Irish Championship - A Round by Round review

John McMorrow


The Irish Chess Championships 2016

For anyone looking to go in to view the games, a map of the venue is available here. UCD Campus is obviously quite large but it is not too difficult to find the student centre and they event is taking place very close to the front door as you enter. The venue for the Irish Chess Championships 2016: Weekender, Fun Junior tournament at the Irish Championships and All-Comers Rapid at the Irish Championships will be Astra Hall which is right beside the Irish Championship room.

Round 1

The Irish Chess Championships 2016 started on Saturday, July 2nd with a couple of early upsets. Luke Scott held six-time Irish Champion Colm Daly to a draw on board 2 while double Irish Champion Eamon Keogh was defeated by Mustakim-Ul Haque. Elsewhere, there were wins for Stephen Jessel, Killian Delaney, Gerry O'Connell, Gerry MacElligott, Kevin Butler and Anthony Fox. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling mishap by UCD - the event was moved from its scheduled room for the day which meant that the games couldn't be broadcast live. However, this will not be an issue for the remainder of the week so games will be viewable here. Keep up to date with results here & you can view the games with an engine on Chessdom.

Irish Champoinships 2016 Round 1

Round 2

Round 2 went slightly more to form compared to Round 1 as there were wins for Stephen Jessel, Killian Delaney, Colm Daly and Diana Mirza. However, there were some minor shocks with wildcards Paul O'Neill and Shane Melaugh defeating Ross Beatty and Rudolf Tirziman respectively while Luke Scott (following his draw with 6-time Irish Champion Colm Daly in round 1) defeated double Irish Champion Eamon Keogh. The only other result saw the only draw from round 2 between Gerry O'Connell and Anthony Fox. Those results leave only Jessel and Delaney on full points going into round 3 and they face off on board 1. Daly and Fox will battle it out on board 2 while Luke Scott is rewarded for this strong play through two rounds with a match against O'Connell. The games are viewable from today on Chessdom with engine analysis.

Mustakim-Ul Haque
Mustakim-Ul Haque in his first Irish Championship.

Round 3

The only remaining participants with perfect scores faced off in round 3 as top seed Jessel took on Killian Delaney - who is hoping to become the 4th Irish Champion in his family. The club-mates obviously had some knowledge of each other's respective opening repertoires and Jessel seemed keen to avoid any opening preparation. After 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 - Killian produced a move he hadn't played before 3. Nd2. Stephen then produced 3... h6. This seemed to move the game away from any prepared lines and Jessel was able to carry a slight edge out of the opening. Later, Jessel would capitalise on a couple of inaccurate moves played by Delaney in time trouble and convert that advantage into a win not long after.

On boards 2 and 3, Anthony Fox and Luke Scott managed to hold tricky positions for draws against higher rated opponents in Colm Daly and Gerry O'Connell respectively. An interesting knight sacrifice from Daly opened up the game but Fox was able to hold off the ensuing attack until the two were left with nothing but their kings.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Gerry MacElligott, Mustakim-Ul Haque and Ross Beatty on boards 4, 6 and 8 while boards 5 and 7 saw two unpredictable games which could have had very different results. Kevin Butler seemed to let one get away against Shane Melaugh as he was two pawns up in a queen and pawn endgame. However, Shane did well to hold the position and stay on 50% for the event. Either player could have won on board 7 as the players fell into time trouble early on leading to some frantic play. Eamon eventually emerged victorious over Rudolf after 55 moves.

Round 4

Those results left Stephen Jessel with a one point advantage over no less than seven players, one of whom is second seed Colm Daly who he's yet to play. However, the draw for round 4 doesn't see Daly float up just yet as Jessel faces Gerry O'Connell and Daly faces Gerry MacElligott. Just as it was in round 1, most boards will see youth take on experience with Delaney, Fox, Butler, Keogh and Thee take on Scott, Haque, Mirza, O'Neill and Tirziman. There is room for one all-junior fixture with Beatty and Melaugh meeting on board 6.

Early on in round 4, it appears that experience is winning out over youthful exuberance as Delaney, Fox and Butler have defeated Scott, Haque and Mirza - all of whom are Irish Championship debutantes. Paul O'Neill has pulled one back for the juniors look by picking up a win against Eamon Keogh on board 7. In the only battle-of-the-juniors this round, Beatty has emerged victorious against Melaugh. The games are again viewable on Chessdom with engine analysis.

The final three games ran much longer than the others and featured the top two boards as well as Rudolf Tirziman and Bernd Thee on board 8. The latter match finished in a draw which meant that every player in the tournament is now off the mark.

Colm Daly and Gerry MacElligott seemed to be headed toward a draw although Daly had maintained a very slight edge from the opening onward. The game was played at a high standard until Gerry had the misfortune of blundering a rook just as the game seemed to be petering out into a draw in a rook, knight and two versus rook, knight and three endgame. Colm will now move from board two to board one and face the current leader, Stephen Jessel, whose lead got cut in half after he drew in a titanic battle with Gerry O'Connell. Like Daly, Jessel seemed to carry a slight edge from the opening right the way through the game but Jessel was not quite able to convert his advantage. The game simplified to white squared bishop and five each and although Jessel continued to press, he could not breakthrough Gerry's solid defense.

Irish Championship 2016

Round 5

The standings after round 5 show that some daylight is clearly opening between the challengers for the title and the peloton. As has been the case for the entire tournament to this point, Stephen Jessel leads the pack on 3.5/4 but he is followed closely by Colm Daly, Killian Delaney and Anthony Fox on 3/4. Those four will meet each other tomorrow afternoon with Daly white against Jessel and Delaney white against Fox.

It is up to the rest of the pack to make up ground while the four leaders try to push further ahead. Gerry O'Connell and Kevin Butler lie in joint fifth on 2.5/4 and they meet on board 3 tomorrow. MacElligott must shake off his loss to Daly quickly if he hopes to get back into contention; he will face Ross Beatty who is also on 50% after 4 rounds. Luke Scott made some early noise in the event before running into an in-form Delaney in the last round; he will face fellow Irish Championship debutante Mustakim-Ul Haque who has two wins under his belt already against Eamon Keogh and Diana Mirza. The other games in round 5 will see O'Neill play Melaugh, Thee play Keogh while there will be a battle of friends on board 8 with Mirza playing Tirziman.

Unfortunately the problems which affected the broadcast of two games yesterday and meant there was only intermittent coverage on other boards has spread to all boards now. The issue is being investigated but in the meantime I hope to provide updates on the games which got underway at 2pm. Killian Delaney has pushed the pressure onto the top two seeds by dispatching Anthony Fox on board 2. Elsewhere there were wins for Luke Scott and Paul O'Neill who defeated Mustakim-Ul Haque and Shane Melaugh respectively while the 2013 Irish Women's Champion, Diana Mirza and Tirziman agreed a draw on board 8. The rest of the games are still ongoing but Delaney's result ensures that regardless of the result on board 1, there will be no more than half a point between the leader and their nearest rival going into round 6.

The latest news from board 1 is that Colm Daly holds an advantage over Stephen Jessel both on the board and on the clock.

Eamon Keogh and Bernd Thee are the fifth game to finish. Their game ended in a draw and they are quickly followed by Gerry MacElligott and Ross Beatty. Gerry returned to winning ways in that game and so there are only two board left to play. Those games have comfortably passed the four hour mark.

After 5 hours, there is a decisive result on board 3 as Kevin Butler defeats fourth seed Gerry O'Connell. Kevin thereby jumps back into contention after 5 rounds with a score of 3.5. That means the last game still being played is between the top seeds.

Irish Championship 2016

While we await news from board one, there is time for a quick advert for the other events on this weekend...

There will be a Fun Junior tournament at the Irish Championships & All-Comers Rapid at the Irish Championships on Sunday, July 10th. Enter here.

There is also still time to enter the Irish Chess Championships 2016: Weekender which starts this Friday and concludes at the same time as the 9 day event.

These events will all be held in the beautiful Astra Hall, pictured above, with a partition between the two events from Sunday morning onward. These sections are open to all including non-IRL members. The Rapidplays are open to non-ICU members as well as ICU members and all ages.

Both players on board 1 are now down to 2 minutes each in a rook, knight and pawns versus rook, bishop and pawns endgame. Both players appear to be pressing for a win which would effectively signal the end of their main rival's pursuit of the title. Colm, with the knight, and better pawn structure would surely be less likely to settle for a draw with a tougher slate of remaining games and a half a point behind as is. However, it appears Stephen has turned down the chance to repeat moves.

After 6 hours of play, Stephen Jessel has emerged victorious in the battle of the top seeds. He moves half a point clear of Killian Delaney and 1.5 points clear of second seed, Daly. Round 5's games can be played through here.

Round 6

The pairings for round 6 can be seen below. The pressure will be on Killian Delaney to keep pace with Stephen Jessel who may be tired after two back to back 100+ move games.

Irish Championship 2016: Round 6 pairings

After only 90 minutes of today's games (which are now back online on Chessdom with engine coverage and the ICU site), there has already been plenty of activity. Perhaps after 5 days of hard-fought games, fatigue is starting to take its toll as there have been a few mistakes this afternoon. On board 1, an inaccurate couple of moves from Kevin Butler proved fatal and after two days in a row of 100+ move games, Stephen Jessel won in 17 moves. Pressure? What pressure!

On Board 2, Killian Delaney - in his attempt to keep pace with Jessel - has a comfortable two pawn advantage over Gerry MacElligott. Delaney will be hoping to convert that advantage into a win and move to 5/6 and 3/3 as black. Board 3 is slightly more evenly poised although Colm Daly, as has been the case in nearly all of his games so far, does hold a slim advantage out of the opening. However, his opponent, Paul O'Neill, should carry plenty of confidence following two wins on the trot. Boards 4 and 7 are still in the early stages with slight advantages for white represented by Anthony Fox and Eamon Keogh over Luke Scott and Diana Mirza respectively.

However, board 5 is in anything but the early stages with Mustakim-Ul Haque carrying a commanding lead over Gerry O'Connell in a rook and three against knight and three endgame. This would be a terrific result for the wildcard who found a nice tactic to win a piece in the opening. Gerry staged a fightback to narrow the deficit to an exchange but Mustakim-Ul has played excellently since then. On board 6, the only other live board, Ross Beatty has an advantage over Rudolf Tirziman out of the opening but it is still early days and Rudolf will hope to turn things around in the middle game.

Astra Hall - Irish Championship Weekender

In other news, today is a rest day for David Fitzsimons who is playing in the First Saturday GM tournament in Budapest, Hungary. David has been unbeaten so far and currents stands in first place on 3/5! He must post a score of 5.5 or better to gain his second IM norm in just a few months following his performance in the 4NCL.

After 3 hours of play, several games seem to be rapidly moving toward a conclusion with comfortably advantages for white on boards 5, 6 and 7. In fact, Ross Beatty has just defeated Rudolf Tirziman on board 6 - Ross had a dominant position and Rudolf in time trouble. On board 4, Anthony Fox and Luke Scott have just agreed a draw; there was little to seperate the two throughout and a draw is probably a fair result. The next to finish will likely be board 5 with Haque having progressed his position to rook and (b) pawn against knight. On board 7, it seems I may have spoken too soon. Eamon Keogh was looking far better but a series of moves close to the time control has put Diana ahead - a piece up to be accurate. Eamon's compensation is a passed pawn on the seventh but he may struggle to defend it for long.

In the other games, Gerry MacElligott has fought back, winning the exchange off Killian Delaney. On board 3, Colm Daly has improved his position while giving up the exchange for a pawn, pair of strong bishops and a central knight.

Board 5 is indeed the next to conclude with Mustakim-Ul Haque finishing off Gerry O'Connell for an impressive victory. The wildcard now sits on 3/6. Diana Mirza is now closing in on what looked like an unlikely victory just 30 minutes and 10 moves ago. She is now a rook up against Keogh. On board 8, Bernd Thee has picked up his first win of the tournament at the expense of Shane Melaugh.

Wins for black seem likely in the three remaining games with Daly, Delaney and Mirza holding commanding leads. Delaney has simplified the position on board 2 to knight and 6 versus rook and 3. Meanwhile, Daly on board 3 seems on the verge of victory with two connected pawns and rook versus rook. Eamon Keogh is trying to keep his game alive with checks but it seems inevitable that Diana's king will find safety and then take advantage of her rook advantage. If those results come to fruition, Stephen Jessel will continue to lead by half a point going into round 7; he's likely to play Anthony Fox. Regardless of their results today, Killian Delaney and Colm Daly seem destined to play in round 7. With wins today, Killian will sit on 5 points while Colm will be on 4/6.

Colm Daly has finished off his opponent on board 3. He temporarily moved into a tie for second pending the result on board 2.

Killian Delaney has now retaken sole control of the second spot after seeing off Gerry MacElligott in a match where it looked at times as if Gerry may have chances to get something out of it. Diana Mirza also closed out her match for a win against Eamon Keogh.

Round 7

The pairings for round 7 can be seen below. The pressure will again be on Killian Delaney to keep pace with Stephen Jessel. Tomorrow he faces second seed Colm Daly while he must hope that Anthony Fox can take something off Jessel.

Irish Championship 2016: Round 7 pairings

For anyone looking to go in to view the games, a map of the venue is available here. UCD Campus is obviously quite large but it is not too difficult to find the student centre and they event is taking place very close to the front door as you enter. The venue for the Irish Chess Championships 2016: Weekender, Fun Junior tournament at the Irish Championships and All-Comers Rapid at the Irish Championships will be Astra Hall which is right beside the Irish Championship room.

Overnight we were given the terrific news that Joe Ryan, Irish Champion in '97 and '04, had achieved his third IM norm in 4th Montcada IM Tournament. In 1997, Joe turned in a 2600+ rating performance and a score of 8.5/9 to become Irish Champion for the first time - he didn't quite emulate that rating performance in Barcelona but as bottom seed, he managed to win the event with a rating performance of 2484. Well done, Joe!

After 2 hours of play today, we already have one result on the board. Paul O'Neill lulled Mustakim-Ul Haque into an opening trap and never took his foot off the pedal - eventually mating Mustakim on move 26.

On board 7, a draw seemed likely an hour ago as the players moved into a rook and three vs rook and three ending but in the intervening time, Gerry O'Connell has earned a big advantage over Bernd Thee - winning a pawn and looking likely to win another. On board 3, Kevin Butler looks to be only a matter of moves away from victory against Luke Scott. The game swung one way and then the other before a couple of inaccurate moves look to have cost Scott dearly. On boards 5 and 6, Rudolf and Ross have slight advantages over Gerry MacElligott and Diana.

However, it is on the top boards where things are quite interesting. Killian Delaney looks to have had the better of the opening and middle game and maintains a slender advantage over Colm Daly on board 2. Delaney is of course only a half a point behind Stephen Jessel so still in with a very real chance of winning this Irish Championship. Meanwhile, Jessel - hosting Anthony Fox on board 1 which he's been on all tournament - isn't finding things all his own way this round. Jessel, with the white pieces, does have a slight advantage but there really isn't too much between the two as they approach the three hour mark.

As expected after the last update, O'Connell and Butler have seen off Bernd Thee and Luke Scott respectively. With those wins, Butler moves onto 4.5/7 while Gerry recovers to 50% on 3.5. Somewhat surprisingly, Mirza and Beatty have agreed a draw when Ross looked stronger. Elsewhere, Daly seems to have recovered and also crucially reached the time control so will have an extra 30 minutes to play with for the remainder of his moves plus increments. Delaney still has a large time advantage which may become important later. The position is currently rook and four for Delaney versus Rook and three for Daly - although Daly should be able to easily capture a pawn in the next few moves.

As there doesn't seem to be any impending results - just a reminder that David Fitzsimons is just starting his match in round 6 of the First Saturday Tournament in Budapest, Hungary. David is currently on 3/5 and plays FM Grimm Daniel (2332) with white.

2 further results have come through in the 4th and 5th hour of play with Eamon Keogh picking up a win on board 8 and Stephen Jessel finding a nice sequence of moves to see off the challenge of Anthony Fox. Elsewhere, Killian Delaney and Colm Daly's match has become very drawn looking but Killian does have a large time advantage with Colm down to increments. In the other game currently ongoing, Rudolf Tirziman looks to put his first win on the board against Gerry MacElligott. Rudolf currently holds and big advantage and will hope to finish Gerry off before the 5 hour mark.

Disaster for Delaney on board 2 as he makes a fatal blunder. Daly duly capitalises and picks up the win a few moves later. That result leaves Stephen Jessel just half a point away from the title with two games to play. Daly joins Delaney on 5/7.

Round 8

Early start in round 8 for our 16 competitors. The last 2 rounds have been moved back to noon and 11am.

After an hour of play, there isn't much that separates those on the top 3 boards. Mustakim has a big lead over Bernd early on - he has a rook for 2 pawn advantage. Many of the other games are tight early on with Ross Beatty holding probably the best position of the rest.

Two games finished before the 3 hour mark with Gerry MacElligott taking down Eamon Keogh and Mustakim recovering from his loss yesterday to defeat Bernd Thee. It looks like Gerry O'Connell has lulled Killian Delaney into a perpetual which could have big ramifications on the podium places for this year's Irish Championship. Jessel continues to look unstoppable on board 1 and carries a lead over Paul O'Neill as their match-up moves through the middle game.

There has been a turn around in the game between Beatty and Fox as Anthony now appears very comfortable and heavy favourite for the win.

A draw is indeed the result on board 3 as Delaney slips from 5/6 to 5.5/8. Colm Daly now holds an advantage over Kevin Butler and Jessel continues to develop his position on board 1. Anthony Fox is adding the final touches to his game on board 4 with mate on the board in several moves. After a rough start to the tournament, Rudolf Tirziman is looking to add to his win yesterday - he's playing Luke Scott on board 5 today and they're going into an interesting endgame which looks like it could go either way.

Colm Daly has converted his advantage into a win so he moves up to second place in the tournament by himself. Stephen Jessel seems on the verge of securing his first Irish Championship on board 1 with a big advantage over his young opponent, Paul O'Neill. Meanwhile, Rudolf Tirziman has made it 2 wins in 2 days as he has defeated Luke Scott. as previously mentioned, Anthony Fox had an unstoppable mating threat and he converted that into a win in due course.

With only one game left remaining, I have a little bit of time to remind you about the other upcoming events this month:

July 27th sees the debut of a new event: the Collon Summer Chess League & also Bray Open Club Championships 2016 - which can be entered online via the event's ICU page.

Then we have the 6th annual Dun Laoghaire Rapidplay which takes place on August 28th in a new venue with greater capacity - The Royal Marine Hotel..

Beyond those events, The Irish Women's Championship 2016 will be held in Buswells Hotel, Dublin 2 from 15-16 October. Invites have been sent to current eligible members - if you have not received an invite and feel you are eligible - please contact chairperson@icu.ie.

The big news from board one is that Stephen Jessel has defeated Paul O'Neill and is therefore the 2016 Irish Champion!

Round 9

Although the champion is confirmed, there is still a lot to be decided in the last round of the 2016 Irish Championship. Will Stephen finish on a spectacular score of 8.5/9? Who will finish second? After a long week of chess, who will make a last minute jump up the finishing table?

After four hours of play, there are three results while the games on boards 1 and 2 hang in the balance. Killian off signed off with a win over Diana Mirza. He finishes the tournament in third place at worst with a score of 6.5/9 but is temporarily in second while the game on board 2 continues. In that game, Colm Daly with white faces Gerry O'Connell. Daly seems to have the better of it slightly but it will be a tricky finish in a queen, bishop and four versus queen, bishop and four endgame.

Elsewhere, after a difficult tournament for the wildcard and debutante, Shane Melaugh finishes with an impressive win over Gerry MacElligott. On board 7, Eamon Keogh got the better of Ross Beatty. Ross had been performing very well but will probably be a little disappointed with his run-in in the final few rounds.

Stephen Jessel has completed an impressive event with a score of 8.5/9 after defeating Mustakim on board 1. Kevin Butler has won on board 4 which secures him 4th on his own. The other result in the last hour saw Rudolf complete his comeback from a tricky start to the tournament with a win over Paul O'Neill.

The last game of the round has progressed since the last update - Colm Daly now sits a pawn up in a queen and three versus queen and two endgame. He will have to avoid perpetual checks and hold onto his advantage if he wants to win and move back into second place.

Colm has defeated Gerry to secure second place. Killian finished third with Kevin fourth. Stephen has been presented his perpetual trophy as well as his fresh trophy courtesy of Awards And Gifts.


Created 2016-07-05 ◦ Last updated 2016-07-10 ◦ Editor JMM


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