The Armstrong’s good start to the season continued with a 6-2 win over Dublin last night to likely keep them top of the league after round 2, while the Bodley B recovered from last week’s whitewash against the As by beating Bray/Greystones.
Dublin arrived for the Armstrong with their traditional gulf between the top and bottom boards; when Bernie Stokes arrived at the same time as Jonathan O’Connor, I asked (in all seriousness!) if Bernie was now playing for Dublin, forgetting of course that our Bodley B were up against Bray. But they did have a 1200 on board 6, and we duly made short work of the bottom three boards. John was first finished against Denis Dempsey, who has an excellent record against us (2½/5 in the Armstrong in the past ten years, plus a draw against Oisín and a win against Ciarán in the Ennis in the same time) but who here just lost a couple of pieces within the opening 15 moves and was never in it thereafter. He played on till mate though, maybe mindful of John dropping a queen when in a winning position the previous round!
John Gibson wasn’t long following on board 8, while Brendan Lyons (I think) finished off the whitewash on the bottom three boards. Elsewhere, though, things were a lot tougher. Gerry had played a horrible opening against former Benildus teammate John Kennedy, dropping two pawns in the opening. He fought hard to almost claw himself back into the game – and then threw it all away again late on. Still, there’s no extra penalty for losing a game twice! In the other games, Zdravko and Mel drew while Stephen and Kevin both won as the match ended 6-2. It’s a point more than we got against Dublin last season, which adds nicely to the two points we added to last year’s score against Balbriggan in round 1.
Alongside them, Dave Willow was mostly sitting around waiting for his opponent to arrive as the Heidenfeld started Saturday’s round 2 match against Drogheda. It turned out said opponent was in Templeogue, having taken the wrong exit off the M50. When he did arrive – at 8:12 – he went for simplification from the start, and so threw out the French Exchange. Unsurprisingly, a position described by Michael Hanley (and echoed by about everyone else) as “the most level endgame I have ever seen” arose and Dave offered a draw. His opponent was happy to play on a bit longer though, and then one blunder from Dave turned it from a draw to a loss. The remainder of the games are on Saturday in Drogheda.
Downstairs, the Bodley B were taking on Bray/Greystones. Paddy was up against Bernie Stokes, and was facing a delayed Fried Liver attack (white having added d3 and black Be7). Paddy’s Be7 move put more pressure on black’s knight, however, and when Bernie castled, the knight hung. Elsewhere, Tim had a strong position, Mark had lost a pawn on move 10 and, while checking the game after, found a game in the database which followed the exact same first ten moves…and in which black resigned on move 15. In the Bodley, white missed Bd6, and Mark could fight on, albeit still a pawn down. Cal and Liam were in fairly level positions, so it was a bit of a surprise finding Cal playing swap chess an hour and a half into his game – his opponent had gone very badly wrong somewhere, dropped a pawn and, shortly after, the game.
Paddy won without much fuss, Liam took a draw from a symmetrical English – never the most exciting of openings! – before Tim unfortunately ran out of time maybe over-thinking his attack; still, his was probably the game with the most learning points at least. Mark was the last to finish – his game against the sprightly Vincent Denard putting the lie to the myth that the Bodley is a junior league! – and he did so having completely turned the tables on his opponent, picking up an exchange before swapping off into a won rook and pawn ending where he also had a bishop. His win ensured a team victory overall, a nice booster after last week! Bray and ourselves had actually gone into the game in the bottom two – Bray had lost 4½-½ to a Malahide side who’ll be up there as promotion favourites – so a good win against a team who’ll likely be lower mid-table like ourselves is always to be welcomed.
Next up in action are the Heidenfeld on Saturday followed by the Bodley A on Monday.