Tournament Finale

Belfast South's Autumn/Winter Tournament reached its finale on Monday night. After 19 weeks of competition it came down to the final week to determine the winner

On the 21st October the club opened its door as host for the 2nd Belfast South Flexible Tournament.

Amazingly, it was only in the autumn of 2013 that Belfast South moved from their Lisburn Road venue to the Bankers Club on the Malone Road. With the success of their tournament & now two teams competing in the Belfast & District League, the club has firmly established themselves in the Ulster chess scene. It seems too the Bankers Club has proved a comfortable fit for the club.

The flexible format is familiar now to local chess players. Belfast South inherited responsibility for the Autumn & Winter competition from Fisherwick and it has flourished in the past couple of years in the capable hands of Neil Green. Throughout this season's competition some 24 players have visited the club on a Monday night to get a game including a brace of young Dutch students. Although members of the host club are well represented in the player's list, competitors from all Belfast clubs have put in an appearance with a few old hands from clubs who no longer compete.

The competition was staged in two parts with a break in the middle for the Christmas holidays. Stretching a full 20 weeks from the October start until the end of March. A range of prizes were on offer to be awarded on performance basis rather than points; this allowed players to commit miss the occasional week without being unduly penalised. Also this year Neil offered prizes for the best games in each of the two sections.

Autumn Section

During the dark evenings of November and December, the competition settled into a steady rhythm of 7 games each week. A good range of competition was available though stronger players tended to appear irregularly. Robert Lavery, fresh from his Intermediate Championship win in the late summer, relished the setup; as Christmas approached Robert had established himself as the front leader with 7 points from his 9 matches. He was on good form besting most of the better rated players available.

Game prize (Autumn series) Robert was also awarded the Best Game title for his match against Martin Kelly.

Winter Section

The tournament kicked off again on 6th January after the Christmas break. Robert Lavery floundered in the New Year dropping the six out of the next 7 games including several where he was the better rated. With Robert out of the running the title was up for grabs; half-a-dozen challengers vied for tournament honours. As the tournament approached its finale Philip Morrison and Bruce McLean looked strong contenders but  the last 3 weeks - during which challengers had to compete in at least 2 games - saw their leads shrink. The tournament outcome would be settled on the final night!

Game prize (Spring series) Martin Kelly was awarded Best Game for his match against Cathal Murphy.

Final Night

Skipping a week for the St. Patrick's festival, the 20th and final week of competition opened early on Monday 24th March. In the hunt were Chris Armstrong, Philip Morrison, Bruce McLean, John Bryars and Ian Woodfield lagging behind with an outside chance. On the night, John failed to show while Philip lost his game to drop out of contention for outright winner. Bruce, Chris and Ian all won their games.

  • outright winner: Bruce McLean (71%)
  • runner-up & upper grading prize: Chris Armstrong (69%)
  • lower grading prize: Philip Morrison (63%)

Ian Woodfield (68%) just missed a prize by a fraction of a point, Philip also scored the most points in the competition from his 19 matches and although Robert Lavery ended up well down the leader board, he was the only player to compete in all 20 weeks of the tournament.

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Standings and matches
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