A player’s eligibility to play tournament chess can be restricted in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most common restriction, obvious every time someone enters a multi-section weekender, is rating strength. We have taken the, perhaps arbitrary, decision to focus normally only on the top sections of these events.
National and regional organisations are likely to have competitions where eligibility to play depends on nationality, place of birth and residence. You will find these type of events here in the Official and Provinces sections.
Our new Restricted section is itself limited to documenting tournaments two more of these eligibility factors – age and gender.
The Irish Junior Championships have themselves had a number of qualifying factors. When the tournament started in 1948 it was called the Irish (or All-Ireland) Schoolboys’ Championship. It was an officially recognised national championship, with a restriction to Irish players – which still applies today. Also it had an age restriction but expressed in the form of players still attending school. Finally it was restricted by gender.
As the years have gone by the more inclusive “junior” has replaced “schools”. Also female players are eligible to play – originally separate competitons for girls were introduced. Today, athough these have disappeared, separate girls titles may still be awarded within each age group.
Also, instead of just one age group as was the case back in 1948, various additional age categories have gradually been introduced – now extending down as far as Under 8. We have concentrated on the oldest age group, which is an Under 19 category.
Age-restricted tournaments are widely seen as helpful to the development of young talented chess players. On the other hand, arguments have been made against there being any gender-restricted tournaments. It is not our intention to enter a debate on the rights and wrongs of that issue. However as long as FIDE recognises and supports female-only tournaments, it seems sensible, or at least pragmatic, for national organisations such as the Irish Chess Union to follow suit.
While the Junior Championhips have continued every year since their inception, the Irish Womens’ Championship has had more of a chequered history. There have been three time periods of competition – the first was from 1953 to 1957, the second from 1968 to 1982 and the third, dating from 2010, is one we are currently in the midst of.