Updated: 14 June 2017 (includes Drogheda June Congress)
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, my chess has moved on quite a bit now with both my positional and tactical skills improved beyond recognition 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 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, my rating will take a hammering for that day. I got 2 points out of a possible six (an improvement on 2015) and learned quite a bit from the overall experience, but I’m thinking that rapid chess might be better for me as my attention span is not ultra long and games under classic time controls are difficult for me.
I’m thinking of reducing my commitment to OTB play for next season and concentrating more on chess.com and other sites - my online chess is performing strongly and have reached the top 1% for correspondence and 1930 for tactics on this site while I’m in the 1700’s for rapid play and 1900’s for tactics on another site. Given those stats, it’s clear that my OTB game stuck around the 1100’s (1178 ICU as of May 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 the coming season, I’ll return to club chess in September 2018.
I’ll see what happens!