Out-rated on every board for the second time this season, the Heidenfeld again surpassed expectations, coming away from the Curragh disappointed with “just” a 2½-5½ defeat.
At one stage, it had looked as if we could get a 4-4 draw out of a match we’d lost 6½-1½ two years ago but alas, after winning the first two games – both in 14 moves – and drawing the third, we collapsed to lose the last five after that. Talk of being happy with the result sounds a bit like Mick McCarthy saying he was happy with the 2-2 draw in Holland in 2000 after that! However, we are now 4½ points ahead of the same two games last time out, and look to be in solid shape to at least put up a mighty fight to avoid the drop, which would be no mean feat in itself considering we only came third in last year’s Ennis.
I was first done, finished in 40 minutes against Curragh’s 1900 board 1 –
Kevin Burke (1661) v Richard Arundell (1916); Heidenfeld; 6 October 2012
1. e4 e5 2. f4
After the game, Richard told me he played the King’s Gambit himself. If I’d known that, I might have played something different! As it is, it makes the win even sweeter.
2. … ef 3. Nc3 g5 4. h4
I think this is the first time I’ve played this move, which is stronger, if less interesting, than the alternative 4. Bc4, after which my opponent confirmed he was ready to go in for the Muzio Gambit – 4. … g4 5. O-O PxN 6. QxP.
4. … g4 5. Ne5 h5
5. … Nf6 is more usual.
6. Bc4 Nh6 7. d4 d6 8. Nd3 f5?
Up to this point, Fritz gives black a slight edge, if down on what best play against the King’s Gambit should produce (in Fritz’s mind anyway). This move is really black’s one blunder of the game. Fritz prefers 8. … f3
9. NxP fe 10. Ng6 Rh7
Here, 10. … d5 is better. There might follow 11. Bb3 Bb4+ 12. c3 Rg8 13. Bg5 Qd6 14. Ne5 Ba5, after which black has kept his extra pawn, but white’s development is far better.
11. Bg5 Qd7 12. NxB KxN 13. O-O+ Ke8 14. Nc3 (D) 1-0
At this stage, my opponent said “Yeah, that’s enough of that”, and resigned. 14. Nc3 now becomes my favourite “winning” move, and while I always enjoyed the move O-O-O+, I think O-O+ tops it! Resignation looks a bit premature on first glance – I’m still down a pawn – but white’s position is utterly dominant (Fritz gives +11). The e-pawn is lost, after which the knight is threatening a family fork on f6. Black can’t castle and is a long way from getting king safety. All white’s pieces are in play, and the rooks will cause havoc once the e-file is opened.
Over an hour later, Odhrán finished his first game outside the Bodley with an equally impressive 14-move win of his own –
Robert Turley (1491) v Odhrán McDonnell (1062); Heidenfeld; 6 October 2012
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. ed ed 7. Nb3? c4
Not the strongest continuation from white; this is a waste of a tempo, and white gains nothing from forcing the c4 push. Curiously, Fritz recommends 7. Qe2+, while calling 8. Qe2+ an error.
8. Qe2+ Be6 9. Nd2 Be7 10. g3 Nf6 11. Bg2 O-O 12. Nf1?
Aiming to let the bishop out before redeploying to e3. White should maybe have castled instead, and then implemented that plan. He overlooks the strength of black’s reply.
12. … Bf5!
Nothing can keep the bishop out of the lovely d3 square.
13. Bg5 Bd3 14. Qd2 Ne4 (D) 0-1
Another horrible position, in which white must lose at least a piece. If 15. Qc1 NxB 16. NxN BxN, white is advised to cut his losses here, a piece down. 17. QxB is met by Qxb2, and the threats of 18. QxR+ and 18. Qe2# can’t both be met.
A while later, Brendan took a perpetual in a lively game on board 4 – one of two Blackmar Diemar gambits the Curragh employed – and things were looking good. Mariusz, making his debut, had repelled Pearse Dunne’s Blackmar Diemar and was two pawns up, if a little cramped. Ciarán was a pawn down, but had two bishops against two knights and drawing possibilities were on, while Steven Dixon and – less so – Harry were both holding their own. Ray Bowe was an exchange down and soon lost, but things then started to go wrong. Mariusz sacced a piece for pawn to leave him with three pawns for the piece, but things didn’t pan out as he’d expected and he ended up going down. Ciarán dropped another pawn in what was a tricky enough position anyway, Harry also lost while Steven got into a huge positional cramp and, with two minutes left on his clock, just one pawn and one minor piece gone each and a knight wedged firmly in his position, he chose to resign as well.
Still, two of the top teams in the division out of the way. Next up – Celbridge, 11th in last year’s Armstrong and surely title favourites…