The O’Sullivan gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the end-of-season promotion play-offs after beating Blanchardstown B last night.
There are just two matches to go in the season, and we face the two sides Blanchardstown have already beaten, so there’s every chance we can win both and secure second place. That said, the O’Sullivan is a highly unpredictable division, as Ben found out last night when going from a winning position, to a lost one, to accepting a draw – all in the space of one move! In this position –
– which actually isn’t that far out of book – Ben played 13. … Nh1?? The idea was to pick up the rook on e1, but white replied 14. Bf4, which protects the rook and entombs the knight…and promptly offered a draw. Instead, 13. … NxP+ would have allowed black to pick up the rook next move, and with a ruined kingside as well, white wouldn’t really have much to look forward to. And 13. … NxB may be better again.
Despite only lasting 14 moves, it wasn’t the first game to finish. Des had already gone home after agreeing a draw on board 3 in a surprisingly complicated bishop and pawn ending. He had 2B+5 v 2B+4, but his opponent had compensation and quite possibly a draw was even the correct result (a rarity at this level – not just a draw, but a genuine draw!) Diarmaid, meanwhile, had tried out the same opening from his first round encounter – a Fried Liver, but against the Sicilian. This time, his opponent defended properly with 4. … e6, and Diarmaid had nothing. So, having had to resort to proper chess – moving pieces once in the opening, not starting an attack until all pieces were out; boring stuff like that! – he drummed up a slightly better (if still iffy) attack, which his opponent didn’t defend properly, and promptly walked into mate in 2 on move 14.
So 2-1 within an hour – and the other two games were barely out of the opening, with little happening as yet. Connect 4 and Roma v Man City filled the next hour and a half, until the other two games finally started veering towards a finish. Declan hung a pawn for no reason, which unfortunately let his opponent build up a huge attack as well. At the end, Declan thought he had wangled his way out of it when his opponent hung a rook – but he had missed the mate in one threat, which came by quick reply. That just left Liam, who was an exchange and a pawn down against a player who had come third in Kilkenny, gaining 104 points into the bargain to push to 1070. But with Liam into his last three minutes, his opponent walked into a discovered check, which hung a piece. Suddenly, Liam had pieces swarming around his opponent’s king – though one was pinned, which added to the confusion. Still, despite having three times as much time – a whole ten minutes compared to Liam’s three – it was the Blanchardstown player who went wrong; with a minute left, Liam was threatening to pick up queen for rook, and then a couple of pawns would hang as well. Seeing this, his opponent made the only other move available – which led to mate in two.
So the league table is like this –
Blanch have beaten both the teams we have left to play, and have to play the two teams we’ve played. So second place all comes down to whether we can match each other’s results in the next two rounds. If we can get one point more than Blanch over the next two rounds, we’ll be second – provided of course that we don’t let Naomh Barróg or Ballinasloe back into things! The next round in January looks the key one – Enniscorthy at home to Blanch, while we host Naomh Barróg.