The BAs lost for the first time this season last night; a disappointing defeat against a relatively weak Inchicore side.
Things started off very well for us. We had another full team out, while Inchicore were missing one (if not two) of their regulars. Ed Tobin’s opponent soon sacced a piece without anything to really back it up, and duly lost, while Nicky Benson had a fairly routine win on board 4.
2-0 up, but there the good news ended. Brendan was a piece down and losing on 1 and, even as Eddie was pretty much saying how this was fairly typical for Brendan this season, yet he’d managed to get to 7/8, Brendan resigned. Harry’s opponent had launched a king-side pawn storm, keeping Harry’s king in the middle, if under some cover still. Just when Harry thought it was finally safe to go grabbing a pawn, he was hit with a knight fork on king and queen; the knight’s square was covered by a pinned pawn, which Harry must have missed.
Suddenly, 2-2, and all came down to Ray. He had a R+4 v R+3 ending, with all the pawns on the same side of the board. Gerry in the analysis room called it a technical draw, but with a lot of chances to go wrong, mainly for white (Inchicore). At one stage, it looked like the game would end in perpetual – white attacking a pawn, black defending with the king, white attacking a different pawn, black defending with his king, white going back to the first pawn – but a loose pawn push gave Ray winning chances. With both players into the last five minutes, Ray took advantage, got a very advantageous pawn swap to give him a passed pawn and then…instead of checking, swapping rooks off and running his passed pawn home, he just went to run his passed pawn home, and fell into a sucker mate.
It’s still all in our own hands, mind – helped in part by a similar slip-up by Portmarnock, who lost 3-2 to bottom-of-the-table Elm Mount. Had they won 5-0, they’d have been third, but instead, Rathmines A are third, 7½ points behind us with a match in hand – and we face them next! A draw against them and 4-1 against Rathmines B should be enough for promotion, but it’s going to be a closer-run thing than had seemed the case back when we were on 12 points out of 12.
The league table now looks like this –
An interesting point of note is that four of the top half have all played Dún Laoghaire at home, while us and Bray have played them away. Dún Laoghaire seem to be having problems getting players for away games – they’ve picked up just 2½ points in those four games, giving three walkovers. By contrast, they’ve only lost one home game (3½-1½ against us). We don’t want to be blaming quirks of the fixture list come the season’s end, but it’s a curious stat.
The big game in this round is Portmarnock v Rathmines A; hopefully Portmarnock can recover from losing to Elm Mount to take a couple of points off our nearest rivals. Bray are about the only other team in contention – they play Blanchardstown next week, and Elm Mount on the last day.
In the Ennis, meanwhile, Naomh Barróg followed on from last week’s 5-1 hammering of Kilkenny with a 4½-1½ win over Elm Mount to move 4 points clear at the top ahead of our game against Portmarnock next week.
At this stage, it’s hard to see beyond them for the title – they really are coming into form at the right time. I think as it stands, we are actually second on tie-break from Drogheda – we drew 3-3 in our game, so I think you then discount board 6 (which we lost) to give us a 3-2 win. Draw specialists Aer Lingus travel to Drogheda in this round, while Kilkenny play Malahide.