There was disaster for the Ennis team last night as they fell to their first defeat of the season at home against Portmarnock.
The defeat was the more galling as we had our strongest team of the season out, while Portmarnock were missing their boards 2 and 4. The ratings gave an expected score of 4-2, which is what we needed to get back on top of the league after Naomh Barróg’s win last week. And we started out well – Ger took a draw and then legged it off to get back to the trifling issue of a college assignment, while Stephen Cunningham on 6 had a fairly routine win – point everything at the king, force a couple of weakening pawn moves, pick up a piece, win game.
That was as good as it got though. Steven Dixon offered a draw in a position which Fritz rates as +13 in his favour – he was a piece up but concerned about defending against a perpetual or worse. Then in the space of a few seconds, myself and Ciarán both suffered our first defeats of the season, having never been in our respective games at all; 2 years and 364 days since my last Ennis defeat. Michael Hanley had by this stage won an exchange, but his opponent got such a strong knight in return – which couldn’t be taken lest three pawns start opening up Michael’s king – that a draw was agreed.
A 3½-2½ defeat so, which may well spell the end of our promotion chances. We’ve had games this season where we’ve really excelled (Elm Mount away being the best example), and maybe this was just a case of the law of averages. It’s come at a nasty time though, and we’re now relying on draw specialists Aer Lingus (this weekend) or Kilkenny (in two weeks’ time) taking points off Drogheda; Naomh Barróg have a handy run-in and should now coast to promotion. The table now looks like this –
On the plus side, maybe now we can aim for five Killane Shields in six years!