Dick Grogan 1938-2016

Dick Grogan, who died earlier this month, was a nationally prominent journalist. Most of his career was spent with the Irish Times, where among other assignments he served as Northern Editor.

His Irish Times obituary is subtitled “Journalist whose career was bookended by Bloody Sunday”: he was an eyewitness in Derry on that day and his article “Soldiers kill 13 in Bogside” appeared on the front page of the Irish Times the following day; at the end of his career he testified before the Saville Inquiry.

His name was very familiar to me, but I had no idea that he was a chessplayer until I read it in his obituary. As a 17-year-old he played as first on the Irish team in the Moscow Olympiad, scoring +1 =7 -4 on boards 3 and 4. He later played on the first U.C.D. team to win an Armstrong Cup, in 1958-59, and on the Collegians team that won the Armstrong at its first attempt in 1963-64. He was also Irish U19 champion in 1954.

The ICU games archive gives only his games from the Moscow Olympiad, under a bare “R. Grogan” (the otherwise excellent OlimpBase report gives him as “Robert Grogan”). Here is another game.

He was runner-up in the Hastings Premier Reserve ‘E’ event in 1955-56. Reporting on the event, J.J. Walsh commented that

“Richard Grogan gained his success at Hastings by playing solid rather than spectacular chess, and he was content to wait for his opponent’s errors instead of making the running himself. The following is a typical example of his style and skill.”

Brocklesbury-Grogan, Hastings Reserves E, 1955-56S. H. Brocklesbury – Richard Grogan
Hastings Premier Reserves ‘E’ 1955-56 (7)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 Nbd7 7. O-O c6 8. e4 e5 9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Qe2 Qc7 11. h3 Nc5 12. Ng5 Nh5 13. Be3 Ne6 14. Nxe6 Bxe6 15. Rac1 Bd7 16. Kh2 (diagram)

16. … Nf4! 17. Qd2 Nxg2 18. Kxg2 Rad8 19. Qe2 b6 20. Rcd1 Be6 21. b3 f5 22. f4 Qc8 23. Rxd8 Rxd8 24. exf5 Bxf5 25. g4 Bd3 26. Qf2 Bxf1+ 27. Kxf1 exf4 28. Bd2 Qd7 29. Be1 Qd3+ 0-1
[Click to replay the full game.]

Posted in Games, Players | Leave a comment

Bunratty Masters 2016

A full report on this year’s Bunratty Masters is now available here. Nigel Short finished clear first, apparently and surprisingly for the first time ever.

collins-leruyet-2016All 135 games are available. In perhaps the most interesting of all, the French player Léopold Le Ruyet capped off a great tournament with a crushing last round win as Black against Sam Collins.

In the diagrammed position, White has just played his 14th move and he’s already lost. There followed 14. … Nxd4 15. cxd4 Bxh3! (0-1, 23).

[Click to replay the full game.]

Posted in Bunratty, Games, Tournaments | Leave a comment

Hogarty-Green, European Boys U18 Team Championship 2006

In the puzzle in the last post, White must not play 1. Ke3?, which loses: after 1. … c1=Q+ 2. Nxc1 Kxc1 3. Ke4 Kd2 4. Ke5 Ke3 5. Kxe6 Kf3 6. Kf6 White is one move too late.

The right way is 1. Kd2!, and after 1. … e5 (since there is nothing else), only then 2. Ke3!, which now wins, since after 2. … c1=Q+ 3. Nxc1 Kxc1 4. Ke4 Kd2 5. Ke5 Ke3 5. Kf6 it is Black who is a move too late. (As a study this would leave something to be desired, since White would also win easily after 2. Nc1 followed by 3. Ne2, 4. Ke3, etc.)

The position is from Hogarty-Green, European Boys U18 Team Championship 2006. In a small and very strong event of just 13 teams, Ireland entered an A and a B team, and predictably enough the B team had a difficult time of it, with an overall score of +1 =4 -19, where the win was against Ireland A. The late Philip Hogarty, playing board 1, was heavily outrated in all games, by between 250 and 900 points.

This game should have been a second win for the team, but mysteriously was instead a missed opportunity. The game continued 1. Kd2!, but then ½-½??.

The records I have shed no light on the reasons for this. It may have been that time trouble contributed, of course, but another possibility is that after having the worst of it for most of the game, the sense of relief at not having a losing position induced White to offer an immediate draw. Does anyone have further information?

Posted in Games, Puzzles | Leave a comment

1. ?

puzzle-2016-05-08In this position, from an Irish game, it’s White to play.

(i) How should White continue and what should the result be with best play?

(ii) What happened in the game?

Not too hard, but neat. Answer in a couple of days.

Posted in Puzzles | Leave a comment

Moulton-Crichton, Mulcahy Memorial 1988

Congratulations to Martin Crichton, who recently finished equal first in a small FIDE Open tournament in London, the Colin Crouch Celebration Congress Weekender. Always good to see IRL at the top of the leaderboard!

This was a decade since his last tournament win, also a joint first, in the Malahide Millenium 2006, and almost three decades since his first win, a clear first ahead of Philip Short in the Maurice Fitzgibbon Mmeorial in 1987.

Many thanks to Martin for sending several games: three from the Colin Crouch Celebration, one from the Maurice Fitzgibbon Memorial, and six from the Mulcahy Memorial 1988.

moulton-crichton-1988In the game referred to in the title above, he recorded an emphatic victory as Black against the English player Paul Moulton, then rated 2255. The diagrammed position is barely out of the opening and already White is in serious difficulties.

There followed 13. b4 exd3 14. Bxd3 c5 15. bxc5 Qxc5 and Black wins a safe pawn, but it’s not clear White had anything much better.

White (rather optimistically) offered a draw after 32. Bxb4, which momentarily restored material equality, but was efficiently finished off. [Click to replay the full game.]

Posted in Games | Leave a comment

Irish Junior Championships 2016

Congratulations to the winners in this year’s Irish Junior Championships, held last weekend in Killiney: Conor O’Donnell (Gonzaga), U19; Diana Mirza (St. Michael’s), U16; Henry Li (Gonzaga), U14; Danny Dwyer (Blanchardstown), U12, and Con Kirby (Limerick), U10.

(I understand there was an under-8 championship as well, but have not seen any results posted.)

Though the top section had a small field, the overall participation was very healthy, with 105 players across the five sections. There were live boards for one game in each of the top four sections, plus one partial game from the U10 championship: see the playable games.

coffey-mchugh-1980The diagram at right comes from a much earlier event, the U19 championship back in 1980, held in St. Joseph’s School for the Blind in Drumcondra (1st-2nd Keith Allen, John Kennedy (both Fisherwick)). This was one of the later rounds, I think, from board 2, and Kevin McHugh, playing Black, is about to play his 8th move against me. The Petroff is generally a very safe opening. But not always!

[Click to replay the full game.]

[Update, April 21, 2016: many thanks to Herbert Scarry, who has provided pairings and results for the U8 championship.]

Posted in Games, Junior events | 1 Comment

“An unexpected move”

Rynd-Morphy and Soffe, consultation games 188723. ?

In the position at right it’s White to play: how should he continue?

The position arose in a casual consultation game played around 1887, probably somewhere in Dublin, between J. A. “Porterfield” Rynd (White) and John Morphy and George D. Soffe (consulting on Black), which recently appeared in Edward Winter’s Chess Notes (C.N. 9771, February 29, 2016).

[Click to replay the full game.]

There’s an interesting twist: a few days later Chess Notes, citing David McAlister, reported that there was a second game, between the same players, that had also reached the diagrammed position, as given by Rynd in Chess Monthly, July 1888, p. 347. See C.N. 9777, March 2, 2016, which has copies of both of the original articles.

[Click to replay the second game.]

It’s unclear what really happened. These are both given as “casual” games in the original articles, so perhaps after completion of one game, the players agreed to return to the diagrammed position to allow Morphy & Soffe to try a different defence.

Posted in Games | Leave a comment

Gonzaga Masters 2016

goss-scott-2016Last month I wrote here that there were apparently going to be no games available from this year’s Gonzaga Masters. I’m delighted to report that the great majority of the games have now been made available, compiled by Ruth Redmond and Herbert Scarry; many thanks to Dylan Boland for forwarding them. They’ve now been compiled into a full tournament report.

There was much enterprising chess. One particularly interesting moment occurred in the last round clash between Alex Goss and Luke Scott.

In the diagrammed position, Black has just played the startling 22. … Rxb6!?, capturing an apparently protected pawn. Let’s pose this as a puzzle: can White safely recapture?

In lieu of an answer, see the full game.

[Note: updated March 30, 2016 to acknowledge Ruth Redmond’s work in compiling the games. Thanks to Herbert Scarry for the clarification.]

Posted in Games, Gonzaga Classics, Puzzles, Tournaments | Leave a comment

Armstrong Cup 2015-16, continued

Even at the beginning of the season the general consensus was that it would be hard to stop Gonzaga in this year’s Armstrong Cup, and so it has proved. With some of the 8th-round matches played, Gonzaga leads by 4½ points over St. Benildus ‘A’ with a match in hand, and realistically it will require an unlikely lopsided win for the latter in their round 9 match to alter the result.

willow-dunne-2016This week Benildus had a narrow 4½-3½ point win at home versus fourth-place Elm Mount, and courtesy of Oliver Dunne we have the game from board 8.

Oliver, playing Black, sacrificed a piece for two pawns, but in the diagrammed position White, to play, has essentially consolidated. What do you think of the continuation 23. Bg4 Re8 24. Rxc7, as played?

Posted in Armstrong Cup, Games, Puzzles, Tournaments | 1 Comment

Ballyfermot Open 1995

Last year we had a photo from the Ballyfermot Open 1994, taken by Ray Woodhouse. He has now sent a set of newly discovered photos from the Ballyfermot Congress in 1995. It’s in the form of an A4 sheet with 30 photos, possibly used as a reference when storing negatives.

The 1995 Congress, sponsored by TSB, was held in the Mansion House on January 28-29, 1995, and had 220 competitors over four sections. One of the newly discovered photos shows the playing hall:

Ballyfermot Congress 1995: playing hall

The event had a tense and dramatic finish, well captured by another photo in the new set:

Daly-Baburin, Ballyfermot Open 1995

Is there any other game where such a scene would be possible? The spectators are practically leaning over the shoulders of the players. I’d like to see how Rory McIlroy would manage in similar conditions. [Click for larger version.]

Colm Daly won the game, inflicting only Baburin’s second defeat by an Irish player since he had arrived in Ireland eighteen months earlier. As a result John Joyce finished clear first on 4½/5, followed by 2-4. Daly, Kevin Butler, and Mark Quinn, 4/5, with Baburin on (we must infer) 3½.

The game appeared the following week in John Hurley’s column in the Sunday Tribune, of which David McAlister has provided a copy. [Click to replay]. It’s possible to pinpoint the exact moment in the game captured in the photo: Daly has just played 36. Qd8-d3 and is either about to press the clock or has just finished doing so: perhaps the latter since Baburin is writing down the move.

Chess photography is not easy and it’s rare to find the atmosphere captured so well. Many thanks to Ray Woodhouse for an outstanding set of photos.

[Update, February 16, 2016: Ray Woodhouse has produced a YouTube video from these and several other photos (‘loughnafin’, 2 m. 38 s., YouTube, February 7, 2016).]

Posted in Ballyfermot Congresses, Photos, Tournaments | 1 Comment