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Speech at the Glorney Gilbert International Chess Tournament

Johnstown House Hotel & Spa, Enfield, 19th July 2015

A Dhaoine Uaisle,

A Chailíní agus a Bhuachaillí,

Tá áthas orm a bheith anseo libh tráthnóna chun an Comórtas Fichille Idirnáisiúnta seo a oscailt go hoifigiúil. Is mian liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le Chathaoirleach Chumann Fichille na hÉireann, Pat Fitzsimons, agus leis an Oifigeach Sóisearach Desmond Beatty, as an cuireadh a thugadar dom a bheith anseo libh inniu, agus libhse ar fad as an fíorchaoin fáilte sin a d’fhear sibh romham.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Girls and Boys,

I am delighted to be here this evening to officially open this International Chess Tournament. I wish to thank the Chairperson of the Irish Chess Union, Pat Fitzsimons, and Desmond Beatty for inviting me to join you today, and all of you for that warm welcome.  I also wish to extend my céad míle fáilte to those of you who have travelled from Wales, Scotland and England to take part in this competition. It is an honour to be chosen to represent your country in any discipline and as President of Ireland and as Patron of the Irish Chess Union I wish to congratulate you all on your achievement. 

The game of chess is indeed a noble and ancient one. Believed to have its origins in the Indian Subcontinent, it has travelled the length and breadth of the globe and found devotees of every race, creed and nationality. You can all be very proud of yourselves for carrying on this wonderful tradition. 

Irish mythology tells us that Na Fianna, the ancient Irish warrior band, recognised the benefits of chess; when training young men to join their band the youths would spend one third of their day playing hurling, one third of their day learning poetry and one third at chess.

I was delighted to learn of the “Chess for All” schools project, where a philanthropic donor wanted to offer chess in schools around Ireland. A mystery donor has recently offered free chess sets along with 6 week comprehensive training courses by experts to any school in Ireland which would like to avail of the project and to introduce children to the wonderful game of chess.

It is indeed a sport that teaches us many skills and qualities on which we can draw in many other areas of our lives. Chess requires the patience to study carefully what is taking place on the board and to take responsibility for our actions so that we do not make a rash move which we will later regret. We must be aware of our opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and try to anticipate their strategies.  And, of course, having played so many games of chess I am sure you have all learnt one of life’s most important lessons;  how to be compassionate in victory and gracious in defeat. We cannot always be victorious in life, but it is important to recognise and remember that if we strive to do our absolute best and never fail to treat our opponents with respect and honour, we can always be proud of ourselves.

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your trainers and backroom teams, your families and friends for the important role they play in your success. Although the of chess in by its nature a solitary one, each individual’s performance depends on the support of those closest to them, personally and in competition, to help them through their preparations, and we extend our appreciation to all of them for their contribution to your accomplishments.

In conclusion, I hope that you all have an enjoyable time here at the Jamestown House Hotel. I know that you will all represent your countries to the best of your abilities and that you will all be very proud of what you have achieved.  Chess is a truly global sport and as chess players you now have the gift of a universal language that will allow you to make friendships with people from every part of the world. 

With that, all that is left for me to say is that I am delighted to declare the Glorney Gilbert International Chess Tournament officially open.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh agus go n-éirí libh go léir.