The Chess Map of Ireland 1993: 20 years on

When I played in the 1994 National Club Championship at the Winston Hotel Bangor, I received the parchment map below. My slightly faded recollection is that all the participants received a copy to mark their participation in the event, but perhaps there were various prizes handed out and this was one of them.

The original map is also a little faded but hopefully those reading this will be able to make out the details. Essentially the map is a snapshot in time – revealing the numbers of (ICU registered) players, the places where chess players were mainly congregated and the towns and cities where the major tournaments took place.

20 years on, there have been many changes in the tournament calendar. In the North, gone are the West v East of the Bann match, the Bangor Rapidplay, the Ulster Open and the Belfast Festival, while the Ulster Senior and Williamson Shield are now held at different times of the year. Of the Dublin tournaments, Ballyfermot, the Dublin Classic and Rathmines are no longer held; the Dublin Easter Open (aka the Irish Open) disappeared but has recently been replaced by the prestigious e2e4 Dublin Easter International.

Of the other tournaments at various towns and cities around the island, Mullingar and Thurles are no more, while the one at Waterford has only recently been revived. Just at about the time the map was created, Kilkenny morphed into a major international weekend open, while the next year saw the start of Bunratty, now the biggest weekend open in Ireland (and which this year sees the innovation of a FIDE-rated all-play-all added to the Congress). The event in Cork was the Mulcahy Memorial, which shortly after had a near 10 year hiatus, before resuming in 2003; of course Cork also had, and still does have, a strong annual Congress in the Spring. Drogheda appears on the map but there is no specific reference to its annual June Bank Holiday event (still going strong) and which itself was a successor to the Wexford Congress.

New names have come along to fill the gaps. The Ulster Masters has recently replaced the Ulster Open while last year the new Ballynafeigh CC in Belfast held a series of four rapidplay events over the summer months. In the Dubin area, the Malahide Millennium and Gonzaga tournaments are now well established, as are the annual Congresses at Ennis and Galway.

Anyway, a long preamble to a shameless plug. Elsewhere on the internet, some years ago, I started a website called Irish Chess History to act as a sort of research tool for those interested in the history of chess tournaments in Ireland.  However, it was one of those free websites with all these adverts popping up, so I took the plunge with a new version at There you’ll find, as I gradually update and move the content over, a record of the tournaments mentioned above (and many more, historic and still current).

There are a lot of stories to tell, and games to dig out, from these events. Expect these to feature here at IRLchess.

And finally, one small contribution to that process. I only played in one of the three rounds in the 1994 National Club Championship – to be precise in round 2 against a Fisherwick team with Brian Kelly on top board, that trounced my team Newtownards 5-1 on the way to overall victory. The ICU database does not have any games from the event, so here is my game – not the most eye-catching of efforts but probably a reasonably good game technically. Anyway it’s a start, only another 35 to find!

Stuart Farnan – David McAlister: Bangor, 20 November 1994
National Club Championship (Round 2)Fisherwick v. Newtownards (Board 3)

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.f4 d5 4.Nf3 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Bd7 7.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 8.d3 Be7 9.Qe2 0–0 10.0–0 Qc7 11.Kh1 Rac8 12.c4 Rcd8 13.Bd2 a6 14.Ne1 Nb8 15.Bc3 Nxe4 16.Qxe4 Nc6 17.Nc2 b5 18.b3 Qb6 19.cxb5 axb5 20.Rf3 Nd4 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Bb2 Bf6 23.g4 g6 24.g5 Bg7 25.Rf2 Rc8 26.Qg2 Rc7 27.Rc2 Rfc8 28.Rac1 Rxc2 29.Rxc2 Rxc2 30.Qxc2 Qb8 (diagram) 31.Qf2 A mistake. 31.Bc1 had to be played, when Black would only have had a slight advantage. 31…Qa8+ 32.Kg1 Qxa2 33.Bxd4 Black should have played first 33…Qb1+ and after 34.Kg2 only now 34…Qxb3 because after 35.Bxg7 Qd5! 36.Kg1 Kxg7 White no longer has the perpetual check played in the game continuation. 33…Qxb3 34.Bxg7 Kxg7 35.Qd4+ Kg8 36.Qd8+ Kg7 37.Qf6+ Kg8 38.Qd8+ ½–½

[Play through the game]

One final curiosity; why is my scoresheet (see below) headed “Munster Chess Union” for an event organised by the Irish Chess Union and played in Ulster?

NCC 1994 scoresheet

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One Response to The Chess Map of Ireland 1993: 20 years on

  1. Gerry Graham says:

    Hi David,

    I just discovered this article and it brought back some fond memories indeed. I can answer your question about the scoresheet, it’s Munster Chess Union because I organised the event and theese were the only NCR type chess scoresheets I had at the time.

    As for the beautiful map, we had Adrian Skelton to thank for those, I wish I still had mine but it was lost in a house move about 8 years ago. The Limerick Chess Club were the Munster qualifiers that year and I played in all 3 rounds of the 1994 NCC, losing to K.Greer and G.O’Connell but I have lost the other game, but I do know it was a very enjoyable event.

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