area; just down the road from the old entrance. There are far more parking spaces than previously!

To get to the centre, proceed as per previous until it gets to the entrance to the hospital previously used on the right. Carry on straight past there (there is a signpost on the left hand side of the road that should indicate if you’re doing well!) and it’s the large, lit up building to your right. Simply enter through the doors and let the security know you’re here for the chess and they will let you in and direct you to the correct rooms.

If you still are unsure as to where the premises are, please don’t hesitate to ask!

We hope to upload a few more pictures of a higher quality next week.

Lewis to the Rescue as C Team Start With Draw

Andrew Lewis came to the rescue of Ian Davies’ Shrewsbury C team as they started the season with a 2-2 draw at home to fellow promotion contenders Wellington B.

The game was the first on Shrewsbury’s new premises at the Redwood centre (very smart!) and looked to be off to a good start when Fred Harris marked his return to regular league chess by winning a rook against Colin Mace on board 4. Eric Inglis on three then promptly proceeded to win an exchange to put him in a commanding position, whilst Andrew Lewis had a superior position on board two.

The only signs of trouble were on top board where, in the clash of the captains, Ian Davies’ experiment with the King’s Indian had gone slightly wrong, with Derrick Powell’s superb attacking play leading to a very awkward position for the home skipper.

Indeed, after Harris missed a forced mate in three along the back rank, top board was the first game to finish with Ian finally succumbing to the attack and resigning. Harris was able to win shortly after though, levelling the scores.

By this stage, board three had reached an interesting material imbalance, with Inglis having solely a king and a pair of rooks against Neil Sampson’s Rook, Bishop and three Pawns. At this stage, Sampson appeared to be winning until Inglis was able to grab back one pawn and had a guaranteed draw on the cards at one stage, where there could have been a mass exchange, in which Eric would have sacrificed his second rook for the two pawns, leaving the position as just a King and Bishop vs a King.

However, the game didn’t go down that particular route, with Inglis instead opting to go down a slightly more tricky route, but he did end up with a solidly drawn position (see diagram) only to blunder and end up losing. 2-1 to Wellington, and all the pressure on drawmaster Lewis to win.

However, in a time scramble with an exchange up, he duly managed to do so, despite a moment of slight controversy when Dele pressed the wrong clock and had his mistake pointed out to him by teammate Sampson – an aberration of the rules, but the game proceeded as normal and Lewis managed to win anyway, rendering any potential arguments churlish.

Shrewsbury  C  2-2 Wellington B

  1. I. Davies 0-1 D. Powell
  2. A. Lewis 1-0 D. Ogundipe
  3. E. Inglis 0-1 N. Sampson
  4. F. Harris 1-0. C. Mace

The Best of Fortunes Steals a Point From Priorslee

Jamie Hopkins’ tenure as Shrewsbury A Team captain got off to a solid start with a 2.5-2.5 draw away to Priorslee Lions A.

Deprived of regular Peter Kitchen, Hopkins called upon B Team Captain Matt Best to fill in on board 5, with Dan Lockett making his first appearance as an A Team regular on board 4 and Hopkins on top board; Francis Best was on board two and David Everington on three.

The match looked to be off to a bad start when Matt dropped an exchange on board 5 against Gary White – overeager to pull off a neat tactic which superficially appeared to win a piece, only to miss a Knight check which led to the concession of the exchange.

However, in one of the biggest slices of luck likely to be seen in and around Telford this season, Best scraped an unlikely win in a hopelessly lost position after White (who was, confusingly, Black in this game) missed a mating combination. The position is in the picture in the top left – can you spot Best’s winning move?

After that start, things didn’t move quite so quickly for a while until Hopkins displayed superb endgame skills to fend off William Bates in an entertaining encounter on top board – achieved with a mere 25 minute time deficit for the Shrewsbury skipper!

At this stage, things were looking rosy for the visitors. Dan Lockett and Andy Tunks’ position looked level, Francis Best and Glyn Pugh were locked in a fierce tactical battle on  board two, with Best having sacrificed a knight for two pawns (as well as a hefty amount of time) in order to open up Pugh’s king position and weaken his pawn structure.

The primary attraction, however, was on board three. David Everington had a piece in exchange for three pawns, and, despite having a hugely exposed King, looked like he was sure to win with a huge amount of pressure building in an enthralling encounter against Steve Tarr. However, a slight tactical misjudgement later and he lost a rook after mass exchanges and was left with a lost position. Karma for Matt’s win on board 5, as David later remarked!

With that result sealed, Priorslee looked to be in the driving seat. Lockett’s position was solid, but he was a long way behind on the clock (something of a theme for Shrewsbury players on the night) and eventually his position began to fall apart under time pressure.

Best’s position on board two remained fiercely complex, although he went for the jugular and advanced a pair of ominous-looking centralised passed pawns. Ultimately, with Pugh having also used a lot of his time up (although he still had 5 minutes to Best’s three) the players agreed a draw – a somewhat noisy group of Italians making concentration fiercely difficult at such an important stage; the unfortunate bar-tender was trying to keep the noise down whilst explaining the concept of I.D.

By this time, Lockett had entered a lost endgame with a rook apiece, but with Tunks having a pair of connected pawns as well. Ultimately, Lockett’s metaphorical flag fell (his light under the switch on his side of the electronic clock just doesn’t resonate in quite the same way) and he lost, meaning the match finished drawn.

Priorslee Lions A 2.5-2.5 Shrewsbury A

  1. W. Bates 0-1 J. Hopkins
  2. G. Pugh 0.5-0.5 F Best
  3. S. Tarr 1-0 D. Everington
  4. A. Tunks 1-0 D. Lockett
  5. G. White 0-1 M Best

B Team Slump to Disappointing Defeat

Shrewsbury B’s league season got off to a bad start with a heavy 4-1 reverse at home to Telepost C.

Despite looking a close match on paper, with board four featuring two players with identical gradings and just one point separating the players on board two, the visitors took control of the match early on and never really looked like relinquishing their grip on the match.

Things started badly for Shrewsbury when new captain Matt Best dropped the exchange and a pawn in a promising position against Charles Micallef, leading to his resignation ten moves or so later when Micallef forced multiple exchanges to leave him with a clearly won position.

Things then started to look up when Andrew Lewis scored a creditable draw against James Kingston on board 5, leaving the match relatively close heading into the final half hour.

However, Dan Lockett succumbed to Peter Crean’s pressure on top board before Mark Smith’s defeat at the hands of Crean the younger (Vinnie) secured the points for Telepost, having dropped an exchange in a similar fashion to Best in a reasonable position.

The final game to finish was on board three, with the wily Norman O’Connor sacrificing a piece in order to get some pressure against John Westhead – it paid off as he was able to get a draw as the clocks ticked down.

Shrewsbury B 1-4 Telepost C

  1. Dan Lockett 0-1 Peter Crean
  2. Mark Smith 0-1 Vinnie Crean
  3. Norman O’Connor 0.5-0.5 John Westhead
  4. Matt Best 0-1 Charles Micallef
  5. Andrew Lewis 0.5-0.5 James Kingston

Changes Ahead of New Season

At last night’s Annual General Meeting, several significant changes were made ahead of the new season.

Firstly, David Everington, having served as A Team captain for a long period of time, had announced last summer that he would like to step down after one final season. Jamie Hopkins agreed to take on the responsibility on the condition that B Team captain Dan Lockett would play this season for the A Team (a player short since early last season) on a full time basis.

That created a vacancy for the B Team captaincy, which Matt Best indicated a willingness to take up. This follows on from Best’s promotion from the C team to the B team earlier this summer, but in turn left a vacancy for a fourth regular player in the C team.

Therefore, club president Fred Harris confirmed that he would be prepared to return to playing regular league chess having taken a two-year break if it were to be of assistance running the full three teams for this new season.

On top of a reshuffle of the teams and captaincy, it has been confirmed that the club will shortly move into new premises (on the same site). Directions will shortly be available, and the club understands the new premises are a touch smarter than the current training suites we are using.

The club has also indicated that it is planning to buy some new equipment ahead of the new season, which will hopefully be available for the first game.

New Fixtures Published

The fixtures for the 2012-2013 season have been published, with both Shrewsbury B and C teams starting the campaign at home.

Shrewsbury C kick off the new season with three consecutive home games, against Wellington B, Telepost D and Newport C in a new-look third Division that, with the addition of two new teams this summer, has gone from the smallest of the divisions to the largest with 9 teams.

The B team kick off their promotion challenge with a home game against Telepost C before a lengthy trip to recently relegated Ludlow in the second match. They will close the season with a tough double header against Priorslee Lions B and Wellington A.

Meanwhile the A team’s title challenge begins on the road, with a trip to Priorslee on the opening day followed up with another trip to Telford against Shifnal and Telford A.

The full league fixtures can be found on the Shropshire Chess website, and the season’s fixtures for solely each of the Shrewsbury teams can be found on their respective pages on this website.