Desmond de Loughrey died on the 20th April 1977. He played on four Irish Olympiad teams between 1958 and 1968 and was also President of the Irish Chess Union for a number of years in the 1960s. The ICU decided to inaugurate a tournament in his honour. Its then President, Eugene O’Hare, who had competed with de Loughrey in the 1962 and 1964 Olympiads, had the novel idea of making the memorial tournament an all-Ireland knock-out handicap team championship. In late 1977 a prospectus was issued looking for teams to enter. The nature of the handicap was based on grading differential; for example, a team with an overall rating of 400 points less than its opponent received an extra point. Matches were to be 8 players a side. The closing date for entries was the 7th December. By early January 1978, there was concern about the number of teams putting themselves forward, with none at all from Munster, and the entry date was extended. The reminder seems to have done the trick – by mid-February the initial pairings had been announced and although the entry was a relatively modest 17, the participating teams came from all over Ireland. There was one preliminary match which produced something of a surprise when Dublin held Collegians over the board and went through on handicap. In the first round proper the operation of the handicap system made itself felt with two teams, St.James’s A and Malahide, going though to the next round despite losing on ordinary game points.
Preliminary Round Dublin 4.0-4.0 Collegians First Round City of Derry 3.5-4-5 Kilbarrack Dundrum W-L Dublin St James's A 3.0-5.0 Galway Yellow House 8-0-0.0 West Finglas Phibsboro 6.5-1.5 Wicklow Fisherwick 5.0-3.0 Ierne Sandymount 6.0-2-0 Malahide St. James's B L-W South Munster
In the quarter finals normality was restored with the four teams winning their matches over the board advancing to the semi-finals without handicap points interfering.
Quarter finals Dundrum 4.5-3.5 Kilbarrack Yellow House 7.0-1.0 St. James's A Phibsboro 5.5-2.5 Fisherwick South Munster 7.0-1.0 Malahide
In the semi-finals South Munster had a crushing victory over Phibsboro while the other match was tied and “Yellow House won through on tie-break rules” according to the report in the Sunday Independent – making it a little unclear whether this was on the handicap or just some ordinary tie-break rule.
Semi-finals Yellow House 4.0-4.0 Dundrum South Munster 7.5-0.5 Phibsboro
The final was held at the Crofton Airpot Hotel, Dublin. The finalists were very different in character. South Munster was not a club in the conventional sense but a conglomerate representing the South Munster Chess Association. The Rathfarnham-based Yellow House was a “mere” Leinster Division 2 team – but do not let that fool the reader. Yellow House had won the Heidenfeld Trophy in 1978 to qualify to compete against the big battalions in the 1978-1979 Armstrong Cup (when it subsequently finished second) and had recently won the Leinster Chess Union’s (non-handicap) knock-out championship, the Branagan Cup. Looking at the names of the players involved, despite the strength of the South Munster squad, it seems remarkable that Yellow House enjoyed the advantage of four handicap points in the final. Despite a valiant effort by the South Munster players in winning the match over the board the handicap proved too much for them.
Yellow House 3.0 - 5.0 South Munster (Yellow House won 7.0-5.0 on handicap) Yellow House South Munster Colm Barry =-= Colm Quigley Denis Healy 0-1 Maurice Kennefick Hilary Healy 0-1 Anthony McCarthy Eamon Martin 0-1 Orison Carlisle Ciaran Scollard 0-1 Kevin James Denis McLaughlin =-= Tom O'Shea Kevin McCarthy 1-0 John Butler Ray Grimason 1-0 Maurice Coveney