In the top section, Dylan took advantage of a brief spell above 1700 to play in the 1800+ Masters. He started off with two defeats, but soon got to grips with the challenge, picking up three draws in the last four rounds. As bottom seed – by some 50 points – finishing bottom of the pack was far from the end of the world, while a draw against Bart Cichonski – 1953 – goes down as his new best draw.
In the Intermediate, Mariusz was top seed but had turned down the chance to play up. Instead, his aim was the title, and when he started off with 3/3, things were looking good. But then a round 4 defeat in an ending against Paul O’Neill – who had had plenty of practice in endings after beating me in 102 moves in the previous round! – saw him drop back, and a draw in round 5 put him out of the running entirely. Still, a final round win saw him gain rating points – no mean feat as top seed – and claim third place overall.
He was joined in the money stakes by Mihailo, who also won his first three games, before also losing out in a very tight round 4 game. He ended on 4/6, which was enough for the second grading prize. Sister Anastasija had arguably the weekend’s best performance, gaining 125 points, including a win against the second seed (1748). Her final round game was, I think, the last in the entire tournament to finish (in fact, each of the last six games of the tournament involved a Benildus player – Anastasija, Ross, Mihailo, Desmond, Ciarán and William), as both her and her opponent played on a drawn R+2 each ending for at least half an hour, if not more, before finally agreeing to split the point, to finish on 3½/6 – the same score as I managed. I had joined Mihailo and Mariusz on 2/2 before screwing up this ending as black –
The game continued 84. Kd2??
This allows black get the opposition with 84. … Kf6 – and all four corners of the rectangle which has the kings in two of the corners are the same colour. White had to play 84. Ke3 or Ke2.
84. … Ke7??
Throwing away the win, which is demonstrated after 84. … Kf6! (taking the distant opposition) 85. Ke3 Kg5 (keeping the opposition) 86. Kf3 Kf5 87. Ke3 Kg4! (forcing white back – white will lose the d-pawn and with it, the game)
85. Ke2 Ke6 86. Ke3 Kf7 87. Kf3 Kg6??
87. … Kg7! was the only way to hold the draw. White can’t approach without letting black take the opposition. Now I’m just lost.
88. Kg4 Kf6 89. Kf4 Ke6 90. Kg5 Ke7 91. Kf5 Kd7 92. Ke5 Ke7 93. KxP Kd7
Now I have the opposition again – and if it weren’t for the a and b pawns, this would be a draw again.
94. Ke5 Ke7 95. d5 Kd7 96. d6 Kd8 97. Ke4 Ke8 98. Kd4 Kd8 99. Kd5
My Fritz kind of explodes here. It reckons this is a dead draw…
99. … Kd7 100. Ke5
…but suddenly calls this +18 for white, having figured it as a draw when analysing the previous move. I have never seen Fritz do that before! I think white can triangulate to victory, using the fact that black can’t claim the opposition if the white king comes to e5. So 100. Ke5 Kd8 101. Kd4 (white can also win with 101. d7 actually, when he has the opposition and wins the two black pawns) 101. … Kc8 102. Ke4 (Fritz now calls mate in 33) Kd8 103. Ke5 and we see the point – white has successfully lost a tempo, and black can’t take the opposition. So black has the choice of 103. … Ke8 (for which, see the game) or 103. … Kd7, when after 104. Kd5, white invades via c6.
100. … Ke8??
Even assuming the position is lost, this is an unforgiveable mistake. 100. … Kd8 had to be played at least as the basic pattern for holding the king against king and pawn draw. Now white just queens.
101. Ke6 Kd8 102. d7 1-0
Elsewhere, Enniscorthy’s Joshua Redmond got to play in the Benildus Club Championships – beating Ciarán, drawing with Odhrán and losing to Ross and myself! Ciarán had a nightmare of a tournament, only beating a 1270 and a 1070 (in an under 1400 tournament!), and dropping to a nice round one rating point below me. Ross finished with 3/3 to rescue his weekend and finish on 3½/6, while Odhrán both missed and survived a clear win in a pawn ending against Tom Fitzpatrick before prevailing in a B+6 v N+6 ending which looked completely drawn, except when his opponent trapped his knight – which Odhrán didn’t notice – and when his opponent, in desperation, sacced a knight for two pawns, which Odhrán did notice, and took the win from there.
In the Junior, Desmond took a grading prize with 4½/6. William managed to lose almost 40 points despite getting 4/6 – starting with 1/3 did the damage, and he didn’t beat anyone over 1000 all weekend. Cal picked up a win against one of the Malahide Bodley team who’d pushed us all the way for promotion, though his 3½/6 (including a half-point bye) had him well down the pecking order.