Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A new kid on the block

Does the Ulster Chess Union have a competitor?

Looking through the forthcoming events Calendar at the Irish Chess Union website, I came across Northern Ireland Chess Grand Prix 4, Northern Ireland Chess Grand Prix 5 and Northern Ireland Schools Rapidplay Chess Championships 2015, all organised by the Northern Ireland Chess Association.

These three events are confined to schools (or if you prefer, junior or youth) players, though there could also be an intention to organise adult chess - the NICA membership page hints at this with a "normal" membership outside the two youth categories of Under 12 and Under 18.

Since the breakaway of the UCU from the ICU ten years ago, the ICU has been conspicuous by its absence from any attempt to organise in Northern Ireland. However this new body seems to have links with the ICU, perhaps through Moves for Life which is headed by Kevin O'Connell, long-time ICU Delegate to FIDE.

My understanding is that the UCU was aware of those behind the NICA and their plans for junior chess in Northern Ireland but had decided not to engage with their project. Now it looks like the NICA organiser may have gone elsewhere for assistance. Which, of course, leads us to this question: If the NICA is successful in recruiting a large number of junior members, in the medium-term will the ICU return to local chess through this newly-created portal?

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