Kilkenny Chess Congress Report

Gerry Graham

Sebastien Maze, French GM at Kilkenny

Sebastien Maze GM, once again makes his annual pilgrimage to Kilkenny, this time bringing 8 other players with him, though not all played!

The annual Kilkenny Chess Congress began a little earlier than normal this year, kicking off on Friday November 15th and as usual, the feature event was, of course, the International Masters. Top seed, pictured above, was Sebastien Maze but Axel Delorme GM ( 2493, who actually played here in 2011 ) Eloi Relange GM ( 2453 ) and Emile Roubert ( 2082 ) were the French contingent in the top event. The stronger untitled Irish based players were notable by their absence as the total entries this year was down to 18 players but these included Alexander Barbrin GM, Bogdan Lalic GM as well as Jurica Srbis IM from Croatia, but now resident in Waterford.

David Fitzsimons at the Kilkenny Masters

I should also mention our 3 own Irish IMs, Mark Quinn, Mark Heidenfeld and the latest addition to the Irish IM stable, David Fitzsimons ( pictured left ) For my money, David played the most enterprising game of round 2 against our first time French visitor, Eloi Relange, I'll should you that game a little later.

The first round went well for most of the top seeds, none of them lost, but a couple were forced to share the point, they included the number 1 seed! Our own FM, Tom O'Gorman played this excellent game to draw with Sebastien and I'm sure that Seb was happy to share the point, given the final position. Sean Murphy from Cork, I'm told, is an emerging talent, he held Alex Baburin to a draw on board 6, all the other results went to seeding.

Round 2 began on Saturday morning and a very quick draw was agreed on board 1 between Axel Delorme and Bogdan Lalic but those watching the live boards were treated to some enterprising and imaginative fighting Chess on boards 2 and 3, here is the game from board 2, while David Fitzsimon's game mentioned earlier is here from board 3.

On board 5 in round 2, our Cork junior, Sean Murphy, who's only rated ( or should that be under-rated ) at 1999, beat Irish FM Tom O'Gorman in the following game. However, this earned him a game on the live boards for round 3, he was White facing Axel Delorme, fresh from his "rest" this morning. Here is the game.

Also in round 3, we had the all GM clash of Sebastien Maze and Alex Baburin, their 4th meeting at Kilkenny ( or so I'm told ) On or about move 39, Alex offered a draw, but Sebastien thought he had more, here is that game.

Jurica Srbis at the Kilkenny Masters

There was an excited crowd watching the last 20 moves or so, which happened in a time scramble. Immediately after that game, the same crowd moved to board 1. Jurica Srbis ( pictured right ) was playing Eloi Relange and the spectators got another thrilling time scramble here.

The round 4 top boards draw looked like this;

1Axel Delorme 2.5Sebastien Maze 2.5
2Eloi Relange 2.5Bogdan Lalic 2.5
3Mark Heidenfeld 2Jurica Srbis 2.5

I don't think the quick draw on board 1 surprised anyone, I did suggest before the game that they might make it to double digits, and they did just that, draw agreed on move 10. I suppose this gave our two visiting French GMs a bit more time on the Saturday night to enjoy the night-life of Kilkenny.

Board 2 was also a relatively quick draw, maybe Eloi was anxious to join his fellow Frenchman on a night out in Kilkenny. However, board 3 was certainly not quick draw, it fell to Messers. Heidenfeld and Srbis to provide the on-line entertainment on the Saturday night. There's was an actual fighting game with an interesting material balance endgame, you can judge for yourself here

Sean Murphy at the Kilkenny Masters


Because al the top 3 boards were drawn, this meant that the results on the boards just below were all the more important, some of these guys were fighting to get back into contention. Alexander Baburin bounced back from his defeat to Maze by beating John Anderson while on board 6, Mark Quinn was facing the Cork junior, Sean Murphy ( pictured left )

I almost feel guilty for publishing this game, but it is a really smooth game by Mark Quinn, enjoy it here. I will try to get Sean to give me him win over Tom O'Gorman before the end of the tournament, just to give a win form the young man.

Speaking of feeling guilty about publishing a game, the last few moves of the top board in the Major between Philipp Junk and Alice O'Gorman caught my eye this evening, I was watching as Alice played the nice 26.....Ne5!, this game is well worth a look.

Back to the Masters, this left the top boards looking kike this for round 5

1Sebastien Maze 3Eloi Relange 3
2Jurica Srbis 3Axel Delorme 3
3Bogdan Lalic 3Alex Baburin 2.5

Before I get into the round 5 results, I have a question. The French players love coming to Kilkenny each year, but why? It can't be just be the annual attraction of meeting Jack and Maurice, can it? There must be something more! There is, undoubtedly, something special about the atmosphere created at the Kilkenny event, it was always my favorite tournament when I was playing, but, it's not just this either. The event is played right in the centre of Kilkenny, the players are free to "explore the town" and all the amenities it has to offer, both in between rounds and well after them! Of course, this is all part of the dangers too, there are often a few players who don't show up for "reveille" that is the 9:15am start for round 5 on Sunday morning.

Axel Delorme at the Kilkenny Masters

Predictably enough, there was a quick draw on board 1, the French guys decided to conserve their energy for an early afternoon battle. However, boards 2 and 3 weren't much better, as a matter of fact, there were 45 moves played between all 3 games on the 3 live boards this morning, make of that what you will!

I did think that boards 2 and 3 would be fighting hard to catch up or overtake Maze and Relange after their very quick but no, they conserved their energy too, I'll give them rather reluctantly, board 2 and board 3 and leave it at that. Pictured right is Axel Delorme GM from France, on his 2nd Kilkenny trip.

This left what surely would be a very hard fought final round, no one wants a 5 way tie for 1st place, right?

1Axel Delorme 3.5Eloi Relange 3.5
2Bogdan Lalic 3.5Jurica Srbis 3.5
3David Fitzsimons 3Sebastien Maze 3.5

There was a lot of speculation as to whether or not board 1 would be a "real game", but given that any winner on board 2 or a black win on board 3 would allow the players on board 1 to be over-taken if they agreed a quick draw, my own thoughts ( written before the start of the round ) are that they will play.

The Major was being solely lead by Henk De Jonge of the Cork Chess Club on 4.5, he was facing Gerard MacElligott in the final round. Gerard, as well as 4 other players, formed the chasing pack on 4 / 6.

The James Mason had 5 players tied for the lead on 4 /5 and on board 1 were Niall O'Higgins and John Curtis, neither of these players are strangers to a final round battle for 1st prize in these events. Brian O'Gorman, Luke Hayden and Paul Hehir were the other challengers for 1st place.

Eloi Relange

The Challengers also had a group of players tied going into the final round, 3 players on 4.5 / 5, they were Ali Abdul Jalil, Surour Alneyadi and Oliver Naud, with another 5 players in the chasing pack 1/2 point behind.

Play began at 1:45pm and as soon as it begun, there were some quick last round draws, including board 2 in the Masters. As board 1 knew that Sebastien Maze would be playing for a win on board 3, they knuckled down for a game.

French GM Eloi Relange had black on the top board and if you're going to smile for a camera, this is the way to do it ( pictured left ).

After the very quick draw on board 2, the players on boards 1 and 3 were keeping an eye on each other's boards. David Fitzsimons was certainly going to have a real go at Sebastien Maze, he even sacrificed a piece in this valiant game. By the time this was over, the tide in the top game was ebbing towards a win for Eloi Relange, but you can see for yourself how it went here.

In other Masters results, Alex Baburin drew with Mark Quinn, Emile Roubert shared the point with John Anderson, but this was no quick draw, I can assure you. Jacob Flynn drew with Bram Van Dijk, who simply can't remember how many times he's played Kilkenny, certainly more than a lot of Irish players!

The last two games in the Masters to finish were Paul Wallace vs Mark Heidenfeld and Anthony Fox vs Sean Murphy, they went down to the wire.

Sean Murphy managed to beat Anthony Fox, while Messers. Wallace and Heidenfeld were the last game to finish in the Masters, they shared the point.

Prize Winners


1st Place = Eloi Relange and Sebastien Maze - both 4.5 / 6 2nd = Jurica Sbris and Bogdan Lalic - 4 /6



1st Place = Keegan O'Mahoney and Gerard MacElligott - 5 / 6 3rd = Philipp Junk, Manfred Groose, D.J. O'Donoghue, all 4.5/6

1st Grading Prize - Henk De Jonge ( also 3rd= )

2nd Grading Prize - Aliona Mihaylova


James Mason

1st Place = Paul Hehir, Brian O'Gorman and John Curtis 5 /6 -

1st Grading Prize - Aidan O'Sullivan

2nd Grading Prize - Sean Carr

3rd Grading Prize - Uwe Walschus

James Mason


1st Place - Surour Alneyadi 5.5/6 - 2nd = Akshay Ranade, Kevin Fagan and Sean Beatty

1st Grading Prize - Olivier Naud

2nd Grading Prize - Luke Bambrick

3rd Grading Prize - Ali Abdul Jalil


Rogues Gallery

Alex Baburin at the Kilkenny Masters

Alexander Baburin GM features every year at Kilkenny and has won it a few times too!

John Anderson at the Kilkenny Masters
John Anderson, another regular visitor to Kilkenny, he relays a great story about his first Kilkenny, ask him about it when you see him!

Emile Roubert
Emile Roubert, another French player enjoying this Kilkenny Masters.

Bogdan Lalic at the Kilkenny Masters
Bogdan Lalic GM is a regular feature in Irish events, doesn't seem to have gotten the knack of smiling for the camera yet.

Paul Wallace at the Kilkenny Masters
Paul Wallace is another regular feature on the Irish Chess scene, he's a bit camera shy though, I had to wait for this shot.

Manfred Grosse at the Kilkenny Major
Fighting for a top prize in the Major is our Austrian visitor, this is the only time this weekend that I didn't see him smile, he really seems to enjoy the Kilkenny ambiance.

Gerard MacElligott at the Kilkenny Major
Howdy Partner, this here's Mr. MacElligott, fighting for 1st prize in the Major, I reckon!

Henk De Jonge at the Kilkenny Major
Henk De Jonge, a member of the Cork Chess Club and in sole lead of the Major going into the final round.

Created 2019-11-16 ◦ Last updated 2019-11-18 ◦ Editor GG

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