Kilkenny Congress by Gerry Graham

Kilkenny Congress

by Gerry Graham (November 2011)

The annual Kilkenny Chess Congress took place over the weekend of November 25th to 27th in the two venues of The Club House Hotel and Butler House, in the heart of Kilkenny city. This year it attracted it’s largest turnout in many a year, a total of 205 players battled for the 4 titles at stake, 32 in the Masters, 40 in the Major, 59 in the “James Mason” and 74 in the Challengers section. Before continuing with my report, please see a message from Alan Dooley, treasurer of the Kilkenny Chess Congress

“Thank you to all of the 156 players who took the trouble to use the prepayment method of entry. This is immensely helpful in ensuring a punctual start to the Tournament. It also assists in checking rating levels and validating other details and the Kilkenny Tournament is much the better for using prepaid entry in recent years”


Ivan Cheparinov GM, Bulgaria, at Kilkenny

The Masters event was the strongest in years and there were players from England, France, Holland, Bulgaria and, of course, from all over Ireland too. There were 6 GMs, 4 IMs and 3 FMs, the top seed was Bulgaria’s Ivan Cheparinov, ( pictured left ) second to Topalov and rated at 2666

The first round went more or less to seeding with the one games drawn, Hugh Doyle of Cork sharing the point with local FIDE Master, Ryan Rhys Griffiths.

One feature of this year’s event was the transmission of the top two boards in the Masters live on the ICU site and the second round clash of French GM Sebastian Maze Irish IM, Mark Quinn would not have disappointed many of the people watching it live online, it was a great game.

The perennial pairing of Mark Hebden and Alex Baburin happened in round 3 and if you like a really good rook and pawn ending, take a look at this one, it’s a really instructive game.

Three players reached the magical 3 out of 3, Ivan Cheparinov, Gawain Jones and Mark Quinn. The top round 4 clashes included Alex Baburin vs Ivan Cheparinov and early in the game, Alex offered a draw just to see if Ivan was interested in an early evening, after all, three games in 1 day is a lot! Ivan declined the draw which told Alex he was in for a tough evening, as the following game shows

Sebastian Maze GM, France, at KilkennyFabien Libiszewski GM, France at Kilkenny

Our visiting French GMs, Sebastian Maze and Fabien Libiszewski got into the spirit of event and dressed accordingly, Fabien is the one on the bottom.

Ivan Cheparinov was held to a second draw by Gawain Jones, who used a little known line in the KID used by Cheparoniv himself in 2009 against Eljanov, see





Final round pairings:

  • 1. Gawain Jones (4.5 ) – Mark Hebden ( 4.5 )
  • 2. Sebastian Maze ( 4 )- Ivan Cheparinov ( 4 )
  • 3. Alex Baburin ( 3.5 )- Alex Lopez ( 3.5 )
  • 3. Colm Daly ( 3.5 )- Karl McPhillips ( 3.5 )

The final round was a very tense affair with remarkably few draws, the players were all in fighting form. Colm Daly beat Karl McPhilips in the final round on board 4 while the two Alex’s did battle on board 3. These two have played over a dozen times in Irish weekend Masters events and there have been a lot of draws but any wins so far have been for Alex Baburin, and today was no exception, it was a hard fight but Alex Lopez lost.

The board 2 clash of Sebastian Maze and Ivan Cheparinov always looked like being a draw from an early stage but neither player seemed to want to share the point, it was move 50 before peace was declared. But, of course, the real money was being decide on board 1 where Gawain Jones had white against Mark Hebden. Gawain’s FIDE rating has shot up in the past year, he has become a very strong grandmaster. I think his preperation and opening knowledge are a key factor in his strength and I think this game shows this well.

Gawain Jones GM, Kilkenny Masters Champion

Pictured left is Gawain Jones, Kilkenny Masters champion 2011

For full details of the masters event – click here.


The major event is for the stronger club players, those rated over 1600 but not over 2000. This was jointly won by Bartlomiej Cichonski and Henk de Jonge after most of the running in this event had been done by Eamonn Walls but Henk managed to beat Eamonn in the final round. For full details of the major event – click here

James Mason

This is the 1200 to 1600 event named after the famous 19th centuary chessplayer, James Mason, who hailed originally from Kilkenny. Pat Coleman won this event on 5.5/6 with Ben Cullen in second place on 5/6. For full setails on this event, – click here


This section is for those players rated below 1200 and the players without a rating. It was jointly won by Alex Buckley and Suliman Ali, for full details, please click here

Kilkenny 2011 was undoubtly a great success and that’s primarily down to the hard work of the very experienced organising team of Jack Lowry, Maurice Buckley and Alan Dooley, long may they continue to organise this fantastic event.