Galway - Ireland
The 2009 Galway Chess Congress took place in the beginning of October in Galway (Ireland).
The Salthill Hotel was a fantastic venue for this yearly chess tournament in Galway, hosting a few hundred people in the Masters, Major and Minor sections (separated by ranking).
The Masters section was as expected won by GM Alex Baburin of Kilkenny, beating John Merriman, the somewhat surprising leader on the last round, to take the title by half a point.
Hats off to two local young chess players Oissine Murphy and Mark Monahan for winning the Major and Minor sections respectively.
Full report by the Galway Chess Club here: http://galwaychess.net/congress09/
Personally, having last played a full slow chess tournament in 2000 or 2001, I was happy to test my skills (or lack thereof) in the Master section, and my final position in the middle of the table proved I'm not as rusty as I feared, but definitely more rusty than I hoped.
I have to say, 15+ hours of chess in the same weekend (9 of which in the same day) are exhausting. I'm not a young man anymore!
Pedro Q - Anthony Fox 1/2-1/2 (couldn't force a breakthrough in a slightly advantageous position)
Paul Kiely - Pedro Q 1-0 (sadly tried to force a win in an endgame one pawn up, and ended blundering and losing material in severe time trouble)
Pedro Q - Paul Carey 1-0 (this time my opponent tried to force a win in a balanced position, leading to his errors in time trouble)
Justin Daly - Pedro Q 0-1 (lovely attacking game which we'll see next)
Pedro Q - Dave Murray 0-1 (greed was my downfall in a game I wasted opening advantage - and threw potential grading prize away)
Lorcan O'Toole - Pedro Q 1/2-1/2 (quick draw against a "neighbour")
So in the 4th round, as black, I got a considerable advantage but due to a few imprecisions allowed my opponent a tactical series of moves that required precision:
26. Nxe5 Qg1+!
27. Rd1 Qe3+
28. Kb1 dxe5
29. Qxe5+ Kd8
30. Qb8+ Bc8
31. Rxd7+ Kxd7
32. Qb5+! Kc7 (black will prove there's no perpetual check)
33. Qe5+ Kb6!
34. Qd6+ Kb5!!
Since the Rf8 is untouchable due to the mate (and 35. c4+ bxc4 doesn't change a thing) white soon capitulated.
In the 5th round, a win would make me the main contender for a grading prize, but greed was my downfall:
White's pieces are more active despite the potential imprecision earlier of moving the LSB to d3 instead of e2. In this position, several routes keep the advantage, but I had to choose the one that doesn't:
14. dxe5 (15.Be2 +=) dxe5
15. Nc7? (The proof of the pudding is in the tasting, so I get my deserved punishment. 15. Be2 or 15. Nbd4 would both be += ) d4!
16. Nxe8 Qxe8
17. e4? (oh no, should have castled when I had the chance, now black comes in through the several gaps in my defense) Nd5!
18. Bd6 Nc3
19. Rxc3 dxc3
20. Bxe5 Bxe5
21. h3?! (22. 0-0 was possibly slightly better, but the game is decided anyway) Bxf3
22. Qxf3 Qa4! (Dave plays the position with precision, never allowing me to consolidate the position in what I hoped could become an opposite-color-bishop endgame)
23. Qe2 Rb8
24. 0-0 (too late now) Rb2
25. Qg4 Qc6
26. f4 Bd4+
27. Kb2 c2
28. Qh4 (last attempt at a tactical blow) Bf6 (ooops, didn't work!)
Stay tuned here on Viriatovich Chess for more reports on Chess Tournaments in Ireland!