Northern Ireland Chess

A chess news website for Northern Ireland





Northern Ireland Chess Legends

A new page to honour the most remarkable historical figures from our local chess scene.






There are 5 FIDE licensed National Arbiters in Northern Ireland:

Richard Gould NA

Ross Harris NA

Brendan Jamison NA

Mark Newman NA

Adrian Dornford-Smith NA





Chess leagues and tournaments in Northern Ireland are governed by the Ulster Chess Union which is affliated to the Irish Chess Union, a member of FIDE.

UCU membership can vary from year-to-year, depending on the number of teams entering the leagues and the number of tournaments held throughout NI. Generally the members are between 150-200. The current UCU Executive Board has 11 members, elected at the AGM on 24 July 2021:

Mark Newman


Karina Kruk WFM


Adrian Dornford-Smith


Robert Lavery

(Ratings Officer)

Ross Harris

(League Controller)

Position Vacant

(Vice-League Controller)

Alex Goss

(Online Tournament Director)

Michael Sheerin

(Online Vice-Tournament Director)

Position Vacant

(Funding Officer)

Karina Kruk WFM

(Women's Officer)

Alex Goss

(ICU Representative)

Mark Newman

(Child Protection Officer)

Neil Gardner

(Youth Development Officer)

Geoff Hindley

(Trophy Officer)

David McAlister

(UCU Historian)

Position Vacant

(Publicity Officer)



Andrew Todd


3 member Code of Conduct Committee:

Michael Sheerin

(Chair, Code of Conduct Committee)

Adrian Dornford-Smith

3rd member to be drawn from a different club to the other two members of COC committee.






In relation to local online tournaments held on LiChess, Chess NI takes the following position:

Northern Ireland players should not enter local online tournaments if they have had a Lichess account banned or their account profile is  flagged in red with the following statement: ‘This account violated the Lichess terms of service.' If this applies to you, please refrain from making contact to enter an online event. If you believe a mistake has been made, you can submit an appeal to Lichess and if they remove the flagging across your profile, then you are welcome to return to playing in online events. 

In the Lichess Terms of Service, 8 examples are listed for why a player may have their account banned or their profile flagged for violation.  However, please note this list is not exhaustive and Lichess make clear they can still ban players for others reasons too. 


Lichess fair play and community guidelines:

Users, both registered and unregistered agree to behave with good conduct whilst using Lichess’ Services. This will always be determined at Lichess’ discretion. Users who don’t behave with good conduct may have their account banned or closed without warning, and their content removed from the site. In all circumstances we reserve the right to ban or close an account for any reason without warning, and without having to provide evidence that Fair Play and Community Guidelines have been breached.

See the following for some examples of what you shouldn’t do.

1. Cheating. We define this as using any external assistance to strengthen your knowledge and, or, calculation ability to gain an unfair advantage over your opponent. Some examples would include computer engine assistance, opening books (except for correspondence games), endgame tablebases, and asking another player for help, although these aren’t the only things we would consider cheating.

2. Artificially inflating or deflating your rating. This is where a User purposefully loses, or has arranged with an opponent to win. As a result, the User’s rating will artificially increase or decrease. 

3. Impersonation. Don’t pretend to be someone who you’re not. You’re welcome to use a pseudonym.

4. Trying to break into accounts of other users, even if it’s as simple as just guessing a password, DDoS and volumetric attacks. This activity is illegal, so the relevant authorities would also be notified. You are welcome to support Lichess by finding and reporting security issues to us.

5. Harassing conduct or offensive language. If you aren’t sure whether to say something, think about how an objective outsider might view it. Harassment is a criminal act and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

6. Sharing copyrighted material. On some parts of the site you can share your own content with the public. Posting anything other than what you’ve made yourself, or have a fiduciary right to share is illegal. Users are responsible for what they post and share.

7. Abuse our infrastructure. Don’t take any action that imposes an unreasonable load on our infrastructure or on our third-party providers. We reserve the right to determine what is reasonable.

8. Spamming. Posting unsolicited messages like junk mail, chain letters, or just general spam is just frustrating for our Users, so don’t do it.

These are just some suggestions of what we would consider against the spirit of playing fairly in our community. This list is non-exhaustive and doesn’t detail all activity we can or will take action against. The final word is always with the administrators, and penalties will be applied at the administrators’ discretion.























David Houston

2235 (FIDE classic)

Steve Scannell

2110 (FIDE classic)

Sergio Esteve-Sanchez

2014 (FIDE classic)


National Master Titles?

Report by B. Jamison, National Arbiter

27 July 2021

This year's AGM was held on Saturday 24 July 2021. 10 resolutions were on the agenda but unfortunately there was only time to debate the first four so the remaining six resolutions will be discussed pocket option demo at an EGM, with the date to be confirmed once a venue is booked.

Over the past couple of years, the AGM only lasted 60-90 minutes so when the venue was booked by the Chair for this year's AGM from 8-10pm, it was thought 2 hours would be enough time. However, after the AGM was advertised, resolutions started pouring in. With so much debate on the night and extra time needed to count Zoom votes, it proved impossible to squeeze everything in. Proposal J, as below, will now be discussed at the EGM:

j. Proposal for National Master (NM) title to be awarded to players with a classic rating of 2000 or greater (either FIDE or UCU). In a similar fashion to the American system of awarding National Titles.

The Ulster Chess Union will bestow the title of National Master (NM) on UCU members who have gained a classic rating of 2000 or greater, either through FIDE or the UCU rating system. Like the GM title, the NM title will be a lifetime recognition and will thus never expire even if a player’s rating drops below 2000.

Proposed: Brendan Jamison. Seconded: Chris Dorrian

Explanation for this resolution:

We have chess giants in the UCU, legends such as David Houston and Steve Scannell, inspiring players for decades. Their knowledge and skills are on a level far beyond the average UCU member and it seems only fitting that we should honour them with a National Master (NM) title. Not only does it pay respect to their exceptional chess ability, hopefully it will also inspire up-and-coming players to work hard at their chess and aim for the NM title.

The ICU has a wonderful pool of FIDE titled players from GM to IM, FM, CM, WIM, WFM and WCM. Meanwhile in the UCU, which is understandably much smaller, we only have one FIDE titled player, WFM Karina Kruk. Karina has been a great inspiration to other female players and has been an excellent ambassador for local chess, representing Ireland internationally. In terms of the UCU, the NM title can be viewed as a steppingstone for those talented enough to aim for FIDE titles. Hopefully one day the UCU will have its own giant pool of titled players. It always creates such a buzz at tournaments when a chess master is present and in many cases they are happy to share their expertise through coaching or informal chats about openings.




Collection of 2021/2022 UCU Fees 


27 July 2021


Our Treasurer Adrian Dornford-Smith has created a UCU PayPay account to make it easier for members to pay their annual fees. The UCU is now collecting fees for the 2021/2022 season with the following membership rates:

25 pounds for adults

15 pounds for members of the Irish Chess Union

10 pounds for under 18s

Membership fees will cover players up to 31 August 2022. To play in UCU tournaments and leagues, members should be paid up for the current season. This entitles players to have their games rated. When using PayPal please include your name in the message section and write "Annual Fees 2021/2022".

UCU PayPal account name:



Methods for advertising UCU events 


Report by B. Jamison, National Arbiter

26 July 2021


During 2017-2020, when I was running the official Ulster Chess Union (UCU) events, we always made sure everything was advertised weeks (and sometimes months) in advance on the UCU website. Without administrator access to the UCU site, I sent the info to Mark Newman who kindly uploaded all the content, including the tournament reports I submitted after the events. It was great during those years to expand our chess scene with brand new locations, with venues in Newry, Armagh, Enniskillen, Greenisland and Portrush as some of the highlights, all of which attracted new players to our local chess community. To continue reading the article please




FM Tom O'Gorman

2368 (FIDE)

1st Place

Mandar Tahmankar

2077 (FIDE)

2nd Place

Thomas Donaldson

1970 (FIDE)

Ulster Champion 2021


Ulster Championships 2021

Maynard Sinclair Sports Pavilion, East Belfast

23 to 25 July 2021

This year's FIDE rated Ulster Championships enjoyed a host of super talented players. Number 1 seed FM Tom O'Gorman, the Irish Champion, won the competition with 5/5. Second place went to Mandar Tahmankar 4/5, who moved to Antrim in August 2020. 3rd place was won by Alice O'Gorman on 3.5/5. Neither of the top 3 have lived in Ulster for at least 12 months so the next highest scoring player, Thomas Donaldson, was crowned Ulster Champion for the second time. Very well done to Thomas.


Ulster Championship

1st: FM Tom O'Gorman (5/5)

2nd: Mandar Tahmankar (4/5)

3rd: Alice O'Gorman (3.5/5)

Thomas Donaldson (3/5) Ulster Champion 2021

Ulster Intermediate Championship

1st: Robert Lavery (4/5) Ulster Intermediate Champion 2021

2nd: Andrew Todd (3.5/5)

3rd: Mohamed Saad (3/5)

Ulster Junior Championship

1st: James Wong (3.5/5) Ulster Junior Champion 2021

2nd: Calum Glendinning (3.5/5)

3rd: Adam Rushe (3.5/5)

Grading Prize: Dexter Harris (3.5/5)



Hot speed chess at Greenisland

Greenisland, County Antrim

Sunday 18 July 2021

Tournament Director: Chris Dorrian

Chief Arbiter: Adrian Dornford-Smith

32 players competed in the GFC Summer Blitz Championships. It now takes the total to 75 who played in blitz over the past 8 weeks at events organised by Strand, Bangor and Greenisland FC. Congratulations to the 12 prize-winners today:

Champion: Mandar Tahmankar (7/7), 2nd Place: Gareth Annesley (5.5/7), 3rd Place: Nick Pilkiewicz (4.5/7) and Under 1400 Grading Prizes: Ethan Cole and Sanket Sawant

Intermediate Champion: Matthew Moreland (7/7), Intermediate 2nd: Blake Harris (6/7),

Intermediate 3rd: Peter Murphy (5/7) and Best Intermediate Newcomer: Reuben McBurney (3.5/7).

Junior Champion: Max Hudson (7/9), Junior 2nd: Leon Gourley (6.5/9), Junior 3rd: Jake Duddy (5.5/9) and Best Junior Newcomer: Alfie Moffett (5.5/9).

To view more details please visit the tournament webpage HERE



8 year old Ethan Cole wins simul at Greenisland FC, scoring 16-0

Greenisland, County Antrim

16 July 2021

Report by Chris Dorrian, Greenisland FC Chess Co-Ordinator

Greenisland FC Chess Club hosted its first simultaneous exhibition on Friday 16th July. The Club gave a warm welcome to local youth Champion Ethan Cole (age 8). He simultaneously played 16 games against the Junior Members of the Club. Ethan, chose to play with the black pieces and managed to win all his games. 

He played from 7:15pm to 9:00pm and in doing so he also managed to clock up 22,000 steps moving between the boards. Commenting at the end Ethan said he was not tired, but his feet hurt!

There was some excellent chess played by the GFC players but Ethan proved a little too strong at this time, but it certainly gave our players an example of what practice can achieve.

The last three players standing were Charys Jardine, Evan McCartney and Max Hudson. We look forward to learning more and getting Ethan back to see how we have progressed.

Well done to all the players at the event.



Matthew Moreland (Greenisland FC) v Rebecca McClurg (Bangor). Photography: ChessNI

Outdoor Chess a Big Success

Counties Antrim and Down

May to July 2021

So far in 2021, we have seen 75 players register for rated blitz events hosted by Strand, Bangor and Greenisland FC Chess Clubs. To read the full article please CLICK HERE




The hotly anticipated AGM will be a night of thrills...

Maynard Sinclair Pavilion, East Belfast

July 2021

This year's UCU AGM promises to be a night bursting with thrills! When two members are dualling for the top post, a big crowd is always guaranteed. While both candidates have secured the backing of 3 chess clubs each, word on the street has Michael Sheerin as the favourite going into the final week of the race. Laying the groundwork early by securing John Monaghan's support at Fruithill back in June, combined with Ballynafeigh and his home club of Lisburn, the odds look good for the younger chess player. Meanwhile Mark Newman is drawing support from Strand, Civil Service and Greenisland FC. Members of Queens, Bangor and Belfast South could tip the balance either way. It will be the best night's entertainment of the year!

While Mark Newman has poured decades of volunteer energy into the local chess scene and projects an extremely impressive chess CV (as below), Michael Sheerin has been working away like a busy bee in the background, gathering supporters for his vision for the future of the UCU. Roll on the AGM, it promises to be so much fun!


  Mark Newman Michael Sheerin









Major titles won



Ulster Intermediate Champion (2009) and Ulster Masters Champion (2017)









National Arbiter's Course with examination, completed 2015








FIDE-Licensed National Arbiter




Number of over-the-board UCU rated tournaments organised/arbiter



Over 200, spanning two decades. Also 9 monthly events per year for school children.





Role as team captain for Belfast & District Chess League



Team captain for Bangor Chess Club and Civil Service Chess Club.




Number of chess articles published on UCU site



Hundreds of tournament reports published





Director of a chess club



Director of NI Civil Service Chess Club.





Child Protection  training







AccessNI Check






Length of continuous service on UCU Executive Board



Over 10 years, to present.


10 months, September 2020 to present.


Roles on UCU Executive Board



President, Vice-President, Secretary, Chair of Code of Conduct Appeal's Committee, member of Rating Committee, Child Protection Officer and Youth Development Officer.



Since September 2020, Chair of Code of Conduct Committee and Vice-Tournament Director for mini online events, predominantly weekly bullet competitions with 4-5 players.



Initiatives to extend chess beyond the UCU leagues and tournaments



Organised a programme of coaching trainee teachers.

Organised and ran annual chess activities at Belfast Culture Night in Cathedral Quarter.

Organised a regular summer school for coaching children.

In partnership with former UCU President David McAlister, over a decade ago, developed the current format for the monthly childrens' chess rapidplays at Methodist College, Belfast.







Declan McKee (2nd) v Des Moreland (Champion). Photography: ChessNI

Bangor Seafront Blitz Championship 2021

County Down

Saturday 3 July 2021

Congratulations to the six prize-winners at the Bangor Seafront open air blitz on Saturday 3 July. Round 1 saw a little drizzle but with clingfilm wrapped around the clocks, nothing could stop the 15 players getting stuck into 8 rounds of fun blitz. The time control was set at 10+0 and the event ran for 3 hours.


6 trophies awarded: Champion: Des Moreland (7/8), 2nd Place: Declan McKee (6/8), 3rd Place: Conor Spackman (5.5/7), Best Newcomer: Matthew Moreland (3.5/8), Under 1100 Rating Award: Lorcan Rippon (3/8) and Best Young Player: Robert Napier (3/8). The final standings and photos from the event can be viewed HERE.



Richard Proctor is crowned champion of Cockle Row Blitz. Photography: ChessNI

Cockle Row Blitz Championship

Groomsport, County Down

Tuesdsay 29 June 2021

Congratulations to Richard Proctor of Bangor Chess Club, crowned champion of the Cockle Row Blitz at Groomsport on Tuesday 29 June. 2nd Place was won by Adam Rushe and 'Best Newcomer' was awarded to Sylwek Furman.

Adrian Dornford-Smith (Toomebridge) and Evan Elwood (Millisle) also delivered many impressive wins to finish in 5th and 6th place respectfully. Newcomer Danny Cochrane (Ards) got a win and a draw in a super tough section! To view the tournament page please CLICK HERE



Newcomers Robert Napier (left) v Lorcan Rippon (right). Photography: ChessNI

Hazelbank Outdoor Blitz Championships 2021

County Antrim

Saturday 22 June 2021

20 chess players gathered at Hazelbank Park for a summer blitz on 26 June. We were delighted to welcome several new players to our chess community, with the super talented 13 year old Robert Napier from Downpatrick winning 2nd place in the 'Lough View Blitz Championship'. Meanwhile, 8 year old Lorcan Rippon won the trophy for 'Best Newcomer' and we hope to see him at many more events in the future as his enthusiasm for chess creates a wonderful buzz for all the players. The section was won by 13 year old Reuben Magill, delivering an impressive 7/8 to be crowned champion. His chess has improved so much over the past year and it is a joy to watch this young star rise up! Adrian Dornford-Smith also perfomed very well with an amazing run of 6 consecutive wins to seal 3rd place.

The top section (for over 1400 rated players), the 'Hazelbank Park Blitz', was a very close race to the finish. Danny Roberts and Des Moreland both enjoyed many impressive wins to finish on 4.5 each, with Danny winning the championship on 'Direct Encounter'. Meanwhile 3 players also tied on 4 points, but all 3 had beaten one of the others, rendering 'Direct Encounter' a non-decider. After review, Matthew Dougherty and Conor Spackman were awarded joint 3rd and 16 year old Calum Glendinning won the Under 1500 Rating Award.

To see photos and results from the event, please click on the tournament page HERE.



Photography: ChessNI

East Belfast Outdoor Blitz Championships 2021

Stormont Estate, Belfast

Tuesday 22 June 2021

On a bright sunny day at the picnic cirlce at Stormont Estate, 16 players competed in the East Belfast outdoor blitz championships. We were delighted to welcome 4 newcomers to the tournament, with Declan McKee playing in the top section and scoring an impressive 4 points to win 'Best Newcomer' and Michael Smith scored 4.5 points to win 'Best Intermediate Newcomer'. It injects fresh positive energy into our events when we have new players joining our chess community. Meanwhile 16 year old Matthew Moreland secured 3 draws and a win as he continues to grow stronger. Over the past 6 weeks, ChessNI has organised 11 open air blitz tournaments with 50 players, of which 8 are new to the local chess scene. We hope they will continue to play in our events and enjoy the great buzz and friendly atmosphere!


The day's champion, 13 year old Calvin Patterson was hoovering up rating points in a super tough field, finishing with an excellent score of 6.5/8. Half a point behind in 2nd place was blitz supremo Cathan Gormley. His fellow QUB teammate Matthew Dougherty, also a wonderful speed player, took 3rd place on 6/8. The rating awards went to Adam Rushe (Under 1600) and Gerard Obasi (Under 1400).

Harry Skerbergs of Fruithill Chess Club was crowned Intermediate Champion with 8.5/10, followed by Adrian Dornford-Smith on 6/10 and 3rd place went to Paul Devlin on 5.5/10. To view images and results, please CLICK HERE



Photography: ChessNI

Bangor Outdoor Blitz Championships 2021

County Down

Saturday 19 June 2021

15 players competed in this year's outdoor blitz championships at Bangor marina. The Harris family were on a roll, with 12 year old chess wizard Dexter Harris (left) crowned champion of the top section with 5/6, dad Ross Harris (centre) in 2nd place with 4.5/6 and 10 year old Blake Harris (right) winning 2nd in the Intermediate section with an impressive 5/6. Teenagers Adam Rushe and Calum Glendinning also performed very well, scooping 3rd place and the Under 1500 rating award respectively.


The intermediate championship had a 3 way tie so a blitz-off determined the champion, with Danny Cochrane taking gold with 5/6. Richard McClean took 3rd place with 5/6 and 13 year old Caleb McClean ended on 3/6 to win the Best Newcomer award. To view images and results, please CLICK HERE



Chess at Hazelbank Park. Photography: ChessNI

Whiteabbey Outdoor Blitz Championship 2021

County Antrim

Thursday 17 June 2021

12 players competed in the first ever outdoor blitz at Hazelbank Park, Whiteabbey. Congratulations to David Obasi, crowned champion with 6.5/8, followed in close second by Conor Spackman on 6/8. Third place went to 13 year old Calvin Patterson with 5.5/8. To view images and results, please CLICK HERE



Stormont Outdoor Blitz Championships 2021

East Belfast

Saturday 12 June 2021

18 players competed in the Stormont Outdoor Blitz Championships 2021. Congratulations to Mandar Tahmankar, crowned champion of the Stormont Elite with 5/5, and Anjali Singh, champion of the Play Park Blitz with 4.5/5. To view images and results, please CLICK HERE



Greenisland FC Launches Chess Club


Friday 11 June 2021

Greenisland Football Club (GFC) has launched a brand new chess club! It is set to open on Friday 11th June and will meet on Friday nights for children up to 12 from 7pm-8:30pm and for teenagers and adults from 8:30pm to 10pm. Please note there are restrictions of only 25 people allowed in the club house so please book in advance if you are wishing to attend. All ages and abilities are welcome. For under 18s, parents should stay in the clubhouse with their children. To read the ful article, please CLICK HERE



Champion Gary Johnston v Best Newcomer Danny Cochrane. Photography: ChessNI

Ards crowns its first outdoor blitz champion


Tuesday 8 June 2021

Congratulations to local Ards player Gary Johnston, crowned champion of the first ever outdoor blitz tournament in Newtownards. Ending with the perfect score of 5/5, very impressive Gary! Hot on his heels was chess wizard Jake Patterson, ending on 4/5, securing 2nd place. Adam Rushe took 3rd with 3/5. Meanwhile Danny Cochrane won 'Best Newcomer', finishing on 2/5 and he's looking forward to playing in more events. It was a fun morning of chess with many of the regulars from Bangor Chess Club, including Ken Browne, Alwyn Pollock, George Gamble, Rebecca McClurg and Richard McClean. For the full report and suite of photos please CLICK HERE



Millisle hosts first ever chess event


Saturday 5 June 2021


Millisle Community Garden played host to the town's first ever chess tournament. The morning began with a little drizzle but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the players! Local residents Evan Elwood and Mike McKimm were within walking distance while others travelled from Ards and Bangor. George Gamble kindly brought refreshments for the players and everyone enjoyed the fresh sea air.


Played over six rounds and a time control of 5+5, the tournament was rated by the Ulster Chess Union. A representative from Millisle Community Group was delighted to see the garden used for chess and explained how they created it 15 years ago by transforming a field into the tranquil community garden that greets visitors today. It is maintained by a dedicated team of volunteers. Such a beautiful little spot on the coast! To view pictures and results CLICK HERE




Rebecca McClurg (White) v Richard Proctor (Black). Photography: ChessNI

Outdoor Chess Animates Groomsport Harbour


Saturday 29 May 2021

On Saturday 29 May, Bangor Chess Club hosted its first event of 2021, an outdoor blitz tournament. To read the article please CLICK HERE




Saturday 22 May 2021


Thanks to a successful vaccine programme across NI and new case numbers remaining relatively low, indoor chess can return in June. It has been 15 months of social restrictions so everyone is looking forward to some indoor chess again. However, please note this is only possible with safety measures in place.



As per legal requirements, a risk assessment must be carried out at each specific venue to allow indoor chess to resume. The numbers allowed to attend will depend on the size of the venue in relation to tables spaced out at 2 metre gaps. Until further notice, the following rules will be in place for all venues:

(1) Players will need to wear a face covering indoors at all times. 

(2) Players will need to wear gloves while playing chess (or bring hand sanitiser to clean hands before each game).

(3) Chess boards will be spaced out at one per table for social distancing. Tables will also be spaced out. 

(4) Windows (and/or doors) will be kept open for ventilation. 

(5) Anyone with Covid symptoms or living with someone with a cough, fever, loss of smell or taste, needs to avoid coming to the chess club. 

(6) When arriving, you will need to sign in with contact details (chess parents will do this on behalf of Under 18s). Or you can email in advance to the Chess Club Director or event organiser.




Friday 21 May 2021


During the month of May, Lisburn Chess Club are meeting at Lisburn Castle Gardens on Saturdays from 11am to 1pm. Please follow the club's Facebook page to stay up-to-date with the location each week.





Monday 22 February 2021


Commissioned by ChessNI, 15 year old chess champion Calum Glendinning has created this wonderful artwork, Rainbow Knight


After a storm, the vibrant colours of a rainbow can put a smile on our face as we look up to the sky and feel a sense of optimism. During the outbreak of the global pandemic, children all across the country created beautiful rainbows. Displayed in windows in every neighbourhood, these colourful works of art helped brighten up the first national lockdown. 


Colour is magic. It has a power to elevate our mood.


In terms of our local chess scene, Calum’s embroidered chess piece can be a symbol of how we celebrate diversity in our chess community. We actively welcome players of all abilities, ages, genders, races, cultures... The beauty of chess in Northern Ireland is how we engage in mutual respect with players from so many different backgrounds. Chess represents a level playing field where our common humanity is the thing of beauty we all share. It is something rich in colour and happiness. Long may it radiate a warm happy glow! 


Brendan Jamison, Director, ChessNI 




Friday 15 January 2021

Players in the outdoor chess events during the last quarter of 2020 have now had their games rated by the Ulster Chess Union. These open air competitions took place at the Whitehead Railway Museum and Bangor Marina. Well done to everyone who made gains (in brackets). 

January 2021 Blitz Ratings:


1672 Danny Roberts

1574 Gatis Barbals (+9) 

1477 Adam Rushe 

1473 Andrew Todd (+10)

1433 James O’Fee 

1421 Aaron Wafflart (+68) 

1417 Edward Hanzharov 

1403 Calum Glendinning (+88)

1326 Chris Dorrian

1319 Ben Toogood

1257 Evan Elwood 

1140 Gerard Obasi

1133 Adrian Dornford-Smith

1117 Ethan Cole (+90)


Congratulations to 8 year old chess wizard Ethan Cole who gained the most, rising 90 points to 1117. In close second place, the super talented 15 year old Calum Glendinning made 88 points to take him to 1403. The third highest gain was multi-award winning Aaron Wafflart, rising 68 points to 1421. 

It has been a joy to watch these 3 young players make such vast improvements over the past year. No doubt they will continue to grow stronger and stronger in 2021 and scoop even more awards! 





Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

Saturday 10 October 2020 

Built in 1915, the McKee Clock was host to this year’s Global Chess Festival on Saturday 10 October. The annual event, now in its 6th year, sees over a million people playing the game across the world under the tagline, “chess connects us”.  Following an invitation from Bangor Chess Club Treasurer James O’Fee, this year’s festival saw Chess NI select the iconic landmark of the McKee Clock as the hot spot for 2 hours of open air chess fun. 


Rated by the Ulster Chess Union, the blitz tournament featured players from 7 nations, including 20 year olds Edward Hanzharov and Aaron Wafflart, flying the flags for Russia and France respectively. Other notable chess champions included Gerard Obasi (Poland), Andrew Todd (Scotland) and Adrian Dornford-Smith (England). Meanwhile, all the way from Sweden, young player Jakob Synott joined on the day, currently sailing solo around Europe! 


During World War II, the McKee Clock was involved in a very different type of blitz as 1941 saw the German Lutftwaffe drop a bomb on it. Thankfully the damage to the clock was very minor. 79 years later, Saturday’s chess battles were enjoyed with mutual friendship and respect and the McKee Clock remained completely intact!


The six prize-winners received a round of applause as they collected their certificates. Three players all finished on 4 points so tie-breaks had to determine the final ranking order. 


Champion: Andrew Todd (4/5) Scotland

2nd Place: Aaron Wafflart (4/5) France

3rd Place: Danny Roberts (4/5) NI

Under 1400 Rating Award: Calum Glendinning from NI

Under 1200 Rating Award: Adrian Dornford-Smith from England

Most Improved Player: 8 year old Ethan Cole from NI


The event’s organiser, Brendan Jamison, Director of Chess NI, said “chess is a wonderful cross-cultural activity which celebrates the richness of diversity. It also transcends the language barrier. Chess is a powerful tool to bring communities together as we actively welcome all ages, all abilities and all races. Apart from the social aspect, the mental gymnastics offers an incredible buzz for our brains and helps with logic and problem-solving skills in the real world.”


Aaron Wafflart (France) is White against Danny Roberts (NI)

Adrian Dornford-Smith (England) is White against Edward Hanzharov (representing Russia)

8 year old Ethan Cole (NI) is White against Jakob Synott (Sweden)





Ulster Chess Union 4th Quarter Ratings

Wednesday 7 October 2020 

Rating Report by Brendan Jamison, National Arbiter and Director of Chess NI 


The 28 players who competed in the September outdoor chess events have now had their games rated by the Ulster Chess Union. Well done to everyone who made gains (in brackets). Players who made a blitz debut appear as (===). The October outdoor events will be rated in the January 2021 rating list.

October 2020 Blitz Ratings:


1769 Alex Goss 1435 James Wong (+10) 1178 Tony Scullion
1769 Brendan Jamison (+21)  1434 James O’Fee (+6)  1147 Adrian Dornford-Smith
1751 Gareth Annesley (+86) 1353 Aaron Wafflart (+101)  1132 Richard McClean (+80)
1704 Robbie Wright (===)  1350 Christopher Dorrian 1089 Geoff Sterrett
1703 Danny Roberts 1324 Ben Toogood 1068 Jamie Corscadden
1565 Gatis Barbals (+121)  1315 Calum Glendinning (===) 1027 Ethan Cole (+88)
1502 Matthew Dougherty 1307 Mark Newman (+20) 963 George Gamble 
1482 Adam Rushe (+44) 1300 Evan Elwood (===) 768 Rebecca McClurg
1463 Andrew Todd (+84) 1300 Sett Podean (===)  
1447 Edward Hanzharov (+30) 1218 Timothy Morrison (+53)  


Gatis Barbals (+121) was the highest gainer with an incredible jump into the 1500s. He is an excellent blitz player, a wonderful gentleman and a great asset to Fruithill Chess Club. 21 year old Aaron Wafflart (+101) continued his sharp rise as he broke into the 1300s. Having scooped up so many over-the-board awards during 2019 and 2020, Aaron’s dedication and vast improvement will no doubt continue in the years ahead. Multi-award winning champion Gareth Annesley (+86) made an impressive gain from just playing in one outdoor event at Stormont.  As one of the most decorated players in the UCU, everyone gets a tremendous buzz when he competes and raises the bar! 


Eight year old Ethan Cole gained 88 points to break the 1000 threshold as he landed a new blitz rating of 1027. It is very rare for someone so young to get over 1000 so quickly so a big congratulations to Ethan! More and more adults will try dodging Ethan before he gobbles up their rating points! Other significant gains include Andrew Todd (+84), champion of the Play Park Blitz where he reigned supreme, totally undefeated throughout the 7 rounds. Tim Morrison jumped into the 1200s as he earned 53 points to land at 1218, very well done Tim! Richard McClean (+80) enjoyed catapulting into the 1100s after a string of wins at the Groomsport Harbour event, earning him the Under 1200 Rating Award. 


15 year old Calum Glendinning has been on a wonderful roll this year. It began as he won a prize at the Ulster Rapidplay Championships in Newry back in February 2020. During the autumn, Calum earned awards at all 4 blitz events he competed in, culminating in Whitehead on 3rd October as this rising star was crowned champion. We are delighted to see Calum’s blitz debut of 1315 and long may his abundance of enthusiasm continue to bring joy to all the players at the chess events.




1 minute video capturing the chess magic at Whitehead Railway Museum

Round 1 underway at Whitehead Railway Museum



County Antrim

Saturday 3 October 2020 


On Saturday 3rd October, steam trains rolled past as chess players enjoyed 3 hours of outdoor battles at the Whitehead Railway Museum. The event attracted participants from counties Antrim, Armagh and Down, all enjoying the historic museum and sipping hot drinks from the Edwardian Tearoom. 


Congratulations to 15 year old Calum Glendinning from Holywood, crowned champion at the open air blitz. The 2nd place trophy went to Gatis Barbals from Portadown, delivering many fine wins to end with 4.5 points out of 6. Hot on his heels, Belfast’s Danny Roberts chalked up 4 points to secure the bronze trophy for 3rd Place. After recently moving to Belfast from The Netherlands, newcomer Sett Podean won the Under 1425 Rating Award, having built up incredible momentum at outdoor chess over the past 3 weeks. 8 year old chess prodigy Ethan Cole continues his vast improvement, demolishing several of the adult players to win the Under 1200 Rating Award. 

In total, 12 players battled it out over 6 rounds. The picnic tables were sheltered overhead and everyone wore face coverings and gloves. Greenisland’s Chris Dorrian was thanked for arranging the venue and setting up the equipment with Edward Hanzharov from Ballyclare. The players extended their sincere thanks to Whitehead Railway Museum for offering such a wonderful location for the chess tournament. Organiser Brendan Jamison stated “We adored the museum, the staff are super friendly and when the steam engines rolled by, we became enveloped by the magic ambience of this unique place.”


Adrian Dornford-Smith (left) from Toomebridge v Greenisland's Chris Dorrian

Gerard Obasi (left) from Carrickfergus v Sett Podean from The Netherlands


Danny Roberts (left) from Belfast v Calum Glendinning from Holywood

Gatis Barbals (left) from Portadown playing 8 year old Ethan Cole




Northern Ireland Outdoor Chess Blitz Grand Prix 2020

Titanic Quarter, Bangor Marina, Stormont Estate, Groomsport and Whitehead

Saturday 3 October 2020 

29 players have been competing in a series of open air chess events at a different location each week. Special thanks to Language Training Solutions for sponsoring the Grand Prix trophies. So far, the outdoor blitz tournaments have been held at Titanic Quarter, Bangor Marina, Stormont Estate, Groomsport Harbour and Whitehead Railway Museum. The Grand Prix points are based on a player's 3 highest scores. To view the current leader board, CLICK HERE.


You can visit our sponsor's website here:





County Down Coast

Saturday 26 September 2020 

It was the forth dry Saturday in a row so that could mean only one thing, yes, more open air chess! The 26th September saw players descend on the beautiful coastal town of Groomsport for the 5th in the outdoor chess grand prix. With a time control of 7+7, the 6 round blitz was limited to just 10 players across 5 picnic tables at the coast. The waves were crashing in, the wind was blowing but the sun was out and everyone was armed with their masks and gloves and itching to dive into 3 hours of chess excitement!


It was great to welcome back 14 year old schoolboy Ben Toogood (1330) who finished 5th and arbiter-in-training Rebecca McClurg (783), both enjoying over-the-board chess again after a six month break. Bangor Chess Club Treasurer James O’Fee popped along to watch the first few rounds and enjoyed a fun game before the tournament began. Our friendliest newcomer, Sett Podean (1372), from The Netherlands, competed in his second UCU rated event, finishing 6th with 3/6. He enjoyed the competition and hopes to play in many more. 


Congratulations to 7 year old Ethan Cole (929) who won the Under 1000 Rating Award with an excellent Tournament Performance Rating (TPR) of 1102. Richard McClean (1052) scooped the Under 1200 trophy with a brilliant day of chess, ending with an impressive TPR of 1249. 


We then had a tie with two players ending on 5/6, both enjoying an excellent run of wins, with tie-breaks determining Chris Dorrian (1390) as the 3rd place trophy winner and a TPR of 1452.  Very well done to 15 year old Calum Glendinning (1059) who played far beyond his rating, delivering a wonderful TPR of 1524 and securing the Silver trophy for 2nd place. The day’s champion, Brendan Jamison (1748) ended on 6/6 and a TPR of 1844.

57 second video of the Groomsport Outdoor Blitz




Stormont Estate, East Belfast

Saturday 19 September 2020 

Sun, chess and fresh air in the beautiful grounds of Stormont Estate. 20 players enjoyed 3 hours of over-the-board chess, divided into 2 separate tournaments. Well done to the 8 prize-winners. Above, the 2 minute video captures the magic of the day.

Stormont Blitz: 7 rounds of 7+7 with 8 players, all-play-all. Champion: Robert Wright 5/7, 2nd place: Gareth Annesley 5/7 and 3rd place: Gatis Barbals 4.5/7.


Play Park Blitz: 7 rounds of 7+7 with 12 players. Champion: Andrew Todd 6.5/7, 2nd place: Aaron Wafflart 5/7 and 3rd place: Mark Newman 4/7. Medal for Most ImprovedTeenage Player: Calum Glendinning 3/7 (aged 15) Medal for Most Improved Child Player: Ethan Cole 3/7 (aged 7)




15 year old Calum Glendinning (left) playing 7 year old Ethan Cole (right). Photography: Tony Scullion


Bangor, County Down, Northern Ireland

Saturday 12 September 2020 

Players travelled from far and wide to enjoy 2 hours of chess in the sunshine and fresh air at Bangor Marina.

Congratulations to Adam Rushe (1438) from Newtownards, scoring 5/6 to be crowned Champion. Bangor Chess Club Treasurer James O’Fee was hot on his heels with an impressive 4.5/6 to clinch the silver cup. Greenisland’s Chris Dorrian played some excellent games to win 3rd place on tie-break, with Evan Elwood from Millisle also finishing on 3.5 points, after joining the tournament in Round 3. Meanwhile, 15 year old Calum Glendinning (1059) from Holywood won the trophy for ‘Best Young Player’ with 3/6.

It was also great to see so many of the other chess faces again, with Tony Scullion (1262) travelling from Antrim and taking excellent photos of the event, Adrian Dornford-Smith (1176) from Toomebridge, 7 year old chess prodigy Ethan Cole (939) from Belfast, Richard McClean (1052) from Bangor and George Gamble (643) from Newtownards.

With 10 minutes each on the clock, everyone enjoyed the 6 rounds of blitz chess. Bangor Chess Club were thanked for funding the little trophies and Brendan Jamison, the organiser, received a round of applause for arranging the morning chess buzz. He said "It feels wonderful playing outdoors in the fresh air and it's definitely something that could continue on a much larger scale in the years to come. Obviously with the nature of outdoor events, it depends on the weather so tournaments need to be arranged at quite short notice. Hopefully we can hold another blitz before the cold weather sets in. Stay tuned...”

Players during Round 3 of the Bangor Marina Outdoor Blitz Championship. Photography: Tony Scullion


A one minute YouTube video captures the magic of the event:



Wednesday 9 September 2020 

Scientists have explained that a warm room with no ventilation can allow the virus to remain airborne for several hours. Therefore the safest format for over-the-board chess is in an outdoor setting with a maximum of 15 players and with the following 7 conditions:

1). There should be 2 metre spacing between boards.

2). All players must wear a face covering while at the chess board.

3). All players must wear gloves while at the chess board. Bare hands must never touch the pieces or chess clocks. To avoid sweaty hands in plastic gloves, the recommendation is to wear leather or woolly gloves. It is recommened that players wash/disinfect their gloves after the event.

4). No spectators allowed (except for parents of children at the chess event). Players in the competition may observe other games in progress but only from a distance of 2 metres.

5). The arbiters must wear gloves and a face covering and stand 2 metres from all boards while observing games.

6). Any registered players who develop cold or flu-like symptoms must not compete and must not travel to the location. It also applies if someone in the player's household has symptoms. In such cases the player must notify the organiser beforehand that they need to withdraw. Symptoms include: cough, fever, loss of taste and loss of smell.

7). A spot in the tournament must be pre-booked and all entrants must agree to the above 6 conditions.



The Pump House, Queen's Island, Titanic Quarter, Belfast

Saturday 5 September 2020 

The Pump House at Titanic Quarter was host to an outdoor chess experiment. The challenge was to create an over-the-broad tournament in a safe environment. The solution was to play outdoors on pic-nic tables and the players were asked to wear face coverings and gloves at the chess boards. It proved successful and everyone enjoyed the 7 rounds of blitz chess. Hopefully it will inspire other tournament organisers to hold outdoor speed events.

Congratualtions to the prize-winners at the Titanic Quarter Elite Blitz. Speed powerhouse Danny Roberts could only play 6 rounds but won 6/6 to clinch the title, with Robbie Wright securing second place with 5 points. With three players finishing on 4 points, Adam Rushe won the tie-break for 3rd, with Matthew Dougherty clinching the 'Top Student' trophy and James Wong awarded 'Best Teenager'. Aaron Wafflart won the Under 1400 Rating trophy and 'Best Under 25 Player' was awarded to Edward Khanzharov.

The 8 elite players were invited based on their prize-winning performances over the past 12 months. Danny Roberts for winning the Ulster Rapidplay Championship in February 2020, Robbie Wright as Div 1 Champion and Board 2 winner (February 2020), Chris Dorrian as the Bangor Congress Intermediate Champion (October 2019), UU student Edward Khanzharov as Division 2 Champion (February 2020), 21 year old Aaron Wafflart as the Williamson Shield Intermediate Champion (January 2020), QUB Board 1 Matthew Dougherty for 3rd Place in the Intermediate section of the Ulster Masters (November 2019), 19 year old Adam Rushe as the Strand Chess Club October 2019 Blitz Champion and 18 year old James Wong as the February 2020 Youth Rapidplay Champion at Methodist College, Belfast.




Belfast & District Chess League

August 2020



During August 2020, Brendan Jamison travelled around the province to hand-deliver the individual league trophies to the 23 award winners for the 2019/2020 season. From Larne to Lisburn, Bangor to Toomebridge, Downpatrick and all across Belfast, the chess prize-giving buzz was a mobile adventure this year!

The cardboard trophy boxes were disinfected with Dettol wipes at the point of handing over to the award winners. Two metre distancing was also adopted to ensure maximum safety. A photo was taken of each winner with their trophy to create a composite group image for documenting the event.

Please note, it may not be possible for the leagues to begin again until late 2021 (after a vaccine has been rolled out across the entire population) It is hoped that over-the-board competitions can return in 2021.


2020 Award Winners:

Div 1 Champions: Strand 1. Individual trophies presented to the following regular team members: Daniil Zelenchuk, Robbie Wright, Calum Leitch, Ross Harris, Brendan Jamison, Modestas Razbadauskas and David Hill.

Div 1 Board Prizes:

Board 1 Nick Pilkiewicz 6/9 = 67%

Board 2 Robbie Wright 5/6 = 83%

Board 3 Robert Lavery 6.5/8 = 81%

Board 4 Paul McNaughton 5.5/8 = 69%

Board 5 David Hill 5/6 = 83%

Div 2 Champions: Strand 2. Individual trophies presented to the following regular team members: Conor Spackman, Edward Khanzharov, Aaron Wafflart, James Wong, Ciaran Rowan and Dexter Harris.

Div 2 Board Prizes:

Board 1 Sam Moore 6/8 = 75%

Board 2 James O’Fee 5/6 = 83%

Board 3 Bernard Jaffa 5/6 = 83%

Board 4 Adrian Dornford-Smith 8/9 = 89%

Board 5 Paddy Magee 5/6 = 83%




Groomsport Parish Halls, County Down

August 2020

The members of Bangor Chess Club plan to reopen in September 2021 


Like the Ulster Chess Union at large, Bangor has a very large portion of members who are pensioners or players with existing health conditions. Therefore the wearing of masks and gloves and disinfection of chess pieces is still not deemed safe enough to ensure continuous protection from coronavirus. 

A chess player’s head can be as close as 2 feet from their opponent (just over half a metre) when both are sitting over a chess board. The club feels that to play chess under the current global pandemic could put lives at risk.  Even younger players with a strong immune system could catch the virus through playing chess and then pass it onto vulnerable members of their family or local community. 

While chess clocks and pieces can stubbornly harbour infection from continuous touching by multiple players at a tournament, there is also the fact that simply talking or laughing too close to someone can actually propel droplets containing the virus in a similar fashion to its projection from coughing and sneezing. In light of this, Bangor Chess Club feels the most responsible course of action is to be patient until it is safe for everyone to return to the local chess scene.

Founded over 50 years ago and running every year since then, it is Northern Ireland’s longest continuous running club, but Bangor Chess Club will now remain paused until a Covid-19 vaccine can be rolled out across the general population. The club looks forward to returning in 2021 with its regular programme of monthly tournaments and popular lecture series.  




Stormont Hotel, Belfast

Tuesday 18 August 2020 - EVENT CANCELLED



FIDE Titles Awarded

Monday June 15, 2020

Northern Ireland has two new FIDE licensed National Arbiters. Congratulations to Mark Newman and Adrian Dornford-Smith. 

With Ross Harris and Brendan Jamison now finished their terms with the Ulster Chess Union, it means FIDE rated events can still be held in Northern Ireland under the supervision of Mark and Adrian, hooray! It brings the total number of FIDE licensed arbiters to 31 throughout the island of Ireland, 5 of which are in Northern Ireland:

Richard Gould NA 

Ross Harris NA

Brendan Jamison NA

Mark Newman NA

Adrian Dornford-Smith NA

The above 5 completed the National Arbiter’s Course in the Summer of 2015, along with Robert Lavery, Damien Lavery, Damien Cunningham and Geoff Hindley. The training was held by International Arbiters Gerry Graham and Ted Jennings. The 3 day course culminated in a 2 hour written exam and 2 practical tasks involving a digital clock and the chess computer programme, Swiss Master. Of the 9 who sat the exam, 7 passed. Then, to gain NA norms, each participant had to run 2 tournaments in the forthcoming months/years (with at least 30 players) under the supervision of an existing FIDE recognised arbiter. Each of these tournaments were assessed and a report form was sent to the Irish Chess Arbiters Association.  If the candidate demonstrated a high enough standard then their details were sent onto FIDE to gain the official arbiter title. This last part of the process can take anywhere from 6-8 months for FIDE to confer the NA title so overall it can take several years. This is why it is a great achievement when we get a new National Arbiter over the finishing line as everyone benefits from the thrill of getting to play in more FIDE rated events. 

It was a real passion to make this happen so today is a special day for local chess. 

Brendan Jamison

Director, Chess NI



Thursday 16 April 2020

Return answers by email or text to quizmaster Brendan Jamison by Sunday 19 April. Winners will be announced online on this site and the Ulster Chess Union website and through social media. All the info needed to answer the questions is available online folks, you just need to hunt, pretend it’s a treasure hunt! To access the quiz please CLICK HERE




Greenisland Baptist Church, County Antrim

Saturday 22 February 2020

It was the first ever chess event in Greenisland, attracting many newcomers as 33 players battled it out for 12 awards. For further information please CLICK HERE




Sticky Fingers Arts Centre, Newry

Saturday 1 February 2020, 10:30am to 5:30pm


The 2020 Ulster Rapidplay Chess Championships were hosted by the Sticky Fingers Arts Centre in Newry. The cross-border event attracted 50 players from Dublin, Donegal, Omagh, Armagh, Larne, Lisburn, Bangor and all across Belfast. It was organised by the Ulster Chess Union in association with the Irish Chess Union. For the second year in a row, our Newry tournament was kindly sponsored by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. For a full list of prize-winners and photos from the event, please CLICK HERE




Groomsport Parish Halls, County Down

Saturday 5 October 2019, 10:45am to 5:30pm

Bangor Chess Congress Returns with a Bang!

Slap. Bang. Swing. Click. Over 50 speed chess players exercised their lightning-fast reflexes, duelling at the Bangor Chess Congress on Saturday 5 October.

Kindly sponsored by Mellons Hyundai, it was the hotly anticipated return of the event after a 14 year break. Held in the magnificent venue of Groomsport Parish Halls, players came in their droves from all across Northern Ireland, even as far away as Dublin. Testimony to the warm reception at Bangor Chess Club.

The event was officially launched by Alderman Bill Keery, Mayor of Ards and North Down, who delivered an excellent speech. Players then took their seats and tried to calm their nerves before battle commenced. 6 rounds flew by as several multi-award winning champions fought hard to secure the Sam Lynn Memorial Shield.

Tournament organiser and arbiter, Brendan Jamison, congratulated the ten prize-winners as one-by-one they came up to collect their awards:

Fruithill’s John Cairns was crowned the much-deserved champion with an undefeated record of four wins and two draws. The following 4 players all ended on 4.5/6 and tie-breaks had to determine the prize they walked home with. Hungarian powerhouse Gabor Horvath took 2nd, while decorated chess supremo Michael Waters of Bray Chess Club came 3rd, the Under 1800 Grading Prize was won by Dublin teenage chess prodigy Alex Goss of Elm Mount and the Under 1500 Grading Prize was won by Walter Wilson from Newtownards, punching far above his rating in a super tough field of players.

Christopher Dorrian from Carrickfergus was crowned the Junior Champion with the excellent score of 5/6. Fruithill Chess Club then delivered two more junior prize-winners as 2nd went to John Monaghan on 5/6 and 3rd to Evan Elwood on 4.5/6. The Under 1200 Grading Prize was won by Tyrone Winter, finishing on 4/6. The Under 850 Grading Prize was scooped by 14 year old Daniel Hill from Larne, a promising young player from Strand Chess Club.

Bangor Chess Club Chairman Alan McConnell also presented a much-deserved ‘Life-time Honorary Membership’ to Martin Rodgers, one of the founding members of the club and its devoted treasurer for 50 years! Martin expressed his heartfelt thanks for the award.

For the tournament page with further photographs and info please CLICK HERE



Europa Hotel, Belfast

Saturday 24 to Monday 26 August 2019

16 year old chess genius Daniil Zelenchuk was crowned the 2019 Ulster Champion, while the talented Dublin teenager Jacob Flynn took second place, Candidate Master Gabor Horvath finished third and Gareth Annesley scooped the Under 1900 Grading Prize. There was also a particular buzz in the air as Keith Allen (2207) returned to the tournament, a 6-time Ulster Champion who moved to the Isle of Man many years ago.

In the Intermediate section, after a 20 year absence from the local chess scene, Conor Spackman made a triumphant return as he walked away as the Ulster Intermediate Champion, with Gatis Barbals in second place and Chris Kelly won the Under 1550 Grading Prize. 18 year old bright spark Colm Hawkins became the Ulster Junior Champion, with Adrian Dornford-Smith closely behind in second place on tie-breaks, schoolboy Adam Rushe took the Under 1200 Grading Prize and Michael Wong won the Under 1050 Grading Prize.





Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen

Saturday 18 May 2019

The inaugural Enniskillen Rapidplay was held at the Lough Erne Resort (a luxury 5 star hotel) on Saturday 18 May 2019. Congratulations to the 7 prize-winners. Gareth Annesley was crowned champion, with Ciaran Rowan winning the Junior section. For the tournament report and images please visit the event web page by clicking HERE




The Royal School Armagh

Saturday 30 March 2019

Kings and queens battle at Royal School, Armagh

The first ever Armagh Rapidplay Chess Championships were held at the Royal School on Saturday 30 March. The event was run by the Ulster Chess Union (UCU) and kindly supported by the school headmaster Graham Montgomery. The Royal School Armagh has the current Ulster Under 16 Chess Champion, Louie McConkey, and it was through this connection, that the idea of holding a tournament was born. 54 players flocked to the event as locals mixed with entrants from Dublin, Donegal, Omagh, Enniskillen, Portadown, Lisburn, Belfast, Larne, Newtownards and Bangor. With 25 minutes per player, it was 6 rounds of intense speed chess. To continue reading the tournament report, please click HERE




Lisburn Library

Saturday 23 February 2019, 10:45am to 3:45pm

This will be our first chess tournament in the city of Lisburn. The blitz is 7 rounds with 10 minutes each on the clock. The bullet tournament is 6 rounds with 1 minute each on the clock for all the moves. Please visit the tournament page by clicking HERE




Groomsport Parish Halls

Thursday 21 February 2019, 7:45pm to 10:45pm

Congratulations to the 14 prize-winners at the Groomsport Rapidplay. We were particularly excited to have 4 visiting players from Poland and America. Please visit the tournament page by clicking HERE




Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry

Saturday 2 February 2019

We launched the first ever rapidplay chess championships in Newry, acting as a celebration of the recent affliation of the Ulster Chess Union [UCU] with the Irish Chess Union [ICU]. Press attended the event along with representatives from the UCU and ICU. The tournament was held in the Bell Gallery on the first floor of the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre and was kindly sponsored by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council. 52 players attended the the tournament, travelling from all across Ireland. Congratulations to the 10 prize-winners, a full list can be found on the tournament page HERE



Sunday 28 January 2019

Each quarter we will compare FIDE and UCU ratings to tie in with the UCU rating lists published every 3 months in January, April, July and October. Please visit the page by clicking HERE





Groomsport, County Down

Thursday 24 January 2019

Congratulations to the 6 prize-winners at the Bangor January Blitz 2019: Champion Brendan Jamison (6/6), 2nd Richard Proctor (5/6), 3rd Owen Wilson (4/6), Top Teenager Adam Rushe (3.5/6), Top Child Player Ben Toogood (4/6) and Top Newcomer Callum Magennis (3/6). For further info please visit the tournament page by clicking HERE




Pavilion, Stormont Estate, Belfast

Saturday 19 to Sunday 20 January 2019

Congratulations to the 7 prize-winners at the Williamson Shield which was held at the Maynard Sinclair Pavilion over the weekend of 19th to 20th January. Gabor Horvath was crowned champion with an undefeated run of 5.5/6, only drawing one game to Mark Newman. Meanwhile, Paddy Magee won the Intermediate, also delievring an impressive 5.5/6. Assistant Arbiters Adam Rushe and John Bradley worked alongside Chief Arbiter Brendan Jamison, while Adrian Dornford-Smith expertly directed the 6 live boards. For a list of all prize-winners please visit the tournament page by clicking HERE





Methodist College, Belfast

Saturday 12 January 2019

Congratulations to Geoff Hindley and James Fairley, today they were both awarded Honorary Life-time Membership of the Ulster Chess Union for devoting so much time and resources to Children's Chess for over a decade. The development of youth chess is one of the top priorities of the UCU and we are grateful to all volunteers who help in this field. Children are the future of chess...



Groomsport, County Down

7:45pm to 10:45pm on Thursday 10 January 2019

Bangor Chess Club held a simul match against 12-time international chess champion Gabor Horvath, from Hungary. He is the current Ulster Blitz Champion and has a FIDE rating of 2252. Gabor won 19 games and drew 3. He was totally undefeated across the 22 boards. Stephen Cullen, Peter Wilson and James O'Fee all secured draws, with the latter also claiming the title of 'Last Man Standing'. Of the four females competing, 18 year old Rachel Eachus from Mallusk survived the longest, while 13 year old Callum Magennis from Regent House Grammar School was the best school-boy after the others were eliminated. For further info, please visit the event page here




Groomsport, County Down

7:45pm to 11pm on Thursday 3 January 2019

Bangor Chess Club attracted 44 players to a new year's rapidplay on Thursday 3rd January 2019. For a list of all 14 prize-winners please click here



GM Luke McShane (2664) will take on 30 players in Belfast on Thursday 21 February 2019


Annual Grandmaster Simul

6:45pm to 11:45pm on Thursday 21 February 2019

We are delighted to announce that English GM Luke McShane (2664) from London will be duelling with 30 of our local chess players in an exciting simultaneous match on Thursday 21 February 2019. So far, 25 players have won tickets for the event. For further info please click here: 2019 SIMUL



Brendan Jamison delivering an opening lecture at Strand Chess Club on Sunday 9 December 2019


Bangor Chess Club at Groomsport Parish Hall

8 to 9pm on Thursday 20 December 2018

Brendan Jamison will deliver a special demo board lecture in Groomsport on Thursday 20th December. The coaching session will focus on openings and will run from 8 to 9pm. It is free entry. Brendan will discuss opening theory with strategic plans for White and Black. He will ask questions to the group as he works through each opening to keep the session engaging and interactive. Brendan will also distribute hand-outs at the end of the coaching session which covers all the opening variations discussed. The coaching is specifically geared towards players rated under 1200, unrated or just beginning their chess adventures with a basic knowledge. The attendees will range from children aged 10 and above, teenagers and adults. New chess players are always welcome to attend Bangor Chess Club and see if they enjoy it. This is a great opportunity to visit the club during a non-league week as it’s a very relaxed environment and any new players can become a member in 2019 if they wish to attend regularly.


Groomsport Parish Hall, 30 Main Street, Groomsport, County Down, BT19 6JR



Left to right: Rapidplay Champion Robert Lavery, 2nd Place Danny Roberts, Junior Rapidplay Champion John Sweeney, Junior 2nd Place Adrian Gilmore, Top Female Clare Finnegan, Under 600 Grading Prize Winner Katy Thornton and Under 1050 Grading Prize-Winner Paul Anderson


Christian Brothers Grammar School, Omagh

November 24, 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Omagh Rapidplay Champion Robert Lavery (5/6) and Junior Champion John Sweeney (5/6). Full tournament info on the event page HERE




Bowling Club at Pavilion Sports Grounds, Stormont Estate, Belfast

November 10-11, 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Ulster Masters Champion Danny Roberts and Intermediate Champion John McKenna. Full tournament info on the event page HERE




Parish Hall, 30 Main Street, Groomsport, County Down

November 1, 2018

During the free week in the league over Halloween break, Bangor Chess Club held their annual Blitz Championship with 34 players. Congratulations to Champion: Danny Roberts (10.5/12), 2nd Place: Brendan Jamison (9.5/12), 3rd Place: Steven Eachus (9.5/12), Top Bangor Player: Albert McCarter (7.5/12), Bangor Junior Champion/Under 1500 Grading Award: James Wong (7/12), Top Teenage Player: Adam Rushe (7/12), Under 1000 Grading Award: Michael Wong (6/12), Top Child Player: Adam Fitzsimons (6/12), Top Female Player: Skyla McConkey (2.5/12) and Best Newcomer: Gary Zachary (5.5/12). For tournament info and photographs visit the event page HERE




Portrush Atlantic Hotel, County Antrim

October 12-13, 2018

At the Portrush Atlantic Hotel, a mini chess festival took place at the beautiful North Coast of Northern Ireland. Featuring a simul, rapidplay and blitz, you can find the report and photos on the event page HERE





Europa Hotel, Belfast

August 25-27, 2018

The 2018 Ulster Chess Championships were once again kindly sponsored by the Europa Hotel, one of the leading luxury hotels in Belfast city centre. We had 57 entrants spread across 3 divisions. Congratulations to the new Ulster Champion Thomas Donaldson (1891) (5/6), who delivered beautiful attacking chess to inspire all the spectators, both in the room and those watching the live games online. For the full report with all the winners, please CLICK HERE




Strand Arts Centre, East Belfast

April 29, 2018

It has been an epic first season for Strand Chess Club, winning the Senior and Junior sections of the Ulster Team Rapidplay Championships, followed by winning Divisions 3 and 4 in the Belfast and District Chess League. Meanwhile, Strand 1 and Strand 2 also exceeded expectations in Division 1 by finishing in 2nd and 3rd place respectfully. Many players also scooped league board prizes which will be presented at the UCU AGM in June 2018. On Sunday April 29, Strand's annual awards ceremony celebrated all of the team awards over the past season and also 8 individual trophies and medals for 'Player of the Season', 'Most Improved Player', 'Best Newcomer' and 'Performance of the Season' for best victory in each of the Strand teams. For a list of all the prize-winners, please CLICK HERE.


Geoff Hindley (left) presenting the special plaque to David McAlister


Presentation to David McAlister

April 22, 2018

At the Ulster Rapidplay Championships on Saturday April 21, the Ulster Chess Union presented David McAlister with an 'Honorary Lifetime Membership Award' for decades of voluntary service to Ulster Chess and Irish Chess, through extensive writing on chess history, reporting results, controlling over 100 tournaments and serving for 12 years as President of the Ulster Chess Union.

Brendan Jamison states that "David will be greatly missed when he moves to live in Scotland this summer. A true gentleman with an inspirational amount of passion for our local chess community, he set the foundations for so much of the success we currently enjoy in our expanding chess scene. A living legend with super high intelligence, strong interpersonal skills, perpetual level-headedness and a great sense of humour, and all of this combined with superb historical knowledge of Ulster Chess and Irish Chess. He has contributed so much time and energy since the 1970s and has influenced generations of chess lovers. David first won the coveted 'Silver King' in 1973 as captain of the QUB Division 1 team. He went on to win it three more times, in 1979 with CIYMS, followed up in 1992 and 1994 with Newtownards Chess Club. David is held in the absolute highest regards and we wish him every success as he begins this new chapter of his life. Hopefully David will return every now and again to play in some of our major Belfast events in the years ahead."




Sponsored by Falls Bowling Club, Belfast

April 21, 2018

42 players travelled to Falls Bowling Club on Saturday April 21 for this year's Ulster Rapidplay Championships in West Belfast. Both sections offered a very high standard, with Nikhil Joshi crowned Ulster Rapidplay Champion and Colin Burcombe scooped the Intermediate Championship. For further info please CLICK HERE

Thursday April 19, 2018: Live radio inteview with Nigel Blair on Belfast 89FM to promote the Ulster Rapidplay Championships at Falls Bowling Club




Supported by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council

April 18, 2018

ChessNI is delighted to announce the arrival of a new chess club at the public library in Lisburn City Centre which will launch on May 5, 2018. Neil Gardner will be running the club every Saturday from 11am to 1pm. Everyone is welcome, from beginners to experienced players. Location: Lisburn City Library, 23 Linenhall Street, Lisburn, BT28 1FJ.



The highest rated active players in Northern Ireland

April 1, 2018

The beginning of April welcomed the release of the new rating list, published by Ratings Officer Robert Lavery. This is always an exciting peep into the ups and downs of local players to see who is progressing up the rating table and which clubs are rolling out the strongest players!








Classic Rating







  David Houston









  Gabor Horvath









  Nikhil Joshi









  Steve Scannell









  Stephen Rush









  Stephen Morgan









  Thomas Donaldson









  Danny Roberts




Civil Service





  Gareth Annesley









  Nicholas Pilkiewicz









  Sergio Esteve-Sanchez









  Mike Redman









  Calum Leitch









  Brendan Jamison









  Danny Mallaghan








Lanyon North, Queen's University, Belfast

March 27, 2018

The 20 round Belfast South tournament culminated at the end of March after an enjoyable 5 months of classical chess. Brendan Jamison (1808) was crowned champion, with Ting Yan Lee (1492) in second place. Grading prizes were awarded to David Ruben (1591), Cathal Murphy (1363) and Joshua Leslie (1136). For final standings please CLICK HERE




Students' Union, Queen's University, Belfast

March 27, 2018

On Tuesday 27 March, an exciting international chess match was played at Queen's University, Belfast, when our top youth players competed against 11 teenagers from Germany. For details of the match please CLICK HERE



Students' Union, Queen's University, Belfast

March 23-25, 2018

Congratulations to the 16 prize-winners at this year's Williamson Shield competition which ran over three days with a total of 6 rounds of classical chess. Nikhil Joshi (2046) was crowned Champion with 5/6 and Adrian Dornford-Smith (1102) won the intermediate section with the same undefeated score of 4 wins and two draws. For details of all the winners please CLICK HERE




Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Thursday February 22, 2018

Congratultions to WGM Dina Belenkaya from Saint Petersburg who scored 25.5 in a 30 player simultaneous in Belfast. After five and a half hours, 4 victors emerged, Gareth Annesley, Ross Harris, Nial Troughton and Michael Sheerin (now his third GM simul victory in a row!) and Brendan Jamison held Dina to a draw. Meanwhile Edward Khanzharov was awarded the title of 'Last Man Standing'. For more info about the event please click here



Belfast, Northern Ireland

Saturday February 3, 2018

Congratultions to Strand 1 who have been crowned the 2018 Ulster Team Rapidplay Champions. Meanwhile Bangor scooped the Intermediate title and the teenage team of Strand 3 won the Junior section. To find out more and view images from the event please click here



Northern Ireland

Wednesday January 3, 2018

Brendan Jamison analyses the current membership levels of chess clubs across Northern Ireland and discusses where chess has contracted and expanded...To read the article please click here



Ulster Blitz Champion 2017: Nikhil Joshi (right) as he collects his prize from Arbiter Damien Cunningham


Ballynafeigh Bowling Club, Ormeau Road, Belfast

December 30, 2017

On the same day as Magnus Carlsen won the World Blitz Championships in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile back in Belfast, 28 competitors fought it out for the Ulster Blitz Championship. Congratulations to Nikhil Joshi (2103) for winning the tournament and also well done to the other 4 prize-winners: 2nd Place: Stephen Morgan (1714), 3rd Place: Sergio Esteve-Sanchez (1863), 4th Place: Thomas Donaldson (1761) and the Under 1200 Grading Prize:  Dexter Harris. To visit the tournament page with full results, please click here




Queen's University, Belfast

December 19, 2017

The two largest clubs in Northern Ireland held a 24-player battle with classic time controls of 3 hours per game. To read the complete report with full results, please click here


All the prize-winners: Left to right: Anthony White (on behalf of James White), Ciaran Rowen, Champion Nikhil Joshi, Dmitry Zelenchuk, Junior Champion Adam Rushe, Aaditya Singh, Niall Troughton and John Bradley.


Christian Brothers Grammar School, Omagh

November 25, 2017

A fun-filled day of speed chess as two new champions were crowned. Congratulations to Nikhil Joshi who won the Senior Championship with 5.5/6 and Adam Rushe won the Junior section with the perfect score of 6/6.  To view a complete list of all prize-winners, please click here




15 November 2017

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, meets with Youth Chess Ambassador Ross Harris, nine year-old Dexter Harris and eight-year old Adam Fitzsimons in Cardiff, Wales.



All the prize-winners: Left to right: Mark Newman, Alex Goss,Stephen Rush, Daniil Zelenchuk, Robert Lavery, Cathal Murphy, Adrian Dornford-Smith, Paul Anderson and Adam Rushe.


Students' Union, Queen's University Belfast

October 13-15, 2017

A thrilling weekend of chess saw three closely fought sections, with 10 players scooping prizes on the Sunday evening. To view a complete list of all prize-winners and photos from the evnet, please click here



All the prize-winners at this year's Ulster Championships at Europa Hotel, Belfast


Europa Hotel, Belfast

September 2-3, 2017

The over 1700 senior section of this year’s Ulster Championships enjoyed a special international flavour with our favourite American competitors Steve Scannell (1983) and Stephen Rush (1844) joined by newcomers Nikhil Joshi (2103) from India and Sergio Pereira (2001) from Portugal. We also welcomed 3 exceptional young players from the Republic of Ireland, Jonathan Peoples (1757), Peter Carroll (1742) and Alex Goss (1714). Polish FIDE Master Karina Kruk WFM also entered the mix, as did Thomas Donaldson (1753), recently elected Chess Club President at Imperial College London.  To continue reading the report please click here



Team Belfast in Saint Petersburg, Russia


The Youth Sports Schools of Kalininsky, Saint Petersburg, Russia

August 18-25, 2017

Mikhail Pavlov and Brendan Jamison arranged a chess match between Saint Petersburg and Belfast. The trip to Russia took place from Friday 18 to Friday 25 August 2017. Team Belfast featured 12 players: Mikhail Pavlov, Brendan Jamison, Ross Harris, Dexter Harris, Adam Fitzsimons, Edward Doak, Dmitry Zelenchuk, Daniil Zelenchuk, Mark Newman, Adrian Dornford-Smith, Barney McGahan and John Bradley. Further information can be found on the International Events Page

During Spring 2017, a series of successful fund-raising tournaments allowed a contribution towards the flight costs for the 4 children travelling to Russia. A total of £600 was split into 4 travel awards of £150 each to Adam Fitzsimons (8), Dexter Harris (8), Daniil Zelenchuk (14) and Edward Doak (17).  We then received some additional private donations and a generous £150 business sponsorship from Language Training Solutions which enabled us to contribute towards the child visas which are extremely expensive at £130 each so we greatly appreciate the added help with these costs.

Left to right: Danny Roberts and Joanne Ritchie from Language Training Solutions presenting an award of £150 to organiser Brendan Jamison with two of the children representing Belfast in a chess match against Saint Petersburg in Augsut 2017, 8 year old Dexter Harris and 13 year old Daniil Zelenchuk.

Director of CHESS NI Brendan Jamison states that "we offer our sincere thanks to Daniel Roberts and Joanne Ritchie from Language Training Solutions who share our passion for the educational merits of a cross-cultural chess match in Saint Petersburg, interweaving the role of play and creativity with learning new language skills and improving communication techniques. When chess players from around the world move to Northern Ireland and have little grasp of the English language, many begin their integration process by joining our local chess community. We get extremely excited by players from overseas who join us at Belfast tournaments as they greatly enrich the cultural life of the city. In recent years, we have welcomed players from China, India, Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary and The Phillipines. Hopefully this trend will continue and expand over the next decade as Belfast enjoys a rebirth as a vibrant cosmopolitan city."

Please visit our business sponsor's website:


All the prize-winners


Students' Union, Queen's University, Belfast

May 6-7, 2017

Congratulations to all the prize-winners at the City of Belfast Championships. It was an unpredictable weekend with some surprise results but an outstanding standard of chess. A full report is available here





All the prize-winners


Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast

April 28, 2017

Congratulations to all the prize-winners at the Belfast Rapidplay Championships. It was a night of of immense fun as 36 players battled it out across 3 sections. A full report and full suite of photographs is available here






Good Shepherd Centre, Belfast

March 4, 2017

Congratulations to all the prize-winners at the Belfast Blitz and Bullet Championships. It was a day of immense fun, lots of laughter and plenty of free drinks and snacks to keep everyone happy. 30 of Northern Ireland's top players competed in the Blitz competitions and 17 battled it out in the Bullet. Danny Roberts (1975) was crowned Belfast Blitz Champion, with 2nd and 3rd place going to Sergio Esteve-Sanchez (1994) and Modestas Razbadauskas (1678). All three tied on 13/16 but Roberts enjoyed a superior Median Buchholz compared to that of Sanchez and Razbadauskas. Meanwhile in the Junior band, Gary Johnston (1002) won the championship with 8/16, followed closely behind by Dmitry Zelenchuk (1178) and Chris Armstrong (1326), winning 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

In the Children's Blitz, 15 year old Ciaran Rowan (1038) sailed to victory as he secured the champion's trophy, followed by 8 year old Adam Fitzsimons (702) who won the silver medal for 2nd place. The position of 3rd place was extremely close, with 12 year old Joel McLean (1002) and 8 year old Dexter Harris (874) both level on 5/9 points as they entered round 10 in a final showdown. Both players attacked each other with elegant combinations but in the end Joel lost on time, however, he was commended for an excellent tournament performance. Dexter was awarded a bronze medal for winning 3rd place after a titanic last round battle which impressed all the spectators who encircled the table. Special mention should also go to young primary schoolboy James Fitzsimons (400) for all the joy and fun he brought to the playing room as he competed in his first ever chess tournament. His passion and enthusiasm for the game is definitely infectious!

The Bullet Championships were held as one open tournament with 1 minute on the clock and no increments. Daniil Zelenchuk (1426) was crowned Belfast Bullet Champion 2017 with an impressive score of 7/8. Second place was awarded to fellow Russian chess genius Mikhail Pavlov (1513) for 6/8 and in a similar fashion to his 3rd place in the Blitz, the super strong speed player Modestas Razbadauskas (1678) won the bronze medal with 6/8. Father to the Bullet Champion, Dmitry Zelenchuk (1178) won the Junior Championship with 4/8! In close 2nd was the up and coming teenage chess prodigy Edward Doak (1313) who secured the silver medal. 3rd place was awarded to Bangor Chess Club's mastermind Gary Johnston (1002), his second award of the day. The Children's band was won by Ciaran Rowan (1038) who took the gold medal, followed by Adam Fitzsimons (702) in second place.

This event, coupled with last week's Monster Double Simul Match, raised a total of £450 towards the flight costs for an upcoming Saint Petersberg verses Belfast Match in August 2017. Therefore ChessNI was able to present 3 travel awards of £150 each to 3 of Northern Ireland's most promising young stars, 8 year old Dexter Harris (874), 13 year old Daniil Zelenchuk (1426) and 16 year old Edward Doak (1313). Our sincere thanks to all the participants at these two events, without whom these grants could not have been awarded. Also, a gigantic thank you to the broader chess community who generously donated to this youth fund, in particular Norman McFarland, John O'Doherty and Martin Kelly, all of whom contributed £20 each.

For full list or results please CLICK HERE


Belfast and District Chess Leagues


Chris Roe

 Ben Campbell

 Rian Mellotte

 Captain Jasper Ramsey

 Cathan Gormley

 Vincent Crean



2017 Champions

March 2, 2017

Congratulations to QUB 3, the 2017 champions in Division 3 of the Belfast and District Chess Leagues. After their 12th consecutive win in a row, this week saw Captain Jasper Ramsey secure victory with 4 rounds still to play before the end of the season. Well done to the entire team of Chris Roe, Vincent Crean, Ben Campbell, Rian Mellotte, Jasper Ramsey, Cathan Gormley and the reserve players Kieran Hunter and Martin Beregszaszi. We look forward to seeing QUB 3 in Division 2 next season. For league page please CLICK HERE



Participants, medal winners and joint champions at the Monster Double Simul Match


Good Shepherd Centre, Ormeau Road, Belfast

February 24, 2017

The Double Monster Simul Match saw Mikhail Pavlov (1766) and Brendan Jamison (1743) go into battle against 11 different players. Brendan’s red team faced the Russian opera star; meanwhile Mikhail’s blue team duelled with the sugar cube sculptor.

Zooming about on their wheelie chairs, it was an exciting night where every point would count to decide the winner of the match. Lots of delicious refreshments were also on hand to distract the players from their games! A total of £120 was raised for the worthwhile cause of funding three children to fly to Russia in August for a 4 day chess match between Saint Petersburg and Belfast.

After 3 hours of continuous play, Pavlov won an impressive 8 games, drawing only one against Richard Gould who collected a silver medal award and losing two games to Ross Harris and Daniil Zelenchuk, both of whom won gold medals. The certificate for ‘last man standing’ [L.M.S.] went to Dmitry Zelenchuk. Pavlov’s total score was an incredible 8.5 points out of 11.

Meanwhile on the other side of the room, Jamison picked up 7 wins but drew three games against Mark Newman, Michael Sheerin and Robert Lavery, with all three scooping silver medals. He lost one game to Ram Rajan who won a gold medal for his victory. The certificate for ‘last man standing’ went to Adrian Dornford-Smith for lasting 77 moves. Jamison’s total was also 8.5 points out of 11. And so, after all the intensity of concentration, the high energy leg work to wheel their chairs at high speed around the room, their total focus and dedication in each game, in the end, the two monsters finished equal! Instead of playing a blitz-off, they agreed to share the trophy and were happy to remain ‘Joint-Champions of the Monster Double Simul Match’! A sincere thanks to everyone who participated, the evening was lots of fun and everyone really enjoyed the buzz!

For a complete suite of photos from the evening and the results table, please CLICK HERE



Mayor of Ennis, Ann Norton, presents the winning cup to Mikhail Pavlov, Bunratty Challengers Champion 2017


Bunratty Castle Hotel, County Clare, Ireland

February 17-19, 2017

35 players from Northern Ireland competed in Bunratty, Ireland's largest international chess festival. There were a total of 333 players across all 4 sections, with the Masters band featuring a wealth of high-profile figures, including Grandmasters Nigel Short, Jonathan Speelman, Mark Hebden, Alexander Baburin and Peter Wells. NI Chess hero David Houston (2219) finished with an impressive score of 3.5/6 in the Masters section of 48 players, in a field completely dominated by GMs, IMs and FMs!

Meanwhile in the Challengers (1600-1999), 83 players fought hard for the trophy and the 600 Euro first prize but it was Northern Ireland's top Russian chess player Mikhail Pavlov (1766) who won the entire section with an outstanding score of 5.5/6 and a tournament performance rating (TPR) of 2157. His phenomenal Round 5 game against WCM Diana Mirza (1854) can be viewed on the Games Archive page. The other notable score in this band was Sergio Esteve-Sanchez (1994) who also remained unbeaten, chalking up three draws and three wins to finish on 4.5/6.

The Major section (1200-1599) saw 13 year old Daniil Zelenchuk (1370) win the Band 1 grading prize with an impressive score of 4.5/6, finishing 5th out of 85 players. He was also the highest scoring NI player in this band. In Round 1 Daniil demonstrated a spectacular win over number 1 seed Jonathan Smith (1585), with a thrilling game of tactical brilliance which was broadcast live across the internet. Unsurprisingly, Daniil's TPR was 1628 and bodes well for his journey towards a 2000 rating in the years to come! Other outstanding performances in this section were by Liam Ferris (1247), Ram Rajan (1368) and John Phillips (1223), all finishing on 4/6, with Phillips scooping the Band 3 Grading Prize.

The Minor section (Under 1200) also saw a remarkable performance by Belfast player Rian Mellotte (987) who won 3rd prize with 5/6, followed closely by Tyrone Winter (944) who claimed the grading prize with 4.5/6. Two other impressive tournament results in this section came from QUB mastermind Chris Roe (1095) and UCU Treasurer Adrian Dornford-Smith (1155), both ending on 4.5/6 and finishing in the top 15 from a field of 117 players! Two other players from Northern Ireland shined through in this section, Ben Campbell (1010) and Iza Bujak (1188), both only losing one game and drawing two, with the pair ending with a very respectable 4/6.

To view a table of how our 35 players performed across each section, please CLICK HERE.


GM Mark Hebden makes his first move on board 1


Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Belfast

February 16, 7:15pm - 12:15am

Congratulations to English GM Mark Hebden for duelling with 31 of Northern Ireland's top players in Belfast tonight. He defeated 26, drew with 2 and lost only 3. The first win of the night was an impressive victory by Modestas Razbadauskas. This was followed by Mikhail Pavlov who cleverly trapped the GM's Bishop and finished with 3 extra pawns in the endgame. Another exceptional performance was delivered by Michael Sheerin who once again beat a GM, only 12 months after defeating GM Simon Williams in February 2016!

Current Ulster Champion Stephen Rush held Hebden to a draw, as did 13 year old Daniil Zelenchuk who played a spectacular game where he won a pawn and took it to an endgame simplification with his pawn and Rook versus the GMs Rook, with the latter defending accurately to hold the draw. The final prize of the night went to Ross Harris as the 'Last Man Standing', gallantly fighting head-to-head with the GM for the last 15 minutes of the match, completing a total of 105 moves!

The entire night was extremely enjoyable. The buzz in the air was electric. All the participants were thrilled to have the opportunity to play such a charismatic GM, our sincere thanks to Mark Hebden for all the fun and laughter. For full results and photos please CLICK HERE


9pm at the Chess-athon: Ulster Champion Stephen Rush, Brendan Jamison, Mikhail Pavlov and Ross Harris


NI Physiotherapy, Newtownards Road, Belfast

February 11-12, 2017

Congratulations to multi-award winning chess champion Ross Harris who has just completed a non-stop 24 hour Chess-athon. He has raised over £700 for a new children's chess club at Strand Arts Centre in East Belfast.

Starting at 8am on Saturday 11th February and continuing right through the night until 8am on Sunday 12th, it has been an exceptional feat of mental endurance. Completing over 100 games, Ross was on top tournament form, winning almost all of his over-the-board matches and drawing just 3. The half points were against current Ulster Champion Stephen Rush, Damien Cunningham and Brendan Jamison.

Epic battles throughout the day included 25 minute games against Dexter Harris, Ram Rajan, Dennis Thorpe, Mikhail Pavlov and several parents at Mark Newman's monthly Children's Chess Competition at Methodist College Belfast.

Generous donations flooded in, with large contributions from Calum Leitch, William Storey, Jason Harris, Patricia Managh, David McAlister, Chris Roe, Neal Lindores, Sergio Esteve Sanchez, Daniil Zelenchuk and Paul Anderson. This wonderful level of support demonstrates the passion we all share for the importance of children as the future of chess. Let us look forward to a new generation of IMs and GMs pouring out of Northern Ireland!

Special thanks should also go to Adrian Dornford-Smith, for not only supporting the event financially, but also for his tech support to ensure live streaming of the games at

In the end, Ross completed 21 over-the-board games and 80 online duels. Like all things Ross sets his mind to, it was an overwhelming success. His abundance of positive energy and enthusiasm for developing children's chess is phenomenal. A great inspirational figure in the local chess scene and a hero to all the kids he coaches every week. We salute you Ross, you are a total superstar!

6pm at the Chess-athon: Ross Harris, Blake Harris, Dexter Harris and Brendan Jamison




Students' Union, Queen's University, Belfast

February 3-5, 2017

Format: 6 round classic





 Brendan Jamison


2nd Place



 Mark Newman


3rd Place



 Robert Lavery


 Intermediate Champion



 Edward Doak


 Intermediate 2nd Place



 Ram Rajan


 Intermediate 3rd Place



 Daniil Zelenchuk


 Junior Champion



 Clark Rodriguez


 Junior 2nd Place



 Rian Mellotte


 Junior 3rd Place



 Tyrone Winter


 Giant Slayer Award



 Rian Mellotte




The Pavilion, Stormont Estate, Belfast

January 28-29, 2017

Format: 6 round classic





 Gareth Annesley


 2nd Place



 Nicholas Pilkiewicz


 Intermediate Champion



 John McKenna


 Intermediate 2nd Place



 Modestas Razbadauskas


 Under 1300 Grading Prize



 Gary Johnston




Kirovsky District Chess School, Saint Petersburg, Russia

January 7-10, 2017

Format: 9 round classic

Northern Ireland chess players Mikhail Pavlov and Brendan Jamison travelled to Russia in early January 2017 to play in the Kirovsky New Year Tournament. The Kirovsky District Chess Academy has over 1200 members and the duo played in the highest grading band (Section A) which contained 106 players upto grading 1900. Despite missing the first two rounds because they were flying into the city that day, Pavlov still scored an impressive 5.5/7, winning a trophy for highest placed international player. Meanwhile, Jamison ended on 5/7, the second highest scoring international player, and he was awarded a certificate. For further images please visit International Events Page




BBC Radio Ulster, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast

December 1, 2016

Programme: Good Morning Ulster with Noel Thompson. 7:55am to 9am.

NI Chess player Brendan Jamison was invited onto BBC's Good Morning Ulster Programme on 1st December 2016 to play a game live on air with presenter Noel Thompson. Sadly the BBC anchorman only lasted 6 moves before checkmate! But they also enjoyed discussing the Wolrd Chess Championship in New York which was won by Norwegian GM Magnus Calsen a few hours beforehand after he defeated Russian GM Sergey Karjakin. Jamison also discussed the mental gymnastics of the game in which the brain becomes completely animated, in a similiar fashion to the buzz that athletes enjoy when endorphins are released through exercise. The interview had a wide-reaching audience, and even the social media channels were erupting with commentary, with the highlight coming from esteemed British GM Nigel Short who tweeted about the chess opening played during the BBC interview!







For details of upcoming chess tournaments please visit





Outdoor blitz tournaments organised by Strand Chess Club and Bangor Chess Club are held at different locations, mainly in East Belfast and the North Down and Ards area. Greenisland FC are running events in County Antrim.

Please note these are heavily oversubscribed. We hope more clubs will run rated events outdoors as it feels wonderful playing in the fresh air.

To view current standings





RULES 2021


(1) Players will need to wear gloves while playing chess. Or bring hand sanitiser and apply before the start of each game, before touching any chess pieces.


(2) Chess boards will be spaced out at 1 metre distance between boards. Tables will also be spaced out. 


(3) Chess equipment will be disinfected with Dettol wipes prior to the start of Round 1.


(4) Entry fees to be paid online in advance to avoid handling cash on the day (which will also require disinfection).


(5) Anyone with Covid symptoms or living with someone with a cough, fever, loss of smell or taste, needs to avoid coming to the chess event.


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Director: B. Jamison © 2016-2021

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