Inchicore got some consolation for being pipped by Benildus to promotion from the Heidenfeld when dumping our Armstrong A out of the Branagan.
Having upset Dublin in their other group match, Inchicore needed a 3-3 draw for a rather unlikely progression to the semis as winners – though as it turned out, the best second-placed team was pretty much guaranteed to come from our group, which meant Inchicore could afford to lose 3½-2½, while we needed a 5-1 win to win the group, but a 4-2 win to come second. Dublin – I think! – were guaranteed to qualify no matter what the result.
Tim was first to finish; his rustiness maybe still showing a bit as he went down to defeat in what looked an unusually quiet line of the Dutch. Ciarán brought the score back to 1-1 when his opponent used a hanging rook to deliver mate – only for Ciarán to point out he was already giving check. Completely thrown, his opponent took back the move and, after a moment’s thought, resigned – missing that the rook could block the check and leave him grand, if a passed rook-pawn down. A definite escape there!
I kindly returned the favour when abruptly ending an interesting game with an outrageous blunder, allowing my opponent to fork queen and g7 – with my king on g8 and my f pawn half-way down the board, I wasn’t going to survive much longer. But Mel and Gerry both ground out wins to bring it to 3-2 – and it all came down to the final board, where Brendan was playing Terry Fayne. Both had rook and two, and it looked like a draw – no good to us – was the likely outcome. But Terry went for an attacking line, and suddenly Brendan was giving up a rook on one pawn, hoping his two passed queenside pawns would provide compensation for the queen that was soon to appear on the other side of the board. Though the pawns got to a2 and b3, white’s queen and rook were more than a match; Inchicore picked up the final point and topped the table. In the semis, they’ll be joined by Dublin, Elm Mount and Gonzaga.