Tuesday, September 02, 2014
I've decided now to incorporate the contemporary material accumulated over 15 years at the Chronicle into this website and to create a new Ulster Chess History website for the historical material. Some reports and articles will go to the Ulster Chess Union website which seems only fair because the Chronicle also hosted official pages before the UCU got its own internet presence.
So, for the next while NI Chess News will resemble a construction site, so please be patient while I'm at work on all this. In the meantime you'll notice a change of colour scheme here as I try to replicate the Ulster Chess Chronicle look.
Monday, June 23, 2014
No Name Rtg Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 Nicholas Pilkiewicz 1862 5 8:W 7:W 2:W 4:W 5:W 3:L 2 Damien Lavery 1749 4.5 11:W 4:W 1:L 6:W 7:W 5:D 3 Robert Lavery 1481 4 10:W 6:L 4:L 11:W 8:W 1:W 4 David McAlister 1218 3.5 5:W 2:L 3:W 1:L 6:W 9:D 5 Mark Newman 1627 3.5 4:L 9:W 6:W 7:W 1:L 2:D 6 Steven Eachus 1645 3 9:W 3:W 5:L 2:L 4:L 12:W 7 Richard Gould 1555 3 12:W 1:L 8:W 5:L 2:L 10:W 8 Alan Burns 1339 3 1:L 10:W 7:L 12:W 3:L 11:W 9 Peter Wilson 1246 2.5 6:L 5:L 12:W 10:W 11:L 4:D 10 Adrian Dornford-Smith 962 2 3:L 8:L 11:W 9:L 12:W 7:L 11 Drew Ferguson 1251 1 2:L 12:L 10:L 3:L 9:W 8:L 12 Geoff Hindley 1010 1 7:L 11:W 9:L 8:L 10:L 6:LAs part of the organising team for these events, thanks to all those who competed throughout the series and we hope to do the whole thing again next season.
Sunday, June 01, 2014
- the exciting tussle for the Division 1 title (despite - or maybe even enhanced by the bizarre events of the last two weeks);
- the arrival of a new powerhouse in the East (Lindores) and an enhanced and rebadged stalwart (Muldoon's) putting extra pressure on the imperious Fisherwick;
- the general increase in strength on the top boards of a number of teams, with a number of strong local players tempted out of retirement and an influx of foreign talent;
- the extraordinary and continuing ability of Ballynafeigh to add extra numbers to the overall equation (some of the other clubs are catching on here too);
- the revival of second teams at the coaxing of the League Controller.
So here, for what they're worth, is a set of proposals for the Belfast and District Leagues 2014-2015:
- League competition again to be between all the Belfast and District clubs, but over a single round and with no split into two Divisions for the rest of the season. Each club would have to list five designated players.
- Therefore this competition would end about the end of January and the winner would receive the Silver King (Division 1 Championship).
- Alongside the competition for the Silver King would be a revamped Strawbridge Cup which would be contested between reserve teams. As some clubs would not be able to field a team in this, the format would probably be a double rounder but whatever format was used, this also would finish approximately end-January. A club could play all but its five designated players in this subsidiary event.
- The top four teams in the Silver King would take part in a new competition - let's call it the "Top 4" or maybe the "Premiership" - in a double rounder over 6 weeks of competition. Not dissimilar to the part 2 of the League as presently organised, but with all the teams starting from scratch. Maybe we could make this over 4 or 6 boards just to change the dynamic a little bit.
- The remaining clubs (plus perhaps any second teams from the Top 4) would compete in a separate competition. We could perhaps revive the "UCU Plate" name and trophy, last played for about a decade ago, for this.
- Finally, to accommodate the increasing numbers of newbie adult players and also to help existing lower-rated "reserve" players, we could add a second subsidiary event for all clubs - an under 1500 Cup, limited naturally enough to players rated under 1500 (and unrated ones).
- So that clubs would be encouraged to enter these new competitions without worrying about having the numbers to fulfill fixtures, players would be able to compete without restriction in all three competitions (except - with the aim of creating a reasonably level playing field - for the designated players in the Premiership). Also, we might arrange these "sub-Premiership" competitions into 4 player events to assist with numbers.
- Finally - as I've probably cut off at least 6 weeks of the season - if there's sufficient appetite for it, we could make good use of the remaining time by reviving some sort of province-wide Cup competition.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
The other event is the Grandmaster Spring Simul. Over the years, when club players were asked what they would like to see the UCU organising, a substantial number suggested a simultaneous exhibition by a GM. Of course good players don't come cheap and you'll only get sufficient numbers turning out if the GM opponent is a well-known figure. Last year, Damien Cunningham took the plunge and came up with former World Championship Challenger Nigel Short. Definitely a good choice and the event got an impressive amount of TV coverage. Even a year later, acquaintances are mentioning that they saw me on TV playing chess - always good for the ego! This year the simul-giver is another English GM - Gawain Jones, well known to Irish players, having lived in Ennis, County Clare for part of his teenage years and still a regular (and very successful) competitor in Irish events. Can he match Short's whitewash of last year?
Monday, March 24, 2014
However when I checked the "spoiled" pic, there was no sign of Adrian, just a very blurry image. Has Adrian discovered how to move faster than the speed of light? Unlike Adrian, physics is not my strong point but I seem to remember there was once a theory that if you ran backwards sufficiently quickly you could travel back in time. It appears fast-draw Ferguson has been working on this.
Here Drew (spot his speedy right hand) is just completing his journey backwards in time to a point where Ian Woodfield has played his first move but is yet to press his clock. Meanwhile Paul Anderson and Mike Redman are trying to work out what has just happened with their clock display.
Anyway, back to a more conventional report: top seed Redman put in a blitzkrieg of his own on his six opponents to finish with a 100% score. Here's the final standings direct from the Controller's laptop (BTW Mark, ever thought of cleaning the screen?)
Saturday, March 08, 2014
And what should the penalty be?
Fisherwick still go on their imperious way in Division 1, but Lindores continue to dog their footsteps. Their recent drawn encounter at the East Belfast coffee house still leaves everything to play for. Lindores are definitely pulling out all the stops - not content with dragging former Williamson Shield winner Fred MacDonald from retirement to fill Board 3, they then found another person to fill that space - no less than 2012 Ulster Masters champion Alan Delaney, who seems to have been carelessly left unattended by another Belfast club.
Still, to get back to the question at the top: a little of the momentum has gone out of the top tier with the recent postponements of Muldoon's v. Lindores and Fisherwick v. Ballynafeigh 2. Our local players are not professionals and there will be occasions when ordinary life gets in the way and a team captain is left scrambling about for players. However the default position ought to be that if you can get 5 bodies out, whatever their standard, the match must go ahead.
There will be occasions when a team captain really can't get a full squad out, and the Controller will consider it reasonable to grant a postponement. However, just to make sure these occasions are few and far between, should there not be some sort of penalty for an "offending" team? Might I suggest that the team responsible for the postponement shall not be entitled to any bonus match points when the match is eventually played.
One more suggestion: if the Controller agrees to a match postponement, in the spirit of openness and transparency, he should place the reason for it on the official UCU website.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
45 players had entered the lists, ten more than 2012' s successful centenary edition, and the organisers decided to separate off the top ten (unfortunately later reduced by two) to compete for the Shield itself, while the remaining 35 formed a second section for Intermediate and Junior players. Look out for the results soon at the usual sources.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Change everything you areSome musings on the League's floating players
And everything you were
Your number has been called
Fights and battles have begun
Revenge will surely come
Your hard times are ahead
You've got to be the best
You've got to change the world
And use this chance to be heard
Your time is now
The perennial underdogs of Ballynafeigh 3 recorded their first ever victory this week. Just in case you might have missed this important occasion, it was trumpeted on both the Ballynafeigh and UCU websites. A source close to the League Controller had the following to say:
"The entire Ballynafeigh 3 team is a by-product of the Ulster Chess Union's floating system where players under 1350 can gain valuable match experience by being permitted to play for different teams within the same club in the same week, thus effectively doubling their opportunities of a seat at a board under competition conditions. This has meant inexperienced and novice players get the over-the-board match practice they need to progress at a much faster rate than would have been possible under a more rigid system. One of the better ideas to come out of the UCU in many a year."As the man in the Marmite advert says, this attempt to foster new growth "must be applauded. Literally." However the system is actually a little more rigid than the League Controller realises. Let's have a quick look at the Rules:
"4.f. The Secretary of each club must submit to the League Controller 7 days in advance of the start of the League season a list of players (to be called the squad list) who will play for the club. Any team failing to do so before League fixtures begin will be penalised 5 League points.The "junior floaters" of Ballynafeigh 3 have been playing for their 1 and 2 sister teams throughout the season in such an indiscriminate manner that it seems that the League Controller must have forgotten about the rule that junior players are only allowed to float if they are not specifically allocated to a particular team. I would be very surprised if a list of designated players for Ballynafeigh 3 could be produced without breaching the Rules or otherwise failing to produce 5 eligible players each week.
4.g. If a club enters more than one team, the Secretary of that club must also specifically allocate 5 named players from the club's squad list for each team. Players specifically allocated to a particular team within a club shall not represent any other team of that club.
4.i. No player with a rating over 1350 may play for more than one team within the competition. Junior players, not specifically allocated to a particular team under 4g., are permitted to float and this permission is granted solely on a players rating (i.e. less than 1351) and not age."
Moreover, the plot thickens. Now Ballynafeigh 4 have entered the fray and another 5 players should be designated. Even allowing for the frequency of new member uptake at Ballynafeigh, they'll be very hard-pressed to do that. Its newly-appointed supremo Dennis Wilkinson (a warm welcome back to one of the great captain/managers), had a busy first week because he also turned out for Ballynafeigh 2s, so even he can't be part of any list.
So, under this laissez-faire system, can we expect the Division 2 teams to live in a fantasy world, where, like Alice, they can't distinguish between the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Ulster chess.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
The idea this time was to allow intending participants a lie-in on a Sunday morning, a leisurely breakfast and time to read the newspapers before setting forth to battle over the chessboard. An alternative suggested by the organisers was to turn up early at the venue and make use of its facilities to prepare for the games ahead. No, not a quick trip to the fitness suite, but something instead designed to take in calories. When I arrived at the venue, a number of players were taking this option, availing of the Sunday lunch in the Whistles Restaurant.
During a rapidplay there is usually very little time to observe what your rivals are up to, but what was abundantly clear was that top seed Michael Waters was cutting a swathe throught the opposition. After the penultimate round he had a perfect 100% score having dispatched Alan Burns, Calum Leitch, Nicholas Pilkiewicz, Damien Lavery and Ian Woodfield along the way. At that stage Michael and his victims filled the top seven positions in the standings with one interloper in the shape of yours truly.
My reward was a final round top-board pairing with the leader. In a Queens Indian, while pursuing as White an apparently logical positional path, I was suddenly subjected to a small tactical demonstration and had to resign immediately. Waters thus finished with a perfect 6 out of 6 and overall victory. Meanwhile on board 2, second place was decided in the game between Leitch and Pilkiewicz with the former prevailing in a hard-fought struggle by weaving a mating net in a Rook and minor piece endgame which forced the win of a Rook.
The Civil Service Club hope to run their next rapidplay towards the end of March with the finale of the series probably late May/early June (depending on exactly when the UCU organise the City of Belfast Championships and the rumoured revival of a Cup competition).
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Meanwhile, in the real world, the chess players of Belfast and its environs were getting on with their lives. League matches were played, Christmas came and went and the New Year was welcomed in. League matches resumed, getting ever closer to the end of the preliminaries. Throughout all this, they were receiving the League Controller's increasingly desperate attempts to find his route into the future. The most recent announcement that permeated into the real world was the confusingly titled "7+7=12" - the poor lad must be in a terrible state by now.
Anyway ("Final answer?"), apparently it's to be the Magnificent Seven in Division 1 (he always did hanker after that) and a different, slightly less magnificent, seven in Division 2, with 3 of those starting from zero. However, I'd keep checking the Ballynafeigh blog, just in case the League Controller is still having trouble rejoining us in 2014.
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Rumour has it (and seeing it emanates from the Controller himself, presumably it will come to pass) that there will be 8 teams in Division 1 after the split. So it seems, after all, that the Magnificent Seven will compete for the Silver King, along with plucky Bangor. This will then leave Division 2 populated by the bottom three from the preliminares plus the three "newbies".
The greater good may well be served by this increase in teams for the second part of the season. In recent years the League has diminished in size as clubs have shied away from entering more than one team. With his recent efforts the Controller has decisively reversed this trend and hopefully the future will see increased levels of competition in the League.
However, someone concerned with process (and your correspondent confesses to being such a person) cannot help point out that the League Controller (and/or the UCU Board) has driven a coach and horses through the League protocols. When a query was raised earlier ths season as to when the rules governing the League would be published the Controller trenchantly pointed out that they remained those propogated by the UCU Board on the 22nd October 2011. The assumptions underlying those rules no longer seem to apply and the bold step to jettison certain parts of them has been taken to what seems to be large-scale approval. Obviously a re-write will be needed next season.
However, it doesn't stop there. The revival of interest in team chess is bringing forward new ideas. The Champ (over at Off the Chest) has floated an interesting suggestion for an experimental half-hour League at the end of the regular season. At the same forum the League Controller has unveiled a few radical ideas for a Cup competition. I'm not sure about these: 3-player teams - sorry, no; genetically engineered line-ups - a bit too Brave New World for me. Still, the return of a Cup competition is definitely to be applauded, but my own view is that the emphasis here should not be so much on gimmicks (though I'm not against a sensible handicapping system) but in achieving a greater geographical spread with matches (or at least some of them) played at the weekend to facilitate this.
Anyway, seems like we live in interesting times!
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Well, very early on Christmas Day, Santa Claus (aka the League Controller) announced to the team captains that it is to be a 6-6 split. So one of the Magnificent Seven is to lose out on the kudos of playing for the Silver King but will then inevitably become the favourite for Division 2 glory. Looks like my previous blog hoping for that decider between Lagan and Ballynafeigh 2 will come to pass.
Hey, but hold on a minute, what's this about 6-6? Surely only 11 teams entered the League. There had been a few rumours, fuelled by some teasing by the League Controller over at the Ballynafeigh blog, that an extra team could be on the cards. So where's this mystery team coming from. The best clue appears at the Belfast South blog and so it looks like a second team from that quarter is entering the fray. Considering the number of players that have flocked there recently, they have the spare capacity.
From that blog we also learn that Belfast South teams will now be named BSI 1, BSI 2 etc. The "I" apparently stands for International. Still it seems a shame to go for an abbreviation that sounds like some disease found in cows or sheep. Much friendlier to my ear would have been Belfast South and Malone - after all their blog has the words "malonechessteam" in its web address. Maybe the émigrés don't want a copyright war with the team across the road!
One final point is how Division 2 will accommodate the newbie. League points gained from the preliminary all-play-all are carried over into the divisions. So does the new team start from scratch, effectively giving it no chance of winning Division 2 (admittedly that's probably the same hope that NICS and Ballynafeigh 3 have) or will the League Controller have come up with an imaginative solution?
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Whether the split was into 2 or 3 Divisions, there seemed to be a mathematical validity to it - equal sized Divisions, in so far as that can be managed with 11 competing teams. Your correspondent had assumed, albeit without any official word on it, that we would get something similar this year. 6-5 seemed the more likely with "newbies" Muldoons and Lindores, and a strengthened Belfast South, adding a greater competitive edge to the top of the preliminary section.
Everybody seems to agree that this is the most exciting League for some time with a number of teams keen to have a crack at Fisherwick, the Red Bull Racing of Ulster chess. However, with a 6-5 split could perhaps a genuine title contender find itself in Division 2, come separation-time? Seems this thought is doing the rounds in Belfast chess circles.
Nick at "Off the Chest" at the Ballynafeigh CC website raises this issue:
"Can the league split of either 7 4 or 6 5 be decided before the league season starts? It isnt fair to be decided in january."
Seems the League Controller, aka Ballynafeigh Chess, has already seen all this coming - here's an excerpt from his reply to Nick at "Off the Chest."
"the league controller must be allowed discretion to decide the separation line between teams that are or are not in contention, the controller must evaluate the prospects of team considering their points tally and proximity to the team above them if you want an exciting and competitive competition."So, reading between the lines, 7-4 looks to be on the cards, particularly after Lagan, who were perhaps the most likely of the Magnificent Seven to miss out under 6-5, drew their match last night with Ballynafeigh 1.
Still a couple of points might be raised.
- How much more "exciting and competitive competition" could you have than the final week preliminary section match-up between Lagan and Ballynafeigh, 2 if sixth place and entry into Division 1 depended on it?
- What about plucky Bangor and a possible 8-3 split - is the reward for the seasiders in being the only team this season to even share the points with Fisherwick to be a favourite's chance to win the silverware in Division 2 rather than have a few more shots at the big stars in Division 1?
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Last weekend, Martin won the Ulster Masters Junior title with 3.5/6, including draws with Damien Cunningham, Mark Newman and Robert Lavery. He also beat Stephen "Scarborough fair" and square! Some people wonder why Martin's rating is still only 1335 and they are quite right to wonder!
On Monday, Belfast South played champions Fisherwick with a second Dutchman, Maxim Le Clercq, "thrown into the deep end" against Michael Waters. With the Fisherwick big two top boards both winning and the other boards drawing, they won 5.5-1.5. Where was Martin? Across the road in the Belfast South Monday Tournament, drawing with Chris Armstrong. No rest for the wicked, as he heads off this weekend with Cathal Murphy and Philip Morrison - The Three Musketeers - to Kilkenny. A report will follow.
Friday, October 18, 2013
On Wednesday Lindores put out a strong line-up and thumped Fruithill 5-0 while on Thursday the revived Civil Service suffered a heavy 1-4 home defeat to Lagan. The third Ballynafeigh team was also in action on Thursday night against Bangor, but no word yet on the result from the furthest reaches of the League (err, that's Groomsport). One piece of good news from the grapevine is that despite my earlier concerns, it appears the seasiders will be putting out a very decent side this season. Further reaction to opening week coming here soon.
So the 2013-2014 season is now in full swing and tournaments are coming thick and fast. The intensity bit is this Sunday's (20th October) Civil Service Rapidplay and the flexibility is Belfast South's so-called "Autumn Tournament" which stretches a marathon 20 weeks from Monday 21st October until (and here's an intriguing choice for the finale) St Patrick's Day 2014.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Two new entrants, from opposite ends of the Upper Newtownards Road, join the lists. An old name, Civil Service, returns. About 5 years ago the club members decamped to another multi-sports club, the Belfast Boat Club, where they now play under the Lagan designation. There hasn't been a mass return, because apart from UCU Chairman, Geoff Hindley, it's an entirely new group that has set up shop at the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion. At the other end of the road Calum Leitch has gathered a group of coffee house players for his team at the Lindores Cafe. Another watering hole, this time in the city centre (well more or less), Muldoon's Pub, provides another new name for the League, albeit this is the former Mallusk team in disguise, though we are promised that they have added 2 or 3 heavy-hitters to their squad.
New clubs and rejuvenated teams are very welcome news, but where have they got their players from? Answer, in the main, seems to be from Ballynafeigh. This club, still in infancy itself, has very rapidly become the big club in Belfast. It's perhaps not surprising that some of its members may want to try to do the same trick somewhere else, and we understand the leavers go with the good wishes of Ballynafeigh supremo Cunningham. Perhaps he was just delighted not to have to employ his carpentry skills to build a mezzanine floor in the Ballynafeigh clubroom to fit everyone in. Does all this mean Ballynafeigh will have to reduce its teams for the new season? Not at all - such is Cunningham's ability to attract new members, it will still be three teams turning out this season for the Ormeau Road club. How they all fare in the League will depend on whether one of their teams is loaded with their top-rated players.
Last year the new boys on the block were Belfast South, mainly made up of Fisherwick émigrés. They set up in the equally new Agape Centre on the Lisburn Road, but rumour has it that they were pining so much for the Malone Road, that they have moved back to just across the road from their old club in the Bankers Club, where the Summer Tournament was held this year. Despite the loss of players, Fisherwick easily retained the League title in 2012-13, though not without the schizophrenic situation of the new boys webmaster turning out for his "old" team. I expect Fisherwick to be once again the team to beat this season.
Fruithill were another "new" club last year, essentially a reincarnation of RVH, the big team of the "noughties". Their results were variable as they often put out under-strength teams but if, and it's a big if, they can get their best team out every week they could spring a surprise.
After Fisherwick, Bombardier and Bangor are the oldest-established clubs. Both are usually solid performers and it will be interesting to see if Bombardier can come ahead of their new east Belfast neighbours, Civil Service and Lindores. Bangor put out two teams last year, but there were worrying rumours that mass apathy might see them fail to enter the League, but the Groomsport-based club will after all have one team representing their interests. Hopefully, a bit of consolidation will lead to an improved commitment.
So, good luck to all the teams. With a lot of changes in the line-up of clubs in recent times, an interesting season beckons.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
At Easter in Dublin, Martin Kelly (Belfast South) followed up his 4/6 in the Gonzaga Under-1800s with 5/7 in the e2e4 Under-1750 Major. He was unbeaten in the 7 round event.
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
I cannot remember the Ulster Chess Union putting on an event over the Easter weekend before, but this innovation seems to have been a success with numbers up on recent rapidplay events. Whether this was in fact due to the supposed emergency meeting at the event in support of the Hollywood Two (Clooney and Alba), no-one at the venue was prepared to admit to overlooking that Easter Monday this year was also April Fool's Day.
My own play confirmed once again that my brain requires a turbo-booster and that my black openings need a considerable overhaul. Of course, playing in a quickplay event means that you don't get much of a chance to see what's happening on the other boards, but I did catch the closing stages of the Round 5 game between the top two seeds Gareth Annesley and John Masterson, which was pivotal to the overall outcome of the Championship. My first look at the game came with Masterson down to his last minute and a half with Annesley having about three times that amount of time. However John is renowned for whipping up attacks with his flag hanging even in longer time limits and so it proved here also. About five minutes later it was clear, based on the constant bagging of pieces and clock, that both players were very short of time, and Masterson delivered checkmate with one second only left! (Don't you just love these digital clocks.) Going into the sixth and last round Masterson had a 100% score of 5 wins, a full point ahead of a trio of players from the host club - Danny Mallaghan and the two Damiens, Cunningham and Lavery.
Masterson was paired with Cunningham and the latter, finding himself in a difficult situation, cleverly offered a draw which guaranteed Masterson the Championship while also ensuring third place for himself. In the other battle for the top prizes, Mallaghan overcame Lavery to take the second spot on the podium. The under 1600 (or was it 1500?) Grading Prize was won by Steven Eachus, while even three tie-break methods could not separate Stephen Critchlow and Mond Parissis for the under 1200 equivalent.
The new date was not the only change for this year's Championship. Instead of starting play at 10.00am, registration for the event didn't even start until midday. Instead of having a lunchtime break, players could have a leisurely morning, get themselves a big breakfast and still get home at a decent hour for their evening meal. If by any chance anyone got a bit peckish, the traditional Ballynafeigh coffee and biscuits were available. The event was run very efficiently by Ballynafeigh's resident fairy tale teller Damien Cunningham and UCU Secretary Mark Newman and even finished about 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled 6.30 pm finish time. So, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon's entertainment and the when the sun eventually came out in mid-afternoon, you could even gaze over to Ormeau Park at the host of golden daffodils, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
No Name Total 1 2 3 4 5 6 Prize 1 John Masterson 5.5 21:W 14:W 6:W 4:W 5:W 3:D First 2 Danny Mallaghan 5 27:W 15:L 20:W 11:W 8:W 4:W Second 3 Damien Cunningham 4.5 13:W 6:L 21:W 12:W 14:W 1:D Third 4 Damien Lavery 4 20:W 8:W 15:W 1:L 7:W 2:L 5 Gareth Annesley 4 0:D 9:W 12:W 7:W 1:L 6:D 6 Steven Eachus 4 26:W 3:W 1:L 17:W 9:D 5:D Grading 7 Ian Woodfield 4 19:W 11:W 16:W 5:L 4:L 15:W 8 Thomas Donaldson 4 23:W 4:L 31:W 13:W 2:L 16:W 9 Paul McLoughlin 4 22:D 5:L 27:W 16:W 6:D 13:W 10 Mark Newman 4 18:W 16:L 13:L 29:W 19:W 14:W 11 Mohamed Saad 4 28:W 7:L 24:W 2:L 25:W 20:W 12 Chris Armstrong 3.5 24:W 17:W 5:L 3:L 20:D 22:W 13 Mathew Chapman 3 3:L 25:W 10:W 8:L 17:W 9:L 14 Karina Kruk 3 25:W 1:L 19:W 15:W 3:L 10:L 15 Tony Redden 3 29:W 2:W 4:L 14:L 18:W 7:L 16 Robert Lavery 3 30:W 10:W 7:L 9:L 26:W 8:L 17 David McAlister 3 31:W 12:L 18:W 6:L 13:L 25:W 18 Steve Critchlow 3 10:L 26:W 17:L 22:W 15:L 24:W Grading 19 Mond Parissis 3 7:L 28:W 14:L 24:W 10:L 26:W Grading 20 William Storey 2.5 4:L 23:W 2:L 30:W 12:D 11:L 21 Colin Fenton 2.5 1:L 22:W 3:L 25:L 28:W 23:D 22 Stephen Scarborough 2.5 9:D 21:L 29:W 18:L 31:W 12:L 23 David Seaby 2.5 8:L 20:L 26:L 27:W 30:W 21:D 24 Adrian Dornford-Smyth 2 12:L 0:W 11:L 19:L 29:W 18:L 25 Ram Rajam 2 14:L 13:L 28:W 21:W 11:L 17:L 26 Patrick Magee 2 6:L 18:L 23:W 31:W 16:L 19:L 27 Iza Bujak 2 2:L 29:L 9:L 23:L 0:W 30:W 28 Dayna Ferguson 2 11:L 19:L 25:L 0:W 21:L 31:W 29 Paul Anderson 2 15:L 27:W 22:L 10:L 24:L 0:W 30 Daniel Ferguson 1 16:L 31:L 0:W 20:L 23:L 27:L 31 Honor Parissis 1 17:L 30:W 8:L 26:L 22:L 28:L
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Anyway, enough of the preliminaries, the first few rounds seemed to have less shocks than some of the previous editions, and in this calm state it looked as if the Round 4 showdown between the top two seeds, Michael Waters and Steve Scannell, would decide the winner.
Throughout the evening, I had become aware of rock music seeping through the windows but it was very difficult to pinpoint exactly where it was coming from. It was almost as if Chris Millar, fabled promoter of the quick chess-background music combination, was influencing events. When I raised this conundrum with the Sultan, Ballynafeigh's eminence grise, he informed me that the music was drifting over from the other big event of the evening in Belfast, an open air concert being given by the Foo Fighters to 30,000 fans in Boucher Road.
Back in our own little Nirvana, things had taken an unexpected turn. Scannell had beaten Waters in the battle of the giants and general expectation was that he would go on serenely to take the top prize. But we had reckoned without Stephen Morgan, making his debut in the Ballynafeigh Super Series. After a theoretical Gruenfeld Defence (something of a rarity in Ulster chess) Scannell seemed to have Morgan in a spot of bother in the endgame (two bishops, passed pawn) but the latter had other ideas, creating a passed pawn of his own which was to cost Scannell one of his bishops and ultimately the game. When I mentioned to Scannell that he seemed to have lost a theoretically won ending, he good-naturedly put this patzer in his place by telling me I needed to study some of the 1990 World Championship Gruenfeld endgames before making such sweeping statements.
So instead of a single winner and a nice easy prize allocation, we had four players tied first. Oh, dear, only two main prizes to give out, so recourse had to be made to the dreaded tie-breaks. Unfortunately for the gallant Morgan, the tie-break placed him third and therefore out of the prizes. Scannell had just hung on for first with Waters second. Ian Woodfield, who had beaten Super Series One winner Damien Lavery in the final round in a flurry of hands moving pieces and pressing clock-levers, was fourth in this tie-break evaluation but had the considerable consolation of winning the under 1900 Grading Prize.
The other two Grading Prizes also went to tie-break with Niall Troughton just edging out Tony Redden for the under 1600 Section with Ram Rajan marginally ahead of John Monaghan in the under 1300s. In what I hope is a small consolation for missing out in a prize by the slimmest of margins in each case, our three unlucky tie-break losers were offered free entry next time they come to a Ballynafeigh-organised event. Hopefully, we can give them that opportunity next Summer when, all other things being equal, the Beard and I plan to run the Super Series again. However, before that comes around, we are hoping to do something in October before the league season starts, something a little different which hopefully will be sufficiently interesting to attract our faithful participants back to the Ormeau Road. Look our for details here or at the Ballynafeigh CC website (or possibly a personal e-mail from the Beard himself).
Having finished the prizegiving and made a desultory attempt to help in putting away the tables and chairs, it was time to wend my way home. As I drove up the Malone Road and then on to Balmoral Avenue and Stockmans Lane I passed many happy concert-goers walking home from their night-out listening to Dave Grohl and co. Hopefully our own little events have given our paying customers an equally good time.
No Name Rtg Total 1 2 3 4 5 Prize 1 Stephen Scannell 2046 4 12:W 15:W 4:W 2:W 3:L First 2 Michael Waters 2132 4 5:W 23:W 3:W 1:L 6:W Second 3 Stephen Morgan 1969 4 17:W 6:W 2:L 7:W 1:W 4 Ian Woodfield 1689 4 9:W 8:W 1:L 13:W 5:W Grading U1900 5 Damien Lavery 1725 3 2:L 13:W 11:W 10:W 4:L 6 Damien Cunningham 1649 3 16:W 3:L 15:W 14:W 2:L 7 Gareth Annesley 1921 3 0:D 16:W 8:W 3:L 9:D 8 Mark Newman 1781 3 10:W 4:L 7:L 19:W 18:W 9 Eamonn Walls 1954 3 4:L 18:D 14:W 25:W 7:D 10 John McKenna 1633 3 8:L 19:W 23:W 5:L 21:W 11 Niall Troughton 1562 3 15:L 12:W 5:L 16:W 17:W Grading U1600 12 John Bradley 1723 3 1:L 11:L 22:W 27:W 20:W 13 Tony Redden 1537 3 22:W 5:L 26:W 4:L 15:W 14 Mathew Chapman 1345 2.5 26:W 17:D 9:L 6:L 24:W 15 Danny Mallaghan 1780 2 11:W 1:L 6:L 22:W 13:L 16 Desmond Moreland 1801 2 6:L 7:L 19:W 11:L 27:W 17 Sam Flanagan 1706 2 3:L 14:D 20:W 18:D 11:L 18 Steven Eachus 1546 2 23:L 9:D 21:W 17:D 8:L 19 Colin Fenton 1356 2 27:W 10:L 16:L 8:L 25:W 20 William Storey 1329 2 24:D 25:W 17:L 21:D 12:L 21 Ram Rajan 2 25:D 24:W 18:L 20:D 10:L Grading U1300 22 John Monaghan 1110 2 13:L 27:W 12:L 15:L 26:W 23 Callum Ormerod 1756 2 18:W 2:L 10:L 26:W 0: 24 Paul Anderson 671 1.5 20:D 21:L 25:L 0:W 14:L 25 Gary Johnston 1167 1.5 21:D 20:L 24:W 9:L 19:L 26 Paul Logan 1007 1 14:L 0:W 13:L 23:L 22:L 27 Patrick Magee 1039 1 19:L 22:L 0:W 12:L 16:L
Thursday, July 26, 2012
The June 2012 edition of the Ballynafeigh Super Series was slotted neatly between the Euro2012 football semi-finals, and for July it was placed between the end of the Tour de France and the start of the Olympic Games. This time quality and quantity were even better than before; 32 players taking part, with big-hitters like Michael Waters, Stephen Scannell, Eamonn Walls and Gareth Annesley vying with quickplay specialists Des Moreland, Damien Lavery and Damien Cunningham plus strong Intermediate players like Danny Mallaghan, Mark Newman, Ian Woodfield and Sam Flanagan. Throw into the mix a host of competitors fighting for three grading prizes and an exciting tournament was almost guaranteed. There were plenty of upset wins by lower-rated players (as a careful perusal of the crosstable below will show) but most of the usual suspects rose to the top in the battle for first place. In the end the tight nature of the contest was shown when three players - Scannell, Waters and Walls - tied for first on 4 points from 5 games. Scannell, Ballynafeigh's principal standard-bearer, had the best tie-break and was awarded first place, while even the tie-breaks couldn't separate the two Fisherwick players, Waters and Walls, who therefore shared the second prize. Grading prizes went to David Conlon, Matthew Chapman (both of the host club) and RVH's John Monaghan.
No Name Total 1 2 3 4 5 Prize 1 Stephen Scannell 4 7:W 4:W 2:D 3:W 6:D First 2 Michael Waters 4 15:W 8:D 1:D 21:W 7:W Second equal 3 Eamonn Walls 4 11:W 16:W 20:W 1:L 10:W Second equal 4 Desmond Moreland 3.5 26:W 1:L 8:W 5:D 16:W 5 David Conlon 3.5 6:W 15:L 12:W 4:D 17:W Grading U1700 6 Damien Lavery 3.5 5:L 18:W 23:W 24:W 1:D 7 Ian Woodfield 3 1:L 10:W 21:W 20:W 2:L 8 Gareth Annesley 3 23:W 2:D 4:L 25:D 15:W 9 Mark Newman 3 16:L 17:W 11:W 10:L 21:W 10 Mathew Chapman 3 32:W 7:L 27:W 9:W 3:L Grading U1500 11 Damien Cunningham 3 3:L 22:W 9:L 26:W 25:W 12 John Monaghan 3 24:W 23:L 5:L 19:W 20:W Grading U1200 13 Tony Redden 3 17:D 20:L 28:W 14:D 22:W 14 Colin Fenton 3 22:L 32:W 18:D 13:D 24:W 15 Sam Flanagan 2.5 2:L 5:W 16:D 29:W 8:L 16 Niall Troughton 2.5 9:W 3:L 15:D 28:W 4:L 17 Danny Mallaghan 2.5 13:D 9:L 25:W 18:W 5:L 18 Robert Lavery 2.5 30:W 6:L 14:D 17:L 29:W 19 Ram Rajan 2.5 29:D 25:L 26:W 12:L 28:W 20 Richard Gould 2 27:W 13:W 3:L 7:L 12:L 21 Martin Kelly 2 31:W 27:W 7:L 2:L 9:L 22 Paul Anderson 2 14:W 11:L 24:L 23:W 13:L 23 Paul McLoughlin 2 8:L 12:W 6:L 22:L 30:W 24 Mohamed Saad 2 12:L 31:W 22:W 6:L 14:L 25 Chris Armstrong 2 28:D 19:W 17:L 8:D 11:L 26 Dennis Wilkinson 2 4:L 30:W 19:L 11:L 31:W 27 Callum Ormerod 2 20:L 21:L 10:L 30:W 32:W 28 Paul Logan 1.5 25:D 29:W 13:L 16:L 19:L 29 Garry Johnston 1.5 19:D 28:L 31:W 15:L 18:L 30 Adrian Dornford Smith 1 18:L 26:L 32:W 27:L 23:L 31 Patrick Magee 1 21:L 24:L 29:L 32:W 26:L 32 Charlie Logan 0 10:L 14:L 30:L 31:L 27:L
Top seeds Waters and Scannell fought out an entertaining draw in Round 3.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I was again controlling the event and decided on experimenting with an accelerated draw in the five-round Swiss to get the main contestants for the first prize to meet each other a little earlier and also give the lower rated players a more equitable list of opponents in their search for grading prizes. Overall, I think it worked quite well and more than likely I will give the system another chance next time.
Ulster Champion Michael Waters had one of his rare off-days at the May Super series event but looked in determined mood from the off this time, in particular showing good time management, and raced to four wins out of four. Nearest pursuers were on three points so Waters only needed a draw in the final round. Despite this he didn't go for safety first and rolled out the risky Albin Counter Gambit - game on! Waters had clearly equalised by move 12 but then Masterson "started sacrificing pieces like Tal" as his opponent put it. It didn't look sound (but then Tal's attacks often didn't) and Waters, with his eye firmly fixed on overall victory, decided discretion is the better part of valour and allowed a perpetual check which Masterson had no option but to take.
Now to the grading prizes: Damien Lavery, winner of the May event, conceded draws in Rounds 1 and 3 to Steven Eachus and Damien Cunningham, but wins in the final two rounds, brought him the over 1700 Grading Prize and he was the only other unbeaten player after Waters. Karina Kruk beat Ballynafeigh Rascals team-mate Robert Lavery in the final round to secure the 1400-1700 Prize. However Robert's overall efforts (which included a brave attacking effort against May runner-up Des Moreland) secured the Under 1400 Prize on tie-break from Chris Armstrong.
Ballynafeigh Super Series - June 2012
No Name Total 1 2 3 4 5 Prize 1 Michael Waters 4.5 8:W 15:W 14:W 12:W 5:D Winner 2 Karina Kruk 4 20:W 10:W 7:L 6:W 9:W 1400-1700 Grading 3 Damien Lavery 4 13:D 4:W 12:D 16:W 11:W Over 1700 Grading 4 Gareth Annesley 3.5 0:D 3:L 8:W 15:W 12:W 5 John Masterson 3.5 6:W 12:L 18:W 17:W 1:D 6 Sam Flanagan 3 5:L 11:W 15:W 2:L 14:W 7 Desmond Moreland 3 12:L 17:W 2:W 9:L 18:W 8 John Bradley 3 1:L 16:W 4:L 22:W 17:W 9 Robert Lavery 3 23:W 18:L 13:W 7:W 2:L Under 1400 Grading 10 Danny Mallaghan 3 14:L 2:L 21:W 19:W 16:W 11 Chris Armstrong 3 22: 6:L 20:W 14:W 3:L 12 Damien Cunningham 2.5 7:W 5:W 3:D 1:L 4:L 13 Steven Eachus 2.5 3:D 14:L 9:L 21:W 20:W 14 Chris Black 2 10:W 13:W 1:L 11:L 6:L 15 Mark Newman 2 18:W 1:L 6:L 4:L 23:W 16 Mohamed Saad 2 21:W 8:L 19:W 3:L 10:L 17 Richard Gould 2 19:W 7:L 22:W 5:L 8:L 18 Paul McLoughlin 2 15:L 9:W 5:L 23:W 7:L 19 Dennis Wilkinson 2 17:L 23:W 16:L 10:L 22:W 20 Garry Johnston 1.5 2:L 21:D 11:L 0:W 13:L 21 Patrick Magee 1.5 16:L 20:D 10:L 13:L 0:W 22 Adrian Dornford Smith 1 11:L 0:W 17:L 8:L 19:L 23 Paul Anderson 1 9:L 19:L 0:W 18:L 15:L
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
No Name Total 1 2 3 4 5 Prize 1 Damien Lavery 4.5 17:W 5:W 3:W 10:W 2:D First 2 Desmond Moreland 4.5 13:W 15:W 6:W 7:W 1:D Second 3 Gareth Annesley 4 9:W 11:W 1:L 14:W 8:W 4 Eamonn Walls 4 14:L 21:W 18:W 6:W 7:W 5 Stephen Scannell 3.5 18:W 1:L 11:D 12:W 15:W 6 Damien Cunningham 3 12:W 8:W 2:L 4:L 11:W Under 1800 Grading 7 Danny Mallaghan 3 21:W 16:W 14:W 2:L 4:L 8 Calum Leitch 3 19:W 6:L 9:W 15:W 3:L 9 David Conlon 3 3:L 17:W 8:L 20:W 16:W 10 John Bradley 3 16:L 20:W 22:W 1:L 14:W 11 Ian Woodfield 2.5 22:W 3:L 5:D 13:W 6:L 12 Michael Waters 2.5 6:L 13:D 21:W 5:L 19:W 13 Mohamed Saad 2.5 2:L 12:D 23:W 11:L 20:W Under 1400 Grading 14 Karina Kruk 2 4:W 23:W 7:L 3:L 10:L 15 Sam Flanagan 2 20:W 2:L 16:W 8:L 5:L 16 Robert Lavery 2 10:W 7:L 15:L 18:W 9:L 17 Paul Anderson 2 1:L 9:L 19:L 0:W 22:W 18 Paul McLoughlin 2 5:L 19:W 4:L 16:L 23:W 19 Chris Armstrong 2 8:L 18:L 17:W 22:W 12:L 20 Adrian Dornford-Smyth 1 15:L 10:L 0:W 9:L 13:L 21 Martin Kelly 1 7:L 4:L 12:L 23:W 0:- 22 Ram Rajan 1 11:L 0:W 10:L 19:L 17:L 23 Paul Adamson .5 0:D 14:L 13:L 21:L 18:L
Thursday, May 17, 2012
I'm going to be controlling at the first one on Tuesday 22nd May. There will be five rounds, 15 minutes each player per game. Players need to be there by 7.30 pm and the whole thing should be wrapped up by 11.00pm. I'm reliably informed places are going fast and there's already a good field entered for the series opener, so if you're thinking of playing get in touch pronto with Damien - his contact details are at the Ballynafeigh CC website.
Monday, March 05, 2012
Waters eventually finished with 5.5 points out of 6 after drawing with Danny Mallaghan, the only person who could still catch him, in the final round. That draw looked like securing Mallaghan one of the minor prizes; he had 4.5 points along with Ian Woodfield, who emerged the winner from a short but brutal battle with third-seed Gareth Annesley in the last round. The only other players who could reach 4.5 were Scannell and Callum Ormerod. They were paired against each other and their game looked a certain draw from the time quite early in the game that a Queen and 5-pawn ending was reached. There were no obvious weaknesses to exploit or breakthroughs to make so it looked like the only thing Mallaghan and Woodfield had to worry about was who took second and who took third on tie-break.
However Scannell still had ambitions to make the prize-list and decided to try to tease out a win. The inexperienced Ormerod showed he had very strong nerves, worthy of a seasoned campaigner, and after a lot of careful manoeuvring, Scannell decided to take a very big risk to create complications, but in reality all he was doing was signing his own death warrant. Ormerod snaffled up the full-point to join those on 4.5. When the tie-break standings were calculated, it turned out that Ormerod was second, Woodfield third and despite his draw with the centenary champion, Mallaghan was remarkably out of the prizes.
Ross Harris won the 1300-1600 grading prize. Along the way he drew with the much higher- rated Mallaghan and Annesley and finished off his weekend by beating early pace-setter Damien Cunningham. Harris has just broken through the 1500 barrier and looks to be making strong strides towards 1600. He has the makings of a strong Intermediate player if he can continue to progress at his current rate. Raymond Smith took the under 1300 Grading Prize. Smith is one of those players who seems to raise his game against higher-rated opposition and he played a strong field in reaching 3.5 to win his prize on tie-break from the unlucky Gary Johnston.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
It will be interesting to see whether this time-slot proves popular with players. UCU Chairman John Cairns tells me that the entries so far are very encouraging with 5 of last year's top 7 already confirmed in the field. That 5 doesn't include last year's champion, Stephen Scannell, but he usually like to leave his entry late and it would be a big surprise if Scannell didn't turn up to defend his title. Main rival is likely to be Ulster champion, Michael Waters, who seems to be winning everything these days, but former winners Cairns and Gareth Annesley, the latter just back from a good performance in Bunratty, will no doubt be in the mix too.
I'm controlling the Williamson so I'm looking forward to seeing some excellent competition at close quarters.
Monday, February 20, 2012
There were four separate tournaments at Bunratty and four Ulster players competed in the second-tier Challengers section. Unfortunately two of them met in round one with Danny Mallaghan turning the rating list on its head by beating second seed Gareth Annesley. However Gareth shrugged off that setback to win his remaining five games and secure himself an equal first place with three others, though Jan Heinrich took the Challengers title on tie-break. Danny lost in rounds 2 and 3 but finished strongly by beating fourth seed Pete Morriss in the final round. The other two Ulster players were Cecil Sloan and Paul McLoughlin. Cecil finished on a very creditable 3.0 after playing a strong field, rated an average 161 points higher - he also beat the afore-mentioned Mr Morriss. Unfortunately Paul, who tends to blow either hot or cold, couldn't raise the temperatures of his opponents this time.
Check out the complete results at the Bunratty website
Friday, December 30, 2011
For those who want an entertaining if fictionalised account of the event I warmly recommend the Beard's gossip column at the Ballynafeigh Chess Club website. I see the Beard is concerned about the embarrassment of not resigning when you've been completely mashed and provides video evidence of this phenomenon. I understand the Ulster Chess Union had arranged extensive video coverage of the event (coming to YouTube some time soon) so I look forward to examples of the equally embarrassing spectacle of some bozo having a completely won position and simply sitting there until his time runs out.
At the closing ceremony John Cairns announced that the next UCU competition will be the Williamson Shield. Although not absolutely confirmed as yet, expect it to be held on the first weekend in February at its normal venue, the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion in the Stormont estate. If I'm wrong, you didn't hear it from me!
Finally, those who have not lost the will to live (or at least visit these pages) due to my rather infrequent blogs will note that the website has had a makeover - Black is the new Black in Ulster chess circles as I now realise I have come dangerously close to plagiarising Sam Flanagan's house-style over at his Malone Chess Team website. Still it has to be better than the purple shag pile over at Ballynafeigh. BTW, congrats to my team-mates on the Angels for topping the League table at Christmas (my absence from the team-sheet obviously instrumental!)
Saturday, December 10, 2011
It took three seasons after 5 consecutive 5-2 defeats, but at last Malone beat Bangor in the UCU League on 8/12/11. Despite those defeats, Malone had won UCU League Division Two in the last two campaigns. How ironic it would be if Bangor go on to win it this season.
Groomsport was the windswept setting for the match and Bangor got "the wind up" when captain Martin Kelly's favourite Vienna Gambit "waltzed" to victory against young "ashen-faced" Ashley McWhinney. The 2011 Henderson Cup winner was able to "make winning" moves against McWhinney as shown below.
R. Proctor "gambled" and lost to J. Bryars, while D. Ruben avoided a "drubbing" by drawing against P. McLaughlin. P. McGuigan said "play it again, Sam" after beating Sam Flanagan to keep Bangor's hopes alive but it was "alan a day's work" for Stephen Morgan as he clinched victory for himself and Malone against Alan McConnell! The final score was Bangor 1.5-Malone 3.5.