The Chess Players. Picture: Michelle Ghee.
The fifth annual Brian Collum memorial chess tournament took place at the PJ Murphy sportshall, Newtownforbes, Friday March 8.
With over 550 students competing this year, it was one the biggest tournaments to date and a fitting tribute to former All-Ireland chess champion, Brian, who tragically lost his life to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS) in 2014. Brian was not only a chess enthusiast, but also a very talented GAA footballer, lining out for Fr Manning Gaels and for Longford county from U16 to U21 level.
“Brian was an all-rounder. He was a county U21 footballer with Longford and fullback with the Drumlish senior team.” organiser Pat McCarrick told the Leader.
“He was also an All-Ireland Irish dancing champion, a classical pianist and a brilliant accordion player. He was the most unassuming happy young man, you could bring him anywhere.”
The idea to form the chess tournament was one pioneered by Pat McCarrick of Chessmates after Brian’s passing. Having known Brian from a young age and because he was partially responsible for Brian’s continued involvement in the sport, Pat decided with the Collum family that a chess tournament would be the perfect tribute.
Brian’s mother, Bernie, expressed her pride at seeing Brian's legacy inspiring future chess playing generations.
“The event is great because it brings us all together once again,” she told the Leader.
“It is a great way to celebrate Brian’s memory and the game of chess. I know if he was here he would be one of the people taking the scores because he really loved the game and he would have really loved the idea of a community event like this in Longford.”
Bernie lauded the benefits of the tournament to children: “The benefits of chess for school children are great. The kids can have a chat with people they have never met before and learn the social skills that will help take them through life.”
Brian’s brother Emmett, who is the drummer with Longford band Brave Giant, was also in attendance helping out on the day.
“He would have great pride in seeing all of these people coming here, especially in the numbers we have this year.” said Emmett.
“I think he would be blown away and he would think it’s a great thing that the game is being pushed in Longford.
This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of friends, family and Pat McCarrick whose brainchild this is.” he concluded.
Listen to what Brian's brother Emmett had to say about the event below, when speaking to the Longford Leader.