Irish Championship 1947 | IRLchess


The Irish Championship 1947 was held in Cork, for the first time ever, at the C.C.Y.M.S. Hall in Castle Street. The event was structured as a 14-player all-play-all, with the provincial unions each nominating three players, and with another place for the defending champion. In the event, the defending champion Barney O’Sullivan played instead in the Hilversum Zonal. Leinster nominated a replacement, and, perhaps to avoid a bye, a fifth Leinster player was included.

This was only the second Irish championship since the event resumed after the war, and the only former champion competing was John O’Hanlon, 71 years old. He had played in 20 previous championships, whereas the rest of the field combined had competed in 11.

The Leinster contingent consisted of O’Hanlon, Paddy Duignan (Irish Civil Service champion), Warwick Nash of Athlone (a veteran, along with O’Hanlon and William Minnis, of the previous Olympiad, Buenos Aires 1939, and twice previously Irish correspondence champion), Dónal J. O’Sullivan (who would go on to win three championships), and John Casey of Rathmines, the 1944 Leinster champion, who seems to have been a late addition to the event.

Munster nominated Austin Bourke (a future Irish champion, then working at Shannon Airport), John C. Hickey of Templemore (North Munster champion 1947, and another former Irish correspondence champion), and Con O’Leary of the host club (South Munster champion 1947).

Ulster nominated A. L. Davies (Ulster champion in 1944), G. A. Kearney, and William Minnis (of the Olympiad 1939 team, and Ulster champion in 1939 and 1945).

Connacht nominated Pat Diskin, Frank Killeen, and (Dr.) Michael O’Donnell (Connacht champion).

(There is a link with the previous post: John C. Hickey emigrated a couple of years after this event, and spent over twenty years in Singapore and Malaya, before returning to Ireland. He played board 1 for Phibsboro in the Armstrong Cup 1980-81.)

Paddy Duignan was on form, and won his first six games in succession. Adjournments clouded the issue though: the first session for outstanding adjournments came after round 7. Dónal O’Sullivan also won his first six games once his adjournments were eventually played out. O’Sullivan lost to Bourke in round 8, but the event was thrown wide open with Duignan’s loss to Nash in round 9. This left Duignan and O’Sullivan sharing the lead on 7½, with Bourke and Nash on 7, at the end of play on Friday, though again these were the scores after all adjournments had been played out.

The crucial day was the Saturday, with rounds 10 and 11. In the morning, O’Sullivan and Bourke each lost, to O’Leary and O’Donnell respectively, and Nash drew against Davies, while Duignan beat Kearney. The critical game happened that evening, when Duignan played O’Sullivan, with Duignan eventually prevailing in an ending. This left Duignan on 9½, with Nash on 8½ and Bourke, O’Hanlon, and O’Sullivan a further point back on 7½, again after resolution of adjournments.

After the rest day, Duignan won his round 12 game against Killeen, and could afford to draw against Diskin, who finished last, in the last round, to finish on 11/13, a full point and a half ahead of Nash in second, with O’Sullivan third. Bourke and O’Hanlon shared fourth place on 8½. This was Duignan’s only Irish championship.

Only one game survives from the event, the round 9 game between Duignan and Nash, Duignan’s only loss. There was a mystery here: the game was available in the ICU games archive, but strangely it did not show up in any searches of newspaper archives; where did it come from? David McAlister has traced it to the second batch of games he sent in 2004 to Mark Orr for “TICAbase”, an early predecessor of the ICU games archive, and has even provided his original notes of the game and annotation. In those days before newspaper archives could be searched online, tracking down information and games required painstaking and seriously time-consuming work in libraries with microfilm records.

Duignan - Nash, Irish Championship 1947
Duignan – Nash, Irish Championship 1947
15. ?

In the diagrammed position, 15. Qb3 Qd7 16. Qxb7 O-O would leave chances about equal. Instead Duignan blundered with 15. Nc4? and was surprised by 15… Nxe4!, threatening mate. Objectively Black was then winning, but over the next few moves both players missed the strongest continuations. Nash emerged an exchange and two pawns up, but then ran short of time and permitted a three-fold repetition. Duignan missed his chance to claim the draw, and resigned a few moves later.

[Click to replay the full game.]

A full report has been added to the Tournament pages here.


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