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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Greystones Open tomorrow Sunday March 29th.

As can be seen above Greystones Open Cup tomorrow Sunday if anyone wants to go play

I went to Malahide Regional Bridge Club last night to play with Maurice Quinn. It seems Maurice has retired from drinking guinness. Pint of water he had halfway thru the night. However Maurice did buy a can of guinness he planned to quaff at home later but then I forgot to take it out of my computer bag so its still in the car.
We had a nice game but overbidding underplaying wrong leads failing to ruff bad switches all took their toll on our score so we ended with a reasonable score of 57.5% but 2 others gathered in more matchpoints so we finished 3rd of 9 ..
I figured out how to fast forward the new calendar on CBAI website .. there is a go forward arrow.
I noticed two international lady players getting drilled in a match last night. 67-0 over 12.
I am going to download the boards and play same direction and see how much I can beat them by.
Hope my Jack program is in good form.
I am developing a talent for the cardgame DON. Due to the fact that bridge techniques apply to this game also I am appearing so good I must be cheating. DON is a card game played in DUBLIN among tradesmen and unlike bridge it is kind of ok to "cheat" or billy as they call it.
If I ever mention the opponent taking his time playing a singleton they just say I was thinking about the whole game as opposed to just this trick. COUNTERBOY is my DON nickname. Some of these guys have been playing DON for over 30 years and find it hard to accept a beginner can brush them aside. DON is a bridge like game but I doubt one could find a DON book anywhere. However some of the players I meet are excellent card-players within their peers. However as DON is mainly about winning tricks containing 9s and 5s some bridge like squeezes occur and this causes panic.
Unlike bridge where one is squeezed out of 1 or 2 cards/suits ..a DON player can get caught in many suits as every 5 and 9 can cause mini squeezes.
Hugh McGann is apparently a sound DON player according to himself. I believe David Walsh is also capable of a game. There is also a DON playing area around Turners Cross area in Cork.
I have taught two DON playets the game of bridge in about 15 minutes. One lad went down to the beginner classes in the local community centre and found he was somewhat ahead of them.
Declan the Donplayer. Several other lads are pondering taking up the game but reckon it is beyond them as they would only be playing when having a few beers.
Last night I heard about the DA haircut of the 50s. I was showing a 72 year old lady and after about 10 minutes she said .. I won't be buying anything else on Itunes. I saw Billy Haley and Little Richard and their contempories. Elvis got a spin too..
Here is a link to a video from the Galway Poker Bridge festival a few years ago

If you get to the end of the video you will see Thomas "Horse"  Hanlon or maybe it is a mule.

Having been in Galway at the bridge I now know what some of the top Irish poker players look like so can see lots of them in the video watching Gus and Thomas.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Senior Congress at La Mon Hotel March 17-19

Good morning folks

IBU Seniors Congress takes place at La Mon Hotel near Belfast next Tues to Thurs.
The La Mon hotel was the venue for last weekends Camrose Trophy where Ireland grabbed the Camrose Trophy in a blanket finish from a fading Wales.

The La Mon Hotel is an interesting place as Belfast hotels go. Situated in the middle of rolling countryside as opposed to city centre hotels where parking is an issue. The La Mon seems to be the current venue for major NIBU bridge events and is a fine place.

Brochure is below

La Mon Hotel IBU Senior Pairs brochure

Anne Hassan and Liz Scott are two of the people who make these events happen.
These 2 were also on the team that made the Camrose Trophy roll along last weekend.

Liz Scott dealt the 960 boards used in Camrose Trophy
Liz and Ann together were the match managers. Brian McDowell did the technical end of
the match management.

Make sure you know where you are going or use your Maps app to get there.
My phone brought me on an interesting route last weekend .. but I could see I was approaching the correct area but Knockbracken Road and Saintfield Road and eventually Glensha Road got me there.
Alternatively straight down Castlereagh Road would work out of Belfast and left onto Glensha Road.
Take it from a lad who got lost a couple of years ago .. Phone Sat Nav makes one an expert navigator.

Entries to: Anne Hassan 0044-28-90862179 - Email: Paul Porteous 01-4929666 - Email:

You don't even have to be over 60 as there are Open Pairs for the younger generation.

Eamon Galligan

Monday, March 09, 2015

Ireland win Camrose 2015 in dramatic finish

The Ireland Team of Mark Moran Rory Boland Tommy Garvey John Carroll Hugh McGann and Thomas Hanlon won an unlikely Camrose Trophy yesterday (March 08 2015)

After suffering an unexpected heavy defeat by first weekend leaders Wales on Friday night Ireland now trailed leaders Wales by 18 VPs with only a maximum of 80 VPs to play for.  A short pitstop in the bar followed. A Welshman passed by on his way to bed and was congratulated by all. The man stayed a little too long and one could feel a steely determination spread among the Irish players.
The drinks were lowered and all bar the NPC retired to bed.

The first act on Saturday morning was to defeat the star studded English team. Robson Forrester Bakhshi Gold McIntosh Allfrey are well known names in bridge. A tight match saw Ireland win by 5 imps to put a further 2 VPs between Ireland and England.

Meanwhile Wales demolished Northern Ireland to extend their lead to 25 VPs over Ireland.
Looking very grim with only 60 VPs to play for ..

In round 3 England and Ireland both scored 17.01 .... Englands coming against Wales so that was
14 VPs back but Wales remained 11 VPs in front of the two star studded chasing teams.

Sunday morning dawned and it was all matches between the top 3 versus bottom 3 ..
Ireland routed the Scots only to find that Wales had performed even better against the NIBUs
For some reason the improving Coffey and Lavery were sat out in the 2nd half and their
replacements shipped 3 Butler Imps a board.

Sunday afternoon and match 5 looms with Wales needing about 8 VPs to guarantee.
However a strange thing happened. The pair who had fired 3.14 imps per board past NIBU
were sat out. Scotland jumped into an early lead as Wales were helped into 6D. 11-0. Wales struck back with 16 imps when Scotland failed to drop offside singleton K of trumps in 7C.
Meanwhile Irelands front 4 were unloading everything at Northern Ireland and building a 49 imp lead. However Northern Ireland recovered somewhat and adding a few imps to a lodgement made by Plunkett on the first board played .. Board 15..
Robert Plunkett picked up a 54 major hand of 17 hcp and was faced by 1H P 2C  so unlike the away
from the table Robert he remained quiet thru 5 rounds of bidding as Hanlon McGann landed in
4H. Now Robert unleashed the double card and collected 800 when an opening lead of a spade left him in control. However later in the set .. Hanlon McGann got Plunkett in their grippers and surgical defence gathered in 5 vulnerable undertricks.
Meanwhile Scotland were still sticking it to Wales and Ireland/England were creeping closer but it
still remained Wales Camrose to lose.
The final 16 boards started and the imp chase was on .. Ireland rolled along with little action thru the first 10 boards. A couple of double parts score swings and finally a missed game and another double part score. added up to 39-10. Board 30 the last board in the Open Room saw Hanlon bid 3NT after asking about a Diamond Stop. McGann could take no more and installed his NPC as the dummy and left the room emerging at my side where I was watching on my laptop. Quickly he ascertained 3NT was safe and relaxed.
A few minutes later Ireland scored up outside the hotel back door and indicated happiness with the days proceedings regardless of the result. of the event which was beyond their control.
Wales were a few boards behind in the play and still playing.
Thomas Hanlon had examined the situation and the remaining boards and he figured Ireland might win but mentioned a fat person who was yet to sing. Meanwhile in the Closed Room we had the very experiened Tedd and Salisbury struggling to hold the youthful talent of the 19 year old Nakamura Pinder allied to the slightly older Phil Morrison. The young Scots had roared into 7NT on a combined 33 count only to find it was hopeless and went 3 down earlier losing 16 imps to the timid but successful 3NT of the Welsh.
Finally the fat lady cleared her throat on board 31  and the round of applause for a brilliant 4S bid by Morrison died into silence as Nakamura-Pinder placed 6C on the screen. Luckily enough 4H down 1 was in the closed room and no double meant only 3 imps. The extra 7 imps available was not enough anyway. A flat board 32 sealed the deal and Ireland had pulled the Camrose out of the furnace.

The Polish lad Marcin who happily came to work for his nightshift  found he was in demand
thru the night. However he accepted his extra duties happily and delivered refreshments as required.
I suspect a refreshed Hugh McGann was greeted at 0515 as he emerged for his taxi by the still partying remnants of his team . McGann went to bed about 1030pm as he had flight and work commitments on Monday.

Fergal O'Boyle Camrose Results

We were able to watch the entire event courtesy of Bridge Base Online and the 8 NIBU laptops and the 60 vugraph operator slots covered by various NIBU members.
Ann Hassan was on hospitality ...thats a large job..
Liz Scott was assistant hospitality and dealt all 960 of the boards used for the weekend.
Brian McDowell was Match manager
Eamon Galligan had the relatively handy job of vugraph setup.
Fergal O'Boyle and Mairead Basquille did scoring and directing
Alan Hill fresh from scoring A grade at European TD exam was Chairman of Appeals...he did not need any chairs.

Eamon Galligan

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Art of Declarer Play (Pat Kelly Bridgebase)

This morning the postman rang the bell and I guess correctly what he had .. Bills and books

Two copies of "The Art of Declarer Play" one for me and one for Grainne Barton.

Visualisation and Recognition see to be two well used words in this book.

I have to finish "The Rodwell Files " first before getting stuck into this one. However "The Art of Declarer Play " looks promising.

It reminds of a book I never read called "The Art of War" I suppose Declarer Play is really a form of War.

The more you sweat in training ..the less you bleed in battle ... hmmmm

Meanwhile the sad news of the passing of "The Great Pat Kelly" on Monday evening.

As far as I can remember Pat was active in Portmarnock Tuesday Bridge club when I went there in the late 1980s as an inter B player. However I cannot be certain when I first encountered Pat.
I know in the 1990s he became active in Malahide Regional being a regular winner in most of the Monday and Thursday competitions partnering Dave Terry and John Murray. So to win stuff in Malahide one had to pass out "The Great Pat Kelly " and his supply of good partners.
I must have made some progress as I ended up winning a Kelbourne Cup with Pat Kelly Dave Terry and Paul Delaney. I recall we had to reel in a 25 VP deficit against a powerful team including Michael and Padraig O'Briain Peter Pigot and Thomas McCormac. They had a 5th member but I forget who. I know each O'Briain played a day each. We played well in the 3rd session but the breaker was when the Connollys and Masterson from Longford broke the O'Briain team.
We defended the following year but 3rd place was all we could get.

In later years when I was mainly a director  the tall Pat Kelly would arrive and put his arm around me and then list out some hand which had misfired for him and he would hope I would agree with him.

I recall Michael McDonagh telling me that Kelly and Terry were a top pair in the past. This was a few years ago while standing outside the Bridge place in Templogue.  I also vaguely recall Pat Kelly and probably Ramin Sai qualifying from some pairs event to represent Ireland maybe in the early 90s.

On Wed night after a minutes silence was held in Malahide Bridge Club where I was directing an up and coming player approached me and said " I did not know that chap who died"  ..I told him .."You have just entered Inter A .. Pat Kelly probably left Inter A in the 1980s so ye play in different levels.

I suspect I only saw the end of Pat Kellys bridge as I presume he was active in the Regent and Trials  when I was starting our in the late 1980s

I remember Dave Terry admonishing me for arguing with Pat Kelly over some bridge hand just after Pat suffered a bereavement. However I was only attempting to treat Pat as a normal bridge player so if we could not beat the opponents then we beat up partner. I meant to get Pat going on the computer bridge but we never got round to it and we won't now. I did not realise he was going to be gone so soon.

Out in Malahide I often heard it said " I am not playing in that competition as Pat Kelly always wins"
I always replied " Get better at bridge and beat him if it bothers you that he wins "
The reply often came back " Well he has better partners than I "
I always replied .." Get better at bridge and better partners will come your way"

Thats what I did and I ended up playing as a partner/teammate  with Pat Kelly from time to time.
Well there was no point in playing against him as he had better team mates ..

While I was waiting for the funeral to arrive at Balgriffin I met a man called Liam McDonald or Donnell who was wandering around the cemetery neat me.. There was a heavy shower of rain in progress and I had taken shelter under the large tree in the middle of Balgriffin cemetery.
He joined me and indicated he was waiting for the Pat Kelly funeral. Somehow he had mixed up the times ala 1130 and 1230 .. I had missed the mass and headed straight for the graveyard arriving about 1.5 hours too early. I went to 3 funerals that morning just in case I missed the correct one.

Liam told me about Big Tom Big John ..Joe and Pat who used to play golf and discuss bridge in some golf clubs where they played.
Tom Freeman John Murray and Joe English were the people this Liam was referring to and all play bridge in Malahide Regional. So I heard about another part of Pats life under a tree in the rain at Balgriffin cemetery.... Thats enough now ..

Last weekend I was working as a director at the Holmes Wilson. Unfortunately for some poor chap called James McLaughlin I ended up playing 60 boards. He ended up in Athlone hospital. I don't think it was life threatening so I expect he is back in Donegal now. I think I partnered John McClenaghan but it might have been Sean McNutt. Things did not go so well on Saturday night but by Sunday morning I was back in the zone and opponents were obeying my commands again.
On Sunday we won 4 and drew 1 and climbed the table from mid 40s to 14th place but no prize for 14th.    Results are there


Above is a useful place to play bridge if you have no partner ... it also gives one a rating ..

This is a totally different site than Bridge Base Online ..
Bridge Base Online is the leading place to play/watch  various forms of bridge and I don't see anything surpassing the Bridge Base Online production in the near future.

However some dude who works for Bridgebase Online took exception to my mentioning in a vugraph commentary I was doing.

They are totally different bridge sites and Bridgebase Online is by far the best bridge site and nobody working for Bridgebase needs to feel insecure. The person started by asking me to do him a favour.
I have been doing Bridgebase favours since about when it started so here is more favour

Go there and play watch bridge ...even partnership bidding is there .. and robots and lectures and all sorts of stuff ..... Being worried about some other site that has weaker robots and less stuff is hardly the way to go.
People will graduate from Bridge Now and use both sites ..

I am even going to Northern Ireland to organise the BridgeBase Vugraph show for the Camrose in a few weeks time .. Well Brian McDowell will organise it but I will keep the wheels turning..
Just another favour for Bridgebase Online..and happy to do it.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Camrose Weekend and DON playing

Tonight Friday we have the start of the Camrose Trophy. Teams from England Scotland Wales along with 3 teams from Ireland will contest the event.

Information can be found at the above links .

On paper the two main contenders should be IRELAND (CBAI) and ENGLAND but the whole event is going to be measured by how the NORTHERN IRELAND teams shape up after their initial heads up tonight.

The IRELAND team is proven at European level and field professional bridge and poker player Thomas Hanlon among their roster. However in a recent 96 board training session held at the Regent Bridge Club in Dublin with Jason Hackett and Thomas Paske as the invited filler ins was Rory Boland and Mark Moran who led the standings. Grainne Barton is the NPC and she sttempts to keep this gang in line.

The Northern Ireland teams seem to be a little disrupted as the original 2nd place trialists are missing due to illness, Thats Robert Plunkett and Paul Tranmer. I don't know all the details but the original reserve pairing also appear to be missing. Also the decent pairing of Murchan and Burns did not appear to enter the trials. However this information is just gleaned from reading the NIBU website as opposed to talking to anyone.
Northern Ireland is as ever backboned by the ironman pairing of David Greenwood and Rex Anderson who most people would deem to be the class pairing of NIBU bridge for many years.
They have other strong partnerships but these other pairs seldom operate beyond the Camrose and to the best of my knowledge don't put in the training time required to compete at the levels of ENGLAND and IRELAND teams. The problem for most Northern Ireland pairs is the Camrose is a step up in class from their normal levels of play so they are under pressure from the off.

One item sticks in my memory from a conversation with John Matherson after last years Camrose.
A Northern Ireland player showed him the AQ of clubs over his KJ in dummy during the play and this took the pressure off and allowed John a cold line to his game contract.
In the heel of the hunt it did not matter as the trump queen finesse was working and the contract always made. However sometimes it is not about that one sees but the big picture is different.
However John did not know he was cold at the time.

SCOTLAND AND WALES both field very experienced CAMROSE teams
Scotland with youth and experience and Sime
Wales look very experienced with multiple Camrose caps among their squad.

Stamina plays a large part in bridge these days so one wonders about match fitness when looking at the amount of grey hair on show in the Team pictures.

I will be attending the Final weekend in Northern Ireland to help out with vugraph.

So 1900 hours on BBO it all kicks off ..

......................................... is the place to play bridge these days. No sign of the magical BJ O'Brien entering the site yet. Declan the Don player continues to improve after posting a 52% session this week. Shane the poker player is playing less and remaining below the radar but he was looking over my shoulder last night and still maintains a strong interest in the game.

Myself and Declan the Don player played a few games of DON on Wednesday night against Jimmy the Donplayer and Declan the Trustee. DON is a similar game to bridge except 9s and 5s are the important cards. Trick taking and cardplay is the same as bridge.
However on one occasion spades were trumps and I knew Declan the Don player had some and he had no hearts. Declan the trustee who does not know any bridge made the error of leading out a Heart and with Eamon and Declan the Don player both off hearts ...Eamon was able to drop a 9 and Declan was able to scoop in the trick. Jimmy the Don player not knowing Declan the trustee had suicided him attempted to cross the small DON but Declan stemped on it with the BIG DON.

In bridge this would be termed a ruff and discard play.

Declan the Trustee prides himself as a top class card player and wins money most weeks in the local poker derbies. However he is outclassed in the world of DON by painters and decorators who spent their youth playing DON at lunch breaks and if they played badly they got the dirty jobs in the afternoon.

So myself and Declan the Don player won 2 euro each for the 2 games of DON

Last night Declan the Don player informed me that I missed out on the Xmas DON action as Stephens Day DON was 5 euro a corner. Apparently Declan the Trustee got thrashed again.

Eamon Galligan

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Regent 90th Aniversary Congress

Today sees the finish of the Regent Congress in honour of the club being formed 90 years ago.
Elmpark Golf Club a well known centre of bridge players also formed this year I believe.
Well I saw some bushes shaped in a 1925 last time I was down there.

The Regent is where I learned lots of my early bridge from about 1989 to 2010 or so. Nowadays I direct every Wednesday night so that has ended my Regent bridge playing career for now.

Declan Byrne remains as the custodian / manager of the Regent Bridge Club pretty much since I first went there. He no doubt was in full flow this weekend despite being a larger Declan than the slim Declan of the late 80s.

Results of the Regent Congress events can be found at their Bridgewebs site.

probably maintained by the above mentioned Declan Byrne.
Amazingly enough Mr Byrne also found time to represent Ireland at junior bridge many years ago.

Today is the Congress Pairs event and strong rumours and the entry list indicated the presence of
Justin Lall and Thomas Bessis in the field along with Irelands top bridge player Thomas Hanlon.

In the mid 2000s I was lucky enough to come across a group of online players which included a teenage  Justin Lall and a teenage Madala so I get whopped a few times there too.

The weekend of Dec 12 to 14th just gone Team Barton (Irish international team) held a training session. Eamon was given the job of gathering 96 boards for the weekend. I chose a world class pairing and chose a year and selected all boards where 10+ imps went missing or came in .
This gave me 99 boards remaining after deleting all the flatter boards of the set.

I heard no complaints over the weekend about any of the boards. After all they had all been played in some Bermuda Bowl so they could hardly blame me.

I was very happy to see that the Moran Team invited any juniors to come in and watch proceedings as long as they were seen and not heard. A junior training session held that weekend also used 1 set of the same boards as our training session.

Several Dublin juniors turned up for a look and watched a session or two. They were also allowed stay for the hour long discussions after each 16 board set. Some even got fed.

The players were McGann Hanlon Garvey Carroll Boland Moran aided by Jason Hackett and Thomas Paske from England.

My current fad is

Several well known Irish players are having a go. Its free and has a chess like rating structure.
Mind you one needs to average about 62% to hold down a 1600 rating ..

Two folk I taught to play bridge in my local drinking establishment have settled at approx 1450 rating despite never attending a bridge club or taking lessons.
Declan the Don player and Shane the Poker player.
My brother Desmond has also taken up the game but his main gig is getting the opponents to go down. So a defensive player. Despite having little knowledge of the game Desmond bottomed out at 1412 and managed to gain a point last week on a 38% week.

No sign of the mercurial Benjy O Brien yet but Thomas MacCormac has ventured in.

Eamon Galligan

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dundalk Teams

Last month the Australian Fiona Brown turned up at Drogheda Congress and during the lunch break uttered the unforgettable words " This Dundalk place is pretty busy" as she walked thru the streets of Drogheda. 

Much to my surprise she showed up again at Dundalk teams with 3 men in tow. Despite getting a good trimming from Big Dog Murchan,McMaugh ,Burns and MacCormac the Brown team proved too strong for the field of 25 teams who turned up for battle in Dundalk Crowne Plaza Hotel. I am sure its a fine venue but my only experience is on non-bridge trips. 

So MacCormac hit the front after beating McGann handily on every board of the 6 involved. Then MacCormac got ambushed by his mentees ... some of the Irish Junior international squad who were showing well around the halfway mark .. The juniors also knobbled BJO'Briens powerful squad by a large score. 

Meanwhile McGann dusted off the MacCormac dust and after getting beaten down the table they pounded some team for 19.5 VPs to climb back to 2nd place behind the rampaging Juniors. 

Unfortunately for the Juniors they shipped 53 imps against McGann and scored nothing so McGann hit the front with two matches to go and having played all the contenders bar BJ O'Brien who was buried in mid table and not high enough to be drawn against McGann. 

So McGann in 1st place followed by the recovering MacCormac in 2nd place ...McCormac pounded on Jereon Lodewijks team for 20-0. Jeroens team included Justin Corfield who recently published a book on heavy declarer play. ... I might get it for Xmas but I already got loads of declarer play books and programs. However I hear its a pretty good book and it won some book of the year award. 

I notice Team Jeroen managed to bid 7D off a cashing  ACE so maybe Justin needs to write a book on The Art of Grand Slam Bidding .... Chapter 1 ... No Cashing Aces in Opening Leaders hand..

Meanwhile the banished BJ O'Brien found some hay down in the depths and hoovered up 55.36 VPS in the last 3 matches against outranked opponents ... BJs Team was made up of about 4 grandmasters of bridge. However Grandmaster of Bridge does not compare to chess grandmaster. 

So 1st McGann 2nd MacCormac and 3rd BJ ..

Those are the 3 one might have picked at the start ... 

Meanwhile down at the Lady Milne trials the mutiny of the lesser players was staved off by the threat of 4 years suspension or maybe the mutineers decided another weekend of getting trounced was a waste of time ..

The two antepost favourites Mitchel and Rigney qualified in 1st 2nd .. Bearpark held off Croke for a qualifying place. The final table does not tell the whole story ..the 6th place Kemple needed to gain another 5 VPS against Rigney in the final match to qualify... If they managed a 9.2 VP result Rigney then Rigney was probably gone out of the event .. although they might have held onto 4th place.
So two knockout matches in the final match of Lady Milne trials. 
All of this left the Meehan team slipping through in 4th place with Ann Fitzgerald in as sub in place of Helen Carroll .. 

Next weekend the FINAL lady milne trial takes place .. 
Last night in Malahide I spotted former lady  internationals Nuala Lynch,Margo English and Miriam McConville in action in the Yvette McCabe Trophy. Yvette was a major force in bridge clubs in Malahide in the past as she ran the Grand Hotel many years ago and this was a bridge venue over the years. Former Regent stalwarts Conor O'Hara Maurice Quinn Ray McConville Dave Terry Billy Ronan and Pat Cassidy were also battling away ...along with the well known director Long John Murray and the Great Pat Kelly maybe Malahide is a leading Dublin Club. The ageless Maurice Quinn came out on top after session 1... mind you he seemed to be drinking a clear liquid last night like water as opposed to his normal upside down can of guinness. ....

I see Rory Egan was playing bridge in Hungry ....thats a long way to travel for a bridge game. 

Finally if you think you are better than Declan the Don player or Shane "who learned bridge in 15 minutes" Maxwell ............
The new place is

The Bridge Now website took a while to grow on me but now I am hooked.. You get a weekly ELO type rating and its very hard to maintain it past 1600 ... Last week I averaged 60% over 80 boards and dropped 15 rating points...  down to 1585 from a starting point of 1500 about 3 months ago. 

The Lady Milne and Dundalk Congress stuff can all be found at

A member of Malahide club recently promoted to Inter A level went to Congress Teams in Dundalk and found the going extremely tough .. Not surprising as Inter A does not compare well beside Grandmasters.