In the U-19s, William started off with a bye and then an excellent draw against 2000+ rated Luke Scott; he was probably better in the ending and it was Luke who was the happier of the two with the draw. He nearly managed another upset in the next round against Dylan, but lost very late on, and after that, the reality of being bottom seed by 200 points came home, and he ended up with just the draw against Luke to show for his efforts. Dylan, meanwhile, had been on the live board in round 2, but things also went downhill after his game with William, and both Benildus players actually ended up in the bottom two places of a very competitive section in which there was fairly little to separate the players, Conor O’Donnell aside.
We had a decent turn-out in the U-16s – Ross was top seed, but ceded the top board after a draw with Gavin Melaugh in round 2. Though he kept in touch with a win in round 3, it was all downhill after there, the opposite of his previous tournament in Cork. Defeats to Fiachra Scallan and Michael Higgins lumped him back in mid-table by the end.
Mihailo ended up third, albeit after a relatively straightforward draw where he only played two players above 1420, although an unrated opponent ultimately ended up with a 1600 rating after the tournament. This was in part due to a win over Seán Devilly, who had a frustrating tournament in which he also lost to Mihailo and finished off with two wins over 800s, including another derby against Daniel. If Seán’s draw was frustrating, Daniel’s was bordering on the ridiculous – a bye in the second round meant that he ended up playing 1500s almost all the way through. He ended on 0/5, having played probably his best games in the past couple of years. And because he’s on a provisional rating, he ended up gaining 200 points! So while in one way, it was a hiding to nothing, the experience should be of use in future tournaments.
Also in the U-16s was Aodhán, who started off with an excellent draw against Robbie Kildea, which could have been better had he not hung a piece immediately after his opponent had been granted two extra minutes to see if a draw claim was valid. Aodhán had been a piece up but under a very strong attack earlier, had lost an exchange and now the extra piece meant his opponent could end up reaching a dead position and denying Aodhán an excellent win. Three further matches against 1400s/1500s yielded no points, however, and he dropped back into the pack with just experience to show for the weekend.
In the U-10s, Ben Murray and Thomas Cooney were playing their first rated tournaments. Ben started off with 2/2 before losing to the player he pipped to the Leinster U-10 title in January – a lack of experience at the longer time was all that cost him a much better tournament performance. Thomas went a queen up in seven moves against the second seed – and eventual winner – before an unfortunate conclusion saw a stalemate… But both finished with 3½/6 scores, and hopefully a taste for more!
Finally, in the U-8s, there was a derby of sorts as well as Kavin played Lorcan Cooney, Thomas’ brother, in round 5. Kavin won to end up on the top board in the final round, where a defeat against the reigning champion saw him drop to fifth, while Lorcan ended tenth in the 46-strong field.