Each of the club’s top three teams were in action this week, with quite different success rates…
On Wednesday, the Armstrong were up against Elm Mount, a side they’ve only managed a single draw against in the past ten seasons. Going into the game without three of our four 2000s, things looked bleak indeed.
Brendan Lyons had at least gotten us off the mark with a draw a couple of days earlier, but on the Wednesday, the defeats started to roll in as expected; the two Johns were first up, while Gerry O’Connell, up against David Fitzsimons, seemed to go wrong early and got in a bind such as I’ve never seen Gerry in before! At one stage, his king was on f8 and his rook was on g8, while David had three minor pieces and a threatening pawn in the a8-d5 corner of the board. It was all Gerry could do to escape an exchange and a pawn down, but against David, that was never going to result in anything other than a loss.
On 8, Eddie Gahan was up against Stefano Minguzzi for the second time in three weeks, having also come up against subbing him on board 4 for the Heidenfeld at the end of September. The 400 point gap again proved too much for Eddie to bridge, though he he did hang in for a while longer this time at least! When I, distracted by the tight finish of the club championships downstairs, sacced a rook and missed my opponent’s follow-up, we were 5½-½ down…
We salvaged some pride from there; Dave Willow had looked in a bind against Gerry MacElligott CM, but locked up the position and successfully held the draw, while the last game to finish saw Zdravko continue his good start to the season and see off Ciarán Quinn.
A 6-2 defeat means we’re currently 5th in the table, but with all the other round 3 matches still to be played, we’re going to slip down quite a way by the end of the round! Next up is Kilkenny away – in ten seasons, we’ve never lost at home to Kilkenny but only once won away! Kilkenny aren’t as strong as they used to be, so maybe we can kick-start our season there…
Alongside the Armstrong were the first two games of the Heidenfeld’s game against Lucan. For the second time in a week, we were up against one of the sides promoted from the Ennis (and almost by definition, favourites for relegation). Things again didn’t go too well though – Michael Hanley again got in a good position when 100 points outrated only to run out of time in the middlegame just as things started to get interesting, while Ciarán, also 100 points down, played excellently to reach a knight and pawn endgame. Making a break on the kingside, he got to N+5 v N+3 with his opponent’s flag hanging. His opponent made a desperate pawn rush on the queenside, and Ciarán erroneously sacced his knight, thinking his two passed pawns on the other side would win in time. Of course, with knights being so clumsy at defending pushed pawns, had he blocked the pawn instead, he would have won quickly. As it turned out, his opponent was able to get the knight across to stop Ciarán’s three remaining pawns, and a draw was agreed in a dead K+P v K position – all while Ciarán failed to notice his opponent’s flag had fallen about five or six moves earlier! Still, it probably makes up for our turn of luck the previous week, when Odhrán’s opponent’s flag fell as he was about to deliver mate in one. The remaining games take place on Thursday in Lucan.
On Saturday, meanwhile, the O’Hanlon were also playing promoted opposition for the second time in a row – Cavan this time, who arrived without a completely new team a la Dún Laoghaire! Cavan only travelled with five players, which gave Desmond Beatty an early (walkover) win and a free afternoon. And when Dan O’Brien was gifted a free piece within 8 moves, things were looking good.
Dan went on to win without too much trouble, as did Odhrán to make it 3-0. Dylan had a huge attack going – Fritz gave him +3.5 at one stage, only for Dylan’s next move to drop him down to +0.5! Things went downhill from there, though, and he went down two pieces and a pawn for a rook before his opponent’s queenside pawn-storm sealed the point.
Nicky Benson was also up material – a piece for two pawns – and was on the attack when her opponent spotted and took a perpetual. Eddie – last to finish for what must be the first time ever! – missed a combination for a free piece but had too many threats for his opponent to counter and was able to win anyway. So a 4½-1½ win against a team who had won their first game 4½-1½, and a much happier O’Hanlon team than the one that lost 4-2 last week!