Updated: 22 November 2017 (new high in correspondence rating)
I only started playing serious chess in 2012 although I did play casually in the early 1990’s when I loved playing as Black and my favorite piece was the Queen given its immense power - hence 'BlackQueen2012'. Of course, things have well moved on since joining this site in 2012. In 2013, I joined a relatively strong local club in Drogheda and registered with the Irish Chess Union (ICU) in September that year after which I narrowly qualified for the club’s 2014 intermediate (B) Championship - I scored a very reasonable 5 points out of 9 games. The following June I entered my first open competition (2014 Drogheda June Congress) where I scored 3 credible draws out of 5 games (had a bye).
Since September 2014, I have been involved with Team Chess (The Leinster League) which continues to be very much a difficult learning curve to this day. I qualified again for the 2015 Club B Championship and maintained my form in the new year with 5.5 points out of 9. In May 2015, I won the Plate trophy (the second knockout competition after the Cup) after overcoming a stronger opponent in the final. The game involved the Prague Variation of the Tarrasch Defense and as White, I exploited a tactical error in the middle game from which there was no way out for Black. The Drogheda June Congress of 2015 however, was a major disappointment for me with a significant points toll to dampen an otherwise solid season.
After the September restart, I qualified for the 2016 A Championship amid many an upset at club which reshuffled the typical A and B players quite a bit - I regained some rating points in the process. However, I didn't do so well in my inter-club league games that season as being team captain tends to be a distraction. Back at the club, the A Championship was more difficult than what I was accustomed to but I managed to achieve a very respectable 3 points from 7 and eventually reached my highest ever ICU rating of 1210 - of note, Irish ratings can be significantly deflated against FIDE equivalents. Unforeseen family commitments prevented me from partaking in the 2016 Drogheda June Congress.
After another September restart, I comfortably qualified for the 2017 Club B Championship (fewer upsets this time) for which I was little lacklustre with 5 draws in a row followed by two wins, the last of which was against a higher ranked player - overall, that’s a reasonable 4.5 points from 7 with room for improvement - alas I couldn't win the competition but there was a title decider pending for which there was also a runner up prize at stake - alas, the result didn’t go my way, so I finished third with the loser of the said match claiming the runner up prize. Although I finished in my league division with 2 respectable draws, my record there remains poor overall.
However, I decided to enter for the 2017 Drogheda June Congress and although I didn’t turn up (only my body did) on the first day losing both games against much higher rated players, I had a very good second day with two hard fought draws, also against higher rated players - I was playing in Section B which was very tight and competitive. On the third day, I was unlucky that I got two lower rated young players ready to pounce upon any mistake - alas, I made one mistake in each game and was punished, but I fought back and managed to secure draws in both games - was happy considering and I knew I played well on that day too - however, there was a subsequent dent to my rating regardless. I got 2 points out of a possible six (an improvement on 2015) and learned a lot from the overall experience, but there’s quite some room for improvement regarding my OTB game.
For this season, I have reduced my commitment to OTB play and am now focusing on chess.com (correspondence and tactics) and online chess tuition - my online performance is very strong as of late having reached a new rating record of 1969 for correspondence chess (chess.com) - my previous record of 1967 (Nov 2016) was illusionary having won by default against a number of higher rated players who timed out (despite them having clearly better positions). My current rating is a far more genuine representation of progress. I remain in the top 1% for correspondence and above 2000 for tactics (on chess.com) - I hope to resume rapid play chess towards Christmas. Given those stats, it’s clear that my OTB game stuck around the 1100’s (1183 ICU as of Sept 2017) might benefit from a good break though I may continue to play for the club in the Leinster League in order to maintain contact. Perhaps after the close of this season, I’ll return to club chess in September 2018 or maybe defer to the following year - I’ll see how the online tuition progresses!