Last week I previewed the Bunratty Chess Festival which took place last weekend in the luxurious setting of the Bunratty Castle Hotel, in Ireland.
The event, now in it's 20th year, continues to attract a very strong field due to it's legendary reputation as a friendly and relaxed tournament as well as generous sponsorship from Gary O'Grady and Blackthorne Transport.
The Masters section is not FIDE Rated so players can come and play interesting chess without risking their ranking. Headlining this year were top British stars Michael Adams and Nigel Short with GMs Alex Baburin (IRE) and Peter Wells (Eng) just behind, along with several IMs - including myself.
Anyway, onto the chess. I made a good start to this year's event, winning my first two games before being paired with FM Philip Short in round 3:
This win took me to 3/3 and in joint lead with Michael Adams (after Nigel Short drew with IM Richard Bates). Michael beat me in typical fashion, not allowing me any real chances. I won't bore you with that game so instead here's Mickey's key round 3 game against IM Malcolm Pein (better known as the organiser for the London Chess Classic but clearly a strong player).
Adams' progress was serene after this, as he beat me with ease, and in round 5 he easily dispatched FM Javier Aguara Naredo of Spain before taking a quick draw in the last round to ensure victory on 5.5/6.
Nigel's progress was halted by draws with Richard Bates and, arguably the player of the tournament, 15 year old Joseph McPhillips from Bolton, England. Joseph not only drew with Nigel but he beat GM Peter Wells and drew with IM Gavin Wall in this exciting encounter...
Nigel ended up in 2nd= on 5/6 after beating Alex Baburin in the last round, sharing with Richard Bates who had a very strong tournament. After drawing with Nigel he beat Malcolm Pein and myself before a quick draw in the last round with Adams. Full results in the Masters can be found here: http://www.icu.ie/misc/games/sm/bunratty2013/masters/
The classic section was won by GM Mark Hebden with 7/9 ahead of GM Nick Pert on 6.5/9. Here is Mark's round 2 win over talented Italian IM Denis Rombaldoni:
Full result for the Classic can be viewed at http://www.bunrattychess.com/bunratty/classic/
Quite apart from the chess the players had a fantastic time. Despite the tiring schedule of 6 rounds over 3 days almost all the players found time to have a drink and relax in the bar. The beauty of a non-FIDE Rated event was clear as the bar was often packed well into the early hours of the morning. In fact drinking was not always confined to after the games as this photo demonstrates. In fairness this game was in the evening and it was the 3rd round of the day!
The Festival concluded with the traditional Sunday evening blitz event (after an extended break for dinner and drinks). This was won by Nigel Short, defeating Peter Wells in the final (I lost to Pete in the semis).
I'd like to thank everyone involved for running a fantastic event, in particular Gerry Graham. Gerry has written a report on the even which can be seen here: http://www.icu.ie/articles/display.php?id=374
I hope I managed to convey something of the atmosphere of the event but I recommend you see for yourself and visit next year!