August 21, 2016

Wesley So wins Sinquefield Cup

Former Bunratty Masters Champion Wesley So was the clear winner in the Sinquefield Cup as he posted a +2 score with no losses to make 5.5 from 9 and win the tournament by half a point from four players tied on 5. So seems to like these big American tournaments as he won the Millionaire Open in Las Vegas too a couple of years ago. He had to make do with ‘just’ 75 grand for this one though.

As I pointed out in the article after round 2  the tournament started with some exciting chess but in the end didn’t seem to quite deliver on it’s promise. As with many elite chess events nowadays, draws predominated. By the way in case anyone was wondering about the solution to the puzzle at the end of Giri-Ding posted previously; 35…Ke4 wins for Black according to the fearless machine!

August 15, 2016

Munster Championships 2016

The Munster Chess Union have announced details of the Munster Chess Championships which will take place on the weekend of the 16-18th September in the West County Hotel in Ennis. The senior tournament is a 5 round FIDE rated Swiss  and entry is open to ICU members from Munster or those living there for more than a year. Entry fee is €35 and prize fund is subject to entry.

Running alongside the senior tournament will be the Joe Browne Cup which is a 6 round Swiss open to all ICU members rated 1499 or lower in the September rating list. Entry fee for this tournament is €30.

Entry forms are available at the Munster Chess Union and Irish Chess Union websites.

August 7, 2016

Sinquefield Cup 2016


10 of the best chess players in the world are currently battling it out in Saint Louis for the Sinquefield Cup and a prize fund of $300 000. This event is part of the Grand Chess Tour  and is one of the two classical chess events on the tour, the other being the London Chess Classic.

Round 3 is taking place today and spectators have certainly got their moneys worth so far as all the rounds have featured exciting chess and interesting games. Hikaru Nakamura has been involved 2 decisive games already though his clash with Anand today has just ended in a draw. In the first round Nakamura lost as black in a Catalan against So  in what looked like some nice preparation by the former Philippines player. Nakamura bounced back in the next round with a win against Giri though things got a bit crazy in that game coming up to the time control.


Nakamura-Giri – Giri has just played 37…Rh4

In the position above we are approaching the time control and Giri, in a lost position, has just decided to roll the dice with Rh4. He almost gets rewarded. Nakamura played 38 Qa8+ Kh7 and now simply taking the rook followed by Rb2 seems to win but Nakamura under pressure and with his clock ticking must have seen some ghosts and fearing Giris attack be played 39.Qf3? which was met by 39..Rxh3+! 40 Kg1 Qxf3 41.Bxf3 and now Giri returned the favour with 41…Nd3? when after 42.Re3! white was wining again. As was pointed out after the game Giri should have played 41..Ng4 42.Bxg4 Rxg3+ 43.Kf2 Rxg4 44.axb5 Rf4+ 45.Ke2 Re4+ 46.Kf3 Rf4+ and how can White escape the lateral rook checks?

So, Aronian and Anand currently lead the field in a three way tie on 2 from 3.  It looks like Liren Ding missed a chance to join them as he only drew from what looked like a winning position just now.


Giri-Ding (St Louis, 2016)

Liren Ding played a nice game up til here, saccing the exchange before Giri sacced it back to try and get at his King. Ding played 35…Rxc2 here and the game ended in a draw a few moves later. How can he play to win from this position?

August 3, 2016

The common language that is Chess

Updates have been somewhat sparing here of late as Ula and myself have been away for the last month or so. We did and saw plenty of interesting things during that time but one thing I always try to make a little time for when I am abroad is to play some chess. Chess is a game that brings people together and represents a common language for an estimated 600-700 million people who play the game worldwide.

First up was some friendly games in quite a historic venue in Poland, the famous Książ castle near Walbrzych in lower Silesia. There were a few chess players in the vicinity for an occasion on the 9th July🙂 and here is Mike O Donnell and myself sitting down for a game.


Next up was the USA  and finding ourselves (somewhat unplanned) in Las Vegas for a full week I decided to check out the Las Vegas Chess Centre and their Thursday night rapidplay. Finding the venue is not trivial as it is a bit off the main strip. A good GPS or, failing that, a knowledgeable taxi driver is always helpful though. The club is run by a Cuban emigre Juan Pablo Jauregui and his wife, who are real chess enthusiasts and very welcoming to any visitors.

I hear that titled players are regular guests to the club, some of whom can be seen on their facebook page but none were present when I was there and I was pleasantly surprised to win the rapidplay on 5 from 5. If you are a chessplayer and find yourself in Vegas this club is definitely worth a visit!



From the East coast to the West coast, and my abiding image of American chess is scenes of chess hustlers playing in the parks from movies such as ‘Searching for Bobby Fisher’ so in New York I endeavored to find some. Washington Square and Union Square seem to be the main two places where chessplayers play for money. There is also a nice chess pavilion in Central Park but most people playing there seemed to be tourists or casual players.


In the game above I am playing a guy in Washington Square Park called Cornbread. I wasn’t interested in taking any of these guys money as I imagine most of them are living a fairly precarious existence. The deal was I handed over $5 for every game I lost but if I won the game was ‘for free’. I might have been a bit lucky but I won all my games with Cornbread. In fairness to Cornbread he must have been fairly tired at this stage, as he said he had been up the whole night before. I did lose a couple to a guy called Na’Shawn the Great before moving onto Union Square.


Shaking the hand of Na Shawn the Great

Maybe because it was later in the evening but the chess scene on Union Square seemed a bit more lively than on Washington Square, getting through some cans of Four Loko probably helped.


I lost and won some more games here including two against a guy with an Eastern European accent who looked scarily like Andrei Chikatilo though he said his name was Paul and seemed nice enough if a bit laconic. He also seemed like quite a strong player as was winning both games only to blunder. Ula and myself were walking across the same square two nights later on the way to the cinema when I heard a shout “Hey Mr Irishman”. We had about an hour til the movie started so I sat down to play some more. After losing 4 from 5 I was glad to be able to beat a hasty exit to the safety of the cinema.

Chess culture is a great thing. A person can be anywhere in the world and  can find communities of chess players all speaking a common language: the language of chess.

July 11, 2016

Jessell wins Irish Championship

Well done to Stephen Jessell who was a comprehensive winner of this years Irish Championships on a score of 8.5 from 9. Although small in number it looked like a well promoted event with live boards and regular online updates available via the Irish Chess Union website where you can find full results from the championships.
Congratulations too to Joe Ryan who has made his final IM norm. Joe has been living and competing in Spain over the last number of years and has the three norms needed for the title. Gaining the IM title is no easy feat so well done Joe!

July 3, 2016

Irish Championships 2016

The Irish Championships started yesterday in Dublin. This years Championship looks like being one of the weakest ever with just 16 players competing, only 4 of whom are rated over 2000. The average rating of the participants is 1946. As I pointed out in a post last year the Irish Championship has been more or less in decline for some time now so this year is just a particularly stark example of a trend that’s been apparent for years.

Irish Championships of 30 or 40 years ago read like a who’s who of Irish chess whereas nowadays for whatever reason many of Ireland’s top players participate rarely if at all. Just 2 of the top 20 active players on the current FIDE rating list are playing the 2016 event. I guess that won’t matter too much to whoever wins it though! Standings and live games are available at the Irish Chess Union website.

July 1, 2016

Munster Chess Union AGM

The Annual General Meeting of the Munster Chess Union takes place in the Charleville Park Hotel on Sunday 24th July at 8pm. Committee nominations and motions should be submitted to the secretary by 17th July for publication on the Munster Chess Union website.

June 23, 2016

Collins wins Bray Rapid

Bray has been a happy hunting ground for Sam Collins of late. He won the Irish Rapidplay and Irish Blitz Championships  there earlier this year. Last Sunday he won the Bray Rapidplay Championships. A strong event it was too with a number of IMs and FMs taking part although the overall number of players was down on previous years. Mark Quinn and Gavin Wall tied in 2nd-3rd place. Full results are available at the Irish Chess Union website. Prizewinners below.

1st Sam Collins
2nd/3rd Mark Quinn & Gavin Wall

Grading Prizes
U1900: Luke Scott
U1700: Robbie Kildea
U1200: and Tom Clarke Trophy: Peter Carroll

Best Lady: Dayna Ferguson

June 20, 2016

Irish Chess Championships 2016

The Irish Chess Championships 2016 takes place in the Quad Room in UCD from the 2nd July to the 10th July . As usual there are also intermediate and junior events running  as well as a weekender.Full details are available on the Irish Chess Union website.

June 14, 2016

Lydiard wins Galway Rapidplay

English visitor Robert Lydiard won the Galway Rapidplay last Saturday on a score of 6.5 from 7. Trinitys Stephen Moran finished second on 5.5. Third place was shared between Philip Short, Manual Cabanas Jimenez, Karol Marzec and Denis Ruchko. Full results are available at the Galway Chess website.


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