In a complete reversal of fortunes from last year, Malahide 2014 was quite a productive tournament for Benildus, with five prizes, over €500 in prize money and the title of Leinster Junior Champion for Anastasija, her first-ever tournament win. We also had a chance to add a couple more trophy photos and honours to our Roll of Honour, where you can also now play through all of Gerry’s and Nicky’s Olympiad games.
In the top section, John was again taking advantage of the different rating bands to play up. He had a frustrating tournament – starting with a win against a 2100 before getting thumped after grabbing a pawn against Colm Daly FM on the live broadcast game on board 1. Still, beating Gerry McElligott CM in round 3 pushed him to the cusp of 1900 for the first time ever – the perfect time to go and lose the three remaining games… Finishing with a defeat against a player 100+ points lower-rated ensured he even ended up just breaking even ratings-wise.
The Intermediate was our best hope of honours, with seven players, five of whom were in the top 18 (of 49) seeds. When we started with an unbeaten first round – four wins and three draws – our optimism was justified. Included in that were draws for both our unseeded players – Mihailo and Dylan sharing the spoils against 1700s on board 2 and 6, while by round 2, we already had a player on board 1, with Ross taking on Colm Fitzpatrick. But from there, we started going our separate ways towards good, bad and weird tournaments. Ross slumped to 1½/6 and could lose as many as 100 points, while Mariusz had three games in which one player had a big advantage only to fall for a sucker mate – he won one and lost two that way. I started off in my customary bad form with draws against a 1300 and a 1200 (a game in which Fritz says I was just lost when my opponent opted to repeat the position; strangely, neither of us quite saw it that way at the time though), but both my Sunday opponents hung pieces, which helped me to be on board 1 for the final round for the first time since winning Kilkenny in 2008. I promptly botched my opening and bailed out with a draw offer which my opponent – needing only a draw to win outright – was happy to accept.
That gave me a share of third alongside Ciarán, who got there the hard way with a draw which included Notorious Benildus Slayer Paddy Divilly (Ciarán now insists on being called the Notorious Benildus Slayer Slayer; Paddy later redeemed his reputation with victory over Ross), juniors Danny Dwyer, Andy Keenan (who got his queen trapped in the middle of the board) and Henry Li (whom Ciarán finished off with a queen sac) as well as the top two seeds, Mindaugas Janusaitis and Colm Fitzpatrick. Needless to say, we were both quite happy to outshine and show up the young upstarts in the section! We both won €50, while the club picked up a third prize in the section when Alex emerged victorious over Danny Dwyer after 4½ hours in the final round – a fascinating endgame which Desmond noted was a compelling argument for the 30 second increments; Danny in particular repeatedly went down to one second left on his clock – to take the €60 grading prize. He only lost to top seed Mindaugas – another interesting ending which Mindaugas won despite being R+2 v R+3 down – and I make it he’ll gain another 100 points. This is actually more than he gained in Malahide last year, when his rating jumped from 389 to 453. We recently noted on here how unprecedented it was for a player to jump 1104 points in one year, as Alex had done – that’s now 1150 points in one year!
Dylan and Mihailo had solid tournaments, both picking up 30 or so points. Dylan got to 1½/2 after beating Mihailo’s first-round opponent in round 2, but ended up on 2/6, while Mihailo went the other way, slumping to ½/3 before winning the last three games.
We had four players in the bottom section, with Luke-Andrew taking byes for the first two rounds. William and Luke-Andrew both had forgettable tournaments, scoring 5/10 and dropping about 100 points between them. Cal and Anastasija, by contrast, had quite memorable tournaments. Anastasija took advantage of a cushy draw to ease to 3/3, while Cal lost his first game, recovered to beat a 300 in the second round and then provided one of the upsets of the tournament when overcoming a 500-point rating gap to beat Mustakim Ul-Haque in round 3. He did it again in rounds 4 and 5 – beating an 1100 and 1260, while Anastasija drew in round 4 and won in 5, leaving them on 4/5 and 4½/5 respectively going into the final round. Anastasija won an 8v7 pawn ending to take the title – and €300 – outright. Cal was moments away from following up in second – he was B+2 v 2P – when his phone, which he had turned off before the round, rang in his pocket! Apparently, it was his mum asking how things were going, so the answer presumably was “Not so well now”. Cal resigned, but his opponent – aware that he was beaten – sportingly offered a draw, which conveniently saw both players earn €60 grading prizes. Cal will have jumped about 200 points when the ratings list is updated; the phone call cost €50 and about as many rating points.
To finish a fun weekend, here’s my round 5 win against Terry Creighton, which was rather wild and (Fritz says) not actually as bad on my part as I’d thought during the game!
Terry Creighton (1613) v Kevin Burke (1524); Malahide Millennium/Leinter Championships; 05/05/14
1. Nf3 f5
I’ve been studying the Dutch lately; conveniently, all three of my games as black over the weekend started 1. Nf3, which can transpose into the Dutch. Here, Terry spent a good minute over his reply, which was about as long as he spent on any of his moves!
2. d3 d6
This isn’t really a Dutch – that’d have a d4 somewhere – but it’s kind of related, so I’m playing by first principles: try to meet e4 with either f4 or e5. I actually didn’t consider the more obvious 2. … Nf6, and I wanted to avoid stonewall ideas with 2. … d5 after struggling with it in round 1. I’ve got some work to do yet! But this will open things up anyway.
3. e4 e5 4. d4?! (D)
We’re out of Fritz’s database already, though in my round 3 game, we were out of the database one move earlier! This tournament didn’t do much for practicing my theoretical knowledge…
The position is now akin to either a Latvian – where black takes on e4 – or a Falkbeer Counter-Gambit with colours reversed, where white absolutely shouldn’t play fe. Here, it’s ok though, as the extra moves – Nf3 and d6 – both combine to stop Qh5+ threats. Even if it could be played, I could block with g6, as Qe5+, forking king and rook, isn’t an option. So I took on e4, with approval from Fritz – I’ve already got a small advantage.
4. … fe 5. Ng5 Be7
Fritz wants to grab the d-pawn. It probably has a point. I just wanted to develop with tempo and maybe get my king safe. It also wants white to grab the e-pawn next, but Terry isn’t one to back a piece down from an attacking position for the sake of a mere pawn.
6. h4?! Nf6 7. de de 8. QxQ+ BxQ 9. Bc4
This now feels quite unpleasant, but after 10 minutes’ thought, I decided attack was the best form of defence. And was in keeping with the spirit of the game so far too.
9. … Nc6!
The only move to keep black’s advantage. The knight defends e5, negating threats of 10. Nf7 Rf8 11. NxP, and it also has intentions of reaching c2 and maybe winning the a1 rook.
10. Be3 Nd4?!
Na5 was better, revealing a third point to my previous move, which I’d missed – kicking the light-squared bishop.
11. Na3 Be7?! 12. BxN PxB 13. Nb5 Bb4+ 14. c3?
Kf1 was best, when black can’t hold both the c7 and d4 pawns. Terry said he was old fashioned and didn’t believe in manual castling. But now I keep my pawn advantage.
Despite my pawn advantage, it’s hard for me to get developed. The e6 square in particular is weak, but Fritz says I’m still playing well – 16. … a6 is its first choice as well, and it gives me a one-point advantage here.
17. … Bg4?
My worst move of the game, but it still only leads to a small advantage for white (+0.25). Fritz says to grab the second pawn (on c3) and hold on. I was becoming a bit concerned by my lack of development and wanted to get my pieces out.
Now white’s attack is over. Better was 18. f3 Bd7 (not ef, of course, as the e-file opens) 19. Kc2, and white defends his hanging pawn. Instead, pieces now get swapped off, and my pawn advantage is more solid.
18. … Ke7 19. f3 h6 20. Bg6 PxN 21. PxB NxP (D) 22. hg
We both missed a tactic here; despite the threat of Nf2, black can take the e-pawn. See if you can work out why before scrolling down!
22. BxP Nf2 was as far as I’d really looked; in my defence, I had already used 80 minutes by this stage and was by no means out of the woods yet! But white can ignore the threat to both rooks and continue 23. BxP NxR (either) 24. RxN and if black saves the a8 rook, Nc6+ picks up the bishop, and the a6 pawn won’t be long in following. Black has to try 24. … BxP 25. Nc6+ Ke6 26. BxR RxR, which Fritz gives as dead level.
22. … BxP
Covering g7 as well, though RxR was much stronger – 22. … RxR 23. Nf5+ Ke6 24. NxP+ (which is why I decided to cover g7) Ke5 25. RxR Rg8 (the move I’d missed) 26. Rh7 – white’s pieces are all tied up, and black has a comfortable advantage.
23. RxR? RxR 24. BxP Nf2 25. Nf5+
White’s in serious trouble anyway, but giving up the rook for a couple of pawns is apparently more resilient – 25. BxP NxR 26. Nc6+ Kd6 27. KxN, and white hopes to pick up the a-pawn too. Isntead, white gives up a whole piece for hopes of pushing the g5 pawn. The next chunk of moves is unremarkable; I’m just trying to swap off a couple of pieces, and maybe pick up a pawn while I’m at it. My only weak point – c7 – is surprisingly hard to get at.
25. … Ke6 26. NxP BxN 27. Bd5+ Ke5 28. Rd2 Ne4 29. Rd3 b6 30. Bb7 Nc5 31. Rd5+ Ke6 32. Bc6 Rf8 33. Rd2 Rf5 34. Kc4 RxP 35. Rd8 Bf6 36. Re8+ Kd6 37. Bf3 Ne6 38. Ba8 Rh5
Threatening Rh8, when the rooks come off.
39. Bb7 a6 40. Bc8 Re5 41. Rg8 Rg5 42. Re8 RxP+ 43. Kb3?? (D) Re2??
With less than ten minutes on my clock, my play was focused on swapping pieces, picking up pawns and not allowing the catastrophic RxN+, so I completely missed mate in 4. Again, have a go before scrolling on. The text is obviously still crushing.
43. … Nc5+!
This covers potential escape squares on a5 and d3 as well as gives check and obviously steps out of the threat of RxN+.
44. Kc4 Rc2+ 45. Kb5 Rb2+ 46. Kc4 b5#
44. Rg8 b5
I thought I was being really clever here; this move also aims to create a mating net around the black king. But a similar mate as before was on (one move quicker, in fact – 44. Nc5+ 45. Kc4 Re4+ 46. Kb5 Rb4#). The text is mate in 13 though, and has the human touch that it forces white to swap bishop for knight, which was what I was aiming for all along.
45. BxN RxB 46. Ra8 Re3+ 47. Kc2 Re2+ 48. Kb3 Rb2+ 49. Ka3 b4+ 50. Ka4 RxP+ 51. Kb3 Ra3+ 52. Kc4 (D)
52. … c6! 0-1
One of my favourite final moves. The threat is Rc3#, which white can only stall by giving up the rook. I had a fright after making the move when I saw Rd8+, but then I realised there were no stalemate tricks. A fun win – my first in a long time which didn’t arise from a hung piece or a phone going off!