The club’s winning streak finally came to an end tonight – though not its unbeaten run, which continues to 9 successive matches after tonight’s two Bodley games.
The Bodley A were playing bottom-of-the-table Phibsboro, who had already lost 5-0 to both Wicklow and Dún Laoghaire. With first playing third at the the weekend, we really needed to match that 5-0 to keep the pressure on at the top. And we didn’t disappoint, racing out of the blocks to be 4-0 up inside 90 minutes. In fact, two Bodley B games hadn’t even seen a single capture by this stage! Mihailo won in 13 moves and needs to win one of his last two games for a board prize. He was finished even quicker than Luke Hayden, who claimed a walkover after his opponent failed to show up. Shortly after, Jack’s opponent – in serious trouble anyway – hung a queen, and Michael finished the blitzing start when his opponent walked into mate in one almost straight after Michael had hung a piece.
That left Finn, who had bizarrely sacced a piece for seemingly no reason, although it did seem he had to lose a pawn after getting his bishop trapped on d3. With pretty much nothing for the piece, it looked like a whitewash was going to be just beyond us again. But Finn went on the attack, throwing kingside pawns at his opponent and gradually worked back the material – first he was two pawns down, then one pawn down, then a piece for two pawns up. At this stage, his opponent offered a draw which Finn, after consulting with his captain, turned down – and his opponent almost immediately threw in a check which meant his rook and queen were both attacked, with no way of saving both. When Finn forced the queens off on the next move, the rest of the game was a formality.
So this is how things stand now –
Dún Laoghaire host Enniscorthy at the weekend, while Wicklow face Naomh Barróg. A 3½-1½ win for Enniscorthy is the ideal result, meaning both teams would be 2½ points behind with two matches remaining, and we’d have the advantage on tie-break over both. But Bray, our next opponents, are stronger than their league position shows, so there’s a long way to go yet!
In the next room, Paddy was first finished – when the As were already 4-0 up! – when one single blunder – allowing doubled isolated pawns around his king – proved his undoing. With rook and queen ganging up on the pawns, both fell, and with it the game.
Richard got us back in the game when winning an exchange and then a rook in one of those hated d3 Giucco Piano games where white’s threats are the same as black’s threats – at one stage, Richard could have forked king and queen, but his opponent was ready to do the exact same thing on her move!
Declan went down fairly comprehensively on 4 before Luke-Andrew brought things back level again with his best-ever win. His 1200-rated opponent was none too pleased on seeing the rating he’d lost to, crying out “860?! My arse!” before storming off, leaving Luke to wonder if that was a compliment or not.
The last game was Mark’s, where he was curiously offered a draw when two pawns down; his opponent was coming to his last five minutes, but as the Charity Blitz next week will show, five minutes is enough time to win a whole game, let alone one starting in the late middle-game two pawns up! Still, Mark didn’t need to be asked twice, and the match ended as a draw overall, to leave the table like this –
We’ll enjoy being ahead of Gonzaga for a little while! Malahide away is our next game, and yet another third-place finish isn’t entirely out of the question yet; Elm Mount and Malahide are the obvious main threats, but have yet to play Drogheda or Gonzaga; Portmarnock have yet to play Drogheda.
The final game was the first game of the Heidenfeld’s match against Drogheda. Brendan Cooney picked up an exchange and had been planning on giving it back soon after – on his terms, of course! – but his opponent had other ideas. Still, we did reach a R+5 v R+3 ending which looked to have good winning chances for us, but the advanced pawns ended up falling, and with time running out, the game petered out in a R+P draw. Still, a solid start in a match where we need a solid result – Naomh Barróg’s amazing form has seen them jump ahead of us, albeit that we have this match in hand.
If we can get three points against the top half teams we’ve still to play and 6 against Naomh Barróg, we’ll have beaten last season’s points tally, which should be enough for survival. So that’s the target for the remainder of the season!