The Armstrong recovered from a hammering in Bray last time out to surprise outgoing champions Trinity.
Though not quite as strong as last season, Trinity are still a very strong side, and the expected score was worked out as about 5-3 to Trinity. When John Gibson was early on facing a queen on a8 and a rook on h8 – and he was black! – there was nothing to particularly suggest that the expected score would be wrong.
Things weren’t looking up when Ciarán reckoned he was just losing an exchange a mere 12 moves in, although he fought back long enough that we were never 2-0 down – Kevin McHugh took a draw off Tim Harding, while Brendan thumped Oisín with an opening Oisín decried as nonsense – which included Brendan gambitting two pawns – but that didn’t change the result.
Ciarán did eventually lose, but the other four games went towards the wire and it looked like we’d get a draw out of the match as a whole. John Healy won after his opponent got in a bit of a bind and ended up having to give up material. Though he got a passed pawn on a3, he was rapidly running out of time and John had a slight material advantage (rook and two pieces versus queen and two pawns) and was pestering his opponent’s king. It was an interesting position, but with 30 seconds left, John’s opponent got his queen stuck behind his king, and that was the end of that.
Gerry stole a win when his opponent turned a drawn ending into a lost one in one move, Stephen continued his great season with a win over Karl McPhillips and Mel also stole a result in an ending when he managed to reach a drawn pawn ending.
So instead of a 5-3 defeat, we wound up with a 5-3 win. It far from guarantees us second though – in fact, Trinity are probably still favourites as we have to play Gonzaga and Elm Mount A while Trinity play three mid-table teams – but it’s still always nice to beat the reigning champions (for the third season in a row!) Stephen needs one more win to get our first Armstrong board prize in at least 12 years.