Monday, May 06, 2019


The previous post set out the history of my reporting on chess in Northern Ireland. Since then I have moved to Scotland and no longer have the day-to-day contact with NI chess events to justify continuing a contemporary blog on Ulster chess.

So I have decided to evacuate the reports and results pages that appeared in NI Chess News and you will now find it all of it at the Ulster Chess Chronicle, alongside the more historical research that already appears there.

However, the blog posts dating back to 2007 are all still here and there is always the chance that the very occasional new post might appear.

There will be broken links and I will try to mend these over time. Some of the game viewers have been updated and are no longer compatible with the underlying code for the pages. Again in a gradual process I will attempt to catch all these and update, so that the games are visible again.

Updated 1st January 2023

Monday, October 09, 2017

New league season

The league fixtures for the 2017-2018 season popped into my Inbox this afternoon. At first glance, although the total number of teams remains the same as started last season, there is quite a shake-up. The emergence of Strand Chess Club, already strong in both quantity and quality, appears to have been the catalyst for the makeover.

Division One has gained three teams, two from Strand plus Civil Service moving up to play with the big battalions to make a total of eight. Instead of each team playing all its rivals four times, this season it will be a double-rounder only. Total number of matches reduce by two to 14, but in my opinion the benefits of losing an unwieldy bye and a greater variety of competition more than offset that. Of course those who like the league season to go on forever will be disappointed.

Instead of two further divisions, as was the case last season, there will be a large second division of eleven teams that will be organised in 2 phases. Divison 2 will start with an all-play-all with teams playing each other only once. Then there will a separation into two merit-based sections and it looks like this will require a longer league season than in Division 1 - better news here for the maximilists. My understanding is that the precise organisation of Division 2 after the "separation" will be clarified at a later date.

Ballynafeigh 1
Ballynafeigh 2

Belfast South 1
Muldoon's 1
Queen's University 1 
Strand 1
Strand 2 
Civil Service


Ballynafeigh 3
Ballynafeigh 4 

Belfast South 2
Muldoon’s 2
Queen's University 2
Queen's University 3
Queen's University 4 

Strand 3
Strand 4

Presumably the Belfast South Division 1 and 2 teams will continue to play respectively under the monikers "The A-Team" and Kelly's Heroes". No word on whether the newcomer, Strand CC, has any colourful names planned for its quartet.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Stephen Rush games from Rounds 2 to 5

Here are Stephen Rush's games from Rounds 2-5 of the 2017 Championship, with his own annotations. [Click on the drop-down menu immediately above the board to source all four games] Games
[Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.07.30"] [Round "2"] [White "Rush, Stephen"] [Black "Zakarian, David"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A53"] [BlackElo "2360"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "52"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] {Not much to this one; I made a poor move early which he refuted and then I tried to make things messy and he refuted that too.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 { He couldn't have picked a better 2nd move against me than this; it allows him to get to the King's Indian without allowing the system I normally play with e4 and f3; I resolved that if he played e5 next I would play a King's Indian with my pawn on e3, a way I used to play but that isn't really a great try for an advantage.} 3. Nc3 Nbd7 {Allowing me to transpose, more or less. To his credit I suspect he choose this over the normal e5 to avoid a drawish queen exchange if white wanted it, which I didn't.} 4. e4 e5 5. d5 Nc5 6. f3 a5 7. Be3 Be7 8. g4 ({I wanted to get this move in and I didn't want to allow him to play an early Nh5 first since after say} 8. Nge2 Nh5 {Nge2 Nh5 I cannot then play} 9. g4 {due to} Bh4+ {likewise with Qd2 Nh5; I knew it was early for it, but didn't see the refutation.}) 8... Nfd7 {He did; this simple undeveloping move threatens both h5 and Bh4; I must allow one.} 9. Qd2 Bh4+ 10. Kd1 h6 11. Nge2 Nf8 {Weird move; I actually recover a slight advantage now.} 12. Ng3 g6 { I saw the game continuation but wanted to mix things up; however, just accepting the mediocre position would clearly have been better in hindsight.} 13. Bxh6 g5 14. Bg7 Rh7 15. Nh5 Nfd7 16. Ne2 f6 17. Neg3 Bxg3 18. hxg3 Kf7 19. Bxf6 {I'd intended from the start of the tactic to allow him to recapture here and I'd have a pawn, a rook, and the h-file for two pieces, but in the moment I wanted to take the pawns for some stupid reason.} Nxf6 20. Qxg5 Bd7 {I realized here I was dead lost and played some random moves for no real reason.} 21. Qe3 Qh8 22. Bg2 Nxg4 23. Qg5 Rg8 24. Qh4 Nf2+ 25. Ke2 Nxh1 26. Qf6+ Qxf6 0-1 [Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.07.31"] [Round "3"] [White "Murphy, Conor E"] [Black "Rush, Stephen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A00"] [WhiteElo "2154"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "65"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Bd3 dxe4 4. Bxe4 Nf6 5. Bf3 c5 6. Ne2 Nbd7 ({Frustrating; my opponent is playing for a draw with white. The main continuation is} 6... cxd4 7. Nxd4 e5 8. Nb5 a6 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. N5c3 {with a very drawish endgame (computer gives a hair of an advantage to black but realistically it's extremely drawish).}) (6... Nc6 {On the spot I try to come up with an alternative; I was familiar with the game Onischuk/Dronavalli and I know that correctly played that's another forced draw, but one that's much harder to play for black:} 7. Be3 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Ne5 9. Nc3 Be7 10. Qe2 Nxf3+ 11. Qxf3 O-O 12. O-O-O Bd7 13. g4 Qa5 14. g5 Nd5 15. Nf5 Nxc3 16. Nxe7+ Kh8 17. Bd2 Nxa2+ 18. Kb1 Qd8 19. Bf4 Qxe7 20. Bd6 Qe8 21. Rhe1 Rg8 22. Rd4 Bc6 23. Qh5 f6 24. g6 h6 25. Bf4 e5 26. Bxh6 Bf3 27. Bxg7+ Kxg7 28. Qh7+ Kf8 29. Rd7 Qxd7 30. Qxd7 Rxg6 31. Qf5 {Onischuk -v- Dronavalli, Abu Dhabi 2015, 1-0. Eventually I settled on the game continuation.}) 7. Nbc3 e5 8. d5 Bd6 {The idea is that white won't have to time to play Nb5 profitably, and I will blockade the d-pawn while claiming space quickly with my e and f pawns in conjunction if allowed. After thinking about it at length the computer is actually ok with the idea, and I might try it again in a similar situation.} 9. Ng3 {Accurate by my opponent I think.} O-O 10. Bg5 h6 11. h4 hxg5 12. hxg5 Nh7 ({More precise would be to play} 12... e4 {but I had seen from afar that the game continuation would be good and missed this better idea.}) 13. Be4 g6 14. Rxh7 { The point of his combination, if I take the rook he can force a draw after Qh5, Bxg6, Qxg6 perpetual.} Qxg5 15. Rh1 f5 ({Too aggressive, I had the idea that I should pounce while he is on the back foot but he is not without counterplay;} 15... a6 {preventing his game move grants a sizeable advantage)}) 16. Nb5 Bb8 17. Nxf5 {I actually expected this, but it's trash. I have a huge advantage now.} gxf5 18. Rh3 Nf6 19. Rg3 Qxg3 ({here I think between 2 wins, my intended } 19... Ng4 {or Qxg3, fxe4, but wait, why hadn't I thought to just take the rook then take the bishop with the knight; I play it and congratulate myself on my elegantly placed knight, his ruined pawns, lack of castling, and my material advantage}) 20. fxg3 Nxe4 $4 21. Qh5 {Ohh right, the whole point of pawn takes bishop was to leave the knight guarding the light squares from the queen's entry. Disgustingly, with only one attacker, against two defenders and everything defended I stand worse unless I play Kg7, which I did not find.} Rf7 $2 22. O-O-O Bd7 23. Rh1 Rg7 24. Qh8+ Kf7 25. Rh7 Rxh7 26. Qxh7+ Ke8 27. d6 Bxd6 $2 (27... Nxd6 {made the position survivable; I was disgusted with myself, and I don't think I was thinking straight.}) 28. Nxd6+ Nxd6 29. Qg8+ Ke7 30. Qxa8 Bc6 31. Qh8 Ke6 32. Qh6+ Kf7 33. Qxd6 1-0 [Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.08.01"] [Round "4"] [White "Longson, Sarah N"] [Black "Rush, Stephen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C18"] [WhiteElo "2074"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Ne7 5. a3 {A French Winawer, my favourite line in chess.} Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. h4 {This is apparently a serious theory move played by GMs Caruana and Hansen, but I didn't know it and was a bit thrown off.} Qc7 8. h5 cxd4 9. cxd4 h6 {I can't allow white to pry up my g-pawn with my DSB gone.} 10. Bd2 Nbc6 $2 {No idea why I played this, my intention had been to play b6 and trade my LSB through a6 and in the moment I just moved. I had weird issues controlling some impulse moves this tourney for some reason, like I think I should have literally sat on my hands, I guess just nerves.} 11. Qg4 Nf5 {I'm OK here objectively, but I don't have any plan besides 'defend' now.} 12. Nf3 Bd7 13. Bd3 Nce7 {The computer hates this, and thinks I should have sacced on d4 with a slight disadvantage. I spoke to GM Luke McShane afterwards about it and he agreed, personally I have a hard time taking on positions with pawns over a piece, so I dismissed the move quickly after seeing Be3. I was under the impression I should maintain a knight on f5 and suss out defensive options such as Rg8, Kf8, and long castles as the game went on.} 14. Qf4 {Intending g4 which I will meet with g5.} a6 {I thought a long time on this move; I'm solidly worse, and I don't want to play g5 before g4 as I think g4 is not so useful a move except in that it forces g5. Eventually I settle on this as it threatens to trade LSBs or allow a light squared battery if the white's LSB retreats or trades after Bb5. After a4 at least my useless bishop is looking at something.} 15. c3 $2 {She was afraid that after she forced the action on the kingside at some point I would have Qxc2 followed by a move to the kingside to defend. This is exactly the kind of move I needed to have any chance though.} Bb5 {She looked very surprised by this, which is odd. I might even make this move if somehow it lost my 2 Qside pawns instead of doubling them; my LSB is terrible.} 16. Bxb5+ axb5 17. g4 g5 { Solidly the best reply, but I very interested to see that the computer also sees b4!, a move I had not even come close to considering.} 18. Nxg5 $2 { She must have missed that her c3 pawn is hanging with check if the bishop moves.} hxg5 19. Qxg5 Nh6 20. Qf6 Rh7 21. Rg1 {The beginning of a very bad plan; she needed to play f3 and accept that she has to defend now. Any capture of my knight is met by Qxc3 and Ng8.} Kd7 22. g5 Nhf5 23. g6 fxg6 24. hxg6 Rg7 25. Rc1 Rag8 26. Rh1 Rxg6 27. Qf7 Rg1+ 28. Ke2 Qc4+ 29. Kf3 Qd3+ 30. Be3 Qe4+ 31. Ke2 Rxh1 0-1 [Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.08.02"] [Round "5"] [White "Rush, Stephen"] [Black "Grant, Jonathan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E37"] [BlackElo "2187"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "104"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 {I don't normally play this line, but I saw he had a questionable game in it earlier.} d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 c5 8. dxc5 Nc6 9. Nf3 a5 $2 {Why on earth would you play c5 and not follow it with Qa5 shortly after; it's literally the only reasonable continuation.} 10. cxd5 exd5 11. e3 Qe7 12. b4 $2 ({I had been making a point of showing aggression at every reasonable point out of the opening this tourny, but this it taking it too far; simply} 12. b3 {retains a fine advantage, this move hands it to him)}) 12... axb4 13. Bb2 O-O 14. Be2 Qxc5 15. Qxc5 Nxc5 16. axb4 Rxa1+ 17. Bxa1 Nxb4 18. Nd4 Ncd3+ 19. Bxd3 Nxd3+ 20. Ke2 {Perhaps I shouldn't be yet, but I'm playing this endgame for a win. The engine rates it at 0.00.} Nc5 21. Rc1 b6 22. Rb1 Na4 23. Nc6 Re8 24. Rb4 b5 25. Kd2 Ba6 26. Bd4 f6 27. Rb1 Kf8 28. Rc1 Rc8 29. Nb4 Rxc1 {Now I have the advantage due to his sidelined knight and paralyzed weak pawns.} 30. Kxc1 Bb7 31. Kc2 Ke7 32. Kb3 Kd6 33. Nd3 Bc6 34. Kb4 Be8 35. Ne1 $4 {Stupid. Until this move I stood well, but in my greed I thought 'why abuse the pawns when I may be able to win the knight outright if I land my knight on a3? if he isn't careful'. I also thought if he played the game continuation through Bd3 the game would just end in a draw, completely forgetting that he can lose time with his bishop on that diagonal, but I can't do likewise, resulting in zugzwang.} Kc6 36. Nc2 Bg6 37. Na3 Bd3 38. h4 h5 39. f3 {I start a plan to trade as many pawns as I can.} Nb6 40. g4 hxg4 41. fxg4 Nc8 42. g5 fxg5 43. hxg5 g6 44. Kc3 {Not much to say; I'm crippled. He proceeds accurately from here.} Bf5 45. Kb4 Nd6 46. Be5 Bd3 47. Kc3 Bc4 48. Kb4 Ne4 49. Bf4 Nc5 50. Nxc4 dxc4 51. Bg3 Nd3+ 52. Kc3 Kd5 0-1

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Stephen Rush at the British Championship

This year the 2017 British Championship Congress was held in Llandudno, a seaside town in North Wales and Ulster Champion Stephen Rush took up his entitlement to compete in the main Championship, which featured 13 Grandmasters and many other titled players. After today's final round Stephen finished with 3 points from his 9 games. His performance rating was 2025, well above his UCU rating of 1844. His detailed results were:
Round Opponent            Rating Result
1     Peter M. Gayson      2160  1
2     FM David Zakarian    2360  0
3     Conor E. Murphy      2154  0
4     WFM Sarah N. Longson 2074  1
5     IM Jonathan Grant    2187  0
6     Paul Gm Lam          2111  ½
7     WGM Sheila Jackson   2125  0
8     Shabir Okhai         2111  ½
9     Aditya Verma         2071  0
I hope to put up more posts about the British Championships but for now, here is Stephen's victory from Round 1 with his own notes: Games
[Event "ECF-ch"] [Site "Llandudno"] [Date "2017.07.29"] [Round "1"] [White "Gayson, Peter M"] [Black "Rush, Stephen"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C07"] [WhiteElo "2160"] [Annotator "Rush"] [PlyCount "102"] [EventDate "2017.07.29"] [EventType "swiss"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "WLS"] 1. e4 $6 {My opponent pushes an undefended pawn in front of his king.} e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 $6 {The most passive of all white's options, the Tarrasch variation, extremely drawish.} c5 {Normal French break achieved on move 3, I should already have equality.} 4. Ngf3 cxd4 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bc4 Qd6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Nb3 Nc6 9. Nbxd4 Nxd4 10. Nxd4 {All of this happens in 90+% of Tarrasch games; it's the only way for white to comfortably regain the pawn.} a6 11. a4 { New to me but not to theory, white refuses to have his pieces budged; most common is Bb3; Re1 is also common with the same setup as Bb3 in mind.} Qc7 12. b3 Bd6 13. h3 O-O {I debated for some time between a setup with e5 and the game continuation before eventually concluding that for him to make any progress he will have to voluntarily remove his knight to unblock his bishop and if I can avoid all his tactics, which I believe I can, it should leave him planless while I can still make improving moves. His LSB stares at granite, his DSB stares at his knight. The computer evaluates both e5 and my move at 0. 00. When I looked it over with the computer and database both of our next few moves were normal.} 14. Bb2 b6 15. Qe2 Bb7 16. Rad1 Rfe8 {I want to place my knight on d5 and from there land on f4 but first I must block the sac on e6.} 17. Rfe1 h6 {Again I want to play Nd5 but I have no good reply to Nf5.} 18. Qd3 {It was now or never for white to strike, he cannot improve further. I had expected a sacrifice his knight on e6 followed by taking my knight with his DSB but he correctly restrained himself} Nd5 {I thought the longest before this move ensuring no discoveries could harm me; I suspect he had relied on one as he seemed surprised to see the move on the board, but there is nothing.} 19. Bxd5 {My opponent cannot tolerate this knight for long, but he grimaced as he made the move; indeed, my unopposed LSB is now a monster. At this point I have around 55 minutes and he has less than 7.} Bxd5 20. c4 Bb7 21. Qc3 Bf8 { My first inaccuracy of the game; better was Bh2+ and then Be5 but I lazily feared some nebulous tactic with an exchange sac in the future. I should have simply calculated, the computer shows there is nothing to fear.} 22. Nf3 Qc6 { I didn't expect this move was the best and it isn't, though I don't recall what the computer recommended; however with his time pressure I liked the hanging sword of the threat and the pinning of his knight.} 23. Rd4 {I assumed the purpose of this move was to swing to g4. I calculated that that was not to be feared and allowed it, but he went elsewhere anyway.} e5 24. Rd5 f6 { The structure I was going to build on Rg4 anyway, and it is still the best move; my advantage is now about .75.} 25. Red1 Qe6 26. R5d2 {Here at about 5 minutes to the time control at move 40 he offered a draw, which I declined, still at around 55 minutes myself and confident in my position.} a5 {Fixing the pawn weakness with tempo.} 27. Re2 Rad8 28. Rxd8 Rxd8 29. Rd2 Rxd2 30. Qxd2 {Tempting me to take his knight and possibly the h-pawn, but I think this leaves too many drawing motifs on my light squares.} Bc5 31. Ne1 {This is actually the computer's #1 move, my advantage is around 3.00 now.} Qf5 32. Qe2 Qb1 33. Kh2 e4 34. g3 e3 35. fxe3 Qe4 36. Ng2 Bxe3 37. Bc3 Qc6 $4 {Yup, missed the queen win somehow.} 38. Bd2 {But I saw a forced win from here to the end.} Bxd2 39. Qxd2 Kf7 $1 {The key move; this one step makes the K+P ending winning and he must take a move to free his pieces.} 40. g4 Qxg2+ 41. Qxg2 Bxg2 42. Kxg2 Ke6 43. Kf3 Kd6 44. Ke4 Kc5 45. Kd3 Kb4 46. Kc2 g6 47. h4 h5 48. gxh5 gxh5 49. Kb2 f5 50. Kc2 f4 51. Kd3 Kxb3 0-1

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.
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:

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)     

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

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.
[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.
[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.

[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.

[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.

[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.😈
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