Chess News and Gossip

Corruption ! What corruption ?

Well it wasn’t as if they weren’t warned that such a contemptible and disgusting effort to ensure a voting block majority would have ramifications long into the future for local chess but specifically for the health and well being of the Union itself.

 Alas good advice is treated by the UCU board as something similar to a contagious virus, something to be avoided at all costs and only approached with masks, gloves and a ten foot barge pole soaked in Dettol. Who on earth would have thought that the UCU board was populated with avid admirers of the hypnotic Oscar Wilde?  Thus like true sycophants adhered to his rasping wit when he once scribed in his play An Ideal Husband   “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.”  Somehow I just constantly fail, no matter how hard I try and believe me I have tried, to envisage our board as an enlightened gathering of Oscarites.

Now I’m not saying our esteemed board are a collective of knuckle dragging monosyllabic cretins devoid of understanding, decency and a sense of fairness. No I would never paint such a stark black and white picture like that, well at least not while they can do it themselves so frequently and so clearly in High Definition technicoloured splendour fit for a 75 inch LCD smart TV. Aside from that, sure I could find myself in front of a kangaroo court of their much vaulted and utterly ridiculed COCC (code of conduct committee)

If ever the phrase “not fit for purpose” was an accurate assessment of a functioning utility, then two examples spring to mind, one would be our local chess COCC quango the other would be an industrial estate in Mariupol.

mauripol industrial

Having a functioning COCC is essential for whenever those unexpected issues arise from time to time or during the Covid pandemic every flipping week. These issues were not unexpected. One didn’t have to be Mystic Meg to know that playing on-line formats were such an open invitation to cheat it would be seen by some as less of an invitation and more of an obligation.

Any decent COCC should work in private and out of public view however its personnel arrivals and departures and where they fit in the structures should be open and transparent. Alas the only openness that can be found in the UCU is in a dictionary and ironically it comes between Obdurate and Opposition. The comings and goings, in for an hour and gone again afterwards was head spinning, literally the Conservative party leadership has nothing on us. For all its concerns for rules and regulations it had absolutely zero concern when it came to getting decisions it desired. The bending of rules were for sissies our COCC just smashed them to smithereens. We had people giving verdicts before evidence was presented or looked at, we had dishonesty bordering on an industrial scale and we had the selection of people to bring back the wanted result. Thing became so bizarre that we had people who were not even members of the UCU board sitting on these committees because they could be guaranteed to deliver the desired result.  However the gold medal for insanity was hung around the neck of a COCC member who not only wasn’t a UCU board member but in actual fact wasn’t even a member of the UCU

For many observers the conflict of interest in some cases was so staggering and the refusal by certain elements not to recuse themselves so breathtaking, that it had indeed spiralled down into a Kangaroo court. Perhaps if the word committee was replaced with the word kangaroo then at least we would have an acronym that properly suited it.

kangaroo 1

We’re giving away honorary membership for life without it being discussed at the AGM so that it can be challenged or supported by the membership. Many icons of Ulster Chess went through this ratification process, players who had played for 40 years, had played in the British championships, were the highest rated UCU player and were members of the UCU board for decades. People who had given up weekend after weekend to control tournaments for the UCU members and ran the league year in year out.

Now the opportunity for ratification is banned according to the current UCU board and you only need to have been a paid UCU member for 1 year. If you controlled zero tournaments or leagues and in actual fact openly promote your desire to see the end of the UCU itself well hell that’s no problem. Just so long as you can deliver block votes for the clique that currently bullies it way through rules and regulations in its quest for totalitarianism.


We’re currently on a race to disintegration and at the speed we’re going we’re obviously taking steroids to get us there faster. But hell sure cheating is all the rage these days.

ben johnston


New Season

New Season Starting … well maybe, possibly, possibly not. The photo for those of a keen mind and eye gives a little insight.


Belfast v Berlin

It’ll be a long Good Friday for myself tomorrow airport 6am on site for 8.30am not stopping for lunch so I can finish for 2pm then rush down to the Europa hotel to set up in the Dublin room to control a junior clash between Belfast and Berlin at 3pm. Berlin junior chess is touring Ireland and we have arranged a match up of juniors over 15 boards kindly sponsored by the Europa hotel.

The live cam and live boards will be operational for those who can’t make it down, those than can we will be in the Dublin rooms from 3-6pm hope to see you there I’ll be the one snoring in the corner!


Ballynafeigh completed an impressive league championship double on Monday evening when Ballynafeigh 1 conjured up an amazing 5-0 score-line against the Queens University team at the Ormeau road venue to lift the Silver King. They joined their sister team of Ballynafeigh 3 led by Ross Harris who had already captured the division two title the week previous.

Before last night final show down Ballynafeigh 1 had to out score the consistently strong ultra tough Muldoon’s team who were playing simultaneously on the other side of the Lagan at Belfast South. Ballynafeigh’s task became all the tougher when their board 1 David Houston booked a holiday in Spain several weeks previous when he thought the title was already in the bag, well before the Mallaghan turbo charged skulduggery changed everything.

To compound Ballynafeigh’s troubles Belfast South threw Muldoon’s a gargantuan bone by playing a team with No Ray Devenney, No John McKenna, No Bruce MacLean and No John Bryars! Ballynafeigh looked to have been well and truly screwed. Whether it was by accident or design is a question for another day as only time and a forensic accounting of bank transfers from Mallaghan will shine a light on that mystery, but either way the tongues were wagging and the name calling had already begun on the Ormeau!

The baying pack from Muldoon’s must have been licking their chops at the prospect but the Belfast South reserves come dog-wardens were determined to put a muzzle on them. Graeme McCormick held Gareth Annesley to a draw and Richard Gould completely neutered Mallaghan with an impressive victory. Muldoon’s other wolves of Pilkiewicz, Woods and Morgan managed to show their teeth and they won the remaining games to take the victory 3.5 to 1.5 this meant Ballynafeigh had to win 4-1 or better to lift the title.

Ross Harris got the ball rolling with a win against Ben Campbell on board 5 and up on board 1 Steve Scannell was pulling and stretching Steven Rush until his defence snapped making it 2-0 to Ballynafeigh John Bradley eventually wore down Rian Mellotte to make it 3-0 for Ballynafeigh with the remaining two games Cunningham versus Ormerod and Lavery versus Woodfield to close to call. At this stage the Ballynafeigh players did not know the score in the other match, nor the target they needed. Before hand all players were instructed that it was wins only and that the only draws acceptable were when only two kings were left on the board, even at that they were instructed to play on a few moves in case their opponent fortuitously collapsed with a heart attack!

We were probably clutching at straws with that one as they are all young and fit and we are all old and fat but desperate times and all that make hope and rational share the odd bed occasionally. Cunningham wriggled his way out of a dodgy position to stand the much better, on the other board Lavery out blitzed Ian Woodfield in a Queen and pawn v Queen endgame to takes us to 4-0 and Callum Omerod resigned to conclude the whitewash 5-0 just at that the Muldoon’s players arrived at the venue and couldn’t believe the score which to be fair at the time was only sinking into us. They were very sporting in defeat … well except for the skulduggery maestro Danny Mallaghan who was as sick as a Brexit remain voter after the result. They brought the Silver King with them a heavily tarnished King would be a more apt description so confident that they would be taking it home with them again the hallions hadn’t bothered their arse to clean it!

Four of the Ballynafeigh 1 team L-R Scannell Lavery Cunningham Bradley with a very grubby Silver King

A great finale to a brilliant season that swung to and forth with a hearty thank you to everyone who played and a special hat-tip going to Ballynafeigh 2 for holding Muldoon’s to a draw to give their club mates a fighting chance.

Damien Lavery showing sympath for Muldoon’s on hearing their score

Pat McKillen of Muldoons hands over the Silver King to Damien Cunningham of Ballynafeigh

This is how it looks now though not with the poinsettia


Dead Level at the Top

Hi folks it’s been a while since I last posted some sort of update, gossip, historical inaccuracy or absolute slanderous lie about some deserving cretinous mouth breather from somewhere in the chess world. Today we have to look no further that infamous ‘playboy of the western world’ Danny Mallaghan the wannabe captain and pseudo czar of Muldoon. The keep fit fanatic is famed for living life in the fast lane, so fast his hair couldn’t keep up and he ended up with a dome like a solar panel. However that said a shinny head is no compensation for a darkened heart and Mallaghan’s heart and thoughts are so dark they come with their own event horizon.

With three league matches to go the ‘Phil Hellmuth’ of Ulster chess was bombarding Ballynafeigh’s opponents with begging texts and emails encouraging them to field their strongest possible team, the encouragement soon turned to bribes with invites to Mallaghan’s poker grotto, those not of a gambling disposition were soon adorned with the traditional reference to darkened alleyways. Rather ironic considering that when they played Mallaghan’s minions these very same opponents fielded a team weaker than the Sunderland subs bench, but hey apparently that’s considered fair in the warped view of the chancer supreme.

Neck and neck with Ballynafeigh 1 all season Muldoon’s 1 faced the Ormeau road men in the penultimate match of the season tied on 71pts each and this provided a golden opportunity for Mallaghan to let his pent-up Machiavellian juices flow. Hours before the game was to commence there was a venue switch from the Muldoon’s team. Danny volunteered himself to be communications officer for the day and informed the Ballynafeigh team by email. Now I for one don’t have the time or the inclination to rummage through my email sorting out the real stuff from the real Russian chicks.  From help I need your bank account to give you $37,000,000 dollars from a dead account that nobody knew about to help I don’t understand archaic UCU rules that can take on different meanings depending on whether or not the consumption of alcohol is involved. That said this means of communication whilst not as efficient as a text or as verbally certain as a phone call was still vastly more preferential than Mallaghan’s first two choices of correspondence, a letter with a second class stamp or an advert in the second hand washing machine section on Gumtree!

Danny was so helpful with the road signs

The affable rogue pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Ballynafeigh team could safely negotiate their way to the venue and to be fair to him he went down and put a direction sign for those of us driving that perhaps were unsure of the way.

John Bradley didn’t have his phone with him he chose to leave it behind because Mallaghan rang it a dozen times during the previous night’s replay of a postponed match against Queens in the hope of disqualifying him. Thankfully John had it on silent that night but in this league decider he took no chances and left it at home on the other side of Belfast. The horrible thing was John was at Muldoon’s bar but there were only painters there as it was closed for refurbishment hence the venue change. He stayed there for a while and then headed of to Ballynafeigh expecting a straight switch; in the meantime Damien Lavery decided that he should drive to Muldoon’s bar to see if John Bradley was there. That sounds like a rational thing to do except there is noting rational about Damien Lavery’s driving, he has on several occasions been overtaken by a hearse, on one of those occasions the hearse had an actual passenger on board. If ever your stuck in a rolling traffic block impersonating a sloth, a blockage so severe that it has learner drivers indulging in virginal road rage then it’s a sure fire certainty the electric Noddy car up front with the handbrake on is being steered by Damien Lavery.  Twenty five minutes later he arrived back empty handed with only tales of sightings of John Bradley through a hazy mist by the guys painting the bar, it was like a Sasquatch yarn out of National Geographic but to be fair to them at least they get pictures. Thankfully Bigfoot had more brains than big arse and headed to the Ballynafeigh rooms, on finding we weren’t there either he then headed back home to collect his phone to retrieve a dozen texts from your author. On hearing the messages and reading the texts the hairy ape raced to the new venue a domain of ill repute on North Queens Street.

The painters thought it was John Bradley, National Geographic thought different

John came through the doors 55 minutes late and 10 minutes beyond the default time of 45 minutes. Mallaghan was virtually orgasmic as he bubbled with glee at the results of his sinister master plan. He inferred the default time not quite having the testicular fortitude to attempt the claim hoping that perhaps we would be meek enough to agree. Mallaghan’s inference that the board 5 was defaulted was politely and gently rebuffed by the Ballynafeigh captain for the evening wearing his UCU League controller’s hat and displaying his oratory skills and a wealth of vocabulary amassed from his years of private education when he replied “What!” “What’s that?” “Not a feckin chance in hells-arse ya baldy ballix!” The Ballynafeigh captain then threatened to walk out and claim a 5-0 victory due to not receiving 24 hours notice of the change of venue if there weren’t a few necks wound in. Why speak softly and walk with a big stick when you can mouth off loudly and carry a big job title.

Better with a big job title

It worked! We all returned to the playing room with the Ballynafeigh players forfeiting time and the Muldoon’s board 5 with his neck wound in. So there was I looking at 25 minutes off my clock, Damien Lavery looking at 45 minutes off his clock, John Bradley looking at 55 minutes off his clock and Danny Mallaghan with his neck wound in looked strikingly similar to a roll on deodorant. The games commenced and Mallaghan could have done with that deodorant because he was in a major sweat as Bradley commenced to play him off the board from the start, but the pressure of lost time caused Bradley to miss the clear winning move which would have forced Mallaghan to resign. Mallaghan escaped the fright and used his ill gotten time advantage to secure a point for Muldoon’s.

Board 1 saw Houston from Ballynafeigh and Morgan from Muldoon’s share a draw, this was quickly followed by an agreed draw on board 4 when Damien Lavery’s balls fell off and he took a draw knowing his team mates on board 2 was in a double edged position and another on board 3 was down two pawns with three minutes left on his clock! A defeat would cost Ballynafeigh the league, all the players who had finished their match stared at each other in sheer disbelief. The Ballynafeigh captain managed to scrape a draw on board 3 against Gareth Annesley to leave the score line Muldoon’s 2.5pts Ballynafeigh 1.5pts with one match remaining. The last game saw Steve Scannell of Ballynafeigh with seconds left on his clock defeat Nicholas Pilkiewicz in a nicely finished endgame to draw the match.

Ballynafeigh’s board 4 leaves the others baffled

So the odyssey continues to the final matches next week where Ballynafeigh must out score Muldoon’s however Ballynafeigh will be massive underdogs as they face Queens 1 a vastly tougher assignment than their rivals who will face a weakened Belfast South team. Adding to Ballynafeigh’s woes will be that they will have to do it without their board 1 David Houston who is off to Spain to trek the 500 mile Camino trail for charity. Though suggestions that this Houston 500 attempt is to raise money so Damien Lavery can have a testicle transplant have been discarded by the man himself saying “What’s the point? Sure he’d only offer the surgeon a draw” The other worry for Ballynafeigh will be how far will the Muldoon’s poker guru go to get what he wants? Will there be funny handshakes before the Belfast South match?

Danny believes in a firm handshake,


Bunratty 2017 Rockets Con-men and Mime artists


The lift-off for the 2017 Bunratty festival of chess as usual started 237 miles away on Thursday evening in the Royal Belfast Academical Institution with the Mark Hebden thirty seat simultaneous display. The phrase lift off is an appropriate choice as we have more than a few “rockets” in the Ulster chess scene and more than the odd space-cadet had already signed up for the Bunratty extravaganza, I personally really can’t wait until we get someone with the surname Kirk captaining a chess team in Belfast, I’m gonna send him so many players it will make his head go in to warp drive, that would be one enterprise you definitely wouldn’t want to be involved with! Anyway when traffic at the airport delayed Marks check-in time and an advance phone call was made to inform the hotel of GM Hebden’s late arrival was met with the response “No sir you have no booking here” there was another simultaneous of sorts with the hitting of two roundish objects on your authors drivers side floor. Somehow the booking agent and the hotel had not been in communication or if they were their communication levels must be strikingly similar to the one if have with my bank manager, though probably with less sniggers! Or the one I have with the wife with less airborne cutlery, whose wife though is another question.

Not to be out done by a mere catastrophe me and my new mate Google swung into action, well Google did on its own I suppose as my swingers were still out of action on the car floor. After a quick pocket cash count which came to £59.42p and with a 4g phone and the aid of Google you would be surprised at just how many places you can stay in Belfast for less than £60 a night. That said, once the ones with bed-linen wildlife, absentee dole-drops and empty Buckfast bottles at the front door are eliminated you stand a better chance of finding a clean shaven drunken transvestite having a bet while eating a pork sandwich in western Mosul. So after a bit of favour pulling and a lot of general grovelling a substitute accommodation was secured for the evening. Though for Mark Hebden’s dodgy knees perhaps a room up 14 flights of stairs in a hotel with no lift should probably have taken a backseat to a ground floor dive even with the discarded cider bottles acting as skittles. However the gods of accommodation were smiling for the GM tourist and halfway through the simul his original hotel room was not only found but upgraded to the executive suite with a free bar! The beds must have been very relaxing because he had to be dragged screaming and kicking from the place the next morning, he really didn’t want to leave at all! So I reckon the beds must have been very comfy indeed.

Mark working up an appetite for the free unlimited mini-bar

Mark working up an appetite for the free unlimited mini-bar

The tug-o-war was eventually won and it only took three of us, Mark was dragged sobbing into the car for the 237 mile 3½ hour drive to Bunratty, though if you don’t stop for lunch and driving at a decent rate you can clip this to 3 hours dead. However that said when you’re lumbered with the driving Miss Daisy brigade who had themselves visibly contorted in double brace position every time you hit third gear and also wanted to stop every two hundred yards to support the black market economy by incinerating counterfeit tobacco well lets just say your ETA is going to be stretched longer than a Strabane dole queue. Adding to that was a probable water contamination in the fuel as we were forced to slow down to 90mph on the motorway then 80mph before having to settle on coming out of 6th gear altogether and just cruising there in 5th at 75mph, well at least the Miss Daisy’s got to open their eyes and shed their collective lock-jawed grimace for a while. They whined and gurned that much about how it wasn’t technically illegal to drive at 40mph on the motorway and how they even knew some people who drove at 30mph that we drove right past the Sprucefield turn off and didn’t realise until we were picking apples in Armagh twenty five miles later.


Pulling into the hotel car park in Bunratty was such a relief it was like getting a not guilty verdict from a murder jury… well unless you’d killed Jedward and were looking the recognition and kudos for it. But astonishingly that’s where the easy stuff stopped and the downers came smashing through the door with hob-nailed boots with steel toe-caps. What room am I in? Who am I staying with? Do they smoke? Do they drink? Where do I pay? Who do I pay? Where is the cash machine? Where is my cottage? What number is my cottage? There are two of us and there are two beds in our room, is that one each? How will I find my cottage in the dark? There are four of us in our cottage but only two sets of keys, how will we work that? Does the restaurant sell food? Will they take Euros or do I have to pay for my room in Sterling? What if I get locked out and I don’t have a key? Does the lift go up to the top floor? When is the next round if I take a bye? Did you see my phone before I lost it? The list of inane and sometimes unanswerable if not completely mind boggling questions was relentless, by the end of the Saturday night other people were starting to call me Tom Cruise. Now my ego can be massaged as much as the next mans but I really couldn’t agree with that likeness at all, because I’m much taller and infinitely more handsome than Tom Cruise. He also has millions and I’m totally skint! He has beautiful women as companions and I have Dennis Thorpe, does that not show how ridiculous the comparison was? It was then pointed out that the Tom Cruise similarity was in reference to the movie Rain Man only I had nearly half a dozen Dustin Hoffman’s to look after.

I'm way better looking that Tom Cruise

I’m way better looking that Tom Cruise

I borrowed €50 euro of my club buddy Dennis Thorpe on the Friday afternoon though why I can’t remember but what I do remember is that Dennis then set about demonstrating his flim-flam artistry with all the honed skill of the consummate perfectionist. By the time he’d finished wiping my eye I didn’t know whether I paid him back €200 €300 or €350 but still owed him another €50. we got back on Monday afternoon about 3pm and he had debt collectors at my door by 5pm, I thought he had done very well out of our trip until I heard about another blood sucking vampire who shall remain nameless that brought down two other Belfast players both with more than a passing touch of dementia, taking advantage from short term memory loss he got his petrol money starting off in Belfast, then at Lisburn they offered him the petrol money again! Then again at Banbridge, Newry, Dundalk, Balbriggan, and Dublin allegedly they hit the cash machines so many times that the Garda started following them, right into the hotel car park in Bunratty thinking they were ATM scammers. They went down in a clapped out Citroen and came home in a Vauxhall insignia! I’d wager one of the €50 Dennis stroked me for that flim-flam Thorpe was greener than a New York pint on St Patrick’s Day with envy when he heard that story.

The Flim-flam man Dennis Thorpe

The Flim-flam man Dennis Thorpe

The Adonis of Munster Paul Carey watched a bit of the Thorpe patter as he fleeced his victim and decided he’d better get his hand out for the shekels before there was nothing left. Standing guard at the grassy knoll to the major venue there was no escaping him, even more so as he was in disguise this year. Out went the famed pastels and earthy ochre’s that normally camouflage his teddy bear physique instead a more sombre official front was presented for the masses after intervention from Gerry ‘Stalin’ who took exception to non FIDE dress codes stating “Though there is no official arbiters dress code yet, I don’t regard it as appropriate for Paul to run about as the Bunratty version of Gok Wan so I decided to pull rank” Carey slightly irked at having to adorn clothing that he considered normally found following a hearse decided to indulge in a symbolic rebellion to the rule of ‘Stalin’ when he wore personalised socks with names Paul and Carey, probably so he could tell the difference between left and right. Ted Jennings who is traditionally as serious as a stroke did his bit for the cause also when he broke with tradition and smiled … but only the once mind he had to be careful just in case he ended up making a bit of a habit out of it. Brian Scully the Limerick “Grizzly Adams” was quick to get Ted back in the fold by reminding him of the FIDE Arbiters guide book for tournaments section 3c (vii) Arbiters are expected to preserve a stoic façade at all times in the playing venue or sub-venue spaces. Any exemption to 3c (vii) must be in relation to 3d (iii) Viewing an attempt to register by Colm.

Ted (smiler) Jennings

Ted (smiler) Jennings

Brian Scowler caught impersonating Brian Scully

Brian Scowler caught impersonating Brian Scully

After the Friday night games were finished there was an even balance in the scores for the Northern contingent half were sober half weren’t! As far as the chess went we were off to a plus score though Calum Leitch Karina Kruk and the mouth of Ballynafeigh were hell bent on ensuring that trend was checked as soon as possible. As the evening progressed the spoilsports rushed of to their houses and hotel rooms to book up for the next day and to make Skype calls with their stay at home coaches. The less inhibited more exuberant clan led by Calum Leitch on his Bunratty swansong laid siege to the bar with Dennis Thorpe in the vanguard buying drinks for everyone with my €50 euro. Calum will be taking a sabbatical from all chess matters while he trains for his semi-professional debut in the MMA light pin-weight division next year in Dublin. Martin Kelly offered his services as Calum’s ring man but when informed that it should be a corner man he replied “Yes one of those could be handy too”! Calum works as a professional odds calculator for a local bookmaker and I sensed a chance to make a few quid to pay for next years Bunratty but he wouldn’t lay me 6/4 that he would go down by the second round. Though I imagine that if Kelly had his way he’d be going down a lot quicker than that!

The Saturday morning started well for the northern contingent too with plenty of wins across the board a handful of draws and only the odd Japanese WWII fighter plane. This carried on through the afternoon session as the tourists moved into challenging positions in all the sections that Nigel Short wasn’t allowed into. David Houston was so smug with his score in the Masters that he took a travelling bye in round 4 to watch the rugby on the TV in the bar where he was joined by other like minded if somewhat less skilled souls from the challenger section. After the rugger a few of us headed to Durty Nellies for something to eat gazing through the vastly reduced menu with the greatly increased price due to popularity was a bit of a shock, but then Calum Leitch phoned to relay the news that Dennis Thorpe had taken a heart attack! I jumped up and headed straight for the hotel different thoughts running through my head like could I pretend to do CPR and slip my €50 euro out of his shirt pocket? If he’s dead would anyone stop me from slipping his wallet under my coat? Alas it wasn’t to be, halfway up the hill that arse Leitch rang back laughing, it was only a wind up and that I “could breath a sigh of relief” What sigh of relief, why? How could I possibly feel relieved when Dennis was alive and well and still had my €50 euro? I returned to Durty Nellies and gathered Housty who was nearly half asleep listening to Damien Lavery drone on about … um .. err..  Actually we don’t know what he drones on about because nobody ever listens for long enough to find out. So we bailed out and headed over to the creamery for food instead with Damien Lavery in tow scanning court postings for an appeal hearing in Dublin he’s been following or Youtube for videos of well endowed men, which one of those interests had him more excited is open to debate. While ordering our food Ali-Babba Thorpe came in to join us, “there’s only one seat left Dennis” I said before adding “but don’t worry, sure your forty mates can sit outside”. That one didn’t whizz over his head giving him a haircut, he got the point. So there he was sitting with a face like a haunted shovel running thoughts otherwise known as scams through his head faster than Mark Hebden can clear a hotel mini-bar it may have been his attempt to address the insult but in fact would only reinforce the perception. When the bill came his share was €28 euro but claimed he only had sterling and left £20 in the middle, at that point I realised we was zugzwanged afterwards when he had the brass neck to take €2 change from the middle I knew we were horse-swaggled instead.

No CPR required unfortunately

No CPR required unfortunately

Saturday night is always good craic in the hotel as players are on the home stretch, those in contention playing over their victories for other to sit in awe at and those like the lads from Queens some of who were just in awe of themselves! Saturday is for the serious entertainers and to be fair some of the Queens guys were found wanting except for Jasper Ramsey I honestly don’t know if Jasper is a chess-aholic who like alcohol or an alcoholic who like chess! Not long after the diddly-dee music started with a few of the gang breaking out the strings and pipes, this gathered the odd adoring fan but to be fair they were kinda four sheets to the wind at that stage and if they weren’t they bloody well should have been because it made Water-boarding look like a pastime for softies. One humorous side note if such a thing is possible in a folk session was when a Marcel Marceau impressionist joined them to play, he had an instrument but it made no noise as he just mimed, bizarre does not come close. The evening did not progress well when UCU treasurer Paul’s-Friend approached to inform me that we got fleeced for our rented houses with much more than agreed was withdrawn from the account, he has another name it’s Adrian but nobody seemed to ask or care he has become known as Paul’s friend, because for some reason everyone like that little bollix Anderson.

Paul's friend

Paul’s friend

Speaking of the bollix himself he pulled me to one side and demonstrated his Irish dancing “when you have no arms or legs it’s all about the face” he said before giving me a full demonstration with graphic face movement normally associated with people who have had one valium too many. Then both he and I laughed, one hotel guest who witnessed the exchanged from afar and seemed to be in awe of him called me to one side. Unhealthily interested in all things Paul she asked “was he telling jokes to you”? To which I honestly replied without thinking “No that was him doing a bit of Irish dancing” The look of disgust on her face directed at me was palpable but the more irate she got the more I giggled then she stormed off to report me to the reception her husband and the Guards in that order, if I passed by her table on the way to the lounge there was an audible snorting and indignant sighs. I was going to point her out to Paul but thought better of it because the bugger would make a bee-line over to her company to tell her how I abuse him all the time and make fun of him at every opportunity then he’d wheel off into the distance and grin at me from the other side of the room because the hateful wee bollix would think that was great craic!

When not avoiding Mrs horrified or the Guards your scribe played hide and seek for the rest of Saturday evening. I would try and hide and the Dustin Hoffman’s would do their damndest to seek me out no matter where I was. Their combined intellect is spread thinner than graphene, their grasp of understanding less visible that the Higgs-boson but their combined efforts through brute force put me on a deep personal downward spiral. If it hadn’t have been for Ivan Baburin it would rapidly have approached Leonard Cohen and razor blade time. Ivan Barburin what can you say about big Ivan … I’ll tell you …what a complete bastard! There we were rid of the Dustin Hoffman’s for the first time, through a bottle or two of wine, well into the pints, and the craic was mighty. Then big Ivan giggles, sits up and shows us a diabolical rook and pawn study at 3am while we’re blocked! The chess player’s equivalent of pulling finger nails out. At 4.45am I went to bed with my head absolutely stonked into oblivion and I hadn’t even a Hoffman to blame. Jasper Ramsey kindly showed me the answer that Ivan gave him before he left laughing at the carnage he’d caused, but it was no good I’d forgotten the answer before I got to my room and sat with a bottle of wine as a study mate trying to solve it on my computer stupidly forgetting that I had a chess engine on the laptop, after an hour and a fair aul’ whack of the bottle later I gave up in dismay.

Getting ready for Ivans 2018 puzzle

Getting ready for Ivans 2018 puzzle

In the world of the Belfast tourist in Bunratty Sunday morning always seems to arrive long before the Saturday is really finished. It was certainly the case for Ali-Babba Thorpe the flim-flan artist in room 201 as not only did he miss breakfast but he missed the round as well. However he wasn’t alone Bunratty’s resident Sunday morning defaulter Calum Leitch did his traditional round 5 disappearing act but at least he had the experience to seek out the controllers to inform them he was still around, Ali-Babba forgot to and ended up double defaulted in round 6 which just pleased him no end. Richard Gould took a jaunt down from Belfast to watch the final rounds where several of the tourists were in serious contention in all sections and also for a crack at the evening fun blitz. Ballynafeigh’s Mikhail Pavlov after very solid opening rounds had a really interesting game against Diane Mirza which he executed in style pitching him against Don Short in the final round where victory would win him the title and a crack at the Masters next year.

Mikhail getting a few prayers in before Bunratty

Mikhail getting a few prayers in before Bunratty

The Short-Pavlov clash was flamboyant from both players and definitely not for the faint of heart, Mikhail won out in the end to bring the cash, pride, rating points and title back to Ballynafeigh. We had hoped for a celebratory opera display but Mikhail had brought his boss with him and she was having none of it and whisked him off elsewhere for the remainder. Well at least Marcel Marceau wouldn’t be lip syncing behind him so perhaps a little bit of a silver lining came our way in that disappointment. The tourists lifted four other grading and place prizes, they were Daniil Zelenchuck John Phillips, Tyrone Winters and Rian Mellotte with a swath of others scoring 4 and 4 ½ in their sections and Housty scoring an impressive 3 ½ in the Masters section with one of his games featuring as the Times chess puzzle in the Raymond Keene Bunratty week. So Monday lunchtime we piled into our cars, buses and upgraded insignia’s and headed back to the black north and unfortunately we all made it home safely … the mime artists, the flim-flam man, the Irish dancers in wheelchairs, the driving Miss Daisy’s and the Dustin Hoffman’s … Christ there really is no justice in this world is there? I must have been Attila the Hun in a previous life! The only joy from the return leg was apparently an upgraded insignia drove around for six hours as his passengers tried to remember where they lived!


Bunratty Tours

With only one week left to go before the Belfast caravan to Bunratty could anyone not already sorted with transport either text the gossip desk or make contact with yer man …. or start walking now as its a fair ‘aul’ way.

With sixteen cars and two vans going there should be a seat for you somewhere, caterering for smokers or non smokers, chatty types or silent types, boy racers or driving Miss Daisy we can arrange a place somewhere next Friday.

The festival kicks off with the Mark Hebden simul next Thursday in Belfast INST with a 7pm start and finishes next Monday at 4-6am in the Bunratty bar!


Carjacking in New York


There’s a spate of carjacking that goes on every day in New York. So it should not have been much of a surprise for the reining world chess champion and avid Mickey-mouse fan Magnus Carlsen that his prize possession was in danger, especially given that the would be bandit had not only openly planned the raid but that he has been publicising his intentions to anyone prepared to listen. The other glaring warning sign not picked up on was his name Karjakin … Carlsen is now desperately chasing after his adversary in Lower Manhattan in an attempt to get his possessions back before Karjakin leaves him looking more like Goofy!

Magnus Carlsen falls victim to a Karjakin

Magnus Carlsen falls victim to a Karjakin


No Goons in Muldoon’

Muldoon’s attended Ballynafeigh house last night for the rescheduled match that had been cancelled by the Candahar street team several weeks previous, they arrived and administered a humiliating spanking to Ballynafeigh 1 as punishment for the delay. Whether it was accidental delays, disrespectful arrogance or self voyeuristic tendencies is still open to debate but what isn’t is the fact that several of the Ballynafeigh players were so late they risked dancing with the forfeiture wall flower.

As the Muldoon’s squad smiled at their ticking watches and their hosts grimaced at theirs the Ballynafeigh board 1 rushed the doors twenty minutes down on the clock, but at least now the rest of the boards below him would not be disqualified. The Ballynafeigh board 3 was still absent putting his boards 4&5 in jeopardy as the clocked ticked by 25 minutes, 30 minutes, 35 minutes, eventually making his big entrance 38 minutes late just 7 minutes away from the league default time of 45 minutes or half the allotted starting time. This two legged sloth was most fortunate considering the clocks were started ten minutes later than usual which would have caused his lower ranked teammates automatic disqualification but others would argue not as fortunate as his rock solid opponent Nicholas Pilkiewicz who not only had a stress free game but forty minutes of spending money if he decided to go sightseeing in the vicinity of the black king!

International sculptor Brendan Jamison got the host off to a flyer by defeating the Muldoon’s board 5 in a swashbuckling 16 mover! Alas the rest of his teammates were not destined to be a chip of the old block sculpting or otherwise, one by one they tumbled to defeat after defeat. The Ballynafeigh board 1 Steve Scannell delayed by traffic at the start of the night was up in material but down in time, rapidly the seconds ticked by and even though he had an extra bishop he didn’t have a prayer. The Ballynafeigh board three Damien Lavery’s defeat was much more predictable, his opponent didn’t have to do anything, it was reminiscent of watching an Italian team bringing the ball into the corner and running the clock down. Calum Leitch the Ballynafeigh captain playing against Stephen Morgan and John Bradley playing board 5 against Danny Mallaghan also suffered from the dreaded effect of time pressure and Muldoon’s run up an emphatic 4-1 victory against a team obviously struggling with time management issues or nonchalant arrogance, both a recipe for severe spankings without the need for cash on the table and dark sunglasses leaving the building.

A well slapped arse for free courtesy of the dock-siders

A well slapped arse for Ballynafeigh for free, courtesy of the the team from the docks. Chris Roe must be so jealous considering the amount of money he spends for the same.


Hebden booked for Belfast Simul

Mark Hebden at the Kilkenny Masters

Mark Hebden at the Kilkenny Masters (Photo swiped from Gerry Stalin)

The 2017 Ulster Chess Union simultaneous display in February will be undertaken by GM Mark Hebden. Mark is a regular face on the Irish chess circuit has attended Kilkenny and Bunratty on many occasions but will be venturing North for the first time. The event will take place on Thursday evening 7.00pm Feb 16th the venue will as usual be RBAI halls.


Burning the midnight oil

Dennis Thorpe the Ballynafeigh 4 captain has a love affair with the Strawbridge Cup! The trophy that is presented to the captain of the division two champions is almost a family heir loom now as he seeks to place it on his mantelpiece for a fifth time. However all that success doesn’t just happen by chance. Dennis is up way into the small hours studying his book openings and going over his 60 year library of old games for upcoming opponents.

His enthusiasm for the game is infectious and his generous time giving to help develop newer visitors to the chequered boards an example to all. Which makes it all the more difficult to tell him when he’s really off form. But after Ballynafeigh 4 got an awful boot in the cloisters by QUB 2 on Tuesday night the call had to be made.


Hello! Hello! Who’s that?

It’s me Dennis .. there’s no easy way of saying this buddy but your head is in a bad place at the moment.

My head is in a bad place? …. My head …. I’m in a bad place mate! I’m wedged in a corner.

Aye that’s true Dennis you’re just sitting cold at the minute, you’ll be outta that cold spot and back in the heat of battle in no time.

What ..? I’m battling the heat now mate!

No Dennis you aren’t, you’re standing cold.

Am I hell! ….  I’m really blazing so I am! …. I’m starting to sizzle! My chess clock is melting.

No you’re not Dennis.

I bloody am!

You’re not listening to me Dennis.

You’re the one not listening mate I’m cooking here!

No Dennis you’re really wrong.

I’m not wrong I’m 100% spot on! I’m really on fire!

You’re definitely not seeing me straight here Dennis, when the fuzzy haze clears from your eyes you will see what I’m talking about. Put your last few games through a chess engine.

I’m not seeing anything mate cos it isn’t fuzzy haze its acrid smoke … My house is on FIRE! It’s not a chess engine I need …. It’s a Bloody Fire engine!

Dennis took the burning the midnight oil to a whole new level when a fragrance lamp exploded on him setting fire to his clothes, walls, curtains, carpets, chess clock and antique chess board and he ended up in hospital getting treated for burns to his hands and chest. Every cloud has a silver lining and this one had two, bandaged hands means we have an excuse for benching Dennis and we actually got a new player for the team as well.

The new vice captain for Ballynafeigh 4

The new vice captain for Ballynafeigh 4


Halloween Fright for QUB

Queens University made their first trip to Candahar Street this season to face off against the Ballynafeigh clubs second string of Ballynafeigh 2. The multi-national squad of QUB came with a tactical plan in mind sliding the very strong Sergio Sanchez of Spain down to the 3rd board leaving boards 1&2 to Ulster champion Stephen Rush from the USA and Gavin Fong from Malaysia, making a very scary line up for Ballynafeigh 2 to deal with. However it was close enough to Halloween for the Ballynafeigh squad to be prepared for scary sights and besides Ballynafeigh 3 and Ballynafeigh 7 are top loaded with personnel that resemble escapees from a set of the walking dead so every week is a fright-fest and they’re used to it by now. That said it didn’t stop several of the Ballynafeigh regulars slapping a bit of make-up on and donning a dress for the evening, though I have to say using Halloween as an excuse for this escapade was a new angle for some. The evening didn’t evolve the way the QUB men had envisaged and quickly turned into a “Nightmare on Candahar Street” for them when they were held to a draw on boards 1 where Rush was held by Pavlov, board 3 when Robert Lavery battened down the hatches against Sergio Sanchez and on board 5 where Ferris and Black agreed to share the spoils after a wild set of exchanges. On board 4 Eoin Carey of Ballynafeigh had a brilliant game cumulating in a queen sac against Ian Woodfield to guarantee the Ballynafeigh team at least a draw with one match to go, that final game went to a queen and pawn time scramble where both queens were left en prise fortunately for QUB Fong got away with it where his opponent O’Docherty didn’t and the match was shared.

The Ballynafeigh Kidz recieved goodie bags from a more handsome than normal Dennis Wilkinson

Some of the Ballynafeigh Kidz recieved goodie bags from a more handsome than normal Dennis Thorpe


Ballynafeigh 1 Jump Queens

Ballynafeigh 1 were the guests of their club siblings in the first match of the new campaign. Ballynafeigh 2 turned out their strongest team in the hope of a few upsets on the night and they gave it a fair rattle with only superior end technique or the clock pressure making the difference. Mikhail Pavlov held on for a cracking draw on board 1 and John O’Docherty tried for all he was worth but just failed to follow him on board 2.


Houston gets held by Pavlov as Leitch watches pn

Houston gets held by Pavlov as Leitch watches on


Mikhail Pavlov        ½ – ½    David Houston

John O’Docherty     0 – 1      Calum Leitch

Robert Lavery          0 – 1      Damien Cunningham

Eoin Carey               0 – 1       John Bradley

Chris Kelly              ½ – ½     Paul McNaughton

Result     1 – 4

Queen’s Display Intent

Queens University have made their intent known for the incoming season with an important victory over the reigning champions Muldoon’s. The dockside team were depleted slightly with defections to watch the Liverpool v Man United snore-fest which added to the hardened new line up of the QUB board order with the addition of John Masterson was enough to swing it the way of Queens. Tougher tests lay ahead for Queens including a double show down with Muldoon’s again, several trip hazards in the shape of Ballynafeigh 2 and Belfast South A before facing the powerhouse of Ballynafeigh 1 who have a new team that rightly deserves the tag of title favourites.

Sergio Sanchez 1/2 – 1/2  Gareth Annsley

Stephen Rush   1/2 – 1/2  Stephen Morgan

John Masterson   1 – 0  Danny Mallaghan

Callum Ormerod   0 – 1  Stephen Woods

Ian Woodfield       1 – 0   Peter Wilson

3 – 2


Kidz Klub

The Ballynafeigh Kidz-Klub will remain on the Tuesday evenings, with the expansion to seven Ballynafeigh teams the club have been forced to book the venue for 2 nights a week now to cater for demand. The childrens chess will commence at 7.00pm on Tuesdays with the adults arriving around 8.00pm

The Ballynafeigh board-babes

The Ballynafeigh babes of the board


Ballynafeigh Recruiting day

Dennis Wilkinson was the instigator in chief of the annual Ballynafeigh recruiting drive round up. This year Ballynafeigh brought in a bouncy-castle, face painters and a mini reptile park along with free food and drink in a bid to entice would be victims to enlist in the largest chess club this side of Moscow.


Just like their mother it's best to hide their faces with 50mm of paint and Polyfilla

Just like their mother it’s best to hide their faces with 50mm of paint and Polyfilla



Norman Rainey and Derek Truesdale stopped by but were sorely disappointed to discover the free drink was only cordial orange, tea or coffee, their faces were so long the artists wanted overtime rates to paint the would be gurney competitors. The free food went down well and the chess became very popular though not as popular for some as the bouncy-castle it took us two hours to get Dennis off it!

Dennis 'Rambo' Wilkinson

Dennis ‘Rambo’ Wilkinson


MacElligott tops the Ulster Championships

The 2016 Ulster Championships resided in the Europa hotel for the eighth year in a row thanks to the continued support from the Hastings group which without their generosity the Ulster Chess Union would find it unbearably difficult to acquire such a prestigious venue.

Last year we had Rory Quinn up from Ennis to claim the tournament laurels though not the title as the residency rule excluded him. This year we had the ever sprightly Gerry MacElligott zipping up the train tracks from Dublin in an attempt to repeat the feat. Joining him from the ICU was the female wing of the Uí Laighléis family with Gearóidín and Aisling and bussing it in from the hills of Donegal was Jonathon Peoples to have a crack at the Intermediate section.

The odd couple indeed , one charming, serene, majestic and full of wisdom. The other was Ray Devenney

The odd couple indeed , one charming, serene, majestic and full of wisdom. The other was Ray Devenney

Dermot Murtagh from Magherafelt made a welcome return to an Ulster chess tournament after a prolonged sabbatical and did quite well to have an even score for the tournament which included two tough draws against both the first and second placed finishers.

The Senior division came down to a three way shoot out between Gerry MacElligott former Irish Champion Ray Devenney and resident Yank the in-form Stephen Rush. Rush had a superb tournament which was just reward for two years of eating opening theory day and night but he couldn’t prevent the Gods of the tie-break from alluding him on count-back and Gerry MacElligott made it a double for the ICU raiders in the last two years following in the footsteps of Rory Quinn. Consolation for Rush was that while losing the tournament win on tie-break he till won the trophy and title of Ulster Champion under the residency rule.

MacElligott and Newman with smiles like that have to be the

MacElligott and Newman with smiles like that have to be the “Grin Reapers”

Jonathon Peoples from Donegal made it an ICU double on the day when he also claimed victory in the Intermediate section after taking 5/6 on losing to the very experienced Ian Woodfield and finishing ahead of Ballynafeigh duo of Kruk and Pavlov, the latter doing exceptionally well considering he missed a full day through prior commitments.

The Junior section was won by Dominic Gallagher after he played a double Swiss gambit with a travelling bye and a secondary non scoring bye. Fortunately for Gallagher it was a tournament where everyone kept beating everyone else and nobody built up a lead allowing him to surge through to victory.

Left to Right Senior Champion Stephen Rush, Intermediate Champion Jonathon Peoples and Junior Champion Dominic Gallagher

Left to Right Senior Champion Stephen Rush, Intermediate Champion Jonathon Peoples and Junior Champion Dominic Gallagher

Tournament winner the ever affable Gerry MacElligott

Tournament winner the ever affable Gerry MacElligott

Tournament controller Richard Gould

Tournament controller Richard Gould

The eye catching performance of the tournament by a long chalk was that of Dayna Ferguson  who still only a mere babe in arms asked to play in the Intermediate section instead of the Junior. She finished with an even score of 2 wins 2 draws and 2 loses but that doesn’t tell the full story because her two loses were to the Tournament winner Jonathon Peoples and the only man to beat Peoples Ian Woodfield. Her two draws were against Gearóidín Uí Laighléis and Robert Lavery ond one of those was a clear win blundered into a draw. So Dayna Ferguson the future star of Irish women’s chess was the talking point of another fabulous Ulster championships where the ICU guests excelled.

Robert getting out of jail with a draw against Dayna

Robert getting out of jail with a draw against Dayna

Dayna Ferguson the hottest property in Irish women's chess

Dayna Ferguson the hottest property in Irish women’s chess


Olympiad Update

News just in Ireland womens team have drawn the immensely strong team from Spain, when I said news just in I really mean 05.23am as several of the news desks contacts out in Baku forgot its four hours ahead on the clock.

Upsides is the early wake up message meant I caught the milkman … I have plenty of milk and cream in the fridge so I didn’t need to catch him but I did! Coming out of the house opposite were the guy works a nightshift in the docks. Guess my fridge is gonna be bunged with free milk cream and cheese for a very long time to come.


FIDE you’re having a laugh!

The old fish market where FIDE plans to gut the players like fish

The old fish market where FIDE plans to gut the players like fish

The World Chess Championship will be played in November in New York and the organisers had given it a three week time frame. I think the organisers should also be given a time frame, I’d say they need longer than three weeks; I think they should be given three years!

Emanuel Lasker was wrongly viewed if not accused of being a money grabber by our collective predecessors because as the best in the world he asked for substantial sums for his craft. One of the main reasons that Lasker held out so toughly for financial remuneration was he had witnessed the poverty suffered by other chess players throughout and at the end of their career. The most notable example being Steinitz who died in abject poverty in a mental institution leaving a half starved wife and children left to fend for themselves.

FIDE tell us that this years event will cost between £4,500,000 and £5,000,000 to host with the players playing for a total prize fund of £850,000 ……………… WHAT!!! Stop the bus! Hold that horse! Call the police!

This year’s event whilst being played in New York and sounding all glamorous needs some clarity brought to it for it to be viewed in context. It is being played in a shopping centre! It may have been refurbished but it is a shopping centre none the less, a former run down fish market actually. The venue is costing nothing, it is buckshee, ziltch, nadda, zero, free! FIDE need to explain to every professional chess player and interested amateurs like the rest of us wood-chucker’s where the costs are being incurred. How many arbiters and officials are they using? How many IT guys do they need for one board two laptops and a projector screen? Okay it’s the fun guesstimation time, it may be dog-rough bordering on badgers arse but I think we should still be in the same ball park so let’s do this.

Let’s say both Carlsen and Karjakin (btw that’s a name that carries a twenty year tariff in the New York criminal system if you don’t get shot) require ten hotel rooms each for their entourage for the full three weeks. I know ten is a lot but just for the argument they bring a masseur three coaches a secretary an agent a wife a mistress and a valet and they all want a room each. The cheek of it imagine a wife and a mistress not wanting to share what’s the world coming too (I can feel this post turning into a game of Cludo, I’m gonna end up with the mistress in the bathroom with a candlestick if I’m not careful) Anyway good hotel rooms in New York cost from £120 – £180 a night but for a laugh we are allowing FIDE £250 a night per room. We are allowing FIDE £100 per day per person for food, which FIDE don’t pay but for this exercise we are pretending different. We are allowing wages to all staff at £200 per day (I pay well don’t I ) and £1,000 per day for petty cash spending on snacks and drinks for the tournament hall etc. We will also crazily allow another £1,000 per day equipment hire, and another £1,000 per day limousine and taxi hire. Let’s just for fun allow £50,000 for flights, £5,000 for posters, £10,000 on giveaways like pens, key ring’s and diary’s (like FIDE would give something away right),  £5,000 for insurance and a whopping £60,000 in security (I know the centre has its own security but we are being extortionate for a reason, besides it’s New York they’re all nuts)Okay now let’s see where we are here costs wise.

Competitors 20 rooms at £250 for 21 nights = £105,000

5 Arbiters 10 Officials and 3 secretaries and 2 IT guys also = £105,000

Security £60,000

Flights £50,000

Local Transport £21,000

Petty Cash £21,000

Posters £5,000

Giveaways £10,000

Insurance £5,000

Staff wages £84,000

Equipment hire £21,000

Total Bill £487,000 we have spare change so we will throw in a lawyer to scan the contracts lets get them Perry Mason for £13,000 to round up a nice £500,000 to add to the £850,000 prize money.

So even paying extortionate fees to an incredibly heavily over staffed workforce and wining and dining them in 5 star hotels every single day and night there would still be £3.6 – £4.3 million pounds missing that Mr FIDE needs to account for. Or perhaps they wish to see world class chess players destitute again and begging for crumbs from the fortune they built!


Daly & Co Rebuked Again!

The members of the Irish Chess Union who gave up their Sunday down time to trudge to a hotel to defend the integrity of their union are to be commended for their actions. We in our cocooned little community like to revel in the pseudo aura of intelligence pragmatism and passiveness that historically has been associated with chess and chess players. Unfortunately the chess community on this island is not destined to be a mirror image of its public façade. We are, always have been and hopefully always will be a microcosm of our society and wider human evolution.

Being a carbon copy of average society in miniature form means we also have our share of malcontents who just as in the wider society are capable of causing difficulties for no other reason other than their incredible ability to do just exactly that. As was the case with the latest Irish Chess Union EGM, allegedly called after the selection of the Olympiad team to protest the selection process. The unexplained delay in tabling the motion seems to offer substance to those convinced that the reasoning behind the EGM was a red herring. Then stories circulated that a sizeable chunk of the names required for the EGM were not enthusiastically supportive of the motion but rather signed as an expedient way of relieving themselves of the heavy sales pitch by the main instigators.

However the real intention of the EGM even for those in doubt became apparent at the meeting when a chief protagonist Colm Daly tried to attach an amendment to his own motion, the very same motion that took so long to conceive and table to ensure it was correct! The amendment brought crystal clarity to the reasoning behind the EGM, its invention was and only ever was, to removed Jonathan O’Connor as the Irish team captain. Daly’s unyielding hatred of the former ICU chairman was laid bare once more for all to see. Though surprisingly twelve other members at the meeting failed to notice this and still voted with him after his own amendment was ruled unacceptable by the chairman. Those members who sided with Daly seriously need to remember that loyalty is no substitute for truth. They could do worse than revisit their actions and ask what they hoped to achieve for Irish chess by blindly following the most disruptive element in the history of chess in Ireland.

The irresponsible impulsive malcontent Mr Daly has a chess CV garnished with manufactured problems and unnecessary friction with individuals or groups of individuals whom he has declared not worthy of his respect. He has historically surrounded himself with anyone with a gripe irrespective if that gripe is founded or not! Mr Daly has cleverly used these people for his own ends; traditionally his main tactic is currying favour by heaping praise Ad nauseam on anyone whom he regards as useful or friendly. Anyone in doubt of this only has to pay a fleeting visit to his blog ramblings or Facebook scribbles to observe smoke going up people’s arses on a regular basis. Daly will also deflect criticism of himself by insisting the critic is attacking one of his inner circle or ‘special friends’ when no such critique or even passing slight was ever made. This scenario has happened again and again as he desperately tries to create a pseudo comradeship or bond, one that no doubt can be dissolved when it’s no longer beneficial to maintain. Strangely he had amassed a tiny but loud band of followers who can see no wrong in him and are happy to be seen in his company, why is one of those questions that would be worth $64,000 on an American quiz show.

The recalcitrant Daly has weaved such a web of deceit misinformation and confrontation on so many occasions covering so many topics over the years it is difficult not to be impressed by his energy perverse though it is. His multi persona and online alias combined with a few sycophants doing the same are responsible for some of the most extremely distasteful and totally groundless accusations on local chess websites and forums.  After his disastrous year on the ICU board Daly stepped aside rather than face humiliation in an election by members. He stated that he was withdrawing from chess politics that the hate sites would be deleted and that he would cease to post on the internet. How did that work out? Well it lasted all of 48 hours! The Irish Hatebook page which was promised to be curtailed was back in full swing within a week. Then he hatched and executed a plan to rob the membership of their website when he hijacked the ownership using slight of hand tactic by acquiring the administrator’s licence immediately upon the hour of the expiry date. His defence that he was doing it for the good of the membership to show how vulnerable we were, not quite the Nuremburg defence more of a poor man’s war in Iraq will make Iraqi’s safer.

His latest role in the EGM escapade is just another milestone in his never ending onslaught and vile campaign against Jonathan O’Connor. Surely now is the time for the members of the Irish Chess family to say enough is enough, that this vendetta must be eradicated on a permanent basis from all aspects of chess on this island or else the dynamo of this constant sore must be removed from the chess scene. Surely now is the time for others on the periphery of this mans influence to step back and create a clear and unmistakeable space from his views.


Recruitment Drive Incident

brendan recruiting

The Ballynafeigh recruiting sergeant Brendan Jamison ran into difficulties during his latest attempt to enrol new players for the 2016/2017 season. Ballynafeigh plan to field seven teams this coming season and club coordinator Brendan was on a mission to ensure competition for all boards by recruiting new members. However not all those he approached had an open welcome for the Ballynafeigh application form.

After his tribulation a shaken Brendan spoke to the Gossip desk over a warm cup of cocoa he stated “It was all over in a flash, one minute it was all smiles and handshakes the next it was the stocks getting pelted with old chess books” before adding “but you can’t blame me it wasn’t my fault I honestly didn’t know Colm Daly lived there!”


Belfast victory in intercity clash

Team Belfast scored an impressive victory of their guests from Madrid in the intercity match at the Ballynafeigh rooms on Saturday. The double round match up saw the lesser rated Belfast side cruise to a resounding 7.5 to 2.5 victory over their Spanish counterparts. Indeed if Madrid’s Sergio Esteve hadn’t won against Calum Leitch in round two when he faced Leitch’s two queens the rout would have bordered on annihilation. The game itself shouldn’t be viewed by the squeamish or at least until after the watershed as it has all the hall marks of something that escaped from an institution somewhere.

Ross Harris who was supposed to be an impartial adjudicator for the event said “God that was amazing we just smashed them stupid!” before adding “Could you imagine how bad it would have been for Madrid if I had played against them! We played a weakened team because we know the UCU ratings are much stronger than an ICU one and way better than a FIDE lucky-bag one!” Emboldened by the result Ross stated “It’s just a pity it wasn’t team Dublin team Cork or team Limerick we were thumping” Obviously Ross has never heard of the saying be careful what you wish for.

All the games can be found on the UCU live boards.   here




Korchnoi dead

Viktor Koichnoi has passed away in Switzerland today aged 85 years young. The multi Russian champion defected when abroad at a tournament in Holland seeking and receiving political asylum in 1976 and continued his long and brilliant career decades after others had hung up their rooks. His last major tournament win was when he was a staggering 75 years of age. I believe his last appearance in Ireland was a simul at the Ford autolite plant in Belfast …..  Belfast City Hall.




Rush & McKenna strike gold

The venue was superb, a spacious brightly lit area with natural light flooding in from the generous cubic metreage of double glazing that walled the room and the French doors that led on to the first floor balcony. With views overlooking a cricket pitch and under the shadow of the magnificent Stormont building it’s a nice place to chill out after a grind over the board, but in the sizzling weekend weather, a rarity for Belfast I might add, it was absolutely glorious! The added spectacle of three hundred members of the big bubba-mama society trying to drag several bellies and historically accumulated blubber around Stormont hill dressed in lycra that probably would have fitted them five years and several hundred chocolate cakes ago was the icing on the cake. Though not a literal one otherwise the tumbling tubbies probably would have woofed that as well. Mark Newman wasn’t complaining it’s a rare moment indeed when Mark can look positively Ethiopianesque in a crowd. Now brimming with newfound confidence he spent the rest of the weekend strutting around like a Hollywood beefcake, well that was until he stood beside Calum Leitch and Martin Kelly both of whom are so low on the BMI chart that look like they have just escaped from a J.S Lowry painting!

Both sections were savagely competitive, so aside from the wannabe Yokozuna on the Stormont hill not one roll-over was to be witnessed over the entire two days. Every player clawed at any chance for even a half point no matter how remote the possibility. The tournament saw more fortified French defence positions than you would find on the Maginot line, this opening traditionally has sent more people to sleep than an old people’s home. During this tournament it was responsible for more dead Knights than a battle scene from the movie Kingdom of Heaven and more bad Bishops than an abuse inquiry. It was grind after slog after positional choke as nobody bothered to pack their B game; they yielded nothing without a back-alley fight for it, getting a result was at times like peeling an exploded bubble-gum bubble from a Cossacks beard.

It was great to see a nice international mix to the affair with two Spaniards three Russians and two Yanks in the field all stoked up for a smash and grab on the local wood-chucking platoon of the UCU. One of the Spanish visitors Manuel Cabanas Jimenez travelled up from Co Mayo to be top-seed in the Nemtzov cup with a FIDE rating of 2140, which in real rating terms is roughly equivalent to an ICU rating of 2000 or a UCU rating of  somewhere between 1700 – 1800. But when it comes to chess there’s a world of difference from being top-rated and being top-dog!

Stephen Rush the board three from Queens University and John McKenna from Belfast south chess club emerged victorious in the respective sections the Nemtzov cup and the Henderson cup. Stephen faced and remained undefeated against the strongest opponents in the Nemtzov and thoroughly deserved the laurels of victory. John McKenna lifted the Henderson cup for the first time after almost 50 years of trying when he took a strangle hold of the tournament from the beginning and not releasing his grip at anytime. Young Dayna Ferguson deserving great praise for chasing John home in second in a field that had many players with ten times her experience.

John McKenna on the (left) lifts the Henderson Cup for the first time

John McKenna (left) lifts the Henderson Cup for the first time

Stephen Rush receives the cheque from Ross Harris as the trophy didn't arrive in time.

Stephen Rush receives the cheque from Ross Harris as the trophy didn’t arrive in time.

Top rated but not top-dog Manuel Cabanas Jimenez held on for second, his beloved Athletico Madrid were second that night too!

Top rated but not top-dog Manuel Cabanas Jimenez held on for second, his beloved Athletico Madrid were second that night too!

Star of the future Dayna Ferguson came second in the Henderson cup

Star of the future Dayna Ferguson came second in the Henderson cup


The Gambit Cup

The Gambit Cup

The Gambit Cup

Soren Jensen the travelling Viking that played seriously chancy stuff for Ballynafeigh generously left a perpetual trophy for all the gambiteers of the local chess scence to compete for. This weekend the City of Belfast tournament is the last chance to submit a swashbuckling entry for the new cup. Please don’t send us any drivel defending a backward E pawn for forty moves, anything remotely like that should earn you a morning session in a specialist clinic in Switzerland with your favourite music playing in the background while holding someones hand. So we want to see “Elephant gambits” we desperately want to see the “Ah sweet Jesus defence” or better still the “Sod this attack!” in general stuff that will make you famous for all the wrong reasons. And remember anyone playing the French or the Caro Kann is only a spoilsport.


Comórtas Fichille Chúige Uladh 2016

Limavady had an exceptional result in this years primary school event when Gaelscoil Leím an Mhadaidh 1 and 2 coached by Eoghan O’Grady claimed first and second place ahead of third placed Scoil Uí Neill 1 who were only a point clear of Scoil Uí Neill 3.  The event organised by the effervescent Una O’Boyle was hosted in the Culturlann who generously offered their brilliant venue for the competition.

Conor looked on as two of his Scoil Uí Neill teams clashed

Conor looked on as two of his Scoil Uí Neill teams clashed

gaelscoil 2

gaelscoil 3

The event was played in the long room above the Gallery

The event was played in the long room above the Gallery

Grace and Cahír who were crowned fichille banríon agus rí (chess Queen and King)

Grace and Cahír who were crowned fichille banríon agus rí (chess Queen and King)

The champions for 2016 Gaelscoil Léim an Mhadaidh

The champions for 2016 Gaelscoil Léim an Mhadaidh

Léim an Mhadaidh2 made it a fantastic 1 - 2 for the school

Léim an Mhadaidh 2 made it a fantastic 1 – 2 for the school

Scoil Uí Neill 1 held off a strong challenge from their own third team to secure 3rd place

Scoil Uí Neill 1 held off a strong challenge from their own third team to secure 3rd place

Una treated us to her best impersonation of an air hostess, she didn't bring a drinks trolley though.

Una treated us to her best impersonation of an air hostess, she didn’t bring a drinks trolley though.


Ballynafeigh Women

Karina Kruk received news this week that she has been selected to represent Ireland at the 2016 Olympiad in Baku in September. Running from the 1st to the 14th Karina who is currently working in Botswana Nationa park gaurding Rhinoceros will be online 24/7 trying to book up on her openings in preparation for the event.



Ballynafeigh Kids

The younger members of Ballynafeigh scored well at the Methody school tournament run by Mark Newman winning their respective sections to qualify for the grand finals later this year in England.

Left to right Dexter Harris, Yuntain Qiu, Avrora Zelenchuk and Daniil Zelenchuk

Left to right
Dexter Harris, Yuntain Qiu, Avrora Zelenchuk and Daniil Zelenchuk


New Irish Arbiters


Ireland has gained another two arbiters Richard Gould became the first official National Arbiter from Ulster after he completed his tournament trials at Cork and Bunratty but the official paperwork was only completed this week. Also adding to Ireland’s tally was Pete Morriss who has received his official seal of approval from on high to become just the third certified FIDE arbiter on the island, a hardy congratulations to both.

A spokesman for the ICAA said ” We are delighted to increase the number of arbiters in Ireland, especially when such demanding circumstances prevailed.” Richard Gould had to make two of the longest journeys in Irish chess Belfast to Cork then Belfast to Bunratty to act as arbiter to secure his required Norms. Pete Morriss had to not only achieve his Norm through testing and controlling under supervision for days on end but later had to deal with some mischief making by inexperienced individuals unaware of the actual rules but still racked with unexplainable jealousy.


Team Rapid Championship

The Ulster team Rapid Championships were held at the Ballynafeigh venue on Saturday and the home advantage of having chairs with four legs, tables that weren’t curved and windows that can be seen through was a huge factor in the victory for the Ballynafeigh men. The Bangor team were forced to withdraw at the eleventh hour and about another forty five minutes on top of that. Defaulting their entry was the only option left open to the controller Brendan Jamison when the seasiders became heavily depleted of manpower due to … Well actually nobody really knows why they became so sparse on the ground, perhaps an asteroid hit the Bangor marina, they’ve been known to take the odd dinosaur or two out before, not as often as Malania Trump but still often enough.




The courageous few from Bangor that did manage to make it up to Belfast were rewarded by the organisers with a drafting into other squads for the tournament, a sort of day release program for chess players. Michael Sheerin was balloted into the Ballynafeigh team which paid off handsomely as they won through to a final round show down with Muldoon’s. Dave Houston the Ballynafeigh board 1 was so confident in his teammates that he played the first round smashing the ever slim if no longer ever young Calum Leitch then went off for a round of golf. Afterwards he returned for the final round clash with the league champions from the docks who had drafted in John Masterson for the occasion. Ballynafeigh bottom boards scored very heavily throughout the tournament in particular Thomas Donaldson back home on holidays from Imperial College scoring an impressive 6/6. In contrast your author took more of a beating than a victim of a UDA punishment squad as defeat piled on defeat, by the days end I’d hung more men than Albert Pierrepoint and was probably one of the few people alive who could make the Aston Villa points tally look impressive! Thankfully Robert Lavery, Brendan Jamison, Michael Sheerin and John O’Docherty in tandem with Thomas Donaldson were on a blush saving exercise and spared mine, though under instructions from Dennis they steadfastly refused to let me in the team winning photograph.

The winning team photo/video won't appear on you-tube as they say it is

The winning team photo/video won’t appear on you-tube as they say it is  “tube free”  I don’t know what they mean by that!


Harris at the Double

Ross and Dexter Harris went down to Dublin for the Irish junior championships at the weekend and both came away with medal for their efforts. Now while Ross is probably good enough to play in the under 8 section and could possibly get a podium finish alas the organisers just wouldn’t let a forty year old play (spoil-sports) So Dexter played scoring a sound 4/6 and Ross was forced to play in the parents and guardians section where he finished joint first.

Dexter is the one who doesn't look like he's just escaped from the Ant-hill Mob

Dexter is the one who doesn’t look like he’s just escaped from the Ant-hill Mob

Meanwhile at the same event Daniil Zelenchuk continued his rich vein of form with another grading prize in the under 12 section and his sister Avrora collected a medal for her efforts in the under 7 section


John ODocherty Wins

Praise the Lord we have a winner! It only took 3 days 3 clues and umteen wrong guesses before someone actually fell into the right name. The weak and timid rabbit in the headlight photo wasn’t enough so I gave away his name in clue 2 Majors Band Nine is of course an anagram of Brendan Jamison. Though even this went over the heads of you all at passenger jet height, so I was forced to give a third clue of a sculpter which is a bit ironic as the photo is of someone who actually has skill and ability thus really shouldn’t be referenced to Brendan!

I’m delighted that I don’t have to torment myself anymore searching for ever easier clues, clue 4 was going to be a sugar cube mountain outside Ballynafeigh, clue 5 was a hat for Brendan to wear at the next tournament saying “Yes it is me in the mystery brat quiz!”

Easter Egg Clue 3

I honestly didn't think giving away an Easter egg would be so difficult

I honestly didn’t think giving away an Easter egg would be so difficult

Easter Egg Clue 2

Surely the UCU has at least one inspector Clouseau out there! I gave a clue about the mystery players identity when I said that his rating had fallen yet many have guessed and failed. So to give a second clue his rating has dropped to a point where not only will he not be playing in the seniors but he may be playing down in the majors

Majors band nine!

Easter Egg Guess

Okay here is a photo from the past, so for a fun quiz with an Easter Egg for a prize (Jaysus the house is awash with the things. I have to get rid of them somehow before we all come down with type 2 diabetes so here’s to getting rid of the first)

Can you name the ugly kid from below, he was ugly then and life has seen him go downhill rapidly, rather like his rating!

A little Easter munter

A little Easter munter


From Russia With Love

Ballynafeigh Russian recruits Mikhail Pavlov and Daniil Zelenchuk lifted first place in their relevant section tonight in the Bangor chess club rapid tournament. The five round swiss event in the Groomsport venue was the idea of Bangor regular Michael Sheerin who encouraged Brendan Jamison to lend a hand in the running of the event. Brendan eager to see the event do well or really eager to see Ballynafeigh do well strong armed a few of the Ballynafeigh hotshots to compete. Mikhail Pavlov promptly lifted 1st place with 4.5 from 5 and his fellow compatriot and team mate Daniil Zelenchuk lifted the junior section with 3.5 from 5

Hitting all the right notes again Ballynafeigh's most eligable bachelor and world renowned baritone Mikhail Pavlov took centre stage and 1st place.

Hitting all the right notes again Ballynafeigh’s most eligable bachelor and world renowned baritone Mikhail Pavlov took centre stage and 1st place.

Not to be outshone Daniil Zelenchuk cruised the junior section

Not to be outshone Daniil Zelenchuk cruised the junior section


Dennis the Menace

Dennis lifts his 4th Strawbridge Cup with three different teams

Dennis lifts his 4th Strawbridge Cup with three different teams


Queens University lift the Plate

The Queens University second team captained by Matthew Chapman won the division three Plate when they pulled too far of the Bangor team captained by Andrew Todd. This was just reward for the brilliant work done by all the Queens guys in building their club from the ground up, but a special mention must go to Matthew Ben and Chris for their sterling graft. Well done and congratulations all.


Ballynafeigh 2 take Strawbridge

Ballynafeigh 2 as expected lifted the Strawbridge Cup with a comfortable win over Muldoon’s 2 at the Ormeau road venue on Tuesday night. The big odds on pre-season title favourites for division 2 were never really threatened and any outside hope that the Belfast South chess club second team Kelly’s heroes had of a calamitous upset never materialised. Dennis Wilkinson the Ballynafeigh 2 captain lifted the Cup and five minutes later was selecting his team for next year!

Who were people pointing the finger at for the loss of the Silver King

Who were people pointing the finger at for the loss of the Silver King


Muldoons Champions

Congratulations Muldoon’s
The Muldoon’s team captured the Silver King on Monday night when the defeated Ballynafeigh 1 in a winner takes all finale to the league season. This year under the wise stewardship of Pat McKillen they have played to their ability and beyond. Somehow Pat in conjunction with Danny Mallaghan have galvanised them in to a very formidable side scoring consistently well all season and especially when it mattered. It’s normally unfair to highlight people in a team competition but the central boards of Nicholas Pilkiewicz Stephen Wood and Danny Mallaghan deserve a special mention, well done guys. A very good team showing their true potential once they found a good captain to organise them.

A delighted Pat McKillen with the Silver King

A delighted Pat McKillen with the Silver King


Bunratty 2016

Belfast sent the largest ever contingent to any tournament outside of Ulster when dozens of chess tourists including eight first timers and associates made the 240 mile trip to the sleepy county Clare village of Bunratty, which is actually rather ironic because the one thing that you don’t do a lot of for the duration of the annual chess extravaganza that’s held there is sleep.
The usual collection of reprobates, bounders and vessels of sarcasm that are collectively known as the ‘northern contingent’ had their ranks swelled by other less abrasive more affable personas such as David Houston. Such is the draw of Bunratty that Dave came out of tournament retirement to play in his first weekender in more than 25 years. Barney McGahan was accompanied by a beautifully figured soft spoken lady-friend for the elongated weekend which gave him an interesting stay and gave Norman Rainey palpitations. Just one look at her was enough to encourage the bible-belt Christian to break the 10th commandment and spend the best part of Saturday trying to hatch a fiendish plot to break the 7th! Norman is one of those delicious characters that you absolutely must meet before you die, or before he dies because he is actually quite ancient, a testament to his longevity is that his face has more wrinkles than a linen shirt. Labelled the rogue of Ballynafeigh Norman has a killer combination of an encyclopaedia of yarns and stories to torture people with and the capacity to drone like an overhead power-line in the drizzle. Treating everyday as a swansong Norman is determined to have as many experiences and incidents as he can before he is caught up to by either father time or much more probably Interpol!



The guys from Queens University had such a ball last year that they brought reinforcements with them this time around and a small sense of cruelty. Spotting a chess book titled “Chess for Dummies” at the nearby book stall one of them had a moment of inspiration and a victim in mind for their prank. The book cost 16 euro and he wanted them all to chip in a euro each to buy it and hand it over to the organisers to announce the finding of the book on stage. Inside was inscribed this is the property of Cathal Murphy, when the others were informed of the target for the prank the venture was oversubscribed by nearly forty euro. Cathal and his travelling side-kick cum eavesdropper general Martin Kelly spent the rest of the weekend trying to track the culprits, questioning everyone and chasing false leads, though that said Martin does tend to chase almost anything.
Karma was heading Queens way when most of them tanked badly in the first round then they got tanked up in the bar afterwards as a form of consolation. Alas for Ben Campbell when he attempted the Bunratty double by getting tanked on the Saturday night he ended up doing a ‘Leitch’ that’s when you get a monster hangover and a forfeit due to absence on Sunday morning. Joining him on the morning missing list was Chris Armstrong who didn’t even have the excuse of alcohol to save his blushes; his was a misunderstanding of the default time assuming it was the UCU 45-minute not the ICU 30-minute.

Ben said it would take a bomb to waken him in the morning. So Cathal bought him a new alarm clock

Ben said it would take a bomb to waken him in the morning. So Cathal bought him a new alarm clock

Others also fell victim to tournament protocols, Gary O’Grady was probably the most unlucky when his phone rang. Gary O’Grady is without question one of the friendliest people in chess and has achieved notoriety if not immortality as a major Bunratty ‘socialiser’ he is often seen making a Custer like last-stand at the bar in the small hours. Gary is also a very generous man reaching into his own pocket on many occasions to support Irish chess, he is the chief sponsor and main reason why so many titled players end up in a tiny village in county Clare every year so it’s no wonder the organisers feel obliged to wake him from his slumber in the morning. Gary was sitting at the board on Sunday morning playing the Russian opera singer Mikhail Pavlov from Ballynafeigh when Paul Carey one of the tournament organisers phoned to wake him to remind him the round had already started! Standing next to Gary was a slightly embarrassed tournament arbiter Richard Gould from Belfast who was gaining his National Arbiters title at the event and had no choice but to disqualify him. But that wasn’t quite the whole story in the saga, it turned out that allegedly there was a wager in place between Gary O’Grady and a tournament organiser that Gary would win 6/6 in the Major section, that tournament organiser was none other than …. Paul Carey who knew Gary has a habit of not turning off his phone! Hmmm several witnesses claim to have seen Paul at the door leading into the venue hall with a clear line of sight to Gary’s table just prior to the shooting… err phoning, so much so that Gary O’Grady now refers to this area as Bunratty’s grassy knoll.
Whether it was Lee Harvey Oswald in the book depositary or Paul Carey on the grassy knoll or even professor Plum with the candlestick in the kitchen it hit all the right notes and was sweet music to the ears of Pavlov the professional opera singer from Ballynafeigh. Still bubbling from the occasion in the bar afterwards or just ecstatic at the three euro a pint special for the chess players Mikhail Pavlov was easily spotted. He was immediately hijacked by GM Simon Williams who had finished a simul in Belfast the night before and reminded Mikhail that he owed him a song from the previous night. No further prompting was required and Mikhail burst into a Russian folk song, the teenagers in the corner giggled at the silly singer for the first line but were awestruck by the second, the lad has a set of lungs on him like a blacksmiths bellows. It’s a rare moment indeed when a crowd of chess players at a Bunratty bar are hushed, it normally only happens when Colm Daley is about and he wasn’t here this year, preferring instead to keep a low profile after his infamous site-jacking. Everyone was enthralled and had no hesitation in giving a standing ovation at the finish, which now means that Ballynafeigh supplies the best gossip site and the best singer in Irish chess. Simon Williams then did a trade, balcony tickets to Mikhail’s opera in London for a one on one game and session, both men walked away thinking they got a real bargain.
This year the performance at the chess boards improved for the northern visitors, though that said the explanation for this new found form may not lie with tutorial DVD’s, theoretical endings, or opening book study as much as it had to do with the bar closing early this year. Instead of still blitzing at 5am with a dirty big pint in the fist that wasn’t punching the clock, the Belfast society of the Brendan Behan fan club were forced to return to their rooms and cottages an hour earlier at 4am. There they were free to indulge themselves in whatever liquid refreshment they had brought with them as luggage. A casual glance at a few of them on Sunday morning suggested that not only had they brought luggage but they had brought quite a bit of it. On the Saturday night the Belfast troop manage to get themselves thrown out of Durty Nellies before they even had a drink! Apparently 2am is considered a late time to be arriving at a bar, though some of the Queens guys slipped into the private party upstairs before being tossed out at 3am when he was spotted mine sweeping, which is another term for lifting other people’s drinks. Over the board some of the guys did brilliantly well in their first tournament none more so than young Daniil Zelenchuk who scored 4.5 /6 in the minors. Defeating Chris Roe in round four was a big feather in his cap, something that Barney McGahan a Ballynafeigh team-mate of Daniil was quick to point out to Chris later. “you lost to Daniil?” stated Barney before continuing with mocking questions to Chris “What little Daniil, the wee kid about that high?” lowering his hand to hip height as to exaggerate the youth of the opponent, Barney continued to poke fun. “You must be feeling a bit sick now Chris, that will be the talking point of the weekend how a kid beat you in the minors” Barney sniggered. The next round pairings were posted and Barney was drawn against Daniil and that old Karma raised her head again, Daniil promptly thrashed the life out of Barney who spent the next 48 hours hiding from Chris Roe. Keeping it a family affair Dmitry Zelenchuk who is the father of Daniil scored an impressive 5/6 defeating Adrian Dornford-Smith in the last round to secure joint third in the same competition. Adrian had the unique experience of making two illegal moves in the same game and believed he was disqualified but an arbiter’s coven was called and the head witch Ted Jennings declared because the clock was not pressed the move was technically not completed and thus play could continue. A brilliantly thought out and articulated position using the new tournament rules that came into effect in 2014, if only they had bothered to ask the players involved they would have realised that Adrian had already resigned and rule 5.1b took precedent .. oops!

Ted and Richard discuss the problem

Ted and Richard discuss the problem

Richard Gould the arbiter completing his National Arbiter badge was getting a baptism of fire in the minors and more grief was heading his way. On the verbally assisted boards John McGann instructed his opponent to capture a pawn with his knight alas it transpired that both of his knights could capture the pawn in question. The problem was one of them was safe to take with and capturing the pawn with the other would be a catastrophe for him. As his opponent captured with the wrong knight John stuttered and stammered in mid move “No .. Other one .. no!” louder than Mikhail Pavlov had sang in the bar! But his opponent was having none of it, she liked this knight capture, she liked it a lot! Step forward the bold Richard to sort out the mess, except he didn’t, as after the adjudication decision not only did the toys come out of the pram but they were joined on the floor by two knights and several pawns and rooks. Well at least John McGann was happier.

Sunday night is Blitz night or “get blitzed” night I and others from Belfast still haven’t worked that one out yet. It’s where the GM’s and IM’s are faced with a horde of plebs eagerly seeking a mismatch and are charitable enough to grant them one. After the initial group stages the titled players eventually have to play people who know what they’re doing on a chess board or in Simon Williams case at least look the part. After the blitz finished the usual banter chess started and then eventually that progresses to ‘hand and brain’ if you’ve never indulged in this game the simple rule is a team of two the stronger player (the brain) announces the piece he wants moved but doesn’t inform his weaker partner (the hand) exactly which piece or where too. The usual result is shambolic mayhem guided by stupidity of the purest form. I got partnered with Paul Carey famed for his pastel shirts and grassy knoll assassinations so obviously I was the brain … I was honestly … and yes it was a bit of a crap team. However no matter how strong the brain one should never underestimate the ability of the hand to drag the brain into the gutter. When it came to this ability Paul Carey is an expert of unrivalled experience, when skulduggery enabled us to start with two queens (yes you can cheat it is up to the brain to check the pieces before the first move) So with two queens we were a million to one on to win simple ABC chess would suffice, except a simple person will rarely do anything simple. When instructed to make a queen move after some brilliant guidance into the position by the brain, instead of mating on the back rank the hand moved the queen to where it sat en prise. When on the next instruction from the brain for another queen move which again would have delivered the back rank mate, the hand decide to move it to where it could be forked stupid by our opponents knight with a check. That’s when I realised my partner was the Abu Hamza of the chess world because while the opposing brain had a hand I was playing with a hook.

Abu Hamza claimed Paul Carey taught him how to play

Abu Hamza claimed Paul Carey taught him how to play

So the men from the North completed a successful raid south in 2016 and headed back with eight deflowered Bunratty virgins, several grading and place prize’s, one National arbiters badge, a load of hangovers and hundreds upon hundreds of ICU rating points to torment Pete Cafolla with.


The Double is on!

Ballynafeigh chess club are in the midst of an attempt to pull off an amazing double of both league titles, the division one Silver King and the division two Strawbridge Cup.

This week in division two Kelly’s Hero’s thumped a very weak Fruithill side to take a 2.5 pt lead in the table and then had to wait for the outcome of the Civil Service Ballynafeigh 2 clash on Tuesday night. Civil Service who are involved in a relegation battle turned up with their strongest side which they haven’t been able to do too often this season but were unlucky to run into Ballynafeigh 2 in a rich vein of form who were also fielding their strongest line-up. Ballynafeigh 2 ran out comfortable winners with four wins and a draw over the five boards. The result catapulted BNF2 back to the top of the table and effectively put an end to any realistic hope for Kelly’s Hero’s. So barring any final week disaster Ballynafeigh 2 will lift the Strawbridge Cup and secure the first half of a remarkable double.


The Ballynafeigh 2 victory meant a lot of negative waves for Kelly’s Hero’s

Half a mile away Ballynafeigh 1 struggled against a strengthened Queens University side but eventually won 3-2 when John O’Docherty pulled them out of the fire and gave them an outstanding chance of winning the Silver King if they can win their last two matches.


Greed or Greatness

Having a big mouth doesn’t necessarily mean a matching appetite, so the question must be asked has Ballynafeigh bitten off more than they can chew?

The Ballynafeigh 1 side struggled at the start of the season falling to an unbelievable four defeats from the first five matches. Their saving grace was the fact that the division 1 title chase was so competitive and open with only Bangor who will no doubt forgive me for saying were the only team devoid of any realistic prospect of success. This led to very close margin victories by the remainder of the division over each other and as they stumbled against each other they in avertedly gave time to the Ballynafeigh squad to eventually get its act together. Victory followed victory and by larger margins that their competitors successes which has seen the gap closed with each passing week. Now Ballynafeigh 1 stand within striking distance of the league leaders Muldoon’s with three games left a double header against Queens which if overcome successfully will lead to the final night showdown against Muldoon’s for the Silver King trophy.

However that is not the whole story of this prolific charge for the title, the run away league leaders of division two Ballynafeigh 2 have been talent stripped by their bigger brother Ballynafeigh 1 to help them out in important matches. Unfortunately two of these talent raids happened in the weeks Ballynafeigh 2 were facing their closest title rivals Kelly’s Hero’s from the Belfast South Chess club. The result gifted Kelly’s Hero’s two big wins and with players like McKenna, Ruben, Armstrong, McCormick Green and Stevenson to choose from left them uncomfortably close to the Ballynafeigh 2 team So an unassailable position has been thrown away now the question must be asked will Ballynafeigh 2 be sacrificed to boost the chances of Ballynafeigh 1 ? Will the Ormeau road outfit pull off an amazing double lifting the Strawbridge Cup and the Silver King, or will both title chances collapse through greed.



Live chess tonight from the Ballynafeigh rooms where Ballynafeigh 1 clash with CS Lewis Lions. With the race for the Silver King being so closely fought and so complex in mathematical possibilities affecting the final positions, the UCU board have decided to stream many of the head to heads live on the UCU site. So tune in at 7.55pm to.


Flash the cash SorenWith the league

Soren Jensen the gambit artist of Denmark who managed to elude international artist Brendan Jamison has surfaced again. Desperate to avoid the clutches of the Ballynafeigh sugar-sculptor this year Soren joined another chess club where his Latvian gambit would be more at home, so to be sure to be sure, he joined one in Riga! Wishing to keep his location secret from Brendan Soren generously left a departing gift for Ulster chess better described as a hefty bribe which will pay for a nice trophy for the most aggressive/chancy/gambit/insane game of the season. The winner will be chosen by Soren himself from the final 3 selected by the UCU board.

Soren hands over the bribe to the UCU president

Soren hands over the bribe to the UCU president as a parting gift for secrecy



Ginger is coming, so we need the budding Fred Astaire’s of the Ulster Chess Union to take ginger on a merry waltz. Thursday 18th February is Simul night when we invite a leading GM to Belfast for a demonstration on just how bad Calum Leitch is. That’s not what we have planned for the evening but history has shown that’s the way it usually pans out. This year the Ulster Chess Union is delighted to be entertaining the Ginger GM Simon Williams, there are 4 seats left so get dialling or get disappointed.



Tournament Critic Reports (Peter Cafolla)

I played in two very well run and enjoyable tournaments over the last two weekends. Gonzaga is well established so needs little mention. Five rounds FIDE rated, well organised with a decent field of competitors in good surroundings with ample FREE  parking, what more can one ask for?

This weekend was the inaugural Enniscorthy tournament and what an excellent tournament it was. Lovely hotel with nice food and comfortable playing conditions. Very friendly welcome by Andrew Kildea and his team who were obviously out to make the weekend a great success. FREE tea, coffee and water (in fairness Gonzaga gave me this too for some things I have written about he whom shall remain nameless), lovely boards and sets with six games live on the Net each round. Competently controlled by Ivan Baburin with everything very well organised , just an excellent tournament to attend and I’m sure had it not been so close to Gonzaga datewise it would have attracted more than the 70+ who did play. All in all a very welcome new addition to our chess calendar and I look forward to playing there again next year. The Masters section had a small but select field with GMs baburin and Korneev and FM David Fitzsimons who shared first place with Korneev on 5/6. I played the eventual winner in the first round and didn’t give him the point without a fight, in fact I lost on time in a position that might still have been held with a bit of luck


Where’s Norman

The romantic interloper before he went aboriginal

The romantic interloper before he went aboriginal

Since the Ballynafeigh eccentric dropped off the radar to go walkabouts in Europe tongues have been wagging in the chess world and rumours have been rife of his whereabouts and wellbeing. The county Down nomad has been the subject of claimed sightings from Barcelona to Bergen and Venice to Vladivostok with several pictures arriving at our gossip desk as proof of his existence.

Dennis Wilkinson sent this shot of Norman in Croatia

Dennis Wilkinson sent this shot of Norman from his safe-house in Croatia

Concerned parties have been searching high and low for the Ballynafeigh lothario ranging from jilted lovers and jilted creditors to Interpol but the bold Norman has evaded them all. He was last seen chatting to a group of women trying to persuade them to indulge in a bit of skinny-dipping with him, being thoroughly unsuccessful in his attempt the Ballynafeigh bushwhacker decided to cut his losses and move on unsure if his pick-up failure was due to his choice of after shave or choice of mosque. Personally I’d be surprised if the angry crowd of men that chased him down the street didn’t clarify that particular puzzle for him.

Norman offers free chess lessons in Corfu specialising in pawn chains

Norman offers free chess lessons in Corfu specialising in pawn chains

Interpol sent us this picture, we assured them there was no way we could identify Norman in that crowd. But we misunderstood it's not a line up ... they're the witnesses for the prosecution

Interpol sent us this picture, we assured them there was no way we could identify Norman in that crowd. But we misunderstood it’s not a line up … they’re the witnesses for the prosecution


Has April Fool come early

The phone rang it was the league controller and he was laughing, it took him five minutes to give me a match scoreline he was laughing that hard.

“It’s Ballynafeigh 4” he chuckled.
“Ah Jesus! What have they gone and done now?” I asked, waiting for a litany of trespasses in the response.
“They’ve just went and beat Andrew’s army the Bangor hotshots of division 3”
“Bog-off Leitch you’re at your work”
“No Damien I swear they’ve just beat Andrews army”
“Ballix man Ballynafeigh 4 would have difficulty beating themselves let alone one of the unbeaten league leaders 26.5 pts ahead of them.”
“Sorry did I say beat them … I meant mashed them … it was 4-1”
“Right that’s it get my phone ya friggen eejit I’m not listening to anymore of your horseshit Leitch I’ve better things to do”
“No Damien wait a second you haven’t heard the best bit .. Paul Charles… are you waiting for this .. he won on board 5 against Gary Johnston”
“Calum it was bad enough saying they won when a better wind up would have been they won two games but lost the match 3-2. But then to say the won the match and that they won the match 4-1 and then to add Paul Charles won his game well that’s just absolutely incredulous. There’s more chance that Apollo 11 actually went to the moon than there is of Paul beating Gary now get off my phone!”

Half an hour later I spoke to Andrew Todd the captain of Andrews army, and sat shell shocked as he confirmed that Ballynafeigh 4 did indeed win and more than that they did win 4-1 and yes hold the front page and your Mum’s hand Paul Charles scored his first ever win in Ulster chess after 45 straight losses.

However just in case you were thinking …. No Apollo 11 never left low earth orbit okay!


The Bull Snorts

The big Ballynafeigh bull stirred from its grazing this week to take an almighty chump out of the Muldoon’s title challenge and to keep one hoof firmly on the Silver king. The title chasing Muldoon’s squad came brimming with confidence and a crafty game plan in their back pocket. They switched their heavy hitting Gareth Annesley fresh from his hat-trick of Williamson shield victories at the weekend way down the batting order to board 4 which was a complete surprise to their unsuspecting hosts who had analysed possible scenarios pre-match but had never envisaged such a radical board 4 switch and were tactically caught out.
Nicholas Pilkiewicz on board 2 for Muldoon’s only took 9 minutes to thwart Ballynafeigh’s Steve Scannell’s main playing threat by removing his Queen both Knights a Bishop and several pawns while playing black and sat in a very comfortable place for a draw. Danny Mallaghan playing board 1 against David Houston had two Knights for the loss of a Rook and two pawns early into his game and the Muldoon’s game plan was ticking along nicely. When Stephen Wood strangled John O’Docherty for space on board 3 and Des Mooreland held equal material and a superior pawn structure against Brendan Jamison on board 5 the Muldoon’s machine was positively purring.
It was only when it became apparent how dire things were looking for Ballynafeigh that the beast of last year finally started to stretch itself. Scannell clawed a small positional advantage which he increased with every move until Pilkiewicz was limited in options and resigned. Jamison with bundles of time refused the draw offer from the low on time Mooreland who then subsequently succumbed to an error under time pressure which relived the overall pressure on the current champions. Despite a 300 ratings deficit Robert Lavery for Ballynafeigh impersonated the rock of Gibraltar on board 4 against Annesley and refused to yield a square on his kingside after pawn locking the queenside. This forced Annesley into drastic measures as he tried to rescue the fortunes of his faltering team and he sac’d his last piece hoping to steamroll two past connected pawns into promotion, but the smiling Lavery was wise to the ploy and managed to take the knight and still police the runaway criminal pawns on the G and H files which secured Annesley’s resignation the win for Ballynafeigh and a personal feather in his cap not to mention a nice little ratings boost. Not long after Houston weaved his rook and queen combo to nullify Mallaghan’s twin knights and over working his queen. After picking a few pawns up Houston swapped the rook for the two knights and provided the encore for the Ballynafeigh triumph.
After the first five weeks of the league the reigning champions Ballynafeigh had only secured 10 points with the league leaders on 24.5pts it looked like the league heavyweights were more cow than bull and lacked any fight as they went down to four defeats out of five. But this match showed that the horns have been sharpened and the hooves filed and that it will take a braver matador than Muldoon’s to put them to the sword or at least to halt their stampede towards the Silver King.

The Ballynafeigh bull tramples Muldoon's

The Ballynafeigh bull tramples Muldoon’s

But has a more sinister end planned for Queens and CS Lewis

But has a more sinister end planned for Queens and CS Lewis


Ratings Roller-coaster

Could the last person leaving the ratings room please switch off the lights! This January ratings list seems to have been an ask too far for our present ratings committee with the list being published more times than a Raymond Keene article.
Perhaps that was our mistake, we ventured on to the highways and byways of committees when perhaps we should have taken a different road instead, maybe we should have just picked a victim or asked for a foolhardy volunteer for the task instead. At least we would have been presented with a singular list either with or without errors but at least we would have known two things, we would have known what are ratings were but more importantly we would have known who to blame.

It’s the indecision that is causing concern not the actual parameters or calculations of the ratings because nobody can work those out yet because no ratings list is finalised yet … well that’s wrong they have been finalised, it’s just that they’ve changed then they were re-finalised then changed again and then re-finalised again then you guessed it … changed again! Some of the ratings if put on a graph would look like the front elevation plan of a Blackpool roller-coaster. One player was heading for IM status before summer which was pretty awesome considering we only coached him last week on how to castle.

As one of the wise owls of the UCU quipped “they have taken two years to reinvent the wheel and come up with something that may be lacking in roundness” but then again should we expect anything different after all they say a camel is a horse designed by committee so until that fool steps forward or a victim is selected maybe we should just like it or hump it. So the last person out of the ratings room don’t turn off the lights… let us know somebody’s in, it’s good to know somebody is in, just padlock the door to make sure nobody makes any more changes.

Istabraq was never the same after the ratings committee improved him

Istabraq was never the same after the ratings committee improved him


Cafolla’s German Christmas Continued

I went down in flames in the second round without offering any real threat to my I.M opponent but staged a revival with two comfortable enough wins against two lower rated players. It had been so long since I’d won a game that I was a little overly cautious in both these games but at least I got the job done.
In round five I got one of my trade mark dodgy openings but with the move 15…0-0-0 ! at least turned the game into the kind of anarchic mess that I enjoy. My opponent said in the post mortem that “you cannot make moves like castles queenside. I could not believe when you played it, it is ridiculous, you have no pawn cover there and it goes against all the rules of chess” Luckily enough I am not very well up on “all the rules of chess” and besides, Fritz thought that it was an excellent move. My opponent thought that I should play on in the final position since I am a pawn up but I rightly deduced that my advantage is minuscule and with my erratic (to put it kindly) endgame technique a win would be far from certain.
Round six called for some more dogged defence against a WFM and probably my opponent missed a win or two (I haven’t analysed it yet) but again in a very double edged position I created enough mayhem to secure a half point
The next round was a disaster. I tried out an opening I usually only ever use in blitz games and dropped a pawn for no compensation whatsoever . I then began to play very strongly against my higher rated rival to reach the critical position on move 60 where instead of taking on f5 (which “probably” draws if I follow it up correctly) I should have played Kd3! 61 fxg6, Kd2 62 g7, Rf7!! (the move I missed) 63 Rc8, Rxg7 and White has nothing better than to perpetually check my king or attack my c pawn so the draw is secure I am sure that the ending we did get should be drawn but I was very short of time and somehow managed to make a mess of it after about 100 moves. I hate losing games like this GRRRRRRRRRRR.
In round eight and I should add that going into round eight there was an astonishing TWELVE players tied for the lead on 5.5 points anyway in this round I got nothing out of the opening then almost fell off my chair when I thought I’d blundered with the clumsy looking 22Bf3. I immediately offered a draw but this only served to make my opponent examine the position closely and continue with what looked like a very nasty attack. Luckily for me there were some defensive resources available and with a couple of imaginative moves I even managed to turn the tables
In the final round I had to play the same opponent as I met in the ninth round last year WIM Mara Jelica and unfortunately the outcome was the same too. I was slightly better after the opening in a very interesting and novel position but then needlessly sacrificed a d pawn to improve the position of my king. I followed up with an ill thought out Nd3 idea and then compounded my errors by allowing the exchange of rooks.
So 4/9 and probably I gain a tiny amount of rating points but overall I was happy with my play as all the games were very tense and interesting. My endgame technique, or more accurately lack thereof, cost me dearly so that is what I will be working on this week before jetting off to play in the Prague Open on Friday.


Cafolla’s German Christmas

For the last few years Christmas Day has meant bed before 11pm, get up at 4am,  drive to Dublin for a 7a.m flight to Frankfurt then a long train journey to Stuttgart then an Sbahn to Boblingen where as you all probably know by now my favourite tournament of the year is held. This year I arrived determined to put disastrous showings at the Isle of Man and Kilkenny behind me but the omens were not good. I am not overly superstitious , except when it comes to which pen I use, but parking my car in a lot at the Dublin airport car park called U13 was not a good start nor was the fact that the four digits of my hotel room number also add up to 13. When I arrived I spent two fruitless hours trying to connect to the hotel wifi so came to the board in not the best frame of mind for a chess game. As usual there were some announcements and a couple of speeches all in German so I sat there smiling but not having a clue what was going on. Imagine my surprise when everyone started clapping and the organiser came down from the podium to my board and presented me with a lovely bottle of really excellent German single malt whiskey (I’m not sure if German whisky has an e like ours does) and a nice glass because it was the fifth year that I have played here. I also got a reduced entry fee and some free beers such is the hospitality and friendliness of the people here. I wish I could speak some German so I could converse with people better.

Anyway, to the chess. For a change from my usual Sveshnikov I played the Breyer defence to the Ruy Lopez with a couple of home made ideas of mine that took us away from more normal paths. I was a lot better around move  23 but had trouble improving my position, a timely a5 or f5 was probably the correct plan, and the longer the game went on the more tired I got until I eventually blundered a pawn and my position collapsed. The victor informed me after the game that I’d beaten him here four years ago but I have trouble remembering who I played four months ago never mind four years. It was a very interesting game until I blundered in a more or less level position that I should have been able to hold easily enough My reward for losing is another easy game tomorrow, black again against an I.M.


Christmas Quiz

For the festive season we are running a fun quiz with a prize of a seat in the upcoming GM simul against the “Ginger GM” Simon Williams. Simply identify the local or international chess stars from the photos or information provided and email your answers to

The winner will be the person with the highest number of correct answers. In the event of a tie the earliest recieved email will be judged the winner,

**** *****


High seas and safaris for Lions

The CS Lewis Lions may have had to surrender their squatter’s rights to the CS Lewis cafe and up story book and move but it hasn’t stopped the fairytales. Two weeks ago without their board one in residence Gabor Horvath the Lions visited runaway league leaders Muldoon’s down in Sailortown near the docks… well where else would it be! With a weakened board order the Lions were just hoping to avoid a sinking and grab on to anything drifting their way for buoyancy.

lions ring

It was sink or swim time for the Lion’s

Calum Leitch in impressive form of late along with John “Pops” Bradley both scuttled the hopes of the Muldoon’s team stretching further clear with two emphatic wins over Pilkiewicz and Mooreland respectively. When Harris whose been known to cling to the odd ‘buoy’ himself every now and then when his wife is away drew Annesley and Moore held Woods an excellent and rather unexpected victory was achieved. The Lions then followed that up the next week with another solid win over this seasons surprise package Queens University. Leitch and Harris handed out a few free lessons of their own to their student opponents Ormerod and Ngieng leaving Kilpatrick Moore and Bradley who was bumped up to board 2 for the match to bring home the extra bonus points meaning they graduated with a 3.5 – 1.5 which as any ignoramus will tell you is much much better than a silly 2 – 1

This week the Lions came with the full pride and claws well sharpened to feast on the lumbering buffalo of Ballynafeigh 1 who were languishing down the table after a complete shocker of a start to their title defence losing four of their first five matches. However the Ballynafeigh 1 herd have been slowly finding their feet and now look set to start throwing their weight around. The Lions felt the first lash of their horns this week when Steve Scannell continued his new found form by clipping Calum Leitch on board 2 and David Houston holding Gabor Horvath on 1. Draws for John O’Docherty against Ross Harris and Chris Black against the Lion’s chief hunter of “Pops” Bradley were enough to offset the win for the Lions on board 5 where Paul McNaughton left his teeth in Dennis Wilkinson. So it was honours even which kept the hunt to be king of the jungle very much alive for both of them provided they don’t fall victim to the poachers of Muldoon’s and Queen’s who want both their hides.

The Lion's ended in a stand-off with the Ballynafeigh buffalo

The Lions ended in a stand-off with the Ballynafeigh buffalo.



The Ballynafeigh minors who play in the club before the older less skilled players arrive had an unexpected bonus on their coaching evening when none other than the UCU tournament director Ross Harris turned up to play. Ross seized the chance to have some fun by proceeding to thrash them all as viciously as possible! Speaking afterwards Ross said “Wow that was great! I’m playing really well at the moment I got seven or eight good wins there and even managed to make two of them cry!” Such brazen callousness is a rarity in local chess but Ross manages to ooze it from every joint with such consummate ease. Indeed his heartlessness gained even greater notoriety after he displayed all the compassion of a hanging judge when he disqualified a man during a tournament who has no arms because his phone rang in his bag. Yeah Christmas must be a real joy in the Harris household me thinks.

The Ballynafeigh Square-Kidz with Brendan and Ross

The Ballynafeigh Square-Kidz with Brendan and Ross

Cuddly toys are allowed

Cuddly toys are allowed

But they had to hide the Bunnies from Ross

But they had to hide the Bunnies from Ross

Ross was having a wonderful time as Balynafeigh ran short of Kleenex

Ross was having a wonderful time as Balynafeigh ran short of Kleenex



McMorrow Gets all Rambo’d up

The new ICU board have removed some of the factually inaccurate items from the official ICU site so we have decided to reciprocate and remove some of the factual stuff from ours. It’s an agreement that they’ve stopped telling lies about us so we’ll stop telling the truth about them. The new all singing all dancing ICU chairman John McMorrow sent the Gossip desk a very nice letter asking in the nicest of ways that in the spirit of harmony and reconciliation could we endeavour this once to aid indeed advance the reconciliation process by self censoring the Gossip page on matters that are still currently sensitive regarding the recent election.
His actual eloquently worded letter to quote him correctly was “listen ya knacker meez and big Al are only in the job two dayz and jaysus ur bustin our chops on that aul Gossip page. How can meez and the big man get the coco’s to settle with you running yer mouth ya gombeen. Ya have a day then meez and big Alex head up there and he’ll sit on ya while I smash your knees with a breeze-block”
I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to know that the current ICU chairman irrespective of his boyish charms and youthful good looks has a good grasp of modern Belfast diplomacy and he knew how to get heavy; not as heavy as big Alex but then again who could. I thought that in the spirit of generosity and goodwill that I would yield to his wish. Well that and also the fact that nobody in their right mind wants Big Alex Baburin sitting on them!

Well that didn't take long for a transformation

Well that didn’t take long for a transformation from a wee quiet lad


Cafolla on a Manx adventure

Regular poster Peter Cafolla has been checking himself out over in the Isle of Man this week and sent us this report from the tournament.


There is a great tournament on in the Isle of Man this week and before anyone asks why I’m playing in it when I’m always complaining of rabbits entering tournaments with supposed rating restrictions THIS IS AN OPEN .

Having said that, I do have to admit that in present form I am way out of my depth. I haven’t played any chess since Easter and I can’t remember the last time I studied any opening theory. I’m on 0 from 4 here as is Tony Fox but I would point out that there is a GM and a WGM on 1 from 4 so it’s not as bad as it sounds (or so I try to convince myself). In every game so far I have been the equivalent of a pawn down by move ten due to my inept opening play as well as being behind on the clock so I’m not making life easy for myself. Still it is a fantastic tournament and very enjoyable so I can’t complain.

Here is yesterday’s game, the variations I give only scratch the surface of what was going on .
Todays game saw my opponent being changed at the very last minute today so I had to play local Manxman Alan Ormsby instead. Hang on to your seats !!
It would be wrong to say that things are going from bad to worse, they are going from worse to worse still.


Queens chase a century


Queen’s chess club had a membership drive during fresher week and picked up 70 new members interested in joining up with nearly forty of them parting with the cash up front. A brilliant number to work with allowing for fallers by the wayside and interests clash this should still leave the Queens committee trio of Chris Roe Ben Campbell and Matthew Chapman a super squad list to work from for the future.  So congratulations all round to the Uni-guys

Ulster Championships 2015

The Ulster Chess Unions blossoming romance with new technology was in full view at the Europa hotel in central Belfast this past weekend during the 2015 Ulster Championships. Not only were we running six live boards but we also had a live webcam going out for the duration of the tournament. Technology wouldn’t be technology without glitches and we had a few to deal with, well I suppose in the interests of clarity I should reiterate that when I said we…. I really meant Adrian. The Unions techno-geek in residence Adrian Dornford-Smith is our go-to guy for electronic solutions, computer software, computer hardware, phones, distributer cap firing sequence for a six cylinder 1974 Ford Zephyr and next week lottery numbers. Actually Adrian’s just our go-to guy! The Ulster Chess Union was a fortuitous union indeed the day the man with the double barrelled name and pump action mind walked through its front doors.

Adrian making last minute checks

Adrian making last minute checks

Firstly I would like to point out that whilst Adrian’s IQ is like a figure lifted from the Forbes list your author completely and utterly annihilated him in a mathematics competition, okay I guess technically speaking it wasn’t a competition it was one question and it wasn’t apparently mathematics as ‘brainiac’ keeps reminding me but rather arithmetic though I can’t see how that counts. Anyway now that I have declared my claim to fame I shall return to the matter of the minor glitches. One of the electronic boards played up through the first few round until the cause was isolated and identified as a dodgy micro-chip in the arse of a pawn. Then the spy-master general of “Team Bunratty” who was viewing from a sofa somewhere in deliverance country sent a flurry of texts to inform me that the live cam was not working. Again it was quickly and correctly assessed that the venue protocols had blocked the web-cam uplink, hell this wasn’t even a test! This was a mere trifle to a man with a cape and Adrian had us streaming again in minutes, though what the viewing chess public made of the strange agricultural hand signals from an under pressure Damien Lavery is anyone’s guess.

The Europa venue was perfect for playing chess, deep carpet, triple glazed window and noiseless air conditioning kept the room super quiet, fully adjustable slatted blinds and large spread down lighting ensured perfect lighting on all boards. The restaurant and bar area was on a different floor which really helps with distractions but the lifts were located outside the playing area door which offered ease of access. The superb wooden boards and E-boards added to the visual appeal of the event and the exceptional organisation by the tournament volunteers just capped a truly wonderful chess event. Some of the players had trucked in from quite some distance not least Luke Scott from Dublin, that renowned son of Ennis Rory Quinn who came all the way from the west of Ireland and John McGann who came over from England. This trio who were making their Ulster Championships debut were joined by a Ballynafeigh trio of Bill Lavery, Aaron Rush and John Price who were all not only making their Ulster Championship debut but were in fact playing in their first chess tournament ever.

Bill Lavery uncle to Damien and Robert plays in his first ever tournament

Bill Lavery uncle to Damien and Robert plays in his first ever tournament

Ballynafeigh held an exceptionally strong hand in the Intermediate section with the top six ranked players in the competition all hailing from the club, though if Brendan Jamison had his way it would have been one less as Damien Lavery indulged himself in a bit of controller baiting as he played a game of tournament tease “will he or won’t he” enter. He deliberately waited until the last minute of the last hour of the deadline for the entry cut-off just to irritate the hell out of Brendan who had been pushing him for a committal from four days previous. Round one on the Friday night saw two of the Ballynafeigh hopefuls in the intermediate section drawn against each other, the Lavery brothers Damien and Robert were paired together on the live board. Damien got carried away knowing that potentially the entire local chess world was his audience for the evening and played a rather flirtatious g4 gambit on the second move. Robert isn’t famed for hedonistic chess instead his play is a much more conservative if not bordering on a style that could be described as almost Amish like. But even the Pennsylvanian Dutch won’t look a gift horse in the mouth and Robert took the offering which turned out to be neither poisoned nor displacing to the black pieces and Damien was soon struggling to regain the pawn. When instead of regaining the pawn Damien dropped a second pawn he wasn’t struggling at the board as much as he was squirming in his seat! As he stared across the table he was met with the sight of a gargantuan grin the size of a plasma TV coming back at him, but not from his dispassionate sibling Robert who remained imperturbable but from Brendan Jamison who was beside Robert and beside himself with unadulterated glee.

Brendan Jamison was all smiles watching the Lavery v Lavery clash

Brendan Jamison was all smiles watching the Lavery v Lavery clash

Damien Lavery’s friend and fellow club mate Damien Cunningham was watching the encounter on the live board and webcam transmissions at home and did what all true friends would do in this scenario, he texted anyone in the UCU with a phone to make them aware of his dear friends plight and encouraged them to tune in for pure entertainment. When a miscalculated combination dropped a piece it was all over bar the laughing and the pre tournament favourite was left ruing his sexy gambit which abandoned him in the wastelands of the Swiss gambit.

In the Junior section a similar upset was happening to the second seed and favourite for the title Cathal Murphy who was drawn against a long time former club mate John Monaghan. Cathal won his opponents queen early in the game and looked nailed on for a relatively easy triumph over John and start his tournament in emphatic fashion. I must admit I was extremely surprised when the result was published showing a Monaghan victory, then subsequently found out that Monaghan not happy with being a queen down also sac’d a rook for a knight and a bishop for two pawns in the same game and still won an amazing victory. If many of us were completely surprised Murphy must have been absolutely gutted because he never returned to the tournament after that first round implosion, he’s probably still lying down in a darkened room somewhere. After a disaster in Bunratty when David Barr absolutely tanked due to excessive rendezvous with anything remotely resembling alcohol or its by-products, a much more determined and focused individual appeared in the guise of the Lindores man and David ruthlessly dispatched all opposition to deservedly secure the junior crown with a perfect score of six from six.

Back in the intermediate section quite a few queued up to throw their hat in the ring after Lavery bombed in round one and took a travelling bye on the Saturday morning after his new eco-friendly £17,500 Electric two-seater Noddy car ran out of battery on the way to the venue after he turned the radio on. WFM Karina Kruk playing her last tournament before immigrating to Belgium where she will spend a year working as a chess adviser on the set of the new Tintin series announced her intentions with a victory against Chris Armstrong in round one. Thomas Donaldson and last year’s Junior champion Eoin Carey were others who started brightly in a very competitive field and it was these two who edged clear of the rest with 3/3 before clashing in round 4

Donaldson left front against Carey in the battle for the Intermediate title

Donaldson left front against Carey in the battle for the Intermediate title

It’s never a wise thing to afford your opponent the luxury of extra pawns for free and even less so when that opponent is more experienced and is also your chief rival in a tournament. Thomas held the pawns and advance nicely making full use of the d-file and 7th rank before setting up the finish with a quietly placed knight eyeing h7. Thomas went on to secure the title with 5 ½ from 6 against the best players in the tournament with Eoin following him home in 2nd place.
Up in the Senior section Rory Quinn from Ennis chess club and former Ennis team-mate Gabor Horvath now with Lindores set the standard with wins in rounds 1&2 before sharing the points in round 3. This game was going out live but unfortunately the live transmission was interrupted after only six moves because the batteries of the live board ran low, perhaps Damien Lavery had used the AA batteries to give his Noddy car a jump start. Rory showed that he still had plenty of charge in his game and played a very nice game against Gareth Annesley in round 4 to pull a half point ahead of Gabor after Ross Harris held Horvath to a draw.

Ross holds his clubmate Gabor to give the lead to Rory beside him who was defeating Gareth

Ross holds his clubmate Gabor to give the lead to Rory beside him who was defeating Gareth

Horvath equalled the scores again when he achieved the win over Annesley in round 5 whilst Quinn was held to a draw by Pilkiewicz however when Gabor was held in the last round by 8 times Ulster Champion Steve Scannell the tournament would be Quinn’s if he could defeat the high flying Harris in the last round.

Rory managed a crafted breakthrough on the g-file to take the win and the Open tournament half a point ahead of Horvath who retained the Championship trophy with Harris lifting the under 1800 grading prize for his consistent performance. It was a nice result for the affable representative of Munster adding the icing to the cake for his weekend.

The UCU President gets the honour of presenting Rory with the winners envelope and certificate

The UCU President gets the honour of presenting Rory with the winners envelope and certificate

Gabor gets his unpolished trophy back and an envelope with instructions on how to use silvo

Gabor gets his unpolished trophy back and an envelope with instructions on how to use silvo

Thomas Donaldson the very deserved victor of the Intermediate title

Thomas Donaldson the very deserved victor of the Intermediate title

Andrew Todd grabbed himself a prize in the Junior

Andrew Todd grabbed himself a prize in the Junior

Rodrigo Blanco from Spain claimed a grading prize

Rodrigo Blanco from Spain claimed a grading prize

Ross grabbed the under 1800 grading, well no point in being the tournament director if you can't rig one for yourself every now and then.

Ross Harris grabbed the under 1800 grading, well no point in being the Tournament Director if you can’t rig one for yourself every now and then.

6/6 is such an improvement on 0/6 at Bunratty just show what abstentionism from the Devil's buttermilk can do for your chess

6/6 is such an improvement on 0/6 at Bunratty, it just show what abstaining from the Devil’s buttermilk can do for your chess

The venue room at the Europa

The venue room at the Europa

The event was so popular even Heisenberg wanted to play

The event was so popular even Heisenberg wanted to play or perhaps he was responsible for spiking Cathal with crystal meth in round 1 because things definitely breaking bad afterwards


200,000 Hits

Today Saturday 24th will see the 200,000th click on the Ballynafeigh site since its creation four years ago, which is a fair aul’ rattle considering it is just a local chess club site in a small union. For those of you who think we started off in the gutter and worked downwards I want to assure you that we will not rest on our laurels, we will continue to descend until we reach your level.
For those who don’t have masochistic tendencies and just click on the site because you consider us to be outstandingly brilliant informative and entertaining, what can we say other than you’re obviously highly intelligent suave and sophisticated with a keen eye for talent and should be exalted wherever you go!


Harris the Quartermaster for UCU

The much whispered about Ulster Chess Union’s new equipment arrived last weekend at the grandiose abode of our illustrious tournament director Ross Harris. Standing proudly on the kerbside as the delivery truck lowered its tailgate the Lindores co-pilot was positively bubbling with excitement and grinning from ear to ear as he tried to guess which box was destined for his living room. The beaming grin was soon hijacked from his face when the driver of the mechanical mule unexpectedly informed him that they all were!
“What! “Blurted the lowly renowned grossly overpaid Physio “there must be some mistake, this had better be a mistake” repeated the disbelieving Harris. “What’s your problem, are you not over the moon with the amount of equipment you got?” asked the delivery man. “Me yes, my wife not so much! What in hells name I’m I to do with all that? I can’t hide all that. She’ll be home by 3.00 and take it from me I’ll be divorced by 4.00 if she lays eyes on all those boxes tubes and cases there’ll be another case added to them, my suitcase at the front door!“Well buddy you need help to hide it then, either get someone really smart or better still get someone who’s really dodgy to help you” advised the Fed-Ex sage.

The shipment arrives

The shipment arrives

Ross had the UCU president Damien Cunningham and the UCU treasurer Adrian Dornford-Smith arriving to help, luckily for the pressurised Harris one is incredibly smart and the other incredibly dodgy. Cunningham’s car soon got packed out with box after case after tube after bag. Back in the house boards were hidden behind wardrobes and in the cloakroom, digital clocks stuffed under beds, below the sink, and under loose floor boards. Harris even hid them inside the electric meter box taking care not to dislodge the high powered magnet that he uses to stop the meter wheel from turning. The only place not used was under an upturned wheel barrow in the garden, because that’s where Ross stashed his Mario Balotelli Liverpool shirt, what a terrible waste of space, Mario Balotelli that is not the wheelbarrow.
Ross turned to Adrian Dornford-Smith the scientific monolith of the UCU, one of the smartest people this side of Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair. Known as the “Sheldon Cooper” of Ulster chess after graduating from Cambridge aged fifteen Adrian has aside from his doctorate another seven honorary degrees from six different universities holds 23 live patents and has been nominated three times for the Nobel Prize for physics; he also would have won the Isaac Newton medal when it came down to a coin flip between the last two nominees, Adrian was unlucky when he called tails. “Okay Adrian what can you take of my hands?” inquired Ross. “Yeah I’m sorted, I got stuff already Ross thanks” replied the physicist. Ross scoured the mass of boxes still in the living room, hallway and front porch and could see no reduction, more panicked than perplexed Ross gasped in disbelief “What all did you get if I still have this load?” “Oh I got a wooden board and set, very nice it is too, it’ll look really nice on my coffee table” replied the potential laureate. Ross went into a rant “Listen Einstein have you looked around you? We’re here to muck in together to share out storage responsibility, this only works if the equipment is matched up and distributed properly so that each of us stores the right combination of equipment. Apart from the intelligent logistics the ancillary benefit being it lowers the divorce exposure around me. If she who must be obeyed lays eyes on this lot I’m up shit creek! At the very best if I’m not sent packing I’d be bloody gelded! I’ll be living in the spare room for the next six months and probably end up late at night logging on to one of those sites that take credit cards, sites like Paddy Power Ladbrokes and Victor Chandler. Do you see what I’m saying here Tefal-head?” Taken aback the mathematics genius scanned the remaining boxes “Alright Ross I see what you mean, I get where you’re coming from now, so relax mate I’ll not leave you stuck I’ll help you out a bit more I’ll take a digital clock as well” replied Adrian.
Ross was bamboozled and looked like he’d just bought a timeshare in Aleppo! On the other hand Adrian was just Adrian standing about grinning occasionally pulling open a drawer or cabinet in the hope that it would contain assembly diagrams or better still an instruction manual for an electronic device and the more complex the explanation the better. When most kids turned up in the football shirts for a kick-about had the names of legends stamped on the back like Cantona, Maradonna, Zico, Dalglish, Van Basten, or Platini they would often be left scratching their heads when they saw Adrian’s shirt and left to wonder what team Turing played for? In his teenage years Adrian’s mum used to search his room when he was out just like all mothers do I suppose for those teenage magazines that are always hidden away in secret places. She found Adrian’s stash under the carpet inside a wardrobe; she pulled the glossy magazines out one at a time and flicked through them just to make sure they were not too heavy. There was digital photography imaging for experts, a printed lecture on the retrieval of flight data from a corrupted recorder, a thesis on Gamma ray etching process and an illustrated discussion paper on radio frequency integrated circuits which had its pages stuck together.

Adrians match scoresheets are a mess

Adrians match scoresheets are a mess

Adrian’s eye caught sight of something and he immediately turned to Ross and asked “those amazing looking E boards in the corner are they based on wireless as well as hardwired in a tandem system through computer and eventually via a dongle or wi-fi system?” Ross answered “ I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about Adrian but it does comes with lots of wires and cables and instructions booklets that look like hieroglyphics for the insane” “Oh I’d so love one of those Ross” purred Adrian. “No problem at all Adrian go ahead grad a micro-chipped board, a chipped set the cables, clock and case anything you want” replied Ross thinking something was still better than nothing. “Oh I don’t need all that Ross beamed Adrian I only want the instruction booklet!” picked one up and left Ross turned to Cunningham and said “well at least he proved an old saying right “better to have a smart idiot than a dumb genius”

The front room in the house Ross use to live in

The front room in the house Ross use to live in


Gonzaga Join Protest

The list of events refusing to accept the Irish Chess Union ultimatum to controllers regarding authority over the entry lists to tournaments has been swollen by the prestigious Gonzaga Chess Classic.
Joining Malahide, Cork, Kilkenny, Bunratty, Ennis, Galway and Limerick they make up the bedrock of tournament chess in Ireland and their inclusion in this high stakes poker game now adds strength to the controller’s hand in the dispute. What direction or what action the board of the ICU choose to take from this point is debateable but unquestionably the boards hand is not as strong as they believed and the controllers hand was not as weak as they had hoped. With the inclusion of Malahide, Kilkenny and Gonzaga in the controller’s camp any argument that this was a localised issue, a parochial problem, a mere spat in the sticks is completely and utterly refuted. Worse than merely operating from a position of false strength the ICU board seemed to have been betting hard with their hand believing they held all the Aces, only to now realise that all the time the tournament controllers were sitting with a Straight-flush.


There are times when holding all the aces isn’t enough

In this case the controllers knew from day one how strong their hand was.

In this case the controllers knew from day one how strong their hand was.


Trident Blitz

Karina Kruk played in her first Trident-Blitz and managed to get herself on to a winning team with Edward Doak and Mark Hewitt to collect the Dennis Wilkinson sponsored first prize. Hewitt and Doak were also on the winning team in the first Trident-Blitz this summer and Hewitt was a first place in the Ballynafeigh puzzle evening recently, rumours that he also won the lottery are as yet unsubstantiated.

Flaunting their £90 each only made them more hateful than normal.

Flaunting their £90 each only made them more hateful than normal.

Ballynafeigh 1 captain Brendan Jamison and BNF1 board 1 David Houston made excuses for their poor showing in the Trident-Blitz by claiming that they were distracted with the Silver King league trophy. Well Brendan did David just said his playing partners were numpties.

Ballynafeigh 1 captain Brendan Jamison and BNF1 board 1 David Houston made excuses for their poor showing in the Trident-Blitz by claiming that they were distracted with the Silver King league trophy. Well Brendan did David just said his playing partners were numpties.


Trident Blitz


The first of this summer’s trident blitzes sponsored by Denis Wilkinson took place last Tuesday night at the Ballynafeigh venue and it must be said it was great craic. The tournament wasn’t ten minutes old when the first dummy came flying from the pram, followed by several toys from others who considered themselves to have been landed with partners who operated on a different mental wavelength to any humanoid in existence.

The format had three person teams taking it in turns to completely cock it up for the man following them; the entry field was ranked according to rating and then split equally into three sections and one player drawn randomly from each section to form a team. Before every round the teams draw for colours and each team has 7-10 minutes on the clock decided at start of the tournament by controller with the players from the lowest band to move first followed by their counterparts and so on.
Moves are not complete until the clock is hit and the player can take back any move while the clock remains un-pressed. While conferring is not allowed on moves between teammate you can tell or for that matter shout at a teammate to hurry up to remind them about the clock, and trying to put off opponents is not only legal but somewhat expected. If someone tells a fellow teammate what to play the teammate is barred from making that move and the team receives a yellow card instead, if they pick up a second yellow card during the evening their best player is suspended for his next two moves which must be taken instead by the lowest rated player in the team who will also still has his own turns to take.
Steve Scannell not only called into question the parentage of the tournament controller but the parentage of his parents as his team sat on 0/3 a few rounds later as his team sat on 0/5 he expanded his remarks to include not only the controllers parents grandparents and great grandparents but the probability of the inclusion of a mixture of DNA from a goat. Scannell was joined in his distain by Robert Lavery who had clearly gone off on one as his team also sat on 0/5, the magnitude of his despair was amplified by his disheartened response to dropping a pawn in round 6 with a resignation. His executive decision against the wishes of his teammates brought howls of protest, realising his premature actions were a cause of irritation he made amends by playing on in the next round even when things didn’t quite look that great, though he found it exceedingly difficult to continue quietly with a king and four pawns against 2 rooks 2 knights a bishop a queen and 7 pawns. Beside himself with exasperation at his position he beckoned over the controller whom he considered the chief architect of his team’s misfortune to admire the fruits of his labour and his random draw.

The highest rated team of Damien Lavery Richard Gould and David Seaby set a punishing pace which only the second seeded team of David Houston Mark Hewitt and Edward Doak could keep pace with. Houston Hewitt and Doak slipped up in round 4 when in an almost tied up position pieces kept being shuffled back and forth as the junior players kept missing the grander more adventurous plans of their strongest player every time a piece was lined up in the preferred position the next player to play frustratingly returned it to its starting square and the controller called draw. The top seeds of Lavery Gould and Seaby then picked up a yellow card in round four for speech play, which they would have to carry for the duration of the entire tournament as it does not expire. The rest of the pack were led by the gambling gambiteer’s of Jensen Weir and Winter who sac’d everything for a laugh which turned out to be successful enough to move them up the pecking order and an eventually third place. Houston Doak and Hewitt took the first prize after better time management saw them overcome Gould Seaby and Lavery who had to settle for the runners up spot when the shadow of the yellow card brought out a yellow streak in their play. There was even a financial prize for the wooden spoonists of Paul Charles Robert Lavery and John Price in the hope that they buy some chess books to aid their chess development in time for the next one in June when Robert Lavery was asked what he thought of the random draw format by the Gossip Desk he rubber stamped his approval we think!



The Mighty Quinn

Ciaran Quinn from Dublin’s Elmount chess club travelled up to Belfast on Saturday to defend the Ulster Rapid play championship that he won so convincingly last year with an impressive tour de force romp winning all six games. If he could repeat his feat of last year and win all six games again not only would he win the trophy and the 1st place prize but there was a double whitewash bonus of £350 up for grabs.

However the hope was short lived as the fatigue of the journey took its toll on the champion and he got beat by a little girl in round one. Ballynafeigh’s Karina Kruk with the black pieces and shaking harder than a rope bridge with epilepsy still had enough nerve left to give the champion a rocky start. By round two Ciaran had shook off the jet-lag and resumed winning ways as he managed to get his Swiss-gambit steam-roller moving, by round  four he was flattening opponents for fun and soon had himself back in contention after beating the big girl of the tournament Ballynafeigh’s Damien Lavery in round five. The last round clash saw Ciaran pitted against Mark Newman of Civil Service chess club in a winner takes all stakes game, Ciaran trying to retain his title he won last year and Mark trying to win his first since 1978. It was the mighty Quinn who prevailed to take the title, trophy and the cheque home with him for a second year running but like a generous guest left the whitewash bonus behind.

Winner takes all clash Newman on the left with white falls to the champion Quinn

Winner takes all clash Newman on the left with white falls to the champion Quinn

Rainey on left against Anderson

Rainey on left against Anderson sporting his designer stubble look

Runner up Damien Lavery smashed into the queenside of Calum Leitch to secure the win

Runner up Damien Lavery (left) smashed into the queenside of Calum Leitch to secure the win

Quinn centre will the trophy is flanked by Lavery on the left (runner up) and Armstrong on the right (grading prize)

Quinn centre with the trophy is flanked by Lavery on the left (runner up) and Armstrong on the right (grading prize)

Skullduggerer General Ross Harris on the receiving end of a crushing lesson from me

Skullduggerer General Ross Harris on the receiving end of a crushing lesson from me

Though it has to be said that not everyone found it quite so riviting

Though it has to be said that not everyone found it quite so riviting


GM Caught with his trousers down

Well there’s no point in deluding ourselves it was only a matter of time before one was caught using the assistance of technology to dramatically and illegally improve their chances in competition. Alas it was that hoary old chestnut the phone in the toilet again, or should that be chess-nut in the toilet? Either way it doubly embarrassing because it was not some intermediate in the running for a grading prize nor some junior eager to impress his peers and relatives, it was a Grandmaster and a national champion playing in the Dubai open.



Nigel Short and Grinch’s of chess

I was going to title this post “In Defence of Nigel Short” after the arranged barrage of false indignation printed on another site. I’m glad I didn’t because that would have been an error as Grandmaster Short has done nothing in this case that needs defending. Nigel Short GM sent out a fun tweet about the world famous Bunratty tournament in which he queried why Grandmaster Wesley So was in attendance. Tongue in cheek he tweeted the following

tweet 2

It was a fun tweet, an innocent tweet meant as a light hearted advert to the Irish chess followers that GM So one of the top rated players in the world was playing in Bunratty along with many other high class GM’s. Bunratty is a chess players dream tournament where the ordinary patzer or average garden variety wood-chucker gets to not only play in the same room as the top GM’s but also gets the opportunity  to talk and socialise with them afterwards in the bars and restaurants. That is not always the case at other tournaments, I was a spectator at tournaments in Slovenia and Italy a few years back and I nearly entered, after the close of play in both I was delighted I hadn’t because in both tournaments the GM’s jumped in taxis and disappeared until next morning and at meal breaks they were sheltered from the plebs.

How many readers who have attended the Irish run tournaments this year or in years gone by can testify that the visiting GM’s are extremely approachable on the Irish circuit? The likes of Short, Nunn, Jones, Hebdon, Arkle, Wells, Pert, and Williams to name a few have always been approachable and went out of their way to be so both past and present. This year Grandmaster So was added to that list of chess masters who could be simply approached and chatted to as he proved with several of the Belfast players just last week.

So do we revel in our special rapport with our chess stars and hail its uniqueness? No we don’t, instead the killjoys of Irish chess weigh into a discredited site that enjoys nothing better than to pick at the scabs of Irish chess. The sole aim of this site seems to be to promote the self serving views of a fool with an uncontrollable narcissistic personality and to cause the maximum discomfort in Irish chess. The “Site of Spite” as we call it in Ballynafeigh is run by and I still find this embarrassing to type, the Public Relations Officer of the Irish Chess Union (good grief!)

He deliberately selects the most provocative of pieces to create animosity or deliberately spins absolute nonsense and trivial words into something altogether more sinister, and if that means taking thing out of context to garnish his view then so be it. One of the posters claimed to have taught 2,000 kids to play chess! The question any sensible reader would ask having feasted their eyes on that claim is where are they? There are certainly not 2,000 kids at the tournaments; they seemed to have disappeared before Nigel even made his joke tweet last week, who scared them? or will we just blame Nigel for everything wrong in chess on this island, why stop there lets blame him for everything.

Let’s blame him for the economy and the housing collapse, I mean why not? while we’re at it I bet the bollix had a hand in the boxing day Tsunami, the Wall street crash, Hiroshima, Three mile island and Chernobyl  Let’s all get a rope and wait for the next time he visits us, we’ll teach him for making our tournaments a higher standard with a more friendly atmosphere, how dare he!


Burglars and Stalkers at Bunratty

No yachts wellies’ or life jackets were required for the road trip to the county Clare candle for the Belfast moths which was a welcome respite after the Tsunami like washout of last year. The weather was perfect, the skies were clear the roads were dry and it was motorway all the way, at a comfortable speed with intelligent decisions we could make the 240 mile trip in 3 hours and twenty minutes. Though if we decided to indulge ourselves in a game of squeaky-bum time with chorus lines of “Holy Jesus! that was a bit close wasn’t it?” we could probably shave that to 2 hours fifty. If anyone from traffic-branch is reading I would like to point out that technically if driving legally the journey should take approximately 4 hours on a clear road and that’s exactly to the minute how long it took us! In fact we would have been even longer if we had taken dessert when we stopped at lunchtime for an hour!

I was confident that the lost time could be made up in the perfect conditions especially in the souped-up BMW with go faster stripes. Unfortunately someone stole my driver and replaced him with an old granny devoid of a pair of cahoonies and I have to admit I was most vociferous in relaying my observations to Garhy Aboelsoud the steerer of my vehicle, when I say steerer it wasn’t hesitancy for a word, I just categorically refuse to put driver and Garhy Aboelsoud in the same sentence! He is one of the few people on this planet that can make Damien Lavery look like a circuit of Ireland rally driver. “I’m not devoid of a pair I’m just in no rush to retire from the human race” retorted Aboelsoud in language that was faster than the speed we were driving at as yet another tractor overtook us.

Arriving at the venue with a newbie is always a fun time, hearing about Bunratty is all well and grand but following them into the tournament arenas for the first time when they see it for themselves is like Bambi-hour. To their never ending credit the playing venue was presented to its usual high standard by the Bunratty organisers with every aspect of possible difficulties for individual players taken into consideration for the layout of the tables in the arenas. The organisers wise to the fact that if you impress the first timers organisationally and aesthetically the first time around you’ll be impressing them for many a year after always ensure the wow-factor box is ticked without fail.  They also had live boards going out on-line automatically to the rest of the world from the sleepy county Clare village, which added an extra incentive for the virgins if ever one was needed in the first place. Virgins in Bunratty come in three categories those there competing in the weekender for the first time, women folk lucky enough to escape the attention of the Romeo GM’s Simon Williams and Nigel Short, or the Lindores lothario Andy Hughes with his musketeer facial coverage and woman wooing guitar skills, the third group is the Liam Ferris category, too ugly to woo, too poor to pay!

The playing venue

The playing venue

The Master's area

The Master’s area

Another beautifully presented set of arenas by the organisers

Another beautifully presented set of arenas by the organisers

The northern contingent did quite well in round one with a high success rate amongst them and in their twos and threes toddled off to the bar area for boastful replays and an opportunity to feel smug for a while. The Lindores and Ballynafeigh squads commenced their tours of the optics in the Creamery and Durty Nelly’s educating the uninitiated as to the quality hangover commodities available before returning to the hotel for late drinks and later blitzing. Though not all the Hallion Battalion from Belfast were beyond redemption, indeed the young QUB Christians held a prayer meeting in one of the rented cottages where Chris Cao on guitar and Matthew Chapman on vocals led chorus’s of kumbaya and watched reruns of the Angelus on RTE. Bible studies then commenced until bedtime around 7pm as part of their sponsorship agreement with former Irish Champion Ray Devenney.

Saturday morning started with the gossip of how the prayer meeting fell apart after a few hours, well after a few hours of drinking holy water at 42% proof, it was then that Chris Cao realised he was an atheist and it dawned on Suraj Turipati that he was in fact Hindu! When asked over breakfast why he got involved in the first place Suraj replied “I know it may look a bit strange to outsiders but if there was even the slimmest of chances that through the power of prayer the scribe of the Ballynafeigh blog would burn in hell then it would be very remiss of us not to at least give it a go” Around lunchtime the tongues were wagging about two wannabe cat burglars with Belfast accents trying to break out of another cottage, yeah you read that correctly they were indeed trying to breakout and not in. Stephen Rush had left the house thinking he was the last out and promptly locked the front door and headed to the playing venue. Unbeknown to the security conscious Stephen two late sleepers Martin Kelly and Cathal Murphy were still under the duvets and awoke to find themselves in captivity. After the initial panic attacks and name calling it slowly dawned on them that they had mobile phones to summon help, so did they phone Stephen Eoin Soren or Jim who were staying in the same house? No! Did they phone Calum or Damien C who could have got to anyone with a key and were only a few hundred yards away? No! They decided to phone the owner 50 miles away! To plead their plight and in return listen to her giggle back down the phone. Time to turn to plan B for our challenged duo; “Let’s climb out the window Martin” said Cathal with an Edison light bulb moment, fifteen minutes later the Abbot and Costello of cat-burglars were still wedged in the frame of the window in a compromising position which while probably new to Murphy was anything but to Kelly. Perhaps if they’d remembered the old Mae West quip “A man in the house is worth two in the street” they’d have been better off.

Over lunch and after the statements to the Garda the unfortunate pair relived their nightmare in a quest for sympathy or a discount; boy did they go to the wrong guys in Leitch and Cunningham for either! “Why did you phone the owner, when we were across the street or in the next houses round the corner?” “Why didn’t you organise a key rota?” The questions just kept rolling but the interesting one was still to be asked “Why didn’t you just leave via the unlocked French doors at the back?” Kelly replied with authority “it was locked we both tried it” “No Martin it was open I used it earlier” replied Cunningham “No I can tell you it must have been another house you tried because we pushed it and pulled it, it neither opened outward nor inward it was locked” replied an emphatic Kelly “Aye you’re probably right there Martin I don’t think it opens outwards or inwards, you see it’s a sliding door it slides to the left” smirked Cunningham.

When the French doors wouldn't open Martin thought it was just a bad case of C'est la vie

When the French doors wouldn’t open Martin thought it was just a bad case of C’est la vie

During the Saturday evening the talk was of the Icelandic IM Bjorn Thorffinsson who demolished a very strong field in the parallel Bunratty Classic which ran side by side for the week and in doing so achieved a GM norm the first ever earned at any Irish event. Celebrating later in Durty Nelly’s in the company of GM Simon Williams the bold Bjorn was called upon by Simon for a celebratory song in Icelandic. “Not maybe a guud eyedeer eye not sing veery guud” apologised a flattered Bjorn, “Nonsense man I’ve heard you before you have a very fine voice, so go on your amongst friends” cajoled the determined Williams. Bjorn cleared his throat and the room fell hushed and for the next three minutes we were exposed to a traditional love song from Reykjavik, in that 3 minute spell, a memory that I’ll take to my grave, everyone in that room learned two things. We learned that Bjorn Thorffinsson is an extremely honest person, he has not got one single musical note in his head and we also learned that GM Simon Williams is a lying wind-up bastard!

Leaving Durty Nelly’s later that evening we passed by the Creamery bar, outside were part of the Lindores crew Andy Hughes and David Barr out for a smoke break; they were standing about with a pint of larger in their fist, a hip flask of whisky in their pocket and the longest funny shaped cigarettes anyone has ever seen. Inside an unfortunate GM was detained by other elements of the northern contingent and was being grilled if not interrogated about insane chess scenarios and mind numbing stupid questions, the poor guy looked like he was facing his worst stalker nightmare. Deciding not to rescue him was a no brainer, better him than me I thought besides Bunratty can be survival of the fittest at times and a GM title is the chess equivalent to a black-belt in karate, he should be able to look after himself.

I got to the hotel where Garhy Aboelsoud my steerer and top seed in the ‘Hustler’ section was in exuberant mood about being broadcast live every round had texted anyone with a phone and even some that hadn’t advising them to go on line and watch him play. So carried away with his new found fame the slow chauffeur forgot himself and started to give lessons to players from the challenger section, which would have been okay if it had been Stephen Rush and Chris Black but he was giving lessons to people who could actually play.  There was a strong presence from the northern contingent in the Minor section also known as the ‘Hustler’ section. It gains the nickname from the propensity of the ‘flyboys’ to enter this section as a complete beginner then murder all round them with form and ability good enough for the extremely strong Challenger section and without doubt should never have been allowed within an international exclusion zone of the Minor event in the first place. However this is not the fault of the organisers and controllers of Bunratty who are responsible for a sterling exercise in impartiality and fairness and are a credit to controllers everywhere. The error here must be laid at the front door of the ratings officer that awards some of these players with ratings of 500 700 and 800 when the briefest of casual glances at their play would be enough to slap a provisional rating of 1200, 1300, and 1500 without a moment’s hesitation. No one would tolerate a Pete Cafolla, Rory Quinn or a Hugh Doyle playing in the Major yet year after year the Minor is subject to these same anomalies albeit on a reduced scale. To achieve a rating surely someone somewhere with knowledge of chess had to have seen these players play and at what point could these same people not see that the person was either vastly stronger or deliberately hiding form. It really is not very fair on players who play every year in the minor because they are not strong enough to escape it but love chess and support the tournament through loyalty. To add insult to injury they enter knowing not only have they no chance of 1st 2nd or 3rd but neither have they much of a chance of getting a grading prize because the ‘flyboys’ mop a lot of those up also.

The newbies were in the bar in numbers some clearly star struck with the celebrities of the chequered board or else quite taken by Margit Brokko the eye candy of the challenger section, with her smart business suit, flowing blonde curls and high heels she almost turned as many heads as Gerry Graham did in his pastel pink pinstriped shirt and his clipboards hanging out for the lads. Norman Rainey was well oiled on the home brew he brought with him and to be fair that’s not surprising at all, it smelt like a mixture of paraffin and diesel which had been coloured with red lead and stored in a slurry tank before being strained through the underpants of a stuntman, but seventy six year old Norman insists on calling it wine! “Here Damien is that yer man Gary O’Grady?” “Which one Norman?” I asked “That one, him, the one with the well cut pants and jacket, has the well groomed Hollywood chin warmer, has the trendy glasses, has money written all over him, you were talking to him in the lobby ” “Oh I know who you mean, no that’s not Gary that Rory Quinn!” “Right right right, then tell me which one’s Gary then?” “Gary you can’t miss him, he’s the lovely guy with rugby shirt, glasses and a fake Irish passport”

As the Saturday night continued into the Sunday morning most of the customers of the bar area had wisely left for bed, the Belfast mob stayed the few that left did so only left to visit a hidden still or stash and returned soon after with over filled glasses. The early hours came and even they were forced to retreat to their accommodation, the Lindores crew were the last out and such was their state it too them twenty five minutes for a two minute walk back to the cottage. Calum took David Barr by the arm and guided him home to the front door and through it, once inside and the worst for wear David decided he needed a smoke of one of them big weird long cigarette thingy’s. Standing four feet from his front door David finished his smoke, or perhaps that should read his smoke finished him! On finishing he couldn’t find his front door which was four feet away and behind him, somehow David decided he should search for it, that he should try all the doors because his door was open and he wasn’t stupid the open door just had to be his. Halfway up the street David found an open door and decided it was his house went in and stripped off! Sprawling out naked on the sofa he fell in a deep sleep, it wasn’t the twittering of birds or the passing milkman that awoke our intrepid hero, oh no! It was the shouting, screaming, bawling of the occupants who were scared stiff when they were awoken by a grizzly bear wrecking their kitchen, they only came down when it went quiet to see Goldilocks sleeping in baby’s bed or in this case the sofa. David panicked he jumped up and pulled on trousers and jacket and fled being called a multitude of names as he did so. He walked the street and managed to bump into the Lindores Casanova Andy Hughes returning late from somewhere who brought him home. That was the early hours of Sunday and it was going to be a long long day for David Barr.

The Lindores lads determined to keep the good Belfast name in the trash god bless em tried to jump the breakfast queue on Sunday by chancing their arm quoting a room number. Unfortunately room 522 was a bit of a giveaway for the restaurant staff as the hotel didn’t have a fifth floor and they had to beat a hasty retreat to lick their wounds because they wouldn’t be licking any plates with that room number.  Outside the hipflasks came out and it was the hair of the dog for them all, before the hungry hounds made their way back in to see the draw. Calum Leitch was two minutes away from the default time against a very strong opponent on the Sunday morning as he reached his seat, then after playing for a while he went out for a smoke, chatting to a couple that he knows from the event he kindly accepted the offer of a pint and continued the conversation which covered many topics. Eventually when the conversation returned to chess the woman of the couple asked Calum “Well how did you get on in your match this morning?” Calum’s lights came on and he jumped from his chair and raced inside to his board to where his clocked had ticked down to three minutes, he could have strolled because in the heavy hitting challengers the result was always going to be the same. David Barr made his way to his board or was guided there to face Sean Loftus, now for anyone who doesn’t know Sean Loftus is Ireland’s strongest blind player, he has his own Braille board and set which is set up beside a normal board. Sean whispers his moves which his opponent then positions on the full board before replying and in turn whispering his moves so Sean can record them on a small recording device. Pardon the pun but you can see where this is going, Sean was blind David was blind drunk and could hardly speak. He was positioning Sean’s moves wrongly on the main board and worse still calling out the wrong moves to Sean for the Braille board. Nobody knew what to do or say except quite a few Belfast ones went over to see the carnage for a laugh, nobody had the nerve to say to the controllers and how Sean didn’t make an illegal move on the main board is a mathematical miracle. Sean eventually won thank goodness and the strange thing is he was completely crushing David on both boards and your head would explode trying to work out how that was possible.

The last round saw Garhy my slow chauffeur playing for the title in the minors Eoin Carey playing for a share of the title in the Major or the runner up spot and Barney McGahan  Chris Cao and Thomas Donaldson chasing grading prizes and places. This was brilliant for them, only Thomas had been here before, as for the rest it was their first ever Bunratty and they were all very nervy going into the last round. Chris and Eoin secured their places and Barney and Thomas just failed at the end. Garhy who was top seed in the section on 1197 and had comfortable taken care of all his opponents thus far was playing for the Minor/Hustler title didn’t just fail, no he was comprehensively annihilated both positionally and tactically by someone with a 500 rating!

The prizes were handed out and preparations were made for the Bunratty Blitz event, struggling into the hall the Belfast squad picked out their intended victims. A few of the lads selected Bjorn Thorffinsson to show him that he may have earned a GM norm but that was vastly different from earning a Bunratty norm. First up to play Bjorn was a slightly sober David Barr, “Hallo hawar yuu” inquired a polite Bjorn as he introduced himself. “Grand sore head but grand” replied David “Ave we meet beefor at other toornamints I know yuu face?” asked Bjorn “I don’t think so have you been to Belfast?” countered David “No … vait a second I know yuu … yuu that foorking zombie that breek into my house at 5 o’clock these mourning” Wham david’s jaw hit the floor his face turned more purple than red and Calum Leitch collapsed in a heap. David began to stutter as his slowing brain searched in vain for the phrases he wanted and the explanation needed. He began “you probably and quite rightly want to know how that happened” “No!” replied Bjorn “eye probably and quit rightly vant tuu know waat happened my jacket yuu left my house with” Awoken from a stupor Goldilocks lifted the first jacket at hand irrespective of its fit and walked out with it, he had no answer and not for the first time David was speechless that weekend. In the background the double tag-team of James O’Fee and Chris Armstrong had corralled Wesley So into a corner where they relentlessly interrogated him on all topics but at least they left him his coat!

They may have been the Bunratty inquisition but at least James O'Fee and Chris Armstrong left GM Wellsley So his coat

They may have been the Bunratty inquisition but at least James O’Fee and Chris Armstrong left GM Wellsley So his coat

As we pulled out of Bunratty taking away our memories but leaving behind our ratings points we noticed that Chris Armstrong and James O’Fee had eventually succeeded in kidnapping their GM at the third attempt as they drove off to Dublin with Raymond Keene in the car. So hats off to the organisers of the biggest and toughest tournament in Ireland and hats off to Bjorn not only on his GM norm but on being an outstanding sport regarding the Belfast transgressions, may he live a long life and never listen to the “Ginger GM” ever again. I needed to be back in Belfast before next year’s tournament so I took the steering wheel off the slow chauffeur and showed him what the right hand pedal was for.  GM So v GM Jones Blitz 1st game  GM Jones v GM So Blitz decider


Sunshine and Ice Skating

Charlie Logan of Ballynafeigh 4 arrived back this week from his winter holiday in sunny Tenerife to a crisp night air and a half inch covering of snow. However the bleak weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of the intrepid Charlie because he was still glowing from his new found super-hero status that he acquired on the sunny isle. The stories of the Ballynafeigh super-hero’s deeds earning this new found badge of honour range from merely stopping a street mugger attacking a lone victim to apprehending an entire drug cartel armed with automatic weapons and body armour. Of course it does depend on who you listen to, but he is Ballynafeigh 4 so I personally wouldn’t rule anything out!

What is not in doubt this week is Mark Newman put himself in hospital while listening to music on Classic FM, no doubt the rock music fans out there reading this will be thinking that such an outcome is inevitable every time Classic FM is played within reach of a packet of razor blades. The injuries sustained whilst extremely painful were non life threatening, Newman explained “I was in the car listening to Ravels Bolero and when I got out of the car with all the ice about and the music still in my head I just got caught up in a Torvill and Dean moment, which turned into a Torvill and Dean nine hours in casualty after I went down faster than a Fruithill title challenge.”

Another on thin ice this week was Muldoon’s supremo who cancelled his league clash with Lindores just an hour before the game citing the impossibility of safely negotiating the roads around Glengormley after almost 1 inch of snow with drifts of nearly 2 inches in places. Lindores board 5 Paul McNaughton travelled from Larne twenty miles further up the line and was surprised by the fragility of the Muldoons team, “I didn’t have any bother, it was clear enough, I’ve seen more ice in a Derek Truesdale whiskey glass.” said a frosty McNaughton. That said Larne is like winter even in summer it is no surprise one would endeavour to leave it, it’s such a dreary and acutely depressing place that Classic FM is banned and everyone has to use electric shavers.

The road out of Larne

The road out of Larne


The Devil is in the detail

Whether or not the lead that Ballynafeigh 1 have taken in the race for the Silver king can be clawed back by a resurgent Lindores or Muldoon’s is highly debateable. The problem for the pursuers of Ballynafeigh 1 is that the Ormeau road side are just far too consistent at the moment, they are grinding wins from dodgy positions and achieving draws from lost ones, when they have the better of the argument they don’t have slip ups they secure the victory every time.

So they are where they find themselves on merit and really consistent scoring from some of their players not least the most experienced player in Ulster chess David Houston whom has had one drawn game this year and won all the rest, big man, big reputation, and big scoring! Just the sort of performances any captain would be hoping for from his board one and nervous captains praying for. If nervous captains do pray then Brendan Jamison has been doing decades of the rosary, reciting the Koran and performing Hindu Bhakt movements, that’s if he wasn’t having plain old fashioned bowel movements since he was appointed to the captain’s post. During the latest clash with Lindores things were looking poor from a Ballynafeigh view, their visibly nervous captain was first to lose, then later as he scoured the remaining four boards he was visibly twitching. When Housty and Soren both went down a piece for counter play Brendan was wobbling more than Frank Carrothers  on a treadmill, when Lavo went down a piece with 2 minutes left on his clock and Steve started chasing shadows in his end game with Calum the Lindores board 2 well Jamison the Ballynafeigh captain was shaking harder than San Francisco in 1906.

Jamison was distraught his planning coaxing bribing and conniving were all going astray and the power of prayer just wasn’t working. “Oh gosh, oh dearie me this is awful just awful, what can I do?” asked an exasperated Jamison, “You may pray real hard cos that’s your only chance mate” replied a spectating Dennis Wilkinson who had dragged himself from his sickbed to attend the clash. “I am praying” whispered Jamison “Well Brendan you’re praying to the wrong one!” retorted Wilkinson “But that’s not possible Dennis I took no chances I’ve been praying to them all” spluttered Jamison before adding “Perhaps I need to light a few candles” “Aye to St Jude the patron saint of lost causes” quipped a smiling Ross Harris of Lindores. Grabbing a handful of tea-lite candles from the cupboard Jamison headed out of the playing room only to return shortly after to witness the most remarkable turnaround in fortune. Soren Jensen of Ballynafeigh had push his extra central pawns down to the 6th rank negating Paul McNaughton’s extra bishop and in the ensuing cramped position won the piece back and the game. Then Housty promoted against the clock to seal another unexpected win on board 1, almost immediately Steve Scannell weaselled a brilliant draw from a dejected Calum Leitch who had him in a straitjacket  to guarantee an incredible match draw for the league leaders from an impossible position with still one game in play. If the guys from Lindores were in shock now they were about to go hypovolemic  Damien Lavery in the blitzing zone paid scant regard to his piece and two pawn deficit to evade a king hunt by his Lindores opponent Fred MacDonald and then deliver an unstoppable mate attack of his own. “I hope when Brendan is taking praise for this remarkable victory tonight he realises the devil is in the detail” stated an enthused Damien Lavery.

The entire room was gasping at one turnaround after another in the space of five minutes, everyone was disbelieving of what they had just seen, all except one had raised eyebrows or shaking heads, that one was Brendan Jamison, he was cool calm and collected. “I guess those last candles I lit did the trick after all” smirked the happy Ballynafeigh captain as he left. After we had all packed up to go home we noticed that there was light coming from the next room where Brendan had lit his candles and forgot to blow them out. When we opened the door there were he lit candles on the floor in an inverted pentagram, perhaps Lavery was right the devil was in the detail after all.


When Brendan start talking about sacrificing a goat a few of the boys in Ballynafeigh 3 started to get seriously nervous.


Calm dear don’t panic

The week started off with Ballynafeigh and Muldoon’s trading whitewashes, first Ballynafeigh 3 went to Muldoon’s second team on Monday evening and romped home 5-0 with wins for Kruk, Carey, Lavery, Bannon and Winter to put them back in with an outside chance for division two honours after falling behind early in the season. Then on Tuesday night Peter Wilson sent his first team to Ballynafeigh to repay the compliment in spades by drubbing Ballynafeigh 2 and thus getting their own first division challenge back on tracks after a few slip ups, Annesley, Mallaghan, Woods, McGuckin and Mooreland the victorious players on the night.

At the next tables on Tuesday evening Ballynafeigh 1 and their nervous captain Brendan Jamison entertained division one strugglers Bangor but with his pre-match jitters you could be forgiven for thinking that he was the Bangor captain instead of the captain of the division leaders, sitting 13 points clear of their nearest rivals and thirty points clear of their opposition for the evening. “Oh gosh one of my players is still at work have we a strong replacement” Jamison enquired. “Yes Brendan you can have your pick from the Ballynafeigh 3 squad” “Wha-aaat” he spluttered ..before adding “ but sure none of them are super GM’s or IM’s or at the very least master level 2000 plus, oh golly gosh what will we do, Housty and Scannell will go mad if they see me losing points” At this stage someone should have told him well you could start by not hitting the panic button, to espouse a bit of confidence to stop the rot of fear, or failing this that he should just pretend that’s he’s a member of Ballynafeigh 4 and grow a pair. But no one did, at Ballynafeigh they take great relish in fellow members suffering involving chess matters, all the more so if they’re a team selector bordering on meltdown. Damien Lavery started chuckling and announced to his listening circle “I can’t wait to tell Brendan that neither Steve nor myself are available next week” the gathered circle sniggered because they knew Brendan would miss Steve!

The guys all chipped in to buy one for Brendan

The guys all chipped in to buy one for Brendan

Ballynafeigh 4 looking at the fixture lists

Ballynafeigh 4 looking at the fixture lists

To join Ballynafeigh 4 they make you clean the windows first

To join Ballynafeigh 4 they make you clean the windows first

Talking about meltdowns the Ballynafeigh-reject Paddy Magee is off on his full frontal assault of the league controller’s phone and email inbox again. The subject for this tirade or perhaps the correct word should be target is the same target as the last time … and the time before that … and the time before that … it’s Ballynafeigh! Anyone who knows Paddy Magee knows the Ballynafeigh-reject is consumed with a hatred of all things Ballynafeigh!  He has asked the league controller to disband four of the Ballynafeigh teams and force them to play at another club! Yeah if you’re rubbing your eyes they didn’t deceive you, you did indeed read that right. Paddy Magee wants Ballynafeigh to only have one team! … all the players have to pay on this one mega-team or to go and play in the Belfast South club. Obviously if you’re Neil Green you’re probably rubbing your hands and grinning from ear to ear thinking Paddy Magee seems like a nice chap.

But we’re a charitable bunch at Ballynafeigh and not only that we like to think of ourselves as rather enlightened so we would like to offer Paddy some advice from the teachings of Buddha (the real one not Damien Lavery in a bathrobe) He says “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”

At yappy-hour Buddha says you can name your poison

At yappy-hour Buddha says you can name your poison


Williamson Shield 2015

Gabor Horvath lifted the Williamson Shield at the weekend to add to his tally of Ulster trophies gathered so far this season, his victory was assured when he burst clear of the field on the final day eventually finishing with 5.5 from 6, only dropping the half point to his Lindores wingman Calum Leitch. The top section was bolstered by quartet of players from the Rathmines and Gonzaga clubs Marc Lincoln, Ben Cullen, Fiachra Scallan and Andy Keenan who journeyed up to Belfast for the event, though whether they were there for a tilt at the Williamson shield or just the notoriously easy rating points off Ross Harris and Stephen Rush is debateable.

Gonzaga crew

While chatting during the break in the final rounds Marc Lincoln admitted that they came to the Williamson because they couldn’t attend Bunratty this year due to the financial restrictions of the austerity cuts. He said “Jeez na man the aul cuts have hit us hard we’ve had to cut our three week Amazon rain forest trip to a fortnight, and then to save another couple of grand sure we moved our winter week in the Seychelles back to February and it knackered us up with Bunratty like” His travelling companion Ben Cullen butted in with a wide grin “Ah sure at least we won’t have to listen to Gerry Graham’s awful bloody singing this year!”

John Phillips from Enniskillen a stalwart of UCU tournaments over the years blundered in round one but used the set back as an opportunity to make full use of the Swiss gambit scenario and stormed through to win the Challengers section ahead of the wise owl of Ulster chess John McKenna in second and tournament warhorse Martin Kelly back in third.

The Owl and the Warhorse side by side

The Owl and the Warhorse side by side

Ballynafeigh trio Anderson Jamison and Rainey

Ballynafeigh trio Anderson Jamison and Rainey

Well into his 8th decade chess came very late to Norman Rainey but he's taken to it like a sadist to a whip

Well into his 8th decade chess came very late to Norman Rainey but he’s taken to it like a sadist to a whip

Sorcha wasn't playing but she's not for eating her sprouts until her picture is up!

Sorcha wasn’t playing but she’s not for eating her sprouts until her picture is up!


Boeblinger Open  (by Peter Cafolla)

Seasons greetings everyone. Some time ago I advertised that I was making my yearly pilgrimage to Boeblingen , near Stuttgart, for their great open tournament. I’ve played in Linares, Gibraltar, Prague, Sydney, Hastings, The Isle of Man and many other famous tournaments but none compare to this small town somewhere in Germany . I’ve been here four times now and I still haven’t seen the town because there is only time for chess, beer, more chess, more beer, and the occasional sauna.

The tournament itself is incredibly strong but usually when I play here, apart from last year, I seem to raise my game. I am currently on 4/7 against an average opponent of 2164 thanks to some extraordinary luck and a few decent moves. I find the whole place inspiring, the competition is intense, the tournament hall is excellent, the pieces and boards are perfect and everything is wonderfully organised but the best part of it all is the friendliness of the local club members. Despite not speaking a word of German beyond Pils, Claudia Schiffer and Michael Ballack I receive the warmest of welcomes from everyone involved and am really made to feel at home here. Tonight I had a few beers with some of the local members and they wouldn’t even let me buy a drink!

This tournament is quite unique because for the five days it is on the Mercure Hotel is given over to the chess club and run by volunteers. The hotel staff man the reception and provide a great breakfast but the bar and kitchen are run by the chess club members and any money they make goes towards their chess club and their team in the German chess league.

I really can’t speak highly enough of the whole event, it is by far my favourite tournament of the year and anyone looking to have some fun and great chess over the Christmas could do no better than to come here. Be sure and book early though because it was sold out this year!


Chess Blitz Championshi2015

Sunday 28th at the Belfast boat club will see the crowning of this years blitz champion, so if you’ve had enough of the turkey sandwiches and Christmas pudding why not burn a few calories off in the 100 metre sprint of chess the 3 minute blitz.

Registration starts at 11 am with the idea of an 11.45 start, same rules as last year will apply with all illegal moves made with less than 30 seconds on the clock judged an automatic loss

Chess... it's not just for the old

Chess… it’s not just for the old like Steve Scannell


Christmas Turkey

Ballynafeigh 2 travelled to the Lindores coffee house on Thursday evening for the last division one match before the Christmas break. It was a fixture that Ballynafeigh were looking forward to as the Lindores super team had already fallen victim to the Ormeau road side earlier in the season. The Ballynafeigh 2 captain who more that occasionally scribes for the news and gossip page was quite keen to add a clash with ‘Dashing’ Mike Redman on his Christmas wish list from Santa, and urged on by Brendan Jamison the Ballynafeigh 1 captain published that list yesterday in a pre-match psychology stunt.

It worked; Mike Redman who took over the mantle of the ‘Pin-up boy’ of Ulster chess after the abdication of Eamonn Walls withdrew from the match at the last moment citing Hay-fever and sunstroke! I have to admit that’s an impressive combination to attain in Belfast in mid December. What ‘dashing’ Mike didn’t know was that Ballynafeigh 2 had come with a Santa goodies bag because they had only four players, Chris Kelly was in Texas, Karina Kruk was in Portstewart, and Gerard Bannon was in the dog-house! So if Mike could avoid the four remaining Ballynafeigh 2 players he definitely had a shot at a result.

So Ballynafeigh gifted Lindores a free point to start with but didn’t finish there their generosity knew no bounds especially their board 1&2 Cunningham and O’Docherty who competed with each other to see who would present Lindores with the earliest gift. It was a competition that Cunningham won with ease to prove Bernard Matthews doesn’t have all the turkeys, Ballynafeigh have one or two as well.

Gabor 1

In the game above between Damien Cunningham and Gabor Horvath  Cunningham with white has the move, he should have played the logical move highlighted rook C1 with a pawn up nearly forty minutes advantage on the clock and a very comfortable game. Allowing a castle or Nb2 or Ne2 … But it was Christmas and the turkey got ahead of himself and played 0-0  holy  #!%*@*


The Ballynafeigh 2 board 1 looking the part


Ballynafeigh 3 Educate the University side

bnf3 001

Ballynafeigh 3 on left led by Robert Lavery (closest) defeated Matthew Chapman’s League newcomers Queens University. Matthew who worked non stop to get his team into the league hopes to build on his success for next year.

Division two games this week saw Ballynafeigh 4 whitewash their kith and kin Ballynafeigh 5 who have lived up to their pre-league expectation as the whipping boy select. Ballynafeigh 4 taking the maximum points of their club mates helped them leapfrog QUB after Matthew Chapman’s student side fell victim to Ballynafeigh 3 who though weakened by kidnappings by Ballynafeigh 1 and Christmas parties still were far too strong for the fledgling university side. Robert Lavery and Matthew Chapman did their captains role when they held each other to a draw, Suraj Tirupati put Ballynafeigh in the lead when his rook v bishop endgame went the way of the heavier piece. Eoin Carey was determined to get back to winning ways after last weeks shock defeat and better king positioning in the pawn endgame was sufficient for the task. The Ballynafeigh banker game Tyrone Winter v Paddy Magee was as expected under no threat of not going the way of Ballynafeigh, Winter comprehensively outplayed his opponent and lulled him into error after error before dispatching him with a H file mate. Chris Cao pulled one back for Matthew Chapman his team captain who watched his close victory over James Barbour. It will be a result greeted by team captain Dennis Wilkinson who has been side-lined through illness and has had to watch via the computer as Ballynafeigh 1&2 robbed his team of their better players and as a result victories in division two.

bnf3 003

Matthew Chapman the Queens captain very happy but this was before the match started

bnf3 005

It’s a civil servants civil duty to drink coffee and smile at their unfortunate victims, here’s Barney McGahan keeping the tradition alive.

bnf3 007

Ballynafeigh 4 board 1 Mark Hewitt in full thinking mode against Norman Rainey


No Censorship here Colm

I sent the following text to the new PRO of the ICU who tried his best to have a pop on his blog, it was down market and devoid of truth but laced with plenty of innuendo which is his stock in trade, so I sent him a reply in his comment box which he refused to publish. So I’ll provide it with an audience here ……

Was that it Colm? Was that the best you could do after nearly a year and a half of information collection and storage, editing and researching, was that the sum total you could come up with? Is it any wonder that you’re considered as so ineffective if that is your most valiant attempt; to regard it as a riposte of any previous laid criticism would require the definition of the word to be changed.

Any way I’m not here to belittle your attempts at humour or incisive remarks as I feel your printed words, views and links have already made any such action redundant.  I merely wish to clarify some facts, you’re not afraid of FACTS Colm; you’re forever labelling them on your site. So for the record I write the vast majority of the material on the Ballynafeigh site though not it all, others supply the information and the photos or the links and I collate it into posts, hence WE as in the plural.

There is a comment section which we do not block anyone from where they can inform others of relevant information in regards to chess matters whether that is tournaments, costs, travel, equipment, or player’s behaviour we allow all input. These posts or topic remain on the ‘Have your say’ page whilst they are relevant or informative and non libellous, if any post ceases to meet this criteria it is immediately removed.

We at Ballynafeigh have built an extremely successful club thank you for pointing that out, in four years we have went from a single team to five teams we have also provided the personnel for two other teams, which we are equally proud of because we were running out of room. At Ballynafeigh every single member plays the exact same number of games irrespective of rating or good looks, if they pay they play. We ensure it is a friendly environment for all and provide free coaching for all players during the summer break irrespective whether they are member of our club or not, there are no costs for anyone. We are also open 50 weeks of the year only missing a week at Christmas and one other when the need arises. Each and every member (except me) of Ballynafeigh once accepted into the club holds a black-ball option on any new member which they may take up, this is to ensure nobody can ever be forced into irritating or embarrassing situation with people they have no wish to be in association with.

It is a successful club because we work at it every single week, we track down books videos and DVD’s and supply them on a loan basis to our junior players. We search out people who played years ago and get them reignited, we scan the chess sites for active players that have never played live before and get them involved. It is a format which works Colm, tell me have your own club’s put as much effort into junior or social players, I think not! The pyramid base of chess is decidedly unhealthy; clubs like Ballynafeigh addressing this issue by maximising their encatchment can only be of long term benefit to chess. The website has been a magnet for newer players, it has taken a huge number of hits for a local club site in its three years existence so obviously people like it, and they can’t all be views by libel lawyers.

You took great pride in announcing that I was at war with another individual within Ulster Chess I’m not, the person in question is no longer involved with Ulster chess having been banned by the executive board of the Ulster Chess Union, but I see you failed to mention that. The mystery man from my own club that you claimed to be in contact with is not from my club either! If this is the material you’re forced to work with I have no sympathy for you because I’m colourful with a chequered past yet you failed so miserably to research. If I had known you were so sparse on material I would have photocopied the autopsies myself and emailed them to you.


The Ballynafeigh Juggernaut Roars On

The Ballynafeigh inter-club clashes took place on Tuesday evening with BNF1 v BNF2 and BNF 3 playing BNF4.  Ballynafeigh 1 were the unbeaten 1st division  clear leaders having demolished every team they’ve played, Lindores 1 managed to snatch a draw against them but that was more down to good fortune rather than skill over the board.

So when half way through the evening Ballynafeigh 1 were drawing on one board behind on two others and completely and utterly demolished on the final two it looked like the league leaders were about to be casualties in a friendly-fire incident. Ballynafeigh 2 who had already accounted for the Lindores 1 super-team (or super-egos) were home and hosed against their own club royalty.  The league controller came as a witness to the clash to ensure there was no inter-club skulduggery; his presence was assured after continual harassment from other interested parties representing other chess clubs via emails and text messages.

Something of an interested party himself (to say the least) Leitch the Lindores 1 organ grinder was admiring the unfolding events with great glee, he was beside himself with happiness as he sat in the corner giving a running text commentary to his team mates, his club members and one or two of the league naysayers . He even texted ‘Dashing Mike Redman’ the Mario Balotelli of Ulster chess whom Leitch blames for Lindores faltering title chase with assurances it was all water under the bridge.

The unforeseeable Ballynafeigh 2 implosion soon after wiped the two foot grin off his face caused the text messages to be addressed to the Samaritans and had Leitch looking for that bridge with the water under it to throw himself in! Ian Woodfield bagged a point for Ballynafeigh 2 by defeating Stephen Rush when his Queen and knight against two rooks and a knight worked better, then Thomas Donaldson doubled the Ballynafeigh 2 lead when he accounted for Damien Lavery. On board 1 Cunningham believed he held a drawn position against Houston on board 2 O’Docherty stood better against Jensen but was low on time and on board 5 Jackson for Ballynafeigh 2 was so far in front his opponent needed a clear day and a telescope to find him, everyone was just waiting on the resignation.

Then Ballynafeigh 2 did what Ballynafeigh 2 do best, they collapsed in an unexplainable heap, taking their chances of victory and Leitch’s premature glee into the gutter hand in hand. Ballynafeigh 1 big Grizzly David Houston ignored Cunningham’s draw offer and found a beautiful and delicate sequence which wasn’t as beautiful and delicate as it was ugly and barbaric.. to snatch brilliance from the jaws of mediocrity. Then Jackson somehow lost an un-losable position, don’t ask me how I was there I watched it and still don’t understand it, the only thing I understood at the end of it was the score-sheet marked 0-1

This left the match tied at 2-2 and everything now rested on the Soren Jensen John O’Docherty clash with only a minute left O’Docherty erred and lost his dynamic momentum, this allowed a calm Jensen to find the complicated move to squander O’Docherty’s ticking clock and the falling flag signalled the white flag for Ballynafeigh 2. It seems that Ballynafeigh 1 played their get out of jail free card or more cynical mind may conclude that Cunningham and Jamison the Ballynafeigh gruesome twosome just played a flanker and made a set up look good. Only those that were there last night will know the truth, the league controller Leitch was there but he was too busy texting his cohorts to notice all the winking, nodding and smirking that was going on. When Leitch wasn’t texting Damien Lavery seemed to be blocking his view on quite a few occasions which Leitch would know if it were true or not … then again maybe not because he also though ‘Dashing Mike’ was a good player until he burned his kitchen down with fireworks, that’s when he realised he was probably a rocket.

soren john

Jensen burning O’Docherty’s clock, or was it all a wind up?


Super Mario or Mario Balotelli

club 1


club 3

Ballynafeigh had another decent crowd in on Tuesday evening, at this point in the proceedings I would like to reiterate that when we say ‘decent crowd’ what we are referring to is the numerical strength and not an indication of individual characters and their behaviour, because with the likes of Leitch, Lavery, Rainey, Truesdale, Logan, and O’Docherty in the midst then there would need to be an enormous leap of forgiveness to address them with that particular adjective!

Ballynafeigh 1 jumped to the top of the league again with an emphatic win over league strugglers Fruithill taking every board, while Ballynafeigh 4 suffered the reverse in their match losing every board to Belfast South 2. We’re not allowed to mention the result of the Ballynafeigh 3 v Lindores 2 match this week after the match stood at 2-2 with the final match board 1 Stephen Rush v Shane Keers still to be decided. We promised not to mention Ballynafeigh’s Rush made a whopping clanger blundering his position his game and thus the match 2-3 but as we say we can’t mention that here or even refer to it, so again our apologies but a promise is a promise!

Calum Leitch was there to cheer on Lindores two in their attempt at league glory in division two, cynics would argue that he was there on a talent raid again having poached Mike Redman during the summer. But cold analysis would indicate that it’s Lindores only title chance after Leitch’s super team Lindores 1 belly-flopped in division one. They were handed a shock defeat by Belfast South 1 before strengthening their team but then they were handed their ass by Ballynafeigh 2 the following week. Obviously gossip and chatter was whether or not Lindores 1 could pick themselves off the floor let alone catch Ballynafeigh 1. The gloating from Jamison the Ballynafeigh 1 captain was extraordinarily cruel and the professional sculptor just chiselled away at Leitch and his achievements. Bad enough that Leitch was depressed about this season but Jamison just kept chipping “Hey Calum Ballynafeigh 1 have been brilliant this year haven’t we?” before continuing without waiting on an answer “Gosh we probably need one more 2000 plus player, what do you think Calum?” poked a smirking Jamison. “Aye I agree” retorted an exasperated Leitch before bearing his claws with “you can have Mike Redman back!” dashing Mike the pin-up boy of Ulster chess came with an impressive reputation but he is to Lindores what Mario Balotelli is to Liverpool.


I think Brendan would take him back if he seen him with his shirt off!


Omagh God it’s Ballynafeigh again

Saturday saw the first chess tournament in Tyrone for quite some time, the time in question must be decades. So for those that made it to the rapid-play event congrats to all of you all but would you believe it was yet another Ballynafeigh take down. World renowned sugar sculptor and multi-millionaire Brendan Jamison the Ballynafeigh club chairman breezed through the tournament with a score of 5/6 bottom slapping Calum Leitch in the last round for the laurels.

“Calum will be sick to death of me by the time this league is over, everywhere he plays I’ll be there to trounce him into the ground just like today” bragged an ecstatic Jamison before adding “We’re beating him as a club we’re beating him as a team I’m whipping him as a captain and crushing him as a player, oh gosh isn’t it just fantastic”


First aid crew were shocked to find Calum trounced into the ground by Brendan Jamison, but he told them he was okay as he was getting used to it by now.


Lindores fail to close gap

Ballynafeigh 1 started this week with an important match with Belfast South 1 and finished it with a vital one against Lindores.  Sitting off the pace due to postponements the Ballynafeigh “A listers” having defeated the league leaders Muldoon’s last week faced the potential banana skin from the Banker’s club led by former Irish champion Ray Devenney. Ray and his Belfast South team had already defeated the mighty Lindores team earlier in the season so Ballynafeigh gave them plenty of respect and brought a very strong squad for the game. It paid dividends for the title chasers and they secured a heavy 5-0 win though Martin Kelly was unlucky not to get something from his clash with Damien Lavery after both players wasted over an hour each on the first 9 moves with decidedly unorthodox play that would have made a newbie blush.

Knowing Ballynafeigh couldn’t get their super-team out twice in one week Lindores captain and League controller Calum Leitch who had watched the Ormeau road juggernaut ram-raid Belfast South as a spectator seized his chance to get his ultra strong Lindores side back in the title race. Leitch offered the Ballynafeigh 1 captain Brendan Jamison the opportunity to play their postponed clash 48 hours later in a neutral venue. The invite came with the added sweetener that Gabor Horvath (current Ulster champion) Mike Redman (former Ulster champion) and Ross Harris (former Intermediate champion) were all extremely unlikely to play due to an assortment of reasons ranging from holidaying in Syria to the Ebola virus to work. Did he seriously think that Ballynafeigh were stupid enough to swallow that bare faced lie, absolutely everyone knows there is no way under the sun that Ross Harris would ever consider the concept of actual work.

The Ballynafeigh team arrived at the venue and there was Ross Harris Gabor Horvath and Mike Redman large as life totally free of the Ebola virus and without a Syrian duty free goodie bag. Though perhaps the contents of a Damascus ‘gift bag’ may have been slightly difficult to get through customs.  Realising that his cheap attempt at a horse-swoggle was not going to be accepted Ross Harris and his co-accused Calum Leitch agreed to ditch Redman for the clash in the hope that pulling a half a flanker was better than pulling no flanker at all.  The stakes were higher for Lindores as another big defeat for them after their humiliating spanking at the hands of Ballynafeigh 2 would have made their title challenge almost impossible it would have left them 15pts behind the new league favourites Ballynafeigh 1

Leitch quickly grabbed a superior position against Soren Jensen obtaining an awkward pawn on d6 and held it to promote and end the Danes resistance. Ross Harris and Stephen Rush played to a rook and pawn dead draw which left the Lindores pair back-slapping each other on a great start. A rather scary affair on the 4th boards with both Jamison for Ballynafeigh and MacDonald for Lindores both threatening to promote and both sitting with ugly or naked kings Jamison’s was ugly but he had the advantage of attacking MacDonald who had a naked king and had less than thirty seconds on his clock to find the right defensive and attacking moves, it was too big an ask and Ballynafeigh levelled the match. Another banker draw on board five awaited with Kilpatrick of Lindores and Lavery of Ballynafeigh having 7 pawns and a knight each with pawn placement making it impossible for knight penetration. However Kilpatrick managed to win a pawn after trading knights and pushed to victory.


High-fives from the coffee-house conspirators  Harris and Leitch

Leitch and Harris were ebullient and started high fiving and bear hugging each other as they led with their number 1 and current Ulster Champion Gabor Horvath still to finish. Fortunately Ballynafeigh had their own Grizzly David Houston back in rock solid form again and he handled everything Gabor tried with him with confidence building a huge time advantage and structured his pieces so they were attacking and defending simultaneously and it became a task too far for Gabor and David Houston clawed the victory and equalled the match overall. His captain multimillionaire sugar sculptor Brendan Jamison was so taken with David’s performance he purred “I’m gonna do a life size sculpture of Housty he was fantastic and marvellous against Gabor but I don’t know if there’s that much sugar in Belfast


Grizzly Houston sank his claws in Horvath and Lindores title hopes


Hats your Lot

Ballynafeigh 1 unleashed a beast team on the visiting Muldoon’s squad who had come to the Ormeau road venue for the top-hat fixture which was postponed some weeks earlier. Ballynafeigh lined out Houston, Scannell, Jensen, Lavery (the bigger one) and Jamison (the wealthy one) in an effort to thwart the runaway league leaders who remained unbeaten until now. Peter Wilson the team coordinator and main driving force behind the Muldoon’s club was in attendance as a spectator but not even his elongated peak cap which was firmly on his head could hide the dismay as his team started to falter for the first time. Stephen Scannell defeated Stephen Woods to score the first Ballynafeigh point this was quickly followed by Soren Jensen on board 3 who had a fine win over Muldoon’s white piece specialist Danny Mallaghan. Wilson who refused to be unfezed remained unfazed though the game looked to be heading Ballynafeigh’s direction as Brendan Jamison held a strangle hold on Peter McGuckin on board 5 and the top board clash between David Houston and Gareth Annesley looked a banker split.

housty gareth

The board 1 match between Annesley left and Houston traded down to a rook and pawns drawing endgame

Only the AC/DC fan Des Mooreland of Muldoon’s held the better position at anytime on any of the boards when his opponent Damien Lavery left three pieces hanging in an insane attempt to get a crushing attack in, if it materialised it would have capped a wonderful evening for Ballynafeigh, but Mooreland held on to minimise the damage.  Lindores sent their spymaster general Calum Leitch over to oversee the games and the line ups, though Calum claimed he was only there to see if Ballynafeigh would enforce a rumoured no headwear policy, “Work had been really depressing lately so I was looking forward to a good chuckle at Peter, but it wasn’t to be, you guys bottled it” said a smiling Leitch. Ballynafeigh 1 moved into 2nd place in the league and took 4 points out of the Muldoon’s lead with two games in hand, “We let them run riot for a few weeks building a big lead but enough was enough so that’s their lot so hats off to us” bragged an ecstatic Brendan Jamison.



Head’s up in Division 2

This week was rather quiet for the first division teams with only the Fruithill versus Muldoon’s clash going ahead, the usage of the word a-head is rather ironic after one Muldoon head was asked to leave the venue when he refused the managers instruction to remove the headwear he was sporting. The victim of the style police was the Muldoon’s supremo, quite literally the ‘head Muldoon’ whose refusal of compliance with venue rules guaranteed him a spectator’s seat in the car park.


Chief Muldoon was eventually persuaded to remove the hat

Most attention this week was focused on the second division fixtures with Muldoons 2 expecting to regain the league leaders spot by whitewashing the novices of Ballynafeigh 5. Lindores 2 also in the mix for title glory travelled to the Ballynafeigh rooms in search of a big win over Ballynafeigh 4 to solidify their claims as major contenders. This afforded them the opportunity of ring side seats for the Ballynafeigh 3 versus Civil Service match which was taking place in the same venue, both teams also being serious contenders for the title. Lindores rattled off two fairly quick wins on the lower boards and slowly gathered momentum on the remaining boards holding commanding advantages over their rivals eventually securing a 5-0 score-line to jump to the top of the table.

Civil Service arrived with their best team but faced a restructured Ballynafeigh 3 who had been depleted of personnel for the first few months, now with a few of their stronger players available they scored an impressive win over Civil Service, it was impressive considering that this was still not Ballynafeigh 3 strongest selection, that is still to come and the nervous Calum Leitch overseeing the Lindores outfit knew it! Stephen Rush sac’d a piece to expose Mark Newmans king then strangled it with threats to secure the win. Gerard Bannon increased the home-sides lead with a rock solid positional display that David Jackson of Civil Service had no answer to. Tyrone Winter (still can’t work out if that’s a movie star name or just a cold place west of the Bann) also sac’d a piece to undo his opponents kings defence in the cleverest of ways and added to the Ballynafeigh tally. Peter May struck one back for Civil Service when he defeated Robert Lavery whose namesake and team mate Bill Lavery generously offered (very generously it should be said) ratings officer and Civil service board 4 Drew Ferguson a draw, obviously Bill is after a ratings bump from Drew and this draw offer was a part payment.

Ballynafeigh 4 who had left the venue earlier to travel the two miles to Muldoon’s still hadn’t arrived after thirty minutes, several phone calls and a dozen text messages later it transpired that the first car had arrived but the second car with the golden oldies was hopelessly lost in the docks area after taking a short cut through the woods of Belfast Castle.


Leaving the vehicle in an attempt to obtain directions from passers-by the hapless trio could only find working girls too busy to be guardian angels but still quite willing to be skewered queens for £40. The girls were all very polite and provided as much information as they could, especially to one of the trio that they all knew on a first name basis. Forty minutes after the clocks had started just beating the league match forfeit time by five minutes the Ballynafeigh rear-guard arrived at the boards, it was only then on looking around that one of them remembered that the place looked familiar and that he had once worked there as a barman… for four years! Whether they were just forty minutes, or forty minutes and forty quid down the Gossip page won’t say (we only ever infer) but neither one or the other or both could stop Bill Jackson registering his first league win to stop the expected whitewash and Muldoons had to settle for 4-1 to share the top spot.


Halloween Scare for Bangor

Ballynafeigh 1 made only their second appearance of the season when they travelled to Groomsport for their clash with Bangor. Keeping with a Halloween theme they produced fireworks on four of the boards racing to a 4-0 lead through Soren Jensen’s temporary rook sac, David Houston’s demolishing bishop sac on f7 and the two Lavery’s Damien who sac’d to get out of trouble and Robert who traded down for the win before they realised they had a bit of a damp squib on the final board. The blue torch paper had failed to ignite for Jamison as he found himself a piece down, but being the true false-face and part-time sculptor that he is, he dug in and carved a hard fought draw to end the match 4.5 – .5

This could be another very close championship again this year and every point or indeed half point could turn out to be of extreme importance in the race for the Silver King trophy. Jamison has made it clear that Ballynafeigh 1 are intent on lifting the title this season to make up for the narrow failure of recent times, but if they want the fireworks to continue they need to keep a few ‘Rockets’ from Ballynafeigh away from team 1 otherwise come the end of the season they are going to look like pumpkins again!


Will this be the Ballynafeigh top squad at the seasons end?



Lindores the all singing all dancing star spangled collective from east Belfast came to Ballynafeigh 2 still smarting from last week’s blunder result against Belfast South 1 when the Lindores middle boards collapsed after securing commanding if not won positions, they eventually crashed to a 3.5 – 1.5 defeat. Such a horror result was not expected for the massive odds on favourites for the league and it left them playing catch up behind Muldoon’s 1 with Ballynafeigh 1 still to unmask their own tilt at the league title.

So to make amends and collect maximum points they drafted in Mike Redman last year’s Ulster champion to play on board two behind Gabor Horvath the current Ulster Champion on board one, then they had Calum Leitch the current Ulster masters champion on board three. If that unholy trilogy wasn’t enough they also had former Intermediate champion Ross Harris and two times Williamson shield winner Fred MacDonald putting granite on the bottom boards making this the scariest team line up in Ulster Chess which can truly be described as a ‘Beast from the East’.

Facing them were John O’Docherty Damien Cunningham and Ian Woodfield a pretty scary trio themselves…. but only if we’re talking looks, and can truly be described as just three beasts! Though to be fair Ballynafeigh 2 did have a couple of pretty boys on boards four and five, but this is one thorn bush with clearly not enough roses. Talent wise the Ballynafeigh 2 team were surrendering a thousand rating points to their guests on the first three boards alone, so Lindores had the potential, they had the pedigree, they had the looks, they had the arrogance, they had youth, they had the swagger, they had everything that makes it makes it morally acceptable to be envious of, yet socially acceptable to hate them for.

Lindores had something else… they had… they had … they had a spanking heading their way, but not the sort of spanking that makes you smile like the ones Dave Houston tells me about but the type that leaves you with a face like Roy Keane on a bad day… well like Roy Keane on any day really! Ballynafeigh’s young gun Thomas Donaldson won a heavy queen for a minor piece against Ross Harris and victory soon followed. It was the second defeat in less than a week for Harris at the hands of the baby faced assassin and the strain was starting to show, “I was robbed” said Harris “I had a dominant position again and he robbed me again” Gabor Horvath equalled the match for Lindores before Calum Leitch put them in front after his extra bishop proved more valuable than the extra pawns of Woodfield. Cunningham offered Redman the draw at this point but the offer was politely refused by the dashing board 2 of Lindores, over on board 5 Stephen Rush of Ballynafeigh took the scalp of Fred MacDonald which left the doctor feeling slightly ill and Leitch his Lindores captain severely sick. The score stood at 2-2, a quite unbelievable score-line for the Ballynafeigh second string, all eyes switched to the Redman Cunningham decider on board 2 which now entered the blitzing zone with a rook, knight and 5 pawns each; however that’s where the similarities ended.  Cunningham’s horse was a stallion, a cross between Arkle and Ron Jeremy, there was nothing it couldn’t or wouldn’t jump. Redmond on the other hand was stuck with the chess equivalent of a Shetland pony and it looked even smaller once Cunningham’s chessboard stallion had forked the life out of the Lindores man’s rook and Redman accepted his fate. Lindores were completely shell-shocked and Ballynafeigh were absolutely gobsmacked, the Ormeau road second string had just taken the ‘Dream Team’ out by the roots and left the race for the Silver King wide open.

After the game it was all very quiet as a bit of a lull descended the Ballynafeigh rooms as neither team seemed to believe the result, the lull was only broken by Ross Harris shouting “I was robbed” “Now be fair Ross Thomas played very well and trapped your queen, so you weren’t really robbed” said Brendan Jamison. “I bloody was robbed” replied Ross before adding “I was robbed by Thomas in here and some bugger robbed my car outside during the match and stole my bike rack” So Lindores headed home with a loss, a dejected team, a sick captain, and a driver that was robbed twice in one night. Things were even worse for their board 1 Gabor Horvath with the theft of Ross’s bike rack Gabor had to cycle home all the way to Carrickfergus at night time in the lashing rain and stormy winds, yeah when the chess god punish they punish in style.


Ross would like his bike-rack and ratings points back

We at the Gossip desk would love to express our true feelings about this historic result but lack that certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’ to impress our thoughts on others so we thought we should let our Norwegian football spokesperson speak for us.


Ballynafeigh 2 Top Table (well for a while)

Ballynafeigh 2 showed no signs of acrophobia when the Ormeau road second string scaled the dizzy heights of the division one league table, once there they surveyed the panoramic scenery from their lofty pinnacle, they survey it and enjoyed it soaking it all in, for … well … for nearly an hour. That was when Muldoon’s 1 under the stewardship of the Mallaghan Annesley tag-team knocked them from their wobbly perch back down to a more comfortable altitude that didn’t require an oxygen mask. Ah well at least we summited!

Having been well and truly battered back at their Ormeau road base camp last week by the Man Mountains of Ballynafeigh 1 where Cunningham salvaged his teams only draw when he positionally outplayed his fellow club-mate Danish import Soren Jensen. The Dane jumping at the draw offer nearly taking Cunningham’s hand off at the wrist, before displaying the vim to exchange lively banter if not  the traditional Ballynafeigh abuse with his club-mate opponent. The Viking taunts continued late into the evening, ah Ballynafeigh it really isn’t for the shrinking violets of the world is it? Still smarting from their heavy defeat Ballynafeigh 2 headed up to division one debutants Fruithill to try and make amends, the Fruithill board 1 Ciaran Marron was keen to rub salt into the wound of Ballynafeigh 2 recent heavy defeat, “Oh are we playing you tonight? .. I thought we were in the first division this year!” said Marron delivering his clever quip with a wry smile.

Nine moves later he was delivering Ballynafeigh’s first point of the evening when he waltzed his queen into a G file minefield with no hope of retreat after his opening assault faltered for lack of development which was met by a broad grin from his opponent and victim of his earlier quip. Thomas Donaldson and John O’Docherty both victorious over Frank Carruthers and Sean Linton ensured a Ballynafeigh win followed soon after when Chris Kelly and Ian Woodfield who held crushing positions over their opponents John Monaghan and John Robinson to give the Ballynafeigh 2 a 5-0 whitewash over Fruithill. A parting word for Marron came from a grinning Cunningham at the end as he was leaving “welcome to the first division Ciaran”

big frank

Big Frank Carrothers was hoping to play Damien Lavery or as big Frank calls him the “ratings piggy bank” “I was gonna raid the piggy bank so is, you tell em so is, he’s hiding from me”




Ballynafeigh Chess Club would like to offer it condolences to the family and friends of Alan Burns who passed away this week in hospital. A genuinely lovely man equipped with a wise head and a gentle tongue,  if he didn’t have a kind word he had no word at all. He will be sorely missed by anyone who ever had the pleasure of being graced by his presence for even the briefest of moments, sad news indeed for Ulster Chess.

alan burns


New P.R.O for I.C.U    (by Peter Cafolla)

Great to see that the universally popular and much loved Colm Daly has been made Public Relations Officer for the Irish Chess Union. Colm’s warm and friendly manner, his modesty and his lack of ego will raise chess on this island to a level never seen before. How lucky we all are to have such a wonderful ambassador working on our behalf. Sadly, I will not be around to see how he gets on as I have just slit both my wrists and am now placing my head in a gas oven to be sure to be sure.



The Life of Brian Michael

Fisherwick contacted Calum Leitch and claimed to the League controller that they were not capable of fielding a team in the forth coming season. This was accepted at face value earlier today but rapid developments have now well and truly poured cold water on that initial claim and shown it to be inaccurate.

Fisherwick have this evening posted an advertisement on their webpage offering a breakaway micro league a sort of Continuity UCU with a different format were you only play 6 matches a year with as many or as little players as you like! Played over 25 minutes with one trouser leg rolled up while sitting in a bowl of custard, the madcap buffoon who dreamed this idea up thinks it’s a winner. He’s so confident that the rest of the UCU will flock to him that he has offered them all a place in Fisherwick to play the matches

The breakaway micro league will be held in secret

The breakaway micro league will be held in secret

This offer alone proves two things, one that he has absolutely no confidence that any other club will join this bizarre nonsense and two that he is so desperate to get a group gathered around him that he will try any insane format if it gets him another brainwashed if not brain-dead disciple in his not so merry band. Personally I would be willing to offer them a venue too it’s called Knockbracken.

If it tickles your fancy we’re told that you can email Mad-Mick himself (in confidence… wheyhey) to arrange an interview to get selected to either the Judean Peoples Front or the Peoples Front of Judea and a little bag of otter’s noses.


Floating System Sunk

The new league controller has wiped out the floating system for the 2014/2015 league campaigns. Calum Leitch the new axe grinder for the Ulster Chess Union has decided to shelve the extremely successful floating system that has been the main avenue for encouraging and progressing junior players in the UCU. When challenged by the Gossip desk as to why this awful decision was made the new league controller Leitch said “It’s not shelved, and it’s definitely not sunk, that’s untrue the floating system is still there it’s just you can’t use it this season, or ever again! Oh and if you plan to you’ll need goggles and an aqua lung!”


Floating system not sunk… just relocated underwater!


Did Someone Snap?

Our pictures editor was inundated with specimens from the Europa this month including some from Pat McKillen the resident Lord Lichfield of Ulster Chess who sent in a few snaps from his collection of this years Ulster championships. So a big hat tip to all who donated their faded out of focus shaky-handed ill-framed badly lit mess to our inbox, and a special hat-tip to Pat who gave us something to display. As a way of thanks Pat we are prepared to offer you Adrian Dornford-Smith for a centre fold spread if you want.

mark staredown

That’s a seriously worrying stare that Newman directs at Jamison


Norman McFarland (right) defeating Martin Sloan on his way to being crowned Intermediate Champion

eoin adrian

Eoin Carey deep in prayer has Adrian Dornford-Smith deep in thought as religion wins over science for the Junior championship.

fitter steve

Steve (Robocop) Scannell back in the prizes as he receives his runner up cheque from UCU President Geoff Hindley (right) Geoff is the one with the glasses because to be fair it’s hard to tell the difference. Scannell sent the Gossip desk a statement/gloat “See I’m back leaner and fitter than ever, that’s two years in a row Michael Waters has failed to keep me outta the prizes, hell he was so far behind me this year I didn’t even see him, I don’t even think he made the top six!”

photo 1

The UCU President (right) supposedly hands over a cheque to the UCU thought-police supremo Brendan (Banksy) Jamison.  We now hear word on the grapevine is it was a bad-boy hit-list that is five names long! Intrigued? We are!


Ulster Championship Controversy Free

The Ulster Championships took place over the August bank holiday weekend in the Europa hotel Belfast for the 8th year in succession thanks to the continued sponsorship of the Europa Hotel in providing the venue. For the fourth year in a row the number of competitors taking part has increased which is all the more encouraging when you consider the number of regular faces that were forced to miss this year due to work or family commitments and others that were simply just forced … you know who I mean … aye that’s right … him

The big increase in new players that the UCU is experiencing is surprisingly not coming from the teenage ranks as one might expect but from adults either coming back to chess after a long break or ones that have only recently discovered an appetite for the masochistic game. This has been a repeated scenario for the third year running which only advertises the untapped potential out there for all clubs and federations to draw from.  Ballynafeigh have been to the forefront of harvesting this untapped potential supplying six new faces to the Ulster Championships who had never played in a tournament before. Now I could tell you that it is all down to the charm, sophistication, suaveness and movie star looks of the Ballynafeigh Gossip desk editor, but we would all know that would be inaccurate because I think everyone would agree I’m much better looking than that.

This year was controversy free for a change in comparison to recent Ulster Championships, indeed former Ulster Champion Michael Holmes a spectator on the final day duly noted the lack of corridor whispering or indeed shouting for that matter. “What no controversy? .. nothing at all?” he inquired before adding “Your gossip page won’t have much to write about at this rate, you’re sure this is definitely the Ulster championships I’m watching ?”

“It’s because he’s not here” I replied

“Who’s not here?”



“Aye him … he’s not here”

“You mean?”

“Yes I do”

“Him you mean him?”

“Yep that’s right yer-man”

“Well perhaps if I asked yer-man, he would say it’s controversy free because you’re not controlling, did you think about that?”

“You know Michael occasionally you remind me of the French defence”

“Oh, why’s that then?”

“Cos you really know how to take the fun out of chess at times”

The absence of controversy would never stop the information super-highway of the Ballynafeigh News and Gossip pages, if the well is running dry we can always adopt the ‘Dublin defence’ basically that’s when we make it up as we go along. Historically it’s decidedly unsuccessful, but desperate times require desperate measures …… or at the very least an affordable legal team.  However the abundance of the two looses in Ulster chess, the loose screw and the loose cannon (you know who they are … and yes “Him” is one of them) means this site is never rationed in colourful material or embellished variants of actual events.

Ballynafeigh newcomer Paul Charles determined not to let the Gossip desk down seized the mantle of ‘arbiter ball-breaker extraordinaire’ with a tour de force rendition of classical controller nightmares. “I’ve no pen” he stated to the controller Sibren Westra from the Netherlands

“Yuu havinnt but yuu are supposed to havv one”

“I have got one”

“ver is it”

“it’s in the house”

Sibren stared at him bizarrely which I have to admit was only half as bizarre as the stare that came back from Paul Charles, but a spare pen was duly located and loaned to the newbie. The supplying of the pen didn’t move him from the controllers table.

“Yesh is theer somefink else?”

“What about score-sheets”

“Theer is a bigg pile of theam”

“Do we have to use them?”

“Yesh that is why theey are heer!”

“Are they FIDE score-sheets? Will FIDE be looking at them later”

“Yesh I fink soo … and no I don’t fink soo”

Paul was stumped, he was still digesting the controllers last answer when Sibren took full advantage of the lull to escape the cycle or to locate Tournament Director Ross Harris to see if Paul Charles was a professional wind up. Paul wandered off back to the junior section slightly perplexed by his exchanges with the controller. He approached his Ballynafeigh team-mate Norman Rainey.

“Hey Norman see that controller guy”

“What about him?”

“He’s very hard to understand the way he talks”

“Is he confusing you with big words Paul?”

“No it’s the way he talks, he has a funny accent, he’s not from here!”

“Where’s he from”

“I think he’s from Limerick”

It was now Norman Rainey’s  turn to give Paul a ponderous glare which was only broken by the posting of the draw for round one. Norman was drawn against Ashley McWhinney while Paul Charles was drawn against Chris Turnbull. Norman got to his seat and pressed his opponent’s clock and waited for Ashley to arrive. Chris Turnbull got to his seat moved then pressed his clock and sat and waited on Paul Charles to arrive. Somehow Paul Charles has managed to accost Ashley McWhinney and convinced him he was in actual fact Chris Turnbull. The clocks ticked by at the two tables with the correct pairing as Ashley went about munching Paul’s pieces on the board with the wrong pairing. Norman and Chris were only four minutes from claiming a default win when Ashley put Paul’s king to the sword. The controller discovered the mess when he went to input the result, if the thought wasn’t already with him beforehand this surely had Paul Charles tagged as the tournament hard work case. The second round pairings were listed Paul was paired against William Storey another pairing was John McGann against Jordan Mitchell and if you’ve ever read the News and Gossip section before you’ll know we just love consistency. Obviously Paul Charles does also and promptly intercepted the newbie Jordan Mitchell and assured him that he was in fact John McGann, he led young Mitchell to another table sat down and played him.  This left two players with ticking clocks at tables with no opponents and one Dutch controller with a ticking fuse when the error was uncovered.

“Is theesh guy for reel? Harr is theesh possible? Harr kan yuu get opponents wrong twice, theesh is insane? The names are on the vall, maybe theesh guy is not Paul Charles … maybe I fink he is Ray Charles yesh” gasped Sibren Westra.

Paul Charles celebrates knackering the controller twice in one day

Paul Charles celebrates knackering the controller twice in one day

Sibren relocated to the senior section where there would be no such problems with rules or protocols especially this year considering the enforced absence of “yer-man” Here the controller could enjoy the rest of the tournament incident free and safe in the knowledge that he wouldn’t have to have his patience tested by the Ballynafeigh newbie anymore. Day two saw David McAlister take the reins as Sibren Westra exited stage left and almost immediately David was called into action to make a ruling under rather difficult circumstances. Having made the correct decision given the exceptional nature of the incident and satisfactorily explained his ruling to those involved enters stage right ‘the spectator’.  Voicing his concerns about the decision the arbiter made and giving his interpretation of what he believed the arbiters’ conclusion should have been, our intrepid spectator endeavoured to eradicate the acceptance of the ruling by those involved and replace it with doubt.  Say what you like about the quality of chess in Belfast when it comes to freaking out arbiters we are definitely up there with the best of them, hell we’re super-GM material.

Tournament rookies Eoin Carey and Stephen Cullen led the Ballynafeigh eight man assault on the Junior title hoping to lift it for the second time in three years. Carey played steady safety first tournament chess which is what is required to win the Junior championship, Cullen on the other hand was as wild as a militia territory map of northern Iraq.  Carey thwarted all challengers to lift the silverware for the Ballynafeigh club and Cullen secured the grading prize with ease. Indeed a runner up spot was well within the reach of Cullen if he had managed to avoid the reach of the barman between rounds, obviously Stephen was getting in some early practice for Bunratty in February.

Eoin Carey wins the Junior championship for Ballynafeigh for the 2nd time in 3 years

Eoin Carey wins the Junior championship for Ballynafeigh, the 2nd time in 3 years it has gone to the Ormeau road club

Ballynafeigh also had a very strong hand in the Intermediate section which they were hoping to retain after Robert Lavery’s victory last year. The club were supplying the pre-tournament favourite Stephen Rush and Karina Kruk fresh in from Norway with her WFM title. Neither was to find any success as both instead of just chilling got overheated and ran cold instead, the title went to the cool head of Norman McFarland of Fisherwick, which was just reward for the work he has done in securing the Europa as a venue for the Ulster Chess Union. Ballynafeigh players Steve Scannell and Brendan Jamison performed well in the Senior championship. Scannell grabbed second place behind the unstoppable Gabor Horvath of Lindores, whilst Jamison the multi-millionaire artist who flew in from L.A specifically for this tournament picked up the grading prize after some fine results, though the prize involved wouldn’t pay the chauffer limo from the airport let alone his first class plane ticket. When this was pointed out to Jamison he was at pains to deny it “I take a bike everywhere, I have no idea how people got this idea about me, I take the bike to the shops, restaurants, museums, wherever”

Brendan Jamison proving he's a liar

Brendan Jamison proving he’s not a liar

Afterwards James McDonald led the annual pilgrimage to Robinsons bar across the street with Leitch Harris and Kelly in tow, James McDonald doesn’t even drink but when Calum Leitch promised to buy a round he didn’t want to miss the historic event, it’s one of those things you can tell the grand kids about where you were that day, like JFK, 9-11, and the hoax moon landings or in Norman Rainey’s case flint-tools, fire and woolly mammoth. Martin Kelly held court at the bar with his gleaming new trophy which he had won ten months ago but only just received from the UCU trophy cabinet, when asked Kelly was at a loss to explain why it took so long to unite him with the trophy, though Sibren Westra was convinced it was because it was on a sideboard in Paul Charles house!

Hello is that Paul Charles? would you like to do a bit of personation at the next FIDE election

Hello is that Paul Charles? would you like to do a bit of personation at the next FIDE election

Martin Kelly with the Forson Position trophy

Martin Kelly with the Forson Position trophy


Kasparov brilliant at chess …. shit at elections


Gary Kasparov and his devoted band of followers suffered not so much an electoral defeat as a comprehensive annihilation at the hands of Kirsan llyumzhinov during the election for control of FIDE in Tromso  last night. The winning margin was vast, nearly three times greater than the chess shrewdies and insiders had expected. By the start of the Olympiad most would be pollsters had Kirsan in front with something between 12 and 16 votes, the final eyebrow raising margin of nearly 50 will come as a complete surprise to many.

The result will be analysed in greater scrutiny in the days and weeks ahead however the kneejerk finger pointing and name calling has started already. Kasparov has been bawling his eyes out to any journalist with a pen that the election process was completely rigged from the start, with bizarre utterances about the KGB and Russian embassies in every country in the world working to have President Putins man elected. Kasparov is in danger of sullying his great achievement over the board and the respect that those same achievements brought with delusional nonsense more associated with a card carrying tin-foil helmeted conspiracy theorist.

Perhaps a greater scrutiny of his own actions and political naivety in the years leading up to this colossal failure would stand team Kasparov in better stead. Kasparov has been a political and business butterfly for decades, dancing and flitting with whatever is in the ascendancy or favourable to himself politically and financially, so when he points the smearing finger at others is it really surprising that the thought of “pot calling kettle black” springs to the minds of most.  Kasparov has been communist when it suited him and free marketeer when it suited him better, he has adopted the roles of persecuted Jew, agnostic and self appointed if not self anointed Christian to suit his audiences, which makes it easy for his detractors to lay claims of inconsistency and hypocrisy at his doorstep.

When he felt FIDE weren’t giving him what he wanted he tried to take his ball and go home when he formed the ill-fated Grandmasters association in 1986. He then created the doomed Professional Chess Association in 1993 which split FIDE and the chess world wide open and brought about separate world champions (which has still not been forgiven by many) The killer blow to the PCA was Kasparovs decision to publically insult their biggest financial backer Intel by playing against Intel’s chief rival IBM’s computer Deep Blue in 1996. Intel pulled their money out as one might expect (well anyone except Kasparov that is) and the PCA was finished.  Another Kasparov idea died in the dust due to Kasparov’s ineptitude and arrogance when it came to sound business strategies, yet strangely even with all his failures he believed he was the better candidate to manage even bigger projects with larger funds, requiring finer judgement and clearer vision. I suppose arrogance is one of those vices that are hard to see in a mirror but judging by the landslide obviously not that difficult for others watching on… especially FIDE delegates.

In 1991, Kasparov received the Keeper of the Flame award from the Center for Security Policy  (a US think tank funded by the NSA) for his contributions “to the defence of the United States and American values around the world”.  So here was Kasparov accepting awards from shadowy groups funded by the USA Big-Brother NSA and being so trusted by them that In April 2007, it was revealed that Kasparov was a board member of the National Security Advisory Council for Security Policy, a national security organisation that specializes in identifying policies, actions, and resource needs that are vital to American security”. And there was me thinking that he was Russian in love with all things Russian except Mr Putin when it is obvious he is in love with anything that is pro-Russian or anti-Russian just so long as it casts him in the role of demigod and rewards him accordingly.

He flitted on and off with groups and organisations as and when it suited him or his profile, groups like The Other Russia, Saint Petersburg Dissenters, and the Union of Rightist Forces, the latter grouping being so far out on the right they make the Waffen-SS  look like devout Trotskyites.  Deluded he had a support base Kasparov actually stood for the Russian Presidency in 2007 and his brilliant strategy for winning popular support in Russia was to fly to the USA and do all the ultra right TV shows and chat forums. It went down badly in Russia for the tiny few that seen them but by all accounts it went down a treat in the Putin household!  Ordinary Russian did not know what to make of him bracketing him as crazy eccentric at best; it was obvious Kasparov had saddled himself with the loser badge from day one through lack of preparation and planning or perhaps pure arrogance.  The polls put him between 1% and 3% which ironically is the same popularity zone occupied by Michael Waters so he withdrew from the election, claiming  that he had to withdraw his presidential candidacy due to inability to rent a meeting hall where at least 500 of his supporters could assemble to endorse his candidacy, as is legally required.  When questioned about his poor planning for the election Kasparov accused Putin of a conspiracy against him and of removing all the venues for rent.

Kasparov went west then began his accusation offensive blaming Putin for virtually conspiring with the Boston marathon bombers (rolls eyes, looks skywards and thinks yep doctor required) Then became a cheerleader for a bombing war in Syria as a way of …. wait for it … helping Syria (rolls eyes, looks skywards and thinks … screw the doctor, it’s a padded cell and a coat that zips up the back  that’s needed)

Kasparov denied rumours in April 2013 that he planned to leave Russia for good. “I found these rumours to be deeply saddening and, moreover, surprising,” he wrote. But Kasparov called a press conference only 2 months later in June 2013 to announce that if he returned to Russia he wouldn’t be allowed to leave again, given Putin’s ongoing crackdown against dissenters. “So for the time being,” he said, “I refrain from returning to Russia.” In November 2013 his papers for Croatian citizenship was drawn up and lodged in February 2014 … Aw and he loved Russia so much!

So he flirts and flits, starts things that he can’t finish and finishes things he can’t start, is devoid of consistency, planning, focus, foresight, loyalty, compassion, commitment and meekness. In the cold light of day is it any wonder that the delegates vote for the man who only claims to have been abducted by aliens rather than the man whose behaviour makes him look like one.

Did Kasparov and his followers who have been planning this election campaign for years forget that the delegates were individuals with individual feelings and beliefs and not Governments? At what point did they not realise his support for bombing Syria by Nato was going to put 33 votes in Kirsan’s pocket before a single vote was cast. His ramblings against African and South American leaders not friendly with the USA just added to the ever increasing tally of free votes for his opponent. To then appear at the Olympiad and admit you’re behind in the race was another cataclysmic blunder, voters don’t like to vote for a loser, there’s no mileage in it unless they love them or their message. Kasparov message was unclear and he has a persona that only a mother could love so his potential voter encatchment was eroded by his own actions, but somehow Kasparov was determined to fall back on his back up plan, if all else fails blame Putin and a KGB conspiracy.

Kasparov by his actions and failures have left Kirsan in a much stronger position, a position of citadel strength, with such a massive majority against the best known chess player on the planet and probably the greatest player to ever sit at a table what mere mortal will dare challenge him now. Kirsan can be the Sepp Blatter of chess, going on and on, completely unchallenged and unthreatened by the ranks of the great unwashed.  If the plan of team Kasparov was to unseat Kirsan it failed miserably, they have padlocked him to the throne instead, with such a demonstration of amateur blunders perhaps the voters in Tromso got it right after all.


Getting Screwed in Prague

Sam Flanagan the spymaster general of the Ulster Chess Union posted an interesting article on his new chess blog linking to an upcoming tournament in Prague in December.

Click to access prague_english.pdf

With its rather grand titling of the European Amateur Chess Championships running from Nov 29th until Dec 7th the event is nothing but a swindlers charter for milking chess players of hard earned cash.  Charging players $50euro to enter the organisers offer $2800 euro in prizes but this is the start of the duck and cover exercise which upends the chess player to empty their pockets. The prizes being offered are based on 70 entrants paying up 50 euro each and this is printed in the brochure, which means the organisers are taking $700 euro out of the entry fees straight away. They are offering 2800 out of a pool of 3500, but because they have stated that prizes are based on entrants they are not legally obliged to pay the full amount if they don’t reach the desired threshold of 70. Nor for that matter do they have to pay more if they readily break the threshold quota, if say 200 players register, legally the organisers only have to pay out the original £2800 euro figure advertised, it does not state that the prize fund will increase in tandem with numbers in entries.


Not happy with this gravy train the organisers insist that all players are obliged to stay at the Park hotel venue in Prague for between $550 euro  – $650 euro for the event duration. It’s the dead of winter in early December the worst tourist time of the year with hotels empty barns or shut up completely, yet the organisers expect to bung this hotel out at top dollar. You can go on-line now and book this same hotel the week previous to the tournament or the week after the tournament for between $387 euro  – $398 euro for the same 9 day stay, that’s an incredible $160 euro – $260 euro per person cheaper. What a complete rip-off the tournament price is! and that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that the organisers really should have got a heavy discount for block booking the hotel in the slow time of the year because they could guarantee full restaurants and bars  for the hotel owner, or then again maybe they did.

I’m very confident a lot of tourists get screwed in Prague, whether that was part of the attraction in the first place for many I couldn’t say, I’d need to ask Calum Leitch and Ian Kilpatrick first as they are the UCU experts in this field. However it is shocking to see such a blatant organised orgy on the wallet of a group of people with a different type of mating on their mind! With that in mind I think it is high time Ballynafeigh got in on the act and organised its own championship.

1st – 7th September World Chess Sucker Championships

Entrance fee £75.00 (based on at least 2 entries)

Prizes    1st £10   2nd  £5   3rd Paper Certificate

Accommodation   £10 – £25 per night depending on what park bench you want and whether you will be single or sharing.  Benches with over hanging trees are £10 extra (only 4 left) Wine-o or glue-sniffer free benches must be booked in advance. The management take no responsibility for any items or valuables left in the accommodation for the duration of the tournament, indeed the management would like to take this opportunity to point out that it takes no responsibility for anything at anytime… well except your cash.

The lovely 3rd place certificate

The lovely 3rd place certificate

Hell we will even throw in a T-Shirt

Hell we will even throw in a T-Shirt


Coup Failure

The 2014 A.G.M took place this week and surprisingly or rather unsurprisingly there was not one motion sent in as a proposal for discussion! Now considering the rumblings and goings on in Ulster chess at present many onlookers would be staggered that nothing of note was being proposed for what was expected to be a very stormy and controversial A.G.M

The Ballynafeigh Gossip desk was so confident of pandemonium that they sent along two of their three regular contributors to the meeting in the interests of public information and juicy slander, the third Gossip desk contributor insisted that he had a nice tin of gloss paint he wanted to watch dry instead just before he uploaded a live video link to you-tube where he was going to shove tooth-picks in his eyeballs!

Arriving early to avoid the cheap-seats they were surprised to find nearly a dozen UCU members already there playing chess and drinking tea and coffee. The current League controller and tournament director Damien Cunningham was there looking very relaxed and blitzing with a Belfast South member, when another Ballynafeigh player entered the room to say that the Fisherwick/Muldoon’s gang was gathering at the front doors. Obviously their plan was to gather outside and enter together as a voting block to occupy central seating in a dominating position making an intimidating sight for the meeting. This strategy also had another important by-product, if the ringleaders could stop their supporters from going in un-chaperoned it would mean that the decent members of Fisherwick and Muldoon’s that were only there out of loyalty wouldn’t be confronted with the truth about the disgraceful behaviour they were being asked to exonerate with a vote.

As plots go this one was so poor it

The Muldoon’s training camp

“Are you worried by their numbers”? The League controller was asked.

“Not at all” Cunningham smirked as laughter rippled around the tables, before adding “We had this tied up weeks ago, we knew who they had but more importantly who they wouldn’t get, and we knew who they were courting for certain positions also what their tactics and plan would likely be and it’s going absolutely exactly as we expected, they’re embarrassingly predictable.”

So you’re pretty confident then?

“Yes … look I’m not an Einstein or an Adrian Dornford-Smith for that matter but I personally couldn’t think as slow as these guys if I underwent a frontal lobotomy and a heavy course of barbiturates. Do you seriously think that I could ever be taken to task by someone of such restricted intelligence as Michael Waters and a few sycophants? The guys that will be coming along as support from Muldoon’s and Fisherwick will probably know nothing of what has gone on and are only their out of loyalty and I have no problem with them, I’m sure if they knew the facts they’d have made excuses for the evening or had their phones switched off until the next day, they’d want nothing to do with the actions or behaviour of Mad Mickey Waters”

Chris Black piped in “ah you know what? You know what we should do?” everyone looked at him, then he added “we should get everyone here into the next room and hide there”

Most people looked at him a bit perplexed, “Why’s that Chris” Norman asked

Chris explained “We know they have an absolute maximum of 18 votes we have an absolute minimum of 35, let’s make it a lot closer let’s hide a dozen or more guys in the next room and let the Waters gang think they have a chance of winning and then just as the vote is about to take place they all walk in like a Ballynafeigh version of the West Wing, I know it’s a bit sick and twisted but it would be funny”

No one answered, not a single word just an almighty rush of clocks boards and sets getting swept off tables and the coffee and tea trolley getting hijacked to another room followed by giggles and laughter. Cunningham was left in the room on his own and he started to set up the room which soon filled quickly with other pro-committee supporters, then Waters sheepishly entered the room with his gang in tow as expected, trying to do a rough head count as they went, again to be expected and they all sat down en masse together as expected, well if nothing else their consistency was excellent even if their judgment was anything but. Geoff Hindley gave his presidents address of the year passed before moving on to the A.G.M proper at this point unable to contain himself as so often in the past Michael Waters the Bad-Boy of Ulster chess interjected claiming that the Presidents address contained no reference to his disciplinary punishment were he was banned for a year with a further three years suspended for three years. Ah the reason we were all here! Well as the movie line goes “we didn’t get dressed up for nothing!” Waters wasn’t into his second sentence and the deliberate inaccuracies or should we say bare faced lies were already in full flow. It was then halted as is started to spiral between league controller and tournament director Damien Cunningham and league winner and tournament disgrace Michael Waters after Waters claimed that the correct rules were not in the constitution. Cunningham pointed out that Waters was the last person to write the constitution of the UCU and therefore he and he alone was responsible for omissions and errors in the document, unbelievably Waters had no response except to blame the people who wrote the constitution before him!. It must be pointed out at this stage that while Waters has always claimed to be legally trained to anybody who would listen, his displayed intellect and actual actions over the years have always heavily contradicted such a claim.

It soon started again not long after when coming to the aid of his puppet-master Peter Wilson of the Muldoon’s gang got his strings in a tangle when he claimed to have heard a conversation on the phone between Mark Newman the arbiter who banned Michael Waters from the Williamson tournament and the UCU Tournament Director Damien Cunningham. Peter Wilson miraculously claimed to have heard the precise words that Cunningham used, which was all the more impressive a feat when it was established that the phone call was taken outside the venue and not on loudspeaker! So has Peter been working for News International hacking phones? Was he just telling fibs? Or perhaps he  just has the biggest ears in all the land? Beside Peter sat Nicholas Pilkiewicz nodding at any word falling off Peters lips and nodding in gesturing style to the rest of the Muldoon’s/Fisherwick gang in an attempt to remind them why they were there and anyone around him that he considered undecided, aye sure a nod is as good as a wink to a blind man especially ones who were kept in the dark. So Noddy and Big-Ears sat for the rest of the meeting organising their pre-arranged vote blissfully unaware of three things, 1) that they had no chance of victory whatsoever, 2) that there were at least a dozen anti-coup votes in the next room and 3) that the last Noddy-car had left for Toyland twenty minutes earlier! It was going to be a long disappointing night for the leaders of the failed plot.

Ballynafeigh is around here somewhere,

Ballynafeigh is around here somewhere, we should have brought Paddy Magee

Paddy Magee had been brought along to be the social face of the Waters led coup because he was a Ballynafeigh player, Waters and Wilson obviously hoping his presence would give the gangs non-existent grievance a veneer of authenticity. Magee’s personal gripe with the league controller emanates from when he goofed in a major way in a league match. Magee had 14 minutes and 35 seconds on his clock when his opponent’s flag fell, did Magee claim on time? No he played on! …. And on! ….. Ah and further on, he played on for 14 minutes and 35 seconds until his own flag fell and the league controller who was observing the Magee horror show declared the game a draw (as he should) Magee was beside himself with rage at the controller! He goofed up and wanted to blame the controller for correctly applying the rules, no matter how many times it was explained to him it was absolutely impossible to get through to Goofy, he just wouldn’t listen. He did however listen intently and willingly to others who were either less knowledgeable and accidently supplied him with wrong information out of genuine stupidity or knew exactly what they were doing and were maliciously making a fool out of Magee for their own agenda of fostering dissent, It would be clear to most impartial observers what the answer to that would be. That somebody so intelligent can let themselves be used so cynically with such ease is disappointing, the fact that he was a Ballynafeigh member letting himself be used to attack another Ballynafeigh member who had acted correctly is doubly so. Magee was courted with falsehoods, misleading interpretations and deliberate misinformation, he was then praised for his strength and integrity and encouraged to be a proposer for Peter Wilson. One didn’t need to be a firefighter or a chimney-sweep to see they were just blowing smoke up his ass and would let him fall flat on his same when they were done with him.

6.11 If both flags have fallen and it is impossible to establish which flag fell first then:
the game shall continue if it happens in any period of the game except the last period
the game is drawn if it happens in the period of a game, in which all remaining moves must be completed.

Every year the UCU rules are mailed to all captains and are published on the UCU website it clearly and bluntly states that the UCU play under Quick-finish rules therefore 6.11 b is the rule that takes precedent and the league controller was absolutely correct. The league controller has stated that 6.11 b will continue to remain in place until all clubs have switched from analogue to the more modern digital clocks, that whilst some clubs persist with analogue equipment then the rules cannot be changed, that it is not feasible to administer two sets of rules for the same scenario.

The Magee goof event has history in the UCU as it has happened at least three times before which at the time were accepted by all parties concerned as draws, one could be forgiven for asking where were Magee’s advisors then? Waters and Co or should that be Waters and coup gave Magee the pre-organised nod and the Ballynafeigh fifth columnist with a baseless gripe but plenty of smoke in his rear piped up to propose Peter Wilson of Muldoon’s for league controller. Waters had bizarrely blamed Cunningham as the person responsible for his current ban from chess tournaments, perversely akin to a bank robber blaming a judge for his imprisonment and wanted him removed, however knowing he could never defeat Cunningham in a vote himself he persuaded Peter Wilson to try his luck instead… what can we say … poor choice!

The league controller not only has to be fair but he must be seen to be fair and impartial to the most forensic of scrutiny, Peters willingness to claim to have telepathic powers when it comes to mobile transmissions via microwaves in an attempt to bolster an already lost argument for his pal Waters only demonstrated his unsuitability for the post in question. The one time Peter did have the integrity of a league to uphold he failed in the most grotesque fashion and his actions led directly to the formation of the captains committee. His team at the time Randalstown were to play Bombardier in the last match of the season, Bombardier trailed RVH eagles by 6 points so needed a 4.5 – 0.5 victory over Randalstown who had David Barras ,Peter McGuikin ,Richard Gould, Steven Eachus and Peter Wilson to choose from, I can’t remember who was on board 1 that year for Randalstown but there was not one chance in hell of Bombardier winning 4.5 – 0.5 the league unquestionably would be RVH eagles. Well right up to the point where Peter couldn’t be arsed playing the fixture and phoned Bombardier to agree a 5-0 loss over the phone instead. Bombardier won the division title and RVH went ballistic when they found out weeks later, it was when the result was not annulled and the match replayed that the captains committee was proposed and carried, and this is the same man that some actually believe could do the job of league controller! Honestly guys really?

Cunningham had spoken to Calum Leitch and Ross Harris months ago to stand for the dual post of League Controller and Tournament director which they willingly agreed to do in what was the worst kept secret in the UCU. They were a popular choice for many (Though it would be fair to say that Stephen Morgan would rather see Calum indicted for war-crimes). So when Cunningham proposed both for their respective positions they were home and hosed before the votes were counted, which meant that the Waters clan had failed to win any positions as officers of the UCU they had failed to gain a single vote other than the ones they brought with them to the meeting. When volunteers were asked to serve on the executive board it was the last straw to clutch to,  the Coup Clutch Clan embarrassingly had to accept places serving as members of the executive board at the generosity of the board they so miserably failed to over throw and their collective failure was finalised and documented.

When asked why he stepped down as League controller and didn’t take another post Cunningham replied “There’s a saying that a lie can be half way round the world before the truth has its boots on, well I decided to swap the boots for Nike trainers to help the truth make up lost ground, I’ll let everyone know exactly what happened and who has behaved wrongly. Waters has painted himself out as some sort of chess messiah being crucified I want to show him for what he is, I wanted to let people know that Muldoon’s Noddy and Big-ears act have been working for Waters since day one and that Paddy Magee sold himself for the less than regulation thirty pieces of silver and accepted some magic beans instead. If you’re going to play around with magic beans you have to be prepared for a conflict with the Giant, so welcome to the beanstalk guys

1)      During the middle rounds of the 2014 Williamson Shield 23rd / 24th February Waters was having a poor start to his tournament with 2 draws and a loss in round 4 he had a tough pairing against Nicolas Pilkiewicz which had only started when there was noise from an adjoining room.

2)      Waters took it upon himself to investigate when he had absolutely no right to do so, he was not an arbiter or tournament controller, he was not the tournament director nor did he hold any office for the UCU and he was not a member of the executive board of the UCU therefore had absolutely no right to do so in any capacity for any reason!

3)      He did not ask the arbiter who was sitting right next to him to investigate as would be expected

4)      He seized his opportunity and entered the room without the aid of an independent witness and confronted a woman on her own going about her business. At what point did he not realise this was a poor judgment call. When things started to become much more heated he did not leave the room, instead choosing to stay to be more forceful with his views before eventually returning to the tournament hall, this was another extremely poor decision.

5)      George Jackson on returning from the washroom came across the woman leaving the room in considerable distress and immediately went to her aid. He was informed of the woman’s version of events and contacted the tournament controller to inform him of a serious problem. One should note that Mr. Jackson had no problem getting the arbiters attention and he wasn’t in the same room let alone sitting right beside him.

6)      Mark Newman investigated immediately and professionally (as he is supposed to do)

7)      Mark Newman immediately contacted the Tournament Director of the Ulster Chess Union to inform him of the situation (as he is supposed to do)

8)      Mark Newman as the ranking controller present wisely negotiated a resolution to the incident which involved an apology to the female worker which she would accept.

9)      Mr. Newman contacted the Tournament Director after securing agreement with the offended party that an apology would suffice to ascertain the extent of his authority over the event. I as Tournament Director confirmed his authority was virtually total and more than adequate for the resolution and enforcement in this instance. During this conversation as Tournament Director I offered my support to Mr. Newman if he needed to put Mr. Waters out of the tournament if an apology wasn’t forthcoming. I said “if you need to put him out, then put him out”

10)  Waters flatly refused to defuse the situation with an apology, trying to usurp the controller’s authority by mobilising support for his position instead. Eventually after a protracted stand-off Waters was encouraged by people around him to apologise or face expulsion.

11)  The apology he offered was nothing of the sort and if anything was an explanation of his views and reasoning, at this point even some of his followers walked away because they knew it was no apology at all. It was at this point that Mark Newman was forced to do what he had hoped to avoid and disqualified Waters.

12)  Another stand off by Waters, another attempt to circumvent the controllers authority by him, another bullying attempt to try and change the controllers mind, it went on and on becoming very intimidating at one point, but Mark Newman stood his ground (as he is supposed to do, not just yield to threat)

13)  Waters refused to leave the venue instead began a protest of non cooperation and refusal to follow the controller’s direction.

14)  Mark Newman again contacted the Tournament Director of the UCU and informed him that there was an official complaint being made and asked what guidelines should he follow (again the correct decision) I as Tournament Director asked the UCU Treasurer as an officer of the Union to accompany me to the event to speak to the member of staff lodging the complaint. (as we are supposed to do)

15)  We conducted interviews with as many people as we could it is highly unlikely aside from Mr. Waters there was anybody from the tournament that either I as Tournament Director or Damien Lavery as an officer of the Union didn’t have communications with in the following days (again as we are supposed to do ) Indeed I had six hours of phone calls and 100 text messages (yes that figure is correct it is 100) from one Michael Waters supporter in the immediate aftermath. Constantly coming back with suggestions and questions it was obvious that everything was being relayed back and forth. Though they were at pains to deny this at every opportunity they strangely only asked questions that were of interest to a defence of Waters or points that were supportive of him and at the A.G.M they ended up front and centre of the coup gang.

16)  So Waters was fully aware there was a serious investigation going on into his behaviour and actions, yet claimed to have been kept in the dark and railroaded throughout. He even sent a letter trying to preempt action against him by listing a swath of unsubstantiated absurd accusations against Mark Newman and myself as League controller hoping to bully the board into dropping the investigation (the one that he knew nothing about)

conspiracy theory

17)  Waters claimed that Mark Newman was a liar and that the woman did not make a complaint and that Newman was making it all up because he was twisted and sinister etc etc. Is this not proof in itself that Waters was fully aware of the investigation in process

18)  When supplied with the actual letter of complaint from the woman Waters claimed she was a liar as well and her and Newman were in cahoots in fact he went on a long rambling tirade of Mark Newman not being honest Cunningham not being honest the woman not being honest and Damien Lavery not being an honest broker either (it would be difficult to make your position look any more foolish than Waters made his with that rant but this is Michael Waters he can excel when it comes to slanderous accusations and making himself look foolish.

19)  Waters then attempted to address only two members of the executive board Geoff and Brendan in a deliberate attempt to cause a division within the board or perhaps in hope of sowing the seeds of doubt (didn’t work)

20)  Waters was made aware of the findings and his punishment almost a month after the event in a hand delivered letter by the League Controller who was accompanied by members of the executive board. Waters retired to the Errigle bar where he ranted about the League Controller and how he was going to smash him and the UCU into the ground and how he wouldn’t stop until Cunningham was finished in chess (err… um… I’m still here but thanks for trying for me anyway)

21)  From then on Waters emails which were already lower than the bottom of the Mariana trench took such a vertical dive they made a valiant attempt at reaching the earth’s central core. So I’ll refrain from mentioning what was in his ghastly list but as you can see… “He’s not the messiah he’s just a very nasty boy!”

22)  After the disciplinary investigation and subsequent banning Waters could have availed himself of an appeal to the union via an EGM just to discuss this one issue but didn’t. Why did any of his followers not find this strange? It’s not as if they didn’t know about it because I as the league controller told Magee Pilkiewicz and Wilson over and over again to get Waters to call and EGM… but it never happened. It never happened because Waters couldn’t get the twenty signatures required, surely at this point not so much an alarm as an air raid warning siren should have been going off in the heads of his supporters that they were compromising their own standing within Ulster Chess by being so inextricably linked with Waters.

Well that’s the timeline on the Waters incident at Stormont, it should be remembered that this is not the only time this man has been responsible for incidents of controversy at tournaments and league matches. However seeing as this was the first documented complaint being made by an outside source the executive board deemed it necessary to act in as fair and honest way as possible to act as a deterrent for all. Other incidents that went unpunished in the past included

1)      Waters had verbally abused the controller of the 2007 Ulster Championships and was warned of impending disqualification. The controller wrote a letter of complaint to the UCU executive board demanding a disciplinary action be taken against Waters.

2)      In a league match in 2012 that did not involve Waters or his team he walked up to a board during a match and told one of the players who was playing Steve Scannell to stop the clock and claim a draw.

3)      At the 2012 Ulster Championships he repeatedly abused the controller verbally for putting his game on a progression warning, he was threaten with disqualification but was not disqualified because he was leading the tournament

4)      At the 2013 Ulster Championships he repeatedly abused the controller verbally when he stepped in to stop a game that had reached the same position four times and was about to reach a fifth including the twenty king and rook moves in between each repeated position. Waters would have been disqualified only the controller had to leave for immediate family reasons.

As for the nonsense being gassed in anyone’s ear by members of Muldoon’s about the UCU rules being broken by the league controller I would just like to say this to nail this claptrap once and for all.

All teams supplied squad list of fixed players including Ballynafeigh 3 their squad list was intact and correct and nobody on it played for any other team within Ballynafeigh until after the league separation. Then some of them did but did so with the permission of the executive board as they entered a fourth team to balance out the league. They did the league a favour it was not the other way around, can this point be made any clearer… the executive board of the UCU gave Ballynafeigh 3 special dispensation after the league split to benefit the league. No league rules were broken at anytime! Well except for Muldoons who brought 5 people to vote for them who were no paid up members of the union and thus not entitled to vote at the A.G.M


End of Season Hooray!

Well another very successful season came to a conclusion with its finale piece the Grandmaster simultaneous display held on Wednesday night at Inst. We still have our end of season night out to look forward to, hopefully this year Calum Leitch will buy more drink than he did last year ( it must be said it would be hard to buy less) and Chris Armstrong refrains from rapping to Eminem on the karaoke machine, it was hard on the ears last year.
The league controller tells us that he is delighted to get a break from the heavy chess workload for a few months, instead restricting himself to just the coaching for juniors on Tuesdays beginners classes on Mondays intermediate coaching on Wednesdays game analysis on Thursdays and tournaments at the weekends.
The controller says he will be delighted not to have to listen to the constant whining of certain members who unable to comprehend the meaning of the word no have taken to stalking poor Mark Newman. They’ve been bombarding him with phone calls complaining about the dismissive behaviour of the league controller!
When the Gossip desk asked the league controller if he would like to comment on accusations that he is dismissive, he just yawned turned his back and walked away.

It's not fair Mark the league controller is treating us like children

It’s not fair Mark do something the league controller is treating us like children

One complainant is a Ballynafeigh team-mate hmm?

One complainant  is a Ballynafeigh team-mate hmmm?


Stormin Norman

Fisherwick lifted the Silver King for a fourth consecutive year on Monday night when their board five stalwart Norman McFarland showed steady concentration and good time management to slowly tightened the grip for a positional advantage in his game with Ballynafeigh 2 draftee Dennis Wilkinson. It was just rewards for a player who has not only been a fantastic servant to his club over the years but one of the real nice guys of local chess and it was fitting that he should be the man to secure the league title for Fisherwick.

Norman left gets the better of an old chum Dennis (or should that be older?)

Norman left gets the better of an old chum Dennis (or should that be older?)

Across the other side of the city Lindores the only team that were capable of unseating Fisherwick were laying into the very strong Muldoon’s team in an effort to take the title to the last week of the season. Things very much went the way of Lindores from the start and quickly they got themselves enough points to make the match unlosable, well that was until their board 1 Gabor Horvath failed to show up and all their good work was wiped out as a 5-0 lost was automatically registered. Hopefully the fledgling team from East Belfast will learn from the experience for next year, they will have to if they want to upend Fisherwick because it was an error that would not have been replicated by John Cairns the wily Fisherwick captain if the roles had been reversed. Johnny would have had every board nailed down weeks in advance, if Lindore’s and Muldoon’s want to defeat Fisherwick they are going to have to learn from them first.

The Lindore's board 1 seat

The Lindore’s board 1 seat


Ciaran Quinn Victorious

Ciaran Quinn from the Elm mount chess club in Dublin journeyed up to Belfast for the Ulster Rapid-Play tournament and made his efforts all the sweeter when his excellent play ensured he was crowned the Ulster Rapid-Play Champion for 2014.
Winning all six encounters Ciaran stood in splendid isolation from the rest of the field, his only uncomfortable game was against the eventual runner up Niall Troughton when they somehow arrived at a position that was best described as being as mad as a bag of cats.

Ciaran Quinn on board 1 battles with black against Calum Leitch as Karina Kruk glares daggers at Mark Newman

Ciaran Quinn front right on board 1 battles with black against Calum Leitch as Karina Kruk rear right glares daggers at Mark Newman on board 2

Last years champion Calum Leitch held on for third place ahead of the posse of Thomas Donaldson, Mark Newman and Robert Lavery. Ballymena schoolboy Eoin McCorkindale was rewarded for his strong showing when he narrowly won the GM simul ticket ahead of Belfast’s Chris Armstrong and Brian Nugent who had traveled in from county Cavan for the one day event.

Brian Nugent from Cavan chasing the grading prize against Adrian Dornford-Smith

Brian Nugent from Cavan chasing the grading prize against Adrian Dornford-Smith

Richard Gould with black going down to a RobertLavery attack in round four

Richard Gould with black going down to a Robert Lavery attack in round four

The controller on the day needed an arm like Popeye and a tin of spinach to clean up the recently found trophy before presentation. Such was the grime coating and tarnished discolour it more resembled a disused milk-churn than the Arthur Cootes trophy, but two tins of silvo and twenty minutes with an angle grinder later it’s glorious luster glowed again for Ulster chess and for the hands of Ciaran Quinn of the Elm Mount chess club.

The Arthur Cootes the way it was meant to look

The Arthur Cootes the way it was meant to look

Front Tony Redden with white against Eoin McCorkindale whilst rear Patrick Magee with white tackles Richard Morrow

Front Tony Redden with white against Eoin McCorkindale whilst rear Patrick Magee with white tackles Richard Morrow

Colin Fenton with white against Chris Armstrong

Colin Fenton with white against Chris Armstrong


Shrinking violets of Lindores

Lindores chess club failed to bloom in their match against Ballynafeigh 1 on Tuesday evening; indeed it was only sheer good fortune that the roses from the eastside weren’t heavily pruned.  Ballynafeigh’s intended team selection was David Houston, Damien Lavery, Thomas Donaldson, Chris Black and Bill Lavery but with only twenty minutes before the intended start time Ballynafeigh lost Black to a work crisis and then ten minutes later their captain Damien Lavery phoned to say that he had just donated a substantial portion of his brand new floating clutch assembly to the tarmacadam expanse of Aghagallon, a place so remote it make the arse-hole of nowhere look like a metropolis!

This left the Ballynafeigh side in need of extra bodies in a hurry to fill the empty seats; thankfully the match was at the Ballynafeigh club who can supply enough bodies to rival the city morgue, though there is the odd cynic that would suggest that the city morgue bodies may actually have a better chance of getting a result against a Lindores team than some of the Ballynafeigh ones.  A quick press-ganging of Dennis Wilkinson Mark Hewitt and Buffalo-Bill Lavery filled the empty seats and the one sided challenge began.  The pressure of challenging for the league title with Fisherwick was telling on the Lindores team as they looked to have fallen behind on 3 boards all square in the McNaughton v Lavery match and up in the Leitch v Donaldson game.  Even when McNaughton claimed the first victory it did not seem to ease their jitters, Wilkinson might have been down 500 rating points against MacDonald but he was still up two pawns on the board.  Houston stood the better against Horvath slightly on the board and hugely on the clock; Horvath draw offer was politely refused by Houston who was now sniffing blood.

Houston v Horvath

Houston v Horvath

Things turned worse for Lindores when Leitch who was three pawns and 300 rating points up on his opponent faced a sac by Donaldson which drove his king so far up the board it nearly collided with parts from Damien Lavery’s clutch assembly at Aghagallon, the coup de grace followed soon after and the match sat at 1-1. Mark Hewitt also 300 rating points behind held for a draw with Ian Kilpatrick of Lindores, Dennis Wilkinson a massive 500 rating points behind managed to hold a well deserved draw against MacDonald and the match score stood at 2-2 unfortunately the board one clash between Houston and Horvath gradually swung towards the Lindores man with some fine play under time pressure and a victory most fortunate was achieved for the league leaders.

Kilpatrick and Leitch went to celebrate their narrow escape and boozed away into the small hours talking tactics and crap in ever increasingly unequal measures as the alcohol flowed. Not satisfied with their lucky escape earlier the hapless duo decided to test fate once more, they were hell bent on testing the combination of smart-phones and stupid people. Whilst four sheets to the wind they used their smart-phones to book plane tickets hotels and taxi transfers to Amsterdam for the weekend because Leitch ranted and raved so much while under the influence about the atmosphere inside the Ajax stadium that Kilpatrick also heavily under the influence decided… nay demanded that they should go to the match this weekend and witness it first hand. They rushed home to grab overnight bags and a change of clothes to catch the 6.00am flight. Kilpatrick insisted that they stop at an all night chemist to get supplies in case they meet anyone they fancy, Leitch assured him it wasn’t necessary as he had two unopened bottles of mouth wash in the house. Just as the taxi taking them to the airport arrived a dawning moment arrived twice as fast, Leitch suddenly realised that he didn’t have a passport! So Leitch wasted his money on a trip he could never make and Kilpatrick wasted his money on an atmosphere he’ll never sense as the Ajax match against Vitesse Arnhem was an away fixture this week which just goes to show that you don’t have to be in Amsterdam to be a complete tulip.


Redman wins then goes into hiding

Ballynafeigh’s Mike Redman won the NICS lackadaisical event played at the Stormont Pavilion on Sunday afternoon 23rd March. The quick-play event was unsurprisingly controversy free and the UCU supplied doorstaff on the day were not required, though perhaps they should have been retained for the protection of the tournament winner who was harangued all day long by delegations from Lindores and Muldoon’s. Both outfits were vying for the services of the current Ulster Champion next year once the news broke that he was having contractual problems at Ballynafeigh and that the free tea and biscuits clause did not extend to double chocolate McVities.
The courting of Redman was so intense the Ballynafeigh board 1 refused to leave the room without an escort, “it was insane everytime I went to the bathroom either Calum or Peter followed me in, several times it was both, so I started using the cubicle and would you believe it there were three of us in there! When we came out a few of the big rugby guys were there, they gave us a long stare; you could just tell they were dead jealous of us chess players. There’s no way they would be able to squeeze three big ruggers into one of them wee cubicles.” Redman said.
The Ballynafeigh committee sat on Sunday evening once reports of the dubious talent scouting expeditions came through and to ensure their brightest talents are kept for next year erected a warning sign outside.

The new sign outside Ballynafeigh

The new sign outside Ballynafeigh, though apparently there will be no punishment for the poaching of Scannell


Ballynafeigh 2 Enlists the Vikings


Ballynafeigh 2 has been loading up on the Danish this week in an attempt to make themselves heavier as a team. There will be a huge sigh of relief in some quarters that it is Ballynafeigh 2 getting heavier and not Ballynafeigh 1 who are big unit .. nay they are a really big unit…in fact huge! Houston and Lavery alone could make an unbeatable tug-o-war team, but once you add Chris Black to the equation, then they would have enough mass to exert a gravitational pull, if they went swimming together Archimedes principle suggests you could probably kiss goodbye to the Maldives.

Danish pastry is quite fattening but even if consumed by the box and washed down with liquid sugar for decades it wouldn’t make Ballynafeigh 2 heavy in the way it wants. It’s more rating points they seek and not more kilos, it’s not Danish pastry but Danish players they are gathering. This week Ballynafeigh 2 enlisted the services of Soren Jensen for board 2 and lined up another from next month onwards who will have to play on board 1 pushing Mike Redman to board 2 where he will remain until April when he will have to move to board THREE!

It's Danish and it will make you heavy but it isn't the weight Ballynafeigh was looking!

It’s Danish and it will make you heavy but it isn’t the weight Ballynafeigh was looking!

Robert Lavery insisted that if we’re grabbing all the good things from Demark that we get Adriana Cernanova for board 5.

 “Is he any good Robert?” he was asked

 “It’s not a he it’s a she and she is marvelous, absolutely bloody marvelous”

“What’s her rating then?

“Ten out of ten”

“She’s won her last ten games?”

“Oh I don’t know if she plays chess or not, she plays draughts and that’s a checkered board so she should be good enough for board 5, sure we played Mark Hewitt so I don’t see why Adriana can’t play”

Possibly a new board 5 for Ballynafeigh 2 and an example of why Robert Lavery was drafted into the ratings committee!

Possibly a new board 5 for Ballynafeigh 2 and an example of why Robert Lavery was drafted into the ratings committee!


Hello ECForum readers

If you’re tuning in from the ECF forum guys we at Ballynafeigh would just like to say hello to you all. You have arrived here because the laughing stock of Irish chess better known as Colm Daly has been spewing out his usual diatribes against Irish chess using your forum as a vehicle for his vendetta.

This perpetual mud-slinging, money grabbing, viperous buffoon leaves a cancer trail in his wake and I would advise you to have nothing to do with him or his ideas. His mischievous and distasteful actions are legendary in Irish chess were they are held as an example as how not to behave if you wish to be treated as an adult.

Daly reveled in his role as cheer leader and chief snowball maker for an attempted coup within Irish chess with his inaccurate and misleading postings on the lead up to the disgraceful event. His views and interpretations were roundly defeated by the membership present and as the meeting spiraled towards vicious ugliness Mr Daly was observed by many roaring with laughter!

Where was the concern for the governance of Irish chess and its management that day? What part of anarchy, mayhem, physical threats and foul language did Colm Daly find so amusing to make him rock back on his chair with such jolly glee?  On his blog Irishchesscogitations and every other blog that allows him Daly has become the Lord of mischief stirring ill feelings at every opportunity oblivious to the damage he causes. Have nothing to do with him or his ilk and best to remove him from your forum altogether the guy is a hand grenade with the pin removed.


Belfast to Bunratty 2014

The Northern compliment of the 2014 Bunratty chess festival headed off at staggered intervals from the Belfast suburbs and the odd Crawfordsburn slum early on the Friday morning. There had been talk of forming a traveling convoy in case of mechanical difficulties or attacks from the riff-raff of Hillsborough as we passed, however the convoy idea was scrubbed when it was pointed out that to keep the convoy intact everyone would have to drive the same as the poorest driver. Now you can call it ageist if you like or even sexist if you have a mind but with Damien Lavery in the convoy nobody wanted to be seen driving like an old woman!

Most of the vehicles had cleared Belfast for 10:30 am, except for Lavery who had all his passengers ready from the crack of dawn but didn’t pick them up until lunchtime and Paul McLoughlin who was having an aerodynamic rear spoiler fitted in the hope of breaking Cunningham’s record of 3 ¾  hours for the 250 mile journey last year. He had two things in his favour, he had no passengers thus making his car lighter, and also the fact that he is a complete and utter maniac behind the wheel! His ‘Stig’ like white knuckle rides are the envy of Alton-Towers, so it was no real surprise he couldn’t find any volunteers among the genteel membership of the UCU to go as dare-devil co-pilots.

Paul McLoughlin in his working clothes

Paul McLoughlin in his working clothes

Paddy Magee brandishing more excuses than an investment banker was going …then he wasn’t … then maybe he was…ah but he couldn’t after all… but there was still an outside chance if we could get some people to take the 9:00am bus to the back-end of Downpatrick and then sit on a park bench feeding pigeons for six hours until 3:00pm when Paddy could pick them up after early milking. Then they could pile into his three seater take a short-cut across the flooded midlands of Ireland and get to Bunratty for sometime before midnight! Poor chap was rather stunned that he had no takers for his proposal, obviously not only had he the excuses of an investment banker, but he had the neck of one too! As the lead vehicles passed through Monaghan the crazed Downpatrick farmhand was texting Cunningham demanding to know when the last car was leaving Belfast and where it could pick him up, completely oblivious to the fact that all the cars were packed out weeks ago and all with the exception of McLoughlin ‘The Stig’ impersonator had left Belfast hours previously! Indeed Norman Rainey had left the day before with his companion Meg just in case we did end up forming a convoy for the journey and slowed his assault on the hotel bar. When asked why he replied “Look I’m 75 years of age and I like to do my own thing at my own pace, slowing down every couple of miles so that Damien Lavery can catch up wouldn’t be my cup of tea so I’ll head down the day before and check out the King sized beds with Meg… which reminds me I must get new leathers and chains… I may be 75 but there’s life in this aul’ dog yet!” he grinned. Now your author has a mind as broad as ‘the chip’ on Michael Waters shoulder but the vision of a 75 year old Norman Rainey in a S&M-mask and bondage chains is one of those journeys your mind should never have to make without the requirement of a psychologists visa or the aid of a hallucinogenic substance.

The recent heavy flooding left many roads on the route equipped with a new Olympic sized swimming pool, or else closed completely. Eventually after zig-zagging halfway across Connaught we ended up doubling back at Loughrea looking for a road to Gort that wasn’t a lake in disguise, so we stopped a local and asked for directions.

 “Ah Gort no problem no problem at all” she said before adding

“Do you see that road right in front of ya?”

“I do indeed”

“Well that’s the road you want”

I smiled, “thank you very much” I said

“Ach not at all don’t be thanking me because you can’t take that road”

“I can’t”


“But you said that’s the road I want”

“Oh it is, but you cant take it”

“Why not?

“It’s flooded”  

“It’s flooded?”

“Aye with water”

“ya see that other road to your right?”


“Well that goes towards Gort too but it’s not as good as the flooded road”

“So long as it gets us to Gort it’ll be great thanks”

“Oh it wont get you to Gort”

“It won’t?”

“Not at all it doesn’t go to Gort”

“But you said it goes towards Gort”

“Aye towards Gort but then it stops cos the aul tiger died ya know and they stopped building stuff”

“But I’ll tell ya what, do you see that road on your left?”


“Now that’s a grand road, it really is”

“Brilliant and that will bring us there”

“Bring you where?”


“Oh no.. that road doesn’t go to Gort that road goes to Athenry…,  I was just letting ya know it’s a grand road if you ever have to take it.”

It was obvious the flooding had washed away the front gates of the local institution and we decided to detour in the hope of starting off from a different point from where we were, or at least to put as much distance between us and the Loughrea banjo player that a galleon of diesel would allow.

We had the water, we had the Banjo player, but we really needed a canoe

We had the water, we had the Banjo player, but we really needed a canoe to get to Gort

Many miles of arm wrestling with the steering wheel followed before we eventually arrived at the Bunratty car-park which thankfully with all the flooding hadn’t doubled as a marina, we found ourselves a berth and dropped anchor to wait on the rest of the flotilla arriving to sort out the accommodation. While waiting on the last of the puddle splashers from Belfast or as they preferred to be called yachtsmen, we decided to inspect the playing venues before they were used and abused. They were stunningly presented and were a credit to Team-Bunratty, the entire group of underpaid volunteers that work tirelessly year on year, to keep Bunratty the success story that it is and its position as the best chess tournament in Ireland by a Galway mile unchallenged.

venue 1

venue 2

venue 4

venue 5

venue 6

The picturesque appearance of the venue brought out the Robert Capa in Bobby Campbell and armed with his new super zoom digital Nikkon he set about the place like a man possessed. Any two dimensional object within range was snapped, the three dimensional ones were snapped twice. The unfortunate Matthew Chapman must be multi-dimensional because Bobby was on him like a Paparazzi icon from every conceivable angle.  How’s it going Matthew? He was asked. “How’s it going?” I’ll tell you how it’s going, Bobby and that bloody camera of his are closer to my face than my pint is! I can see why some of those celebrities lash out at some of those photographers now. If he snaps me once more I swear I’m gonna do a bit of snapping myself” “Okay Matthew” I said I can see why you don’t want photographic records, your dad reads the Ballynafeigh blog and you’re not old enough to drink?” before adding “and mines a double brandy if you want me to forget what I’ve seen”  before excusing myself with “I’ll just head over to the cottages to see if the guys got sorted.” The mere fact that this is being read is testament of two things, 1 I didn’t drink brandy that weekend and 2 Matthew Chapman is hard to blackmail.  Heading outside and down towards the castle I came across a trail of AA batteries like spent cartridges in a spaghetti western it really wasn’t much of a surprise to find at the end of the trail the Bunratty version of ‘Robert Cappa’ clicking at anything that moved.. and everything that didn’t, I swerved left to avoid him and his super-zoom and headed on to the Cottages that we were renting for the weekend.

He took that many photos Bobby Campbell got a new job with Google images

He took that many photos Bobby Campbell got a new job….. with Google images

When I got to the cottages the sprightly Norman was already there and had allocated himself the best room with king-sized bed and en-suite with optional Jacuzzi. “Not being funny Norman but are the stairs not a bit of bother for you and Meg?” I asked.  “Not at all” he snapped back I’m only seventy five I’m not ninety five and Meg sure she’s a Dane!” Hey no sweat Norman it’s you call man, I was just mentioned it in passing” I said “besides I didn’t know the sons and daughters of Denmark were so athletic, so knock yourself out” As we moved out onto the landing beside the emergency defibrillator I looked at it and thought Norman is a bit of a shrewdie alright he has all the eventualities covered here, just at that Meg arrived and bounded the stairs, she was a Dane alright there was no mistaking that, a blue coated monster pawed Great Dane. “Christ Norman look at the size of that brute!” I gasped “Sure I know” he replied “that’s why I had to get a new choker chains and a leather muzzle” he added. “Oh is that what you wanted them for?” I uttered, “well what else would I do with them, what else can you do with chains and leathers straps eh? Honestly Damien we all know you’re not the sharpest tool in the box but occasionally you can actually outdo yourself and make Richard Morrow look like member of Mensa” “well seeing as you’ve already taken his name in vain does Richard or Ian know you have that big ugly dog with you?” I responded. Norman was taken aback “Ugly! Ugly! Are you blind? I’ll have you know in the dog world Meg is quite HOT! “Yeah but in the real world Norman it’s an ugly brute that would never be hot outside of the Sahara desert” I quipped, “just look at it, the head is as big as a cows, it looks like Chris Black with paws! It’s a good job this cottage comes equipped with a defibrillator because when your house mates see that donkey there’ll probably be a need for one?” I decided to escape back to the hotel determined to avoid all controversy and confrontation I wasn’t hanging around to see if Richard and Ian were horse-lovers or not.

In the main lobby I was greeted by the wide eyes of Gearoidin Ui Laighleis staring straight at me she said “Daniel how are you?” I looked behind me to see who this Daniel was she was talking to, no one there I looked back to Gearoidin. “Oh dear it’s not Daniel is it” she said, ever so almost embarrassed “Derek it’s Derek god I’m so bad with names” she said “Yes Derek thinks so too” I replied before asking “would  you like to be third time lucky?” She stared at me intently, I could almost see the dust getting ground between the cogs as her mind attempted to click forward .. or back! “Oh frig me your names not Derek is it, now don’t tell me it’ll come to me in a second  …err.. um.. just wait a wee minute I’m really good with names once I’ve got them wrong… Ah I got it now.. DOMINIC…” she yelled over the foyer in great excitement “Err… nope not quite” I said before adding “Now would you like to go for the Brucie Bonus or just quit while you’re behind” She stared at me blankly as only Gearoidin can and I moved off to the adjacent hall to see who I got in the first round. The three hundred competitors that weren’t indulging themselves with a traveling bye sought out their opponent and seating arrangements those that had either hadn’t arrived or sought out the bar. Half an hour after the start time I bumped into another Ballynafeigh man Damien Lavery who like myself received a forfeit in the first round so we adjourned to the bar to systematically and enjoyably rip the back out of our favourite target, our team-mates and friends, though if anyone is talking to Chris Black I would just like to point out that I just listened, Lavery did all the ripping. Half way through our team wrecking exercise I got a tap on my shoulder I turned around hesitatingly in case it was one of our victims who may have overheard us to be greeted by an excited Gearoidin “David…  I knew it would come back to me” she said “Err … no it didn’t” the short reply, “Agh Damn” she muttered and walked away. Paul Anderson and Adrian Dornford-Smith joined us both having secured victories followed by Calum Leitch Matthew Chapman and Ashley McWhinney it was looking like an excellent start for the yachtsmen from Belfast. Lavery and I had to cease the conversation we wanted to have and instead pretend we were interested in Calum Leitch’s game as he analysed it to death for the umpteenth time trying to pass off a rook blunder as a sac. The tedious boredom was only slightly fractured by another failed guessing session by Gearoidin “Would it be Darren?” She was answered only with a shaking head “is it Darragh?” another shake, the guesses of Diarmuid and Declan were met with rolling eyes, stumped she wandered off in search of divine inspiration or a clue from the swollen ranks at the bar. Armed with fresh information she came back in a state of excitement.,

 “I KNOW WHO YOU ARE NOW!” she declared.

“you do?”

“You’re him aren’t you?”

 “Well that would depend on who him is”

 “You’re the crazy guy with the blog that everybody hates” 

“I wasn’t aware it was so universal, but probably”

“You’re…. Colm Daly”

The Saturday trio of games came and went and couldn’t have gone quickly enough for you author who failed to close out two favourable positions against 1800 opponents in two of the games and was soundly beaten in the third meaning the tournament was only of entertainment value from that point onward. Adrian Dornford Smith and Calum Leitch were doing very nicely in their sections, Adrian sat on 3 from 4 and Calum 3 ½ from 4 an early night was on the cards for both as they contemplated board 1 games the next morning, but that would be very un-belfast like and instead the bar received its frontal assaults until the break of dawn. There was a party running out of a certain room on the 2nd floor were wine and vodka were splashed in equal dosages and Norman Rainey became the wine critic for the evening ridiculing everything presented to him with scornful comments which is a bit rich for a man who regards melted boot-polish as of vintage standing.

There were three in the bed and the little one said where's Lola

There were three in the bed and the little one said… where’s Lola, not a lot of opening book theory was being studied on the Saturday night in the Belfast party room

As Norman sloshed back the free wine and Vodka he was quite vociferous in explaining if your not paying £25 a bottle you’re only drinking bleach, when pushed for the name of a quality wine or drink he could only come up with “Mundies and Strongbow” but promised to treat everyone the following night to a really nice wine that he had brought with him but was back at his cottage. The party headed down stairs to heckle the awful group that was starting to play in the lounge, the group was okay-ish but the lead singer was fairly awful and fairly ugly, added to the fact that he held an uncanny resemblance to one of the ugliest controllers ever to have darkened Bunratty and all the reasons for heckling were there.

Gerry Graham proving not all FIDE arbiter are on the fiddle, he's on a guitar

Gerry Graham proving not all FIDE arbiter are on the fiddle, he’s on a guitar

Calum Leitch was bragging to anyone still awake how he was going to demolish Stephen Short in the morning and move into poll position in the challengers blah blah blah we couldn’t believe how quickly the snoring started after Leitch joined the different companies the only respite coming when he got waylaid by a local Lola with impressive biceps. The next morning there was no sign of Calum anywhere in the hotel or the village for that matter and his clock was running faster than his mouth, we phoned texted and emailed him warning that the default time was rapidly approaching, but all to no avail. Leitch was defaulted and marked for a loss and was in danger of being withdrawn from the tournament if we couldn’t locate him before the start of the last round, a search party was formed and set off to find him. The search party arrived at the scene of his last sighting but he was nowhere to be see, so the search party was there and they didn’t want their trip wasted so the stacked all the furniture in the house into the Kitchen, sofas, tables, chairs, pillows, cushions, bins, coffee tables, mattress, electric shower, TV, mirrors and the dog kennel from next door. Feeling rather satisfied with their handiwork they headed back to the hotel for lunch seemingly unmoved by Leitch’s continued absence.

Norman getting Zugzwanged

Norman getting Zugzwanged

Richard Morrow who won the most embarrassing question of the week competition when he asked a GM their rating

Richard Morrow who won the most embarrassing question of the week competition when he actually asked a GM their rating

Stephen Rush at his first competition in Ireland

Stephen Rush at his first competition in Ireland

By the last round only Adrian Dornford Smith and his chess themed dickey bow was in the running for a result of any standing or a chance of a prize, the rest of the northern contingent fell by the wayside distracted by either not so cheap drink or not so feminine women. We gathered in the lounge after the tournament and decided to enter the Blitz for the craic, after all we couldn’t embarrass ourselves any further.  Paul ‘the Stig’ McLoughlin arrived through the door in time to enter and was all ecstatic having made the journey in an insane 3 hours 30 minutes. He was gob smacked to find that Paul Anderson did it in 3 hours flat, “cobblers no way, three hours dead, no chance, just can’t be done!” he ranted before asking more questions. “Is this a trick did he come by plane or helicopter?” when told that he came by road ‘the Stig’ refused to believe it, “Paul Anderson.. the wheelchair Paul Anderson, nah that’s baloney” He was still shaking his head in disbelief as we headed into the blitz.

The Blitz final Hebdon v Lalic being closely observed by Belfast’s best performer Adrian Dornford Smith.

The Blitz semi Jones the invincible getting his ass handed to him by Lalic

We thought we couldn’t embarrass ourselves any further boy were we wrong! First Damien  Lavery gets beat by a little girl, he tried to argue that she was WGM  L’Ami  Alina but he was reminded that the fact remained… she was little and she was a girl. But Richard Morrow was out to over shadow that, he asked his opponent what rating he was before the game started, taken aback his opponent looked around before replying I am GM Bogdan Lalic.. Richard’s head went down almost as quickly as his opening, but not quite, and our collective shame was complete.

Paul Anderson the new record holder at 3 hours

Paul Anderson the new record holder at 3 hours

The next morning we piled into our cars to head out of Bunratty with out tail between our legs for the second year running, we had to wait at the cottages for the guys to get their deposits back. The letting agent arrived and instead of giving the deposit back asked for another 100 euro for gas and 25 euro for electric, Norman had been running the gas at full whack 24 hours a day and the electric fire through the night for the dogs comfort without telling the others, Norman was right this dog was ‘Hot’ after all, so we left Bunratty some speechless, more hapless, others penniless but none friendless, well except Paul McLoughlin who was determined to break 3 hours on the way home..



Once the proud owner of most of the Ulster Chess Unions trophies including the Ulster senior’s title eight times Steve Scannell today resembles a creature on the verge of being hunted to extinction! His aura of invincibility remembered only by the nostalgic among the rank and file of the UCU as he rapidly achieves fame as a soft-touch for any chess middleweight and a punching bag for any of the heavyweights.

Steve Scannell was the only Ulster player to have his own manager and publicist before the Ballynafeigh 1 man’s long slow demise from the local chess elite. Indeed even his ever faithful manager and sycophant extraordinaire Paul McLoughlin has deserted him now as he courts a suitable replacement, seeking out the strongest player in Ulster chess at the moment Gabor Horvath of Lindores.

Scannell has fallen foul to the twin blades of chess castration, parenthood and that unstoppable ingredient that comes to anyone patient enough to wait for it… Old age! Now with graying eyebrows and more crow’s feet than a rookery he walks around with a virtual neon target sign on his back for all the intermediates desperate for some easy rating points. With results slightly worse than Fulham, Scannell sits anything but easy at the board, and looks as comfortable as a Rhino in room full of Chinese herbalists.

If he is ever again to resemble the beast with the razor sharp play of yester year then we will have to raise the funds to send him to one of Gabors coaching nights at Lindores at three quid a head, so if you have any spare change or an old “Banksy “ lying around you can donate to our SOS fund Save Old Steve.

Old Steve as rusty as the Humber bridge

Old Steve, as rusty as the Humber bridge, please give generously.


Change the record!

He’s at it again! Not content with having a really good team leading the league table and holding an outstanding chance of winning the title, Mad Mickey Waters prefers to pursue a course of argumentative nonsense laced with brazenly fabricated evidence and served up in his traditionally used bowl of selective memory.

I could go about dissecting his latest drivel for a bit of fun but it’s just too easy to do, even for someone sporting a Michael Waters allocated IQ of 80, so I’ll probably just ignore this sitting duck posted by the lame-duck of Fisherwick for fear of being accused of participating in blood sports. Is it a barbed response he is seeking out of malice? Or is there another explanation, perhaps he has a romantic fixation with the league controller and this is the only way he can think of either expressing his interest or taking  the first steps from the closet. If it is the latter we at Ballynafeigh would like to proclaim our public support for him and salute his courage, if it is the former we at Ballynafeigh would just like to say change the record it’s boring.

This is not photo-shopped this is a real image

This is not photo-shopped this is a real image

The new Fisherwick venue is a bit cramped.

The new Fisherwick venue is a bit cramped.


Ballynafeigh 3 off bottom

I know that headline looks like a menu from one of those special service cards pinned to a public phone booth in certain parts of London, but it is factually accurate! Ballynafeigh 3 are at the moment third from bottom, which is quite something considering that they would need to heavily defeat both Fisherwick and Lindores! The likelihood of that scenario being even less than a gay pole-dancing infidel being elected Mayor of Fallujah, so the Ballynafeigh rumor mill was spot on with it’s tittle-tattle about not one but two new teams.

The second phase of the league will see a second team from Belfast South  and another team from Muldoon’s  enter the second division. So whilst they have less points than a Norwegian euro-vision entry Ballynafeigh 3 get promoted forward for a week or two. But wait the league controller is a hairsbreadth away from the manufacture if not conjuring of yet another team to balance out the divisions, will this alter the divisional split? Well the controller is keeping his cards close to his chest, especially the ones he lifted from the London phone booths.


New Year Resolutions

1)   Learn Dutch twice… not in case I forget it first time or so I can speak to the two Dutch Belfast south imports at the same time… no it’s so I can understand the rating system because its definitely double Dutch to me.

2)   Be nicer to Muldoon because apparently they sulk because they think I’m too harsh on them …

3)  Appreciate the simple things in life … Hello Muldoon’s how are you? Oops there goes resolution two already

4)   Look at the sky more just to appreciate it, not just when Nicholas Pilkiewicz is complaining about something…. Damn that’s two busted again.

5)  To stop taking the proverbial out of chess players on this site …. Nah that one’s not gonna fly is it

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Santa the New Blitz Champion

The 2013 Ulster Blitz Champion was decided by an extra blitz-off between Gabor Horvath of Lindores and Michael Waters representing Fisherwick after they tied for first place in a tournament of 21 rounds. Calum Leitch set the early running as he took the scalps of Horvath, Masterson, Annesley, Pilkiewicz, and Kruk before running into the brick-wall of the ultra-quickplay specialist Damien Lavery, though weighing in at 26 and a half stone its more like running into a brick shithouse! Which for Leitch must have felt rather ironic as his dreams of repeating his 2011 victory went down the toilet and were washed away completely by the fast moving Waters in the following round. Though Leitch should have been taken down a notch in his match with Pilkiewicz earlier when he touched his knight but realising it would have dropped a rook, knight and pawn in exchange for a solitary knight released the knight and moved a pawn instead. When asked afterwards why he didn’t claim the touch move rule Pilkiewicz said “I thought that was the job of the controller” to which the controller retorted “yes perhaps I should have taken your seat and played him myself” Leitch tried to defend his actions by implying that he “merely brushed his horse on f6” however the witnesses present will testify that any time horses get moved like that they normally have AP McCoy on their backs carrying 12 stone on a wet afternoon at Uttoxeter!

McCoy thought he was booked for Cheltenham, he was really surprised to be on f6 instead

McCoy thought he was booked for Cheltenham, he was really surprised to be on f6 instead

Horvath and Waters traded win for win until they were pitched against each other in round 9 sharing the spoils in an opposite bishop endgame. That draw allowed the chasing pack of the local heavy hitters led by Damien Lavery to close to within a point of the leaders. One by one the likes of Annesley Masterson, Woodfield, Newman, Bradley Kruk Donaldson and Pilkiewicz dropped away leaving only Lavery and Leitch to chase the top seeds. Chasing is one thing, catching the two inform board 1 league players is something completely different, Waters and Horvath continued their ruthless dispatching of the opposition until the very end. They were then pitched against each other again for the title; a complex middle game ensued with both queens left hanging with threat and counter threat. In the end it was the clever placement of the pieces by Waters which reaped the rewards for the Fisherwick man and he closed out the game with clinical efficiency to safeguard the laurels of the champion.

a section of competitors from the blitz

a section of competitors from the blitz

After the presentation was over the new champion in a moment of generosity donned his Santa outfit and donated the price of a GM spring simul ticket from his winnings to a grateful Mark Newman as a prize for Ulster youth chess.

The new Fisherwick team shirt

The new Fisherwick team shirt

After a raft of illegal moves nearing flagfall in last years competition the controller introduced an automatic loss for any illegal moves under 30 sec’s for this years event. In yesterdays event with more than 200 games there wasn’t a single illegal move. The eventual champion Waters noticed this when he remarked that”Lavery must be finding it difficult this year with the new rule” when the comment was repeated to Lavery he quipped “well it wasn’t hard finding 3rd place, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult finding Waters a hanky if he needs one, and by the way that’s a stupid rule change I’ve always viewed swindling that bollix as my Christmas treat, now you’ve went and ruined it”

Jason Harris traveled up from Cork for the tournament a distance of some 260 miles which is taking chess commitment to the max. When asked were there no blitz tournaments near Cork he replied “Oh yes lots, but I really wanted to see two things, one my name on the Ballynafeigh blog pages and two Michael Waters face when Damien Lavery swindle’s him, but some eejit went and changed the rules, it’s not right, they’ve taken a chunk of fun out of Christmas with that! I guess I’ll have to go and seek out the Ballynafeigh blog master and slip him a few quid now to libel me, I’m not going back to Cork empty handed”


The Madness of King Michael

Normally when less fortunate souls participate in random diatribes that either demonstrate their lack of understanding or highlight their infinite ignorance, treading a different path other than response is the more preferable option to take. However when the individual in question continues to copiously peddle misinformation innuendo and blatant lies that can only sow disharmony and ultimately fervor resentment then I believe they must be challenged, irrespective whether or not the individual has become deluded through conceit. These ramblings should be challenged with the three components that they so obviously lack, truth accuracy and evidence. I’m not sure if Michael Waters is undergoing professional treatment from a psychiatrist due to an affliction with pseudologia fantastica but it would certainly go a long way to explaining his deliberate inaccuracies, unfathomable utterances and smearing statements in the last few weeks.

Nov 24th King Michael

“Its long over due but the Silver King is best decided by match points, followed by a choice of tie-breakers”

No it isn’t long overdue and furthermore it is not the best way to decide the winner of matches in the Ulster Chess League. While the simplified scoring may work in a Super-GM laden league like the Schachbundesliga or the up-market Moscow coffee house leagues, this is due the mere fact that the difference between the opposing teams would only be a handful of points over the 8 boards. Compare that to Ballynafeigh 3 or Civil Service playing the top teams who with only 5 boards they are between 3,500 and 6,000 ratings points in deficit! Teams could win the league with only 3 players if they were strong enough, exactly how could that scenario aid the development of Ulster Chess?

Nov 24th King Michael

“Why didn’t Uncle Joe (league controller) tell the most inexperienced team about this rule?”

Because their captain has been playing for five years and knew the rule well, as does every member of any Ballynafeigh team I might add. Therefore it wasn’t necessary for the league controller to hold their hand, they didn’t make an error through not knowing the rules, it was made through not calculating their ratings correctly! Perhaps if you had insisted that the league controller issue calculators to team captains your accusation of blasé negligence may not have looked so ridiculous.

Nov 24th King Michael

The league controller never quite finished writing the league rules for 2013-14”

The league controller does not write the league rules, the executive board does! The league controller only implements those rules and ensures adherence to them by competing teams. When you’re trying to make a point irrespective of its accuracy it’s best not to go advertising just how unaware you are of the duties of the league controller.

Nov 27th King Michael

 “The league is of course being brought into either disrepair or disrepute. Two games have now been postponed without any explanation being offered to the other teams in the league”

Any team can cancel a fixture so long as adequate notice is offered to the opposing team involved in the particular fixture, no explanation or notification is required for the rest of the league teams, it’s simply none of their concern! The league controller only becomes involved when lack of notification or fixture congestion becomes a problem..

Nov 27th King Michael

“There was no clarity in the old rules about when a game could and could not be postponed”

Just simply a preposterous suggestion, did everyone just wing it for decades without anyone noticing? I must ask Dave Houston how he got away with it.

Nov 27th King Michael

“The lack of free weeks during the season doesn’t help”

There are 4 free weeks in the first half alone, how many do you need for goodness sake The 16th – 20th Dec is a free week the 23rd – 27th Dec is a free week 20th – 24th Jan is a free week and the 27th – 31st Jan is a free week

Right to the max

Right to the max

Nov 27th King Michael

“The newest team Ballynafeigh3 has fallen foul of an invisible rule in an invisible rule book”

If it was an invisible rule in an invisible rule book just how were they caught out? Who would have noticed if it was invisible? Unless it wasn’t such an invisible rule in the first place! Rather a bizarre statement even by King Michaels noticeably diminished standards and for the record Lindores is the newest team Not Ballynafeigh3.

 Nov 27th King Michael

“The league controller should have sent every team the rules for the tournament”

Why? The rules haven’t changed and there are no teams in the league that do not have a captain who has played in Ulster Chess for at least 5 years and is fully aware of UCU league rules, why should the league controller remind them every year? Is King Michael trying to say they are stupid and won’t remember? How did they get through all the other years without being supplied with the same rule book over and over again However the Ulster Chess Union does publish an up to date rule book on the official website of the UCU for anyone who forgets, that’s what it there for! Really it’s like herding cats trying to educate some people.

Dec 12th King Michael

 “The idea that the team Captain of Ballynafeigh should decide the divisional split is laughable. It should be decided by the club secretaries”

The team captain of Ballynafeigh doesn’t decide the divisional split, the league controller uses his experience and intelligence to decide the best way to separate the league competitors to ensure the integrity of the Silver King Championship and as level a playing field as possible for all the teams in the competition. Once the league controller makes his decision he brings them as a recommendation to an executive board meeting for discussion and ratification which not only guarantees multiple input into the process but confirms impartiality for those of a doubting nature! What part of this process is King Michael failing to grasp?

Why should it be left to the club secretaries? Are they there throughout the season making themselves available for the smoother running of UCU events? Are the league secretaries involved with picking dates and fixtures, checking names and ratings, inputting results or contacting players for one of the many tournaments run by the UCU? The secretaries don’t even pick teams the team captains do! There is a captains committee but I’ve never heard of a secretaries committee in the UCU, actually some clubs don’t even have secretaries they have done away with them, so why would King Michael want secretaries making the decision? …. Oh wait King Michael is not the captain of Fisherwick Johnnie Cairns is! King Michael is the secretary of Fisherwick … ah the mask slips from the lust of power!

 Dec 12th King Michael

 “This is yet another example of the failed governance in the UCU”

Really, what example is that? We’re patiently waiting on you supplying your first example let alone your “yet another” tripe or were you just supplying innuendo for the intellectually challenged?

I think everyone is well aware what really galls King Michael is the fact that the UCU runs so efficiently and effectively without any input from himself, indeed the only time he did have any input into UCU matters he made a cataclysmic hash of it! Ignoring standing orders and AGM motions passed by the membership he got involved with a process that was clearly beyond his limited ability, though clearly not beyond his arrogance to blunder into it anyway, ignoring a very visual rule book as he went. Thankfully the current league controller was able to clear up the shambolic mess made by King Michael, rectify his wrong decisions and return some sanity to the process.

Ah i can see your point of view now

Ah i can see King Michael’s point of view now

Dec 12th King Michael

 “I find it funny but sad that when the recent Ulster Masters was played in the Ballynafeigh showgrounds 19 Belfast souls turned out. But on the same day in Omagh 27 souls turned out for an ordinary club meeting. Is chess on the decline in Belfast? Yep. Does the UCU Board care? Nope”.

Wow where do I start here that isn’t going to take an answer as long as a Tolstoy novel? Firstly everyone is ecstatic with the outstanding work of John Bradley down in Omagh, indeed Johns excellent work has been praised on this site. Furthermore Ballynafeigh and Omagh have agreed to play a series of friendly matches early next year to aid John with his development program.

The Masters had only 19 players, yes it had, but every club was represented, well all except one! King Michael’s club was the only one that didn’t have a member in attendance, also while the turn out was poor it was still an increase on previous events. The executive board is trying to build this relatively new event but it may take some time to repair the damage to its integrity after it got off to a dismal start. To refresh your memory that’s when only 4 players were permitted to play in it, when players not of a desirable rating standard were refused entry to the competition, yet there was no problem raiding these lower rated players section to lift entry funds out of it, taking 60% of the total prize fund for the winner of 4 elite player band, we don’t want to play with you we only want your money. Oh and just to remind people it was King Michael who won that mini-elite section. Hardly an inspiring moment for Ulster Chess now was it? It was a crass event and certainly one the current League controller/ Tournament director would never permit to happen under his watch. Was it bad for Ulster chess? Yes. Did they care? Nope!

Some people just don't know when to stop digging

Some people just don’t know when to stop digging

Dec 12th King Michael

 “There are arguments for and against separate divisions which should be explored by consulting the Belfast & District league club secretaries about what their club players want”.

Here we go with the ‘we don’t want to play them; they’re not as good as us’ clap-trap again. But the executive board could consult the team captains (not secretaries) until the cows come home it wouldn’t make one iota of difference. It has to be changed at the AGM because that’s where it was proposed and carried from the floor.

Dec 12th King Michael

 “Do the bottom 4 want to get a whopping for half a season before playing a Div 2 season? Who knows? But ask them and find out!”

What on earth possesses the Mad King to assume that we didn’t, we have asked them their answer is an emphatic yes. Of course they want to play stronger teams they are chess players they crave the challenge.

Dec 12th King Michael

 “Although I haven’t been at every UCU AGM in recent years I don’t remember any such vote that DC mentioned. There was nothing in any motions proposed in advance of UCU AGM’s and nothing published afterwards”.

Well damn there you go; you don’t remember it because you weren’t there! And it was proposed from the floor therefore it wouldn’t be on any advance notification now would it? Though King Michael admits to being absent from AGM’s his absence never stopped him from proposing a motion that the UCU should give £500 to the winner of a tournament that he himself would have been the over whelming favourite to win, was that idea to help Ulster Chess or help a particular Ulster Chess player? I think even the most naïve of souls would know the answer to that.

Dec 13th King Michael

“Elsewhere the invisible rule book was in evidence again as the BNF3 squad turned out for BNF1”

The floating system where players under 1350 can play for several teams within the same club was introduced as an experiment it has been an unqualified success since it’s inception to Ulster Chess, it has been a brilliant help. Players who have progressed with the aid of this rule have been Matthew Chapman, Ian Kilpatrick, Thomas Donaldson, Robert Lavery, David Conlon, they will soon be added to with the likes of Ram Rajan, Paddy Magee, Mark Hewitt, Barney McGahan, John price Bill Lavery and Eoin Carey.

I suppose the concept of an innovation to help secure the future of Ulster Chess by affording eager novice players the opportunity to play in more league matches to improve their ability must be difficult one for King Michael to grasp, but grasp it he must. The most graphic example of the potential of this idea can be found in the ranks of the former and present members of Ballynafeigh chess club. Robert Lavery was a member of Queen’s chess club in his years there he played 1 game for them, one game yet he was a fully paid up member who was denied the chance to play because he was deemed unworthy, he didn’t have the flashy rating that would have seen him not only play when he wanted but he would have received cash bonuses under the table for playing. He was good enough to set up the room tables and chairs, fix boards set up pieces, set the clocks, pay his membership and then tidy up and put all the equipment away afterwards… but he wasn’t good enough to play! Ballynafeigh took him and played him as a regular in one team and draftee in the floating system for others, we arranged coaching and with his own hard work he is now the Ulster Intermediate champion. Give them the opportunity they will flourish, they will reach potential years before they would do so in a static system where the opportunities are heavily curtailed. The attitude of some looking down from a lofty perch on lower rated player regarding them as mere cannon fodder, tolerating them only a means to financially bolster prize pools for the elite of the rating system must cease.

 Dec 13th King Michael

“Fisherwick bottom 3 can’t play … blah blah blah”

I left this pile of gibberish to the end, I think it is probably the rambling where poor King Michael finally proclaims his madness to the world! How in goodness name can the heaped praise on this site of the board 1&2 of Fisherwick for their unmatchable form be construed as an insult to their boards 3,4&5. I stated that the top boards are so solid that the lower order of Fisherwick is the Achilles heel it is only there that teams have a chance. Somehow in King Michael’s less than adult mind he twisted it to sound like an insult to Ian Woodfield, John Bradley and Norman McFarland it was not! They are three very fine players, they are honest genuine individuals that love chess, to proclaim I have suggested otherwise is distasteful. King Michael wears a brilliant disguise; honestly from a distance you could quite easily mistake him for an adult.

Johnny has bought Michael a new Fisherwick team shirt for Christmas

Johnny has bought Michael a new Fisherwick team shirt for Christmas


Karma and Chess

The last match of week nines fixture list saw Ballynafeigh 2 travel to Groomsport to face the Bangor team who so deservedly held league leaders Fisherwick to a draw last week. The gold-coast outfit boasts several octogenarians in their ranks but the rest of the membership would probably be a fair bit older. Though there is the odd youngster like Kevin Agnew who’s still only a mere babe at sixty seven compared to the likes of Ron Henderson who served his shipbuilding apprenticeship on the Titanic, or Owen Wilson who probably served his shipbuilding apprenticeship for the Vikings. It was great to see Kevin Agnew return from his sabbatical as he is an outstanding asset not only to Bangor chess club but to Ulster chess in general and the chess scene was poorer for his absence. Another of Ulster chess’s sprightly youngster brigade, the evergreen and forever affable Denis Wilkinson who was in the area called in for a coffee and to spectate on the match.

Alan McConnell and Damien Cunningham agreed to half on board 2 and that was swiftly followed by Mike Redman defeating Paul McGuigan, Stephen Rush brought in another point for Ballynafeigh with victory on board 3 to guarantee the draw with still two matches to come. But the Ballynafeigh tactical switch of putting Bangor old-boy Brendan Jamison down to 4 looked like backfiring when Ron Henderson Bangor’s really old boy bashed and battered him all over the board. When Jamison came to the tea-room he was flabbergasted by Henderson’s play, “he’s all over me like a cheap suit, unbelievable! Are you sure I’m playing Ron Henderson and not Ron Jeremy? Because the man’s a complete stud!” exclaimed Jamison. On board 5 Robert Lavery kept his excellent season form going with a solid performance against Owen Wilson to secure the much wanted win for Ballynafeigh 2

That only left the board 4 clash of Jamison the Ballynafeigh artist and Henderson the Bangor stallion, Henderson had a piece advantage but was low on time, he avoided the threats and fork threats of Jamison and eventually moved his king to safety advancing his three passed connected pawns and gobbling up extra pawns belonging to Jamison as he went. He had three extra pawns, he had an extra Bishop, he had the position, he had the threatening queen promotion and he had a hidden uncheckable King. Henderson checked Jamison with his rook Jamison had 2 squares to move to, either g5 and be mated, or the safe square of e6. Jamison studied and studied he couldn’t make up his mind as he stared and stared at the board pondering his only move, the seconds ticked by, the minutes ticked by “Damn” cried Henderson as he realised he had forgotten to hit his clock. “Oh dear Ron did you forget to watch your clock” asked an apologetic but not angelic Jamison with his team head on. Jamison moved his king to e6 Henderson pushed a pawn to the 7th Jamison blocked with his rook, Henderson moved his own rook up to support but couldn’t finish the move as Jamison all so apologetically called the flag, ah analogue clocks and team chess don’t ya just love em?

But chess karma never rests on its laurels for long and on this occasion it rested even less, as the Ballynafeigh boys headed out to the car park for the short trip home Jamison rushed after them, he rushed up the stairs and rushed out the door but his trip was to be much shorter than expected, though incredibly more painful. Thwack! He tripped going through the door and slammed face first into the granite cobblestones smashing his jaw, breaking his arm, splitting his lip and cracking his teeth. Ron Henderson came out to find Brendan prostrate on the ground, “Oh dear Brendan were you rushing and forgot to watch your step?” asked an apologetic sounding Ron Henderson fighting back a smile. Jamison was lifted into the front seat of the Ballynafeigh ambulance and it left Groomport with 6 ½ points and 4 ½ men

The karma of the chess Gods!

The rushing Russian Brendan Jamison spent 6 hours in A&E as payment to the chess Gods, 6 hours for 3 minutes, and he will now be forced to miss the Christmas blitz with no right arm, but apparently Ron’s playing. Now that’s Karma


Spice Experience and Upsets

The spicy zest which has decorated virtually every game in the league season so far continued through this week’s fixture list. On Monday evening the merry band of novices that constitute Ballynafeigh 3 with a total team rating of 3,000 ventured to the venue of the heavy hitters of Muldoon’s where they would face an opposition that could possibly be rated at over 9,000. It still didn’t deter them from taking a point from a match that the Muldoon’s board 3 had already chalked up as a whitewash in his pre-match banter texts and all the sweeter for the ‘Squealer-gate’ incident.

Muldoon board 3 came out of hiding to watch his wager go up in smoke

Muldoon board 3 came out of hiding to watch his wager go up in smoke

The top of the table clash took place at Fisherwick where the reigning champions entertained the coffee-house club of Lindores. Leitch and co were no doubt buoyed by the Bangor side holding for a well earned draw against Fisherwick the week previous and were probably confident of inflicting the first defeat of the season on Fisherwick. While the Lindores plan centred on nullifying the powerhouse scoring of Waters and Cairns the boards 1&2 for Fisherwick, they failed to ensure that if their plan worked that its effect would be maximized by emphatic scoring on the lower boards, the Achilles heel of Fisherwick.

Perhaps it was inexperience for the leagues newest team or a tad of arrogance but they let themselves be blindsided into thinking the players in the room would be the players they would be facing, they weren’t! The Fisherwick panic button was hit after the Bangor near miss and their heavy brigade was brought in to shore up the board order against a much more threatening squad such as Lindores. The sad outcome for Lindores was their plan worked a treat it was their tactics which let them down, they won board 1 when Horvath defeated Waters and shared board 2 when Leitch drew Cairns but failure to switch lower seated players about only played into the super strong lower order of Fisherwick allowing them victory on 3,4 and 5. Perhaps in the second half of the season they may come to regret the fantastic opportunity that slipped their grasp by underestimating the champions resourcefulness to defend their title, did they sincerely believe that Fisherwick were not going to ship in their big guns for this one? Did they not credit Fisherwick with the experience and savvy to formulate a plan of their own?

when Lindores pulled into the Fisherwick carpark the should have picked up on the clues that the big guns were being shipped in

when Lindores pulled into the Fisherwick carpark the should have picked up on the clues that the big guns were being shipped in

Belfast South sent a very strong team up to Fruithill for their first visit to the venue, wary of the Jekyll and Hyde reputation of the Westsider’s squad strengths being strong at home and weak away. It was a decision that showed the Southsiders were determined to extract every single half point possible in this clash and they were duly rewarded with an emphatic four and a half to a half victory, with wins for their two Dutch imports and a local Sultan. It is a result that keeps the squad from the Bankers club in contention at the more desirable end of the league table and no doubt thrilled their maverick captain Martin Kelly no end.

Two of Belfast South’s closest competitors were pitched against each other on Tuesday at the Ballynafeigh rooms when Lagan visited for a clash with a weakened Ballynafeigh 1 team. The Ballynafeigh1 captain struggled all week trying to pressgang players but to no avail and a drastic last minute search of the local Dutch forums proved fruitless as Martin Kelly seems to hold the franchise on that idea. So he was forced to turn to Ballynafeigh 3 to borrow a board 4 in Barney McGahan (970) and a board 5 in Eoin Carey (unrated) for the tussle where they faced Gerald Harvey and David Jackson.  Donaldson and Kelly played out a draw on 3 and Lavery scored a win over Nicholson on 2 when David Jackson secured a level match score for Lagan by defeating newcomer Eoin Carey it meant the outcome would be decided on board 4 as Dave Houston was up 2 pawns against Tom Esmonde and looking home and hosed. The situation now required Lagans Harvey 1561 to beat Ballynafeigh’s McGahan (970) to secure a draw for his team. Harvey had a threatening mate or a perpetual McGahan had a threatening queen promotion, but this was a de-lux model promotion because apart from the tinsel nice wrappings and gift card it came with something else, it came with a check. As anyone from the Kremlin nightclub will tell you one queen is good but two queens are better and McGahan had secured a nice scalp for his chess CV.

She's a Queen with a check ...

She’s a Queen with a check … though McGahan playing white looks thoroughly unimpressed with his quite impressive position 

Ballynafeigh1 must surely now claim victory with the expected win in the last game the board 1 clash between Houston and Esmonde where Houston had a double pawn advantage. But the league this year has been full of twists and turns and this game was no different and Tom Esmonde weaseled and squirmed his way into a position to launch a devastating attack on Houston’s semi exposed King and Houston resigned. So the match finished all square and the competitive edge to the league table continues to sharpen for yet another week.

Esmonde and Houston going deep

Esmonde and Houston going deep


GM wins for Ballynafeigh 3

They maybe languishing at the rear end of the title race but Ballynafeigh 3 showed that they are a magnetic draw for a traveling GM.  Faced with the visiting threat of Belfast South and their newly acquired Dutch masters to the Ormeau venue the Ballynafeigh 3 captain Paddy Magee was forced to use all his tactical mastery in board switching to maximize his teams potential… oh and did we mention a GM? That’s right Gawain’s Mum played board five. Tanya Jones mother of GM Gawain Jones played a beautiful two piece Knight and Queen sac against Bernard Jaffa to deliver a gorgeous little mate, which would look nice in anyone’s repertoire even in that of her famous GM son.

Original Position

Original Position

After hxg Qxg*

After hxg Qxg*

After Kf8 BxN

After Kf8 BxN… can you see it coming yet!

Position after QxB QxQ

Position after QxB QxQ

Position after Rg8* Kf1

Position after Rg8* Kf1

Bc4 .. ouch

Bc4 .. ouch

K e1 ... and Rg1 mate!!! bravo

K e1 … and Rg1 mate!!! bravo

Belfast South had come expecting a 5-0 whitewash to keep the pressure on Fisherwick and Lindores in the title race but the mere formality was anything but. Bill Lavery earned a draw on board 4 against Neil Green before Tanya Jones struck into Bernard Jaffa, Barney McGahan made Dave Rubin work really hard for a win on board 3 while playing in the right order his captain paddy Magee on 2 missed the opportunity to go into an opposite bishop end-game against John Brayars, instead keeping his bishop pair which allowed John Brayars knight to deliver threat upon threat before eventually grabbing important pawns. On board 1 Ballynafeigh new find the unrated Eoin Carey brilliantly took Dutchman Westra to a knight and pawn endgame just losing out at the end.

The plucky novices of Ballynafeigh 3 were delighted to score a few points after the incident when Pilkiewicz reported an oversight by Magee who inadvertently placed a player 101 points his inferior above himself without checking the ratings list first. Still smarting from the Pilkiewicz affair Magee has been ruthless in his determination to rectify what he perceives as an injustice and mocking of his side’s ability by Pilkiewicz. “First thing first it wasn’t the Pilkiewicz affair or some other sanitized name tag okay! It was Squealer-gate got that! In fact I would have no hesitation in describing it as a war-crime!” stated Magee before adding “We play Muldoon’s next week, yer man spouting off in phone calls wanting to bet £100 that we wouldn’t get another point all season, I would have loved for to see his gob when we took that point off him, but that’s a week away and we just can’t wait.” On leaving the club Magee was seen questioning Dutchman Siebren Westra about the International Criminal court in The Hague and whether or not he knew anyone there who could fast-track an investigation into Nicolas Pilkiewicz


Lindores Were Hungry for Success, Gabor was just Hungry.

The Lindores due of Gabor Horvath and Calum Leitch took 1st and 2nd respectfully in the 2013 Ulster Masters held in the Ballynafeigh rooms over the weekend. Leitch came with an appetite for victory in the hope of eradicating his draw-meister image, a title which he seems to have wrested from the great Sam Moore with consummate ease. Gabor just came with an appetite, as was quite obvious when he walked in to the venue with two gargantuan slabs of bread with assorted filling bulging between them, I swear one of them was half a cow, not just a ploughman’s lunch, but probably the ploughman’s dinner and breakfast as well. He munched his way through the sandwiches then munched his way through the opponent pitched against him in round one…. just not as quickly though! By round two he was scoffing a monster burger and chips and Cunningham’s wrongly developed Bishop, by round three Gabor was gorging on a Chinese takeaway meal for 2 and Alan Delaney’s King-side defense, as the evening ended he left the venue with 3 points in the bag and a 12” pizza under his arm!

Gabor bought a sandwich with his winnings

Gabor bought a sandwich with his winnings

Martin Kelly the oldest junior in town belied his advancing winter years and really put it up to higher rated and younger opponents obtaining a draw from two of them, one of whom was not only younger and higher rated, but decidedly more handsome too. Kelly was unstoppable in winning his section worthy of any praise sent in his direction and unquestionably a much stronger player when he abstains from the devil’s buttermilk. Ballynafeigh’s Robert Lavery and Paddy Magee chased him home in 2nd and 3rd place to secure their places in the spring GM simul.

Before the tournament got underway we had to wait on the arrival of Paul Anderson who is both a member of the Sky-plunge parachute club and the Ballynafeigh Aerobatics display team who was doing a demo in nearby Ormeau Park.


Anderson still shares the European record for a game of bullet chess at the highest altitude while sky-diving, 14,450ft well it would have to be bullet, with terra firma heading your way at 120mph you wouldn’t fancy an hour and thirty minutes with a 30sec increment would you!


Anderson had actually arrived on time but was accosted in the lift by the revered physicist Adrian Dornford-Smith who specialized in the study of chaos theory when he wasn’t writing computer programs and hacking the UCU site to change his rating. Eventually he was seduced by the power of silicone and now just writes academic papers while watching Baywatch.

“Adrian are you going to hit that button or not?” asked Anderson. “Paul you don’t know how dangerous it is, you need to be very careful” came the reply from Dornford-Smith, before adding “I’ve specialized in the chaos theory for nearly thirty years I know the dangers and the possibilities of pushing that button” “What’s the chaos theory” asked Anderson. “It’s the study of nonlinear dynamics in which seemingly random events are actually predictable from simple deterministic equations. For example I’m sure you aware of the possibility that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in the Amazon can cause a tornado in Texas. This example illustrates the impossibility of making predictions for complex systems, despite the fact that these are determined by underlying conditions, precisely what those conditions are can never be sufficiently articulated to allow long range predictions.” Came the bewildering answer from Dornford-Smith. “What da hell does that mean?” asked Anderson before supplying his own interpretation. “are you saying that if we hit the number 1 button we may go to the 1st floor for the chess tournament, but that we may also set a chain of events that do something else completely different somewhere else?” asked Anderson. “Exactly Paul you got it in a nutshell” replied Dornford Smith.

Andersons mind began to race with his new found knowledge, “Adrian are you saying that if we hit number 2 for example technically speaking we could possibly give Michael Waters a horrendous boot in the rocks!” enquired Anderson. Dornford-Smith giggled “Yes Paul it is a theoretical possibility but the possibility is so ridiculously minute it’s so infinitesimally small it’s almost non existent” said Dornford-Smith. “So what you’re saying Adrian is … there’s still a chance” said Anderson. “So will we risk hitting the 1 button and go and play some chess?  “Aye that’s a fair enough idea Adrian, but do me a wee favour first and press that number 2 button a couple of times first!”

Queues for the lift lengthened as Neil Green locked the doors hitting 2 repeatedly

Queues for the lift lengthened as Neil Green locked the doors hitting  2 repeatedly

I got home after tidying up to be met with the high pitched sounds of a smoke detector and the pungent aroma of burnt potatoes charging down the hall at me. Yer woman was there towel in hand flapping around like a child chasing a wasp. “What was for dinner sweetie?” I asked, WAS of course being the most poignant word in the sentence. No answer, just the sounds of a flapping towel, the fog cleared a bit to unveil the most charcoaled things I’ve seen since her last attempt. When we first met her nickname was Cinders I innocently thought it was short for Cinderella not a descriptive word for her culinary skills.

one of her better efforts

one of her better efforts

“Well how did your wee chess go?” she enquired in her best condescending way. “Oh slightly better that your wee potatoes” I replied “Who won then?” she asked, “Gabor Horvath came first and Calum Leitch his club mate came second” I responded. “Calum, isn’t he the nice wee lad that stole all your player?” was her next question. “Yes he is, but there’s nothing nice about him” I replied, “Oh I don’t know about that” she muttered facetiously. “Gabor Horvath not a very common name round Ballyhackamore, he sounds Argentinean” she stated as an implied question. “Well your geography is as good as your cooking he’s from Hungary” I retorted wearing a smirk, “you should see him pack away food, it’s frightening, Hungary is the right name for the place” I added. “Maybe that’s where I went wrong, maybe I should have met a woman from the Cook Islands” I joked! Her face was awash with fury, “Yeah is that right, well wasn’t I the unlucky one I never met a man from Poland!” she screamed. It was a bit of a silly come-back really because she doesn’t even like vodka!


Tyger Tyger, burning bright

A few weeks ago the majority opinion was that Anand was looking down the barrel of the hunter’s rifle, and the hunter behind the cross-hairs was  Magnus Carlsen. Winning the candidates had given Carlsen the opportunity to hunt Anand for both his scalp and his crown, one to nail to the wall the other to wear in splendid glory.

The Ballynafeigh poll though bucked the trend and defied the thinking of all the pundits and experts who unabashedly concluded that Carlsen the crown prince of chess and pretender to the FIDE throne would only have to be present for his own coronation, the Anand abdication was a mere formality.  I don’t know whether it was the usual sympathetic siding with the under-dog, or petty jealousy of one so young being so spectacularly good but voter after voter kept clicking the Anand option. Three voters myself included thought it was too close to call which made the poll almost neck and neck, just the slenderest of lead for Carlsen, not the landslide view seen everywhere else.

The championship so far has been great, it’s the clash we all wanted and what chess so desperately needed and hoped for. Not the snooze-fest that was Anand-Gelfand which did nothing for the promotion of chess and failed to enthuse even the most devout purists of the checkered board. Though personally speaking I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much as it did save me from having to buy a sports-bra for my man-boobs as that awful contest had managed to bore the tits off me completely.  From game one in this years championship battle the Indian Tiger has bared his teeth, letting his young Norwegian hunter know the hunter had become the hunted. Anand has been the player who has dictated the style of the games, his blunt force trauma of combinational sequences and sharp positions against the more surgical positional play and mathematical calculations of piece rotation by Carlsen.

Not many Norwegians get the chance to hunt a Tiger

Not many Norwegians get the chance to hunt a Tiger

Carlsen has avoided the head on car crash that Anand so desperately seeks instead retreating refusing to be caught in the open. Perhaps Carlsen’s plan is to catch his quarry off guard or in the long grass, but be warned the last place you want to stumble upon a Tiger is in the long grass.


The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

Ballynafeigh 2 entertained Lindores on Tuesday evening eager for the opportunity to rid themselves of the horrible run of misfortune that they have endured lately. The dark cloud that has attached itself to the Redman squad like industrial strength epoxy resin has taken the shine off the Ormeau road sides ambitions and replaced it with an aurora of depressing gloom.

Ballynafeigh 2 with a very strong yet unadvertised team had hoped to slip under the radar of the local chess pundits, with their toughest tests in the opening month they had hoped to catch some of the title favourites off their guard and in the process build a healthy lead before the other teams realised what was happening and responded.

This wasn’t just a Master plan this was an M&S Master plan, but it’s still no good only having a Master plan when you’re up against misfortune sporting a Phd. After the first three matches it was clear that fate was amusing itself with Ballynafeigh 2 as opportunity after opportunity either passed them by or deliberately gave them a wide birth, the only thing that didn’t miss them was the bad luck, not only did it hit front and centre but it adopted the characteristics of a boomerang and kept coming back booting more balls than a centre half for AFC Wimbledon.

Secret plans backfires

Secret plans backfire

So when the Coffee house boasters of Lindores arrived with their ‘all mouth and no trousers’ captain Calum Leitch sporting a red Paolo Di Canio t-shirt it was a red flag moment, but that flag was destined to fly at half-mast. Robert Lavery normally so slow and cautious was blitzing from the off, he moved faster than Usain Bolt and was more cavalier than George Custer. He envisaged a super quick victory against Lindores board 5 Kilpatrick and lined up an outlandish two piece sac, it turned out to be a two piece suit and Kilpatrick buried him in it. It was a bombshell for Ballynafeigh 2 Lavery has been one of their rocks and they had him penciled in for an anticipated result, indeed they believed they would win boards 3,4&5 get something on 2 and 1 now they were going to have to work for the win.

Brendan Jamison the millionaire artist who is sponsored for a cool £750,000 a year by Tate & Lyle sugar didn’t sugar coat his ruthless dispatch of Paul McNaughton on board 4 to balance the match at 1-1 Cunningham and Lindores motor-mouth Leitch agreed a draw and both teams went to 1.5pts each. Cunningham sat the more comfortable captain because board 3 was a nailed on win, with the bishop pair about to dominate a badly placed bishop and knight pair which needed three tempos just to re-coordinate which would have seen too many pawns fall, Ballynafeigh were at last cruising they had the draw in the bag and still had Mike Redman to come. In Redman game he stood the better and had a mountain of time on his hands compared to Gabor Horvarth.

Brendan and Half a million sugar cubes, but his win against McNaughton was even sweeter

Brendan and Half a million sugar cubes, but his win against McNaughton was even sweeter

But if this season has proved anything it has proved that if Ballynafeigh 2 bought a duck it would sink! Their board 3 was Stephen Rush the new kid on the block who had only ever played on-line chess until stumbling into the club four weeks ago. His brilliant positional play has seen him being moved from board 5 to board 4 and now up to board 3 as he crushed opponent after opponent, he was becoming Ballynafeigh’s secret weapon. He had a dominant bishop pair and a superior position over Lindores super steady Ross Harris, he had the bishop’s, he had the position, he had the time, and he had the potential. He had a mental stall … and promptly dropped a bishop for nowt! The gods of fate were mocking again.

Leitch couldn’t believe his good fortune and Cunningham couldn’t believe his bad. All eyes switched to the Redman Horvath tussle, Gabor was crippled for time and the game was immensely complex with mate threats, pawn promotions, skewers and pins with both Kings semi exposed and the queens still on the board. A fascinating game position for both sides to ponder with no time constraints, but to envisage the complex combinations with less that a minute or two made it supremely entertaining for the audience but totally nerve wracking for the players.

Gabor Horvarth and Mike Redman getting jiggy

Gabor Horvarth and Mike Redman getting jiggy

Gabor let his queen fall to get a pawn charge supported by bishops, a brilliant tactic which Mike struggled to cope with under the time pressure now that his time advantage had evaporated, he controlled the game for so long making the correct moves and looked very comfortable but whenever he erred Gabor was alert and punished him with precise play. Ballynafeigh 2 beaten for the fourth time in a row and sit in 9th place with just 7.5 points  instead of at the top with a minimum of 22.5pts. Martin Luther King had a dream, so did Ballynafeigh 2 but theirs has rapidly become a nightmare.

Aye so had we Martin had we

Aye so had we Martin …so had we


2 2 2

Well they aren’t called Ballynafeigh 2 for nothing, each time they play they score 2 points, three games three losses and they currently reside near the bottom of the table. However truth be told that is a heavily disguised sketch of actual events in the current league campaign by the Ballynafeigh 2 squad.

They opened with a 3-2 loss against Belfast South, having lead 2-1 and sitting pretty with board 5 all but in the bag and board 3 up a pawn and a significant time advantage they were looking at a 3.5-1.5 or perhaps even 4-1 victory  … boom! a monster blunder on 5 dropped a rook and three passed pawns. The echoes of the horror or the exasperated squeal of the team captain had only died down when … bang! Board three dropped a clanger in style which cost a pawn with check and a knight on the rebound and ultimately the match.

Their next opponents were one of the serious title fancies pre-season Muldoon’s playing out of the well known watering hole near the docks bearing the same name. The result was another 3-2 defeat chiefly due to the failure of Cunningham or Redman to secure any points on the top two boards when both were in the position to share the spoils in their respective games.

On Tuesday evening Ballynafeigh entertained title favourites and current champions Fisherwick who brought one of their strongest teams to the Candahar venue, again by evenings end Ballynafeigh stood the 3-2 losers partly due to the not so exquisite move selection of Cunningham, the home team captain. Ballynafeigh were leading 1.5 to .5 and Robert Lavery the Intermediate champion looked to have secured the win on board 5 against John Bradley guaranteeing a draw at least for Ballynafeigh 2 and still with two very tight matches on boards 1&2 still not decided, Redman verses Waters and Cunningham versus Cairns.

Lavery and Bradley heading for repetition

Lavery and Bradley heading for repetition

But Bradley with decades of experience under his whiskers managed to maneuver a perpetual check position and pulled Fisherwick back from the brink. The next game to end was Waters versus Redman which Waters clinched after Redman left himself with less time on his side than a gay drug-dealer in a Tehran jail. That left the two captains on board 2 to decide the match result, Cunningham had 20 minutes Cairns had 2, Cunningham had offered a draw earlier but Cairns had no option but to decline or condemn his team to defeat. Now with twenty minutes on his clock Cunningham suffered delusions of grandeur, he spent fifteen minutes working out he had a miniscule edge and he was going to crush Cairns under the weight of it, he sat smugly in the belief he was the Belfast answer to Magnus Carlsen, he studied like Magnus Carlsen he analysied like Magnus Carlsen he counted like Magnus Carlsen but the move he chose was more like Mungo Carlsberg after 12 cans of special. Cairns leapt at the blunder and blitzed out a queen promotion.

GM wannabe John Cairns with black against Mungo Carlsberg

GM wannabe John Cairns with black against Mungo Carlsberg

Bishop e5 is a certain draw

With white to move, Bishop e5 is a certain draw and a probable win if black fails to play Bishop b6 but Mungo Carlsberg saw better.. aye for the opposition maybe! 

Ballynafeigh 3 who unquestionably will be the whipping boys of the league along side the revamped Civil Service outfit lead by the former U.C.U supremo  David McAlister were pitched against their club mates of Ballynafeigh 1. Undaunted by the challenge they queued up on Cunningham’s phone for the places on the team, and their enthusiasm was rewarded when John Price playing Barney McGahan secured their first half point of the season and averted a trio of whitewashes.

Price with black avoids the whitewash

Price with black avoids the whitewash against the deep in thought Barney McGahan

Ram Rajan edges out Mark Hewitt

Ram Rajan edges out Mark Hewitt


Legally blonde

Quite a few of our fellow chess associates had a blonde moment this week, we first had the bold Calum Leitch ranting and raving like a man possessed about what his new Lindores outfit were going to do to all and sundry once they were unleashed upon the fixture list. Target for his volcanic eruptions of gibberish included the ever corpulent Damien Lavery of Ballynafeigh 1 and his vaunted side kick David Houston. However things didn’t go the way Calum planned or perhaps to be more accurate we should say dreamed of, the Ballynafeigh heavyweights (literally) were immovable objects in Lindores path to world domination and held for draws on boards 1&2 but Lindores woes did not end there, no the Ballynafeigh 1 pair Matthew Chapman and Thomas Donaldson stonked into their Lindores counterpart due of Paul McNaughton and Ross Harris leaving Ballynafeigh 1 the victors Lindores the vanquished and Calum Leitch with a blonde moment to deal with.

caution blonde moments

Muldoon’s had their own horror mistake this week but still managed to get out of jail against Ballynafeigh 2 after they had blown a chance of a whitewash by failing to take care of the Ballynafeigh 2 lower order which included an unrated player!! However the Muldoon boards 1,2&3 of Annesley Mallaghan and Pilkiewicz were a formidable trio and their very strong attacking play saved an egg on face issue for the would be title contenders by evenings end, but still a result that will leaving Fisherwick smiling for a week

However the blonde prize for excellence in the face of intelligence this week must surely be presented to the majestic David McAlister who controlled the Civil Service blitz on Sunday. In the final play off between Ballynafeigh’s Mike Redman and Fisherwick’s Michael Waters, the latter had 36 secs on his clock Redman had 17 secs left when Waters made an illegal move, Redman paused the clocks and called the controller David McAllister over and claimed the 2 minute penalty his opponent objected but the controller David McAlister agreed and adjusted the clocks accordingly. They played on, the intensity was atmospheric and gripping as the moves were banged out, everyone was on edge watching and whispering …. right up to the point when they realised that instead of adding an extra 2 minutes  David McAlister had actually awarded Redman  an extra 2 hours, it would have been the longest Blitz in Belfast since the Luftwaffe in 1941. when contacted by the gossip desk McAlister said “it was a bad week at work and things weren’t going well”

David was beer delivering

David was beer delivering

He washed the car this week

He washed the car this week

So he took a break and went fishing

So he took a break and went fishing

“it was a bad week”  you say … hmmm ya think?


Calum Sozzled on Coffee

Lindore’s Chess Club opened their league campaign with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Fruithill which not only delivered the first whitewash of the season but announced their intentions for the destination of the Silver King with a bull-hailer. Calum Leitch was ecstatic with his team’s performance and extremely bullish about the future prospects of his motley collection of deserters and glory hunters.

So much so that he telephoned the news desk of this site to uncontrollably brag, or should that be brag uncontrollably, either way it was very audible and very slurred … it was slurred uncontrollably and it was also three o’clock in the morning. “Leitch ya bollix, what da ya want at this time”? I whispered down the phone trying not to wake the bitch lying beside me. “Lavery, I want that fat b****** Lavery” he replied. “Do you not have his number, do you want me to text it to you”? I asked. “I don’t want his bloody number, I want his rating points” he bellowed down the line before adding “he’s the softest most over-rated crap in Ulster Chess, and I’m gonna prove it once and for all, I’m gonna knock him down to 1500 and you can quote me on that” (oops I just did) “But that’s only the start of it Cunningham you mark my words!” he declared before ranting further “Fisherwick wont know what hit em cos Waters he’s next, I’ve told Gabor how to damage him, how to hurt him, how to leave him with a bloodied nose, but first big Housty and that b****** Lavery have to be smacked about first! But that’s a mere formality with the team I have and with my expert supervision, I’ve instructed all the guys on what to do and commanded them on how to do it.” “Calum have you been drinking”? I asked, “Just coffee from Lindores” he replied. “Well then that explains it, you’re drunk,  not on alcohol but drunk on power” I said in a raised voice as I switched off the phone and dropped it on the floorboards beside the bed and rolled over pulling the duvet around me, I froze her eyes were wide open and she just stared straight through me was like I was a condemned man, it was no good there was no hiding place now… it was three in the morning, it was raining heavy and now I was going to have to take the bloody dog for a walk because Leitch had woke her up.


Before Lindores get carried away with one result they should remember that Fruithill Chess Club are notorious for being poor travellers so much so that they should be prescribed tablets for travel sickness, the difference in the strength of their home team and their away team is profound and quite unexplainable as some of the away venues are closer to where they live than their actual home venue. Ballynafeigh 1 haven’t been at full strength yet and the same applies to Lagan and the 50 member only 1 team Belfast South, but their biggest test will be the revamped squad of Muldoon’s when it unshackles itself and its strong middle board order next week, oh and there’s the little matter of a scorned Damien Lavery and mocked David Houston in between.

League controller contemplates revenge on Lindores

League controller contemplates revenge on Lindores


2300 Player Stuffing GM’s Galore

Or is he? A very interesting piece from Bulgaria about a GM boycott because they suspect the guy of cheating with an electronic aid, you can read the story on Chessbase News–ivanov-forfeits-at-blagoevgrad-031013.aspx

Ballynafeigh are super confident of winning the league this year one the rest of their footwear comes through from Amazon.

Ballynafeigh are super confident of winning the league this year once the rest of their team footwear comes through from the specialist shoe company in Silicone valley.


I.C.U  Uproar at A.G.M

Jonathan O’Connor delivered a crushing defeat on the Hyenas of Irish Chess who thought they smelt blood and moved in en mass for a frenzied attack on the ICU chairman. Motion after ridiculous motion was directed at the ICU board in general, but it was Jonathan O’Connor whom their wrath was aimed at in particular.  An unholy alliance of reactionary individual’s uncouth bruisers and a perpetual agitator was forged and an ill conceived plot masquerading as directional concern for Irish chess was hatched.

At Ballynafeigh-chess we respect dissent … nay we actively encourage it, indeed it’s almost compulsory, but unlike the misguided cackle we prefer not to play a game of hide and seek with sanity, it’s a game they’ve lost consistently with such ease. Advertising you lack of intellect in such a public and graphic manner is one thing but to garnish it with personal vitriol laced with venom and delivered with unnecessary insulting profanities then you only serve to lower yourself from the pedestal of the idiot to the gutter of the thug.

Colm Daley has constantly ranted at every opportunity and pontificated with gusto his views on all aspects of Irish chess to anyone prepared to listen, and even sometimes to those who weren’t. His personal crusade against authority figures within Irish chess circles and with those whom he has declared the architects of the status quo are legendary on chess websites. It is on these sites and those under his own stewardship that he propagated his interpretation of the truth irrespective of the omission of fact or corroborating evidence. Mr. Daley has been an outstanding chess talent and my admiration of his ability and achievements are only magnified by personal pride of him being indigenous to this small island. However some of Colm’s questionable actions and isolated views which have become a source of constant upheavals within Irish chess only serve to tarnish his undoubted worth in the eyes of many. Perhaps Mr. Daley sees himself as the moral crocodile swimming the murky waters of Irish chess snapping at those hands and feet that he feels are trespassing, or maybe he just envisages himself as a true disciple of George Bernard Shaw

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

A wonderful quote which historically I have always agreed with, there is nothing wrong with being unreasonable in the interests of progress, so long as being unreasonable is not a Trojan horse for being unstable. Financially speaking Colm Daley through his chess prowess has extracted a great deal more from Irish chess than most ordinary members of the I.C.U and certainly a great deal more monetary value than he has contributed over the years. For him to cast aspersions in the direction of the Limerick University chess club as regarding the disposal of finances during the running of the Irish Championships when he himself was supplied with free accommodation for the duration of the same tournament and gifted free admission to the tournament as well as a 4 figure cheque for winning, well clearly a case of “having your cake and eating it” Mr. Daley would do well to remember that he benefits from the monies contributed by the rank and file members of the I.C.U the same rank and file who supported the chairman by 70% of the vote, and in reality he is only biting the hand that feeds him.


Colm Having a quick snack

Gabrial Mirza was another on a quest for vengeance at the A.G.M on Sunday and supplied some of the defeated motions at the meeting which were particularly personal if not bordering on the bizarre. Gabrial conveniently forgets he is the author of his own misfortune in the debacle of Cork; he participated in the law of the jungle and then proclaimed his victim hood from on high, and from pages 3, 4, and 5 of any paper with a surplus of ink. To lambaste Jonathan O’Connor for following instruction that was strongly advised by attending Garda to the incident is preposterous. As chairman of the ICU he is duty bound to protect the ICU and its membership from all and any possible legal action to the best of his ability. Perhaps Mr. Mirza is suffering a lost in translation moment and confusing support for strong action against cheats as support for him taking unilateral action of his own, well allow us to bring clarity to that translation, it wasn’t! We at Ballynafeigh are very much against the illegal use of electronic aids and have repeatedly stated so with vivid clarity; we were depressed by the grossly lenient punishment for the offender in this case and again proclaimed so quite loudly on this site. But that is a distant cry from supporting individuals taking matters into their own hands; we did not, have not, and would not support such insanely loutish behaviour which literally put Irish chess in the urinal for all to glare at.

Having been embroiled in this unholy mess and exacerbated it with shambolic press briefings Gabrial Mirza had the effrontery to stand for the post of Pubic Relation Officer for the I.C.U, a laughable suggestion which would have made a wonderful April fools joke if it wasn’t for the fact that this was September and he actually got someone to propose him. Maybe they should have held off on the A.G.M until late October for Halloween because most people would find it more scary than funny! Irish chess has been devoid of publicity for far too long, though as chess competitors I would imagine that most are pragmatic enough to realise that we are not the sexiest of past-times. (Though some may argue that the delectable Paul Carey in a lilac shirt combined with his soft lilting brogue could refute that suggestion… err okay stop) So when the opportunity arises for column inches it needs to be grasped with both hands and in all haste, it needs to be used to illuminate chess in the minds of the public. We are viewed as a high-brow item by most, we should not be embarrassed by this, and indeed we should embrace that philosophy and ferment it, we are already in the enviable position of not having to gild the lily like so many other have to. Therefore the deliberate act of washing the dirty linen publicly in a brazen attempt to garner support and sympathy for wrongful behaviour was seriously ill judged. To watch the storyline of the events that day change with each passing issue of the daily tabloids being briefed by Mr. Mirza himself only advertised the difficulties that lay ahead of the I.C.U in unveiling the truth, knowing this and observing this, it is simply incredulous that someone actually proposed him for the position as Pubic Relations Officer. You simply couldn’t make it up, not after three lines of coke and a frontal lobotomy would you ever propose Gabrial Mirza as the public relations officer, perhaps you should have went the extra half mile and whacked another line up your nose, then syringed some Black Bush into your arteries and proposed him for the post of child protection officer instead!

Thankfully the membership voted to go in the right direction.

Thankfully the membership voted to go in the right direction.

The bar-room bruisers that filled their necks with alcohol before filling the air with expletives did nothing to enhance the organisation or future direction of Irish chess. There is no honor in being a member of a lynch-mob it requires no great courage in fact lynch-mobs are generally made up of people devoid of testicular fortitude, many seeking  the refuge of drink to aid them with Dutch courage. Mouthing verbal abuse and adopting an intimidating physical demeanor to others who fail to share your sentiments are more akin to the corner-boy thug, not the hallmarks of supposed students of the checkered board. In the cold light of day now that the red mist has lifted, even though the dust still hasn’t settled some people need to assess their actions and behaviour at the A.G.M They need to accept what happened was unacceptable and undignified displays such as this should never be repeated. There is no shame in the admission of fault and apologising, if I had a Euro for every time I was wrong I’d have as much money as Eamon Keogh. (The mathematicians among you are probably trying to work out whether I’ve been a bollix my whole life, or whether Eamon is skint?) The Irish chess circle is a small world it has too few friends on the outside to afford it the luxury of making enemies on the inside.

I and others (a whole battalion) from Belfast attended this years Bunratty festival which is one of the highlights of the Irish chess calendar. Jonathan O’Connor was there and he sought me out in the lounge for an informal but detailed discussion on Ulster chess and on how the ICU and UCU may be of assistance to one and other. Jonathan spoke of how we could explore avenues of progress together on children’s chess and the future of chess in general he was courteous, informative and helpful (okay so he was not as romantically seductive as Paul Carey but then again who is?) but above all he was exceptionally generous with his time. He could have stayed in the bar socialising with the many attending GM’s enjoying the craic and banter instead he gave that up to spend time with your average garden variety wood-chucker into the small hours talking about the advancement of chess, it was a clear statement of his commitment to chess and I would venture a mark of his class. If those that conspired to depose him had considered their actions for even the briefest of moments they would have realised that even if they were successful and got elected, they would only be elevating themselves to a position beyond their capability, a scenario which has been clearly demonstrated in wide screen techno-colour in the past. The members who voted for Jonathan O’Connor and others yesterday did more than give confidence to the sitting chairman they dealt a heavy blow to rough-house tactics and that can only be good for chess in the future.

we win

Jonathan O’Connor announces results of A.G.M


Cheating Okay by I.C.U

The decision to recommend such an unexplainably lenient sentence for a bang to rights case of cheating is just bizarre, who was the committee was it a panel of Gonzaga old boys?

three monkeys

Damnable just damnable, when one thinks of the turmoil and bad press this incident brought to Irish chess then ridiculous unfathomable decisions such as this only serve to alienate loyal supports of Irish chess, encourage cheating from others, but more importantly and in this case much more relevant encourage victims of the cheating to take matters into their own hands if they are seeking retribution which is what chess needs like a hole in the head! did they receive any directions on this matter?


We at Ballynafeigh chess were very much in the vanguard for proper punishment for cheating, but we were also very much against people taking matters into their own hands and instead leave it to the proper authorities within the ICU or other controlling bodies to rectify any wrong doing and administer any punishment if and when required.

We therefore find the committees recommendation as completely incredulous, devoid of punishment, deterrent or rationale, if ever a committee set out to return an unhelpful divisive and incompetent decision then they would have to look no further than this example! There is another committee dealing with another issue directly related to the same incident which we will avoid discussing at this moment in time for legal reasons, however whatever their findings or recommendations they can do nothing to rectify the travesty that has preceded them. If they try to redress the committee manufactured problem they will also appear too lenient and stand to make a mockery out of the ICU and all its committees. If on the other hand they are too harsh they will only highlight the disparity between the two cases and cause resentment between individual member’s family circles or local geographical areas supportive of different views or stances on the subject. When the ICU is working hard to give Chess in Ireland a professional image this committee decision has had the effect of condemning them as bungling amateurs and has them stamped with.



Ulster Championships Day 3

The third and final day of the championships was an excitable affair with the potential of multiple players tied for first place in every section. In round 4 of the Intermediate section Robert Lavery the Junior section winner who enthusiastically volunteered for the more testing intermediate section was pitched against Ian Kilpatrick on the top board, beside them on board 2 was the pairing of Karina Kruk and Thomas Donaldson who were hard on their heels for a shot at the title with McConaghey McFarland Chapman Harris and Saad a further half point behind. The pressure of being pitched on board 1 against the rock solid Kilpatrick must have had an unnerving effect of our gallant volunteer from the junior ranks and Lavery offered Kilpatrick a draw which Kilpatrick accepted after a period of consideration, instead of considering it, Kilpatrick should have taken his hand off at the wrist because it was a stone cold win for Lavery which became apparent after just 2 more forced moves. Kruk damaged Donaldsons hopes of glory with a solid victory while the chasing pack continued to avoid consistency by failing to avoid costly defeats at the wrong time to the wrong opponents. Instead of knocking lagging dangerous players out of the running they were losing to them bringing the strugglers right back into the title chase. This set the final round up perfectly the plucky volunteer was miraculously leading a section he didn’t qualify for as of right and here he was going into the last round as joint leader with a chance of actually winning the competition. A posse of four other players were only a half point behind and absolutely everything was up for grabs in the final deciding pairings.

The Junior section was also throwing up quite remarkable results, Mark Allen who hasn’t been involved in competitive chess since Shane McGowan was sober and Geoff Hindley the new president and elder statesman of the UCU who was playing in the section for his golden anniversary it was his fiftieth attempt at the junior title set the pace. Another competition stalwart David Seaby who has more years under his belt than a case of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild was having an outstanding competition, along with the nemesis of Ballynafeigh the bold Roy Stafford made up the vanguard of the chasing pack. When Allen defeated Stafford and Hindley accounted for John Monaghan in round 5 the scene was set for a showdown between this unlikely duo for the trophy.

In the senior section Michael Waters still smarting from the humiliating slaughter inflicted upon him by Steve Scannell in the previous round was matched against Calum Leitch for round 5 of the contest. Leitch set out his stall for the encounter and easily dealt with the few minor rather transparent threats that Waters could muster over the board. The position rapidly transformed into a complete dead draw barring a self mate by one of the players but Waters perhaps blinded by rage from the Scannell hammering stumbled and bumbled about the board for another 30-40 moves in the insane hope that his opponent would either forget how to play chess or sensationally die at the chess board. Quite an unlikely scenario considering Leitch is a fitness fanatic, who doesn’t smoke or drink or eat dairy products and completes 6 marathons a year, when added to his family’s legendary longevity Calum being the grandson of “Snooker” Leitch so called because he lived until he was 147 it was clear that Waters hadn’t a straw to clutch at. It would be fair to say that Waters found himself in a position were he could only stare at hope as it disappeared over the horizon with its arse on fire! The controller stepped in and rightly ended the game after the 25th repetition which brought howls of protest from the resident Ulster Champion and sighs of relief from the bored to death audience, it also brought a counter  threat of tournament expulsion from the controller for Waters if he didn’t desist from his nonsense objections.

Meanwhile two boards away Gareth Annesley was doing his utmost in providing Waters with some crumbs of comfort by defeating Steve Scannell, however they were crumbs that were being made smaller or even brushed away with the victory of Mike Redman over Brendan Jamison. The tournament was now Redmans to lose, a victory in the last round against James McDonnell would be enough for his maiden title. Annesley needed to win his last match against former Irish Champion Ray Devenney and hope that Redman is held to a draw or suffer a defeat in the last round, and that’s exactly what was happening in the final slog. McDonnell was holding Redman whilst Annesley was getting the better of Devenney if it stayed like this Gareth Annesley would be the new Ulster Champion, Redman sat at his own table but his eyes were transfixed on Annesleys game because unless a miracle happened he was powerless to stop Annesley. Well Redman was fortunate that Annesleys opponent was a retired Vicar who received some spiritual intervention late in the game to find a queen sac with a following perpetual, the game was a draw Redman now only needed a draw himself which he offered with zest and was accepted with grace. Mike Redman was the new Ulster Senior Champion, but second place was in dispute Michael Waters and Steve Scannell had finished tied for second place. The main tournament controller was called away on family business and David Houston unselfishly gave up his afternoon to allow him to go, but fortunately for Steve Scannell he returned to collect the laptop to retrieve personal phone numbers he had stored on it. The stand in controller was in the process of putting names of the envelopes when the original controller noticed that somehow something happened to change the tie-break criteria, the Junior and Intermediate sections were correct Median-Buch first  then Buch then Progression, however the Seniors were set at Buch first then Progression then Median-Buch. The strange thing was that on the printed sheets on the wall showing the standings they were absolutely correct for rounds 2,3,4, and 5 they just seemed to have been changed after this time on the laptop, between the main controller leaving the building and the new controller entering it. The two controllers conferred and realised that someone must have accidently clicked on the senior tournament page, then accidently clicked options, then accidently clicked the tie-break tab, then accidently clicked the selection box, then accidently clicked the selection panel, then accidently moved selection up, and then accidently clicked okay. Thankfully the main controller was able to rectify the error and Scannell was returned to second place, if the controller hadn’t returned to get the personal information the error would not have been discovered and we all know the vast majority of people wouldn’t have wanted that.

The Junior title went to Mark Allen after a well fought draw with UCU president Geoff Hindley who picked up third place with Roy Stafford taking second, David Seaby scooped the upper grading band with Ashley McWhinny lifting the lower band. In the Intermediate section Robert Lavery sensationally won his last round match to incredibly win the tournament after volunteering to leave the Junior’s to play up in the higher section to balance out the numbers. His rewards for his courage, is the winner’s cheque, a fantastic trophy, and get this, an automatic invites into next years Senior’s section


2013 Ulster Championships Day 2

Day two of the Championships saw a host of brilliant tussles in all the competing divisions but several stand-out clashes drew the spectators. In the intermediate section Thomas Donaldson with black was paired against the tournament favourite and tournament leader Ross Harris and played robustly to win the exchange and slight territorial advantage. However the clock was against both players and with the inexperience of using increments to their maximum effect added to the pressure of expectation both players erred badly in the closing stages with devastating consequences. Donaldson left his King Rook and Queen in a triple game ending knight fork, and Harris with only 2 squares for his threatened knight on d4 to move to, the game ending e6 square or the ultra passive b3 retreat… Harris selected the b3 retreat it was to be a horror blunder he was never to recover from.

In the junior section that old section promotional draft dodger Martin (camouflage) Kelly was paired against another heavy hitter Colin Fenton, not that Colin has been setting the results sheet on fire but at eighteen stone and standing 5’4” he’s fully deserving of his title “heavy hitter” lets just say he’s not the sort of guy you want to be trying to recue in a fire. Anyway he didn’t need recuing in this game and it was “Draft dodger” Kelly had to some more of his infamous ducking and diving to scramble a draw.

In the senior section Michael Waters and Mike Redman had a brilliant game where Redman gave up the exchange to keep the advanced pawns and attacking Bishop for the sake of a rook it was the correct choice though he probably didn’t punish Waters enough with the pressure and thus allowed Waters who was alert to the danger to return the exchange for the agreed draw. Further down the order former 8 times Champion Steve Scannell was lining up tricks and shenanigans for James McDonnell from the fifth move and secured a deserved victory to keep tabs on his nemesis Michael Waters. Ian Woodfield was rewarded with a fortunate resignation when his opponent Danny Mallaghan came down with either food poisoning or a weird viral complaint. “I dunno what happened I’ve hardly ate anything today” said Danny before adding “the only thing I’ve eaten was one of Steve Scannells sandwiches that he made especially for this tournament, he’d made some extra ones for Michael Waters so I thought he wouldn’t mind if I took one” Mallaghan took a medical bye for round 4 but attended hospital later that day to be told he would be bed ridden for a few days and withdrew from the tournament. Rumours that traces of rat poison were in the contents of Mallaghans stomach are just rumors besides Danny said “I don’t have rats at my place just a few big mice, how would I have it inside me then” Gareth Annesley without question the player with the best attacking mind in Ulster chess bar none created havoc on Calum Leitchs King side and gain the full reward to keep himself still in the hunt after his early round blunder against Waters. The pairing for round 4 threw up the delicious pairing of Scannell v Waters a much tastier affair than Steves “special” sandwiches. Waters has been dining out on his victories over Scannell recently and was probably planning to serve up something spicy as a championship treat, but Scannell turned the tables and chefs choice only menu came with a very high price. Waters paid the price when Scannells knight was allowed to stomp all over blacks broken pawn structure and kings defence creating threats and mating nets, eventually landing the big fish he so desperately wanted in that net, on a platter of ice after all revenge is a dish best served cold! He had broken the Indian sign that Waters had over him, Scannell was ecstatic, Waters was gutted and only Danny Mallaghan who was still in the bathroom was feeling worse!


2013 Ulster Championships Day 1

The 2013 Ulster Championships got underway at a pedestrian pace after the usual hammerheads and disorganised sock puppets forgot about the eleventh hour and phoned the controller at the twelfth hour instead to give him the delightful news that they were unavailable to play. Well to be fair to them at least they phoned, the more cowardly sent texted messages via a third party but even this was still preferable to the ones that either sent smoke signals on a windy night or just decided to test the controllers psychic ability, well I can tell you either way they certainly tested his patience.

There was a strong strength of talent in all sections, well there was after the mind-boggling nerve wracking totally unnecessary swapping, changing, promoting, demoting, then re-promoting again to balance the different sections out as evenly and fairly as possible

The controller asked initially for volunteers for promotion to higher sections and there was an enthusiastic response from the higher rated individuals in one section eager to step up and be the lower rated whipping-boy of the section above them. Well not all volunteering so readily apparently Martin Kelly the highest rated in his section shuffled his way back through the throng of players amassed at the tournament director’s desk when he heard that awful word volunteer. As the more courageous elements dawned body armour and stepped forward for battle, Martin dawned camouflage and stepped back into the wallpaper ducking and diving to avoid the glare of the controller better than a Spitfire ace in a dogfight over the channel.

Fortunately for Kelly and the tournament in general the controller had his quota of victims … err volunteers and the tournament could begin nearly 45 minutes after the officially advertised start time. Round 1 saw a win for pre-tournament favourite Fisherwicks Michael Waters over Belfast South’s Ray Devenney they had a rook and pawn end-game where Waters 7th rank pawn tied up Devennys rook allowing Waters King to eventually manoeuvre to threaten its capture. Ballynafeigh’s Steve Scannell secured the win over club mate Danny Mallaghan on board 2 whilst Mike Redman the subject of a transfer tug-o-war between Lindores chess club and Ballynafeigh chess club before Ballynafeigh won out with an extra packet of chocolate biscuits, won his match against Calum Leitch the captain of Lindores chess club, giving Leitch a double disappointment in one week. Gareth Annesley was paired against Brendan (sugar-cube) Jamison the millionaire artist from Ballynafeigh whose sculpted sugar works have exhibited at the Tate the Louvre and the Metropolitan in New York, alas for Jamison Annesley was far too bitter an opponent to be sweetened. James McDonnell was hitting all the sweet notes against the UCU’s resident professor of music Ian Woodfield and secured the victory.

In the Intermediate section Bombardiers Ross Harris (likes kids, but no relation to Rolf) had a tough nut to crack in the shape of Ian Kilpatrick the rugby fan from Lindore chess club, Kilpatrick held Harris in a scrum for the duration of the game and they ended honours even. One of the keenly awaited draws of the Intermediate first round was the pairing of Robert Lavery and Thomas Donaldson, Lavery volunteered to step up a division which put him in the firing range of Donaldson who has been seeking if not pursuing a match in the ongoing Summer league and as luck would have it they were matched in the first round. At the end Laverys good Knight excommunicated Donaldsons bad Bishop leaving Donaldson with a face longer than Gt Victoria street and Lavery with a grin wider than it.

Round 2 saw Waters continue his quest for another Ulster Seniors title when the hapless Annesley blundered a piece in the opening but played on for a while rather than advertise his disaster with an early resignation. Mike Redman with the white pieces assaulted the defences of Scannell which by the end were leaking in more places than the Fukushima power plant. In the junior section Mark Allen and John Monaghan kept up their 100% records with wins over Colin Fenton and Alan Burns respectively, however the quote of the day belonged to 9 year old Honor Parisis who was paired against Paul Anderson when she said “first I won his rook then four pawns then his knight … that’s when he checkmated me” ah such is life Honor, such is life


Mallaghan Intermediate Champion

Ballynafeighs camera-shy Danny Mallaghan became the new Irish Intermediate champion when he lifted the title, the cup and a few hundred euros for his troubles on Sunday evening. The playing venue for this year’s event was the excellent facility of the University of Limerick, which seems to have praised by all attending, though it must be added that their results information page on the website left a lot to be desired. The organisers ran it as a multi tournament event with sections for Juniors, Women, Intermediate, Seniors, and an Open, plus and AM and PM event.

Media try to get a photo of new Irish Intermediate Champion

Media try to get a photo of new Irish Intermediate Champion

Mallaghan went into the last round a full point clear and only required a draw to secure the championship title, at the end Mallaghan had a Queen and a pawn against two Rooks and a pawn but his opponent needed a victory for a share of first and played on refusing the draw offers from  Mallaghan. The pieces placement on the board meant that Mallaghan had more checks that a Prague nightclub and with the added increments the game lasted for a marathon four and a half hours and ran the score-sheet over one hundred and twenty moves. Finally a draw was agreed which gave Mallaghan the title and the exhausted and by now pajama clad organisers a much deserved rest.

Cathal Murphy from Belfast South chess-club playing in the junior section came through to grab a four-way share of second place, with his travel companion and club mate Martin Kelly not far behind.

The senior section was won by the ever strong ever consistent Colm Daly with a champions performance in the Jan Heinrich free premier event

Organisers dawned Pajamas for the Intermediate marathon

Organisers dawned Pajamas for the Intermediate marathon

Results and cross-tables..


Super Series Event 2

Calum Leitch the apprentice phone guru for O2 arrived at Event 2 of the Ballynafeigh Super Series last night on a ruse; he wasn’t just there to chuck some wood around the board and hope to pinch a prize. No the former Ballynafeigh “A Lister” was there to chuck the concept of a new team around and hoped to pinch a few players.

Another Ballynafeigh “A Lister” Des Mooreland made a surprise appearance having been registered on the missing list for some time, Des certainly made up for lost time when he started like a whirlwind defeating Sam Flanagan in round one before rounding on pre-tournament favourite Michael Waters in round two, he quickly followed up with comfortable wins in rounds three and four against Thomas Donaldson and Richard Gould respectively who were both flying high themselves at the time, old jump-leads Des needed no jump-start to get him going, his batteries were charged to the max and full of spark.

jump leads

Des charged up and ready to fire

It wasn’t just the  “A Listers” who came we have a few “A levellers”  as well Thomas Donaldson and Matthew Chapman free after a month of intensive exams decided to celebrate by pitching themselves against the likes of Redman, Waters, Masterson, Lavery and Flanagan, I guess there are some people who really just can’t seem to get enough of tests!

Because we have experimented by adding the extra sixth round to the 2013 Super Series events it has meant that the winner can never escape a confrontation with another in-form opponent and such was the case for both Event 1 and Event 2 but especially the latter which has such a strong field in depth and balance that the extra round really advertised its worth. It meant that the eventual victor Calum Leitch had to clash with and defeat Alan Thomason, Des Mooreland, Ian Woodfield, Michael Waters and Mike Redman on his way to the cash-box. So all in all a very prosperous evening for the coffee house reprobate who ended up with the honours of first place, the cash, a new board 1 Mike Redman a new board 4 Richard Gould, and a new board 5 Ian Kilpatrick, just surprised the little varmint didn’t swipe the tea and biscuits when he was leaving after all he took everything else!

caum wishist

Calum  Leitch came with his Shopping List 


super series

The opening event of the 2013 Ballynafeigh Chess Club Super Series began on Tuesday evening and per usual it drew quite a fashionable crowd ranging from elements of the local intelligentsia and cultural world. Michael Waters also made an appearance and thanked the authors of this site for the motivational link that we posted last week especially for him to help deal with the very concept of playing standard club players, or as Michael likes to describe them “tedious inferior dross”

John Cairns the Hollywood script writer was losing his Super Series virginity, though some would suggest that perhaps losing his mind would have been a more appropriate description when he enquired whilst devoid of a tongue in his cheek “is Micky Adams coming, or Nigel or any of those guys?” “Any of what guys?” asked the rather perplexed controller “you know, big Alex Baburin, Nigel Short, Keith Arkell, Mark Hebden etc” said Cairns before adding “I just thought if they knew I was here they might turn up” When it was pointed out to John Cairns that while the Gossip pages are keenly read by local chess players and avidly read by libel lawyers, the idea that notable Grand Masters scan them just see if there was room at the inn for a ten quid tourney was completely absurd and besides Nigel Short and Alexander Baburin are too busy making money, Mark Hebden and Keith Arkell are too busy drinking and there aren’t enough pictures for Micky Adams to get a grasp of what’s going on in the first place. “I think you guys are completely wrong” insisted Cairns before adding “I was on TV with those guys, they’d remember me” “Was it on CH4 or BBC2 Johnny cos I must have missed it” replied the controller, to which Cairns whipped out a photo in a silver frame (well it was silver coloured) showing the lobby TV screen from Bunratty 2013 showing 4 featured games “Well what do you think of that then?” exclaimed an agitated Cairns, “it looks impressive John, it certainly does” said the controller before swiftly adding “but it would have been more impressive if it had been round 6 and not round 1” Cairns replaced the photo in his pocket and left the registration area clearly deflated by the lack of respect being shown in his direction.

cairns screen bunratty 2

The Bunratty 2013 lobby screens round 1

Damien Lavery got an early tempo going with victories against Mohammed Saad, Adrian Dornford-Smith and his slimmer brother Robert Lavery in the early rounds, before dispatching Sam Flanagan and John Cairns in similar fashion. Michael Waters was emphatically punishing his own opponents with the exception of a GM draw agreed with Fisherwick club-mate and GM wannabe John Cairns. This left Lavery and Waters to scrap it out for the number one spot in the Super Series event 1 and it was the old egotist himself Michael Waters who reigned supreme and the end of round six after defeating Damien Lavery who had to console himself  with second place and a double Chinese on the way home.

Carryout food was much more than Paul McLoughlin had to console himself with after he was swindled out of the upper grading prize when either he or his opponent inadvertently recorded Pauls win as a draw. This error allowed Karina Kruk to nip in and bag the swag, the result could not be amended as two rounds had passed since and any change was unfair to others, McLoughlin’s protest that Karina’s mum was loitering way too close to the results computer was dismissed by the controller as pure conspiracy stuff


A Date with Beauty Missed

One game from round 4 in the City of Belfast Championships featured a match-up between sabbatical returnee Brendan Jamison 1758 and tournament regular Robert Lavery 1385. In the position below Lavery with black played

….       Ng3

Rxf2    Bxf2

Kxf2    and white went on to win

But Lavery who was flying in the Henderson Cup section at the time missed something quite lovely, the chess equivalent of a 147 in snooker, a nine darter, a Matty Bouroughs back heel volley or a perfect game in baseball, the under promotion mate.  Can you see it? From this diagram black to play.



New club for east Belfast

There are strong and persistent rumours that there is a new team set for the league next year. Calum Leitch the infamous maverick and Rob Lowe impersonator of the Ballynafeigh Chess Club has broken away from the Ormeau road outfit disgusted by the lack of challenge to Michael Waters from the board 1 players with the Ballynafeigh teams. “If you want a job done right, then do it yourself is my motto” said Leitch “I’m going to set up my own team and I’ll show Mallaghan, Houston and Scannell (the board ones with Ballynafeigh’s three teams) how it’s done, I’ll grind Waters into the ground, you all wait and see!” he declared.

Leitch then promptly raided his old stomping ground for the best and brightest talent from Ballynafeigh that could be bribed or blackmailed to go with him, stealing or buying David Conlon, Ian Kilpatrick, Richard Gould, and Iza Bujak along the way. When asked if he would also like to take Damien Lavery with him he replied “No way man, I only want players that are able to beat the bigger players, he has never beaten Frank Carrothers and they don’t come much bigger than big Frank!”

The new club will apparently play from the Lindores coffee house on the Newtownards road in east Belfast and will carry the venues name Lindores Chess Club, we at Ballynafeigh fully support this new venture and hope their future is as bright as the talent they swindled the dirty rotten #%$*ers

calum leitch

Calum Leitch who is a stunt stand in for Rob Lowe when he’s not playing chess

calum leitch rob lowe

Calum or Rob i find it hard to tell


Clearer Picture of Cork

There is an old saying that “A lie can be half way around the world before the truth has its boots on”

Having been thoroughly dismayed on the length of time that the ICU were taking to make a clear declaration of actual actions and events surrounding the Mirza and Co fracas we have made our feelings known about this dismay on this site with vivid clarity.

I was receiving many anonymous comments loaded with innuendo in the site inbox as to what happened but with no proof they were sent with all haste to the trash can.

I then received emails from people I know and whom I respect greatly as having the utmost integrity, they gave me a fuller picture of events and an introduction to someone who arrived on the scene immediately after the now infamous incident.

I was given testimony by several people that the accounts in many newspapers were highly sanitised as to what actions were undertaken before sanity was restored. I am firmly led to believe from several sources that are beyond reproach that there is irrefutable and conclusive digital evidence that paints a much more unnerving picture of events. There also seems to be a certain history with the two protagonists including an alleged reversal of roles at another event at an earlier date.

Hence the delay from the ICU as both parties now have lawyers involved and this saga is set to run to its conclusion in a court of law, which in order to protect the Irish Chess Union the executive board have had their hands tied legally and could not intervene to bring clarity for the membership.


Tabloid Journalist interviews Gabriel Mirza

Gabriel I want to ask you about the time when you caught the chess cheat in Cork

Hack…    Did you use a machete?

Mirza…    What?

Hack…   A Machete, you know kind of a shorter fatter version of a Samurai sword!

Mirza…    No

Hack…   Did you use a hammer on the victim any time?

Mirza…    What?

Hack…   A hammer, it’s a heavy tool for putting nails into things!

Mirza….    No! Never, this is crazy!

Hack…   Okay okay and you’re definitely not related to Peter?

Mirza…    Yes I am why?

Hack…   Really what’s your relationship?

Mirza…    He is my cousin

Hack…   That’s fantastic and when was the last time you met him?

Mirza…    This morning

Hack…    This morning! Are we talking about the same Peter?

Mirza…    Yes , Peter Mirza

Hack…   Oh no it was another Peter I was thinking of, his surname is Sutcliffe.

Hack…    Did you pull a gun on him?

Mirza…    On who?

Hack…    The kid in the toilet!

Mirza….     No! No Way!

Hack…   Did you not need a gun because the tournament was in Cork and not Limerick?

Mirza…    What? I don’t use a gun!

Hack…   Did you Mike Tyson the life out of him then?

Mirza…    Did I what?

Hack…    You know get the kid in a corner and punch the bajesus out of him.

Mirza…    No! No! No! I didn’t punch the bajesus out of anyone!

Hack…    Ah come on now Gabriel you must have done something to get all this media attention eh! Did you give him a touch of the aul’ Luis Suarez then?

Mirza…    What do you mean?

Hack…    You sank the teeth into him didn’t you?

Mirza…    No I did not, that’s a horrible thing to say!

Hack…    You’re Romanian aren’t you?

Mirza…     What’s that got to do with it?

Hack…   Well Dracula was from Romania!

Mirza….    What?

Hack…    Well have you ever looked at your family tree?

Mirza….   No I have not.

Hack…   So what you are saying is that you could be related to Dracula?

Mirza…    No Dracula is a fictional character for god’s sake.

Hack…    You played professional football didn’t you?

Mirza…    Yes

Hack…    Did you admire Zinedine Zidane?

Mirza…    Yes very much, he was fantastic.

Hack…     Is that because he knew how to throw the head-in?

Mirza…    Uh?

Hack….     Head butting, did you head butt the wee child in the cubical?

Mirza…    No I did not!

Hack…    Did you like Eric Cantona?

Mirza…    Yes he was fabulous?

Hack…    Did Cantona inspire you to Kung-Fu the toilet door open to get at the toddler?

Mirza…    This is insane I don’t wish to talk to you anymore, this interview is over.


Chess Cheat gives statement to Ballynafeigh

Arghhh jeez man sure that was a roight craic ya know, the aul guards an everything was called sure it was a feckin belter man, sure them was shittin themselves when they wer telled I was from Gonzaga like. Almost kinda felt sorry for the aul plods like wearin them daft yellow bibs wif their names on it GARDA like, how could them forget that? But then again watcha expect for twenty odd grand, sure me Da pays more than that to keep me at Gonzaga like.

All this hallibaloo over 400 euro…. I mean 400 like for fecks sake that wouldn’t bouy me feckin fon fer fecks sake.. an there’s him follwing me inta the jacks, ita the friggen jacks, spying on me like, what sort of scumbag does that like, eh answer me that then! And then cos he yapped so much they chucked me out of the tournament like, betcha the aul controller krapped himself when he found out I was from Gonzaga, anyways me family solicitor will be suing someone somehow, there’s no way ya can embarrass a Gonzaga lad and get away wif it even if we do cheat at everything…. sure our Ma’s and Da’s run this country for fecks sake!


Storm in a Cubical

The Cork debacle and media frenzy that ensued after the event only serves as a poignant reminder that can and will occur once individuals make decisions or take unilateral action on their own.

We in Ulster chess can remember our own strikingly similar incident very recently but were blessed that our most experienced arbiter David McAlister was on duty at the tournament in question, we were also fortunate that the aggrieved player who was being cheated had the good sense not to take matters into his own hands but let the controlling arbiter make the decisions.

At this stage there was only deep suspicion, well very deep, Marianas Trench deep now that I think about it. However there was still no uncovered electronic hardware to reinforce those suspicions. Mr McAlister confronted the individual and cleverly without accusing him of any wrong doing left the culprit with the absolute crystal clear message in the most direct language that he was being watched forensically close, and that the monitoring would be resolute and continuous.

The message got through his play became poor and his position collapsed in no time at all¸ he hasn’t played in chess tournaments since. So the lesson for all is if you wish for a diplomatic and effective solution to your suspicions report it to the controller and keep chess out of the toilet.

chess toilet


Controllers said that with hindsight perhaps the Cork toilets should have raised some concerns


Crisp Notes but no Money

A little dickey-bird tweeted the Ballynafeigh gossip desk about a minor confrontation at one of the matches last week. One very well known and respected Ulster chess player was eating a packet of crisps directly behind a newer member to Ulster chess deeply pondering a losing position.

An exchange of views and gestures ensued in the incident now being daubed Tato-Gate by the witnesses present, whether it was Worchester Sauce or Ready Salted we don’t really know but there was definitely a couple of pickled onions involved.



April Fool  gets a big media interest

Some of you may have worked it out before Easter Monday but many didn’t, three or four eager if not angry Easter bunnies even contacted local media to complain about the lack of respect for Hollywood heartthrobs being shown by the executive board of Ulster chess.

What else could explain the local newspapers like the Belfast Telegraph the Newsletter, the Sunday life etc etc queuing up to ring my phone over the weekend for quotes and confirmation that gorgeous George and sexy Jessica were not allowed to swap checks with the rest of us. (Though I’d swap a check for one of their cheques anytime)

Then it really got silly with phone calls from a few independent radio stations, one from Scotland and one from Dublin then a TV station. That was funny the media getting stung when they are the one that normally do the stinging, but when two teenage girls phoned to hurl abuse down the line and a few groupies rang me to enquire which hotel George was staying when he was here I could hear the theme music from the twilight zone in the back of my head.

The target of the prank was none other that Patrick Magee who was in line for his comeuppance after his late night phone call last year. Not only did the bold Patrick fall for it hook line and sinker but he went rod, reel, waders, and landing net as well. The trainee doctor arrived at the Easter Monday Rapid-play blissfully unaware that it was also April 1st armed with a printed out motion to be discussed by the membership on why we should let the stars of Polar-Foil play chess.

There was a large board at the top of the playing venue with the film title printed on it which is of course an anagram of … APRIL  FOOL 


Movie Stars refused permission to play in the Ulster Chess Championships.

Two of Hollywoods most distinguished mega stars have been refused permission to play chess in Belfast. Chess fanatics George Clooney and Jessica Alba are due in Northern Ireland for nearly three weeks in August for filming of the latest Hollywood blockbuster Polar Foil about a scientific experiment on Antarctica that goes horribly wrong and Jessica Alba flees back to her grandparents homestead in the Glens of Antrim, George Clooney is the ruthless CIA agent sent to silence her.

There is a break in filming over the August bank holiday Clooney who is a chess fanatic with an ELO rating of 1760 and the even higher ranked Alba another student of the board had their agents/personal assistants search for local chess competitions during this period. It just happened to be when the Ulster Chess Championships are scheduled in Belfast and both Clooney and Alba were in love with the idea of playing in the event. While gorgeous George is no slouch on the board the stunning Alba has went further and represented her home state of California at high school and college level and has also narrowly missed selection the USA women’s chess team in 1999 and again in 2001 However when the Stars agents contacted the members of the Ulster Chess Union through a third party to ensure privacy or at least restricted access during the competition they were informed that neither of the Hollywood stars were eligible to play under current UCU rules.

The current rules only allow players who either were born in any county in Ulster or who have lived in any county in Ulster for more than a year, clearly neither of the paparazzi magnets fill either criteria though Jessica Alba’s agent did cheekily suggest that she qualified as her character in the movie Polar Foil was born in Cushendall (village on the Antrim coast)

George Clooney’s personal assistant then made a direct call on Clooney’s behalf to one of the UCU officials to see if there was anyway the rules could be circumvented just this once, with Clooney himself coming on the phone at the end of the conversation to say goodbye (now is a good time to point out that this official who shall remain nameless can no longer use the phone as his wife has barred anyone from using it, she is the worlds biggest George Clooney fan and he was the last person to speak down the wires!)

The executive board then discussed and voted on a possible EGM (emergency general meeting) to offer the membership the chance to vote on the matter as the executive boards hands were tied legally to the current rule book, it was then passed by a vote of 4-3 to have a single issue vote taken at the next gathering of a UCU quorum which will be the Ulster Rapid play tournament at Ballynafeigh Community Development Centre on Easter Monday.



Don’t know about you but Jessica is getting my vote! Vote early vote often.


Russian roulette on a chessboard

The candidates tournament is in full swing in London at the moment and it is the Donald Duck fan from southern Norway Magnus Carlsen who has moved to the front of the pecking order. The pre-tournament favourite gained his clear lead when world number 3 Armenia’s Levon Aronian who has been confirmed for Bunratty 2014 (though he wants protection from steven Eachus apparently) was defeated by Boris Gelfand in round 9.

However it was the game between Russian pair Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk that grabbed all the column inches. This encounter had more testosterone than a female East German sprinters blood sample, it was beyond a game of poker with bluff and counter bluff and moved straight to a game of Russian roulette Deer-Hunter style with 3 bullets in the chamber, really awesome off the wall stuff!

Here’s a link go to this page then on the left hand menu bar click game analysis and choose round 9 Svidler-Grischuk game, and enjoy


Bunratty Hangovers

A big contingent of local chess talent descended on the sleepy Co Clare village of Bunratty over the weekend to test their mettle in the biggest tournament in Ireland and the UK. Now whilst the results showed that for some their prowess over the chequered board was tested if not completely thwarted in both the Major and Challenger sections it must be said their prowess at the bar was never in dispute. If FIDE handed out rating points and norms for drinking and socialising then we undoubtedly we would have quite a few Super GM’s

Standard bedtime for the Hallion Battalion as they became known 5:30am on the Friday 5:30 am on the Saturday and 6:30am on the Sunday. Paul McLoughlin drove 240 miles just to watch he wasn’t even playing in the tournament such was his hunger for the craic and also to interrupt Ray Keenes unbelievably boring anecdotes with a sound machine.

Now which Belfast player was within a hair of laying out Veselin Topolov GM after a lost in translation moment will remain a secret we won’t betray big Stevens identity. Damien Lavery should have qualified for the Blitz quarter finals alas he unfortunately marked both himself and his opponent in for a loss in the same game, after a stewards inquiry it was decided not to undo the pairing but instead to just laugh at him.


The Hallions on the warm up!


Paul Carey on the right shows his sadness upon hearing of the Lavery mis-result


Topalov was Milli seconds from a hallion induced coma and yet blissfully unaware, ah Bunratty you couldn’t make it up!