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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Thriller From the 1973 Irish Championship

     Sometimes you run into a position in a book or magazine that arouses your curiosity and when you play over the game it just tickles your fancy. Heidenfeld's win over Cootes in the 1973 Irish Championship was such a game; the position after white’s 22nd move with white two pieces down and black's King naked as a blue jay is fascinating. 
     The tournament winner was Hugh MacGrillen who scored +7 -0 =2 to win his only Irish championship title. MacGrillen was born in 1945 and died at the age of 58 in January of 2004. He played in two Olympiads: Skopje 1972 and Nice 1974. 
     I have posted about Heidenfeld before HERE. His opponent, Arthur Cootes is probably known only in Ireland. Cootes was born in New York on February 1, 1907 and was a US citizen; he passed away on December 1, 2002 after a short illness resulting from the effects of a fall in his apartment in September. 
     As a child, Cootes lived in Northern Ireland, living with his father and grandparents. His grandfather was the owner of the Victor Coates Engineering Company. The company built steam engines for the local spinning and shipbuilding industries. 
     In his early days as a child in Ireland he was tutored by a local expert. While attending Cambridge University he became friendly with P.S. Milner-Barry, whom he often played. He graduated from Cambridge in 1929 with a BA degree and in 1933 earned and MA degree, after which he taught for many years. However, his main career was forestry and during the Second World War he traveled the country selecting timber for charcoal production. The charcoal was used in making steel. He also worked in numerous countries in South America, Jamaica, Yugoslavia, Australia and New Zealand where he lived for twelve years. His travels exposed him to tropical illnesses which took their toll on his digestive system and he had to watch his diet later in life. 
     He returned to Northern Ireland in 1965 and joined a couple of chess clubs and a golf club in Belfast.  It was at the Belfast Chess Club where he got his new name. His real name was Victor Coates, but a member of the club kept referring to him as Arthur Cootes and that was the name he adapted as a chess player! 
     Cootes continued his chess activity to the end of his life as both an administrator and tournament player. He was also an avid golfer and worked to improve the course at the Knock Golf Club where he played for many years. 

1973 Irish Championship 
1) MacGrillen 7.0 
2) P Henry 6.5 
3-4) W Heidenfeld and Cassidy 6.0 
5) D Cox 5.5 
6-8) Dennehy, Kennefick and McMahon 5.0 
9-12) Doyle, Quigley, and Coldrick 4.5 
13-14) Littleton and Pinkerton 4.0 
15-16) A Cootes and Blair 3.0 
17-18) Kennedy and Cafferky  1.5 

Now on to the game...
 

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