In recent years, the growth of the internet has meant that nearly every tournament has some sort of presence there. Sometimes these events are better advertised in advance than reported afterwards. Even when the results are made available, it’s best to catch them quickly as some websites don’t archive their articles (and indeed the same URL may be overwritten year upon year). However, the rating databases of the Irish Chess Union and Ulster Chess Union provide a (hopefully) permanent record of tournaments nowadays.
However, ready access to results from Irish tournaments was not always an easy matter. For the chess historian looking for results from bygone years, particularly from more local events, this may well require seeking out snippets of information from often brief newspaper reports and piecing together as much as possible. One such event that falls into this category is the County Tipperary Open Championships, held in Thurles and organised by the local chess club, which was founded in 1972. The tournament series seems to have run between 1979 and 1994. Our page on the tournament gives all the information we have been able to unearth from local newspapers (Kilkenny People, Nenagh Guardian and Sligo Champion) to national dailies (Cork Examiner, Irish Press and Irish Times) as well as the the ICU’s own Irish Chess Journal.
I came across the photograph above in a post at the Thurles Town Down Memory Lane Facebook page. The four people in the image are Conor Ryan, Peter (O’)Shaugnesssy, Martin Ryan and Anthony Condron. The photograph might well have been taken at the prizegiving at one of the County Tipperary Open Championships. Condron was one of the main organisers of the tournament and the Ryans may be members of the family that provided the perpetual trophy for, and sponsorship of, the Championships.
On a number of occasions the Championships had some sort of maximum rating restriction, but the 1991 and 1992 renewals were unrestricted and attracted players from the upper echelons of Irish chess. However in 1991 the top seeds were surprised by lower-rated opposition. Stephen Morris and Mel Kennedy (O Cinneide) were rated 2156 and 2100 respectively and, as reported in the Sligo Champion, “outrated the rest of the field by a good margin”. In round three Morris had been held a draw by the circa-1900 rated Paul Kiely but then went on to beat Kennedy in the fourth (and penultimate) round. Going into the final round Morris and Kiely led on 3.5, while Kennedy and his Round 2 victim, sixth seed Trevor Hunter (1731), were a half-point behind. In the top board game Morris sacrificed a piece against Hunter but the underdog successfully warded off the attack to reach 4.0 points. On board 2 game Kiely was pressing hard to secure outright victory against the higher-ranked Kennedy but in the end had to settle for a draw and a tied first place with Sligo man Hunter.
In 1992 the organisers attracted a star-studded field with Colm Daly (2290), Stephen Brady (2260), Tom Clarke (2170), Gerard O’Connell (2130) and the returning Morris (now 2119) all competing. The upsets this time started as early as Round 2 with Brady losing to Ciaran Quinn (1987) and Maurice Buckley (1571) beating Clarke. After three rounds Daly and O’Connell shared the lead with full points. Their Round 4 encounter had a finish well-known in weekenders in the pre-increment days. After a time scramble, O’Connell’s flag fell but Daly had only a lone King left -so the Rules of Chess decreed that the result must be a draw and they remained in the joint lead heading into the final round. Brady and Clarke had recovered sufficiently to be paired with the leaders in the final round.
The two decisive games from the final Round follow below. Playable versions are at my Irish Chess Games website.
Thomas Clarke -v- Gerard O’Connell
Tipperary Open, Thurles (Round 5), 09.02.1992
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.e3 c6 7.Bd3 h6 8.Bf4 Nbd7 9.h3 Nf8 10.g4 Ne6 11.Be5 Bd6 12.f4 Bxe5 13.dxe5 Nd7 14.Nf3 Qb6 15.Qd2 Ndc5 16.Bc2 Bd7 17.f5 Ng5 18.Nxg5 hxg5 19.0-0-0 0-0-0 [O’Connell takes the sting out of Clarke’s kingside pawn roller by also castling queenside. Of course after 19…0-0 Black would be in a lot of trouble after 20.h4] 20.e4 d4 Diagram
21.e6? [This just loses a pawn for nothing. If White was looking for complications then 21.Qxd4 was a better bet as 21…Bxf5 can be met by 22.Nd5! cxd5 23.exf5] 21…Bxe6 22.fxe6 dxc3 23.Qxc3 Nxe6 24.Kb1 Qc5 25.Qg3 Nd4 26.Bd3 f6 27.Rhe1 Qe5 28.Qe3 Kb8 29.Bc4 Rd6 30.b4 Rhd8 31.Rd3 a6 32.a4 Ne6 33.Rc3 Nf4 34.Rec1 Qd4 35.Qe1 Re8 36.h4 Rxe4 37.Qh1 gxh4 38.Qxh4 g5 39.Qh7 Rd7 40.Qg8+ Rd8 41.Qf7 Re1 42.Rxe1 Qxc3 43.Qe7 Qd4 44.b5 axb5 45.axb5 cxb5 46.Bxb5 Nd3 47.Re2 Qd6 48.Qe4 Qb4+ 49.Qxb4 Nxb4 50.Re6 Rd4 51.Re8+ Kc7 52.Re7+ Kb6 53.Be2 Rf4 54.Re6+ Nc6 55.Re8 Nd4 0-1
Colm Daly -v- Stephen Brady
Tipperary Open, Thurles (Round 5), 09.02.1992
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d3 Bb4 5.Bd2 0-0 6.a3 Bxc3 7.Bxc3 Re8 8.e4 d6 9.Be2 Ne7 10.0-0 Ng6 11.Re1 Nf4 12.Bf1 c5 13.b4 b6 14.h3 h6 15.Nh2 Nh7 16.Ra2 The future course of the game shows how significant this move turns out to be. 16…Re6 17.Re3 Rg6 18.Kh1 Ng5 19.h4 Nh7 20.g3 Ne6 21.Bg2 Nd4 22.Re1 Nf6 23.Rg1 Ng4 24.Bxd4 cxd4 25.Nxg4 Bxg4 26.Bf3 h5 27.Bxg4 hxg4 28.f4 [This is a bit risky. White would probably be slightly better after 28.f3 gxf3 29.Qxf3 (but not 29.Rf2 as suggested in the Irish Chess Journal because that loses to 29…Rxg3 30.Rxg3 Qxh4+ 31.Kg1 Qxg3+) ] 28…exf4 29.gxf4 g3 30.h5 Qh4+ Diagram
31.Kg2 Qh2+ 32.Kf1 g2+ [If 32…Qxa2 33.Rg2 Qxa3 34.hxg6 fxg6 35.Rxg3 Rf8! 36.Qg4 Qc1+ 37.Kg2 Rxf4 and White must take the perpetual with 38.Qe6+ (ICJ)] 33.Raxg2 Qxf4+ 34.Rf2 Rxg1+ 35.Kxg1 Qg3+ 36.Rg2 Qe3+ 37.Kh2 Qf4+ 38.Kh3 Re8 39.Qg4 Qxg4+ 40.Kxg4 Re5 41.Rf2 White is threatening Rf5 and is a clear favourite in this endgame. Perhaps because a draw is no good to him, Brady now lashes out in a bid for counterplay, but it probably only makes things easier for Daly. 41…b5 42.cxb5 Rxb5 43.Rf5 Rb6 44.Ra5 Rc6 45.Rxa7 Rc3 46.b5 Rxd3 47.b6 Rb3 48.b7 Kh7 49.a4 Rb1 50.Kf3 Kh6 51.Ke2 1-0
Daly and O’Connell therefore finished equal first on 4.5 and Stephen Morris took third place a half[point behind.
The two games above plus Quinn-O’Connell (Round 3) and O’Connell-Daly (until shortly before the flag fall) were included in the Irish Chess Journal report and have also made their way to the ICU website database.