Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Monday, May 08, 2017

City of Belfast Day 2

The Nemtzov Cup was opened wide open on Sunday morning when leader Gareth Annesley lost with the white pieces to Modestas Razbadauskas. A further player withdrawal left an uneven number of players going into Round 5 but Mark Newman stepped into the breach to avoid a bye in the final two rounds.

Annesley closed out the tournament with two wins to secure the Nemtzov Cup for the second time. Stephen Rush, winner of the tournament last year, won all three of his games on Day 2 to slot into second place. Modestas Razbadauskas was the winner of the Grading Prize.
The final round of the Nemtzov Cup gets underway.
In the foreground Gareth Annesley contemplates his first move.

Nemtzov Cup Final Crosstable
No Name                  Rtg  Total  1    2    3   4    5    6  

1  Gareth Annesley       1908 5      6:W 10:W  2:W 3:L  5:W  4:W
2  Stephen Rush          1799 4.5    4:W  8:D  1:L 5:W  7:W  3:W
3  Modestas Razbadauskas 1412 3.5    8:L  6:W  9:W 1:W  4:D  2:L
4  Daniil Zelenchuk      1463 3      2:L  5:D  6:W 7:W  3:D  1:L
5  Danny Roberts         1830 2.5    7:L  4:D 10:W 2:L  1:L 11:W
6  Robert Lavery         1601 2.5    1:L  3:L  4:L 0:W 11:W  7:D
7  Richard Morrow        1530 2      5:W  9:L  8:D 4:L  2:L  6:D
8  Damian Marchlewicz    1948 2      3:W  2:D  7:D 0:   0:   0: 
9  Danny Mallaghan       1778 1.5   10:L  7:W  3:L 0:D  0:   0: 
10 Kamil Marchlewicz     2068 1      9:W  1:L  5:L 0:   0:   0: 
11 Mark Newman           1720 0      0:   0:   0:  0:   6:L  5:L
In the Henderson Cup overnight leader Pat McKillen added a further 2.5 points to his total on Day 2. This was more than enough for him to take his fourth Henderson title, equalling the record of Karina Kruk who won four in a row betwenn 2010 and 2013. William Storey, the 2009 Champion, finished second while there were grading prizes for veteran Geoff Hindley and two newcomers to Ulster chess this year - Vincent O'Brien and Louie McConkey.
Louie McConkey receives his prize from Mark Newman
Vincent O'Brien receiving his prize
Henderson Cup Final Crosstable
No Name                  Rtg  Total  1    2    3    4    5    6  

1  Patrick McKillen      1311 5.5   13:W 11:W 10:W  2:W  3:D  8:W
2  William Storey        1343 4.5    9:W  7:D  4:W  1:L 10:W  3:W
3  Martin Kelly          1359 3.5   10:D  4:D 11:W  6:W  1:D  2:L
4  Cathal Murphy         1329 3.5    8:D  3:D  2:L  0:D 12:W  6:W
5  John McKenna          1526 3.5    0:D 10:L  9:W  7:W  6:L 12:W
6  Dmitry Zelenchuk      1354 3      7:L  8:W 13:W  3:L  5:W  4:L
7  Geoff Hindley         1050 3      6:W  2:D  0:D  5:L  8:L 11:W
8  Vincent O'Brien       919  3      4:D  6:L 12:D 13:W  7:W  1:L
9  Louie McConkey        1030 3      2:L 12:L  5:L 11:W  0:W 13:W
10 Tyrone Winter         1060 2.5    3:D  5:W  1:L 12:W  2:L  0: 
11 Nived Binu Daniel     700  2     12:W  1:L  3:L  9:L 13:W  7:L
12 Adrian Dornford-Smith 1148 1.5   11:L  9:W  8:D 10:L  4:L  5:L
13 Paul Anderson         882  1      1:L  0:W  6:L  8:L 11:L  9:L
At the prizegiving ceremony
My thanks to Brendan Jamison for keeping me updated on the progress of the tournament and for providing the photographs that accompanied my text.

Final standings, full details of prizewinners and photographs of the two Champions with their trophies can be found in the Results and Reports Section.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

City of Belfast Day 1

The provisional starting list published in my previous post saw some changes come Saturday morning. Overall there were five "withdrawals" but also one addition with Richard Morrow entering the fray in the Nemtzov Cup. Richard started very well overcoming a 300 point deficit to defeat Danny Roberts and later in Round 3 he held second seed Damian Marchlewicz to a draw.

Play underway in Round 3 with Daniil Zelenchuk (left)
and Robert Lavery in the foreground
After Day 1 in the Nemtzov, Gareth Annesley (winner of this event in 2011) leads with a 100% score after defeating Ulster Champion Stephen Rush in Round 3 and is already at least a full point ahead of his rivals.

Nemtzov Cup Crosstable after Day 1
No Name                  Rtg  Total  1    2    3  

1  Gareth Annesley       1908 3     10:W  8:W  4:W
2  Damian Marchlewicz    1948 2      3:W  4:D  5:D
3  Modestas Razbadauskas 1412 2      2:L 10:W  9:W
4  Stephen Rush          1799 1.5    7:W  2:D  1:L
5  Richard Morrow        1530 1.5    6:W  9:L  2:D
6  Danny Roberts         1830 1.5    5:L  7:D  8:W
7  Daniil Zelenchuk      1463 1.5    4:L  6:D 10:W
8  Kamil Marchlewicz     2068 1      9:W  1:L  6:L
9  Danny Mallaghan       1778 1      8:L  5:W  3:L
10 Robert Lavery         1601 0      1:L  3:L  7:L
The draw for Round 4 showed some absentees and it looks like the two Marchlewicz brothers have withdrawn from the tournament.


In the Henderson Cup the lower ranked players faced opponents 300-400 rating points above them. They performed well above expectations in four of the seven games with Geoff Hindley and Nived Binu Daniel taking the full point while Tyrone Winter and Vincent O'Brien secured draws.

In Round 2 the surprises continued with Geoff Hindley holding 2009 Champion William Storey to a draw. Even bigger news was that 1060-rated Tyrone Winter beat top seed John McKenna.

The results in Round 3 were along more predictable lines and at the end of Day 1 three-time winner Pat McKillen was leading on three points with Storey just a half-point behind.

Henderson Cup Crosstable after Day 1
No Name                  Loc  Total  1    2    3  

1  Patrick McKillen      1311 3     10:W  9:W  6:W
2  William Storey        1343 2.5   13:W  3:D 11:W
3  Geoff Hindley         1050 2      5:W  2:D  0:D
4  Martin Kelly          1359 2      6:D 11:D  9:W
5  Dmitry Zelenchuk      1354 2      3:L 12:W 10:W
6  Tyrone Winter         1060 1.5    4:D  7:W  1:L
7  John McKenna          1526 1.5    0:D  6:L 13:W
8  Adrian Dornford-Smith 1148 1.5    9:L 13:W 12:D
9  Nived Binu Daniel     700  1      8:W  1:L  4:L
10 Paul Anderson         882  1      1:L  0:W  5:L
11 Cathal Murphy         1329 1     12:D  4:D  2:L
12 Vincent O'Brien       919  1     11:D  5:L  8:D
13 Louie McConkey        1030 0      2:L  8:L  7:L
Here's the pairings for Round 4


In the margins of the tournament, there was some significant news about the Chess NI organised summer trip to Saint Petersburg. Here's Chess NI's Brendan Jamison on the latest development:
We offer our sincere thanks to Daniel Roberts and Joanne Ritchie from Language Training Solutions who share our passion for the educational merits of a cross-cultural chess match in Saint Petersburg, interweaving the role of play and creativity with learning new language skills and improving communication techniques. When chess players from around the world move to Northern Ireland and have little grasp of the English language, many begin their integration process by joining our local chess community. We get extremely excited by players from overseas who join us at Belfast tournaments as they greatly enrich the cultural life of the city. In recent years, we have welcomed players from China, India, Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and The Phillipines. Hopefully this trend will continue and expand over the next decade as Belfast enjoys a rebirth as a vibrant cosmopolitan city." 
L to R: Danny Roberts and Joanne Ritchie from Language Training Solutions
presenting the travel sponsorship to Brendan Jamison of Chess NI on behalf of
the children travelling to Saint Petersburg, two of whom are pictured here:
8 year old Dexter Harris and 13 year old Daniil Zelenchuk.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

City of Belfast Championships

The City of Belfast Championships started this morning and will conclude on Sunday evening after 6 rounds have been played. After the deadline for receipt of entries passed, Brendan Jamison, one of the controlling team, sent me the list of players .

Nemtzov Cup
No  Name                  Rtg  Club        

1.  Kamil Marchlewicz     2068             
2.  Damian Marchlewicz    1948             
3.  Gareth Annesley       1908 Muldoons    
4.  Danny Roberts         1830 NICS        
5.  Mikhail Pavlov        1799 Ballynafeigh
6.  Stephen Rush          1799 QUB         
7.  Danny Mallaghan       1778 Muldoons    
8.  Pat Coleman           1668 Drogheda    
9.  Dayna Ferguson        1601 Drogheda    
10. Robert Lavery         1601 Ballynafeigh
11. Daniil Zelenchuk      1463 Ballynafeigh
12. Modestas Razbadauskas 1412             
Henderson Cup
No  Name                  Rtg  Club         

1.  John McKenna          1526 Belfast South
2.  Ram Rajan             1390 QUB          
3.  Martin Kelly          1359 Belfast South
4.  Dmitry Zelenchuk      1354 Ballynafeigh 
5.  William Storey        1343 Belfast South
6.  Cathal Murphy         1329 Belfast South
7.  Patrick McKillen      1311 Muldoons     
8.  Paul Seacroft         1150              
9.  Adrian Dornford-Smith 1148 NICS         
10. Tyrone Winter         1060 Ballynafeigh 
11. Geoff Hindley         1050 NICS         
12. Louie McConkey        1030              
13. Vincent O'Brien       919  Ballynafeigh 
14. Paul Anderson         882  Ballynafeigh 
15. Nived Binu Daniel     700               
It looks like there are going to be two very competitive sections with the traditional separation point of 1600 being used. However two players have opted and/or been allowed to move up to the Nemtzov Cup. It will be interesting to see how they will do because both teenager Daniil Zelenchuk and Modestas Razbadauskas have been in excellent form recently. The top seeded Marchlewicz brothers from Poland, who I think reside in Derry, previously competed in the Ulster Blitz Championship in December 2015 but this is their first time competing in Belfast in a standard time tournament. Overall the Nemtzov has a fresh look about it with the experienced Danny Roberts, new to Belfast chess events this year, plus two visitors from Drogheda CC - Pat Coleman and Dayna Ferguson (2nd in last years Henderson) - also competing.

In the Henderson top seed John McKenna will be aiming to retain his title. Three other former winners, Pat McKillen (2006. 2014, 2015), William Storey (2009) and Martin Kelly (2011) will be among those trying to stop McKenna scoring a brace.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Belfast Rapidplay Championships

Brendan Jamison last night ran the fourth fundraiser - the Belfast Rapidplay Championships - for the trip to Saint Petersburg that he is arranging with Mikhail Pavlov. The idea of a rapidplay on a Friday night is one that has intrigued me but I was never brave enough to organise one. However Brendan took the plunge and was rewarded with a great turnout of 36 players in total, competing across three graded sections.
Player panorama
Unfortunately I had to abandon my own intention to take part, after injuring my right leg while out hiking. However Brendan has very kindly sent me a mass of information on the event. As Brendan is planning a full report on his brainchild at his Chess NI website, I won't pre-empt his commentary. For now I can reveal that the three winners on the night were Modestas Razbadauskas (Senior champion), Tyrone Winter (Intermediate) and Paul Devlin (Junior).
Organiser Brendan Jamison
I will come back in the days ahead to this excellent new event. The four Jamison fundraisers have featured innovative ideas and Brendan has found a very suitable playing venue in the Good Shepherd Centre Conference Room. The good news is that while the fundraisers are now over, Brendan intends to continue his organisational efforts next season.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Chess on the Radio

Update and correction:
Apologies - I got my Fridays mixed up. The interview will actually be broadcast tomorrow (Good Friday) at 8.15 am and again between 1pm and 3pm on R. Fáilte 107.1 FM.

Cathal Murphy is being interviewed tomorrow (Friday 7th 14th April) on Raidió Fáilte talking about the Ulster chess scene and beyond. The interview will probably be broadcast between 1pm and 3pm at 107.1FM and should also be available online on the station's website. So if you're a gaeilgeoir, could be well worth checking out.

Monday, April 03, 2017

An abundance of quickplays

The early Spring of 2017 has seen a concentration of fast time-limit chess events perhaps not seen locally since the late 1980s/early 1990s. I have already commented extensively on the Belfast Blitz and Bullet Championships, played on Saturday 4th March. The very next day the second of the NICS Rapidplay series took place at the Maynard Sincliar Pavilion, when usual attendance numbers were unaffected by the proximity of the two events. Modestas Razbadauskas edged out young Daniil Zelenchuk on tie-break.

Razbadauskas (right) deep in concentration playing against Mikhail Pavlov
(photo courtesy of Brendan Jamison)

The UCU had secured a prestigious venue - the Ulster Museum - for the Ulster Rapidplay Championship played two weekends later on Sunday 19th March. So it must have been disappointing for the powers that be that only 16 competed. Perhaps too many people were away for the St Patrick's weekend. Of course, you can only play those who turn up and Daniil Zelenchuk further enhanced his growing reputation by taking clear first in the Championship.

Zelenchuk (left) at the NICS Rapidplay prizegiving with Mark Newman
(photo courtesy of Brendan Jamison)

Just as March had three quickplay events, so does April. The third NICS Rapidplay in the 2016-7 Alan Burns Grand Prix is being held on the 9th April and the series concludes on the 30th April. Another of the Chess NI fundraisers that have enlivened the season also takes place on the last weekend in April - the Belfast Rapidplay Championships is on the 28th. Unlike the NICS - Chess NI double-header on the first weekend in March, this time players are guaranteed a rest day in-between. It will be interesting to see how many players will turn out on a Friday night - early entry numbers are encouraging. You can find further details of all these April tournaments on our Forthcoming Events page.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

D. Zelenchuks "Russian" To Victory As Heroes Hit A "St. Petersburg"!

Martin Kelly reports:

Ballynafeigh 3     3.5-1.5   Kelly's Heroes
1.Ross Harris      0.5-0.5   David Ruben
2.Edward Doak      0.5-0.5   John McKenna
3.Daniil Zelenchuk   1-0     Bernard Jaffa  
4.Dmitri Zelenchuk   1-0     Craig Stevenson 
5.Colin Fenton     0.5-0.5   Martin Kelly
Win Bonus          2.0-0.0
Champions-elect Ballynafeigh 3 defeated third-placed Kelly's Heroes, thanks largely to Zelenchuk père et fils. After this game, I think I shall "Zelenchuk" my chess set away! In the quickest game, Fenton was "bent on" destroying Kelly's favourite Vienna Gambit but a 7 move draw ensued, preserving Kelly's unbeaten league record! In a "Daniil and Goliath" clash next, "stone me"! little Daniil won again ! I wouldn't "poke" a "joke" at Doak facing unbeaten John McKenna but he didn't "choke" and in the end a draw was "ok"! What's "d' matter" with Dmitry I thought as Craig fought valiantly but lost! Finally, as I had left to watch United lose in the FA Cup, it was nice to see "Harris tweed" his draw and our overall defeat to my phone! Here's the Fenton vs Kelly game: Games
[Event "UCU League Div 2"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.03.13"] [Round "?"] [White "Kelly, Martin"] [Black "Fenton, Colin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C29"] [Annotator "Kelly"] [PlyCount "14"] [EventDate "2016.10.??"] [EventType "team"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1997.11.17"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 d5 4. fxe5 Nxe4 5. d3 Bb4 $5 ({or} 5... Qh4+) ({or} 5... Nxc3) 6. dxe4 Qh4+ 7. Ke2 Qg4+ ({Draw. I had expected} 7... Bg4+ 8. Nf3 Bxc3 9. bxc3 dxe4 10. Qd4 $1) 1/2-1/2

Monday, March 06, 2017

Belfast Bullet & Blitz photos and final standings

See also:
Belfast Blitz and Bullet Championships (NI Chess News)
The Zeitgeist of Time (Ulster Chess Chronicle)

Round 1 in the Blitz - Mark Newman (White) against Sergio Esteve Sanchez.
Beyond them are Danny Roberts and Daniil Zelenchuk (partially obscured).
Mikhail Pavlov (in the foreground) and Edward Doak
are watching on. 
24 players were listed to play at the start of the Open Blitz Championship. Running alongside the main event in the morning was a special event for unrated UCU youth players, which was particularly appropriate because the Championships are part of a series of fundraising events to provide bursaries for young NI players to compete at the upcoming Saint Petersburg -v- Belfast match. This match will be held at the Youth Sport Schools of Kalininsky, Saint Petersburg, Russia from 18th to 25th August this year.
Trophies, medals and certificates for the Open Blitz and Children's Blitz
The Children's Blitz was a double-round all play all with Ciaran Rowan finishing first of the 5 players with 9 points out of a possible 10 and thereby winning the first prize Trophy. Second and silver medalist was Adam Fitzsimons with 8 points. Third place and a bronze medal went to Dexter Harris on 6. Joel McLean came fourth on 5 and James Fitzsimons, playing in his first ever tournament, scored 2 points.

While the Children had completed their competition by lunchtime, the Open Blitz had only reached its half-way point. Here are the standings after the 8 morning rounds.
Blitz standings at the half-way point
By way of explanation, Ciaran Rowan and Adam Fitzsimons appear in the standings because they would be joining the Open competition in the afternoon now that they had finished playing in the Children's event.

Also at this half-way point James Barbour and Ronan Fitzsimons withdrew from the Open Blitz while Richard Gould played three games at the end of the competition to avoid there being a bye.

After the dust had settled three players were tied in first place with 13.5 points - Danny Roberts (a very recent addition to the Ulster chess scene after making his debut for NICS in a league match earlier in the week), Sergio Esteve Sanchez and Modestas Razbadauskas.
Blitz final standings
As you can see from the final standings table above, the first tie-breaking decider was Median Buchholz and this placed Roberts first and winner of the 2017 Belfast Blitz Championship Trophy.
Danny Roberts (left) receives the winner's
trophy for the Belfast Blitz Championship
from organiser Brendan Jamison
After a half-hour break, the Bullet championship, to be played over 8 rounds, got underway. With he time limit being one minute for all moves for each player, the room was a blur of activity. When everything eventually calmed down, Daniil Zelenchuk was top of the final standings and winner of the 2017 Belfast Bullet Championship. Mikhail Pavlov just secured second place ahead of Modestas Razbadauskas with them only being separated by the third-applying tie-break method.
Bullet final standings
Again by way of explanation of the table above, Tyrone Winter withdrew after 4 rounds and David McAlister stepped in to play rounds 5 to 8 to prevent a bye.

In conclusion, the Good Shepherd Conference Centre, which made is debut as a chess venue at last month's Pavlov-Jamison Monster Simul (another of the St Petersburg Match fundraisers) is an excellent room for a chess tournament. There was more than ample room around the playing tables and with the high ceiling and sensible amount of heating players were neither too warm nor too cold. Unlike some other local chess venues, there was no bar or restaurant within the venue, but organiser Brendan Jamison had that one covered with a free selection of refreshments.
Sustenance
Click on the photographs and tables to enlarge them

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Belfast Blitz and Bullet Championships

This new event, organised by Brendan Jamison under the Chess NI banner, was held at the Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast on Saturday 4th March 2017. A total of 31 players competed in three separate competitions:
  • An Open Blitz Championship, over 16 rounds with a time limit of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment for each player. There were 8 rounds in a morning session and a further eight in the afternoon.
  • A Children's Blitz, over 10 rounds with a time limit of 10 minutes each, held in the morning.
  • A Bullet Championship, held after the conclusion of the Blitz, over 8 rounds. Time limit in Bullet is 1 minute for each player.
I hope to post a considered review soon, but to start with here's the rundown on the prizewinners:
PRIZEWINNERS

BELFAST BLITZ CHAMPIONSHIPS
1 Danny Roberts (1975)  
2 Sergio Esteve Sanchez (1994)  
3 Modestas Razbadauskas (1678)
Junior rating band prizelist
1  Gary Johnston (1002)  
2  Dmitry Zelenchuk (1178)  
3  Chris Armstrong (1326)     

CHILDREN'S BLITZ
1 Ciaran Rowan (1038)  
2 Adam Fitzsimons (702)
Blitz prizewinners (l to r) Dimitry Zelenchuk, Modestas Rabzadauskas,Adam
Fitzsimons, Danny Roberts, Gary Johnston. Chris Armstrong and  Ciaran Rowan
BELFAST BULLET CHAMPIONSHIP

1 Daniil Zelenchuk (1426)  
2 Mikhail Pavlov (1513)  
3 Modestas Razbadauskas (1678) 
Junior rating band prizelist
1 Dmitry Zelenchuk (1178)  
2 Edward Doak (1313)  
3 Gary Johnston (1002)  
Children's prizelist
1 Ciaran Rowan (1038)  
2 Adam Fitzsimons (702) 
Bullet prizewinners (l to r) Gary Johnston, Modestas Razbadauskas, Edward Doak,
Daniil Zelenchuk, Mikhail Pavlov, Adam Fitzsimons, Dimitry Zelenchuk and Ciaran Rowan

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Double Monster Simul Match

Good Shepherd Centre, Ormeau Road, Belfast 
February 24, 2017 

Brendan Jamison reports

The Double Monster Simul Match saw Mikhail Pavlov (1766) and Brendan Jamison (1743) go into battle against 11 different players. Brendan’s red team faced the Russian opera star; meanwhile Mikhail’s blue team duelled with the sugar cube sculptor.

Zooming about on their wheelie chairs, it was an exciting night where every point would count to decide the winner of the match. Lots of delicious refreshments were also on hand to distract the players from their games! A total of £120 was raised for the worthwhile cause of funding three children to fly to Russia in August for a 4 day chess match between Saint Petersburg and Belfast.

Group view
After 3 hours of continuous play, Pavlov won an impressive 8 games, drawing only one against Richard Gould who collected a silver medal award and losing two games to Ross Harris and Daniil Zelenchuk, both of whom won gold medals. The certificate for ‘last man standing’ [L.M.S.] went to Dmitry Zelenchuk. Pavlov’s total score was an incredible 8.5 points out of 11.

Meanwhile on the other side of the room, Jamison picked up 7 wins but drew three games against Mark Newman, Michael Sheerin and Robert Lavery, with all three scooping silver medals. He lost one game to Ram Rajan who won a gold medal for his victory. The certificate for ‘last man standing’ went to Adrian Dornford-Smith for lasting 77 moves. Jamison’s total was also 8.5 points out of 11. And so, after all the intensity of concentration, the high energy leg work to wheel their chairs at high speed around the room, their total focus and dedication in each game, in the end, the two monsters finished equal! Instead of playing a blitz-off, they agreed to share the trophy and were happy to remain ‘Joint-Champions of the Monster Double Simul Match’! A sincere thanks to everyone who participated, the evening was lots of fun and everyone really enjoyed the buzz!

Group view of participants
You can find a fuller report with detailed results and a shedload of photographs at Brendan's own website Chess Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The return of the Ulster Chess Chronicle

In 1999, to provide an internet presence for chess in Northern Ireland, I started a website called the Ulster Chess Chronicle. It was a mix of chess results, news, articles and history. It also included the official webpages of the Ulster Chess Union.

After the UCU set up its own website in 2004, I still continued with the Chronicle but on a reduced scale. A couple of years after that I decided to start this blog which allowed me to put a more personal slant on things. When the service provider for the Ulster Chess Chronicle discontinued its service in 2014, I moved the contemporary results & reports and articles to NI Chess News.

I've now re-started the history part at a renewed Ulster Chess Chronicle. There will be brand new posts on the history of Ulster chess, but my intention is also to incorporate, albeit re-formatted and often with additions and revisions, all the old material.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Good results for NI players in Bunratty

We have already reported on Mikhail Pavlov's victory in the Challengers. I would have gone as far as describing it as "brilliant" but apparently the UCU website has copyrighted that word😃

However that was far from the only prize taken home by the Northern contingent. The rapidly improving Rian Mellotte won third prize in the Minor, there were grading prizes for Daniil Zelenchuk and John Phillips in the Major and also for Tyrone Winter in the Minor.

Brendan Jamison over at Chess Northern Ireland has a complete rundown on how the Ulster players got on.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pavlov wins Bunratty Challengers

After his Round 5 victory, the subject of our previous post, Mikhail Pavlov was in second place on his own and a half-point behind leader Don Short. The result in the their Round 6 game would decide the overall winner - Short only needed a draw whereas Pavlov needed a win.

Just like Round 5, Pavlov went for a sacrificial opening line - this time the Albin Counter Gambit - and once again play got complicated. Here's how the game went.
Games
[Event "Bunratty Challengers"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.19"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Short, Don"] [Black "Pavlov, Mikhail"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D08"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:52:33"] [BlackClock "0:03:26"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. a3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. Nbd2 Qe7 7. Qa4 O-O-O 8. b4 Kb8 9. Qb3 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 Qxe5 11. Bb2 f5 12. O-O-O Nf6 13. Nf3 Qe8 14. Rxd4 Ne4 15. h3 Nxf2 16. Rg1 Bh5 17. g4 Rxd4 18. Bxd4 fxg4 19. hxg4 Nxg4 20. Bh3 Nf6 21. Qb2 Qe4 22. Ng5 Qh4 23. e3 h6 24. Bxf6 hxg5 25. Bxg7 Qxh3 26. Bxh8 Qxe3+ 27. Qd2 Qxg1+ 28. Kb2 Kc8 29. Bf6 Qd1 30. Qxg5 Bf7 31. Qf5+ Kb8 32. Bc3 Qe2+ 33. Ka1 Qxc4 0-1
Congratulations to Mikhail on his victory. His only draw came in Round 1 against his fellow Northern raider, Sergio Esteve Sanchez. Sergio followed up with two more draws before storming home with three straight wins to finish tied fifth. Here's that Round 1 encounter.
Games
[Event "Bunratty Challengers"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.17"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Esteve Sanchez, Sergio"] [Black "Pavlov, Mikhail"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A01"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:31:24"] [BlackClock "0:14:09"] 1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bd6 5. Na3 a6 6. Bxc6 bxc6 7. Nc4 O-O 8. Ne2 Re8 9. Ng3 e4 10. Nxd6 cxd6 11. f3 d5 12. O-O d6 13. fxe4 Nxe4 14. Nxe4 Rxe4 15. Qh5 Qe7 16. Rf4 Rxf4 17. exf4 Bb7 18. Qf3 f6 19. d3 c5 20. Qf2 d4 21. Re1 Qf7 22. Bc1 Qd7 23. Qe2 Bd5 24. Bd2 Rb8 25. a4 Bc6 26. Ba5 Qf7 27. Qe6 Re8 28. Qxf7+ Kxf7 29. Rxe8 Bxe8 30. Kf2 h5 31. Bb6 Ke6 32. Bc7 h4 33. a5 Bh5 34. Ke1 Bg4 35. Kd2 Kd5 36. Bb6 Bh5 37. Bc7 Bg6 38. Bb6 1/2-1/2

Sunday morning slugfest in Bunratty

Northern Ireland's adopted son Mikhail Pavlov, on 3.5 points out of 4, was on the live boards in Round 5 of the Challengers. The Russian opera singer was already fine tuned for his 9.15am (!!) start. In typically enterprising style he essayed the Morra Gambit and brought off a sparkling win. Games
[Event "Bunratty Challengers"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.19"] [Round "5.2"] [White "Pavlov, Mikail"] [Black "Mirza, Diana"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B21"] [PlyCount "55"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:01:59"] [BlackClock "0:32:36"] 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cxd4 3. c3 dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Bc4 d6 6. Nf3 a6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Bf4 Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 10. g4 Bg6 11. Nh4 e6 12. Re1 Ne5 13. Bb3 Nxe4 14. Ba4+ Nc6 ( {I suspect that after} 14... b5 {we would have seen} 15. Nxb5 axb5 16. Bxb5+) 15. Nxe4 Bxe4 16. Rxe4 d5 ({Probably best here is} 16... Qxh4 {but after} 17. Rc1 Rc8 18. Bxc6+ bxc6 19. Rxc6 $1 Rxc6 20. Qa4 Qd8 21. Qxc6+ Qd7 22. Qxa6 { White must have good winning chances.}) 17. Re2 b5 ({Now if} 17... Qxh4 { White has} 18. Qxd5 {exploiting the pin along the e-file.}) 18. Rc1 Nb4 19. Nf5 $1 g6 20. Nd4 Bg7 ({After} 20... bxa4 {now} 21. Rc7 {threatening Qxa4+ looks very strong.}) 21. Nxe6 fxe6 22. Rxe6+ Kf7 23. Rd6 Qe7 24. Bb3 Rad8 25. Bxd5+ { The computer tells me there's a forced checkmate from here.} Kf8 26. Qf3 Bf6 27. Rxf6+ Qxf6 28. Bh6+ 1-0

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Large contingent at Bunratty Festival

The Bunratty International Chess Festival is now firmly established as Ireland's biggest weekender. This year over 300 players are competing in the four sections. In recent years more and more Northern Ireland players are making the journey to County Clare.

According to Brendan Jamison's new Chess Northern Ireland website 36 local players are in the lists. If you want an easy way to find out how they are doing, Brendan has a dedicated page following their progress.

For an overview of the whole tournament action then go to the organisers' own website or the Irish Chess Union page on the event. At both you'll get all the round-by-round results, standings and also 7 "Live Boards", 3 from the Masters, 2 from the Challengers and one each from the Major and Minor.

In Round 1 young Ballynafeigh CC player Daniil Zelenchuk featured in the live transmission when he was facing the top seed in the Major. Daniil was clearly unfazed by the experience, winning with the Black pieces and still having more than an hour on his clock at the end.

Games
[Event "Bunratty Major"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.17"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Smith, Jonathan"] [Black "Zelenchuk, Daniil"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D71"] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [WhiteClock "1:10:52"] [BlackClock "0:08:04"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 d6 6. O-O c6 7. Nc3 Bd7 8. e4 a5 9. Qd3 Na6 10. a3 Rb8 11. h3 Qc8 12. Kh2 b5 13. cxb5 cxb5 14. Be3 b4 15. axb4 axb4 16. Qxa6 Qxa6 17. Rxa6 bxc3 18. bxc3 Bb5 19. Ra7 Bxf1 20. Bxf1 e6 21. Nd2 Rfc8 22. c4 Ne8 23. Kg2 Nc7 24. Ra5 Kf8 25. f4 Rb2 26. e5 dxe5 27. dxe5 Rd8 28. Kf3 Rbxd2 29. Bxd2 Rxd2 30. Rc5 Rd7 31. Rc6 f6 32. Rd6 Rf7 33. exf6 Bxf6 34. Ke4 Be7 35. Rd7 Bc5 36. Rxf7+ Kxf7 37. g4 Ne8 38. f5 Nd6+ 39. Ke5 gxf5 40. gxf5 Nxf5 41. Bd3 Bd4+ 42. Kf4 Kf6 43. Ke4 Bc5 44. Kf4 h5 45. Be2 Bd6+ 46. Kf3 Nd4+ 0-1

Monday, February 13, 2017

Forthcoming events page

I have added a new page to publicise future events in the local chess calendar. You can access it by clicking on the "Forthcoming Events" button in the crossbar above.

It seems to be a good time to start this listings service as March promises to have a feast of quick-play chess to savour. On Saturday 4th March Chess NI (no relation!) is organising a Belfast Blitz and Bullet Championships at the ground floor conference room of the Good Shepherd Centre, 511 Ormeau Road.

The very next day the NI Civil Service Chess Club is running the second of this season's Rapidplays in the Alan Burns Grand Prix - that takes place in the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion, Stormont.

You then have two weeks to catch you breath before the UCU Rapidplay on Sunday 19th March in the Belfast Room of the Ulster Museum.

I'll also mention here two events taking place in February featuring simultaneous play. These both have maximum numbers for participants and may already be "full up" so I haven't put them on the new page. However, in case it's not too late to get on board with these events, below are the links to the organisers' webpages:

Ross Harris 24 hour Chess-A-Thon

Starting at 8am on Saturday 11th February and continuing right through the night until 8am on Sunday 12th, Ross Harris took on all-comers in a non-stop 24 hour "Chess-a-thon". In doing so he has raised over £500 for a new children's chess club at Strand Arts Centre in East Belfast.

There's a report by Brendan Jamison at the UCU website that provides the context for this prodigious effort. I caught some of the action at various times on the Saturday and managed to download a couple of games from the UCU Live transmission.

On the Saturday morning Ross got the better of Brendan Jamison after a capture threatened a mate in two. Brendan managed to bailout into an inferior ending but Ross's technique was up to the task.

Games
[Event "24 hour Chess-A-Thon"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Jamison, Brendan"] [Black "Harris, Ross"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A45"] [PlyCount "108"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 e6 3. e3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Bd3 d5 6. Nd2 Bd6 7. Bg3 O-O 8. Ngf3 Re8 9. Ne5 Qc7 10. Ndf3 h6 11. h4 Ne4 12. Bf4 cxd4 13. exd4 f6 14. Nxc6 Bxf4 15. Nb4 a5 16. Nc2 Bd7 17. Ne3 Bxe3 18. Bxe4 (18. fxe3 Qg3+ 19. Ke2 Qf2#) 18... Bxf2+ 19. Kxf2 dxe4 20. Nd2 Qf4+ 21. Kg1 Bb5 22. c4 $2 e3 23. Nf3 Bxc4 24. Qc2 Bd5 25. Rh3 Bxf3 26. Rxf3 Qxd4 27. Qe2 Qd2 28. Rxe3 Qxe2 29. Rxe2 e5 30. Rc1 Rac8 31. Rec2 Rxc2 32. Rxc2 Kf7 33. Kf2 Kg6 34. Rc5 b6 35. Rb5 Re6 36. g4 Rc6 37. Ke3 Kf7 38. g5 hxg5 39. hxg5 Ke6 40. gxf6 gxf6 41. b4 axb4 42. Rxb4 f5 43. a4 Kf6 44. Kf3 Kg5 45. Rb5 e4+ 46. Ke3 Rc4 47. Rxb6 Rxa4 48. Rb8 f4+ 49. Kf2 Ra2+ 50. Ke1 f3 51. Rf8 Kg4 52. Rf7 Kg3 53. Rg7+ Kf4 54. Rf7+ Ke3 0-1

Screen grab from UCU Live of Jamison-Harris
On Saturday evening Ross faced off against Ulster Champion Stephen Rush and I managed to catch this well-played effort that ended in a draw.

Games
[Event "24 hour Chess-A-Thon"] [Site "?"] [Date "2017.02.11"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Harris, Ross"] [Black "Rush, Stephen"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. d4 e6 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 c5 4. c3 Be7 5. h3 b6 6. e3 O-O 7. Nbd2 d5 8. Bd3 Ba6 9. Qe2 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nc6 11. O-O Qd7 12. a4 Rfc8 13. Ne5 Qb7 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 15. Qb5 a6 16. Qxc6 Rxc6 17. Nf3 Rcc8 18. Ne5 h6 19. f3 b5 20. axb5 axb5 21. Nd3 c4 22. Ne5 Kf8 23. Kf2 Ke8 24. Ng4 Nxg4+ 25. hxg4 b4 26. e4 Kd7 27. exd5 exd5 28. Rfe1 Bf6 29. Be5 b3 30. Bxf6 gxf6 31. Rxa8 Rxa8 32. Kg3 Ra2 33. Re2 Ra1 34. f4 Rc1 35. Kf3 Rf1+ 36. Kg3 Kd6 37. f5 Kd7 38. Re3 Rd1 39. Re2 Rh1 40. Kf3 h5 41. gxh5 Rxh5 42. Kg4 Rh1 43. Kf3 Rf1+ 44. Rf2 Rc1 45. Re2 Rc2 46. Kf2 Rc1 1/2-1/2

Sunday, February 05, 2017

QUB Tourney final standings and prizewinners

Childreach International Chess Tournament
Students Union, Queen's University, Belfast,
3-5 February 2017

Prizewinners (from l to r) Rajan, Mellotte, Rodriguez, Lavery, Doak, Jamison, Newman

Final standings

Rank Player            Rtg  Points Prize 

1    Brendan Jamison   1743   5.0  Champion
2    Mark Newman       1724   4.5  2nd Senior
3    Clark Rodriguez   ----   4.0  Junior Champion
4    Edward Doak       1362   4.0  Intermediate Champion
5    Ram Rajan         1368   3.5  2nd Intermediate
6    Daniil Zelenchuk  1260   3.5  3rd Intermediate
7    Robert Lavery     1649   3.5  3rd Senior
8    Rian Mellotte      987   3.0  2nd Junior
9    Dmitry Zelenchuk  1223   3.0
10   Martin Kelly      1416   2.5
11   Utkarsh Gupta     1490   2.5
12   John McKenna      1510   2.5
13   Tyrone Winter      944   2.5  3rd Junior
14   Geoff Hindley     1040   2.0
15   Bhudhav Singh      624   2.0
16   Jasper Ramsey      835   1.5
17   Rhys McLean        692   1.0
18   Ben Campbell      1010   1.0

Rian Mellotte also received a "Giant Slayer" certificate
for his win against John McKenna
Brendan Jamison, the overall winner receiving his prize from Mark Newman
Edward Doak - Intermediate Champion
Clark Rodriguez - Junior Champion
Mark Newman had presented all the prizes on behalf of the organisers. Mark also played in the tournament and finished second in the Senior section. Someone else would have to award this prize and it appears QUB CC Treasurer, Ben Campbell stepped up to handle the formalities. As reported on the QUB CC Facebook page, Ben is taking part in a Childreach project in Nepal in the near future that focuses its efforts to fight child trafficking. He is heading out to work with the kids and also climb part of Mount Everest as a challenge to raise further funds for the charity. Below is the moment where Mark learns that his prize is to accompany Ben on the climb up Everest.😈
Gotcha!
Click on the images for larger versions

Thanks again to Brendan Jamison for his help with photographs and results

Final round pairings from QUB tourney

Play underway in Round 6

QUB Charity Tournament

The QUB Chess Club are organising a tournament new to the calendar this weekend. Round 1 was on Friday night (3rd February) with three rounds following on Saturday. The tournament finishes with morning and afternoon rounds today.

The event is being held to help the Childreach International charity and £200 has been raised. Traditional money prizes are not being offered, but the overall victor and the Intermediate (under 1500) and Junior (under 1200) prizewinners will all receive a free entry to the Mark Hebden GM Simultaneous, being held at RBAI later this month.

Round 1 action (Photo courtesy of Brendan Jamison)
A study in concentration from Round 1 (Photo courtesy of Brendan Jamison)
Going into the final day, top seed Brendan Jamison leads with 3.5 points but there is still plenty to play for as the Pairings for Round 5 show.
My thanks to Brendan Jamison for sending me reports on the tournament. Hopefully I will have more to post late Sunday or some time on Monday.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Williamson Shield Day 2

At the end of Day 1 Gareth Annesley had enjoyed a full-point lead over his six nearest pursuers. However that buffer zone disappeared when he lost to Nicholas Pilkiewicz in the Sunday morning round.

Annesley got back on track with a win over WFM Karina Kruk in Round 5 and going into the final round he was joined on 4 points by Pilkiewicz and John McKenna, Only these three could still win the Shield. 

Pilkiewicz had already played his two joint-leaders, so he floated down to play Kruk in Round 6. Their game ended in a draw and Annesley's win against McKenna gained Gareth his fourth Williamson Sheld title.

Final crosstable

No Name                  Rtg  Club          Total  1    2    3    4    5    6  

1  Gareth Annesley       1908 Muldoons      5      7:W  6:W  5:W  2:L  4:W  3:W
2  Nicholas Pilkiewicz   1847 Muldoons      4.5    8:W  9:D  3:D  1:W  7:W  4:D
3  John McKenna          1510 Belfast South 4     14:W  4:D  2:D  6:W  5:W  1:L
4  Karina Kruk           1646 Ballynafeigh  3.5   12:W  3:D  9:D  8:W  1:L  2:D
5  Mikhail Pavlov        1766 Ballynafeigh  3.5   11:W 10:W  1:L  9:W  3:L  8:D
6  Richard Gould         1536 Belfast South 3.5   16:W  1:L  7:D  3:L  0:W 12:W
7  Modestas Razbadauskas 1346               3.5    1:L 16:W  6:D 12:W  2:L  9:W
8  Patrick McKillen      1334 Muldoons      3.5    2:L 13:W 10:W  4:L 14:W  5:D
9  Robert Lavery         1649 Ballynafeigh  3     13:W  2:D  4:D  5:L 10:W  7:L
10 John Phillips         1392 Enniskillen   3     15:W  5:L  8:L 11:W  9:L 16:W
11 Gary Johnston         1275 Bangor        3      5:L 15:W 12:L 10:L 16:W 14:W
12 Roy Stafford          1243               2.5    4:L 14:D 11:W  7:L 13:W  6:L
13 Adrian Dornford-Smith 1155 NICS          2.5    9:L  8:L 14:D 16:W 12:L  0:W
14 Vincent O'Brien        955 Ballynafeigh  2      3:L 12:D 13:D 15:W  8:L 11:L
15 Rhys McLean            692 Ballynafeigh  1     10:L 11:L  0:W 14:L  0:   0: 
16 Geoff Hindley         1040 NICS          .5     6:L  7:L  0:D 13:L 11:L 10:L

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Numbers down at Williamson Shield

Recent editions of the Williamson Shield have been very well attended but this year's renewal has run into something of a perfect storm. The Williamson is clashing with the Gonzaga Classic - while I think this has happened before, this time the marketing onslaught for the Dublin event has launched it into a different league. At least five local players decided to head south to see what all the fuss is about.

Perhaps even more significant for the Williamson numbers is that running next weekend is another local six-round Swiss, new to the calendar - a charity event run by the burgeoning QUB Chess Club. It will be interesting to see how many turn out for this newcomer.

Two former winners of the famous Shield, Gareth Annesley (2009, 2014, 2016) and Nicholas Pilkiewicz (2000), are competing again this year. After close of play on Day 1 Gareth was leading after three straight wins. Six players share second place, a full point behind. The UCU live pages should have regular updates

Your correspondent had time for a couple of friendly quickplay games with Brendan Jamison before taking these photographs of the Round 3 action.
Nicholas Pilkiewicz

John McKenna
Razbadauskas (White) -v Gould
Dornford-Smith (White) -v- O'Brien

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Curiosity killed the cat

On the Ballynafeigh CC website, its "Off The Chest" page has a rather curious comment from "Baseball" which is date-stamped December 23, 2016 at 22:07.
However will we make the tea now?
The comment did not seem to refer to anything further up the page and to date there have been no further comments of any nature at "Off The Chest". Of course, sometimes late at night people say the strangest things on social media, even people about to obtain very high office. Still, "Baseball", whoever they might be 😕, usually seems to be someone out to make a point. So was there something of significance behind the comment? Oh, it is irritating when you are outside the loop.

Anyway,  I was researching for a future blog post about ratings (coming soon to this blog) when I came across, on another emanation of Ballynafeigh chess, something that might resolve the issue of the curious comment.

That "something" was that two members of the UCU Board, the Chairperson of Code of Conduct Committee, Brendan Jamison and National Arbiter, Richard Gould had both resigned on 21 December 2016. As far as I can see, there is nothing to confirm this on the official UCU website but as the news of the resignations appears on the emanation hosted by Brendan Jamison, I dare say this is reliable information.

This out of the loop cat is still curious.

Monday, December 12, 2016

NICS Rapidplay series resumes

Apart from a few games with the computer I hadn't played a game of chess, competitive or otherwise, for some time. My last tournament chess dated back to the 2013-4 season, when I played in a couple of Rapidplays, organised by my own club - Civil Service (NICS). Not without considerable qualms about my form, I decided to re-enter the arena on familiar ground at the first of four quickplays in the 2016-7 NICS Alan Burns Grand Prix.

NICS have two speed settings for their rapid tournaments and this was the slower "Lackadaisical" - five games of 20 minutes, plus 5 second increment, each. The entrants were remarkably closely bunched together on rating - so there were likely to be plenty of close-fought games.

Controller Mark Newman played in Round one to avoid a bye, but when David Jackson arrived shortly after the start, he was allocated a half-point bye and from Round 2 Mark was able to fully concentrate on his administrative duties. These took an unusual turn in Round 3 when a loud voice at the door demanded entry. When Mark opened the door he was confronted by a young man wielding a cutlass. Mark defused the situation by firmly indicating the potential intruder could not come in because this was a chess tournament. The pirate then returned with his plastic sword to the children's party happening elsewhere in the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion.
Woodfield (White) v Jackson
Returning to the chess battles: after two rounds only the first and third seeds, John Bradley and Robert Lavery had full points. Their top board encounter in Round 3 was won by Robert and after he won again in the fourth round against Ram Rajan, he was a full point ahead with only Bradley capable of catching him.
Gould (White) v Bradley, Rajan watching on
In the final round, a quick draw between Lavery and Daniil Zelenchuk secured overall victory for Robert and gave Daniil good chances of taking the grading prize. Martin Kelly was still in with a chance of the GP, if he could beat Ian Woodfield. Martin went the exchange up but a hasty move, failing to protect a vital pawn, was his undoing, and he slowly went under in a knight and pawns endgame. Meanwhile the host club's David Jackson defied his lowly seeding to checkmate Bradley and take second place honours.
Troughton (White) v Kelly

NICS Lackadaisical Rapidplay, 11 December 2016
Final standings

Place Name             Rtg  Club          Score Prize

  1   Robert Lavery    1539 Ballynafeigh  4.5   First
  2   David Jackson    1374 NICS          3.5   Second
 3-5  John Bradley     1629 Ballynafeigh  3     
      Richard Gould    1517 Belfast South 3    
      Daniil Zelenchuk 1484 Ballynafeigh  3     Under 1500
  6   Ian Woodfield    1502 QUB           2.5  
 7-9  Ram Rajan        1532 QUB           2    
      Martin Kelly     1456 Belfast South 2    
      David McAlister  1455 NICS          2    
10-11 William Storey   1279 Belfast South 1.5  
      Dmitry Zelenchuk 1147 Ballynafeigh  1.5  
12-13 Niall Troughton  1583 Ballynafeigh  1    
      Mark Newman      1522 NICS          1   
Prizewinners (l to r) Zelenchuk, Lavery & Jackson

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Rookie reports from the seaside

" Bourne" Again in Bournemouth?

Having finished second recently in the Winter Belfast South, City of Belfast and Spring Ballynafeigh tournaments, Martin Kelly decided to have a go at the British Chess Championship after a quarter of a century's absence. He had won the under-1600 event in Brighton in 1984 and this year it was held in another lovely and lively seaside resort on the English south coast, Bournemouth. He entered a weekend event and a weekday event, held in the mornings which allowed one to do other things the rest of the day, including karaoke (but I don't want to make a "song and dance" about it)!

As the bottom seed, Martin got a bye in Round 1 of the weekender, then met Peter Harrington in Round 2. The latter started off well but later he was to "peter" out to a draw. Round 3 gave Martin a slight edge against Michael Davidson but he didn't take the "michael" out of it- so another draw. His last two opponents were both 1520. The first, Nigel Redmond, lost to Martin in 58 moves- a "Nigel long" game rather than a Nigel Short game! The second, Paul Collins, played an "appaulingly" quiet line against Martin's Marshall Attack, but the resulting draw gave Martin 3.5/5 and third place overall.

"Life's a beach" but the Bournemouth weather encouraged one to relax near the water's edge and encourage one to kick the proverbial sand in the chess bullies' faces- so Martin, anxious to to win more than draw in the weekday tournament, decided to "force it in Dorset"! Again he met Peter Harrington, who this time played more like Padraig Harrington (if Padraig was playing chess, I mean) in losing to Martin's Budapest! Round 2 opponent was second seed Julian Hawthorne(1544)-" a thorny" set of complications by Martin meant he couldn't see the " wood from the trees" and lost! Exhausted next day against Alastair Drummond, Martin "summoned" all his energy, but it wasn't there and a 13 move draw resulted! Just as well, because the next game on Board 2 was the last to finish in the whole venue- 5 hour, 112 move win by Martin, "packing them" in against ex-Dubliner John Pakenham! The last day on top board against John D. Clapp,the top seed, saw Martin's French Advanced line pressurise his worthy opponent with the unfortunate name, but after a 37 move draw, " D. Clapp" from the audience was much appreciated as Martin clinched second prize ( and yes, that was the clean joke)! All in all, with 2 prizes and an unbeaten run of 9 games, I'm looking forward next year to Llandudno with the whole family- even though the "clan dudno" where it is or how to spell it!

PS Graeme McCormick got 5 out of 10 in the under 1880 and under 2040 events!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

New tournament, new websites

Nearly all of the local clubs close over the summer at the end of the Belfast Leagues. For many years now the UCU has catered for a continuing demand for competitive chess by running the Summer Tournament, originally at the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion on the Stormont Estate and more recently at the Bankers' Club on the Malone Road.

The Summer Tournament lasts for about 20 weeks with one round each Wednesday evening. It is a so-called "flexible" tournament - players dip in and out of the competition as often or as little as they want, with prizes based on percentage scores. There are a number of organisational rules peculiar to the flexible format, the most important probably being the requirement to play a minimum of games to be eligible for a prize. Pairings are made on the night with players allocated as far as possible opponents of roughly equal strength.

The only trouble with the Summer Tournament is that it tends to suck all competitive chess at longer time-limit into a black hole on the Malone Road. The possibility of running shorter, snappier events on a once or twice weekly basis, particularly in the Spring and early Autumn has always been there and now Ballynafeigh Chess Club has seized the initiative with a weekly tournament running on Tuesday nights, the first round having just taken place.

Instead of going for a five or six round Swiss, the Ballynafeigh organisers led by Arbiter Brendan Jamison, have opted for an eight-round Swiss/Flexible hybrid. Hopefully, Brendan will not need a supply of headache tablets in these uncharted waters. He certainly wasn't overly pre-occupied with the birth of his brain-child, sweeping all before him at Civil Service's recent rapidplay before taking the lead in the percentage table in the Belfast South flexible tournament by beating previous leader and top-seed John Masterson on the Monday immediately before the first night of the new tournament on the Tuesday.

Jamison has set up a dedicated website for the Ballynafeigh Spring Tournament and apart from all the detailed information on the event, there is already a short report there on the first round. The event must already be considered a success story with 40 entrants, of whom 38 participated in the first round. There are three free weeks within the schedule so play continues until Tuesday 24th May.

The title of this piece promised new websites and I found a link at the Spring Tournament to the second one, which incidentally also has a Jamison connection. Brendan has used his skills connected with his "day job" to design a logo for Childrens Chess Northern Ireland which has also just established its own web presence. CCNI has been going now for about 15 years and is run in conjunction with the UCU. The CCNI website also has information on the recently established Strandtown Chess Academy. This is based at the eponymous primary school where coincidentally your author spent two years of his education - if the Academy had been there then, I might have less excuse for the standard of my play!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Missed opportunity at the Ulster Masters

The live coverage of the Ulster Championship Congress proved a great success. The Ulster Chess Union has brought out all the technology again for the Ulster Masters this weekend. After technical problems defeated coverage of Round 1 on Saturday morning, normal service was restored in the afternoon with six games online, plus webcam and results.

One of the pleasures of watching the live games is to put the moves into an engine and bask in "your" superiority to those playing the games by seeing something they missed! Games
[Event "Ulster Masters 2015"] [Site "Belfast"] [Date "2015.10.18"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Lavery, Robert"] [Black "Leitch, Calum"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [Annotator "McAlister"] [PlyCount "24"] [EventDate "2015.10.17"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "6"] [EventCountry "NIR"] [WhiteClock "1:12:12"] [BlackClock "0:51:11"] 1. e4 a6 {Looks like a beginner's move, but better than its appearance.} 2. d4 d5 ({The most common continuation here is} 2... b5 {as in the sensational win by the English No.1 over the World Champion at the 1980 European Team Championship:} 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 Nf6 5. Qe2 e6 6. a4 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Nbd2 b4 9. e5 Nd5 10. Ne4 Be7 11. O-O Nc6 12. Bd2 Qc7 13. c4 bxc3 14. Nxc3 Nxc3 15. Bxc3 Nb4 16. Bxb4 Bxb4 17. Rac1 Qb6 18. Be4 O-O 19. Ng5 h6 20. Bh7+ Kh8 21. Bb1 Be7 22. Ne4 Rac8 23. Qd3 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 Qxb2 25. Re1 Qxe5 26. Qxd7 Bb4 27. Re3 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Bxd5 29. Nc3 Rc8 30. Ne2 g5 31. h4 Kg7 32. hxg5 hxg5 33. Bd3 a5 34. Rg3 Kf6 35. Rg4 Bd6 36. Kf1 Be5 37. Ke1 Rh8 38. f4 gxf4 39. Nxf4 Bc6 40. Ne2 Rh1+ 41. Kd2 Rh2 42. g3 Bf3 43. Rg8 Rg2 44. Ke1 Bxe2 45. Bxe2 Rxg3 46. Ra8 Bc7 {0-1 Karpov,A-Miles,A: Skara 1980}) ({If you're looking for something really provocative, then try} 2... h6 {which another top English GM (and ironically a noted opening theoretician) tried out on his return to chess after retiring to an ordinary work-life:} 3. Bd3 c5 4. dxc5 e6 5. Be3 Qc7 6. b4 Nc6 7. c3 d6 8. cxd6 Bxd6 9. Nf3 Nf6 10. h3 g5 11. a3 g4 12. Nd4 Ne5 13. Be2 Nxe4 14. hxg4 Bd7 15. g5 O-O-O 16. gxh6 Bc6 17. Nxc6 Qxc6 18. Qb3 Bc7 19. a4 Ng3 20. fxg3 Qxg2 21. Rf1 Nd3+ 22. Bxd3 Rxd3 {0-1 Van Oosterom,C-Sadler,M: Haarlem 2010}) 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. f3 exf3 5. Qxf3 ({Sacrificing not one but two pawns. I would have expected} 5. Nxf3 {which would be similar to a reasonably respectable gambit against the Caro-Kann: 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nf3}) 5... Qxd4 6. Be3 Qb4 7. O-O-O Bg4 {Oops! Looks like White is going to lose the exchange, but in fact Black's move should lose.} 8. a3 ({The players had been moving quickly up to here and in so doing missed a tactical shot. Counter-attacking the opposing queen is the right idea, but this is the wrong method. Correct was} 8. Nd5 $1 {threatening both Nc7 checkmate and the Black queen - plus Qxg4 winning the bishop if he loses the protection from his queen. The best try is} e6 {but then} 9. Nxc7+ Ke7 10. Qf2 $1 {(threatening Bc5+ forking king and queen)} Nd7 {and now} 11. Rd4 $1 {allowing White to capture the a8-rook.}) 8... Bxf3 9. axb4 Bxd1 10. Nd5 Kd7 11. Kxd1 e6 12. Nf4 Bxb4 { Black is the exchange and three pawns up and he went on to win without any further alarms.} 0-1

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hi-tech record-breaking Ulster Championships

The Ulster Championships have gone from strength to strength since 2007 when the tournament was moved to the August Bank Holiday weekend and found a great venue in Belfast's Europa Hotel. This year, however, there was a little fly in the ointment with the Europa unable to accommodate the Championships in its usual holiday weekend slot.

The Ulster Chess Union decided to move the event to the previous weekend of 21-23 August, but this necessitated a change to the schedule. Instead of two games each day on morning and afternoon, 2015 saw a Friday night start followed by three games on the Saturday and then two more on the final day. The triple-header on the Saturday meant that the playing session had to be reduced for all rounds but sensibly the organisers retained a 30-second increment.

The good news is that the enforced change of date did not impact on the number of entries with a new record high of 62 for the three-title Championship Congress.

Play taking place in the early stages of the final round
The Ulster Chess Union organising team produced a really top-notch event. Investment in equipment saw the Championship games being played on top quality wooden boards and sets and there were also DGT boards relaying a number of games each round. Also going out to the audience outside the playing room was a live webcam feed. Add in that results and standings were regularly updated on the new UCU live webpages after each round and it can safely be asserted that this was a 2015 Championship well up to 2015 hi-tech standards.

DGT Boards
The Senior Championship was spiced up for the local players by the appearance of one of Munster's best in Rory Quinn plus the promising young Blanchardstown player, Luke Scott.

Quinn (left) and Scott awaiting their opponents just before the start of Round 2
Quinn finished top of the final standings with 5.0 out of 6 with defending Ulster champion Gabor Horvath second, a half-point behind. With Quinn ineligible for the title, Horvath retained the Dr McSparran Cup for a second year.

Dr McSparran Cup - awarded to the Ulster Senior Champion
The Intermediate Championship was won by the young Ballynafeigh player, Thomas Donaldson who conceded only a single draw - to Stephen Rush - in finishing 1.5 points ahead of his nearest challengers - Eoin Carey (last year's Junior champion), David Ruben and Chris Kelly - all of whom he defeated in individual combat.
Donaldson (left) in play against Ruben in Round 2.
In the Junior Championship, which had an impressive number of 32 competing, there was an even more emphatic winner with David Barr, still very much a newcomer on the UCU tournament scene, finishing with a 100% record.
Round 2 in progress in the Dublin Room of the Europa Hotel. 2015 Junior Champion David Barr is facing the camera on the outside of the the second row on the right.
Click on the photographs to enlarge the images