Knockout cups return


Telepost B rapidplay

Telepost B, Rapidplay Division 2 champions. Left to right, Graham Shepherd, Kate Walker, James Holyhead, captain Nick Holmes
The draw for the Summer knockout cups has produced the prospect of a crowded night on 12 June, as four of our teams will be involved in round one matches. In the Cox Trophy, Telepost B host Oswestry, while Telepost A have a bye. In the Minor Knockout, there's another club derby as Telepost C play Telepost D, while Telepost E take on Newport B. There are three rounds in each of the competitions. With Nigel Ferrington's simul for Junior members currently scheduled for the same night, it promises to be a logistics headache and a highly competitive evening.

Telepost B were confirmed as Rapidplay Divsion 2 champions and maintained their unbeaten record as the club hosted the final match night. Kate Walker topped the scoring with 11/11, backed by James Holyhead with 8.5/10 and Graham Shepherd with 7/11 on top board. Telepost C took the chance to field a team of Juniors - congratulations go to Rhys Macmillan, who beat Newport's Phil Love, and Rudi Bedford, who drew against the evergreen George Visokai of Maddocks. The game, which ended with Rudi avoiding impending mate by finding a stalemate with one second left on his clock, may well have been the biggest age gap in a competitive Shropshire fixture!

Rudi Bedford and George Visokai

Chess for all ages - George Visokai and Rudi Bedford after their dramatic game

Steve Wilson had an excellent, if turbulent, performance at the recent Cotswold Chess Congress. Drawn against the top seed in round one, Steve lost after 2.5 hours and resigned his second match after two hours. He then produced a run of four wins to end on 4/6 and take a grading prize of £75. Round four was the highlight with a crazy endgame in which Steve queened twice and eventually checkmated his 10-year-old Ukrainian opponent after 70 moves. Meanwhile, Kate Walker scored 1.5 in a very strong field in the prestigious English Womens Championships - a grandmaster and a number of Fide and Candidate masters were among the entrants.

Kate Walker England Women

Kate Walker (top left) in talented company at the England Womens Championship

There's further congress opportunity this month with the Shropshire Megafinal on 10 June and the always well-organised Crewe Congress on 30 June. Steve Wilson has also confirmed that the pre-season Telepost Rapidplay will take place on Monday 11 September.

In the Shropshire Individual, Matthew Clark has moved up the leaderboard and now takes on top seed Nathanael Paul, who is unbeaten so far, in round six. In the Minor Individual, James Holyhead has a winner-takes-all decider against Joe Greenwood.

Telepost C promoted to top flight as Juniors continue to impress


Telepost C promoted

Telepost C celebrate gaining promotion ahead of their final match. Left to right, Nick Holmes, captain Dennis Bonner, Vinnie Crean, James Holyhead, Kate Walker
Final placings for our teams in the Shropshire League see Telepost C as the sole honours winners, securing promotion to Division 1 to replace Telepost B who head in the opposite direction. Telepost A finish mid-table in Division 1, with Telepost E and D taking the bottom two positions in Division 2.

Telepost C captain Dennis Bonner, who steered the campaign with his customary tenacious positivity, commented:

"Many congratulations to our C team who have finally achieved promotion to the hallowed halls of the 1st Division. We finished four points above our nearest rivals to achieve the runners up position, second only to Telford A. All of the C team achieved astounding results and well deserve this accolade."

The C team's promotion was confirmed ahead of their final match against Telepost E, which meant that fixture was a chance for recently joined club members to gain league experience playing for the E team. Standout performance came from Archie Flavell on board one, who gained material and a strong position to defeat Kate Walker. Kate had an excellent season on top board for the Cs, with 7.5/11, making Archie's win all the more impressive. The youngster had also impressed in a 4NCL debut, where his win after enduring a four-hour train strike-beset journey helped Celtic Tigers secure a vital win - more details here. Another excellent performance came from junior Merry Curtis who showed excellent temperament in drawing against a typically solid Vinnie Crean in a long game on board 3.

The E team, which has featured new players throughout the season, finished with a creditable 6 points, ahead of Telepost D. The D team closed out the season by giving champions Telford A a close run in a 2-3 defeat notable for Alex Brim's excellent win in a very sharp game against Telford's dangerous board 2, Richard Szwajkun. Top board saw decades of experience meet as reserve Graham Shepherd beat Telford's John Footner. A default on bottom board for the Ds meant the visitors retained their 100% win record.

In Division 1, Telepost A partially avenged their 5-0 thumping at Oswestry A with a draw in the return fixture before finishing the season on a high by beating champions elect Maddocks A in their final game - this was Maddocks' only defeat of the season, though perhaps influenced by some pre-match celebrations in a local Abbey Foregate hostelry. Telepost B, meanwhile, defaulted one board on their trip to Oswestry A, but the 4-1 loss masked a superb win for Daniel Hilditch-Love on top board against the 2031-rated Rudy Van Kemenade. The B team have the chance to match their opponents' points tally if they win their final match away to Maddocks B, but the Oakengates side's superior points difference means the Bs' wooden spoon status is baked in.

The conclusion of Rapidplay Division 1 was a nailbiter for Telepost A. Player unavailablity meant that three reserves joined Nigel Ferrington for the penultimate match night. Crucial draws against title rivals Maddocks A and Newport A, plus a win against Maddocks B, left the A team with a precarious one-point lead going into the final night. The in-form Dan Hilditch-Love beat his own time trouble to score three draws and his services were retained for the decisive round - which took place less than a week later - as regular team members Phil Zabrocki and David Hodge were both still out of the country. A repeat of the draws against Maddocks and Newport meant the title was in reach, but a last-match 1.5-2.5 loss to Shrewsbury A meant Maddocks grabbed a classical and rapidplay double by one point. Ferrington finished with 12.5/15 - the top performing board one player in the competition.

Ferrington also leads the table as the Telepost Club Championships reaches the final round. He has a half-point lead and a game in hand over both his final-round opponent John Westhead and Matthew Clark, but Rob Nield is lurking in the shadows a point behind, with three games still to play. To keep in trim for the final round, Nigel has agreed to stage two simultanous exhibitions. The first is for our Junior players, on Monday 12th June at 7pm at the club. A week later, Nigel takes on 18-plus members, starting at 7.30pm. This is a chance to pit yourself against one of the strongest players in the county in what is usually a competitive but social atmosphere - let Dennis Bonner know if you would like to attend.

Congratulations to Juniors Rudi and Henry Bedford who finished second in the U10 and U12 sections respectively at the Herefordshire Megafinal. The next Megafinal action is here in Shropshire - June 10 at Charlton School - details here. Also, a number of Juniors are taking part for Telepost C in the final match night of Shropshire Rapidplay Division 2, hosted at Telepost on Monday 22 May. Further, less formal, competition for the Juniors comes in the form of a new ladder introduced by mentor Paul Billington - play as often as you like and move up the ladder as you accumulate points.

Finally, best of luck to James Holyhead, who is in a three-way tie for the title as the Shropshire Minor Individual enters the last round. Telepost have won the competition in alternate years since its inception and this is a "Telepost year" - no pressure, James! John Casewell is in a strong position for a grading prize.

A team on a rollercoaster


With the current World Championship providing a feast of decisive games, rather than the normal draw fests of recent years, Telepost league action has followed the trend with a succession of dramatic results, both good and bad.

In Division One, Telepost A maintained their challenge for honours with a hard fought win away to Maddocks B but then suffered their worst result of recent times. Down one player, the A team travelled to Oswestry for a fixture that had been rearranged following a postponement for bad weather. The missing player was top board Nigel Ferrington, and with league rules determining that the default has to be made on bottom board, all the Telepost players were forced to move up a board. The highly experienced Oswestry team took full advantage, securing a whitewash 5-0 win. However, the A team are still in touch to fight for second place and have a chance to put the record straight when Oswestry arrive in Abbey Foregate next week (Mon 24) for the return fixture.

The decisive results went the other way for the A team in Rapidplay Division 1. Their most recent match night, hosted at Telepost, saw them secure three wins out of three. Phil Zabrocki maintained his superb form, picking up three wins to remain unbeaten across the season so far. Nigel Ferrington, with 7.5/9, and David Hodge, with 7/9, have joined Phil to form the backbone of a formidable team. The A team are now level with Maddocks A at the top of the table with both teams having six games left to play over two match nights. If the A team can prevail, it would make for a Rapidplay double as the C team have already secured Division 2.

In Division Two, Telepost C suffered a 0.5/4.5 loss to champions elect Telford A which means they still need one point from their final fixture - a home derby against Telepost E - to secure a promotion which would counterbalance Telepost B's drop from Division One, which has now been confirmed following their own 0.5/4.5 reverse against Shrewsbury A. The B team's blushes were saved by Rob Nield's draw against Shrewsbury's Peter Kitchen, while Nick Holmes did likewise for the C team with a topsy turvy draw against Telford's Roger Brown. Meanwhile Telepost E fought for a superb 3-2 win away to Maddocks C. The match featured a winning league debut for Archie Flavell, one of our ever growing crop of Juniiors. Congratulatons Archie!

The influx of Juniors has contributed to a new record membership for the club of 48 players. This has necessitated some reorganisation of the club room to accommodate all the activity - a healthy problem to have, indicating the continued resurgence of the game.

4NCL Online Season 7 came to a close with Telepost Dark Knights 1 losing 3-1 to Colchester JFF and TDK 2 losing 3.5-0.5 to a War & Piece Nimrod team which included Maddocks' Munroe Morrison, who drew with Dennis Bonner. TDK 2 pipped TDK 1 on game points as the teams finished in 22nd and 24th place respectively in their debut season. The next season comes in September and we hope to add a Junior side to our squad. Captains Matthew Clark and John Casewell thanked all who played for the teams - let Matthew or John know if you'd like to be involved in the next season.

Entries are now open for this year's Shrewsbury Town Championship, which will be enlivened by the addition of Junior players. Open to all members of Telepost or Shrewsbury clubs, the championship is a five-round Swiss, played as one game a month from May to September. Up for the grabs are Open Champion, U1700 Champion and U1400 Champion. Contact the organiser, Paul Billington, before the end of this month is you'd like to enter.

Telepost Juniors shine in county congress


Junior Congress players

Rhys MacMillan, Charlie Bethune and Merry Curtis with congress medals
Telepost Juniors put up a great performance as the Shropshire Junior Chess Congress made a welcome return after almost a decade. The Congress was open to under 18s from across the country and Telepost's recent influx of Juniors featured in two of the categories. Merry Curtis finished second in the Under 12s with an impressive unbeaten 5/6, while Rhys MacMillan tied for second in the Under 14s with 4.5/6 and Charlie Bethune scored 3/6 in the same section. Merry and Rhys received Congress medals for their efforts and Charlie teamed up with John Casewell's grandson George Eden and Telford's Ryan Barton to win the team puzzle challenge. You can read a full report on the Congress from the Shropshire Star's Toby Neal here, and there are further photos on the Shropshire Chess site here. Congratulations to all our players and to the Shropshire Association members who organised the Congress.

Telepost B overturned the form book in Division One of the Shropshire League with a superb away draw against league leaders Maddocks A. Wins for Dan Hilditch-Love and Fred Bench and a draw for captain Steve Wilson secured the result which opened up an opportunity for Telepost A in the title race by pegging back the previously dominant Maddocks. Sadly, the A team were unable to capitalise as they were beaten at home by Shrewsbury A. Fred Bench won once more and there were draws for Matthew Clark and John Bashall but the match turned on the very rare loss of both our top boards. The B team continued their travels away to Newport A but were unable to repeat their Maddocks exploits, with a heavy 4-1 loss which lifted Newport clear of both Telepost A and Shrewsbury B.

In Division Two, Telepost C need one point from their final two matches to claim second spot and promotion after a 4-1 win away to Maddocks C. Trevor Brotherton made his second appearance of the season and was tested by Maddocks' Mark Billington in the longest game of the evening, eventually prevailing in a subtle endgame where a potential mating net hampered Billington's defence. Telepost D had one of their best performances of the season but still lost narrowly to Newport B. John Casewell beat Malcolm Price in an online game played concurrently with the OTB games and Alex Brims won against the very experienced Andy Jones.

Casewell took his form into the latest round of the 4NCL Online, but was the only winner as Telepost Dark Knights 2 lost 3-1 to a Harrow Juniors team whose ability belied their 4NCL ratings. It was a similar story for TDK1, who lost by the same margin to Wells Globetrotters despite having the edge in ratings. Both our teams remain mid-table in a seesaw season.

Round four of the Club Championships has been extended by a week to allow the remaining games to be played. David Hodge moved to joint top with a win over Steve Kempsell, though joint leaders Nigel Ferrington and Rob Nield have yet to play their game.

Telepost C serve up Rapidplay title for Telepost B


Newport food spread

Plenty of cake to be had at Newport
Telepost B have won the Shropshire Rapidplay Division 2 title with three games to spare courtesy of a fine performance by Telepost C in the latest round of matches. The B team were not involved in the latest match night, hosted by Newport and including an impressive spread of refreshments, but their lead in the competition was such that rivals Maddocks C needed a minimum of four points from the night's three games to stay within mathematical touching distance. Maddocks started well with a win over Newport B before drawing against Telford B - opening the door for Telepost C to squash Maddocks' lingering hopes in the final match of the evening. A draw on top board for captain Steve Wilson and wins against higher-rated opponents by Shane Sweeney and Alex Brims were enough to clinch Telepost's first team silverware of the season. Telepost B, with 8 wins and one draw, will now look to ice the cake by remaining unbeaten when the final match night takes place in May.

One of the longest running rivalries in Shropshire chess was resumed as Telepost A hosted Newport A in Division One. The top board clash between Nigel Ferrington and Nick Rutter has often proved decisive in the fixture and this was no exception, with the pair last to finish as the score stood at 2.5-1.5 to Telepost courtesy of draws by Phil Zabrocki, Matthew Clark and David Hodge and a win on bottom board by John Bashall, continuing his excellent season. With less than two minutes left, Ferrington's two rooks prevailed against Rutter's queen to edge the endgame - the 3.5-1.5 win means the A team are two points behind Newport with one game in hand in what looks like a very tight fight for the top two spots. League leaders Maddocks are due to host Telepost B this Thursday.

In Division Two, Telepost D chalked up their first point of the season with a home draw against Maddocks C. The Ds were boosted on the night by two evergreen reserves, Graham Shepherd and Peter Crean, with a win and a draw respectively on the top two boards. Meanwhile Telepost C recovered from their first loss of the season to thump promotion rivals Telford B 4.5-0.5. Trevor Brotherton made his first appearance of the season, taking on Telford's dark horse, Dave Hollands. Though technically ungraded for the season, Hollands is a returning player of a high standard, which he proved by drawing against former County champion Brotherton. But Hollands was to meet his match two nights later when playing for Telford A against visitors Telepost E. New recruit Shane Greenwood marked his league debut for the Es with an excellent win against Hollands, matched by another notable scalp for Cesar Pileggi, whose win against Toby Neal is his best yet in a highly promising debut season. His next assignment? Taking on current club champion Matthew Clark in the standout pairing of the next round of this year's club championship.

Greenwood is one of four new members to recently sign up to the increasingly busy club - a warm welcome to Shane, as well as Kev Vidler, Ric Pugh and Merry Curtis, another addition to our new squad of juniors. This takes current membership to a record 44 - you can catch up with all the new names on the updated members page here.

Pugh, playing in the early morning from New Zealand, contributed a win as Telepost Dark Knights 1 and 2 both won their round 3 fixtures in the 4NCL Online. Both teams now have four points, securely positioned in the top half of the table.

Finally, James Holyhead is sole leader of the Shropshire Minor Individual at the conclusion of round four, having beaten Maddocks' George Viszokai to maintain a 100% record. Round four proved a strong one for Telepost players with wins for Dennis Bonner, John Casewell, Nick Holmes and Cesar Pileggi and a draw for Ben Rose.

Honours hopes hushed


Recent league matches have seen title hopes dampened for Telepost teams. Telepost A travelled to Division One leaders Maddocks A needing a win to close the gap on the pre-season favourites and current holders. Despite the mid-season loss of their board one player, Athar Ansari, the Oakengates side proved too strong, taking a 3-1 win that lifts them comfortably clear in the table. The A team are still in the mix for a second place finish, however, helped by a thumping 4.5-0.5 win in the latest club derby against Telepost B. Dan Hilditch-Love prevented the whitewash with a fine draw against Nigel Ferrington on board one, and Sam Hollands made his Division One debut as a late replacement for the B team. Peter Crean made a welcome return to OTB play, winning for the A team on bottom board against B team captain Steve Wilson.

In Division Two, Telepost C suffered their second defeat of the season, at home to Newport B who fielded their strongest team so far this campaign. The match was won on the middle boards despite Kate Walker's win on board one and Dennis Bonner's draw on five. The win moves Newport within two points of the Cs. Telepost C host promotion rivals Telford B on Monday in what is now a crucial fixture in a three-way fight for the second promotion spot. Telford B's cause was helped by a heavy 4.5-0.5 defeat of Telepost D, with reserve Graham Shepherd sparing the D team's blushes with a draw on top board.

After heavy defeats in round one of the 4NCL Online Season 7, things improved considerably in round two, with both our teams posting 3-1 wins. The Dark Knights teams now sit mid-table and can expect closer matches in the next round, as the competition is run on a Swiss system.

Top Telepost performers at Blackpool Chess Congress were Kate Walker, with 3/5 in the Intermediate (U1850) section, and James Holyhead with the same score in the Minor (U1700). Moved forward by a month from its traditional March date, the congress still attracted well over 300 players as more and more weekend congress players return to OTB post-Covid.

Notice has been given of a special Online EGM of the Shropshire Chess Association to discuss the reconstitution of the Association as a charity. Broadly, this would allow SCA to retain more of its income and help attract and target resources for work such as Junior Chess. As regular attendees at Telepost will know, the work that has been put in to Junior Chess in the last couple of seasons is paying real dividends - we now have five regular juniors at the club and continue to receive enquiries from interested parents. Details of the EGM are here.

Telepost teams crest the rapids


The last couple of weeks have featured rapid action for Telepost teams in the form of the Shropshire Rapidplay Leagues, with two of our teams topping their divisions. The leagues, which feature teams of four players and a time control of 20 minutes per player, are played over a number of match nights throughout the season, with each team hosting one night and those attending playing three matches each.

In Division Two, which is restricted to players with a rapid rating under 1640, Telepost hosted the latest evening and Telepost B scored three wins out of three to move nine points clear at the top of the table and needing two more match points to secure the title. Kate Walker on board two excels at this format and has a 100% record, backed up by Graham Shepherd and James Holyhead on 75% and 79%. Graham, on board one, had to survive a scare in the final match against Telepost C, when C team captain Steve Wilson had a winning position but ran out of time. The C team also did well on the night, with two draws against higher rated teams.

The A team travelled to Maddocks for their second Division One match night and came away with two wins and a loss to Maddocks A, with whom they are now joint top of the division. The division has always been hotly contested by the county's strongest players, and this season looks like continuing that trend. Telepost's Phil Zabrocki is in his element in this competition and is unbeaten with five wins and a draw, while Nigel Ferrington on top board has 5/6 and new recruit David Hodge 4.5/6. The team return to Maddocks in March for a rematch of the top of the table clash.

In the standardplay league, Telepost C temporarily moved back to joint top of Division Two with a 4.5-0.5 derby win over Telepost D, before Telford A regained a two point lead at the top with a win in their own derby match against Telford B. The C team's win was far closer than the scoreline might suggest with Jack Gough on board one and Martin Ayres on board five both reaching strong positions that they were unable to convert. Alex Brims prevented the whitewash with a fine draw against James Holyhead. Telepost E, meanwhile, travelled to Newport B and came close to an upset with a 3-2 loss that featured a first league win for Graham Humphreys on board five.

Holyhead is the sole leader of the Shropshire Minor Individual as it reaches the end of round three, with three wins. Dennis Bonner, Alex Brims and Nick Holmes are one point behind. In the senior County Individual, Telepost's sole representative Matthew Clark lost to third seed Rudy van Kemenade and now faces Shrewsbury's Richard Vernon.

The new 4NCL Online season began with tough gigs for our teams. Telepost Dark Knights 1 faced a group of very able Scottish juniors in Lenzie Basilisks and had Matthew Ryan on board four to thank for avoiding the whitewash with a nicely finished, patient win. TDK 2, meanwhile, were heavily outrated and hunted down by Worcester Wolfpack 2. The 4-0 defeat marked the 4NCL debut for Richard Pugh who is playing for us from New Zealand, with matches taking place in his early morning - welcome Pughie!

Sam shines at Shropshire Congress


Sam Holland Shropshire Congress 2023

Sam Hollands shakes on his final-round win to take the Shropshire Minor title
As Congress debuts go, this one was pretty special. Telepost Junior Sam Hollands scored a superb 4.5/5 in the Minor section of the reborn Shropshire Congress to take joint first prize. Sam won his first three games, all against players rated above 1400, before drawing against the early front runner and top seed Nigel Gardner, leaving him facing another highly impressive Junior, Amitesh Purushothaman of Coventry Chess Academy, in the final round. Amitesh had reached top spot ahead of the final round courtesy of a narrow win against Telepost's Cesar Pileggi, who was also making an impressive Congress debut, eventually finishing on 2.5.

The Congress was being held for the first time since lockdown - largely due to the efforts of organisers Phil Love, Chris Lewis and Telepost's Dan Hilditch-Love - and featured the use of live boards for the top two games in each section. This innovation - live boards are reserved purely for the top boards of the Open section in most congresses - meant Sam's final-round match against Amitesh could be followed on screens around the Wrekin Housing Trust venue and by Sam's parents and other spectators watching from home. After a finely matched opening and middlegame, a long sequence of piece exchanges led to a pawn and king ending in which Sam turned a slight disadvantage of an isolated pawn into a winning position by establishing a dominant king in the centre of the board. The position was similar to that reached by Cesar against Amitesh in the previous round but Sam held his cool to find the winning line. The match can be viewed on the live matches feed on the Shropshire Chess website here.

Sam with medal

Sam with his medal - presented to all Juniors scoring 2.5 or more. Photos courtesy of Chris Lewis and Phil Love

Other notable performances from Telepost players included two wins in the Minor for Charlie Bethune, also in his adult congress debut, 3/5 for Nick Holmes in the same section, the same score for Kate Walker in the Intermediate, despite losing to clubmate Steve Wilson in round two, and an unbeaten but draw-laden 2.5/5 for Matthew Clark in the Major. Full results and lots more photos are available here.

Sam continued his form the day after the congress, picking up a win for Telepost E against Telepost C's Vinnie Crean in the first club derby match of the new year. The C team had taken the lead with wins for Kate Walker and Dennis Bonner but Cesar Pileggi continued a strong run of results with a win against James Holyhead to level up the score and leave the match hanging on a swashbuckling board-four encounter between Matt Ryan and Nick Holmes in which both players paid arguably too little heed to their opponent's threats as they tried to push home opposite-side castling attacks. Time trouble for Matt was decisive as Nick survived a mating net to win for the Cs, taking them back to joint top of Division Two. Meanwhile Telepost D, minus one player, travelled to Dawley to take on the other top spot team, Telford A, suffering a 5-0 whitewash.

In a busy week, the two Division Two matches bookended a highly successful and enjoyable online Arena event to mark the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Nalgo club which eventually became Telepost Chess Club. The event, organised by John Casewell and held on Lichess, featured a 5/3 time control and ran for 90 eventful minutes. An excellent turnout of 15 players included three generations of the Casewell family and the 64 games played featured probably the longest-distance matches of the club's history with Ricky Pugh joining the action from New Zealand. Nigel Ferrington pipped Phil Zabrocki by two points to take the title, with an impressive third place from Peter Crean. George Casewell cheekily leapfrogged Grandfather and chess tutor John, James Holyhead matched Nigel for the number of games played, but unfortunately for James three of these were against the ruthless Phil, and Alex Brims came up with some highly innovative pawn formations, including a square and a snaking ladder. All the results and games here.

Finally, if you fancy some New Year chess reading, look no further than Rob Nield's excellent new blog. The opening post of the sagely titled "Chess Suffering" features an entertaining recap of Rob's 2022 chess reading and you can subscribe to be notified of future editions.

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 Two night, 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 Online with 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 one derby 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 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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