The Irish National Master Title
by Mark Orr
created May 19, 2013; last updated July 23, 2014

Irish National Master certificate

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This is the history of the Irish National Master (INM) title. Most of the information for this article was provided by Fred Harte (former rating officer) with assistance from John Gibson (former Grading Committee chairperson) and Eamon Keogh (former ICU chairperson and an Irish National Master).

An example of the certificate awarded is shown on the right.

In 1976 Brendan Hayes, then chairman of the ICU Grading Committee, proposed the awarding of national chess master titles:

  • to provide recognition, reward and prestige for qualifying players
  • to provide a target for rising players
  • to be an intermediate step on the way to gaining FIDE master titles
  • for publicity value (based on recognition of the term "Master" by the general public)

Some records survive of the process by which a working scheme came into existence:

  • some notes for discussion by Brendan Hayes (July 1976)
  • a recommendation by the ICU Grading Committee (August 1976)
  • a set of draft regulations by Brendan Hayes (1976)

The system eventually adopted provided alternative routes to the title: winning 3 Irish championships, gaining a FIDE title or winning enough "master points". Further records relate to the working of the system in the 70's and 80's:

  • the May 1977 grading list for top players, with INMs indicated
  • an explanatory article by Fred Harte (January 1983)
  • a table of 13 players by Fred Harte (January 1983)
  • a note about 6 players by Fred Harte (January 1983)
  • a note about 3 players in Fiacla Fichille by Fred Harte (March 1984)

From these records and other notes kept by Fred Harte, we know that the following players were awarded the title:

  • May 1977: Bernard Kernan, Brian Reilly, Eamon Keogh, John Moles, Michael Littleton, Wolfgang Heidenfeld
  • Apr 1980: Alan Ludgate, David Dunne, Paul Delaney, Paul Henry
  • Nov 1982: Philip Short, Tony Doyle
  • Jul 1986: Colm Barry, John Delaney

At some stage during the 90's, the INM award scheme came to a halt although it's not clear why. Possible reasons for the demise of the system are:

  • the burden on the rating officer of calculating master points as well as ratings
  • FIDE's introduction, in 1978, of a third tier title - FM - below GM and IM