Conor O’Donnell retained the St Benildus Charity Blitz on an evening where 49 players raised close on €700 for the Simon Community and the Samaritans.
The 49 players – boosted by a healthy contingent from Rathmines and Gonzaga – were divided into six groups of 8 – with Kevin and Helen Zhang, arriving right at the end, counting as one player and taking it in turns to play rounds. Group A was a straight shoot-out between Dylan and Mihailo, with the latter winning the individual game, but Dylan still making it through as best runner-up despite his new post-Bunratty rating seeing him down two minutes for the game against Mihailo. In Groups B and C, Brendan Cooney and Scott Mulligan picked up the only other two 7/7s of the night.
Group D was the only group to feature joint winners, both of whom made it through to the quarters. After Alex Mulligan lost to Liam Kelly in the last round, the game between Jack and Richard became a straight fight for the best runner-up spot, and Richard prevailed to join Alex on 5/7.
If Group D was tight, Group E was just bizarre. Ross started with a creditable draw against Conor Maher, then drew with Joe Sheehan and, in round 4, drew with Conor O’Donnell. Two more draws in the last two rounds took him to what has to be a competition record of five draws in the group stages – I think mostly achieved when he ran out of time just after taking his opponent’s last piece. Joe also took three draws as the group not surprisingly ended with a big club of players in and around the 50% mark.
Not that I can really comment about too many draws, as I took two myself. I did beat Kevin Zhang after nearly playing the move PxR=Q on around move 8 – but after scrambling to find a queen, I very nearly promoted to a black queen, which would have been a problem as I was playing white. I won that one in the end, but against Henry Li, I was a piece down and decided I’d offer a draw for a laugh, not really expecting him to accept it – but he did. This left Henry having to beat Ciarán and Finn in the last two rounds to go through, which he did. Alex Goss could have made the quarters but in the last round, he accepted a draw against me in a completely lost king and (one) pawn ending, but one where I had one second left. Had he played on, my flag would have fallen next move and Alex would have ended up on 6/7 to go into a black-pawn-draw with Dylan for the final quarter-final spot. Never take a draw in blitz!
That was emphasised in the quarters when Richard got an advantage – a couple of pawns, I think – against Scott Mulligan, but rather than press home his advantage, he took a draw and a replay. A creditable result to be sure, but it was always a long shot that lightning would strike twice, and Scott did have things his own way with colours reversed.
The semis saw an all-Benildus derby as Dylan (the higher-rated player, from our O’Hanlon) took on Brendan (the lower-rated player, from our Heidenfeld). The game was still evenly enough poised when Dylan drifted into time trouble and overstepped the mark. In the other semi, Conor accounted for Scott. The final was a bit of a damp squib – maybe the TV (mobile phone) cameras added to the pressure, but Brendan first allowed Qxf2+, and later played the unfortunate Qh3xf6, which of course isn’t a legal move, the the game – and the title – was immediately decided.
€680 was the last count of the funds raised on the night, and the school usually back the event up as well, so all told, we should be well on course to break the €1k barrier. Thanks go to Frank for his usual organising efforts (though the cinema decided against donating tickets this year!), to all the group controllers and to everyone for coming out for the evening.
The final group tables were as follows –
|2||Vinnayak Unnithan||728||1||x||1/2||0||0||1||1||1||4 1/2|
|3||Ben Coghlan||928||1||1/2||x||0||0||1||1||0||3 1/2|
|1||Pádraig Sheehy||1353||x||1||1||1||1||1||0||1/2||5 1/2|
|8||Fiachra Scallan||1483||1/2||1||0||1||1||0||0||x||3 1/2|
|2||Diarmaid Carey||693||0||x||1/2||1||1||0||0||0||2 1/2|
|3||Seán Devilly||1158||1||1/2||x||1||1||0||0||0||3 1/2|
|1||Conor O’Donnell||2140||x||1||1||1||1/2||1||1||1||6 1/2|
|3||Conor Nolan||1170||0||0||x||1||1||0||1/2||1||3 1/2|
|4||Mariusz Lokasto||1544||0||1||0||x||1/2||0||1||1||3 1/2|
|5||Ross Beatty||1604||1/2||1/2||0||1/2||x||1/2||1/2||1||3 1/2|
|6||Conor Maher||1739||0||0||1||1||1/2||x||1||1||4 1/2|
|7||Joe Sheehan||600||0||1/2||1/2||0||1/2||0||x||1||2 1/2|
|1||Paul Higgins||1670||x||1||1/2||0||0||1||0||1||3 1/2|
|3||Finn McDonnell||1135||1/2||1||x||0||0||0||0||1||2 1/2|
|4||Ciarán Ruane||1628||1||0||1||x||0||1/2||0||1||3 1/2|
|5||Henry Li||1714||1||1/2||1||1||x||1||1||1||6 1/2|
|6||Felix Jordan||850||0||0||1||1/2||0||x||0||1||2 1/2|
|7||Alex Goss||1311||1||1/2||1||1||0||1||x||1||5 1/2|
Conor O’Donnell bt Mihailo Manojlovic
Brendan Cooney bt Henry Li
Scott Mulligan bt Richard O’Rahilly (after a replay)
Dylan Boland bt Alex Mulligan
Conor O’Donnell bt Scott Mulligan
Brendan Cooney bt Dylan Boland
Conor O’Donnell bt Brendan Cooney