Autobiography

The following is a summary of Alan's chess career up to about 1996 based on correspondence sent around that time

Roots

My mother's side of the family are 100% Ulster for over 200 years. My father's is mostly unknown but his father was from Dublin. I spent my youth around High Wycombe in Bucks., with summer holidays at my grandparents in Newcastle, Co. Down.

I learnt chess from the boy next door at about age 9. It was at grammar school that I joined the chess club and became hooked. Once picked I never missed a school match and was board 1 for 3 years. But the local standard was low and in the Sunday Times event we never got far.

First Class Champion

From an early age I was good at maths (and not much else). Expert tuition got me to Cambridge, which developed my chess enormously. I won the British U-21 title (jointly) a month after getting a first class degree. Definitely a high point. From Cambridge I went to Leeds for a Ph.D., then to Manchester as a temporary lecturer. Finally came my first (and last) permanent job at Edge Hill college, Ormskirk, near Liverpool.

Return to Ireland

During this period I played a mass of chess - leagues, county matches, British Championships qualifiers, weekend congresses - mostly in northern England. The idea of playing in Ireland had been in my mind for some time and in 1975 I took the plunge (Leeds to Manchester to Liverpool seemed an omen). I was amazed to succeed at my first attempt. Three wins in 4 years followed. A second high point.

Olympiads

Between 1976 and 1988, I played in 5 olympiads for Ireland. These I found exciting, chaotic and at times depressing (up one round, down the next). But somewhere here I stopped improving and results levelled off. I believe the reason is that I never found a way of studying chess that worked for me. Playing gives an adrenaline surge that maths can't, but chess study seems boring.

At the Malta Olympiad I was picked to play board 3. In the first round I sat down and played several moves against a GM. Suddenly the game was stopped: a slip of the pen had put me on board 4 on the team list. I restarted against a different GM and remained on board 4 in future olympiads.

In 1986 the olympiad selectors decided to make the Irish Championships a team selection event. In round 3 I met Keith Allen (both of us on 1½/2). I lost in 166 moves with R v R + B, played at 20 per hour over several days, a marathon game. The 50 move rule had recently been extended to 100 moves for this ending, computers having found winning chances. Later, further analysis cancelled these chances and the extension was dropped. I lost 91 moves after the last capture.

Married with two Kids

Since marriage and 2 kids, I have taken to correspondence chess. The IM title came in 94 and my rating is now 2510. Being forced to study positions for days on end has filled gaps in my knowledge and I feel another high point is achievable.

My Chess Style

I rarely play brilliant games, unless to refute an unsound attack. I prefer simple positional play and exchanging pieces. I have chosen two games from the 1978 Irish Championship which are illustrative of my positional style and the openings I use. The first is against Philip Short from round 6 where he blundered after having to defend for a long time. The second is against Michael Littleton from round 8.

At the start of round 8 I was half a point in the lead but Eugene Curtin won his game and went into the lead himself. I would have been content just to draw with Michael, knowing I would probably get the white pieces in the last round, but he made a mistake on move 27. The finish looks good but it was all adjournment analysis. There was a two hour break after move 40 during which I sat alone in a corner analysing with a pocket set. The next day I agreed a draw when the position became unclear in time trouble but Eugene also drew so I was Champion.

News
The Belfast Megafinal took place on 11th May 2024 We are fortunate to be able to run the Belfast Megafinal where players can qualify for the Delancey Chess Challenge and ... Jun 17, 2024
Annual General Meeting 2024 2023/2024 season is rapidly coming to a close and with this comes the announcement of the UCU’s Annual General Meeting... Jun 15, 2024
The Ulster Fischer Random Championship took place on Sunday 2nd June. With 7 rounds of 20mins and 5 sec increments. Each round having a different starting position. We were on to see who wou... Jun 09, 2024
June 2024 FIDE NI rating report By Brendan Jamison May 31, 2024
Fantastic Chess Top prize money and a Brilliant Chess Tournament the City of Belfast 2024 The excellent surrounds of the Civil Service Pavilion played host to the Ulster Chess Union City of Belfast 2024. With s... May 27, 2024
More news…
« June 2024 »
June
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30
Upcoming Events
FIDE RATED Bangor Towerview Teen Challenge Charity Blitz 2024 Jul 25, 2024 07:00 PM - 11:00 PM — Towerview Church Hall, 47 Towerview Crescent, Bangor, BT19 6BA, Northern Ireland
The Citi Belfast Charity Rapidplay 2024 FIDE rated rapidplay tournament at Citi Offices on Thursday 1st August Round 1 starts at 7:30pm. All monies being donat... Aug 01, 2024 07:00 PM - 10:30 PM — Citi, Gateway Offices, 60 Sydenham Rd, Belfast BT3 9DP.
Simul at Bangor Further details to follow Aug 08, 2024 07:30 PM - 10:30 PM — 47 Tower Crescent, Bangor, BT19 6BA
FIDE RATED Bangor Towerview Teen Challenge Charity Rapid 2024 Aug 15, 2024 07:00 PM - 11:00 PM — Towerview Church Hall, 47 Towerview Crescent, Bangor, BT19 6BA, Northern Ireland
Ulster Championships 2024 : FIDE Rated 6 rounds at 90mins + 30secs. 3 sections. The top Ulster Competition. FIDE Rated. Aug 24, 2024 - Aug 26, 2024 — Queens University, South Dinning Hall, University Rd, Belfast, BT7 1NN
Upcoming events…