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athgarvan

Checkmate

Spring arrives in February when nature comes to life and colour after the dark days of winter. A group of Irish speakers traditionally organize a Conference in February to offer an opportunity to those who have a secret talent to "bloom" and talk about it. Last Saturday one of the speakers at the Conference was Úna O'Boyle from Co. Meath. As a little girl Úna showed a great talent for chess but as a teenager she opted for music and joined a band called Hyper[borea] that com - bined moody electronic music with Irish vocals. When this folded she returned to her chess and represented Ireland in the European Championships. She now teaches chess in a number of Gaelscoileanna (Irish Language Primary Schools) in the Dublin area. As Irish is not widely spoken its vocabulary finds it difficult to cope with chess, so Úna set about writing the first book on chess in the Irish language. It is called simply Ficheall (chess) and was launched last Saturday at the Conference in Cork.

"The internet has made chess really interesting," she says, "because one gets to compete against people from all over the world that really test one. Like anything, if you want to get better, you've got to play against people that are slightly better than you -- that can improve your game no end."

Úna believes that chess should be on the curriculum in all schools. She believes it teaches concentration - adult chess players must be prepared to concentrate for hours on end - and can be good for and give confidence to the slower pupil. She also believes that it greatly helps classroom dicipline.

Perhaps some of Úna's pupils will become the Bobby Fischers or the Garry Kasparovs of the future!

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