Yesterday saw both our Bodley B and our Armstrong travel to Kildare to take on the Curragh, and we emerged with big winning margins in both games.
(You can blame Ciarán for the awful pun!)
The first game took all of 16 minutes to complete, with Cal – only called into the team at 10pm the previous night! – picking up a nice mate on board 5 for the Bodley –
Cal Nolan (612) v Leire Plaza Reino (Unr)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5
The Fried Liver attack. Objectively not the strongest – black equalises with 4. … d5 – but it’s quite easy for black to go horribly wrong. Exhibit A – this game!
4. … Ng4??
Going for a counter-attack on f2. 5. QxN – which no-one saw in the analysis after actually – is ok, but black does get the piece back after 5. … d5.
Bxf7+ is apparently much stronger – +7.1 v +2.5 according to Fritz. But +2.5 is still winning!
5. … Qh4 6. Qf3??
Ah, the Bodley! This is actually advantage black now after 6. … Nd4. 7. Qg3 QxQ 8. hxQ b5! Fortunately, black missed that move, and didn’t get another chance in the game.
6. … h5?? 7. NxR d6??
Mate in four now.
8. Qf7+ Kd8 9. QxB Kd7 (D)
Spot the mate in two!
10. Be6+! KxB 11. Qf7# 1-0
That’s not an atypical Bodley game, but strangely, the next three games to finish were all Armstrong ties as we started to rack up a big score against a side who – missing their board 1 – were not a huge amount stronger than our Heidenfeld team. John Healy was first to finish, unsurprisingly, accepting his opponent’s resignation after just 20 moves. He was only the one pawn up at the time, so resignation was maybe a bit earlier than might have been expected, but black’s position was horribly cramped, with a second pawn about to fall and not even a hint of counterplay, let alone compensation, for black.
An hour and a half in, and we were exchanges up on four boards – Dave Willow and Ciarán on 7 and 8 for the Armstrong, and Alex and Paddy on 1 and 4 for the Bodley. Dave Willow converted easily, while John Gibson ceded a draw against Pádraig Hughes.
That said, Curragh have been performing above expectations in the Armstrong this season, and the remaining games were generally struggles. Gerry had gotten nothing out of his position and was forced to sac a piece for two pawns to try get some sort of advantage. Brendan Lyons was struggling on 4, while Mel and Pawel had slight advantages. And in the next room, with 20 minutes to go in the games, it was still 1-0 against a side a point and two places ahead of us in the league.
With time running out, the Bodley started turning out results fairly quickly. William had lost a piece preventing back rank mate and looked lost at R, 2N + 4P v R, N and 3P, but this is the Bodley, and his opponent dropped the piece back shortly afterwards. The game ended up in a theoretically drawn R+P v R ending, which both players, in fairness, quickly realised, and so the point was shared. Luke-Andrew got to a trivial pawn ending with two pawns v none on the queenside and two v three on the kingside, which ended up in queen versus king and an easy mate. Alex had added two pawns to his exchange advantage and, as his opponent got into his last two minutes, he hung his queen and resigned immediately. That just left Paddy, still an exchange up and with pawns coming off the board quickly. He got to R+P v B, forced his opponent to sac the bishop on the pawn to stop it queening – and then opted for repetition of moves, being into his last 50 seconds and having forgotten how to mate with rook against king! Still, it made up for William’s steal of a half-point, so 4-1 was probably fair overall.
So we’re up to second in the Bodley, amazingly, although Gonzaga have two matches in hand. Third, however, looks a genuine possibility for what would be a fourth time in three years; the league table currently looks like this –
Back in the other room, meanwhile, the remaining Armstrong games were heading into the final hour. Gerry’s sac yielded two very powerful connected passed pawns which were enough to force a win. Ciarán’s opponent eventually ran out of time while still an exchange down and having caused more problems than might have been expected given his rating (1080), the material disadvantage and the ease with which that had been earned. Mel and Pawel also ground out wins, while Brendan lost. But a 6½-1½ win equals their biggest defeat of the season and is an excellent result, even if it’s probably about in line with what the ratings would have predicted. After the initial scare of being in the relegation zone after three rounds, we’ve now opened up a big gap to the bottom two and look set for another comfortable mid-table finish –
The race for the top scorer trophy is still as tight as ever, with four of the five teams having played this week, and the top scorer in each winning again – so John, Ciarán, Mihailo and Alex all lead the way on 4, while Eddie Gahan is on 3½ for the O’Hanlon, who play on Wednesday. This looks like being a remarkably tight competition!