The Mulcahy Memorial Chess Tournament, held recently in the Metropole Hotel in Cork, had a bumper entry field which was up 63% on last year’s entry. Pushing the date out a week later from the Christmas celebrations seemed to suit the 55 entries that took part in the tournament. Chess players travelled from all over Ireland for the event and there was also an international contingent who made their way to Cork. These included Joakim Nyander, a strong (2223) player from the Schack 08 chess club in Sweden, Henry Brockbank (2057) from Warwickshire and Ian Mackay (1660) and Bill Hardwick (1556) both from the Carlisle Chess club in the UK. Top seed IM Alex Lopez (2382) made a welcome return to the Mulcahy hoping to win the title for the 11th time while Colm Daly (2274) was hoping to make it three in a row.
Local players Kieran Moynihan (2059), Hugh Doyle (2074) and Alex Byrne (2013) also had their sights set on the prestigious trophy that had been first played for in 1969. Younger chess players were also well represented with no less than 13 juniors taking part this year, interestingly this included three sets of juniors who were playing with a parent (Tom and Alex Healy; Ross and Desmond Beatty and Gearoidin and Aisling Ui Leighleis).
And thus the scene was set for the battles to begin and the first round kicked off on the Friday evening at 7.30. Most of the games of the first round went by seeding but draws by Mark Watkins (1345) against Henry Brockbank and unrated Cian Gavin against Bill Hardwick did buck the trend. The biggest upset of round one however, was the win by Galway junior Zalan Nemeth (1076) against CCYMS player Gerry McCarthy (1764). Round two also produced a few upsets when Denis Ruchko (1697) Galway managed to draw against Cork-man Hugh Doyle (2074) but the shock of the tournament was when Aisling Ni Leighleis (593) managed take the full point from Bill Hardwick (1556) which put her in strong contention for the David and Goliath prize of €50. The third round saw Mother (Gearoidin) and daughter (Aisling) paired against each other but maturity prevailed in what was a close fought contest. Other results from the third round saw Lopez, Daly, Nyander, Moynihan and Byrne all maintain their 100% record going into what would be a decisive fourth round.
On Board one IM Alex Lopez had Black against Swedish player Joakim Nyander which turned out to be an interesting game with an interesting finish. Have a look at the final position after 36.Kg1 with Black to play. White resigned on the next move, see if you can find Black’s final move (answer below). Board two saw CCYMS player Kieran Moynihan take on, the current holder of the Mulcahy trophy, Colm Daly and in an exciting game Moynihan managed to emerge with the full point. With Byrne sharing the point with Hugh Doyle the only players now on full points were Lopez and Moynihan and in round 5 they were duly matched to play each other. Alex Lopez won this game and so was the only player going into round 5 on a 100% record. Other notable scores going into round five were Alex Byrne on 3.5 and Cork players Keegan O’Mahoney and Hugh Doyle (who were drawn against each other) on 3 points each. When the smoke cleared after round five Alex Lopez had maintained his unbeaten run while Keegan had beaten the higher rated Hugh Doyle. For the final round the players in contention for the trophy were, Alex Lopez (5) followed by Colm Daly, Joakim Nyander, Kieran Moynihan, Keegan O’Mahony and Denis Ruchko (all on 4 points).
When Moynihan quickly beat Nyander in 18 moves in this entertaining game the pressure was on for Lopez to get a result and after a gallant effort by junior Denis Ruchko, Alex duly took home the full point. Thus IM Alex Lopez becomes the 2017 champion and increases his number of ‘Mulcahy’ titles to eleven which I’m sure will be a very difficult record to beat.
At the prizegiving ceremony controller Pat Twomey thanked all those who had helped with the organising and running of the tournament; these included his fellow committee members, UCC chess club, the Irish Chess Union, Cork Chess club and Bunratty chess. He also personally thanked Gerry Graham, John McMorrow, Keegan O’Mahony and Mark Watkins for the invaluable help they provided before and during the tournament. All juniors (13) who took part in the event were awarded a special commemoration medal for their participation. Maurice Coveney one of the people who had set up the tournament back in 1968 made the presentations to the following juniors: Alex Byrne, Ross Beatty, Denis Ruchko, Tom McGrath, Zalan Nemeth, Anastasia Mohylna, Con Kirby, Jana Solomatina, Aliona Mihaylova, Aisling Ni Leighleis, Sean Murphy, Junesha Ryder and Alex Healy.
The prize-winners at the 49th Mulcahy Memorial Chess tournament were: 1st IM Alex Lopez (€700); 2nd/3rd FM Colm Daly and Kieran Moynihan (€225 each); Grading prize ‘A’ 1st Denis Ruchko (€100), 2nd Tom McGrath (€50); Grading Prize ‘B’ 1st Zalan Nemeth (€100), 2nd Con Kirby (€50); David & Goliath prize Aisling Ni Leighleis (€50).
PS.(Final move solution: 36…Bg5. 0-1)