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Irish chess news: new IM!

Ireland has a new International Master. Congratulations to David Fitzsimons who completed his qualification in the ninth round of the 4NCL last Saturday when he won his game to earn his third IM norm. He had previously reached the 2400 rating threshhold.

The final round of Ireland's main chess leagues, including the historic Armstrong Cup (inaugurated in the 1880s) were played on Sunday 29 April at the Aer Lingus sports club (ALSAA) near Dublin airport. Main results here.

The Irish Chess Union recently announced the Open and Women's teams who will represent the country at the 2018 FIDE Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, in September. After a complicated selection process (explained on the ICU website) and after some qualified players declined places, the squads are as follows (probably not in board order).

Open team: FM Stephen Jessel; IM Alex Lopez; GM Alex Baburin; FM Conor O'Donnell, and IM David Fitzsimons. Non-playing captain: Carl Jackson. This is probably the strongest team we could have sent, given that IM Sam Collins declared himself unavailable.

Women's team: WFM Diana Mirza, Mercedes Plaza Reino, WFM Hannah Lowry O'Reilly; WCM Geraoidin Ui Laighleis; Eibhla Ni Mhuireagain. Non-playing captain: Ioana Miller. (Ioana is apparently ineligible to play this year because her transfer from Romania was too recent.)

The Irish Chess Union has entered Senior teams for both the 50+ and 65+ World Senior Team Championships at Radebeul, Dresden, in July. In 2016 we had a 65+ team for the first time; this will be the first time to participate in the 50+ tournament. The team line-ups (in provisional board order) are as follows:

50+ team: FM John Delaney, CM Gerard MacElligott (captain), Brendan Lyons, Martin Crichton, and Bernd Thee.

65+ team: CM Tim Harding (captain), Kevin James, Pete Morriss, Matt O'Leary, and Frank McMahon.

During April in Athlone, the National Club Championship was played to decide which clubs qualify to represent Ireland at the European Club Championship in Rhodes, Greece, in October. Gonzaga won for the third year in succession. Dublin Chess Club were runners-up and host club Ballinasloe were the surprise third-placed team on tie-break from Trinity College Dublin. It is hoped that the ECC may accept entries from all four clubs. If not, there will be possibly be a Trinity team with some Ballinasloe players.

The Irish Chess Union website successfully organised several tournaments, new to the Irish chess calendar, in the first week of January and again at Easter. These were played alongside various other tournaments.

Congratulations to IM Alex Astaneh Lopez (current Irish co-champion) who won the GM tournament and achieved his first GM norm. FM Suren Poghosyan of Armenia achieved an IM norm in the same tournament. Conor O'Donnell won the IM Norm tournament with 8/9 and achieved his first norm.

In the January tournaments, Sam Collins achieved his third GM norm, when tieing for first place in the 10-player round robin tournament. FM Stephen Jessel also made his fifth IM norm. Both these players now need to gain rating points to be awarded their titles.

An IM Norm tournament was also held in January and although nobody made a norm then, this provided good experience for several players.

The inaugural Irish 50+ and 65+ Championship tournament, played alongside over seven rounds in early January, attracted 38 players aged between 50 and 79 and was fiercely contested. Top seed Jonathan O'Connor won the 50+ title and tournament with an unbeaten 6/7, closely followed by Gerry O'Connell who was also unbaten but conceded three draws. In joint third on 5/7 were CM Gerry MacElligott and your editor, Tim Harding, the latter winning the 65+ title and prize. See also our new pages for Seniors chess.

See the Irish Chess Union website for further details of all Irish competitions.

Significant progress has also been achieved in the last year by 15-year-old Tom O'Gorman, who is now a FIDE Master, and the slightly younger Henry Li who has already beaten a grandmaster and briefly raised his FIDE rating to 2247.

12-year-old Irish-born Trisha Kanyamarala, who not long ago won a tournament in Iran with 9/9, also did well in the extremely strong European Individual Championship in Batumi, Georgia. She was not eligible to return there for the Olympiad team due not having played sufficient games in Ireland .

Moreover her 13-year-old brother Tarun made the same score against mostly titled opposition; he, too, is also already rated above 1900 by FIDE. The I.C.U. understand that the family expect to return to Ireland quite soon when these two very promising youngsters will significantly strengthen our already strong junior squads.

Congratulations to WFM Ioana Miller (née Gelip) on winning the Irish Women's Championship at the first attempt in November, ahead of an encouragingly large field. She transferred her FIDE registration to Ireland following her marriage to Jacob Miller last year.

Irish women's chess is certainly becoming stronger. WFM Diana Mirza won her age group title in the FIDE World Youth Championships during 2017.

Some Irish websites

Irish Correspondence Chess Association
Information about international correspondence events for Irish players.
Irish chess forum discussions
On (independent of the Irish Chess Union).
Bunratty Chess Festival
Popular annual Irish chess weekender held each February.
Irish chess history and news site
Irish chess history group coordinated by Sean Coffey.

Leinster Chess Union
(Includes information on the Armstrong Cup and other leagues in the province)
History of Dublin University Chess Club
Article by Dr. Tim Harding
In 2014 the club won Ireland's top chess league (and the world's third oldest), the Armstrong Cup, for the sixth time!

Irish cricket captain and chess player
George Frith Barry, a star of Victorian sport

Further Irish chess links and information may be added later.

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