Church Stretton's Francis and Steve Rooney both came away from the Hereford congress last weekend with prizes. Francis took third place in the Minor (U120) and the U100 grading prize, while his dad Steve was equal first in the Open.
Francis (photographed below with the other Minor prizewinners) was undefeated and finished on 3.5 points including 2 wins against higher-graded opponents. He could easily have finished in second place but for a bizarre end to the final game in his section when a local Hereford player resigned because he couldn't cope with the pressure of everyone watching, just when his opponent had managed to squander all of his advantage and create a dead-drawn position.
Steve finished on 3 points - not normally enough to win a prize, never mind a share of first place - but the section was a low-scoring affair and was a much weaker field than you'd normally find at an Open. The event suffered from a very low entry overall, perhaps because of the clash with a 4NCL weekend.
It is a well-run congress however at a good venue and the organiser is hoping to run it again next year and if so, maybe more Shropshire players will be tempted to take part.