The 1893 Ulster Championship

The first Ulster Championship had been held as part of the 1892 North of Ireland Chess Congress. The chess column of the Belfast News-Letter for 26th October 1893 announced the imminent arrival of the second Championship:

At the chess tournament held in this city during the autumn of 1892, Mr. E. Robinson, president of the Holywood Chess Club, succeeded in winning the coveted title of Ulster chess champion. He is not, however, to be allowed to hold the trophy (a silver rook) for a lengthened period, without attempts to wrest it from him, and accordingly a contest for the championship will take place in the rooms of the Belfast Chess Club, probably during the second week of November.

On the afternoon of Monday 6th November a preliminary tournament got underway to determine who would be the challenger for Robinson's title. There were five competitors - A. W. Hutton, D. Murray and R. T. Roth of the Belfast Chess Club, William McCrum of Armagh and R. A. Williams of the Holywood Chess Club.

W. McCrum - R. T. Roth
Ulster Championship Preliminary Tournament Belfast, 1893
Annotations by McCrum in the Dublin Evening Mail 30th November 1893]

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1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 d6
An unusual defence; 4...Nf6 is probably best.
5. Nc3 Nf6 6. h3 a6 7. Bd2 Be6 8. Nd5 Nd7 9. f4
Threatening to win the Bishop.
9...Bxd5 10. exd5+ Ne7 11. Nf3 h6 12. Be2 Nf6 13. c4
This weakens the Queen's side considerably, but White was anxious to keep the chance of playing Bh5.
13...g6 14. Bc3 Bg7 15. g4 0-0 16. 0-0-0

Risky, but White trusted to the strength of his attack on the King's side.
16...Re8 17. Qd3 b5 18. g5 bxc4 19. Qxc4 Nh5 20. Bxg7 Kxg7
20...Nxg7 looks better.
21. Qd4+ Kh7 22. Bd3
To stop any danger from Ng3.
22...Ng3 23. gxh6 Kxh6 24. Ng5 Rf8 25. Rhg1 Nef5
A mistake; he should have retreated the other Knight.
26. Qf2 Nh5 27. Bxf5 gxf5 28. Rdf1
With a view to playing Qg2 and Nxf7 winning.
28...Qd7 29. Qh4 f6 30. Re1 Rae8
Evidently he cannot take the Knight.
31. Ne6 Rg8 32. Ref1
Loss of time; he might have played 32.Rg5 at once; with greater advantage if Black declines the sacrifice.
32...c6 33. Rg5

A beautiful sacrifice, gaining a strong advantage, even if Black declines to take the Rook.
33...Qf7 was the only move.
34. fxg5+ Kg6 35. Nf4+ Nxf4
Ruinous. He should have played 35...Kf7 when White plays 36. Qxh5+ Ke7 37. Ne6 Rh8 38. Qg6 Ref8 39. Re1 Qc8 40. Nxf8+ [40. Nc5+ Kd8 41. Qxd6+ Qd7 42. Qxd7# is quicker - DMcA.] 40... Kxf8 41. Qf6+ Kg8 42. Re7 Rh7 43. Qg6+ Kf8 44. Qxh7
36. Qh6+ Kf7 37. Qf6 checkmate 1-0

               H   M   M   R   W  Total
A. W. Hutton   X   0   0   1   1   2.0
W. McCrum      1   X   1   1   0   3.0
D. Murray      1   0   X   1   0   2.0
R. T. Roth     0   0   0   X   0   0.0
A. R. Williams 0   1   1   1   X   3.0

[Crosstable from the Belfast News-Letter for 16th November 1893]

The tournament having resulted in a tie for first place between McCrum and Williams, it was then arranged for them to play a match of 3 games to determine who would meet Robinson for the championship.

McCrum and Williams played two games in their play-off match on the afternoon of Friday 17th November, each player winning a game. The third game commenced the following day and was adjourned and then resumed on Friday 24th November, ending in a draw after 66 moves.

The organising committee then decided that instead of further efforts to break the tie there would be a three-cornered contest between McCrum, Williams and Robinson to decide the destination of the title.

W. McCrum – R.A. Williams
Ulster Championship, Prelimary Tournament play-off match 1893
Annotations by Williams in the Belfast News-Letter 23rd November 1893

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1. Nc3
Mr McCrum remarked on this "Rynd's move."
1... c5 2. e3
Black wanted a Sicilian opening, and White could have safely gratified him with 2.e4.
2... Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. exd4 d5 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bb5
It is not often good play to develop the King's Bishop on the Queen's side in a close opening, and we cannot see that this game forms an exception. Steinitz and Zukertort have both laid it down as an axiom that in such cases the Bishop ought to be played to e2 in order to keep it in connection with both wings.
6... e6 7. Bg5 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 Qb6
In order to make an impression on White's Queen side, but it is not consistently followed out.
10. Qd2 Ne8?
Premature. 10... a6 forcing 11. Bxc6 would have probably been better. 
11. Bxc6 Bxg5 12. Nxg5 Qxc6 13. Qd3 f5 14. Qh3 Nf6 15. Re3
We think this loss of time.
15... h6 16. Nf3 Ng4 17. Ne5 Qb6 18. Nxg4 fxg4 19. Qxg4 e5

20. Qd1
The only move to avoid losing the exchange.
20... Qxd4
20... exd4 would be answered advantageously with the same move as in the text [21. Nxd5]. For if 21... Qc5 then there would follow 22. Ne7+ and if 22... Kh7 23. Qd3+
21. Nxd5 Qxb2 22. Rb3 Qd4 23. Qxd4 exd4 24. Ne7+
This move is now bad. It would have been better to play 24. Rd1 
24... Kh7 25. Nxc8 Raxc8 26. Rb2
26. Rxb7 Rxc2 27. f3 Re8 which would draw at least, and has winning chances.
26... Rc3
Although this move turns out well through defective play on White's part, the Rook should have gone to c7. It may be remarked that Black has really the worse position here on account of the out-of-the-way situation of his King.
27. Kf1 Rfc8 28. Rc1 R8c7 29. Ke2 Rf7 30. Rb3

A mistake! 30. Rf1 was the best reply. 
30... d3+! 31. Kd2 Rxc2+ 32. Rxc2 dxc2 33. Rf3
This simply throws the game away! But even after 33. Kc1 Rxf2 Black has good winning chances.
33... Rxf3 34. gxf3 Kg6
No further comment is necessary, the game henceforth plays itself. 
35. Kxc2 Kf5 36. Kd3 Kf4 37. Ke2 g5 38. h3 b6 39. a4 a6 40. Kd3 Kxf3 41. Kd4 Kxf2 42. Kd5 Kg3 43. Kc6 b5 0-1

W. McCRUM 1.5 - 1.5 R. A. WILLIAMS
The Organising Committee decided both players should qualify for the Final.

While awaiting the three-way battle for the title of Ulster champion, on Thursday 30th November, Robinson gave a simultaneous display against 16 opponents at Holywood Chess Club, where he achieved a score of seven wins, four draws and five losses.

The Belfast News-Letter chess column for 7th Decmber reported:

"Mr Robinson made a strong fight and considering the strength of many of his opponents and the large number opposed to him, the result was exceedingly creditable."

The strength of Robinson's opposition can perhaps be gauged by the fact that one of those with whom he drew was R.A. Williams!

On the 14th December the Belfast News-Letter reported on the final stage of the Championship:

The triangular tournament to decide the chess championship of Ulster commenced on Tuesday, 5th inst., when a game was played between Mr. E. A. Robinson, vice-president of the Holywood Chess Club, and Mr. Wm. H'Crum, Milford Chess Club. The game, a Greco Counter Gambit, was most interesting and ended in a draw. On [the] next day Mr. R. A. Williams (Holywcod C.C.) who is so well known as one of our most able exponents of the royal game, and who by his pen has done yeoman service, met Mr. McCrum. The game was a Sicilian defence, and this also, on the 24th more, ended in a draw. On Friday Mr. Robinson met Mr. Williams. The latter player had the move, and adopted the Ruy Lopez, and this game, after skilful play by both players, was won by Mr. Robinson who, therefore, becomes champion for Ulster and holder of the trophy for the second time. We desire to congratulate Mr. Robinson on the high position he has obtained.

                R   M   W  Total
E. A. Robinson	X   =	1   1.5
W. McCrum       =   X   =   1.0
A. R. Williams  0   =   X   0.5
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