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FM Philip Short R.I.P.

Very sad news reached us today: Irish chess has lost one of its leading figures of the past half-century. FM Philip Short, originally from Cork, has died in Galway at the age of 58. He was several times Irish Champion, most recently in 2017 (jointly with Alex Lopez) when he made an IM norm. He will be sadly missed by family, friends and the whole Irish chess community.

The 2018 Irish Championships were held in Dublin (3-12 August). IM Alex Astaneh Lopez was the convincing winner of the main event ahead of the largest and strongest field for the event in many years.

There were 36 competitors, including one grandmaster, three other IMs and seven FIDE Masters. (Philip Short scored a creditable 5.5/9 in this, his last tournament.)

Cork-born Lopez was joint defending champion but this time he finished one and a half points ahead of the joint runners-up, FM Conor O'Donnell and David Murray. Despite starting the tournament with a rating below 2200, Murray achieved an IM norm (his first) while O'Donnell narrowly missed out. GM Alex Baburin finished in fourth place. There was also a programme of supporting events held over the two weekends with a smaller midweek open.

The tournament, moved to August from the normal July dates, was played in excellent conditions at the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan, Dublin under the efficient ditection of Ivan Baburin. It is hoped that next year's championship will be held at the same venue from 2-11 August 2019 and will attract an even stronger and larger field.

There are several upcoming tournaments in the next few weeks including the Irish Rapid and Blitz Championships in mid-September and the Women's Championship in November. For full details and reports on recent events, see the Irish Chess Union website.

The Irish Chess Union has 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: IM Alex Lopez; GM Alex Baburin; FM Stephen Jessel; FM Conor O'Donnell, and IM-elect 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 Ireland 50+ team competing in the World Senior Team Championships in Germany in July had the best performance (final placing relative to initial seeding) of any of the 15 teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in the two tournaments (50+ and 65+). They were competing in the tournament for players born in 1968 or earlier. We believe the team therefore won a prize donated by English seniors organiser Stewart Reuben.

The members of the 50+ team were FM John Delaney, Gerard MacElligott (captain), Martin Crichton, Brendan Lyons, and Bernd Thee. The 65+ team (for players born 1953 or earlier) was less successful than in 2016 because it was weakened by the last-minute withdrawal of its second strongest player; it therefore had no reserve and all four players were in action each day. That team consisted of Tim Harding (captain), Kevin James, Matt O'Leary, and Frank McMahon.

Ireland has a new International Master-elect, David Fitzsimons, whose title should be confirmed at the FIDE Congress in September. He completed his qualification in the ninth round of the 4NCL in May when he won his game to earn his third IM norm. David had previously reached the 2400 rating threshold.

The final round of Ireland's main 2017/18 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.

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.

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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