All three club championship debutantes fell to defeat as round 1 ended in pretty much the same way it started – with upsets.
I was first to finish, with Frank Kelly fatally weakening a dark-square diagonal which already had an unpleasant combination of his knight, queen and king on it. He was able to restrict the damage to just rook for queen, but in an open position, a bishop quickly fell to a check fork, and the game was over. In the pub after, myself and John found one fun line where I could sac a piece and an exchange – to be left with just bishop and queen, and yet still be able to go on a victorious king hunt.
Not too long after, Stephen picked up his second first-round scalp in a row. Ciarán M had a chance to remove a bishop perched on d5, but opted instead to move a rook, and take the bishop the next move. He was never given a chance, however, and a few moves later, the bishop was completely embedded in Ciarán’s position – and as a coup de grace, it sacced itself on f7 with check, uncovering an attack on Ciarán’s queen, which brought about immediate resignation.
That just left John and Liam, who had another hour and a half at least left in their game. The game had started 1. Nf3 b5, after which Liam thought for going on ten minutes (which maybe proved crucial in the end). But strangely, given that start, the game ended up being quite symmetrical, which didn’t really suit John’s gameplan. Then it became not symmetrical – at the end of an exchange sequence, Liam was able to nab John’s a-pawn, leaving him with a passed a-pawn of his own. The game swung again – Liam was maybe too slow to push it, and John rounded it up, while giving Liam an isolated pawn in the centre. But another twist – Liam found a way to swap the pawn off, and it was R+3 each, with both sides having f, g and h pawns. John turned down a couple of draw offers – the position was a theoretical draw, but of course, it’s what happens on the board that counts. Getting into his last three minutes, Liam made a mistake in taking John’s h pawn with his g pawn, so it was f&h v f&g plus rooks. But as the h pawn fell, Liam was able to swap off a set of pawns to leave it at R+1 v R. With seconds left for Liam (John had, of course, 40 minutes left, despite being 20 minutes late), I think this was the position reached –
Liam panicked and played 1. RxP+??, which of course loses outright. He could maybe have claimed a draw here; it’s a tablebase draw anyway, though not a straightforward one, as in analysis afterwards, we managed to lose it a couple of times. Interestingly, with the rook on a1, it’s a win for black and RxP+ is (in terms of delaying mate) the best move. It’s recommended to play the ending out against Fritz to see how you get on – and then you can check the correct answer on the Nalimov tablebases
And so to round 2. After repeating last year’s round-one upset, Stephen has a repeat of last year’s second round draw – me with black. John v Anastasija was the other upset in the first round last year, though Anastasija has gained a couple of hundred points since then. Mihailo v Gerry was also played last year. Dave has a second 1100 in two rounds – but one who’ll be looking to extend his lead in the David v Goliath race. The two prodigal sons, Brendan Cuffe and Kevin May, meet in a clash between the solid and the wildly attacking, while Ross and Ciarán – second and fourth last year – might have been hoping for easier ties than Eddie and Odhrán in a bid to get a Swiss submarine underway.
Round 2 is this Wednesday, the 15th, at 7:30pm up the school. The draw in full is –
|12||Mihailo Manojlovic (1)||1574||v||1||Gerry O’Connell (1)||2000|
|19||Denis Dempsey (1)||1249||v||3||Zdravko Manojlovic (1)||1864|
|4||John Healy (1)||1851||v||15||Anastasija Manojlovic (1)||1459|
|20||Desmond Beatty (1)||1241||v||5||Mariusz Lokasto (1)||1755|
|8||Kevin Burke (1)||1663||v||18||Stephen Cunningham (1)||1377|
|10||Dave Willow (1)||1628||v||22||Aodhán Keane (1)||1120|
|25||Des Carroll (1)||1006||v||7||Dylan Boland (0)||1667|
|6||Ciarán Mahon (0)||1702||v||21||William Kenny (0)||1197|
|14||Odhrán McDonnell (0)||1479||v||9||Ciarán Ruane (0)||1662|
|16||Eddie Gahan (0)||1402||v||11||Ross Beatty (0)||1617|
|13||Brendan Cuffe (0)||1499||v||17||Kevin May (0)||1400|
|23||Liam Kelly (0)||1111||1-0||Bye|
|24||Seán Devilly (0)||1107||½-½||Bye|
|26||Frank Kelly (0)||672||½-½||Bye|