Category Archives: Kilkenny

Numbers surge at Kilkenny

The Kilkenny Congress, one of the monuments of Irish chess, took place over the final weekend of November. Numbers playing were definitely up on the recent past, but was it a record-breaking renewal? The news item at the ICU website claimed “it was a record event with over 230 players playing” while the express report there went for the more conservative take that Kilkenny 2015 had “one of the largest entries in each section for many years. A total of 234 players turned up to compete for the 4 titles at stake.” Over at Boards sinbad68 queried the organisers’ arithmetic by listing the players actually competing in each section:

Masters     28 players
Major       60 players
James Mason 53 players
Challengers 86 players

That makes a total of 227, not 234, as we also reported over at our updated Kilkenny page. This is still a very impressive figure, but how does it compare with the historical record? The Kilkenny Congress has been going since 1977. In its early years numbers fluctuated with the 148 competing in 1980 probably the best attendance until the 1990s, when numbers rapidly went up:

1990 110 players
1991 138 players
1992 170 players

In 1993 the Congress took a further leap forward both in quantity and quality. Over 230 competed in the Congress, with Alexander Baburin winning the Masters and British champion Michael Hennigan having to settle for a share of fifth place. I don’t have the figures for all the years in the 1990s so I can’t say whether the 1993 total number was exceeded, but the stats from 1999 show just how strong Kilkenny had become:

1999 Kilkenny Masters leading scores:
1=2. GM Bogdan Lalic, GM Julian Hodgson 5.0
3=5. GM Mark Hebden, GM Jan Timman, FM Paul Delaney 4.5
6=8. GM Michael Adams, GM Alexander Baburin, Uri Rochev 4.0
(221 in the Congress overall)

We can, however, provide the overall number competing in every year of the new Millennium. Looking at the figures, they make an interesting comparison with how the Irish economy was performing. From probably the ultimate record-breaking year of 2002 to the crash and burn of 2009 and finally to 2015, not a record-breaker but definitely going in the same direction as the economic indicators:

2000 199 players
2001 223 players
2002 251 players
2003 238 players
2004 230 players
2005 201 players
2006 210 players
2007 208 players
2008 214 players
2009 162 players
2010 189 players
2011 205 players
2012 194 players
2013 195 players
2014 199 players
2015 227 players

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37 years of the Kilkenny Congress

The first edition was in 1977 and the tournament’s early winners include a veritable who’s who of top Irish players. However in 1994 the Congress moved to another level when it re-badged the Open section as a Masters event. Every year since then, the organisers have invited a group of foreign GMs to spice up the competition for the local stars.

The 2013 Kilkenny Congress has just finished and it seems an appropriate time to update our Kilkenny page, which previously had stopped at 2004 but now it goes all the way up to the present day, including those newly-minted 2013 results. However, we’ve also been digging about in the earlier years too, and can now present results for every one of the 37 editions. For the first 21 one of those we have the leading scorers but from 1998 full final placings are given.

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