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Tom O'Gorman has earned IM title

 

The Irish Chess Union website reports that Tom O'Gorman has made his third IM norm which means he should soon be confirmed as Ireland's latest International Master. Congratulations.

There are now 45 names down for the 103rd Irish Chess Championship so a large field is likely, although IM David Fitzsimons is the only member of the Open olympiad team to have entered so far. From the women's team, Antonina Gora and Lara Putar have entered. The Kanyamaralas, as last year, have entered the British Championship instead; a clash of dates means it's one or the other.

Entries for the subsidiary events over the two weekends, which were heavily subscribed in 2023, are quite low although there may as usual be a rush of late entries. The clash with the Olympic Games (especially the athletics) may be part of the reason.

Entries for the Irish Women's Championship, later in August, are also very slow to come in.

Four teams of Irish senior players competed at Krakow, Poland, in the World Senior Teams Championships (2-11 July over nine rounds).

This was our largest ever contingent - three teams played in the 65+ tournament and one in the 50+. In all, 20 players were here, with five partners also accompanying. The progress of our teams can still be seen at chess-results.com.

The first team and the 50+ team have had some excellent results. The 65+ first team finished on 9 match points (50%) to equal the performance of our team at the 2022 European Senior Teams in Dresden.

The 50+ team might have done likewise but unfortunately one player had to go home before the last round and when another was taken ill, this meant that a board had to be defaulted in the last round match.

While the results of the second and third 65+ teams have been disappointing on the whole, there were some good results and several individual players have gained rating points as well as valuable experience at playing abroad, which was a novelty for some.

Yesterday, in round 8, Ireland-1 in the 65+ drew with Finland, thanks chiefly to the win on board 2 by English-based FM Andrew Smith against veteran GM Heikki Westerinen. In an earlier match they beat Sweden, another team with a strong tradition in senior chess, and at one point they looked like beating the Finns too.

The top board on the first 65+ squad (seeded 15th of 33 teams) was Paul Wallace. Also on this team were Pete Morriss, CM Gerry MacElligott (captain), and Eddie O'Connor.

The top-rated player on our 50+ team was FM John Delaney, who has performed this role well several times in the past but found it tough this time. GM Alexander Baburin had intended to play but the unexpected need for a (fortunately successful) operation meant that he could not travel. Also on the 50+ team (in board order) were Kevin McHugh, Anthony Fox, Brendan Lyons (captain) and Fergal O'Dwyer who played six games unbeaten.

The players on Ireland-2 (65+) in board order were Pat Hogan, Joe Noone, Tim Harding, Gabriel Matthews and the captain Jim Murray. Games were being shared out among team members.

At one point Ireland-2 had to play Ireland-3 (a 2-2 draws) and both teams had a bye in one round because there was an uneven number of teams participating in the 65+. This meant that some players only had six games instead of the seven they were expecting.

Ireland-3 were (in order) Derek McGill, Martin Lohan, Frank McMahon (captain), Peter Lynch and Tom O'Sullivan. Unfortunately Tom had an accident in the hotel last Saturday and remains in hospital where he seems to be receiving excellent care. A family member has come out to assist but the Polish doctors say Tom should remain in Poland for rehabilitation for several weeks.

(Andrew Smith and Gabriel Matthews have entered the British 65+ Championship which starts on 29 July in Hull.)

The organisation of our teams has been very well co-ordinated by Gerry MacElligott, who has done most of the work, with assistance from Jonathan O'Connor.

Thoughts now turn to the next such event, which will be played in Prague in February 2025 and anyone interested should contact Gerry or Jonathan before the end of August (for example, during the Irish Championships).

The ICU has added 5-round 40+ and 65+ tournaments to the schedule of events on the final weekend of the Irish championships. It is hoped that this will take some of the pressure off the very large numbers who typically enter the Open weekender. Entries will probably pick up after players return from Poland.

See our Senior calendar for more details of events for the over-50s and our seniors news page for more information about tournaments for the over-50s.

Other news

Jacob Flynn and Conor O'Reilly tied first in last month's Malahide blitz tournament with 6.5/7; for results see the links on the ICU website. The proposed Trinity College blitz tournament series has been cancelled due to lack of support. We think 4pm on a working day was not a sensible time to start such an event, hence the small entry.

The selection report for the Irish Olympiad teams can now be read online by members if they log in to the Irish Chess Union website. The Olympiad will be held from 10-23 September in Budapest, Hungary.

The five players on the Open team are GM Alex Baburin, IMs Conor Murphy, David Fitzsimons and Tarun Kanyamarala, and FM Tom O'Gorman. Board order will be decided at the time by the team captain who is likely to be FM Conor O'Donnell. Six substitutes have also been named in order and the report gives extensive details on the processes for all selections.

On the women's team, the five selected players are WIM Trisha Kanyamarala, Alice O'Gorman, Lara Putar, WFM Diana Mirza and the current Irish champion Antonina Gora. The winner of the last women's championship tournament, Diana Mats, has not been resident in Ireland long enough to qualify but will be eligible in 2026.

FM Conor O'Donnell also came out top in the selection of captain for the women's team, so will be given the choice. Assuming he prefers the Open, then Mats (as runner-up for that role) will presumably go.

Jonathan O'Connor is now Ireland's delegate to FIDE and will be going to the Congress which takes place during the Olympiad.

The Galway Rapidplay was held last Saturday wiyth over 80 entries. The final scores and prizewinners' lists can now be found on the Galway Chess Club website. Ukrainian IM Oleg Gubanov came first with 6.5/7 ahead of Denis Ruchko and Hamilton Mandeya who scored 6. Bedhbh Doolin won the femnale prize and there were various other awards.

 

Other news

The six-round Drogheda congress was played over the June bank holiday weekend. This was the last "classical" chess congress here until the Irish championships which start on the 2nd of August. Uzbek FM Oleg Artemenko and former Irish champion FM Colm Daly tied first in the Thomson Masters with 4.5/6; there were 17 competitors.

The second section, the Boyle Championship, was won by Emmet O'Rourke with 5/6. Beckett Spence won the Fox Major, also with 5/6, and Vladislav Puchkov (Ukraine) won the Challengers with 6/6. That was the largest section, with 59 players.

The European Schools Championships have concluded in Limerick; reports can be seen via the ICU website. This was the first major FIDE event hosted by Ireland for many years. There were six Open sections and six girls tournaments.

In mid-May the ICU carried out the announced uplift to the ratings of all players sub-2000 to bring us into line with FIDE who implemented a similar operation in March. The purpose was to counter deflation in the rating systems using a mathematical formula explained in an article available to members only on the Irish Chess Union website.

The ICU rating list may require some adjustment because they say they found some bugs. We expect everything should be sorted before the Irish Championships in August. The rating bands for Drogheda had to be adjusted to take account of the uplift.

The backlog of tournaments to be rated by FIDE was also cleared in time for its June rating list. It is good that the ICU executive have taken these actions. Nevertheless the membership will be entitled to a full explanation of what went wrong in April when the next ICU agm is held in the autumn.

The final rounds of the Leinster and Munster leagues were played on Sunday 12 May in Rathfarnham and Charleville respectively. The results can be found respectively on the Leinster Chess Union's league website and at the Munster Union site. Ennis won the top division in Munster; Charleville won Division 2 and ST. Michael's won Division 3.

The top division in Leinster is the Armstrong Cup (one of the world's three oldest chess leagues, which began in the 1880s). Dublin Chess Club won it comfortably with St. Benildus finishing second. Blanchardstown were already certain to be relegated but the second relegation spot was decided and Dun Laoghaire are the unfortunate club. They are looking for new members, as announced on the ICU website.

In the second division (the Heidenfeld Trophy) Gorey were already assured of promotion and the runners up were St Benildus A, which means they are due to have two teams next season in the Armstrong. The St Benildus B team, however, were relegated to the Ennis Shield along with Dun Laoghaire.

CM Shane Melaugh is the new Leinster Champion after winning the top (confusingly called Senior) section of the Malahide Millennium Congress that ended yetserday (4-6 May). He won his first five games so his final round loss to FM Colm Daly only affected the minor placings. There was a strong entry of 16 players and all games were shown on Lichess.

Maxim Lorigan of Gonzaga won the Intermediate section with 6/6; there were 57 players. Saiansh Biswal won the Junior section with 5.5/6; there were 38 players. The venue was the Radisson Blu hotel at Dublin Airport, not the easiest place to get to (especially from the south side) unless you are a driver.

The National Club Championships were closely contested at the end of April at the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan, Dublin. 15 clubs entered (one very late), which unfortunately meant a bye in each of the five rounds.

The north Dublin club Elm Mount emerged as somewhat surprising winners on tie-break, especially as they lost their first round match to Malahide.

Teams were for six players with two optionaal reserves, and so clubs did not always field their strongest squad. Ennis were top seeds but their top rated masters IM Oleg Dubanov and FM Zalan Nemeth only played the Sunday rounds. By then it was too late because Galway (who finished well above their seeding in second place) beat Ennis 5.5-0.5 on the Saturday afternoon.

Unfortunately the relatively inexperienced Galway top board only scored 1/5 so their eventual total of game points was inferior to Elm Mount by one and a half points. Two Galway players scored 4.5/5 which was only surpassed by FM Colm Daly who won all his five games on top board for UCD.

The top teams (we are not sure how many) have thus qualified to represent Ireland in the European Club Cup which will be held this year in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia, from 19-27 October. That seven-round event always attracts many of the continent's top grandmasters.

Congratulations to Tom O'Gorman, the 2020 Irish Champion, who earned his second IM norm earlier this month by winning the Sheffield International Masters with a clear point margin (6.5/9). He won five games and drew three but lost to the other Irish representative, WIM Trisha Kanyamarala who earlier this year scored her second WGM norm.

Tom is perhaps nearing the end of his time as an Oxford student. Last month he won his game in the annual Oxford-Cambridge university match. As Sean Coffey points out at his IRLchess website, this means Tom has scored 4/4 on top board in these matches, only the sixth player to accomplish that feat; three of them were in the 19th century.

The inaugural Trinity College Dublin rapid tournament (7 rounds, FIDE rated) was played on April 13th and was very successful. There were 83 players in the Open section and 40 in the section for low-rated and unrated players. Junior Cert student Jason Liu shared first with Spanish FM Alvaro Bayo Milagro on 6/7. The top twelve games in the main section were broadcast live in each round. Fiachra Moore and Vincent Lin shared first in the Challengers with 6/7.

My preferred time limit of 15 minutes with a 10-second increment was used (rather than 10/5 as seems to me more popular nowadays in Ireland). The only issue was that, since this invariably leads to some long games that upset the schedule, so the event should have started at 11am rather than 12 noon (more like 12.15 in fact). Several players, including your correspondent, chose to miss the last round because of tiredness, transport or other issues.

Trinity hopes to run some blitz tournaments during the summer.

Irish Chess Union's new-look Easter festival in Dublin proved a considerable success. A pleasing feature was that it attracted a sizeable contingent of club players from Iceland who competed in all the various tournaments.

The 7-round FIDE-rated open featured a wide range of ages and strengths including some titled players including IM David Fitzsimons. The convincing winner was France-based FM Stephen Jessel who scored 6.5/7 (drawing only with Fitzsimons).

Jessel's delicate win when short of time in a knight versus bad bishop ending against FM Colm Daly was particularly impressive. Jessel already has his three IM norms but as yet has not managed to reach the rating requirement, so it is good to see him working his way up again. His unorthodox risky opening repertoire is probably well suited to this type of event.

There were two seniors tournaments. The inaugural Dublin 65+ Championship had 21 entries and was fiercely contested at the top. The only unbeaten player was 1974 Irish champion Tony Doyle, playing his first tournament in two years, but he conceded three draws.

Doyle's score of 5/7 was matched by three other competitors: CM Gerry MacElligott (champion on tiebreak), Pete Morriss, and Tim Harding who each won four games, drew two and lost one. NM Eamon Keogh was the early leader, winning some nice games, but on the final day he missed a win in a rook endgame against Doyle and was then out-calculated by Harding in a wild middle-game position.

A novelty at the Congress was a 40+ tournament for mature adults who wished to avoid playing juniors, but this experiment will probably not be repeated as the entry was small. FM John Delaney was the convincing winner with 6.5/7.

Rapid and blitz tournaments were also played. Teenage FM Kavin Venkatesan (who will shortly be sitting his Junior Cert exams) shared first with Conor Nolan in the Rapid on Good Friday with 5.5/6. Kavin also led the Blitz after 10 of the 11 rounds but lost his last game to FM Shane Melaugh so finished in a share of third. Melaugh shared first with Oleg Artemenko (Uzbekistan), both scoring 8.5/11.

Please also read our page for chess arbiters. This has been updated with the names of recently qualified FIDE and National Arbiters. It is good to see many new names on the list but Ireland urgently needs female arbiters now. The postponed Ntaional Arbiters course was held on 6-7 April but we don't have any information about how that went.

 

For further information on Irish chess, including ratings, how to join, a tournament calendar and a list of officials, please see the Irish Chess Union website.

Some other Irish websites:

Irish chess history and news site

Chess discussions on boards.ie

Irish Correspondence Chess Association

Bunratty Chess Festival