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

2 comments:

Colin said...

Watched events unfolding on the livestream. Well impressed and texted the tournament.so.

Mockingjay said...

Guy from down South can't be Ulster Champ after winning (why let him play?) but Hungarian player becomes Ulster Champ after finishing second.

Bit of a farce really.