Irish championship 2013

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.

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11 Responses to Irish championship 2013

  1. Mark Dennehy says:

    36. d5 definitely doesn’t help, but you can clearly see from the graph of the stockfish analysis that the game itself was even until move 12, when it doesn’t think much of Ciaran’s O-O, but thinks even less of Colm’s response, where it reckons he drops the equivalent of an entire pawn by playing h3 instead of d5. And after that point, the game never came back to Colm’s advantage and he’s slowly but surely pushed out of contention by continuously solid play from Ciaran, until 36. d5 but while after that point he was the equivalent of a piece down, it wasn’t until move 40. Nc4 that realistic hopes die off, when he goes from about four pawns down to about nine pawns down. After that point, things are truly hopeless, and a few moves later with 44.Rf4 he actually maxes out the analysis scores on stockfish and it stays maxed out in Ciaran’s favour until the final resignation after move 46.

    All of which is a lot more easily explained by just looking at the graph (pictures, words, thousand thereof, and so on):

    http://www.stochasticgeometry.ie/~mdennehy/Chess/IrishChampionships2013/1-1-1.png

    • Sean Coffey says:

      Thanks Mark, I agree with your conclusions in this case. Some minor comments: most engines take 1½ pawns as a decisive advantage. 4 pawns is a lot! Also I find engine evaluations become more clear-cut as the game moves on and everything crystallizes, but in the opening it’s hard to draw definite conclusions. It’s certainly the case that even with very strong engines (I’m running Houdini 3.0 on my laptop) the evaluation wobbles around as you allow it to run longer: once you see that effect it’s harder to take an engine’s verdict as definitive.

  2. Mark Dennehy says:

    True Sean. It’s probably a professional hazard for a software engineer, but I’ve a little more faith in engines like Houdini, Stockfish and Critter than most!

  3. David McAlister says:

    Colm Daly has posted the full score of his Round 3 game against Anthony Fox at http://www.irishchesschampionships.com/games/rd3games.htm. An intriguing game too with positional sacrifices of a pawn and later a Rook – one of those games where analysis engines will only tell you so much. Definitely a game where the human dimension is very apparent.

  4. Mark Dennehy says:

    I think the engines are most useful in cases where you think you’ve played a brilliant game though David — where you’re feeling proud of your win, convinced of your own subtle genius, that is where the ego-puncturing “Hey, did you not notice this?” of the ego-less analysis engine is most useful.

    To use your example of the game Colm just won as an example of this, stockfish points out that though he has control of the game from move 40 onwards, it’s down to a blunder by Fox than through dominance by Colm. It was definitely solid play leading up to that point on both sides (to that point, the engine has the game even to within a pawn or thereabouts), but the temptation to think “this win was down to a master plan” is a seductive line of thought that’s much easier to resist when you have the numbers staring right back at you (or even more readably, from a graph):

    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=85448041#post85448041

    http://www.stochasticgeometry.ie/~mdennehy/Chess/IrishChampionships2013/3-4-1.png

    Which isn’t to say – and let’s be fair here – that it doesn’t take ability to spot when Fox’s 40…Re6 drops two pawn-equivalents to the better 40…Qf8! But we have few tools as good as computer analysis to fill the role of helping identify the precise why of a win without the impediment of ego that we all rail against, so that the next win is easier. And of course, it also helps in going over the points where the tide could have turned even when you thought you had the game won (like 48…Kd6 and 49…c4 in our example game, which the engines point out could have seen counterplay through 48…Ke6 or 49…f5).

    To say the human element is finished is of course asinine, but it would be a convicted luddite indeed who eschewed computer analysis as inferior without considerable cause!

  5. David McAlister says:

    I think the engines are most useful in cases where you think you’ve played a brilliant game though David — where you’re feeling proud of your win, convinced of your own subtle genius, that is where the ego-puncturing “Hey, did you not notice this?” of the ego-less analysis engine is most useful.

    Mark, I know that feeling only too well! However the point I was trying to make is that a analysis engine does not tell you that a player is complicating a game in order to set his opponent problems with moves (sacrifices) which may not technically be the best. Colm’s play may not have been perfect but it did create problems that perhaps more “accurate” play would not. Put another way, the engine does not understand the psychological element.

    One issue I would take with stockfish is in its giving the move 42.d7 an ?! It may well be that the alternative analysis it gives is sound but Colm’s move leads to an ending a Knight up, which I think a strong player would immediately recognise as winning (it might take the engine a bit longer to catch on). Anyway, that’s Colm view anyway (links below). Dare I say that 42.d7 was the human solution ?!

    http://www.irishchesschampionships.com/championship-reports.html (Round 3 report)
    http://www.irishchesschampionships.com/games/solution1.htm

    • Mark Dennehy says:

      I dunno David, Qc7 there would have been the first move I’d have thought to play, because QxQ, pxQ and now how do you stop c8Q without losing the rook to Nd6?

  6. David McAlister says:

    Fair point, Mark, its probably the move I’d have thought of first. Of course, Colm had probably already seen d7 when playing his previous move, but then that’s one reason he’s a FM and we’re not 🙂

  7. martin crichton says:

    Venue is easily the best tournament venue for an Irish championships in my living memory. My first Irish was in Cork in 1980 and I can categorically state that no venue has come close to the majestic venue of Limerick University. It was originally known as Thomond college (a reserve of the elite and super rich in years gone by) then later changed name to Limerick NIHE and most recently to Limerick University. The onsite accommodation where the majority of the chess players are staying is truly fantastic. The chess players are staying in 5 or 6 of the student apartment blocks. Each sub apartment has a double bed, plenty of storage space, large desk (see Colm’s command central set-up in his report) , en-suite toilet and shower and communal living space and kitchen, Launderette in the mini complex also (which I availed of already due to the heat wave we are experiencing). The apartments are also serviced daily. The campus itself is massive, 133 hectares, boasts 6 on site restarants, bank, supermarket, bar, etc. My room in my apartment backs on to the river Shannon and I have enjoyed a lot of fishing since I have been here already. Caught brown trout, perch and dace so far!
    The grounds are spectacular and the campus is divided by the river Shannon. The famous “living bridge” is also part of the campus . Ray O’ Rourke , Antony Fox and Colm Daly have already accompanied me on some of my visits to the river and it’s associated walks.
    There are no easy games and chess can be very tough but I am enjoying my holiday immensely due to the location of this years Irish championships. Student life in Limerick university is what dreams are made of.
    The one complaint is the heat in the playing hall and still no sign of the heat wave letting up. I think Colm is now the favourite to win with 3 rounds remaining. A loss for any of the players on 4.5 points would effectively end their championship ambitions as there are a further 3 players on 4 points in the chasing pack. With 3 rounds to go any of the 6 players on 4 or 4.5 points could win the title. The finish is gearing up to be even more exciting than last years.

  8. Sean Coffey says:

    Martin, I played in 1979 and 1981 myself (my only two championships). Perhaps I should have played in 1980: I was playing quite well that year (and quite badly in 1981: Leaving cert!).

    Predictions are hard. It depends on the winning score. 7½ will almost certainly win it outright, 7 might or might not, 6½ very likely involves a tie, perhaps with more than two involved.

    If Colm wins vs. Killian (and he must be favourite), it looks as if the next game must be against either Philip Short or Jonathan O’Connor, regardless of anything else, probably as Black in either case.

  9. Oliver Dunne says:

    Just following Round 7, Colm Daly v Killian Delaney in progress. As I see it, Killian could have won with 29… g5. After the move played (29… Ne1), I think Killian will lose. This will put Colm into the lead in the Championship.

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