With a week to go for clubs to enter The National Club Championship 2017 sponsored by AwardsAndGifts, we remind teams that their captain will need to provide a complete squad by February 18th as well as a board order which cannot be changed once submitted. Teams are reminded that there were some rule changes at the latest AGM designed to allow smaller clubs the chance to play:
Clubs can draft in up to two players who are rated under 1600 ICU that would not normally qualify under rule 3.1. If a player is unrated on the ICU rating list, then their FIDE rating must not exceed 1600. We propose to update the rule 3.1 from "current season" to "last 365 days".
We aim to have 2 matches per round shown on liveboards (which is 12 boards in all) courtesy of James Forde's Chess Spectator boards - the matches chosen will vary from round to round as we will attempt to show every club's match at least once.
Clubs and teams are also reminded that there will be a blitz on the Friday night with a 1,000 euro prize fund and an Under 1600 individual section which also will have a 1,000 euro prize fund. More details of those events here.
Here is a preview of the teams currently entered who will be vying for this year's title (alphabetical order)
Adare Chess Club
5 time champions Adare CC were the 8th team to enter. Before last year, Adare went on a remarkable streak - picking up 5 national club titles in a row and they are back this year to try to make it 6 in 7 years.
Balbriggan Chess Club
Balbriggan were the fifth team to enter. They have been in the Armstrong league for a number of years holding their own against teams with much larger squads. This is their second year in a row to enter the National Club Championships having first fielded a team in 2016.
Ballinasloe Chess Club
Ballinasloe Chess Club were the 6th team to enter the The National Club Championship 2017 sponsored by AwardsAndGifts.They are currently lying third in the Heidenfeld division of the Leinster leagues and will be hopeful of finally making the big jump to the Artmstrong league. However, in the meantime they will want to secure one of the three qualifying spots for the next year's European Chess Club Cup.
Blanchardstown Chess Club
Blanchardstown Chess Club were the 10th team to enter this year's The National Club Championship 2017 sponsored by AwardsAndGifts.
Blanchardstown CC are this year's new-boys in the Armstrong and are by far the youngest club there having only been founded by John Delaney in the last ten years. With consecutive promotions from 2012-2016 including 2 league titles, they have fought their way through the leagues to the top division and now will be playing in their second National Club Championships having made waves and almost qualified for the ECC last year. 2 of their players eventually traveled with the Trinity team to the ECC. They will be looking to make more waves this year and bring the first top-tier title back to Blanchardstown.
Bray/Greystones Chess Club
Bray CC were the third team to enter this year's event. They finished 3rd last year and had hoped to send a team to the European Chess Club Cup 2016 but plans fell through last minute. They are 4 time champions - including a three-in-a-row between 1999-2001 and were the last team to win the event before Gonzaga and Adare and will hope that that pedigree can drive them to another title this year.
Dublin Chess Club
Dublin Chess Club were the 7th team to enter the fray for this year's national club championships. Dublin CC are arguably the most successful club in Irish chess history with a record number of Leinster titles and 5 National Club Titles. However, they have had a barren run of late with no Armstrong or NCC victories since 1982 - but perhaps the occasion of their 150th anniversary will spur them to victory in next month's event. Their form has been vastly improved in this year's Armstrong Cup so they will fear no one.
Elm Mount Chess Club
Elm Mount CC were the 4th team to enter the NCC this year. The 2010 Armstrong champions and perennial contenders will be very confident of challenging for this year's NCC title having challenged well with a young squad. They will surely hope to secure an ECC place.
Enniscorthy Chess Club
Enniscorthy CC were the 9th team to enter the 2017 NCC. They will undoubtedly be one of the youngest squads in the competition but return with NCC experience having debuted in the event last year. They are an exceptionally busy club despite having a small squad by comparison to some of the other entrants - this year they have teams in the O'Hanlon and Bodley divisions of the Leinster leagues, a team in the 4 Nations Chess League and now a team in the NCC. But they would no doubt relish adding an ECC team to that list.
Gonzaga Chess Club
Gonzaga CC were the first team to enter this year's event. The defending champions will look to retain their title next month having secured their first title last year. The nearly men for many years, Gonzaga have finally realised their potential with 2 Armstrong titles and a National title under their belt in the last year and a half.
Kilkenny Chess Club
Kilkenny CC were the second team to join this year's event. They are one of the most successful teams in this event over the last ten years with 3 titles - all won between 2006-09 while also securing an Armstrong title in 2011. We'll have to wait to see just how strong their team is this year with the likes of Baburin, Quinn and Wallace possibly in their squad.
Trinity College Dublin Chess Club
TCD CC were the 11th team to enter this year's The National Club Championship 2017 sponsored by AwardsAndGifts. Despite having 6 Armstrong titles to their name (most recently in 2014), TCD have never won a National Club Title. However, they came awfully close to breaking their duck in 2016 when they held a lead over Gonzaga going into the final round. It wasn't to be however as Gonzaga claimed the National Chess Club Championships title by 0.5 game points (having tied on match points). Trinity will be back to go one better and again qualify for the ECC.