St Benildus Chess Club has two more Leinster underage champions in our ranks after Finn McDonnell and Mihailo Manojlovic were crowned joint under-14 champions today, while Frank Scott has also been given a lifetime award for his contributions to chess over the years.
The under-14s wasn’t a particularly strong tournament – Finn was fifth seed – but it did seem as if it was going to be a straight-forward battle between last week’s joint under-12 champions, Pádraig Hughes and Ross Beatty, who were 400 points clear of their nearest challengers. For Finn and Mihailo, it looked like they’d have to settle for making up some of last week’s cumulative 80 point rating drop. In the end, they managed that three and a half times over!
The two got to 2/2 before the first real test – Finn faced Ross Beatty. He put up a fierce fight which belay his recent form and, although he reached a rook ending a pawn down, as Ross brought his king into the middle to support his pawns, he left it short of squares, and Finn was able to deliver mate in the middle of the board.
In round 4, Mihailo produced a sensational win of his own, beating Pádraig Hughes while Finn beat third seed Jim O’Reilly. Amazingly, that left both on 4/4 and a point clear of the chasing pack. After much teeth-gnashing, and even a phone call home from Mihailo, they did what really any players in the same situation would do and agreed a quick 10-move draw. It probably was a drawn position though; Mihailo had played the French exchange!
So hundred point plus gains for both; Mihailo goes above 1000 and Finn above 900 for the first time. Elsewhere, Ross scored 4/5, only missing out on a brilliant club 1-1-3 by virtue of tie-break, which placed him fifth. Dylan and Jack scored 3/5, Declan Dolan, Cal Nolan and William Kenny got 2/5 while Joe Sheehan scored 1/5. Luke-Andrew kept up his good play interspersed with hung pieces/back rank mates which characterised his play of last week to end on 1½/5, way less than his general play deserved.
In the under-19s, 3/5 was the best we could manage through Jamie and Dan, who ended the tournament with a nice attack and mate with the King’s Gambit against the top seed. Anastasija lost to Odhrán for the second week in a row en route to 2/5, while Odhrán himself started brightly – drawing, as did Dan, with the 1500-rated U-16 winner from last week – before slumping to what he called a standard last-round defeat, this one against Jamie.
In the prize-giving last week, meanwhile, Frank Scott was honoured for his 41 years (and counting!) of organising schools chess with a Lifetime award from the Leinster Schools Chess Association. It follows Michael Hanley’s similar award last season, although I’m sure even Michael would acknowledge that Frank was more deserving – he, and most in the club, wouldn’t be playing and enjoying the game without Frank!