Last weekend a good contingent of Galway players took part in the Bunratty Congress – the largest and most prestigious in Ireland.
Our star performer was undoubtedly Khai Asyraf, who won the Major section (1200-1600) for the second year in a row. Last year he won five games and drew one, and then had to win the title in a blitz play-off with the person he had drawn with; but this time he won with six straight wins, finishing a clear point ahead of the field. It is very rare for anybody to win a Bunratty section in consecutive years, and it is also very rare to win a section with 6/6, so Khai may well have achieved a unique feat.
Second in this section was Andrejs Koslovs, who lost to Khai and won his five other games; Andrejs would doubtless have won the Galway Player of the Tournament award in most other years. Last year Andrejs came (joint) third in the Minor section (under 1200); it is a huge step up from the under-1200 to under-1600 section, so to dominate it the way that Andrejs did in his first year is remarkable.
Other results were as follows.
The very strong top section (over 2000) contained two players who have been members of Galway Club in the recent past, but have had to leave Galway in search of employment elsewhere. Gabor Horvath scored an excellent 3 points, only being beaten by the very experienced Grandmaster Bogdan Lalic and Irish number two, International Master Sam Collins; and Gerardo Artola scored a highly commendable 2 points.
In the second section (1600-2000), our best performer was Keegan O’Mahoney, on 4 points. (Keegan has also left Galway to work elsewhere but as he joined the club earlier this season he is still technically a member.) Michael O’Donnell was next best with 3½ (which gained him quite a few rating points), Denis Ruchko and Pete Morriss both got 3 points, and Jason Rawlinson 2½ .
In the Major section (1200-1600), in addition to Khai and Andrejs, Paul Ward scored 4 points and Ger Abberton 2½, both gaining rating points in so doing.
Finally, in the under-1200 section, Bill Delee came seventh with 4½ points (becoming yet another Galway player to gain a lot of rating points), Andrew Finnerty, David Piercey, and Ian Finnerty all scored 3½, Zoran Dragic 2½, and Marek Fijalkowski 2.
The next tournament is the Galway Congress, when hopefully even more Galway players will shine.