The 39th Annual Kilkenny Chess Congress began on Friday November 27th with one of the largest entries in each section for many years. A total of 234 players turned up to compete for the 4 titles at stake. The Kilkenny International Masters is the premier event and the tops seeds included English Grandmaster Mark Hebden, no doubt in search of another Kilkenny Jumper.
Mark, pictured here on the left, looking quite pleased with himself, is also the defending Masters champion but both Alex Baburin and Bogdan Lalic ( Grandmasters all ) were also on hand to ensure the top seed didn’t have it all his own way.
Irish International Masters Sam Collins, Mark Heidenfeld and Mark Quinn were also here to compete for top honours. Sam, in particular has a strong history at this prestigious event as he tied for first place with GM Ivan Cheparinov in 2010 and won the event on his own in 2009.
There were no major upsets in the first round of the Masters apart from the bottom two boards that is. Two young Irish International players, Henry Li and Alex Byrne were allowed to play in the premier event and beat their much higher rated opponents, Ioanna Gelip and Killian Delaney respectively.
However, round two had a few unexpected results on some of the higher boards as Henry Li continued his good form by beating regular Dutch visitor, Bram Van Dijk, Conor O'Donnell beat Irish IM Sam Collins while current Irish Champion, FM Philip Short beat GM Alex Baburin.
Henry Li's reward for his 2 /2 in the first two rounds, a meeting on top board with Mark Hebden !
As you can see from the photo on the right, Henry's pleased as punch with the draw for the 3rd round, he's pictured here just as the game started. He may not have been quite so pleased after the game, which you can see here. As a "reward" for this game, Henry was drawn against Alex Baburin in round 4 !
Also in round 3, Conor O'Donnell continued his winning ways, this time beating Philip Short in the following here. His reward for this was a meeting with Mark Hebden in round 4 as they were the only two players in the Masters in maximum points!
The draw on the liveboards for the 4th round looked like this;
|1||Conor O'Donnell||3||Mark Hebden||3|
|2||Stephen Jessel||2.5||Mark Heidenfeld||2.5|
|3||Bogdan Lalic||2||Philip Short||2|
Conor O'Donnell, pictured left, enjoying a run of form !
Conor may have been "on a roll" but he rolled right into the very experienced Mark Hebden, and Mark was in no mood to help the young Irish International continue his run of form, as can be seen in their game here.
Both boards 2 and 3 ended in draws giving us the following games on the liveboards for the very early start of 9:00am on Sunday morning ( a time that some players had some difficulty in meeting ! )
|1||Mark Hebden||4||Stephen Jessel||3|
|2||Alex Baburin||3||Conor O'Donnell||3|
|3||Mark Heidenfeld||3||Bogdan Lalic||2.5|
Once again, boards 2 and 3 ended in draws relatively quickly ( both under 25 moves ) but the top board, while also a draw, it certainly wasn't short! Mark got a good opening and was enjoying a certain advantage but Stephen kept finding the best defense and even though he was surviving on mainly the increment near the end, he still managed to share the point in the following exciting game.
The final round top 3 pairings looked like this;
|1||Alex Baburin||3.5||Mark Hebden||4.5|
|2||Sam Collins||3.5||Stephen Jessel||3.5|
|3||Conor O'Donnell||3.5||Mark Heidenfeld||3.5|
With Alex Baburin needing nothing less than a win on the top board, a quick draw was not expected and Alex is pictured here just at the start of his final round game against Mark Hebden. Alex was doing fine for most of the game, but got into time trouble, and as he himself told me after the game, "pushing g5 was a mistake, I should have gone after his d pawn immediately and pushed my own as fast as I could". In the end, very short of time, Alex blundered and lost his game. This gave Mark Hebden the title of Kilkenny Masters Champion again on an impressive score of 5.5 / 6.
The crosstable for the Masters can be seen here .
The Masters was not the only event, of course, there was a very strong and well attended Major competition also going on in Butler House. It was very impressively won by Rudolf Tirziman from Blanchardstwon, also with 5.5 / 6. Rudolf, pictured left, recently represented Ireland in the World Youth Chess Championships held in Greece ( the under 18 Open Section ) where he finished 76th in a very large field so he came into this competition with some form. His rating performance in winning the Major was 2136 so I predict that for the next Kilkenny, Rudolf will be playing in the Masters !
The crosstable for the Major event can be seen here .
The James Mason
The James Mason event was also won on 5.5 / 6 and also by a young player from Blanchardstown, Gavin Doyle. The guys in the Blanchardstown Chess Club are doing something right, maybe other clubs could learn a thing or two from them ! Apologies but I don't have a photo of Gavin but if one of the Blanchardstown Club members want to send in one, I would be delighted to add it to this report.
The crosstable for the James Mason can be seen here here .
This time it was the turn of Gonzaga to claim the Challengers title, it was won by Dermot Nolan, again on 5.5 / 6! Once again I'm afraid I have no photo of Dermot but if one of the Gonzaga members want to send one on to me, I'll include it here too.
The crosstable for the James Mason can be seen here here .
The Full List of Prize Winners
1st Mark Hebden
2nd = Conor O’Donnell Stephen Jessel Sam Collins Mark Heidenfeld Bogdan Lalic Carl Jackson
1st Rudolf Tirziman
2nd = Vlaicevic Marin Jacob Miller Stephen Short Martin Markering Rory Delaney Jack Short
Grading 1 Marc Lincon Grading 2 Pocevicius, Dovydas
James Mason Prizes
1st Gavin Doyle
2nd Sam O’Niell
3rd = Sean Hunter Cathal Walsh Sean Devilly
Grading 1 Daniel Dwyer Grading 2 Jonathan Peoples Grading 3 Gabrielius Pocevicius
1st Dermot Nolan
2nd = Seamus Carroll John Keenan Jonathan Kiely Cal Nolan David Remenyik
Grading 1 Vinayak Unnithan Grading 2 Ludmila Podzimkova Grading 3 Joseph Sheehan Grading 4 James Murphy
This express report will be added to by Carl Jackson over the coming week or so.