I made my first visit to the Bunratty event at it’s 19th edition, this was more my fault than theirs as I have been invited on a few other occasions. The once mighty weekend circuit in the UK is at a pretty low ebb at the moment and a number of the most interesting events take place across the Irish Sea. The generous support of Gary O’Grady and his company Blackthorne International Transport made for a fomidable field. With no FIDE rating points at stake I experimented a bit with my openings – rather more work required I’m afraid!

The games went by in a blur, after rather too good a Saturday night my first encounter with Nigel got off to an ugly start as I was forced to fianchetto my knight although I was pressing by the end. I finished with a win in the last round leaving Nigel, Gawain and myself tied on 5/6 drawing our individual games (spare a thought for the players who finished 4= for no prizemoney). The top 2 players played off for the title (Nigel and I) although if a tiebreak is considered reliable enough to decide this you might as well use it to declare a winner. Admittedly there was only the trophy and title at stake. The tiebreak games were 5 mins without increment sudden death. The generous number of live games was a positive feature of the event but for some reason the playoff games didn’t go out live.

My second game with Nigel was no prettier, I had White and ran into big trouble, facing a substantial material disadvantage but with the clock ticking relentlessly trying to avoid perpetual check my opponent erred and the material advantage reversed as I picked up a rook. Almost immediately we liquidated into a trivial 3v1 pawn ending and it was only a question of whether I could give mate with the time remaining.
The game proceeded until I gave mate (Nigel had no mating material remaining some time before ), at this stage my clock was showing zero (I think Nigel was also at zero on his clock at this point although it was clear my time elapsed first) so the result was a bit unclear. I thought I had won (although I wasn’t sure) as Nigel made no claim about the clock until after I had delivered mate which I had an idea concluded the game, I’m not sure at exactly the precise moment the clock ticked down to 0.00. Nigel also seemed uncertain as to what the correct outcome was and asked the arbiter to make a ruling.
The arbiter enquired as to whether we wanted to agree a result which seemed a bit odd, and then established not altogether surprisingly that I was hoping for a win and Nigel a
draw. He then declared the game should be a draw as my time had elapsed before mate was given.
I thought in that case he should have called the time forfeit when it occurred rather than waiting and then asking the players to agree a result first. He suggested I appeal the decision but that didn’t seem much in the spirit of the tournament. However I am a bit curious as to exactly what the rules say in such a situation.

Ray Keene asked me to try to reconstruct the games for the Times, my best recollection of the second game is below:

Ironically, for the Sunday night blitz with no prizes at stake the organisers reverted to a 3 min+ 2 sec increment!

Anyway it was great to get back to Ireland again and reminded me that a visit to one of my other favourite weekenders, Kilkenny, is long overdue.