Trinity Chess Tournament: The Future of Irish Chess?

Eoin Farrelly covers Trinity Chess Society’s tournament and explains what the future of chess could look like with the rise of online chess popularity.

Early Saturday morning, April 13, while the Trinity College campus was clearing away the scenes of the previous night’s Trinity Ball, down the road in Goldsmith Hall, the Trinity Chess Society was busy setting up chairs and tables for the Trinity Chess Tournament.

This was the first public tournament Trinity Chess Society had hosted since 2014, and there were 122 entrees, including nine chess masters, looking to win some of the €600 prize funds. Jacob Barron, newly elected president of Trinity Chess Society and organiser of the event, is “very proud of the huge turnout” and has received a lot of support from the players, “who all seemed to have a good time.”

The first-place prize went down to a play-off match between two players, Spanish Fide Master, Alvaro Bayo Milagro, and fifteen-year-old, Jason Liu, who both finished on an impressive 6/7 points. Milagro won the play-off match, taking home first-place.

“It was a Rapidplay tournament”

Players had 15 minutes each to make all of their moves. Traditionally, the classical time format of chess tournaments allows players over an hour each. However, in recent years, the surge in chess popularity online has created a greater demand and interest in faster time formats. Online, these faster formats (some as quick as 30 seconds) make chess a much more accessible and exciting game. A game can be played and decided anywhere at any time, by anyone, at any level. This has attracted millions of players and fans to the game, and as a result, these time formats are being taken more seriously in over-the-board tournaments.

In 2013, there were 15 official Blitz and Rapid tournaments in Ireland, and by 2023, this number had increased to 34.

The online explosion of chess has also led to a chess streaming sensation in recent years, including coverage of live tournaments. An ongoing high-level tournament, the Candidates Tournament, has been watched for over 5 million hours by viewers worldwide, according to stats released by Esports Charts.

“This phenomenon of live coverage has begun to seep into the Irish chess scene, with the Sligo classical tournament notably broadcasting all its games online”

Yet the Trinity tournament was the first of its kind to pair this coverage with a rapid-time format. The top 12 boards in the Trinity Rapid Tournament were being broadcast online, thanks to live boards provided by the Irish Chess Union and live commentary provided by former world champion WFM Diana Mirza. The Irish chess streamer has created for herself a following of over 7,500 people on Twitch, and her coverage of the Trinity Chess Tournament had a total viewership of over 2,500 people.

This suggests the potential of live chess coverage in the future of Irish chess. There is a huge digital chess audience out there. The Trinity tournament, with its accessible and exciting time format and viewer-friendly yet professional live coverage, shows a possible step towards connecting Irish chess with that audience.

Barron wishes to make the Trinity Chess Tournament a “yearly tradition, and make it even better next time around.”

To find out more about the Trinity Chess Society:

Instagram: @trinitychesssoc

Email [email protected]