This first big “country weekender” competition of the season took place this past weekend in the Salthill Hotel in Galway. A 5 strong group of Rathmines Juniors (Scott Mulligan, Michael Higgins, Fiachra Scallan, Oscar Twomey and Alex Mulligan) along with our good friends Ross Beatty and Jim O Reilly from Shankhill headed to Galway for the weekends chess, with four of the dads also partaking.
Scott and Michael entered into the major section, whilst Fiachra, Oscar and Alex were in the minor Section.
It was the first time for Scott and Michael to play in one of the higher sections at a weekender, and Galway is a very difficult place to do so, as the “middle” section has a ratings band of 1200 – 1799, unlike most other weekenders which would have a 1200-1499 and a 1500 to 1799 section. Scott set the tone for the weekend for everybody straight off the bat on Friday evening with a very impressive victory over a 1600+ rated player. He then followed this with a draw with a very high 1500+ player on Saturday morning en route to an excellent 3/6 score for the weekend. Michael was out-rated in all his matches as well but played strongly all weekend, and came away with a victory over fellow Irish Squad player Ross in a 3 hour marathon on Saturday. For the dads in the competition, both Paul and I, there was a huge feeling of relief when the final round draw came out, and we realised we had managed to get through the weekend without playing either of the boys.
The Minor section (under 1200 rating) proved to be very successful for Rathmines Juniors, with Fiachra putting in a very strong performance throughout the weekend. By Sunday afternoon, Fiachra had worked his way up to board 1, but had a very difficult last match, against the very experienced Richard Walsh of Inchicore Chess club, who we know very well from our Leinster matches in the Bodley cup last season. After three hours of very tight chess there was very little between them, and Fiachra managed to close out a hard found victory with just 2 minutes left on each players clock (the time control for the tournament added back 10 seconds per move, which lead to a cliffhanger of a finish), this left Fiachra is joint first place for the weekend with Christopher Murphy of UL, on a score of 5/6.Fiachra with GM Alexander Baburin.
It was Oscars first time playing in a full weekender tournament and he got plenty of experience from the weekend, with a solid win on Sunday as well to finish on 2points whilst Alex seemed to have a series of very challenging matches but came out of the weekend with a score of 1.0
The next big weekender tournament is the Kilkenny congress at the end of November, whilst the second round of Leinster Senior League matches take place this week.