One of the more interesting books in the club library actually contains snippets of club history going back 30 years…
The book is a treasure trove of past club championships, past Leinster championships and past club nights. The very first page is a sign-in list from the club night on the 15th of September 1982 (a Wednesday, of course). Of the 25 players who turned up on the night, four have played in the leagues for St Benildus in the past 12 months. Back then, club fees were 50p a night for adults and 20p a night for students. This, incidentally, is back before there even was such a thing as a 20 pence piece. It’s also before St Benildus Chess Club, technically, which was only a schools club until 1989. The better school players joined Dundrum Chess Club to play the Leinster leagues, and I presume the book started out as a Dundrum Chess Club item.
The book falls into disuse from 1984 – when it’s noted that we have 7 new Jerger chess clocks, one of which was already broken; nothing changes! I think the last one was thrown out earlier this year – and is picked up again in 1991, when St Benildus and Dundrum merged. Possibly to celebrate the occasion, Gerry gave what seems to have been the first of an annual simul challenge. Taking on 19 players, he gave up two draws and three defeats – Brendan Lyons, Stephen Duff and Mark Jeffares were the victors, while Mark Webb (who passed away last year) and Dermot O’Connell drew. Eddie Gahan was among those who lost. Home phone numbers were being recorded for the upcoming season (no e-mails, texts, facebook, skype or twitter back then) and were a mix of seven-digit numbers (beginning “28”) and six-digit numbers (beginning “9”, and which had a 2 or a 4 added at the start a few months later)
September 1992 saw the new club’s first club championships, though we kept the Dundrum trophy (now the top scorer trophy). Gerry started off with a draw against John Barry (the first of many John Barrys to play for the club!), but recovered to be on board 1 for the fourth and last round against Tim McCarthy. Tim just needed a draw, but Gerry won with white to take the trophy. Tim was second, while Frank Scott beat Eddie Gahan in the last round to take third. The final cross-table was like this –
|Ref||Name||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 3||Rd 4||Total|
The tournament went so well that we tried again the following year. This time, Tim got his revenge on Gerry – although they drew on board 1 in the fourth and final round (the only draw of the whole tournament), Tim won on a tie-break which involved timesing each opponent’s final score by 1 (if they were beaten) or ½ (if they were drawn against), and adding all that together. The 1993 cross-table was as follows –
|Ref||Name||Rating||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 3||Rd 4||Total|
It’s worth noting that the strength of the championships doesn’t come close to comparing with the tournament held the summer just gone.
Despite only 16 players in the club championships, we fielded six teams that year – almost exactly the same mix as today, but with a BA team instead of an O’Sullivan team. The squads were as follows –
Teams marked (W ) played their home games on Wednesdays, while those marked (S) played their home games on Saturday evenings. This was to avoid home game clashes and minimise the disruption caused by, say, the Armstrong needing a sub from the Heidenfeld when the Heidenfeld had a home game the same night. We continued that policy until the 2007/08 season. Of the above squads, the Armstrong ended the season victorious and the Heidenfeld would win the league the next season (1994/95). The O’Hanlon would have to wait three years for their day in the sun, winning the league in 1996/97.
St Benildus was a common venue for the Leinster Junior Championships in the mid-90s; my only year playing was in 1997, when the Leinster under-19s were held in the small room between the geography room and what’s now the computer room, while the under-14s were held in the geography room. In 1993/94, the under-12s and under-16s were held on 29th and 30th December, while the under-14s and under-19s were held on 4th and 5th of January, all in St Benildus. The under-12s were won by the youngest player in the tournament, 8-year-old Simon Jeffares – he’s on the trophy under his school, St Brigid’s, but he played for St Benildus for years, eventually passing 2000. He wasn’t the only player in the draw to break 2000 – Paul Dempsey, now of Celbridge, was third while John Kennedy Jnr also played.
Paul found the under-14s slightly harder – although he did start with a win over Ciarán Ruane, then rated 966. 20 years later, Ciarán’s Heidenfeld win was just exacting a measure of revenge which it’s possible neither player was aware of until now! Ciarán beat Ciarán Igoe in round 2 (possibly a brother of Stephen Igoe, who won the under-19s that year), lost to David Fagan in round 3, beat Michael Marshal in round 4, lost to Enda Hennigan and Simon Burke before beating Eóin Fogarty in the last round to end on 3/7. The top six in each section is recorded –
The 1994 club championships were bumped up to six rounds, with Saturdays being used as well now. Once again, Tim and Gerry were the main contenders, though Oliver Dunne – now playing for Elm Mount – ran them close; he lost to Gerry in round 3, but beat Tim in round 5. In between, Gerry beat Tim to leave the top three on 4/5 going into the final round. Gerry beat Denis Dempsey, Tim beat Dave Willow – but Oliver could only draw with Stephen Duff and Tim won the tournament on tie-break, as shown below –
And there’s not much more in the book. There’s a note of what may be the first Christmas blitz, held in 1994 – 22 players competed, including Tom Willow (Dave’s son), the three Jeffareses (Mark, Isobelle and Simon) and Michael Dooley. £28 was raised, with John Barry noted as “To pay”. There was another Gerry simul held in 1995 – does Michael Hanley still owe his £1 entry? – in which Gerry scored 13½/15, drawing only against Stephen Duff, Stephen Moynes and Robert Wetzker. The book is then used only sparingly to note new players’ contact details – Jack Duff, the St Lawrence’s school team (Frank Scott was evidently doing a bit of scouting), Brian MacGrory, Adam Blunden, Paul Beirne and even the first appearances of couple of players still with the club – Kevin May, Stephen Cunningham and Mihailo.
The last item is this –
– the minutes from the 2006 club AGM. This is possibly the last year (of many) in which the recurring request for a noticeboard to display league tables and fixtures came up! It was never acted on, and the invention of the internet meant it was increasingly redundant.
After all that, there’s still half the book left. Maybe this article can be extended in 30 years’ time?