EasyStream Irish Rapidplay Championship
The EasyStream Irish Rapidplay Championship was held on Saturday, March 5th in the home of Bray CC – the Esplanade Hotel. The event saw 41 entrants compete for the first time for the JJ Walsh Cup as well as a host of other prizes including a place at the World Rapidplay Championship, trophies, courtesy of AwardsandGifts.ie, an EasyStream T8 Android TV Box as well as a boosted prize fund thanks to our chief sponsor, EasyStream.
The field for the event featured ten 2000+ strength players which ensured there would be some high quality chess on show. Sam Collins, Colm Daly and Conor O’Donnell started the event as favourites, and manned the top three boards through round 3 with 3 wins each. However, some other seeds did not fare quite so well in the openings rounds with Killian Delaney and Rory Quinn suffering defeats to Padraig Sheehy and Paul O’Neill, respectively, in round 1 and Tom O’Gorman, currently competing in theReykjavik Open, falling to Rudolf Tirziman in round 2. Paul O’Neill again pulled off a shock in round 2; this time defeating the 379 point higher rated, Michael Waters, bringing him to 2/2. Unfortunately for O’Neill, his reward for two spectacular results was a pairing with Conor O’Donnell who ended his run for the moment.
Mervyn Honner presenting a well earned grading prize to Paul O'Neill.
In fact, round 3 saw a return to form for many of the seeds with the only notable upset occurring on board 12 where young Fiachra Scallan upset Pat Reynolds. Scallan would pull off another upset in the following round, getting by Tom O’Gorman and putting himself in a position to challenge for the title.
Round 4 is where the event began in earnest with Daly paired against O’Donnell on board 2 and Collins paired against the only other player left standing on 3, Gerry MacElligott. Collins and Daly managed to come through their games in the end, setting up a showdown between the top seeds in round 5. Meanwhile, Stephen Moran continued his undefeated run by winning on board 3 against Dariia Polyulya putting himself up into 3rd place. Killian Delaney and Rory Quinn matched each other step for step in their comebacks, notching their third straight win bringing them right back into contention.
Mervyn Honner presenting a grading prize to Romans Kremerts after he had some excellent results including beating three players who outrated him by over 250 points.
The clash of the top seeds was always going to indicate the likely champion and although the game seemed evenly poised through the opening, Collins was able to pull out a win with black and remain perfect through 5 rounds on 5/5. Daly slipped back to the pack on 4 and was leapfrogged by Moran who picked up an impressive win over O’Donnell to move to 4.5 and only half a point behind Collins. Scallan remarkably picked up his third scalp on the trot by dispatching fourth seed, Killian Delaney, and setting up a clash with fellow giant-killer, Paul O’Neill who defeated Tirziman in round 5. Quinn joined some of the other title-contenders on 4/5 by defeating Jim Murray but Daly would now to stand in his way in round 6.
Rory Quinn collecting his 3rd place trophy from Mervyn Honner.
Moran proved unable to stop Collins’ run as the International Master raced to 6/6 but the Trinity man would still have a chance of a top 3 finishing depending on the results on lower boards. As it turned out, his main competition for 2nd place would prove to be Quinn as he managed to defeat Daly and move to 5/6 – not bad after starting on 0/1. On board 3, the Davids (Scallan and O’Neill) with no Goliaths in their path for the time being, faced off against each other with O’Neill eventually emerging with the win and a chance of a top 3 finish. Like so many others, Tim Harding had earlier had his tournament temporarily derailed by the unstoppable Collins but he fought his way back into contention with a victory over Michael Waters. Elsewhere in round 6, two other challengers emerged with impressive results. Kevin Burke, in good form following his victory in the Gonzaga Classic, defeated O’Gorman and Shane Melaugh defeated Gerry MacElligott. This left the standings with a round to go as follows:
- Collins 6
- Quinn 5
- Moran, O’Neill, Harding 4.5
- Daly, O’Donnell, Scallan, Burke, Delaney, Melaugh 4
Stephen Moran collecting his 2nd place trophy from Mervyn Honner.
Collins, with only half a point needed to guarantee victory, quickly agreed a draw to ensure he picked up the JJ Walsh Cup as well as guaranteeing Quinn at least a share of second place. On 2, Moran dispatched his club mate, Harding, to match Quinn’s score of 5.5 but Moran would eventually pick up the second place trophy with a better tie-break score. On 3, O’Neill was left with 3 very clear outcomes – win and he would share second place, draw and he would pick up the grading prize or lose and his opponent, Burke, would leapfrog him in the standings and pick up the grading prize. The two eventually played out a draw and O’Neill would take home a very well-earned grading prize. On the other top boards, Scallan, after a great tournament, succumbed to Daly on board 4 while Melaugh defeated Leon Fagan. In another clash of club mates – Delaney saw off O’Donnell to join Daly, Melaugh and O’Neill in joint 4th on 5/7.
- Collins 6.5
- Moran, Quinn 5.5
- Daly, O’Neill, Delaney, Melaugh 5
A final crosstable can be viewed here.
Sam Collins showing off just some of his booty from a successful weekend.
Our thanks to Mervyn Honner and Ivan Baburin for all their help running the event. It really could not have been done without them. Also, I'd like to extend our thanks to Killian Delaney who found us our sponsor, which allowed us to offer a generous prize fund.