St Benildus College sent its customary pair of teams to Millfield last weekend, and in spite of losing their board one at the last moment to the flu, the A team accomplished its highest finish in four years.
Shorn of Odhran, the top boards seemed swamped in the early rounds, scoring just 0.5/6 in the two qualifying rounds. At least in part due to this, we were well adrift of the cut-off for the top section: three points behind Gonzaga B. Let’s just take a moment, all rivalries aside, to say that Gonzaga getting two teams into the top half is an incredible achievement.
Some late nights on Friday seemed to catch up with the lads then, and rounds 1 and 2 of the competition proper yielded a disappointing 14/24, just joint second, and five points adrift of first. Sunday was a different story however, as we hunted down the leaders, Birmingham-based King E. Camphill. Mr. Scott reckons Sunday morning’s score of 9.5/12 might be a school record, and it closed the gap by 1.5 points. 8.5 in round 4 saw the gap close another 1.5 points. Now just two points adrift, spirits were high entering the final round. On the B team, Michael O’Leary finally broke his Millfield duck. Tension mounted as the results came in. We were level, but had only two games left to King E. Camphill’s three. Then, Joe Sheehan did the As a big favour, beating his King E. Camphill opponent, meaning it was a straight shoot-out. Sadly, Dylan’s game took a turn for the worst, and Camphill took 1.5 from their remaining games. We were 1.5 points adrift, and only Finn’s game remained. Pressing hard for a win, Finn slipped up and had to bail out for a draw, but it no longer mattered. Still, the final score of 40/60 was creditable, and just 1 point off the win.
In addition to their second place trophies, four of our players won board prizes: team captain Luke Hayden, fellow sixth years Andrew Kyne-Delaney and Conor Devilly, and first year super-sub Diarmuid Carey – who made the team in Odhran’s absence only to score 6/7 unbeaten. Mihailo also picked up a special prize for his skilful and determined battle with GM Matthew Turner in Saturday night’s simultaneous exhibition.
On Monday, Mr Sullivan lead the group in a hike up Glastonbury Tor, followed by a visit to the Roman baths at Bath, the only natural hot springs in Britain. Finally, the bus headed for Bristol airport, rattling with songs like the national anthem, The Fields of Athenry and One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”. I know.