Late last year, the Irish Chess suffered a loss it could ill afford with the tragic death of the then chairman, Philip Hogarty. Heavy though our loss was, it pales to insignificance when compared to the loss suffered by his family and to them, we, once again, extent our sincere condolences. Philip was a remarkable young man who had achieved a lot in young life.
I stepped in to the office of chairman in January but I must stress that any or maybe even all of the achievements of the Union in the past year or more are due to both Philip and the other members of the current sitting committee.
On that point, we do struggle every year to get capable people willing to work for the ICU as committee members. I suppose it's understandable with the stresses and strains of modern living. That makes me all the more appreciative of the hard work of the members of the committee, in particular the rating officer, Mark Orr. Its a very difficult job that requires a lot of hard work and Mark, thankfully, has agreed to stay on for next year. The Treasurer's job is also a demanding position which Eamon Keogh had diligently performed over the past year. Also thanks are due to our outgoing secretary Jack Killane who filled the role admirably and to John McKenna who in his first year as junior officer did a great job, especially in running a very successful Irish Junior Championships in Ballinasloe. Indeed we owe all the current members our sincere thanks, we need more committee members like these!
Some people have voiced the opinion that the demise of the Irish Chess Journal is a huge loss. I wouldnt agree as I dont believe the magazine justified the massive proportion of the Union's income it swallowed up each year to publish it. The money saved has been re-routed to far better causes, as a quick glance at our excellent accounts will show. We invested the saved revenues in supporting the many weekend chess events which are held throughout the length and breath of the country. Without them, our game would surely fade to obscurity and I know, more than most, just how hard it is to run these events without losing money.
We also invested in the coaching of our junior players, primarily in the run up and during the Glorney and Faber Cup competitions in July. The event was held in England this year and thanks to the hard work of many dedicated people, including Eamon Keogh, John McKenna and especially team manager Pat Fitzsimons, we had a very successful event. Ireland managed to come second to England in both events and we did well in the supporting team events also.
When our more successful players, both junior and senior, attend prestigious event abroad, we try to give them what support we can. Unfortunately, this is often limited to paying their entry fees, which can be quiet high. Of these players this year, special mention must be made of Sam Osborne who won the British Under 16 Chess Championship in Liverpool. A bit closer to home, I should also mention the recent fantastic performance of David Fitzsimons in winning the City of Dublin ahead of Gavin Wall IM, Gerard O'Connell and Ryan-Rhys Griffiths, another of our talented juniors. I suspect David is destined to be a regular feature in the top of our leading weekend results tables.
On the senior Chess scene, special congratulations must go to both Alex Baburin on winning the Irish Chess Championship this year and to Michael Crowe for organising what must have been the best competition for many years. This is also an Olympiad year and our senior men's and ladies are off to represent us in Dresden next month. I'm sure you'll all join with me in wishing them the best of luck in their upcoming competition.
In closing, I must say that I hope to see as many of you as possible attend the ICU AGM next Sunday and if any of you want to volunteer for a role on the executive, all the better.
Yours in Chess,
Irish Chess Union.