Target Recruitment Ulster Rapidplay Championship

Belfast 3 December 2000

This was probably the strongest Rapidplay tournament held in Ulster for some time. It attracted a sizeable contingent from Dublin, including former Irish champion Paul Delaney and Ander Gamez, a Spanish player resident in Dublin for the last 2 months, who has a FIDE rating of 2196.

In the Senior section, Paul Delaney was in the sole lead after three rounds after beating Nicholas Pilkiewicz, Stephen Scannell and Tom Clarke, the last of these being a particularly attractive attacking effort. However in Round 4 he over-pressed in a fairly level endgame against the Spaniard Gamez and lost. This meant Gamez was now in the sole lead with 3.5 points but he then lost his Round 5 game - eventually ground down in an endgame by Scannell, who just reached the finishing line before his time ran out. Also in Round 5 Delaney sacrificed a knight against Michael Holmes, followed it with a clever quiet move, forcing Holmes to counter-sacrifice. When the dust had cleared Delaney had rook and two pawns to knight and three pawns, but one of these was a passer. Delaney felt the position was winning for him, while Holmes thought he could hold out for a draw, but in the end Holmes' passed pawn surprisingly proved decisive. The top pairings for the last round were:

Tom Clarke (4.0) - Stephen Scannell (4.0)
Ander Gamez (3.5) - Nicholas Pilkiewicz (3.0)
Michael Holmes (3.5) - Danny Mallaghan (3.0)

Gamez and Holmes both won their games to finish on 4.5, and all eyes were now on the Board 1 game. This was a hard-fought struggle, with little in it either way until the last few minutes of the session, when Clarke's position suddenly collapsed, giving victory and the championship to Scannell.

Senior: 6 round Swiss: 15 competitors:
1. Stephen Scannell 5.0
2=3. Ander Gamez, Michael Holmes 4.5
4. Tom Clarke 4.0
5=8. Paul Delaney, Gerard MacElligott, Paul McLoughlin (under 1950 grading prize), Stephen Morgan 3.5
9=10. Danny Mallaghan, Nicholas Pilkiewicz 3.0
11=12. Gareth Annesley,John Masterson 2.5
13=14. Tony Beckett, Chris Kelly 2.0
15. Brendan Jamison 1.0

In the Junior section, Sean Linton won his first five games. In the final round he was paired against David O'Donnell, the only person who could catch him. O'Donnell pressed hard the entire game, but Linton held firm under the pressure and eventually a draw was agreed; Alex Beckett, who had been in a winning position and with more time on the clock when losing to Linton in Round 4, beat Damien Cunningham to join O'Donnell in second place.

Junior: 6 round Swiss: 18 competitors:
1. Sean Linton 5.5
2=3. Alex Beckett, David O'Donnell 4.5
4=5. Killian Delaney (best schools entrant), Michael Kane (under 1400 grading prize) 4.0
6=8. Louis Holmes, Gerry Collins, Rory Delaney 3.5
9=11. Chris Black, Damien Cunningham, Damien Lavery 3.0
12=14. Adita Bhalla, Geoff Hindley, Jack McCann 2.5
15=16. Colin Fenton, William Storey 2.0
17. Phillip Morrison 1.0
18. Matthew McCaughey 0.0

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