Isolated Pawns

A presentation by Ray Devenny, August 2005 in the UCU Master Class series

The session started with Ray being asked questions from the audience.

How did you start in chess?

I started late I was 16 years old and had no interest in chess. However some of my friends at Coleraine Inst wanted to setup a chess club. The headmaster Dr Humphries explained that they needed ten signatories to start a club. I signed up - the next thing was that they expected me to turn up! I turned up and caught the bug. We were all roughly the same level - no one good to teach us. Joined the local club at Coleraine - Mr McKane. Became the school champion and won the school v staff competition.

(learnt later from Ron Henderson that he had help start the Coleraine club - small world)

We missed out from having a strong player to coach us or to play against. Went onto Trinity College Dublin where shock, surprise I wasn't the strongest player.

What have been the most enjoyable moments in your chess career?

Winning the school championships. This was my first triumph. Psychologically it was good It was a prestigious thing to win and my first achievement. Next has to be winning the Irish Championships in 1977.

What do you put this great achievement down to?

Luck! The best players are consistent all the time. They train and 'indoctrinate'. Most players are good from time to time. I had my fair share of luck. My highest rating was 2,200 - possibly a little low for the Irish Champion. In 76, 78 I was expecting a result. Hadn't planned to play in the 77 Irish had played in a Belfast tournament and done abysmally. Arthur Pinkerton called and asked if I was going to Cork, If I was would I look after a couple of youngsters who wanted to play and needed a lift and looking after - two of these were David Houston and Keith Allen. So changed mind to help out. Set off in my car and came back loaded with trophies! Did I study - yes, independently on my own.

What is your favourite chess book?

My first book. Chess Traps, Pitfalls and Swindles by Fred Reinfeld. Not always the easiest to read but an enjoyable book. You learn more in one hour of play with a strong player than you do studying.

What are your views on the Ulster Chess Union and junior chess?

Good question. Worried with the general circumstances with the split from the Irish Chess Union. Chess not strong in Ulster. Teachers face difficulties from the pressures of work. You need the impetus to play chess and this in the past has come from enthusiastic chess teachers like Brian Thorpe. Teachers go for high profile sports - Rugby, football. You need a higher profile for chess. Publicity, sponsorship. TV and radio. Also intensive training sessions. The sad thing is that girls' chess in Ulster is non-existent.

Example Games & Positions: used to illustrate the presentation

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