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 Clark
1870 7 6 0 1 6.5
Rob Nield
1690 7 4 1 2 5
Keith Tabner
1668 7 3 2 2 4
Nick Holmes
1540 7 3 2 2 4
John Westhead
1683 7 3 3 1 3.5
Dennis Bonner
1480 7 3 4 0 3
John Casewell
1300 7 1 6 0 1
Martin Ayres
1255 7 1 6 0 1

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 presentation

The 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 3 before 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 the Shropshire 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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