The O’Sullivan – with only four players, two of whom had never played a senior tournament before – went down to a 4½-½ defeat in Enniscorthy, a result which was maybe a bit harsh on us in the end.
Missing four players – including all the adult players (read – captains!) – we travelled with just four players. And ten minutes into the games, three of the games looked to be decided already. Ben had defended well against the Fried Liver – but his opponent hadn’t played the Fried Liver as yet. So after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 d5? 4. BxP just won a free pawn. Seán was two pawns up – though he hadn’t castled and was facing an attack along the e-file, while Diarmaid had played the exact same sac as against Ben in the Club Championships last week – and never mind that his opponent had played the Sicilian instead of 1. e4 e5! – but had sacced a piece and then swapped off more material, and was a piece for pawn down. Declan, meanwhile, was barely out of book on board 1.
Seán was first finished – after getting a nice attack going, he went four pawns up. However, continuing his attack, he made two successive blunders – one of which hung an exchange and, trying to get out of that, he hung back rank mate. A fairly harsh lesson but, in his defence, this was only his fourth competitive game ever, so it’s best to get those mistakes out of the way early!
On 3, Diarmaid was coming to the end of a hectic game. Having sacced on f7 early on, he then swapped a couple of pieces off – which left him just down a piece. His opponent then kindly hung a rook – and Diarmaid soon hung one back in return. This left him with R+3 v R, B+1. When the rooks came off, all Diarmaid needed to do was take the last pawn to seal a draw. It took him a little bit of time, but he did eventually find the idea, and a draw was agreed just before a dead position – two kings each – was reached.
Ben never recovered from his early pawn loss, and he didn’t help his cause by giving up an exchange later on. But with his opponent entering time trouble – and swapping off queens instead of delivering mate in 2 – Ben took his chance and offered a sneaky draw. It was fairly quickly turned down, and his opponent delivered mate with a good 90 seconds to spare.
By this stage, Declan on 1 was still emerging from the opening. However, in a Semi-Slav, he’d neglected to play the e4-push and instead a tactic soon cost a pawn. He still had the minor exchange though, so maybe had some compensation, but then his opponent swapped off queens, swapped knight for bishop, gave Declan double g-pawns and won a second pawn – all of which was a bit too much to come back from. Declan did try, in fairness, and attempted a cheeky back-rank mate – but his opponent’s two rooks lined up to deliver mate instead.
So while maybe we could have come away with a higher score, we hopefully have another three players bitten with the bug of league action! We’ve a couple of players to come back too, and touch wood we’ll see a bit of an improvement in our second game of the season on Wednesday fortnight.
It’s early days yet in the division of course, with only two games played so far. So there’s not much to read into the league table, which looks like this –
Diarmaid, meanwhile, is the only player to enter the club’s High Fives, as the O’Sullivan’s leading scorer.