News archive 2022

Christmas cheer heralds Anniversary Arena


Christmas 2022

David Hodge and Fred Bench (front) go halves at the Telepost Christmas meal as organiser Steve Wilson (rear) basks in a deserved halo.

A great turnout of 13 members enjoyed the annual club Christmas dinner held at the recently re-opened and renamed Coleham Tap. Organiser Steve Wilson kept proceedings in order despite Fred being fashionably late, and a variety of openings led to a popular Turkey middlegame and sticky Christmas pud endgame. We wish a happy Christmas to all our members and their families.

Further celebrations have been announced in recognition of a notable club milestone. John Casewell has calculated that 2023 will mark 45 years since the formation of the NALGO club that morphed (Morphied?!) into the present day club. (The full story can be found in the History pages here.) To kick off the anniversary year John is organising a New Year Arena Event to be held on Lichess on Tuesday 10 January. The Arena is open to all members and follows the format of the successful Keith Arkell Arena held during lockdown, with a time control of 5 mins with a 3 second increment, ensuring plenty of games for everyone and the chance of a few upsets along the way. Those who have yet to sample an online event are particularly encouraged to enter. See John’s email, or contact him direct, for details of how to join in.

Around a dozen members attended a successful first training session presented by Rob Nield at the club at the end of November. The evening covered a variety of topics in response to attendees’ interests and proved both entertaining and informative. We hope to hold further sessions as the fixture calendar permits.

Rob Nield training

Rob shares his experience with the training session audience

At the same time as Rob’s session, Telepost C were in Division 2 action, gaining a hard-fought 3-2 win over Maddocks C to stay in title contention at the top of the table. The Oakengates side returned two weeks later to reverse the 3-2 margin against Telepost E. The match was notable for wins by Charlie Bethune and Cesar Pileggi, who is surely player of the month – as well as beating George Viszokai in this match, he won against Telford’s Ryan Barton the previous week. In the same fixture, Tristan Humphreys marked his league debut with a draw against Telford’s Tim Skidmore. Meanwhile in Division 1, Telepost B chalked up their first point of the season with a commendable draw away to Shrewsbury A that featured wins for Daniel Hilditch-Love against former county champion Nat Paul and for reserve James Holyhead against Dan Lockett. Steve Kempsell ensured the overall result with a draw against Francis Best and was close to repeating the score in the B’s next outing at home to Maddocks B, only to be beaten in the final couple of minutes by the wily and seemingly time trouble pressure immune Simon Maydew.

Cesar repeated his win against Barton in an excellent performance in the first Rapidplay Division Twonight, hosted at Telford, where he also beat Newport’s Phil Love, one of the highest rated players in that competition. Cesar was playing for Telepost C, who were hampered by being one player short, but Telepost B made a great start to the same campaign, anchored by three wins for Kate Walker and two wins and a draw for Graham Shepherd, which leaves them top of the table.

Kate was unwittingly at the centre of the action back in classical Division 2 when Telepost C travelled in sub-zero temperatures to Telford for a top of the table clash against Telford A. The C team were 2-1 down as the clock time began to run out, but both Kate and James Holyhead had promising positions in the remaining games. James lost out to Telford’s Toby Neal doing what he often does, finding a winning endgame under considerable time pressure, with a sequence of queen moves ending in a skewer check, leaving all eyes on Kate’s game against the top-rated player in the division, Mark Keady. With both players under 5 minutes on the clock, Kate was trying to push a passed pawn in a rook and minor piece ending when Keady made an illegal move, triggering the award of an extra two minutes for Kate. However it then took at least five tense minutes for the clocks to be set correctly, including one attempt where the players had four and three hours respectively! When play eventually resumed, Keady made a strong defensive move prompting a quick draw offer from Kate, to the amusement of the onlookers and frustration of the clock setter, Steve Szwajkun! 3.5-1.5 to Telford, to take them top of the table.

Hopes of Telepost Dark Knights marking their debut 4NCL Online season with promotion were quashed when TDK 1 narrowly lost their final-round match against Colchester JFF A. TDK 1 finish with seven points, one ahead of TDK 2, who finished their season with a win over Colchester’s C team. We will soon have to confirm our entries for the next season which begins in January. Anyone interested in joining the squad should contact Dennis Bonner asap. Matches are held on Lichess on alternate Tuesday evenings.

A final reminder that entries are being taken for the Shropshire Congress, to be held 6th-8th January at the Wrekin Housing Group in Telford. The entry fee increases by £5 if made after 31 December. All the details and entry form here

Upsets aplenty as new guys draw attention


Telepost’s new crop of talent have been making their mark in a series of upsets in county and internal competitions. First up were juniors Charlie Bethune and Sam Hollands who both got their first league wins as Telepost E reversed the rankings to win 3-2 against Telepost D in Shropshire League Division Two. In a high quality and close match, it was left to E captain Paul Billington to close out the win in a long and complicated game against Jack Gough. E leapfrogged D in the table as D search for their first points of the season.

Charlie and Sam took their form into a remarkable night in the Club Championship. Monday this week saw another bumper attendance of 31 players, eight of whom were involved in Club Champs matches. Sam, playing black, drew against the hugely experienced Graham Shepherd while Charlie went one better with a win against James Holyhead. Joining in with the upsets was Cesar Pileggi, playing black and drawing with Division One player Steve Kempsell in a marathon game in which he matched Steve’s typically considered play.

That draw was clearly a fillip for Cesar as he continued two days later with a superb draw against ex-Shropshire Chess President Francis Best in Telepost’s first match in the Shropshire Online league. Telepost, ably captained by Alex Brims, were heavily outrated as most of our top players are not playing in the online league this season, but Matthew Clark claimed his first ever win against Nat Paul on top board as Shrewsbury nicked the tie 2.5-1.5. Matthew’s game featured a lovely counter attacking tactical sequence from the following position:

Nat Paul v Matthew Clark, Shropshire Online League 23/11/22, position after 20 g5

20 ..RxB sets up the pin with 21 RxR Ba6 followed up with an intensification of the pressure with 22 g3 Qc4.

In the OTB league Division One, Telepost A outrate Shrewsbury A but their encounter at the Nerdy was a perhaps unexpected draw. The top three boards all drew but John Bashall’s win on board four was cancelled out by a default on bottom board as Fred Bench failed to make the match. However, Fred, after some diary management coaching from club secretary Dennis Bonner, made quick amends in winning the decisive game in Telepost A’s next fixture at home to Maddocks B. A rare loss for Nigel Ferrington on top board to Steve Tarr and Simon Maydew’s win on board three against captain Matthew Clark had left the match all square after wins for Phil Zabrocki and John Bashall, who is having an excellent season with three wins out of four for the A team. It was left to Fred to close out the win against Mark Billington. Telepost A are now second in the table in what looks likes being the closest Division One title race for some years.

Promotion hopes for the Telepost Dark Knights in the 4NCL Online took a battering as TDK 1 went down to a heavy 3.5-0.5 penultimate-round defeat to Farnham B. The Knights will need to win their final match and hope other results go their way – you can follow the action on Lichess at 7.30pm on December 6.

Congratulations to Kate Walker who continued an excellent start to the Congress season with a second place finish in the U1750 section of the Torbay Congress. Her 4/5 finish follows her win at Ilkley and strong 3.5 scores at Scarborough and Crewe. A reminder that entries are now being accepted for the Shropshire Congress, and also for the Blackpool Congress which has moved forwards to February next year. A reminder too that Rob Nield is doing a training session at the club this coming Monday, 28 November. It will be great to see as many as possible taking advantage of Rob’s extensive knowledge and incisive anaylsis. Rob’s preparation this week has included topping the 2000 rating barrier on Lichess bullet! 

Star signing Dan debuts in style


New Telepost recruit Dan Hilditch-Love arrived at the club in fine form having come a superb second in the U2000 section of the recent Birmingham Rapidplay Open. He maintained that form in his opening fixture for Telepost B, securing a draw on top board against former Shropshire Individual Champion Nick Rutter. As chance would have it, this first Division One league match for Dan was against his old club, Newport, for whom he had risen through the ranks as a highly promising Junior. As a member of the Shropshire Juniors coaching team, Dan will be a great asset as the club develops its own junior members, as well as a significant boost to Telepost B. Welcome to the club, Dan.

The B team eventually lost 1-4 to Newport, the other half point coming from reserve James Holyhead whose opponent Thalia Holmes ran into serious time trouble but had a strong attack that would have required extremely accurate play to defend.

In Division Two, there were league debuts for Sam Hollands and Charlie Bethune as Telepost E hosted title contenders Telford A. Charlie prevented a whitewash with an excellent draw against Roger Brown. In the same division, Telepost C travelled to Telford B and had reserve Fred Bench to thank for sealing a 1.5-3.5 win by overcoming Stefan Tennant in a complex endgame. The win moved the C team into joint top place alongside Telford A. Meanwhile, reserves John Bashall and Paul Billington scored wins on the top two boards as Telepost D narrowly lost 2-3 away to Maddocks C. Disappointingly for inclusion in the league, Maddocks were unable to field an online player to play Blue Badge holder John Casewell.

Telepost Dark Knights 1 moved into promotion contention in their debut season in the 4NCL Onlinewith a 3-1 win over Wells Globetrotters. With two rounds to play, TDK1 are in 6th place, with the top eight teams gaining promotion for the next season in the new year.

The Telepost Club Championships has begun, with a record entry of 20 players. It was decided there were insufficient entries to run an online leg of the competition this year, but the OTB competition is looking highly competitive with Trevor Brotherton a new challenger for the title this year and a number of new players entering, including Dave Tomlins and juniors Sam Holland and Charlie Bethune. First round matches are due to be completed by November 30. 

Talkin’ about a new generation


James and Fred meet at Crewe

A thumbs up from Fred Bench as James Holyhead contemplates another club derby at Crewe

As the new season kicks into full swing a new generation of young Telepost players have been making their mark across a range of competitions in a promising show of health for the club and the game.

First up, congratulations to Nigel Ferrington, who finally won the Shrewsbury Town Championships after a round of tie break matches, with Matthew Clark in joint second. While Nigel and Matthew hardly represent the new generation, with Nigel a four-time previous winner, look a bit further down the final table and the younger generation feature strongly, with Rob Nield and Alex Brims both finishing on 3.5/5, Alex taking the U1400 crown, and Jack Gough on 2.5/5. Thanks to organiser Paul Billington for steering a very competitive tournament. 

Alex has also made a promising start to this year’s Shropshire Minor Individual. He travelled to Telford to take on one of the pre-tournament favourites, Richard Thompson, and closed out an endgame advantage for an excellent win. In the same competition, Cesar Pileggi chalked up his first competitive win, over Newport’s highly experienced Malcolm Price. In a game that went right to the end of the time control, Cesar held his nerve in a complex closed ending to pounce on a late error by Price.

In the league, Alex prevented a whitewash for Telepost D as they were beaten by a useful looking Telford B in Division Two. Alex’s draw in that match came against another new generation player, Telford’s Ryan Barton. There was better success for the old guard in the same division, with Telepost C taking a 4-1 win away to Newport B to move joint top in the table. In Division One it was the new guys preventing the whitewash once more as Fred Bench scored the only win – against current Shropshire County champion Glyn Pugh, no less – in Telepost B’s 4-1 loss to current leaders Maddocks A. Meanwhile Telepost A lost a high quality encounter with Newport A, with Newport’s Chris Lewis overcoming Phil Zabrocki after all the other boards were drawn.

Fred had the standout performance in his weekend Congress debut as a Telepost crew of seven players made the short journey to Crewe. His 3/5 in the Intermediate section included a win over club mate James Holyhead, who took the booby prize since he had to play not only Fred but also Kate Walker, who matched Fred on 3/5 after an unbeaten run in the first four rounds. In the Minor section, Nick Holmes made it to top board on Sunday morning, only to be beaten by another impressive youngster, the eventual tournament winner.

The best news of all, though, came outside competition play with the club welcoming three new junior players. Sam Hollands has returned after gaining experience with Shropshire Juniors and is joined by Charlie Macleod and Rohan Easton. They are being mentored by Paul Billington and are due to make their league debuts for Telepost E in upcoming fixtures. A true new generation of players.

New competitions

Lots of new competitions have been finalised in recent days. Entries are still being taken this week for the Telepost Club Championships. Contact Paul Billington to enter the six-round OTB tournament, and John Casewell for the online competition. Fixtures have been published for the Shropshire Rapidplay league – Telepost will have one team in Division One and two in the grade-restricted Division Two. The Shropshire Online league begins next week, with one Telepost team. Finally it has been confirmed that the Shropshire Congress is making a welcome return after the pandemic pause. It’s a great chance for players of any standard to gain experience of congress play – five matches across Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, with four sections and a number of grading prizes. It takes place Friday 6 Jan – Sunday 8 Jan at the Wrekin Housing Trust in Telford – all the details and an entry form here.

Nield nails Nigel


Rob Nield secured one of the best results in his chess career with a draw against former county champion Nigel Ferrington in the pair’s board one encounter in the season-opening league onederby between Telepost A and Telepost B. In a Re1 Berlin, both players left theory early with a complex middlegame where Rob’s better structure gave him some long-term prospects but Nigel had a very dangerous initiative which had to be defanged with care. After a complicated tactical sequence, they eventually reached a queen endgame where Rob was a pawn up with a big edge on the clock but was unable to avoid a perpetual check. A Church Stretton derby on board three between David Hodge and Graham Shepherd also ended in a draw but the A team took the other boards for a convincing 4-1 win.

There was more success for Rob as he was confirmed as winner of the Telepost Online Summer Swiss with a perfect score of 4/4. Tournament organiser John Casewell upset the rankings with an excellent third place finish. John is now seeking feedback from members on the level of interest for a winter tournament.

Casewell was also involved in a tense finish to a hybrid league two derby between Telepost C and D. In the clubhouse, the D team’s Jack Gough and Martin Ayres had produced impressive wins against higher rated opponents James Holyhead and Dennis Bonner, to leave the match all square after Kate Walker and Nick Holmes won for the C team. John was playing Vinnie Crean online and the OTB players gathered round phones to watch a highly complex end to the game. Vinnie had John’s king pinned down by two knights and in defending the position John lost a bishop but gained a dangerous passed pawn and a very active knight. As both players went under the minute mark, John engineered a possible perpetual check but went for the win and Vinnie defended the passed pawn to win on time with just 37 seconds left. 3-2 to the C team.

On the same evening, Telepost E were beaten 5-0 by a strong looking Newport B, but the final score masked some strong individual performances from the novice E team.

Round 3 of 4NCL Online Season 6 saw Dark Knights 1 outrated on a all boards in a 3-1 loss to Bromley. Dark Knights 2 moved aboved the senior team in the league with a 3.5-0 win against Hertford 3.

Seven Telepost players are making the short trip to Crewe for this weekend’s congress, held at Crewe Alexandra FC’s stadium. You can follow their progress on here. This will be the first Crewe congress since covid and preparations are being finalised for a reboot of the Shropshire Congress, to be held in January. Further details to follow soon.

Kate first in festival first


Kate at Ilkely

Congratulations to Kate Walker, who hit a fine vein of form to finish joint winner in the Intermediate section of the inaugural Ilkley Chess Festival. Kate’s unbeaten 4.5/5 included three wins and a draw against higher rated opponents in the U1750 contest. The Festival was organised by The Chess Centre, who style themselves as the UK’s first dedicated chess venue – the St Louis of the Yorkshire Moors (sort of…).

Kate took the winning feeling into the U1640 Rapidplay event hosted at Telepost on September 19th. Five teams of four were involved in a highly competitive evening, with Kate winning 3/4 on board one in games of 15 minutes per player. Telepost A went into the final round needing a draw to take the silverware, but were edged out 2.5 – 1.5 by the winners, Telford. The evening was in part a trial of the U1640 concept for Rapidplay Division 2 and its success means that that competition will now be revived for this season. Telepost are entering two teams, alongside our A team who will play in Division One.

The Shrewsbury Town Championship, which had been due to complete at the end of this month, will now be extended to accommodate one of the closest finishes ever in the competition. Four players are tied on 4/5 and this year’s rules mean there will now be tiebreak games to decide the winner.

Top seed Nigel Ferrington recovered from his shock defeat in the first round with a run of four wins, and will now meet Shrewsbury’s Stephen Priestley, while Matthew Clark, who was held to a draw by Priestley in the final round, takes on Shrewsbury’s Dan Lockett. Priestley takes the U1700 title, no matter the outcome of the tiebreaks, and Telepost’s Alex Brims produced one of the performances of the championship to take the U1400 crown with 3.5/5. Alex showed his potential with a final round win against the greatly experienced John Westhead.

Telepost Dark Knights made a perfect start to their unaugural season in the Four Nations Chess League Online. Playing in the fifth division, both of our teams chalked up 4-0 wins in the opening night’s fixtures. Life was a bit tougher in match night two, though, with TDK 1 needing a patient win by Dennis Bonner on board four to secure a draw against Wessex Some Stars and TDK 2 narrowly losing out 1.5-2.5 to Beckenham. Matches are played on Lichess on alternate Tuesday evenings and can be spectated by following the links on the 4NCL site.

After some rescheduling of the league fixtures following the withdrawal of Newport C, the new season will commence next week. There will now be two divisions of seven teams each and Telepost’s roster of five teams means there will be a number of club derbies, and league matches on most club nights from now until May. We wish all our teams a successful season.

Finally, the Telepost Christmas Meal is confirmed for Tuesday 13th December at the Crown in Coleham.

Rapid success as fixtures fixed


Telepost members came away with some spoils from the Newport Blitz Evening, which saw a record turnout of 27 players from across the county. Six Telepost players took part in the handicap tournament, with James Holyhead finishing a superb third with 5/7 and claiming the cash prize for U1500 performance. Fred Bench took the winnings for U1665 performance with 4/7, joking as he received his cash, “I’m a professional player now!” Full results available here.

Back at the club, Phil Zabrocki proved once more that he’s the master of the quick stuff, winning the Telepost Rapidplay evening with an unbeaten 4.5/5. The time handicap for the event – higher rated players had only seven minutes compared to 15 minutes for those on lower ratings – plus a strict rule whereby any illegal move resulted in a loss, meant there were plenty of upsets along the way. Organiser Steve Wilson was pleased with the turnout of 19 players and kept things going smoothly with his colour-coded cards.

Rapidplay continues next week, when we host a Division 2 U1640 Team Rapidplay Evening. The event, which will see last season’s Division 2 trophy awarded to the winning team, is in part an experiment to see if the U1640 rating will encourage more players to join the county Rapidplay league. Telepost have entered two teams.

There was a very good turnout for the club AGM at which the past season was reviewed and captains and club officials confirmed for the new season, alongside a proposal to introduce a trophy for the revived Club Championship. Minutes of the AGM are available here

After some sterling work by Maddocks’ Tony Preece as acting League Controller, and our own Vinnie Crean, this season’s OTB fixtures have now been confirmed. Telepost A and B are in Division 1, which has eight teams, Telepost C, D and E are in Division 2, which has seven teams. Sadly no Division 3 as the impact of covid continues to bite, with a number of players not returning to OTB play. Our season kicks off on October 3rd, with a C v D derby and the E team hosting Newport B. All the fixtures are available on the Shropshire Chess website, and you can see all the details for Telepost, including captains and nominated players, here.

Phil bags the banter beer


Organiser Paul Billington presents Phil Zabrocki with his Banter Beer

Organiser Paul Billington presents Phil Zabrocki with his Banter Beer

Phil Zabrocki emerged as winner of the Telepost Banter Blitz and Buzzer Chess evening, as Dennis Bonner reports:

We staged our inaugural Banter Blitz on Monday 22 August at our club. 

The event, which was well organised by Paul Billington, was a real success. The rounds of Blitz were good fun as everybody was encouraged to banter, or talk profusely, while trying to play each game in the allotted 3 minutes! Paul also took time to play Buzzer chess for the last round of the night where competitors must play their move when the buzzer sounds or forfeit their turn. 

The event was an unqualified success and also gave a chance for some of our new members to play the big gunners of our 1st division team, including Phil Z, Nigel F and Matthew C. The competition was eventually won by Phil Zabrocki, who achieved a 100% win ratio and duly collected the 1st prize of 6 cans of Stella!

Thanks very much again to Paul B for the faultless organisation of what, I am sure, will be the 1st of many Blitz/Rapidplays at the club. 

A reminder that entries are being taken by Steve Wilson for the next event, a Rapidplay Swiss tournament at the club on September 12. Entries to Steve by September 11. There is also a Newport Blitz event on Tuesday September 6 – these are fun evenings with handicapping by time allowed. Dennis is offering some lifts.

Ahead of the club AGM on September 5, and the new season, plans have been made for our teams. We hope to have five teams in the over the board league, one in the Shropshire online league and two in the 4NCL online league. We have also entered two teams for a grade-limited Rapidplay Division 2 evening which is being held at Telepost on September 19, organised by Chris Lewis of Newport. The winners of the event will take home the 2022 Division Two trophy and it is also a trial to encourage more players from the lower divisions into rapidplay.

Club AGM and revised rapidplay date


The Telepost AGM will take place on 5 September, 7.30pm at the clubhouse. Dennis will be issuing the agenda and inviting proposals from members. Steve Wilson’s rapidplay night will now be on 12 September – entries to Steve by 11 September.

Summer banter keeps the buzz going


Club nights have remained busy since the end of the league season and a couple of special events have now been added to enliven the summer. 

On 22 August there will be a Banter Blitz and Buzzer Chess evening. Banter Blitz is “hustler” style chess where you aim to put your opponent off in 3 minute games, with the added complication of an “hour glass” time control in which the time that you take on each move is added to your opponent’s time. In Buzzer Chess, which is played without clocks, everyone has to move when the buzzer sounds. Organiser Paul Billington is offering a prize of beers to the overall winner on the night – the formats promise a lot of fun, if not mayhem, and level up the chances of players of different strengths.

5 September sees a five-round rapidplay Swiss with handicapped timing – the stronger players get a shorter time. 7.30pm start, entries to the organiser, Steve Wilson, by 4 September.

The Shrewsbury Town Championships have reached the end of round three and are shaping up for a very close finish. Telepost’s Rob Nield is on maximum points in joint top place, with Matthew Clark half a point behind in joint third. Nigel Ferrington, Kate Walker and James Holyhead are also well placed on two points. Rob and Matthew also share top spot in the Telepost Online Summer Swiss and meet in the third round. 

The Shropshire Chess AGM has been rescheduled to this Thursday, 4 August, 7.30pm at Maddocks. The final agenda is available here, and all club members are welcome to attend. There is also the option to attend via Zoom – email Matthew Clark if you would like to be added to the Zoom invitation list. Alongside presentation of trophies for last season, the future of the online league and the number of divisions in the OTB league are the main topics for debate.

Clark claims club champs double


Congratulations to Matthew Clark, who has completed the double in the club championships by winning the OTB leg to add to his previous online title. The final game of the competition was a decider between Matthew and Fred Bench which turned out to be an exciting conclusion to an event which stretched over ten months.

The game was a very active Caro-Kann. Competition organiser Paul Billington commented, “The final match was most interesting to watch with Fred really punching hard to take down the more experienced player. Matthew drew on his experience to see attacking motifs which could combine with supporting a pawn push, which in the end was a winning idea. Fred was not short of ideas too with his very active middle game play.” The game turned on a sequence of attack and counterattack in the middle game, with Fred in the ascendency with a promising attack around move 19 before an inaccurate knight move at move 24 allowed Matthew to counterattack with all his pieces on the kingside. You can play through the game here.

The result means Matthew wins by one point ahead of four players in joint second – the final table is here. Thanks go to Paul and to John Casewell for organising the competition in its new dual format – with the new members who have joined this year we can hope for an even bigger field next year, and maybe tempt the other A team players into action to challenge Matthew’s titles!

It has been confirmed that Martin Ayres is the U1395 grading prize winner in the Shropshire Minor Individual – congratulations to Martin in upholding Telepost’s presence amongst the winners.

The Shropshire Chess Association AGM has been set for Thursday July 21, at Maddocks. Proposals up for discussion include the format of the league for next season (ie how many divisions), the future of the online league, and whether the Association should apply to become a registered charity. There is still time to submit proposals – Dennis is collating any additional ideas to send to the general secretary, so contact him by Friday 15 if you have anything to add. All members of the club are entitled to attend and vote, and lifts should be available if needed. 

Clark continues the shocks in Town championship


This season’s Shrewsbury Town tournament, which saw current title holder Nat Paul beaten by James Holyhead in round one, has produced another upset in round two. Nigel Ferrington, a multiple previous winner of the title and of the Shropshire Individual, was beaten by his own club captain, Matthew Clark, to leave the competition wide open at this stage.

Clark also features in a closely fought end to the Telepost Club Championships. After some delays due to final league fixtures and exam season, the over the board leg of the competition will be decided in the final match of the final round. Fred Bench’s fifth-round win over Steve Kempsell puts him on the same points as Matthew, his sixth-round opponent. Three other players are on the same point score, but have completed their matches. Notable among these is Steve Wilson, who produced the grading performance of the competition with a highly creditable four wins and two draws.

Congratulations to Martin Ayres who finished as top performing Telepost player in the Shropshire Minor Individual, on four points. Newport took the spoils this year, with Phil Love champion and Dave Lovegrove in second place. Love’s unbeaten score of 6.5/7 tops Nick Holmes’ 6/7 last year as the highest scoring win of the competition.

In the Shropshire League Division Two, Telepost C travelled to Maddocks for their final match needing a 5-0 win to prevent their hosts from winning the title. Maddocks were in no mood for a slip-up though and, despite Trevor Brotherton’s win against current Shropshire Individual Champion Simon Maydew on board one and a fine win for Fred Bench against Gary White, the Oakengates side secured a draw and a league double for their club. In the final match of the season, Telepost D had to default one board as they went down 5-0 away to Telford A.

Maddocks have also claimed the title in the Rapdiplay league. A win and two draws in the last round, hosted at our club, means Telepost have recovered from a poor start to sit in second place going into the final match night at Shrewsbury on 1 July.

It has been confirmed that Telepost will enter two teams in the 4NCL Online league next season, playing under the Dark Knights moniker. Anyone wishing to join the squad for this national competition should contact Matthew Clark. The online action continues over the summer with the Telepost Online Summer Swiss, which is nearing the end of round one.

Bs in second as Es break duck


Telepost B have secured second spot in Division Two of the Shropshire League by following up their upset win over champions Maddocks B with a hard-fought draw against Telford A. Graham Shepherd, Vinnie Crean and acting captain Steve Kempsell all drew before Kate Walker secured the match draw with a win on top board against Richard Parry. Though Kate was the exchange down she had a 50-minute time advantage in a double-edged endgame in which Parry eventually succumbed to the clock. That left James Holyhead fighting for the match win and a theoretical chance to keep a title chase alive. James had a strong attack corralling Richard Thompson’s king but the Telford player had threats of his own and managed to promote a passed pawn for victory.

Any hopes of the Bs taking the division title would have depended on Telepost C beating Maddocks C in their final match of the season, later this week. However, the C team played their part by previously beating Telford A in a fixture that featured Trevor Brotherton’s first appearance of the season and John Westhead bringing home the points with calm endgame play under time pressure – repeating a similar performance he had made for the B team against Maddocks earlier the same week.

In what turned out to be the most successful week all season for the club, Telepost E broke their points duck in Division Three with a fine win away to Maddocks C. The 2.5-1.5 victory came courtesy of a trio of new players – Thomas Keegan lost a rook early on but fought back to draw with Ian Jamieson, Matt Ryan beat Maddocks captain Mike Reynolds and Jack Gough’s Czech defence was successful against John Hill. Captain Martin Ayres lost to Mark Billington but is to be congratulated for guiding the team to its first win. Ironically, they doubled their points tally this week without lifting a pawn when Newport defaulted their match.

Yana Smart has continued Telepost’s radio presence with an interview this week on BBC Radio Shropshire. Her interview with Jim Hawkins covers how she got into chess, women’s representation in the game and the social chess for women sessions that she is promoting at the Nerdy Cafe. You can listen to the interview here for the next month, starting at 2.47.23.

Telepost Dark Knight’s co-ordinator John Casewell is surveying interest in a summer online club competition – please let John know by May 30 if you are interested in playing.

Finally, in congress action, Shane Sweeney scored 3.5/7 in the Minor section of the Crewe Rapidplay, James Holyhead 2/5 in the U1900 of the Mill Hill FIDE, and Kate Walker 2.5/5 in the U1700 of the same congress.

Clark crowned as upsets abound


Matthew Clark has been crowned Telepost Winter 21/22 Online champion after surviving a final round scare against Rob Nield. Needing the full point to overtake Matthew, Rob went on the offensive in a Sicilian Alapin and had Clark’s king pinned down by two knights and rook and in serious time trouble before leaving the rook en prise, leading to resignation. Matthew now awaits the winner of the over-the-board competition to see who he will play for the overall title. With Clark on four points and five players just one point behind, there are various permutations, but Fred Bench and Steve Kempsell have yet to play their match from the previous round so are likely to have a decisive role to play.

Matthew Clark187076016.5
Rob Nield169074125
Keith Tabner166873224
Nick Holmes154073224
John Westhead168373313.5
Dennis Bonner148073403
John Casewell130071601
Martin Ayres125571601

The final standings in the Winter 21/22 Online.

As the Club Championships reach a conclusion, the Shrewsbury Town Championship has started with a first-round upset as James Holyhead scored a fine win against defending champion and newly departed Telepost member Nat Paul. This was Nat’s first match playing at his new home club, Shrewsbury, and James greeted him with the Krejcik Gambit – you can see a full account of the game in a lichess study here.

The upsets continued the following Monday, when Maddocks B arrived at Telepost needing only a point against Telepost B to secure the Shropshire Division Two title. They looked to be on target after an early loss for Rob Nield against Simon Maydew on board one, but Kate Walker equalised on board two with a win against Tony Preece. With Graham Shepherd and Fred Bench both drawing it was down to John Westhead to patiently push home a piece advantage against Steve Tarr to clinch the win and move the B team clear of Telford A in second place in the table. Maddocks can still be caught but it would require Telepost C to repeat the B’s performance when they travel to the Oakengates club for their final match of the season.

In Division Three, Telepost E had a really tough schedule with two away matches on successive nights. They took the opportunity to rotate a squad bolstered by a roster of new members. Thomas Keegan made his debut against Newport’s Malcolm Price and had the upper hand before losing the advantage after declining a draw offer. Matt Ryan and Graham Humphreys also played their first competitive matches but Newport ran out 4-0 winners. The next night, however, Keegan chalked up his first win, against Telford’s Steve Swajkun. In the same fixture, Jack Gough’s draw against Tim Skidmore in his debut meant the E team came within half a point of securing their first match point of the season.

In the latest round of the Shropshire Rapidplay, Telepost kept in touch with leaders Maddocks A by beating Maddocks B and Telford A. They lost narrowly to Maddocks A but Phil Zabrocki completed a double against Athar Ansari – having stopped Ansari’s 100% record in the over the board league a few weeks ago, Phil repeated the feat in the rapidplay.

Presentation preludes bumper turnout


Nat Paul with Shrewsbury Town Cup

Nat Paul, 2021 winner, with the Shrewsbury Town Cup

Nathanael Paul became the first holder of the new Shrewsbury Town Cup when it was presented to him by tournament controller Paul Billington at Telepost on Monday night. Though the cup was only recently purchased it was decided to present it to Nat in recognition of his 2021 success in the competition. However, Nat’s defence of the title this year will be intriguing as, having won the title as a Telepost player, he is moving to Shrewsbury Chess Club for this year’s event. With four-time winner Nigel Ferrington of Telepost among the list of entries received so far it is looking like being a very keenly fought tournament. Nigel sat out last year’s online iteration of the competition and will be keen to return the trophy to Telepost as the over-the-board format returns this summer. Entries are still being taken for the five-round Swiss, open to members of either Telepost or Shrewsbury Chess Club. Contact Paul Billington before the deadline of 30 April – full details on the Shropshire website here.

Paul Billington presents trophy 

Paul Billington makes the presentationThe presentation kicked off a bumper club night – a record-equalling 24 members were present, including the D and B teams, meeting each other for the second time this season in Division Two of the Shropshire League. Back in November, the D team pulled off a highly creditable draw but the B team were in no mood for a repeat, coming away 4-1 winners. Performance of the night came from D team captain Steve Wilson in beating John Westhead, but wins from David Hodge, Rob Nield and Graham Shepherd at the clubhouse and Nick Holmes online against John Casewell keep the Bs in the running for honours at the top end of the table.

The online arm of the Club Championships will be decided this Friday, April 29, with the final match of the final round determining the winner. Matthew Clark has a half point lead over Rob Nield ahead of their game. The two meet at 1930 on Lichess – search for Budapest23 (Matthew) or Rdeborn(Rob) to watch. Keith Tabner and Nick Holmes finish the competition in joint third. Bank holidays have made it harder to complete round five matches in the over-the-board arm – players are urged to play their matches as soon as possible. 

A new cup and a quartet of new members


Telepost A v Shrewsbury A

New silverware for the Shrewsbury Town Championships

New silverware will grace the shelf of the winner of this year’s Shrewsbury Town Championship. Telepost and Shrewsbury Chess Club have jointly purchased a new trophy to mark the winner of the competition held each summer to find the best player from the two clubs. The cup is due to be presented to last year’s winner, Nat Paul, at Telepost Clubhouse on April 25, before being contested for in this year’s competition, due to begin in May. Championship controller Paul Billington is now taking entries for the five-round Swiss tournament. Alongside the trophy for overall winner, there are U1700 and U1400 titles to be won and the competition runs from May to September.

Amongst those eligble to enter the competition are a number of new members recently welcomed to Telepost. Jack Gough, Graham Humphreys, Thomas Keegan and Matthew Ryan are all now full members and everyone at the club wishes them enjoyment and success in their first season.

Another recent recruit, Yana Smart, made a remarkable and probably unique double-headed league debut – on Monday 11 April, she appeared for Telepost E in their 3-1 loss to Maddocks C in Division 3before a lightning promotion on the following Thursday saw her turn out for Telepost A as they travelled to Maddocks A in Division 1. The narrow 3-2 defeat to the champions elect was also notable for Phil Zabrocki ending Athar Ansari’s unbeaten league season on board one and relative newcomer Fred Bench beating the hugely experienced Glyn Pugh. The A team will hope to go one better when Maddocks visit Telepost for the last match of the season.

Maddocks, who are having a fine season across the divisions, dominated when their B team visited Telepost C, going away with a 0-5-4.5 win that left them three points clear at the top of Division 2. Telepost B have a game in hand over Maddocks, however, and will look to dent their progress when the two meet at Telepost on 9 May.

In Online Division 2, (where Maddocks have less of a say by dint of not fielding a team!), Telepost B moved within two points of Telepost C courtesy of a default win over Shrewsbury C.

Staying with online competition, Telepost is considering entering the next 4NCL Online season as a club rather than as part of the larger Shropshire and Friends squad that has contested the last two seasons. Matches are played on alternate Tuesday evenings in a 45/15 format on Lichess against teams from across the country. Anyone interested in playing next season is asked to let Dennis Bonner know.

A team ups and downs


Telepost A v Shrewsbury A

A full match room, full glasses and a full-strength A team

An extremely mixed bag of results in the past couple of weeks highlighted Telepost A’s dilemma this season – raise a full-strength team and they can compete for their traditional place as title contenders in all competitions; struggle to raise a team and they can suffer heavy defeats.

In their full-strength guise, the A team withstood the challenge of Shrewsbury A, taking a 4-1 win to move into second place in Division One. An early win for David Hodge against Shrewsbury’s new recruit Richard Vernon was levelled up by Shrewsbury’s Dan Lockett, who won against John Bashall. The match was secured by patient positional play from the top boards of Nigel Ferrington and Phil Zabrocki and a tactical trick from captain Matthew Clark, making a welcome return after covid isolation. The result was some recompense for the equivalent fixture in Online Division One where Shrewsbury A ran out 4-0 winners against an A team that had to draw on two Division Two players. The situation worsened in the first night of Rapidplay Division One when the team had to default, with covid self-isolation contributing to a failure to raise a team. With players now recovered they will look to pull back some points in the second Rapidplay night this week.

In OTB Division Two, Telepost C avenged their earlier defeat by Telepost D with a 3.5-1.5 win that garnered the C team’s first points of the season. Captains Steve Wilson and Dennis Bonner played out a tense draw and there were wins for the C team’s John Westhead and Paul Billington and the D team’s Alex Brims on the night, leaving the hybrid match to be decided by an illness-delayed online encounter between Nick Holmes and John Casewell. No rest for the D team as Thursday of the same week saw them travelling to league leaders Maddocks B. The 4.5-0.5 defeat was notable for John Westhead’s draw against current County Individual champion Simon Maydew.

Division Three action featured another hybrid match, with John Casewell on top board in Telepost E’s 0.5-3.5 loss to Newport C. Alex Brims continued his busy week and his steady progress in his first season with a draw against the highly experienced Dave Lovegrove.

Telepost D’s commendable draw with Newport Juniors in Division Two featured Peter Westhead defeating Newport wunderkind Daniel Hilditch-Love, with Alex Brims securing his second draw of the week. Telepost C beat Oswestry C but Telepost B lost to current leaders Shrewsbury B. A further round of fixtures is due this week in this highly competitive division.

The draws have been made for the next rounds of the County Individual and Minor Individual. In the senior event, Matthew Clark will hope to follow Peter Westhead’s example as he takes on Dan Hilditch-Love, while in the Minor Dennis Bonner needs a win against Newport’s Malcolm Price to stay in touch with the leaders. John Casewell and Nick Holmes meet again in a continuation of their apparent season-long battle, while Martin Ayres’ opponent is Oswestry’s Alf Evans. 

James takes the grade by the seaside


Kate at Blackpool

Kate Walker, in joint first, prepares for the final round

Phil Blackpool

Phil Zabrocki ponders an endgame and some unusually empty glasses… Photo by Brendan O’Gorman. More photos of the congress here. 

Seven Telepost players made the trip to the 45th Blackpool Congress, bringing back a mixed bag of results from a weekend that was notable for a very positive atmosphere and players’ pleasure at being back over the board and meeting regular opponents not encountered since the last Blackpool Congress, just before the first lockdown in 2020.

Performance of the weekend came from James Holyhead, who took a grading prize with an unbeaten 3/5 in the Minor that featured a number of hard-fought draws against higher-graded opponents. Kate Walker was in the mix for the top prizes going into the final round of the same section, eventually finishing joint second in a group on 3.5/5. Phil Zabrocki finished on 3/5 in a highly competitve Major, with Nick Holmes scoring the same in the Standard. Steve Wilson was 2.5/5 and Martin Ayres 1/5 in the same section, while Yana Smart made her tournament debut after only a couple of months playing the game.

In the league, Division One has evolved into a four-way tie amongst the also-rans, with Maddocks A well clear of the rest. Telepost A’s latest match against Oswestry was postponed due to covid for a second time. You can read more about the division here in the first column from the Shropshire Chess website’s new reporter, Peter Kitchen.

In Division Two, Telepost B put in a great performance away to Maddocks B. Captain David Hodge won against current Shropshire individual champion Simon Maydew, Fred Bench drew against Steve Tarr and Graham Shepherd beat Munroe Morrison to secure a draw which dents Maddocks’ title hopes and keeps B in touch with the top teams. The match also saw the welcome return of John Westheaad to OTB play. Telford A moved one point clear of Maddocks with a 0.5-4.5 win against Telepost C, with Dennis Bonner picking up the solitary draw with a patient game against Roger Brown.

Dennis is our best-placed player in the Shropshire Minor Individual, which has reached the end of round four. Nick Holmes’ defence of the title collapsed with an endgame blunder having gained a winning position against Ivor Salter.

Telepost A suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Shrewsbury A in Division One of the online league and are rooted to the bottom of the table. In Division Two, the latest round of matches saw defeats for Telepost B and C, and a default walkover for Telepost D.

The last couple of weeks at the club have been busy with four new players attending. We look forward to welcoming them as members. Yana Smart has begun an initiative to get more female players involved – details here.

Finally, a little puzzle arising from the sixth round match in the online leg of the Club Championship between Keith Tabner and Nick Holmes. Neither of us saw it at the time, but can you spot a very pretty forced draw for black? Black to move.

Newport A vanquished in historic win (sort of…)


Telepost C’s 2-1 win against Newport A in Shropshire Online League Division 2 this week looks like one for the giantkilling annals. Newport, however, failed to gather their giants for this competition and fielded an A team of a new junior and two OTB division three players. A win is a win, however, and has to be won, and in an entertaining encounter Shane Sweeney beat Will Gormley in a wild endgame where both players queened and John Casewell went toe-to-toe with Malcolm Price before dropping a rook, leaving Martin Ayres to secure the win with patient play against Jennifer Greenwood.

John and Martin were also in action for Telepost E in a hybrid Division Three OTB match. John tenaciously survived repeated attacks to score a notable win on time in his online game against Richard Thompson while Martin picked up a draw against Tim Skidmore in the clubhouse. Not quite enough, though, as Telford B edged the match 2.5-1.5. 

In Division Two, Telepost B were away to a strong Telford A side. Fred Bench gave Telepost an early lead with his second win against Richard Szwajkun before Nick Holmes blinked first in a super-symmetrical English, allowing Roger Brown to open up the position and level up the match. Remarkably, all three top boards then went down to the final minute on the clocks. Steve Kempsell held his nerve as Richard Parry ran out of time trying to find a way through a two-bishop standoff, while David Hodge left a rook en prise in the closing scramble of a complex game against Mark Keady. Toby Neal’s precise endgame play, under intense time pressure, edged the final board after some excellent play from Paul Billington. Black won on all boards in the 3-2 victory for Telford.

Radio Telepost returned this week, with Steve Wilson interviewed on Radio Shropshire about the publication of his book, Welcome To My World Of Chess. As in the book, Steve made the game very approachable as he talked about his chess career and the local chess scene. You can catch the interview on BBC Sounds here for the next month, starting at 20 minutes in. And the recent ChessMoves article about our club in lockdown can now be found here in the History pages of the site.

Latest results in the online leg of the Club Championship have clarified the leaderboard, which is now a two-horse race between current leader Matthew Clark and second-placed Rob Nield. Rob is 1.5 points behind but with a game in hand – the two players meet in the final round. They are also head-to-head in an informal tussle, initiated by Kate Walker, to conquer’s Puzzle Rush, with Rob posting a new best score of 53. Meanwhile the OTB Club Championship has reached the mid point with the conclusion of all the omicron-delayed round three games.

Flood and covid adversity preludes the bright lights of Blackpool


Both floods and pestilence played their part in Telepost A’s first win of the OTB season. Their fixture against Oswestry A had been rescheduled because of covid but then fell foul of this week’s floods, with two Oswestry players having to default as they were unable to make it through the road closures. Thankfully the club itself survived the latest encroachment of water through Abbey Foregate. The A team’s 4.5-0.5 win comes on the back of a hard-fought draw away to Newport A, which came down to the top board’s post-lockdown renewal of the decades-long rivalry between the county’s two most senior players, Nigel Ferrington and Newport’s Nick Rutter. Rutter came out on top to secure the match draw, after Telepost captain Matthew Clark had provided an early lead against Stuart Ross with a game which featured a contender for prettiest finish of the season – white to move, mate in three:

In Division Two, the club derby upsets continue with Telepost D upending Telepost C 3-2. Rising star Fred Bench came through a real test to win against the calm experience of Keith Tabner and was supported by wins for Steve Wilson and Shane Sweeney against higher-graded opponents. An earlier 3-2 loss for the D team against Telford A was notable for a fine win for Paul Billington against Telford’s new recruit Toby Neal, who has joined them from the currently moribund Wellington club – another highly experienced and difficult opponent.

Telepost E had to default one board in their Division Three 4-0 loss to a very strong Maddocks C – the league controller has now agreed that John Casewell can be released from nomination to the D team in order to support the E team. Vinnie Crean takes over the nominated spot in D.

In the online league, the A team continue to find life tough but did secure a first point against Oswestry B. Our Division Two teams are faring better, with B and C currently in joint second in the table. The Five Counties season ended appropriately with a drubbing from the runaway competition winners Uxbridge A, but our team did avoid the wooden spoon. It has been decided not to enter the next season as fixtures are piling up in the Shropshire and 4NCL competitions. Everyone involved thanked John Westhead for his excellent captaincy of a very difficult gig!

The Uxbridge match saw the club debut of a new member, Peter Westhead, John’s brother, who is joining us online. A warm welcome to Peter and also to new member Yana Msknn who is joining a gang of at least half a dozen members as they revive the tradition of strong Telepost representation at the Blackpool Chess Congress. Blackpool was the last event that members attended pre-lockdown and it is great to see some semblance of normal chess life return with a weekend of chess, chips and curry. You can read some reflections on the club in lockdown in an article, written by Nick with help from John C and Dennis, which has just been published in the ECF’s ChessMoves newsletter – it can be found on page 10 of the newsletter online here

Club reopens for OTB chess on 31 January


Following a meeting of the Shropshire Chess Association Council, which agreed to resume OTB activities with immediate effect, the club will reopen for OTB chess on Monday 31 January. The Covid arrangements that were in place before the suspension in December will remain. Please make sure you take a lateral flow test before attending. League matches will resume from Monday 7 February. Details of the Council decision are here. 

Fred and Alex lead the line in online wins


In a busy online week, the first ever virtual club derby, between Telepost B and Telepost C in theShropshire Online Division 2, produced an upset, with the C team taking the match 2-1 thanks to wins for Fred Bench and John Casewell. Fred showed real patience and some impressive endgame play in his 42-move French Defence victory over John Westhead, while John had to defend resolutely before pouncing on a late error against James Holyhead. For the B team, Nick Holmes set himself the task of getting his opponent Speedy Shane Sweeney out of his incremental time but only just succeeded, with Shane still having 44 minutes and 43 seconds of his allotted 45 minutes left despite it being a 43-move game!

Fred, in high demand amongst captains, followed up the next day with a nine-move King’s Gambit win against the highly experienced Roger Brown of Telford which set up Telepost D’s 2.5-0.5 victory against Telford A. The match also saw the online debut of Alex Brims, whose knight fork on queen and rook secured a fine win against Tim Skidmore, whilst captain Dennis Bonner unsurprisingly went the full distance on the clock in a gruelling 67-move draw against Telford’s Richard Thompson.

In the Five Counties, Telepost secured their second win of a tough season, 3-2 against Surbiton Juniors. Surbiton fielded three players who were notionally ungraded, but their standard was high, with Matthew Clark’s board one opponent rated 2075 on lichess. Matthew held for a draw with an Evans Gambit opening after a very quick loss for James Holyhead on board four was balanced by a moderately quick win for Nick Holmes on three. John Casewell’s patient point on board five set up a win that was secured by captain John Westhead’s tense draw on board two. The victory lifted the team to the giddy heights of third bottom, with just the runaway league leaders left to play.

The online leg of the Club Championships has reached the end of the fourth round. Matthew Clark leads Rob Nield and Nick Holmes by half a point in the all-play-all format which has three rounds left to play. The eventual winner is scheduled to play the winner of the OTB leg of the competition and there is hope that OTB, suspended since mid-December because of Omicron, may soon resume – Shropshire Chess Association officials and club secretaries are meeting this Wednesday to discuss a possible restart. Please let Dennis know if you have views on this that you would like represented.

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