Galway Winter League, Round 1.
Z. Nemeth K. Asyraf J. Rawlinson P. Ward D. Murphy M. O’Donnell P. Morriss D. Piercy A. Kozlovs Z. Drogic A. Barber J. Blackwell I. Danial K. Ryder B. Delee G. Abberton A. Zariq I. Finnerty
The home of chess in Galway
A sizeable contingent from Galway played in the Bunratty Congress last weekend, and most turned in good results.
The best performance was undoubtedly that of Khai Asyraf, in the Major section (1200 – 1600). Khai scored five wins and a draw; the draw was against Dayna Ferguson, who also won her other five games, so the two of them tied for first place. At Bunratty when there is a tie there is a blitz play-off for the title, so Khai had to play Danya in front of a watching audience of perhaps a hundred critical chess players. Undaunted, Khai won an excellent game, with a slashing sacrificial attack. At the prize-giving ceremony, Grand Master Raymond Keene described Khai’s game as of higher quality than the blitz play-off for the Masters title between Grand Masters Gawain Jones and Sergey Tiviakov – which is high praise indeed. So Galway has produced yet another champion (with a little help from Kuala Lumpur, where Khai was until six months ago).
For a long time it looked as if there would also be a Galway winner in the Minor section (under 1200), when Andrejs Kozlovs started out with five straight wins, putting him in outright first place with one round to go. Unfortunately he had a mishap in the last round, losing a won position against the eventual winner, and so Andrejs had to settle for third prize. Nevertheless, to win any prize at all in a section with so many strong and under-rated juniors is an outstanding achievement.
Khai and Andrejs were our two prize-winners, but there were more excellent results that didn’t quite win a prize.
In the Challengers section (1600 to 2000), Denis Ruchko scored 4½ points, coming forth equal, and thus just missing out on an overall prize (as there were only prizes for the top three) and also on a rating prize (on the narrowest of tie-breaks). Our other entrants also all did well and finished above their expected placing: Zalan Nemeth finished with 4 points, and Jason Rawlinson and Pete Morriss both scored 3½.
In the Major section, there were other good results in addition to Khai’s. Noteworthy here was Andrew Barber, who went through the tournament undefeated on 3½ points; Paul Ward also achieved the same score. Even more worthy of praise was Kynesha Ryder, who scored 3/6, despite being the lowest-rated player in the section. The rating points gained here should consolidate her in over-1200 sections from now on – and then it’s just a matter of continuing to climb. Eamonn Abberton also finished on 3 points, recovering from a somewhat ropey start. Ger Abberton, on the other hand, started strongly, but it seemed to go to his head as he only managed 2 points; it didn’t help that he came up against his brother in the last round.
In the Minor section it looked at one point as if we might have two prize-winners as in round 5, when Andrejs was winning on top board, Bill Delee was on board two. Bill, however, faded a bit on the Sunday, ending with a creditable 4 points but out of the prizes. Also on 4 points was Ian Finnerty, who, like Andrew, had the achievement of going through the tournament undefeated. Other Galway players in this section were Marek Fijalkowski who hasn’t played for a while but came back strongly with 3½ points; Zoran Dragic (playing in his first weekend tournament) who finished comfortably with 3; and Andrew Finnerty, who started with two fine wins, but then unfortunately couldn’t add to his score.
If there’s anybody else I’ve carelessly left out, please email us or post here and we’ll include you here.