Gawain Jones | October 03, 2011 22:03

Galway Congress – A repeat success!

I’ve just returned home from Galway. I believe the last time I played was in 2007 according to the trophy – I managed a win that time too :)

I arrived in Galway on Thursday and played an 18 board simultaneous display at the Galway Bridge club. As is customary in simuls, I had White on all boards and the openings all went pretty well. I was close to scoring the perfect 18 but Oissine Murphy, the younger brother of Dara who I coached a few times back when I was living in Ireland, found a nice idea. I had an extra pawn in a rook and pawn endgame but rushed to create a passed pawn instead of activating my king and Oissine created some mating threats forcing me to take the draw. Congratulations to him!

My fellow team-mate from Ennis, Lorcan O’Toole, kindly put me up in his nice new house that he only completed a couple months ago. Friday I checked in to the Salthill Hotel where the tournament was taking place. With a few hours to kill before the games started in the evening, I took a walk into Galway and took a few photos. I’ll try and upload those as soon as possible. After a couple of detours I finally managed to return to Salthill rather exhausted but happy I’d managed at least a little bit of exercise. I think the roundtrip was roughly 12km which was a good workout.

Onto the chess. First round I had White against Seamus Duffy, a 1900 who I’ve played a couple of times previously. He tried a rather suspicious line of the …Qd6 Scandinavian. I remembered some ideas from a game I’d annotated for Chesspublishing last year and had a winning position after nine moves. Seamus fought on but had to resign after 26 moves.

PGN string


Unusually for an Irish weekender, I had a quiet night with just two beers! The reason? The Rugby World Cup of course! England were playing Scotland at 8.30am in the morning and so I was up early to grab some breakfast first. I won’t dwell on the game here, suffice it to say England definitely didn’t impress but in the end squeezed home and qualified for the Quarter Finals against France next weekend. I’ll be in Iceland for that game but hopefully can find a tv showing it somewhere!

Round Two I played another Ennis team-mate and current captain, Rory Quinn. I arrived twenty minutes late due to the rugby but, luckily for me, Rory had the White pieces and arrived even later. It was a bit unfortunate for him. He was commuting from Ennis, which should be around an hour away but there was a half marathon run on just outside which had closed the road and delayed him. He arrived rather flustered and collapsed quickly. He was already worse straight out of the opening, but blundered on move 13 and resigned instantly.

The quick game meant we had a couple of hours rest before round three. I was paired with Ryan-Rhys Griffiths, a talented junior who recently did well in the British Championships. I decided to follow analysis from my new book in the Bb5+ Sicilian. Ryan was well booked up and repeated the final round game Rendle-Gormally from the British. I had an improvement prepared and quickly won a pawn and converted fairly comfortably.


The Saturday is always tough in Irish weekend tournaments with three games. In the final round of the day I had the hardest possible pairing; Black against the other GM in the field, Alex Baburin. We played a Fianchetto Kings Indian and I played a new idea which I looked at about a year ago. The position erupted into life but Alex successfully navigated the tactics and at move 15 the game was swapping into a drawn endgame and so he accepted my draw offer. A result I was pleased with as Alex is a strong, solid GM and so a draw with Black is never a bad result. It also meant I had an extra ½ point more than him as he drew his round three game with Colm Daly.


There was a bit of drama this round with Ryan and Colm being the last to finish. Colm had equalised very easily in the opening and had been pressing all game. However both sides started to err short on time and the game became very unclear. Colm took control again and forced Ryan to sacrifice the exchange in the endgame. It should have been a win for Black with rook and two pawns against bishop and two pawns but, with both sides playing on the 10 second increment, Colm blundered his rook. Having picked up his king he realised to his horror that his rook was attacked. He tried to get round it by claiming he was simply adjusting his king but the arbiter Gerry Graham stepped in and, after Colm had calmed down, he accepted his loss.


Another fairly early night as Sunday morning was the important Ireland-Italy game! Ireland had scored a notable upset defeating Australia earlier in the competition but still had to beat Italy to advance. After a close first half, Italy suffered an injury to a pivotal prop and fell apart in the second. Meanwhile I had White against the only other player in the section who had travelled over from England, John Merriman. I played the Universal System against the French and he bravely grabbed a slightly poisonous pawn. I was able to get a big time advantage using some analysis I’d had on my computer for a few years. He defended quite well but in the end I crashed through with a kingside attack.


Colm is never far from controversy and again he managed to influence the tournament. After arriving late he disappeared in a complex position against Tony Aherne. We all watched as the 22minutes on his clock ticked away and Tony won on time. I believe Colm later apologised. This meant that Tony rose to 4/5 and was paired with me in the last round. Meanwhile on board two Alex Baburin had White against Alex Lopez who both had 4. Board three saw John Merriman (3.5) with White against Ryan (4).

I played a sideline of the Kings Indian with which I have been very successful. The game was a typical Classical Variation, that’s to say very murky. In the end Tony ran short on time and I successfully broke on the kingside.

PGN string


The two Alexs drew on board two and took 3rd= while Ryan defeated John to take second outright. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Lorcan for putting me up and ferrying me around, Indy and Pete for organising the tournament, Gerry for ensuring the tournament ran very smoothly and the Salthill Hotel for a great venue. Hopefully I’ll be able to return again next year in an attempt to hold on to the trophy! Final thanks have to go to Sue for helping me out with my preparation for round 5; she could remember the theory much better than me!


Gerry Graham wrote a brief report here. This evening the big Irish news is the Topalov simul against their top four players: Alex Baburin, Sam Collins, Alex Lopez and Mark Quinn. The games ought to have been relayed here but it looks as though the relay’s down. Best of luck to all of them anyway and hopefully the games will come out soon.



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Author: Gawain Jones

Gawain Jones is an English chess player and grandmaster.

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