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Irish Senior Championships
Day 1 - Friday 7th
The Irish Championships kicked off Friday night with the start of the first weekender tournament. Entry for the three sections has been a little disappointing, with a total of roughly forty participants. Robert Stuart leads the seeding in the top section, though Darren McCabe hung on to draw with him in round one. To kick off the coverage, here's Semyon Mkrtchyan's round 1 win over Philip Hogarty.
Mkrtchyan, Semyon (1860) - Hogarty, Philip (1666)
Day 2 - Saturday 8th
The Senior championship began today, and at the time of writing, we have twelve entries. The top seeds are familiar faces from last year's competition. Colm Daly will have to defend his title from the combined efforts of Stephen Jessel, Stephen Brady and Phillip Short.
Senior Round 1
Keogh, Eamon (2108) - Jessel, Stephen (2350)
After four rounds, Semyon Mkrtchyan is leading the 1600+ section of the weekender on maximum points. He beat Stephen Short in round two, and Stephen is the only player on three points, so Semyon is strong favourite to win at this stage.
Eddie Gahan (3.5/4) leads the field in the 1200-1600 section, with Robert Frith and Raino Soikelli hot on his heels. Raino is four games into his marathon week of chess. He's entered both weekenders, the intermediate section (Mon-Wed) and he's signed up for the blitz too!
John Collison leads the <1200 section by half a point. He's on 3.5/4, followed closely by Alasdair Walsh and Govan Jolliffe-Byrne.
Day 3 - Sunday 9th
On the same day that Italy and France needed a penalty shoot-out after extra time to decide who would be top dog in the world of football, the aspiring Irish chess champions once again battled to a decisive result in all games.
Senior Round 2
In the following game, former Irish champion Stephen Brady, amongst the favourates in this tournament, was somewhat fortunate to avoid defeat.
MacElligott, Gerard - Brady, Stephen
Philip Short lost an epic struggle to Colm Daly. The game began in so lively a fashion that there was soon four queens on the board. A nerve-wracking middlegame lead into a queen endgame where Short struggled valiantly, but couldn't quite stop Daly's b-pawn. In the end, Daly had to be careful, as Short set a clever trap that I'm sure I would have fallen for!
Short, Philip (2284) - Daly, Colm (2357)
The Irish Championship Weekender ended today. As expected, Semyon Mkrtchyan won the top section, as expected, though he only drew his last two games, meaning he finished on 5/6. He picked up €350 for his trouble. Joint second were Stephen Short and Brendan Kane on 4/6. They won €95 each. Darren McCabe took the U1800 grading prize on tie-break, as the lowest rated of himself, John Kelly and Peter Hayes.
In the 1200-1600 section, Eddie Gahan shared first place with Raino Soikkeli, of whose name we keep finding new misspellings (he's been very understanding about that). They earned €210 eeach for their weekend's work. Senan Bannon came third on 4/6. Robert Frith, who had travelled over from Liverpool for the tournament, won the grading prize.
John Collison won the U1200 section, a half point clear of Govan Jolliffe-Byrne, who joined us from the Republic of South Africa. Third place, on 4/6, was local player Daniel Hurley. Philip Maguire won the U1000 grading prize.
Day 4 - Monday 10th
The Senior event's fantastic run of decisive games came to an end today, with Gerry MacElligott left cursing his luck as he let the win slip away from him. It was the only draw of the round however. On board one, Daly and Jessel met, and another titanic battle raged. Today though, it was Daly on the receiving end, as Jessel won a complex double rook endgame.
Senior Round 3
Daly, Colm (2350) - Jessel, Stephen (2357)
The Irish Intermediate and Junior Championships began today. The Intermediate has provided an interesting counterpoint to the Senior event, with 60% of the games so far ending in a draw. Top seed, Peter Hayes, attributed this to "cowardice". He's currently on 1.5/2, along with Darren McCabe, who he plays tomorrow, and Colm Egan and Zaidan Zulkipli, who play each other on board two.
The Irish Junior has the healthiest entry of the sections run so far, which says more about the poor turnout at this event than it does about the Junior. It seems time for a serious discussion on how to improve the turnout at what should be the premier event in the country.
Anyway, back to the junior! Four players currently stand on 2/2. Tomorrow's games, Denis O'Connell v Anthony Baker and Richard Murphy v Senan Bannon should see a couple of clear contenders pull away a little from the chasing pack.
Day 5 - Tuesday 11th
Today, the leaders, Jessel and Brady, met. The two played in last year's championships, drawing (see pictures left, from the 2004 championships). Today (see picture right) the deadlock continued. Brady seemed to get the upper hand, but couldn't convert it.
Jessel, Stephen (2350) - Brady, Stephen (2320)
Mel Ó Cinnéide writes to say:
In the Jessel-Brady game, I'm sure that I'm not the first to notice that 41...Na4?? was a terrible blunder, losing to 42. Na5 (42...Rxd4 43. Nc6 threatens mate and rook). Ironically, Stephen said after the game that he swapped Queens to avoid any mating dangers on the f file!
Colm Daly provided the entertainment of the day. He entered at a dead run two minutes before his hour was up, calmly made his move, and disappeared again to lock his car. He went on to comfortably beat his young opponent. Tomorrow, Brady takes on Daly on board one, and Jessel has black against Peter Caffola.
Senior Round 4
In the intermediate, top seed Peter Hayes has pulled clear of the field, beating Colm Egan to go top with 3/4. Egan is joined by Darren McCabe, Zaidan Zulkipli and Rick Goetzee on 2.5/4, so it's all to play for going into the final day of the competition. Anthony Baker is the clear leader in the Junior, on maximum points so far. Ronan Sweeney and Senan Bannon are a half point behind him.
Day 6 - Wednesday 12th
Today I'll have to ask you to have a quick look back up the page. Mel Ó Cinnéide has spotted a missed win for Stephen Brady in yesterday's game against Stephen Jessel, and I've added more detailed results from the weekender to Day 3.
Today saw the conclusion of the Intermediate and Junior championships. Congratulations are due to Peter Hayes and Senan Bannon, the new Irish Intermediate and Junior Champions respectively. Peter held off a concerted challenge from Colm Egan and Zaidan Zulkipli, who were joint second, a half point behind him on 4/6. Peter pressed Pat Twomey very hard in the final round to secure his last win - indeed that was the last game finished today, including the Senior championship! In the end though, an interesting game was decided by a blunder, with Pat removing a key defender for Peter, who gladly took his chance. The entire section was as tight as they come, with just 147 rating points seperating the top and bottom seeds.
Senon Bannon, fresh from his third place finish at the weekend, topped the Junior section on 5½/6. He secured his title by converting a R+P v R endgame into a full point against Raino Soikkeli, who is now 12 games into his week-long marathon of chess. That put Raino out of the running, and Anthony Baker (5/6) and Tom O'Sullivan (4½/6) finished second and third. Grading prizes went to Sean McGlinchey and Kenneth Dillon. Kenneth is rated 822, but should be seeing that increase rapidly after his 3/6.
Senior Round 5
The tie of the round was always going to be Brady-Daly. When the two met last year, Daly came out on top, and went on to win the title. This time, the game seemed to be heading for a draw. The two had a queen and five pawns each. Colm seems to have overplayed his position a little, and in the end, he was probably worse. In spite of that, he made a rash king move to avoid allowing Brady to repeat the position but it turned out to be a shocking blunder. Colm will be kicking himself after the loss, which leaves him a point and a half behind Jessel and Brady with just four rounds left. I'm told that Jessel's win was particularly nice, but didn't see much of the game. Look out for it in the August edition of the ICJ.
Brady, Stephen (2339) - Daly, Colm (2359)
Day 7 - Thursday 13th
There might have been only one competition running this afternoon, but it wasn't shy of incident. Colm Daly defaulted his game for turning up a little over an hour late, while Matt O'Leary fell foul of FIDE's mobile phone rule (12.2b). Colm later contacted me to apologise, pointing out that this was his first default in his fifteen Irish Championships. He also regretted denying Peter Cafolla a game this afternoon.
Brady and Jessel both won, leaving them on 5.5/6, two full points clear of Short, Cafolla and Fox. With both Daly and MacEllogott on 3/6, the battle for third place is wide open.
Jessel, Stpehen (2350) - MacElligott, Gerry (2122)
Senior Round 6
The blitz ran this evening from 8pm. Killian Delaney won on tie-break. He and Derek Smyth both finished on 5.5/6. Third was Raino Soikkeli. We didn't actually give a prize for third, but he won the grading prize anyway! He finished on 4/6, along with Gerry O'Connell and Pawel Madynski, two players 600 points higher rated than him. With him having finished second in the Benildus charity blitz in January, I'd recommend caution when playing Raino in blitz games!
Day 8 - Friday 14th
Stephen Brady leads the Irish Championship today by a full point after title rival Stephen Jessel lost to Philip Short. Jessel had the better of the game before mistakes in time trouble turned the game on its head. Short took his chance, and is now clear third on 4½ points, a half point clear of Colm Daly, after Fox and Cafolla both lost. MacElligott and Keogh enjoyed an interesting game, but ultimately agreed a draw. With two rounds remaining, Brady looks very likely to earn the title of Irish Champion for the fifth time.
Senior Round 7
The Irish Open began today. The guts of 40 players are participating. Top seeds are Pawel Madynski, Gordon Freeman and Stephen Scannell.
Day 9 - Saturday 15th
Sorry for the lack of games in this report the past day or so. Yesterday, I left with a scoresheet with an error on it I couldn't make out, while today I'm just too busy to visit the tournament. I promise better things ahead!
Today saw Peter Cafolla give Stephen Jessel a glimmer of hope for the title. He drew with Stephen Brady, while Jessel beat Killian Delaney to close the gap to half a point. Bernard Boyle will be the man all of Jessel's hopes ride on as he plays Brady tomorrow. Today's games were all pretty competitive - I'm told that you couldn't predict the result of any of them even three hours into the round. Maybe the biggest shock of the round though was Matt O'Leary's win over Colm Daly. A long forced sequence saw him take a rook and a pair of pawns for two minor pieces, but it took a bit of work to turn that into a win.
Senior Round 8
Day 10 - Sunday 16th
Stephen Brady celebrates tonight as Irish Champion for the fifth time. He dealt with Bernard Boyle rather brutally to finish the tournament on 8/9, having only conceded draws to Jessel and Cafolla.
Brady, Stephen (2339) - Boyle, Bernard (1944)
Stephen Jessel beat Matt O'Leary to finish second. Matt thought afterwards that he might have held out for a draw only for his having given up a rook for a bishop and pawns, but it certainly wasn't easy for him regardless. Stephen himself might have tried 12...g5 which may be stronger than the game continuation.
O'Leary, Matt (1758) - Jessel, Stephen (2350)
The round saw the second default of the tournament, as Peter Cafolla refused to turn up to play Colm Daly. Daly had defaulted their game in round 6 when he turned up a little over an hour late for the game, and because they had not actually played a game, they could be drawn together again. EDIT: I've gotten a few angry emails for publishing Cafolla's views here, and while I'm disappointed that people don't want to see the two players get a chance to comment briefly on the incident, I've removed all comments.
Gerry MacElligott defeated Killian Delaney in an interesting game. Killian missed a chance to draw in the endgame, sacrificing a piece for a pawn or two in what seemed like a difficult position. Later analysis suggests he could have held the position had he kept the piece though. Finally, Eamon Keogh fought back from a difficult position to draw with young David Fitzsimons. Fitzsimons seemed to have him on the ropes, but a few inaccurate moves let Keogh in at his king, and Fitzsimons soon had to settle for a perpetual check.
Senior Round 9
The Open weekender also finished today. Semyon Mrkchyan won outright on 5½/6. Second was Pawel Madynski on 5, while three players shared third place: Mark McGovern, Brian Galligan and someone whose name escapes me right now - sorry! Alastair Walsh won the David v Goliath prize for biggest upset.
I've posted the results of the blitz under Thursday above.