Irish Championship 1973

In a comment about our list of players who have competed in the Irish Championship over the years, Martin Crichton points out that Daire McMahon was unlikely to have played in the 1973 Irish Championship. The error appears to have arisen from a typo, due to the proximity of the letters “d and “f” on the computer keyboard – the McMahon competing in 1973 was F(rank) McMahon.

Having solving the McMahon conundrum with the aid of contemporary sources, it seemed an opportunity to present some of the extra material uncovered in my search for the correct name.

Only one game from the 1973 Irish Championship, the Round 8 encounter between Hugh MacGrillen and Arthur Coldrick, is included in the Irish Chess Union database. The original source for that game would appear to be Wolfgang Heidenfeld’s report on the Championship in the October 1973 issue of the British Chess Magazine.

Heidenfeld’s report also included the latter stages of his game against Arthur Cootes (the chess pseudonym for Victor Coates).

Arthur Cootes – Wolfgang Heidenfeld
Irish Championship, Cork (Round 1), 7th July 1973
[Annotations by Heidenfeld]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.Nf3 0-0 7.e5 Be7 8.Bd3 c5 9.h4 f5 10.exf6 Bxf6 11.Bxh7+ Kxh7 12.Ng5+ Kh6 13.Qd3 Bxg5 14.hxg5+ Kxg5 15.Qh7 Kf6 16.Rh3 Ke7 17.0-0-0 Kd7 18.Rg3 Rf7 19.dxc5 Qf8 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Rxd5+ Kc7 22.Qh2 

Cootes-Heidenfeld, Irish championship 1973 (1)

Position after 22. Qh7-h2

[Here] is an illustration of the extreme care with which discovered checks must be treated. It shows the position between Cootes and Heidenfeld after White’s 22nd move. The Belfast player had brought his usual sacrifices on spec (a game without at least the offer of a piece on KR7, whence the black King came in this position, too, is no game in his book). I had planned to play 22…Bd7 and get on with my much-neglected development, since no discovery of the Q + R battery seemed to do any particular harm …. until I discovered there was one very nasty discovered check indeed:- 23.Rh3+ !! Kd8 (23…Kc6 is suicidal) 24.Rh8 and White remains with Q + 3P for R, B + N, in a position where the black pieces do not co-operate at all.

So I had to look for something better and found the paradoxical move, 22…b6 which seems to expose the black K even more. However, with the square b7 available, the poison tooth of the discovered check is well and truly drawn and after 23.cxb6+ axb6 24.Rxg7+ Kb7 25.Rxf7+ Qxf7 26.Rh5 Qxf2 27.Rd5 Qe3+ White resigned. 0-1
[Sources: Cork Examiner, 9th July 1973, page 5 and British Chess Magazine, Volume XCIII (1973), pages 380-1]
[Click to play through the game]

The full score of this game and six others were presented in the daily reports in the Cork Examiner.

Padraig O Briain – Hugh MacGrillen
Irish Championship, Cork (Round 5), 11th July 1973

1.Nf3 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.g3 g6 4.c4 Bg7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.Nc3 c6 7.h3 a6 8.0-0 b5 9.cxb5 axb5 10.Qc2 b4 11.Nd1 Qb6 12.b3 Bf5 13.Qd2 Be4 14.Bb2 Nbd7 15.Ne1 Bxg2 16.Kxg2 c5 17.Ne3 Ne4 18.Qd3 Qb7 19.Kh2 cxd4 20.Bxd4 Ndc5 0-1

O Briain - MacGrillen final position

Final position

An abrupt end to the game – was White’s resignation premature? After 20…Ndc5 White has a difficult task maintaining a connection between his Queen and Bishop, with both under attack.

With the assistance of Stockfish 8, let’s look at the main possibilities; a couple of Bishop moves first:
a) 21.Bxc5 Nxc5 22.Qd1 Bxa1 23.Qxa1 Nxb3 gives up a pawn as well as the exchange.]
b) 21.Bxg7 Nxd3 22.Bxf8 Ndxf2 23.Bh6 cedes Black a Queen and pawn for Rook and Bishop and after 23…Qb5 another pawn is going;

There are two Queen moves that manage to protect the Bishop:
c) 21.Qc4 Nd2 and White is going to haemorrhage material;
d) 21.Qd1 seems best. Now 21…Nc3 22.Bxc3 (22.Qd2 Bxd4 23.Qxd4 Nxb3 24.axb3 Rxa1 and Black is the exchange and a pawn up) 22…Bxc3 when White can choose from
(i) 23.Nd3 Bxa1 24.Nxc5 dxc5 25.Qxa1 giving up the exchange, or
(ii) 23.Rb1 Rxa2 24.Nf3 reducing White’s losses to a pawn but the resulting position is hardly appealing.
[Source: Cork Examiner, 12th July 1973, page 13]
[Click to play through the game]

The other five game scores appearing in the Cork Examiner reports have been added to the IRLchess database:
John Kennedy – David Blair, Round 3
Padraig O Briain – Tony Doyle, Round 4
Paul Henry – Padraig O Briain, Round 6
Paul Cassidy – Paul Henry, Round 7
Hugh MacGrillen – Tony Dennehy, Round 9

From the reports in the Cork Examiner and Irish Times, virtually all the game results are available. The only difficulty with presenting a crosstable (as is often the case) is that the results of a small number of the adjourned games were not reported. However, the British Chess Magazine did give a full list of the players’ final standings. From all the available information, I believe it has been possible to construct a fully accurate crosstable of the Championship.

Irish Championship, Cork, 7th-15th July 1973

[Click for expanded version with links.]

No Name         Total  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9  

1  H MacGrillen 7     17:W  4:W  9:W  2:W 11:W  3:L  5:D 12:W  6:D
2  P Henry      6.5   16:W  3:W 10:W  1:L  5:D 11:W  4:L  7:W  9:W
3  W Heidenfeld 6     15:W  2:L  6:D 12:W 10:W  1:W  9:D  4:D  5:D
4  P Cassidy    6     14:D  1:L 18:W 15:W  7:D  9:W  2:W  3:D 10:D
5  D Cox        5.5   11:W  9:L 13:W 10:D  2:D  7:W  1:D  6:D  3:D
6  A Dennehy    5      7:D  8:D  3:D 16:D 12:D 10:D 11:W  5:D  1:D
7  M Kennefick  5      6:D 13:D 12:D  8:W  4:D  5:L 10:W  2:L 16:W
8  F McMahon    5     12:D  6:D 15:W  7:L  9:L 13:D 14:W 11:D 17:W
9  A Doyle      4.5   18:W  5:W  1:L 11:L  8:W  4:L  3:D 15:W  2:L
10 C Quigley    4.5   13:W 14:W  2:L  5:D  3:L  6:D  7:L 17:W  4:D
11 P O Briain   4.5    5:L 17:W 14:W  9:W  1:L  2:L  6:L  8:D 18:W
12 A Coldrick   4.5    8:D 18:D  7:D  3:L  6:D 15:W 16:W  5:  13:D
13 M Littleton  4     10:L  7:D  5:L 14:W 16:D  8:D 17:D 18:D 12:D
14 A Pinkerton  4      4:D 10:L 11:L 13:L 18:W 17:W  8:L 16:D 15:W
15 A Cootes     3      3:L 16:W  8:L  4:L 17:W 12:L 18:W  9:L 14:L
16 D Blair      3      2:L 15:L 17:W  6:D 13:D 18:D 12:L 14:D  7:L
17 J Kennedy    1.5    1:L 11:L 16:L 18:W 15:L 14:L 13:D 10:L  8:L
18 P Cafferky   1.5    9:L 12:D  4:L 17:L 14:L 16:D 15:L 13:D 11:L
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