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Irish Junior Chess Championships
The Irish Junior Championships were held over the weekend in the Auburn Lodge Hotel in Ennis which was an excellent venue. The event was extremely well organised by Connie Danaher. There has been a trend towards lower numbers at chess competitions this year but that wasn't the case in Ennis as, thanks to a lot of hard work from Connie and her team, over 160 entrants meant there was a significant increase on last year. Then event was officially opened on Friday evening by Mayor of County Clare Tony Mulcahy.
This was the first time that an Under 6 competition was attempted. Who said the Irish Chess Union are not risk takers! This section was admirably handled by Shirley Flynn and attracted six young chess players. Shirley stated that this section was "highly entertaining" and was won by Paul McNamara with Hannah Hassett second. Third was Jack O'Connor. Best girl was Grace Whelan.
There were 16 players here and again Shirley Flynn was in charge. Gavin Melaugh was last years winner and made no mistake with 6 points. Second was Cian Wall and third on a tie break was Thomas Power. Best girl was Victoria Fennell. Again, as last year the standard of chess was noticably very high. Crosstable.
There were 32 players in this section. Top seed Jeffrey Alfred and former Under 8 winner Shane Melaugh made the early running and they met in round 4 with victory going to Jeffrey. He didn't look back and came first on the full six points. Second was Shane Melaugh and third was Conor McDonogh. Top girl was Eibhia Ni Mhuireagain. Crosstable.
This were 32 entrants in this section. The top three seeds made no mistakes in the opening rounds. In round 4 Number two seed Conor O'Donnell was paired with Billy McKenna and a draw here saw number one seed Eoin Minnock take advantage with a win over Megan Bateman to go half a point clear. Round 5 saw Eoin and Conor drawing on board one and with Billy winning on board 2 it was Billy against Eoin on board one on 4.5 points with six players on 4 points. In a tight game Eoin emerged the winner in a time scramble. Second was Catherine Hearne and third was Conor O'Donnell. Best girl was Megan Bateman. Crosstable.
This section had 22 players, Round five saw top seeds Richard Flynn and Liam Murphy drawn together with a win for Liam. The final round saw Liam and Sean Guinan playing each other with both players a full point ahead of the chasing pack. The game ended a draw with Liam taking the title on a tie break. Sean Guinan second and Tiernan Gorman third on a tie break from Sean Fitzpatrick. Best girl was Eimear Weeks. Crosstable.
A total of 21 players competed in this section. Round one went with the seedings. In round 2 Sarah Jane Hearne held Hugh Doyle to a draw. In round 4 Ashley Campion and Hugh Doyle were, as usual in any competition they both enter, drawn against each other and a draw was the result. Hugh had another draw in round 5 against Aravind Menon which left Aravind with a half point advantage over relative newcomer,Keegan O'Mahoney from Cork who was having a fine tournament. A draw was enough for Aravind in his final game against Killian Long. First place Aravind Menon on 5 points, second on a tie break Ashley Campion with Oissine Murphy playing up from Under 14 in third. Best girl was Sarah Jane Hearne. Crosstable.
For the first time in a few years it was possible to run a seperate Under 19 competition. There were four entrants and so it was an all play all format. Ryan-Rhys Griffith held a 600 point advantage and was in fine form having just returned from San Sebastian, where he had a good tournament winning against an IM and drawing with a GM. Jamie Flynn however, managed to hold Ryan-Rhys to a draw in round 5. In fact the position looked favourable for Jamie, even winning. The final result went with the seedings with Ryan-Rhys on 5.5 points with Jamie second and Leon Hulleman third. Crosstable.
Champions all - photo (L to R) Peter McNamara, Gavin Melaugh, Jeffery Alfred, Eoin Minnock, Liam Murphy, Arivind Menon and Ryan Rhys Griffiths. Minister of Defence, Mr. Tony Killeen (behind) presented the prizes.
A parents competition was held on Saturday. Some juniors were delighted to see their parents grappling with the chess board and the winner was Gabriel Mirza who hopefully enjoyed his first place prize of dinner in the Auburn Lodge.
As was stated earlier the organisation was excellent and as well as the chess there was many other activities laid on including face painting by a clown - one of the parents! Possibly not the first time there has been clowning around at a chess event, a variety show on saturday night, an Art competition and the aforementioned Parents Chess competition. We were also graced by Daithi O'Dronai's fiddle playing and the All Ireland Talent Show contestant was a big hit.
Many thanks to the sponsors, Clare County Council, Kilrush Credit Union, Munster Chess Union, ESB Moneypoint, Roche Ireland, Shannon Ferry Ltd, Clare Spring Water and the Auburn Lodge Hotel. After much great defensive chess playing it was appropriate that he prize-giving was by Minister for Defense Tony Kileen TD. The controller for the event was Gerry Graham who did an exellent job.