The Time Traveller - Dublin -v- Belfast 1929

First published in the Ulster Chess Chronicle in March 2004

Dublin -v- Belfast 1929
by David McAlister

On Saturday 2nd March 1929 a party of 21 Belfast players travelled to Dublin to take on their Dublin counterparts in a friendly encounter. The Belfast News-Letter for the following Monday reported on the result of the match.

"For the fourth time the chess players of the two Irish capitals have had a trial of strength, and on this occasion the Dublin men secured a decisive victory, completely restoring their prestige after their last two defeats. The score in matches is now two for each city, but the number of won games is seven in favour of Dublin. These tests are not quite satisfactory, for the train arrangements do not give sufficient tome for play, and too many games are left to be adjudicated. With only a few minutes for their work, the adjudicators must award a draw unless a win can be clearly demonstrated. Given time to finish, some of those games might have resulted differently.

The Belfast players travelled by the 10-15 train on Saturday morning, and on arrival were entertained to lunch in the Red Bank Restaurant, where most of the games were played. It was after 2-30 when play started, and, at best, only about two and a half hours were available for play, while those who had to go to Lincoln Place had little more than two hours.

At the top board the old rivals, Baker and O'Hanlon, again met. The latter had white, and played the Ruy Lopez, which Baker met with the Steinitz defence. A very lively game resulted, white temporarily losing a piece for a pawn. Later on he regained the piece, and being then two pawns up, pushed his advantage home to victory."

O'Hanlon (Belfast) - Baker (Dublin) Board 1
[Source: Belfast News-Letter Thursday 14th March 1929]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bd7 6.Nc3 a6 7.Bxc6 bxc6 8.0–0 Be7 9.f4 Nf6 10.e5 Nd5 11.Qf3 Nxc3 12.Nxc6 Ne2+ 13.Kh1 Bxc6 14.Qxc6+ Kf8 15.Be3 dxe5 16.fxe5 Rb8 17.Qxa6 Qd5 18.Qxe2 Qxe5 19.Qc4 f6 20.Bd4 Qd6 21.Bc3 Qc5 22.Qe4 Bd6 23.Rf5 Qb6 24.Raf1 Re8

Diagram O'Hanlon - Baker 1929

White now announced mate in three moves.
25.Rxf6+ gxf6 26.Rxf6+ Kg8 27.Qg4# 1–0

"At the second board Cranston played the Queen's Gambit, which black declined, adopting the Cambridge Springs defence. Play was very complicated for some time, and black came out with a slight advantage, but a draw was agreed to."

Cranston (Dublin) - Allen (Belfast) Board 2
[Annotations from the Belfast News-Letter for Thursday 7th March 1929]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.Nf3 c6
The Cambridge Springs Defence, which at least gives Black a definite objective.
6.e3 Qa5 7.Bxf6 Nxf6 8.Nd2 Bb4 9.Qc2 0–0 10.Bd3 Re8 11.0–0 e5
Black was determined, even at some risk, to make an opening for his Bishop to get out.
12.dxe5 Rxe5 13.cxd5
Played to give Black an isolated pawn, which he manages to avoid.
13...Bxc3 14.Nc4 Qxd5 15.Rad1 Qe6 16.bxc3
White kept up the threat of Bxh7+ but he cannot play it yet for if 16.Bxh7+ Nxh7 17.Rd8+ and the Black Knight can interpose.
16...Rh5 17.Be2 Rd5 18.Rxd5 cxd5
Played to gain a move to bring out the Rook, but 18...Nxd5 was much better and would have given Black a still stronger position for the end game.
19.Nd2 Bd7 20.Qb3 Bc6 21.Nf3 Ne4 22.Nd4 Qe8 23.Qb4 a5 24.Qb2 Nd6 25.Bd3 Nc4 26.Qe2 b5 27.Rb1 Rc8 1/2-1/2

"The Thomas-Doyle game was a hard struggle. White advanced his RP rather unwisely, and black turned this much to his own account that at close of play he claimed a win. The adjudicators were not quite satisfied, and awarded a draw. On the other hand, at board 12 the Belfast player was a piece up at the finish, but as his movements were somewhat restricted, the win, which seemed possible, was not allowed. At board 4 O'Hagan at one time looked like losing, but, luckily, had so far improved matters before the close that he was awarded a draw. A draw was also the decision at board 18, where the Belfast player had what looked like a winning attack.

J.W. Carey with his favourite Ruy Lopez secured a good win against T.P. Kane, and the other win for Belfast was secured by R.M. Steele. The three wins for Belfast were thus all secured by members of Strandtown Club. The final score was:- Dublin 13.5, Belfast 7.5, the individual results being as follow :-

1	J. J. O'HANLON		1:0		P. BAKER
2	W. J. ALLEN		1/2		T. G. CRANSTON
3	H. THOMAS		1/2		J. J. DOYLE
4	J. O'HAGAN		1/2		P. W. WHELAN
5	J. W. CAREY		1:0		T. P. KANE
6	F. H. PURDY		0:1		C. J. BARRY
7	A. L. DAVIES		0:1		P. J. LARACY
9	"ALPHA" 		0:1		R. T. VARIAN
11	H. W. CALVERT		0:1		A. A. McDONAGH
13	H. GILL 		1/2		A. FALKINER
14	H. LEVY 		0:1		H. McILWAINE
15	H. C. LOVE		1/2		S. A. FRENCH
17	R. M. STEELE		1:0		"CU ULADH"
20	H. S. YEOMANS		0:1		A. E. BEVAN
21	E. GORDON		0:1		G. R. HILL

After tea, Professor Thrift said he had been asked to express, on behalf of the Dublin chess players, their pleasure at having a Belfast team with them again, and their additional pleasure that the result of the match had been in favour of Dublin. They also wished to take advantage of that meeting between Belfast and Dublin players to present the shield and medals in connection with the recent championship tournament. He requested Lord Dunsany, president of the Irish Chess Union, to make the presentation.

Lord Dunsany explained that the shield and medals were for the All-Ireland Championship of 1927-1928. It was good to know, he said, that although Ireland had been labelled by new names, an All-Ireland still existed, and Mr. Baker was champion of it. The troubles and divisions of chess did not enter into chess, which remained as it was hundreds of years ago. He had also a chess-board and set of Staunton men to present to Mr. Reynolds, the winner of the major tournament, and a cheque to give to Mr. Varian, the winner of the second prize. The last check he had given Mr. Varian was five years ago, when he had won his queen with it. He congratulated the winners.

The prizes were then handed over and acknowledged.

Mr. Baker said he was proud to have the Shield, and would do his best to keep it, although he knew there were some gentlemen present who had designs on it.

Mr. Varian agreed that his was the second cheque he had received form his Lordship, and all he would say now was that he (Mr. Varian) had been unable to meet the first one. (Laughter.)

On behalf of the Belfast players. Mr. H. Thomas expressed their sense of the great kindness and hospitality of their Dublin hosts. The laws of hospitality, he said, did not require that they should allow the visitors to win. Each city had now won two matches, but this was the biggest victory that had yet been secured. However, the next match would be in Belfast, and they would be prepared to give the Dublin men a warm reception.

The Belfast team left for home by the 6-40 p.m. train."

Dunsany (Dublin) - Manderson (Belfast) Board 8
[Annotations from the Belfast News-Letter for Monday 4th March 1929]

1.d4 c6 2.e4
Perhaps the best way of meeting Black's unusual first move would be 2.c4 and if 2...d5 it becomes a well-known variation.
2...d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.f4 e6 5.Nf3 Nd7 6.Bd3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 Ne7 8.0–0 Nf5 9.c3 c5 10.Be3 Qb6 11.b3 Nxe3 12.Qxe3 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc5
The Knight, of course, cannot be taken, but, as it does not threaten anything, it is really a wasted move. 14.Nc3 Na6 15.Qe2 Nc7 16.Rac1 Be7 17.Qd3 0–0 18.Ne2 Qb5
The offer of the exchange of Queens at this stage leads to the loss of a pawn.
19.Qxb5 Nxb5 20.a4 Na3 21.Rc7 Bd8 22.Rxb7 Bb6 23.b4
23.a5 might have been played at once, for if 23...Bxa5 24.Ra1 would win a piece.
23...Nc4 24.a5 Bd8 25.Rc1
Possibly White might have retained the pawn by playing 25.Rb1 at this stage.
25...Re8 26.Nc3 Re7 27.Rxe7 Bxe7 28.Na2 Rb8 29.Ne1
If 29.Rb1 now 29...Nxa5 and Black would likely win.
29...Bxb4 30.Rb1 Bd6 31.Rxb8+ Bxb8 32.a6 Bc7 33.Nb4 Bb6 34.Nc6 Kf8 1/2-1/2
Though a draw was agreed to, Black has a distinct advantage. White would find it very difficult to defend the advanced pawn, and if it fell the game would be over for him.

Click here to play through the three games in our game viewer

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