We were looking for the sets, rather than the upsets, at the start of the club championships last night – but in the end, we got plenty of both!
The evening started with mild panic as I opened up, entered the geography room as always, and – nothing! The door was locked, and with Frank away out enjoying himself, we had a problem as we now had all our sets locked away. Fortunately, the group of chess players who would shortly be attending did have some chess sets at home they could bring up, and we actually started more or less on schedule and with the minimum of fuss. So thanks to everyone for helping out there!
Predictably, Fast Eddie was first finished, with Zdravko winning in little more than an hour (even after Eddie was late after getting stuck in AC/DC traffic) to avoid going down to a first-round defeat for the second year in a row. Gerry had quite a tough game against Odhrán in round 2 last year, and given his iffy league form since then, he’ll be quite pleased to have recorded a convincing win this time around. Meanwhile, Anastasija had claimed a walkover win on 2 – it seems I may have been a bit premature in entering Tim in the draw…
William had gotten into time trouble against Dave Willow, and his position started slipping with it, while Kevin May and Seán was also starting to struggle against Mariusz and Mihailo – the three seeds ended up prevailing in those games. But amazingly, that was as good as it got for the seeds – all the other games were won with black by the lower-rated player. Dylan had launched a bit of an attack against Denis Dempsey, but had overlooked a rather crushing counter-attack and went down to defeat. Brendan Cuffe had a rook, piece and pawn for a queen against Des Carroll, but it turned out the queen was better, and after a subsequent king-rook fork, the game was over.
The two Beatties had contrasting fortunes as well, as the punters’ predictions on here turned out entirely correct. Ciarán had allowed an IQP against Desmond, which ultimately fell with check, and when a second pawn fell shortly after to a nice zwischenzug, there was simply nothing to show for the two pawn deficit, and Desmond had yet another scalp for the collection. Aodhán took on b2 against 2014 runner-up Ross, ignoring the story told to former World Champion Boris Spassky about the Viennese banker who is said to have left his fortune to his son on condition that he never took the Queen Knight’s Pawn. But it turned out that didn’t apply here – it was just a free pawn, and Aodhán could consolidate and grind out a win. With a ratings gap of 497 points, that puts Aodhán in the lead for the David v Goliath prize – and indeed, completely rules out the possibility of anyone over 1500 winning the prize.
There’s three more games to go yet – they’ll all be played on Monday week is the plan – so we won’t know the round 2 draw until the day before the round is scheduled. You could try and predict the remaining games and work out the round 2 draw in advance – I think Dave Willow v Gerry is the top board if the three remaining games go with seed – but after last night’s chaos, it’d be a brave person who’d try guess what else this year’s club championships holds in store!