30.3.10

Discovering Ireland



Cork (or Corcaigh in Irish) is Ireland’s second largest city. It is situated on the south of the country with a population of approximately 120 000 people. The town is known as the “Rebel County” since 1491 when the local supported the English Pretender Perkin Warbeck. These are things that I learned from Wikipedia, but when I arrived here everything appeared to be true, and confirmed by my new friends. Corkonians also refer to the city as the real capital of Ireland.
Some months ago I got an invitation to take part in the annual Cork Chess Congress that takes place 26-28 March. But before that the organizer of the event Michael Bradley invited me for a joint simultaneous exhibition (together with Bogdan Lalic) on 24 March and a lecture on the next day. I picked up the theme “Discovered Attack, methods and patterns”.
In the foyer of the Gresham Metropole hotel I meet Bogdan Lalic. The Croatian-born GM currently lives in London. He has just bought a new camera, and asks me a few things about how ho handle it. In the meanwhile Michael Bradley comes and picks us to the City Hall where the simultaneous exhibition will take place. He is in good mood, and he is anxious for he is participating, too. Some of the players did not appear on time, so we decided to give a joint simultaneous. I start the simul, and Bogdan makes the second move. This is fun as we do not always understand the ideas of the other. The City Hall is open during the whole event, and while we are playing some people come to watch. One of them tells me that he is working for the BBC, and he is here to cover some economical news. However, when he saw the door opened he decided to have a glance and see what happens. Pity he did not come earlier, he was really willing to take part.
We have some wins, and a couple of draws, and finally there are two boards left. One of it we still manage to win, but the last man standing, a young fellow plays flawlessly, and takes away two GM scalps in one go. His name is Kieran O’Riordan, nice Irish name, and he is one of the best juniours in the area. His results improved the last couple of years, and he is now rated around 1750. Do not get misled by the low ratings, people here have very few rated events and the Elo factor lacks dynamics.
We have some free time between the chess events to visit the most remarkable places in the area. The main street in Cork, St. Patrick’s is one of those. We also have a famous English Market, beautiful park, nutritious Irish breakfast (sausages, bacon, beans, eggs, some more meat and tomatoes- a great stuff to start an eventful day). Corkonians are also proud producers of Beamish and Murphy’s Irish stout. This is something that makes the whole country worth a visit, as well as the size of the pint-it is 568 ml, not the conventional half liter…
Some ten miles away from Cork is situated the harbour of Cobh (pronounced Kov), the second largest harbour in the world. It was also known as Queenstown once (after Queen Victoria). It was the last place where Titanic stopped before it went to the journey with no return, and there is still a small museum of the lost ship. Some years later the tragedy repeated with the sinking of the ship Lusitania, when more than thousand people could not be saved.
The town saw many immigrants leaving the green Ireland to find their luck in new places, such as the USA, and Australia. Although the population of Ireland is about 4.5 million, many more millions have moved to other countries and established there.
The Cork chess club is situated very near to the Gresham Metropole hotel where the tournament will take place. It was founded some twenty years ago, and has approximately eighty members from young children till eighty-year experienced players.
The tournament starts on Friday, there will be six rounds, and the top seeded player is the Irish situated GM Alex Baburin.

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