The Malahide Millennium tournament at the weekend was a disastrous one for more than one Benildus player, but there were a couple of decent performances over the weekend too.
In the top section, John Healy played his first ever GM, the Bulgarian Krasimir Rusev. Never one to shirk from a challenge, John opted for a Grand Prix Sicilian, tried out a trappy line which his opponent “fell” for, losing a pawn. The GM then calmly thought for half an hour before playing a reply John had never seen before, but which seemed to give more than enough compensation for the pawn. That was still the material difference when John resigned, having just hung a piece, though he was getting into difficulties anyway. Still, an extra ten points is enough for a four-year high rating of 1830.
There were four Benildus players in the Intermediates. Mariusz has been on a steady improvement since an awful Gonzaga and Bunratty – 100 points lost between the two – and continued that here, ekeing out a couple of nice endgame wins and ending a bit disappointed not to have scored more than 3½. Next in line, somewhat surprisingly, was Jack Donovan, whose final round piece sac against Leinster u19 and Irish u12 champion Michael Higgins resulted in a nice win and a final tally of 2½ – a half point clear of myself. Over the course of the tournament, I dropped four pawns, a piece and some 60 points. A bit of a contrast to my two previous visits to Malahide, when I came away with grading prizes each time! Also playing up was Jamie – who could technically have played down, given he officially only exceeded 1400 after the tournament began; the Bodley was rated on Saturday afternoon. Three 1500s and a 1400 was about as tough a draw as he could have expected, but a final-round win over Shay Scott avoided a whitewash and restricted his rating losses to 50 points. Still, given he was 871 this time last year, he can’t complain too much about dipping just below 1400 now!
In the Juniors, Odhrán was the third player whose rating took a battering – a loss against an 865-rated player the nadir of an uncharacteristic weekend, which saw him emerge 76 points lighter. The only Benildus grading prize of the tournament went to Dylan Boland, whose only defeat was against eventual winner Brian Carty. Finn saw his tournament hampered by illness and finished anonymously mid-table, while Luke-Andrew’s tournament was fairly normal for him – in round 1, he had a queen against three solitary pawns against a 1000 when he hung the queen, but responded in round 2 by queening on move 6. As this was before any queen anywhere in the tournament had actually been swapped off, he had to go off and request a spare from the bemused controllers! Still, he’s up 70 points and if he can stop hanging pieces, he has to be an outside contender for the Ireland u14s team next year. Elsewhere, Cal Nolan and William Kenny both notched 1½.
The next weekender tournament for those interested is Drogheda, which has the interesting format of all-play-all groups of 6 based strictly on seeding – the top six players form Group A, the next six form Group B and so forth. It’s also about the only tournament where I’ve ever seen a competitive game take place outside – on a sunny day, you can’t really beat a country club as a venue. Meanwhile, the club ratings list has been updated after last weekend’s action.