And they’re off … this year’s much-anticipated Irish championship has started. Already there’s a major shock in round 1 with Colm Daly (with White!) being routed by Ciarán Quinn.
With the demise of the LCU Blog, it’s not clear where any on-line discussion will take place this year (the tournament web site? Irish Chess Cogitations? Colm Daly’s Irish Chess Championships site? the Ennis C.C. blog?, boards.ie?). It’s best if there’s one main place. Unfortunately IRLchess isn’t suitable, as I’ll be away and out of email contact for the last three rounds.
However I’ve started the tournament report, which will be updated round by round until round 6, with a final wrap-up on the Monday after it finishes.
Round 2 update: The tournament report now incorporates round 2 (still missing the moves of the two games not shown on live boards). The game of the round was undoubtedly Rory Quinn’s spectacular win against Philip Short. It seems this was an outstanding piece of preparation, as Rory used a sideline of the Max Lange Attack that first appeared almost a hundred years ago, at least according to a Kenilworth C.C. article I found, analysing the game Fahrni-Tartakover, Baden-Baden 1914 (!). It was a clever idea also, because it seems Black’s approach against the main line 9. Ng5 (see for example P. Delaney-Hebden, Kilkenny 1999 from the archives here) is wrong against 9. Bg5!?. Philip Short duly followed the standard approach and came a cropper in short order. Devious thinking! (And therefore worthy of admiration.)
Elsewhere it seems there’s a view that Colm Daly’s round 1 loss was due to a simple blunder with 36. d5? Colm himself says so at irishchesschmapionships.com, and I saw Jonathan O’Connor say the same thing in another forum. But while 36. d5? certainly made matters much worse, Black seems to be winning anyway, as the d-pawn can’t be saved in any case.
Round 3 update: Round 3 now added (missing moves from the last two boards in rounds 2 and 3, and also the game Hughes-R. Quinn from round 3). Rory Quinn is now in the sole lead with 3/3. Draws in Redmond-Fitzsimons and Ó Cinnéide-Orr allowed Colm Daly to approach within ½ pointof the other top seeds with a win over Anthony Fox (the game score of which must be incomplete).
Rounds 4 and 5 update: Rounds 4 and 5 now added (missing moves from three games in round 5). Thanks to the organisers for uploading full pgn for the first four rounds! There was an interesting and crucial game in round 4 between Mark Orr and Colm Daly, well annotated by Colm on his tournament site (link included here). Rory Quinn’s momentum finally took a breather as he took ½ point out of two games with White. Elsewhere John Hughes is new to Irish chess but looks set to bring entertaining games: in round 4 he managed to salvage a draw from a position most people would long since have resigned (not without a lot of help from Ciarán Quinn), and in round 5 he had a won game against Mark Orr, needing only to promote a pawn, but veered off and eventually lost a K+B+N v. K ending.
Round 6 update: Colm Daly threw the championship wide open with a tremendous win as Black against David Fitzsimons. Where did White go wrong? (No peeking at engines!) Possibly he should have forced Black to resolve the K-side at some point? By 24. h3 for example: 24. … fxg3 25. fxg3 and surely White’s not losing? As it was Colm retained the option of a timely … f3 putting the White king in danger. 34. … Rf7! was a nice touch, holding the White king in place just as a convenient shuffle out of the danger zone with Kf1 was threatened. Elsewhere Philip Short had a great win against Mark Orr with a devastating attack that welled up out of nowhere. Mel Ó Cinnéide won against Rory Quinn, who doesn’t seem to be playing any worse than in the first three rounds but whose opposition has been much stronger, and John Redmond gave Jonathan O’Connor a belated birthday present, though he was running into trouble already at that point.
So now we’re left with six players all within half a point of each other with three rounds to go. Any one of them could win at this point, especially since some risks will have to be taken. (Good thing the organisers specified what happens in the case of a tie!)
Round 9 update: Most of the drama ended after round 8, when Colm Daly won, but David Fitzsimons lost to Philip Short. In the last round Daly and Short agreed a quick draw, making Colm Daly Irish champion for the sixth time. (Why did Short agree the draw rather than pressing for a win that would have given him the title?) The tournament report has been updated, though only 8 games from the last three rounds are available so far.