Ciarán somehow (his word, not mine!) held off the challenge of the likes of David Fitzsimons FM and Colm Daly FM to share second place in the Bray Rapidplay yesterday with Sam Collins IM.
Ranked almost exactly half-way in the field, he faced Sam on board 1 in round 1. There were hardly any shocks at all to speak of in the first two rounds, and this game was no different, though Ciarán did at least get down to a R+4 v R+3 ending (a pawn down) when his flag fell. Sam had e, f, g and h pawns; Ciarán had e, g and h pawns. This is actually a reasonably common endgame, and quite a tricky one to win. Ciarán’s isolated e-pawn might actually be an asset as the attacker is looking to create a passed e-pawn in these circumstances. Against that, the defender (assuming they’re black) should aim for pawns on f7, g6 and h5 as the best defence, which of course Ciarán couldn’t do. There’s a surprising amount of issues for so few pieces! Here’s an online article looking at the endgame which is well worth a read through.
This resulted in a bit of a Swiss submarine, and Ciarán didn’t play anyone higher rated for the next three rounds, which culminated in a nice Scotch attack against Pádraig Sheehy, which was capped off by a nice queen sac, with knights on e6 and e5 tormenting the black king on e8.
That brought him to 3/4 and a game against Stephen Morris, 2100 strength though returning from an eight year hiatus. With no real expectations and the hard work done, Ciarán figured on a celebratory pint of Guinness for the game – and duly won after the game entered some complications in time trouble when Ciarán had been a pawn down.
Another good luck charm was called on for the last round, and it had the desired effects as Brian Beckett – who drew with Zdravko and John Gibson in the last two Armstrong seasons – hung a queen and resigned. All that was needed now was for Sam Collins to win his final round game to avoid two players finishing on 5½ – which he did. Ciarán missed the prizegiving, but did get hold of his cheque for €135.
We did well enough elsewhere as well; Mihailo and Ross ended on 4/6 with Anastasija a point further back. Dylan controversially lost his round 1 game against a 1700 – he delivered back rank mate, but his opponent pointed out he was in check to begin with, and so captured his king, which technically isn’t allowed in the rules (so I’m told anyway!). Dylan slumped to 2/5 before skipping the final round in a bad mood! William was on 1½/5 and I think lost the final round.