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.
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.
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.
Easystream Irish Blitz Championships
The EasyStream Irish Blitz Championship was held on Sunday, March 6th in the home of Bray CC – the Esplanade Hotel a day after the Rapidplay. The turnout was slightly smaller with 32 entrants competing for the Irish Blitz title as well as a host of other prizes including a place at the World Blitz 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 top 4 seeds were dominated by Gonzaga Chess Club with IM Sam Collins clear favourite to add the Blitz title to the rapid title he picked up the day before However his club mates Conor O'Donnell, Killian Delaney and David Murray making up the next 3 seeds and the dangerous Stephen Moran and young Tom O'Gorman would all feel they had a chance themselves.
Round 1 saw most of the top 10 boards going according to seed except Tom who drew with Mihailo Manojlovic and Killian Delaney who had to pull out at the last moment meaning a walk over for Kevin Burke. Round 2 saw the first real upsets with Rudolf Tirziman beating the now seed 3 David Murray, Elm Mounts Gerard McGelligot and Ciaran Quinn losing to Mufassar Ghani and Leon Fagan respectively but given it was 11 rounds there was still plenty of time for players to come back. Round 3 saw the seeded players returning to winning ways with no real upsets and Saw Sam, Conor and Stephen tied on 3/3. Round 4 saw Stephen taking on Sam but he was unable to get a result against the IM and with Conor beating Rudolf it would mean that the two Gonzaga club mates would face each other in round 5. After Losses in round 2 for Dave and Gerry both players had less scope for error however both lost again to lower rated opponents with Mufassar having another good result against Dave and Leon doing the double over Elm Mount by beating Gerry. Round 5 saw a victory for Sam over Conor and make him outright leader a point clear of the field with Tom, Stephen, Mufassar and Leon joining Conor in second place. Another good result for Rudolf over Gerry and a good draw for Kevin Burke over Dave meant it would be hard for them to be in contention even with 6 rounds to go.
Tom O'Gorman was the next up to stop the juggernaut that is Sam Collins and stop him he did! Or at least slowed him with a fine draw. With wins for Conor and Stephen it made it a little tighter at the top. The venue was being well represented by the Bray Chess Club duo of Eric Bennet and Pat Reynolds who now found themselves only a point behind the chasing pack. Round 7 saw Sam get back to winning ways by beating Leon Fagan and with Stephen beating Conor it looked like he might be the most likely person to catch Sam. Round 8 saw Sam beat Rudolf and Stephen beat Tom making a clear first and second. Conor O'Donnell beating Pat Reynolds placing him outright third a point further back. Wins again in round 8 for Sam and Stephen saw them extend their lead as Tom beat Conor to climb into third place and a late surge from Dave and Eric saw them climb up to joint 4th. While their good run still left them too far a drift to win the title, they would however have a say in whether it would be Sam or Stephen who finished first. However after two solid games both Sam and Stephen emerged Victorious against Eric and Dave. With only 1 round remaining and a half point separating Sam and Stephen, Stephen would need Dave to do him a favour against his own club mate as Dave and Sam met on board 1. However Sam was in relentless form and Beat Dave to finish on a very impressive 10.5/11. Stephen drew with Rudolf finishing with a very respectable 9.5 and Tom finishing with a win to secure third place on 8.5.
So congratulations to Sam on completing the double, below we have Stephen and Tom picking up their second and third place trophies.