The Irish Chess Unio nhopes that opportunities will arise this summer to hold tournaments from July onwards. A preliminary announcement was posted on their website in March and fuller details have emerged since.
The 100th Irish Championship will, government health restrictions permitting, be played in south Dublin at Colaiste Eanna, Rathfarnham, over 9 rounds between 31 July and 8 August 2021. Entries on their website have now closed at 48, but a waiting list has been started in acse of withdrawals or the possibility that more players will be permitted.
As it stands, there will be a very strong field with several former champions competing and, unlike last year, FIDE title norms will be available.
Additionally, entries are now open for a full slate of tournaments and a morning tournament in early August at the same venue. The City of Dublin Championships and Irish Senior Championships, scheduled for September, can now be entered but full details will follow later.
Unfortunately the Irish Women's Championship cannot be held on the early July dates originally announced but the ICU hope to reschedule this two-day, four-round, event later, probably in Portlaoise.
Meanwhile, Galway Chess Club is organising an online rapid tournament on Saturday 19 June. Entries should open soon.
I.CU. plans for the second half of 2021 may include small tournaments in rating bands organised on a round-robin basis because Swiss system tournaments involving large gatherings of players may be inadvisable or simply illegal.
We have to await government regulations about the size of indoor gatherings allowed from July and August onwards, which depends on developments outside the ICU's control.
Another issue is what can be done about the unfinished 2019/2020 leagues and the promotions and relegations that would normally follow. It may be that several clubs may not re-form after Covid and league chess may be impossible until 2022.
Irish chess arbiters
At present Ireland has very few active and resident arbiters (the chess equivalent of referees) with the Fide Arbiter or higher International Arbiter titles. We need more qualified active arbiters to run tournaments.
Fortunately one of the I.C.U.'s achievements last year was to host (just in time pre-Covid!) a training seminar for chess arbiters. This was attended by 16 people from six federations and run by Alex McFarlane of Scotland, who is on FIDE's Arbiters Commission. At the end of this intensive event, nine participants passed the exam, earning one of the norms required to become a licensed FIDE Arbiter.
Subsequently the FIDE Council meeting in June approved the award to Tim Harding of the title FIDE Arbiter.
The other Irish-based arbiters who passed the seminar exam were (in the order listed by FIDE): Simon Lawrence, Mark R. Watkins, Gerard MacElligott, James Forde, Vjekoslav Novak (Croatia), and Andrew O'Brien. The others on this list require tournament norms to become licensed NAs but the Covid-19 pandemic means the have not had much chance to earn them. Hopefully it will be possible for at least some of these arbiters to earn NA and FA norms at tournaments this year.
The current (March 2021) list of active licensed arbiters for Ireland is as follows, ordered first by title and then alphabetically. (Arbiters described by FIDE as inactive are not included.)
International Arbiters: Gerry Graham, Ted Jennings.
FIDE Arbiters: Ivan Baburin, Tim D. Harding, Rory Delaney, Pete Morriss, Colm O Muireagain, Ruth Redmond, Brian Scully.
National Arbiters: Vincent Bissett, Adrian Dornford-Smith, Pat Fitzsimons, Richard Gould, Ross Harris, Brendan Jamison, Andrew Kildea, Neal Kirby, Paul McKeown, John McMorrow, Gabriel Mirza, Mark Newman, Kevin O'Flaherty, Pat Scanlan, Herbert Scarry, Peter Scott, Stephen Short, and Pat Twomey.
For more information on Irish chess, please see the Irish Chess Union website.