The ICU database shows 403 juniors compared with 405 last year. On closer inspection I estimate that there are probably 300 active juniors that, at least occasionally, play in rated competitions. This is a small number considering the number of children who learn chess. How to encourage children to make that step from playing chess in school or at home to moving on to play in "serious" competitions is something which needs to be looked at. One person who has done just that is John Delaney. John is in the process of developing guidance for anyone who is considering setting up a chess club which is very welcome.
Ryan-Rhys Griffiths had an excellent time at the British Championships including a win against English GM Aaron Summerscale. In the Under 13 section Ronan Magee came 2nd which was a great performance.
Four Junior teams travelled to Wales for the Glorney/Gilbert/U14 and U12 competitions. A full report is on the ICU Website. All the teams played better than their rating so you can't ask for more than that! Many thanks to John Delaney for travelling as coach with the team. Because of the scale of Chess in England it is always a challenge to match them but we came very close in the Glorney (for the third year in a row!) or Girls held England to a 1½-1½ draw and our U12's also held England to a 3-3 draw. It is Ireland's turn to host in 2011. The most logical place to host is in or near Dublin due to the accessibility by air from UK. This competition has settled into a four team event so 6 rounds are now the norm where we play each other twice. It's possible that some continental team may wish to compete next year but in my view it's doubtful.
Quadrangular U16 Competition Liverpool
There has been no Under 16 international team for some time. We managed to get one off the ground in late 2009 with a joint Irish/Scottish team. Hopefully this may be further developed and give Irish juniors another opportunity to gain international experience.
There has been a low level of interest in both the Worlds and Europeans over the last few years. This has not been helped by the competitions being held in out of the way places and even near war zones. However, this year they are in Greece which sounds more appealing and thanks to a lot of work by Nicky Benson we have an almost full team going in the Autumn, the first time in a number of years.
Irish Junior Championships
The 2010 competition was held in Ennis and was really well run by Connie Danaher and her team. Numbers attending were well up which was really encouraging. The 2011 event is provisionally pencilled in for Ballinasloe.
Irish Junior Inter-Provincials
This year's competition was held in St Benildus. Both the under 19 and under 16 sections were won by Leinster. Many thanks to Frank Scott and the school for hosting. Next year it's Connacht's turn, venue to be announced.
All Ireland Colleges
This year's competition was held in Gonzaga. The Under 19 and Under 14 sections were both won by St Benildus. The Under 16 section was won by Gonzaga. Many thanks to Daniel Lynch and Dave Murray for hosting and organising.
After the Irish Juniors this is the only age category event (U8, U10 U12 etc) that is rated. The event is a good opportunity for young players to play in a rated tournament and in recent years has been held in Limerick, attracting good numbers.
The above are the rated junior competitions that were held over the last year. There are many other competitions run all around the country, one of which I should mention is the Leinster Youth Championships being run by Steven Stokes which is on the weekend of September 11th and 12th.
I think that there is a need for a re-constituted Junior committee. If Junior Chess is going to develop this is a must. As regards International Junior competitions, this is an area that requires a lot of time to organise and should be covered by someone other than the Junior Officer.