Final Round 11 Tajikistan v Ireland (2.5/1.5)
Final round was this morning and we finished against tough opponents on 1.5.
Diana and Alice lost their matches but Poornima managed to win quickly. Gearoidin played for the win as she would have received a WFM title if she had gained one more point, but after 5 hours had to settle for a draw. Diana finished the tournament on 3/9, Alice on 4.5/9, Poornima on 4/9, Karina on 3.5/8 and Gearoidin on 5.5/9. A fantastic experience for all the players - we had a great time and all played well. Tonight we attended the Closing Ceremony and enviously watched the winners collect their medals .... one day....
Round 10 Ireland v Aruba (4-0)
A fantastic victory for Ireland today against Aruba. We were the stronger team on paper on all boards but board 2 (rated 1900) but were still delighted with our win.
Diana got us off to a great start by looking very comfortable after the opening. She got strong bishops, won a pawn, was about to win another and had a large time advantage, when her opponent resigned.
Alice won 2 pawns, then a piece, then an exchange and her opponent resigned.
Karina had strong position from the opening and won a pawn. She dominated the board and eventually won the game.
Gearoidin picked up a pawn in the middle game and won two more in the endgame, resulting in her winning the game.
Final round at 11am tomorrow.
Round 9 Ireland v Bolivia (1-3)
Ireland was outrated on every board today. Diana was resting so Alice was playing board 1.
Alice got a nice position from her opening, which enabled her to win 3 pawns. The endgame lasted 2 hours but Alice's opponent resigned as Alice was about to promote. A nice win for Alice as her opponent was rated 2104.
Poornima's game was equal until time pressure at the end. Her opponent pushed Poornima's position into a cramped structure and with little time to figure out her defence, her opponent's strong attack won the game.
Karina had a similar opening to her game against Denmark, and this time played better getting a nice position. Sadly it got complicated and with very little time, made a blunder.
Gearoidin had strong preparation for her game which opened with F4. Eventually she pushed F5 which enabled her opponent to gain space and win the game.
Today we have Aruba. Diana is back on board 1 and Poornima is taking a rest. Hoping for some points today.
Round 8 Paraguay v Ireland (3-1)
A very difficult day for us yesterday. Paraguay were very strong.
Diana played a good game but her opponent had a strong kingside attack which she was just unable to defend.
Poornima went a piece down in the middle game. She fought long and hard at the end, taking inspiration from Stephen's game the day before, but was unable to force the draw.
Karina had a good position early on but her opponent dominated.
Gearoidin was our star player of the day. She won the game with a king/rook fork and is currently on 4/6.
Today we continue with South America - we have Bolivia, which will be another challenging match.
Round 7 - Ireland v Uruguay (3-1)
A successful day for the Women's team.
Diana had a nice position out of the opening and launched a big attack to go up a piece and win the game.
Alice's opponent played a Catalan and they had an equal game throughout. Alice played a slight inaccuracy in the endgame, costing her the game.
Poornima was a pawn down and had under two minutes on the clock. She outplayed her opponent winning 2 pawns and then her opponent's flag fell.
Gearoidin was a pawn down in the endgame but her opponent dropped a pawn, made an unsound piece sacrifice and Gearoidin pushed on for a win.
The team is currently ranked 74 (having started at 81) and playing Paraguay tomorrow. Four more rounds to go....
Round 6 - FYROM v Ireland (2.5-1.5)
Diana was out first today, losing to an opponent now on 5/6.
Alice got a good position out of the opening with powerful bishops which enabled her to go up an exchange. She went on to win the endgame.
Poornima had to sacrifice a piece to prevent promotion and lost the game.
Karina went a pawn up after a Benko, with a good position, but unfortunately drew due to threefold repetition.
Round 5 - Ireland v Nepal (3-1)
A great win for Ireland yesterday. Nepal were very difficult to prepare for as they had few games online. However, it was clear that they had put in a lot of preparation for us.
Boards 1 and 2, against Diana and Alice, were determined to swap off everything as quickly as possible and play for a draw, which is how those matches finished very early on.
Karina got the upper hand in the middle game with a nice attack and dominated her game for a win.
Gearoidin played a 5 hour game where she always retained the upper hand and her opponent eventually resigned as she was about to promote.
Everyone glad of the rest day today to have a chance to visit a bit of Baku. Our next team is Macedonia which is stronger than us, so a big challenge tomorrow.
Round 4 - Ireland v Denmark (0-4)
As we thought it would be, today was difficult. Denmark has a strong team and we knew it would be tough. Lots of preparation went on this morning but unfortunately things did not go our way. Player of the day was Diana who fought for 5 hours on board 1 and nearly held a draw. Karina, Poornima and Gearoidin were all outplayed. We are playing Nepal tomorrow and are determined to bounce back.
Round 3 - Ireland v Algeria (2-2)
A very strong result for us today as we were outrated on every board.
Alice was first to finish with a loss. Her opponent exploited an opening inaccuracy, Alice lost her white square bishop and her opponent dominated.
Gearoidin was finished next with a draw - having been a pawn down she managed to hold an opposite coloured bishop end game.
Poornima trapped her opponent's queen and went on to win.
Diana managed a draw against a player rated 2059.
Tomorrow we are playing Denmark and will be outrated again on every board. Hopefully we can do as well as today.
Round 2 - Pakistan v Ireland (0.5-3.5)
A great day for the ladies today.
Alice was the first to finish on board 1 against Ghazala Begum, rated 1668. She won a piece with a fork and went on to win the end game.
Poornima was finished next against Rafique Saira, rated 1104. Her opponent played passively, Poornima took advantage to win a knight and put on pressure and her opponent lost on time.
Karina played Zenobia Wasif rated 1566. Karina was under pressure on the board and with time in the middle game. She managed to gain space and end with a nice mate.
Gearoidin played Gul Mehak, who although did not have a rating was an experienced player. Gearoidin was up a pawn but was only able to manage a draw.
Tomorrow we are looking forward to taking on Algeria who are rated above us so early nights for all. We are all inspired by Alex's brilliance today!
Round 1 - Ireland v Spain (0-4)
As predicted, a tough day for the ladies today. Spain are very strong; each player rated between 300 and just over 600 points higher than ours. Diana played WGM Monica Calzetta Ruiz, rated 2249. Diana started well. She was ahead on time throughout with drawing chances, but was outplayed in the endgame. Alice was playing IM Sabrina Vega Gutierrez, rated 2411. This was the game of the day for our team, though unfortunately it did not translate into a point. Alice won a pawn and then went up the exchange and had her opponent under some pressure. Unfortunately Alice got low on time and fell for a mating tactic. Poornima played IM Ana Matnadze, rated 2383. She was happy with her opening and had a good position in the middle game. Unfortunately time trouble came into play again and she dropped a rook. Karina played WIM Amalia Aranaz Murillo, rated 2279. She played the Kings Indian and had a slightly worse structure after an exchange and was unable to hold the game.
Pakistan tomorrow - hoping for some points.
Arriving in Baku
The Irish Ladies have all arrived in Baku (except Gearóidín who is en route) and are looking forward to a challenging day tomorrow. Each day we will report on progress. Pairings are not yet up for tomorrow but Azerbaijan is the likely oppostion - a tough start!
Most of you will know our team members, but for those who don't, each has provided a bit of background about themselves - their chess career to date, their personal highlights and some of the disappointments along the way.
WCM Diana Mirza
Here are below some of my achievements in chess:
2011 Bronze Medal EUYCC 2012 Silver EUYCC, 12th place in Europe at my category(Girls U12) 2013 EUYCC Champion and Irish Women Champion 2014 WCM at the 41st Olympiad and 16th in the World at my category (G16) 2015 Silver Medal Women European Championship (Kaunas,Lithuania)
I started playing chess at the age of eleven at Alex Baburin's chess camp. After that I joined Shankill chess club and played my first rated tournament in Kilkenny in 2012. I now play league for Dun Laoghaire chess club.
My Granny was the person who convinced me to start chess. My siblings were playing in a chess camp but I didn’t want to. Eventually my Granny convinced me to go and I found I really enjoyed the game.
My best win in chess ever was against an Icelandic sixteen year old in Reykjavik earlier this year. He was rated in the high nineteen hundreds. I felt I had the upper hand throughout the game and after a series of tactics was an exchange and a pawn up. However it looked like I had fallen into a trap which meant he had forced mate. As my clock was ticking and I had less than a minute left I tried to perpetual him and offered a draw. He declined but had to expose his king. Then I managed to find a crazy tactic which prevented the mate and picked up a piece. I went on to win the game.
My worst tournaments are all the Irish and Leinster juniors! Over the past three years I have lost over 350 rating points from these tournaments. I still play them anyway if I can so I can redeem myself!
WFM Poornima Menon
My parents introduced me to chess when I was perhaps five years old. My father is a keen chess enthusiast and my mother and father have participated in a few chess tournaments in their youth. It was secondary to their interest in the sport that my brother and I began coaching with Darko Polimac in Kilkenny when I was 11 years old. Who would have thought that starting Darko’s chess coaching classes would go on to shape both our lives so much. Darko’s chess coaching classes and Kilkenny chess club played a highly influential part in my early teenage years. We spend every Monday evenings at the club and on Saturday’s we would play league matches with the club. My parents would plan their bank holiday weekends such that we could participate in tournaments around the country. In my teenage years I represented Ireland in the World Youth Chess Championship, the European Youth Chess Championship, the Chess Olympiad in Turin in 2006 and the Faber Cup. My favourite tournament so far has been the Chess Olympiad in Tromso in 2014. I enjoyed the games I played in the tournament and I had some challenging opponents. I also made some great friends during the Olympiad in Tromso and everyone on the Irish team got on like a house on fire, which helped make it a very memorable tournament.
At present, I’m working as a junior doctor in Letterkenny General Hospital under the Mater Medical Basic Specialist Training scheme. Chess has been a significant part of my life for the past 10 years. Through the training I obtained from Darko and from those in Kilkenny chess club, I learned from a young age: how to compete with those much older than I was, how to persevere and how to remain calm in victory or in loss. Perhaps the greater gift that being part of the Irish chess community has given me is the chance to meet some very interesting and friendly people from all walks of life and to get to know them from one league season to the next.
WFM Karina Kruk
I started playing chess around the age of 12 in Poland around the school until a club was started. I don't think there's any particular inspiration behind me starting other than the fact it was something I was able to do with friends. I had the luck to have played in two Olympiads, 2012 in Istanbul and 2014 in Tromso, both absolutely incredible experiences. Thanks to the transfer to become an Irish player before I turned 18 I also had the chance to play in a few junior tournaments such as European youth championships in Prague 2012, World youth championships in Maribor the same year. I think my biggest win would have been at the European youth championships, at that stage I didn't have a fide rating and so I got a bye in the first round, after which I was paired up with a Hungarian player over 2100 and managed a win! It felt great. As for disasters there's a lot to remember! I suppose the down of my chess career would have been to move to Ireland, I didn't play chess for a year, but then again I think it also moved me up. Other than that I would have to include university as it hasn't allowed me to really play as much as I used to and there's no club on campus or near me. The obvious ups in my chess would be the international tournaments, it's where I learnt the most and how much I really appreciate the game. It's a great honour. As well as that would be achieving the WFM tittle at the last Olympiad which was an unexpected, yet brilliant surprise. Well I'm a student, so that would be my occupation for now but hopefully I'll manage to find a job once I graduate (as an interpreter). Well I'm a bit nervous about Baku, I've been lucky to have played well in the last Olympiads and with being on my year abroad I've played even less recently. I only hope I can do the team justice.
WCM Gearóidín Uí Laighléis
Dia dhaoibh, a chairde, Is mise Gearóidín Uí Laighléis agus beidh mé ag imirt san Olympiad i mí Mheán an Fhómhair 2016. Thosaigh mé ag foghlaim fichille agus an dóigh leis na píosaí a bhogadh níos mó 20 bliain ó shin. I started learning chess about 23 years ago. My husband Con taught me and although I’m almost certain that he thought it would make me a little more logical, the result was that I fell madly in love with chess and have loved it ever since. I have played in 6 Olympiads (Kalmykia, Majorca, Bled, Istanbul, Dresden and Norway)and one European in Lyon in Spain. I think that I have played on almost all boards during these Olympiads. Its an absolutely fantastic honor to play for Ireland and there is nothing quite as exciting as heading in for that first game in the playing venue. I play in most of the tournaments around Ireland as often as possible and as often as family and work permit. ( I have a gorgeous family and lecture in DCU.) My two favourites are Kilkenny and Bunratty and its always nice to bump into old friends and adversaries. I have been on the ICU Executive committee a number of times. My absolute favourite chess player of all is Shirov and one of my son’s middle names is Alexie. His style (Shirov’s not Oisín’s) is second to none. Pride of place goes to a picture of us all with Shirov taken in Norway last year. Lastly, chess has probably saved me lots of money on therapy!! Once I get into the game the rest of the world disappears.