Enjoy it while it lasts, but the Armstrong have gone top of the league after a second impressive victory of the season.
Wins for Zdravko, John H, Dave Willow and myself helped the team to a 5-3 win over Trinity despite being generally out-rated, and we now join Phibsboro at the top of the Armstrong with 11 points from two games.
We were 2-0 up within an hour and a half. I had a bit of a surprise when I found myself playing Thomas Hurley on board 8; he didn’t forget his Benildus roots and kindly dropped two pieces and resigned by move 17. John Healy, meanwhile, had a typically bizarre game –
John Healy (1753) v Mohammed Parouare (1722); Armstrong; 10 October 2012
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. a3 BxN 6. PxB Qa5
An unusual line, but playable. More common is 6. … Ne7
7. Bd2 Qa4 8. Qg4 Ne7?
Black is mixing up lines. The two-pawn sac is a sharp line after, say, 6. … Ne7 7. Qg4 Qc7. In this line, though, it’s just a couple of free pawns.
9. QxP Rg8 10. QxP Nc6 11. Nf3 Bd7?
Hanging another pawn. Better was 11. … PxP, when 12. PxP isn’t playable because of 12. … NxP and there’s an awful lot of weaknesses in white’s position. Instead, Fritz recommends 12. g3 (to blunt the rook) PxP 13. BxP b6 14. h4 (passed pawns must be pushed!) Ba6 and black can castle and hope for safety; he’s still worse.
12. Ng5 O-O-O
There was still a change to get some counter-play by taking on d4. Now black’s just lost.
13. Nxf7 Rdf8 14. Nd6+ Kb8 15. Rb1 Rh8 16. RxP+ Ka8 17. Bb5!? (D)
Fun, if objectively not the strongest. But in attacking positions, objectivity doesn’t necessarily matter. Fritz recommends the plain 17. Qg7. The text allows black a glimpse of a chance – 17. … Qxa3 18. BxB RxQ 19. Rb3+ NxB 20. RxQ PxP and white is only two pawns up.
17. … QxB? 18. NxQ
As Brendan Lyons pointed out after, 18. QxR is stronger.
18. … KxR 19. Nd6+ Kc7 20. Qd3 c4 21. Qe2 Nf5 22. NxN RxN
And white went on to win.
Trinity fought back to 2-2 by winning the top two boards – Gerry lost to Karl McPhillips while Kevin McHugh lost to another former Benildus player, Oisín Benson. But that was as good as it got for them; Dave Willow – in his first game since April – beat Hannah Lowry-O’Reilly WFM, who was involved in the Olympiad over the summer. John Gibson went in for a line which his opponent, Tim Harding, had written a book about, nervously went for an early novelty and came away quite happy with the club’s best draw of the season so far (320 points out-rated).
Brendan Lyons also drew a tricky position, which just left Zdravko, who was defending a 5P, B and N each ending in which he had an isolated pawn. A draw looked the best we could hope for, but Zdravko does like his endings, and maybe Stephen Moran, his opponent, was thrown slightly by the ratings – Zdravko is officially 1791, 180 points below Stephen, but it looks like he’s getting back towards the 2100 rating he had back in the day. Either way, with time getting very low, both players launched king sorties on opposite wings; Stephen picked up Zdravko’s knight, but at the cost of allowing Zdravko time to get an unstoppable a-pawn, at which point Stephen both resigned and ran out of time.
The Armstrong continues to be strange; Gonzaga have now lost both their games, reigning champions Rathmines lost to Dublin (whom we beat 6-1), Kilkenny lost to newly-promoted Balbriggan, whom we pipped to the Ennis title a couple of years ago, while Elm Mount – our next opponents and champions a couple of years ago – could only draw against the other promoted side, Dún Laoghaire. If we can keep up our form, it could be a good year for the Armstrong!