Women’s Officer Gearóidín Uí Laighléis interviews some of Ireland’s bright young players:
Gearóidín: Hi Alice. I’m delighted to welcome you to our monthly interview on the Irish Chess Union web page. Can you tell us a little about yourself and when and how did you learn to play chess?
Alice: I learnt to play chess at a chess camp run by Alex Baburin back when I was in fifth class. It was Ivan Baburin who taught me all the basics and took the time to show me very simple things everyone else at the camp already knew and I am still very grateful to him for that. Then I continued to play in Alex’s camps and his tournaments. I also joined my school chess club. After I got a bit better I joined my local chess club, Shankill, and played in the Bodley and started playing rated tournaments. I later joined Dun Laoghaire chess club, who I still play for and I currently play every tournament I get the opportunity to.
Gearóidín: Many of our ICU members would know and have heard about your brother Tom O’Gorman. Is there a strong tradition of chess in your family?
Alice: I wouldn’t say there is a strong chess tradition, more that we both joined the junior school chess club for no reason in particular other than something to do after school, and we both really enjoyed it and we just continued playing from there.
Gearóidín: You were playing in Romania last September and drew with a 2300 player. That was a fantastic achievement. Would you like to tell us about that game?
Alice: It was fantastic to play in Mamaia in Romania last September. In the first round i was paired against the second seed, rated 2300 which I drew. It was a very exciting game and I got an excellent position out of the opening, which lead me to get a nice attack, however I missed a tactic that would have converted a good position into a winning position, and she managed to equalise. The endgame was tough and I was low on time. I thought it was winning for most of it but it was one move before the extra time, and I had forty seconds left and she offered me a draw and I couldn't see anyway out of getting checkmated. So thinking I was lost I gladly accepted only to look over it later, I could get out of it and was completely won.
Gearóidín: You are heading off to university in September. What are your chess ambitions for the next 3 or 4 years?
Alice: I am not too sure about where I will be university next year, but if all goes to plan I’ll go somewhere! So I do not know my university chess ambitions but I will definitely join the chess society and I will continue to play every tournament I can and improve my game.
Gearóidín: Who is your favourite chess player (after Tom, of course!) and why?
Alice: I am a big fan of Magnus Carlsen. I am always impressed by his endgame technique and how he converts seemingly drawn positions. It was amazing seeing him when I played to Olympiad in Baku, as we ate at the table beside him a couple of times!
Gearóidín: Alice, you have probably played in all the tournaments in Ireland. Which is your favourite tournament and why?
Alice: My favourites most definitely aren't the junior ones, I have donated over four hundred points in them over the years, yet every year I seem to play them. I love Bunratty, it always has a great atmosphere and a high quality of games. The same can be said for Kilkenny. The last two years Gonzaga has been excellent, with such strong players.
Gearóidín: Which are your favourite international events?
Alice: To be honest, my favourite international events I have played are open ones where boys and girls play together. Last summer I played both the Glorney and the Europeans. Despite the higher standard of games in the Europeans I enjoyed the Glorney more as I love playing in open sections. My favourite International event I played is the Styrian Youth, this was a mixed under 16s tournament in Austria. I had a lot of fun preparing for games in between swimming in the local pool. I came second in the tournament and have many fond memories of the small village of Mureck that it was held in.
Gearóidín: And finally, how much preparation do you do before a tournament?
Alice: I do not prepare at all before a tournament although perhaps I should, but I do work before individual games. I find my opponents games and spend as much time as possible looking through their opening repertoire to see if I can learn sharp lines they might not have seen or to find improvements in what I already play. Like this , over time I have really built up my opening knowledge, which helps me when I don’t have time to prepare.