Boys in St. Joseph’s Primary School like school so much that they returned there, of their own free will, on Friday 18th January at 7 pm and stayed there playing the longest chess game of their lives until 1 am on Saturday morning!
The students were taking part in the Simultaneous Chess Exhibition put on by chess international player Manuel Gardenes. Forty kids and 5 ‘brave’ fathers played the Spanish expert all at the same time. Some of our friends from Gorey Central School, Educate Together School and Bunscoil Loreto also took part. Manuel also played against the computer.
One of the most exciting elements of the evening was watching Manuel playing highly rated local chess player and chairperson of Gorey Chess Club Seamus Halpenny. He played him blindfold. He never saw the chess board due to a screen between him and his opponent. This provided for fascinating viewing for the many spectators present.
Manuel won all his games bar seven – he drew the blindfold game, and the game against the computer. Six delighted students successfully managed to draw with him. Four boys from 5th class in St. Joseph’s – Patrick O’Connor, Micheál Kennedy, Robert Kelly and Kuba Kruczek, one past pupil Jack Redmond who is now in Gorey Community School and one Educate Together pupil – David Remenyik. They each received prize vouchers for private chess lessons from the Spanish chess expert who now lives locally.
Children aged 8-12 years competed past midnight into the early hours. They refused to resign in spite of their tiredness. 75% of them were still playing at 1am. The buzz and energy of the occasion kept them going. Each player went home with a chess notation of his game so they can replay this game of a lifetime in the comfort of their own home.
The school caretaker Jackie Cushe who helped organise this event, suggested that we start this simultaneous exhibition next year at 8am on a Saturday morning!
Tea and coffee was provided to all those Mammies and Daddies who stayed up watching their darlings deep in thought while refining their chess strategies. Laura Kenny, chess assistant kept the show on the road all evening, organising photos and refreshments.
Manuel was exhausted but delighted after his 6 hour exhibition. He has recently been involved in coaching the children in the school chess club. Bríd Cleary, chess teacher is very excited with this new development and is expecting lots of new checkmates on the chess horizon!