Gerry has edged closer to a second club championship title in a row after picking up a quick fire win against the fourth seed on board 1 before watching the third and fifth seeds defeated on the next two boards.
The eagerly-awaited board 1 clash of John and Gerry turned into a bit of a damp squib after John lost a piece to a check fork on move 12; half an hour was all the game lasted. In fact, it was a quicker win than the one walkover of the night – almost immediately after John resigned, word came through that Brendan had been called into work at short notice, and sent apologies but couldn’t play. This was the second time in two tournaments that Stephen had had an opponent scratch due to work commitments – but at least he got the game he missed out on last year when John had time to play a competitive friendly.
Eddie, for once not the last to finish, soon caught up and took a draw against Kevin May, who had only confirmed availability to play when his hospital night shift turned out to a lot be quieter than expected. This left Ciarán, rather unexpectedly, as the only player in the tournament yet to get off the mark. He was playing Frank – who wasn’t exactly having the easiest tournament draw to ease himself into competitive chess! – and had nabbed the g7 pawn after Frank had hung it with Bc5. This led to a fun position after Frank played Qf6 to defend his h8 rook, while now doubly attacking f2 at the same time. After sundry madness, Ciarán swapped off to a 2R+B ending two pawns up, and when Frank got his bishop trapped, it was all over bar the pawn-pushing.
Elsewhere, Odhrán v Des ended rather abruptly when Des, just a pawn down in a minor piece ending after another showing way above his rating, walked straight into mate in one, while Ciarán Mahon got a pawn to f7 with check against Denis Dempsey, and with two bishops, a rook and a queen all raking down open lines, resignation soon followed. Dylan had two pieces for a rook against Liam, which wasn’t straightforward, but a couple of knight forks soon picked up more material, and when the rook fell to a discovered check, the game was over.
That left just four boards, all of which were fairly closely contested. Seán had looked in trouble against William, with two sets of doubled pawns and a more exposed king, but when the result was posted, Seán had won – no-one was entirely sure what had happened there! I came out of a wonky opening against Zdravko in a bit of trouble after my queenside opened up a lot more than I’d have liked – there were various sacs in the air, some of which even worked, but Zdravko played it safe and then overlooked a queen for two rooks swap which got him into big trouble. I then completely overestimated Zdravko’s counterplay, and only when we got to the position below did I realise Qe7+ wasn’t an issue – there are no more checks after Kf8 – but after my intended 1. … a1=Q, 2. Be7+ is actually mate in four! So back to the drawing board – how to win?
There’s actually a couple of ways – Fritz is always a destroyer of what you think are good combinations! Anything that covers the d7 or d6 squares will do the trick – so 1. … Rb7 or Nb8. The game itself concluded 1. … Rh1+ 2. Kg3 (1. … KxR 2. a1=Q+ Kh2 3. Qa3 and now Be7+ doesn’t work because the queens get swapped after any discovered check) RxP+ 3. f3 Nxe5 and now the checking square is covered and I’m threatening to take the bishop; white has nothing left. The last couple of moves were 4. BxP a1=Q 5. PxN and white resigned in light of 5. … Qf1+ and mate to follow.
The final two games all went into the dying seconds. Mariusz had turned down Dave Willow’s draw offer at B+4 v N+5, but then completely lost his way and ended up at B v N+3, in which there may have been drawing chances if Mariusz could find the correct moves – or even some legal ones! After a quick consultation with the tournament controller – and after John was hastily appointed tournament controller! – Dave pushed a pawn to victory just as Mihailo was delivering mate against Anastasija, having mopped up in a pawn ending.
So the results in full were –
|1||Gerry O’Connell||2000||1-0||4||John Healy||1851|
|3||Zdravko Manojlovic||1864||0-1||8||Kevin Burke||1663|
|5||Mariusz Lokasto||1755||0-1||10||Dave Willow||1628|
|7||Dylan Boland||1667||1-0||23||Liam Kelly||1111|
|11||Ross Beatty||1617||P-P||20||Desmond Beatty||1241|
|15||Anastasija Manojlovic||1459||0-1||12||Mihailo Manojlovic||1574|
|18||Stephen Cunningham||1377||1-0||13||Brendan Cuffe||1499|
|25||Des Carroll||1006||0-1||14||Odhrán McDonnell||1479|
|6||Ciarán Mahon||1702||1-0||19||Denis Dempsey||1249|
|21||William Kenny||1197||0-1||24||Seán Devilly||1107|
|9||Ciarán Ruane||1662||1-0||26||Frank Kelly||672|
|17||Kevin May||1400||½-½||16||Eddie Gahan||1402|
Once the final game has taken place, we’ll have the draw for round 4, but the two games at the business end should be me v Gerry – the only two players left with a 100% record – and Dave v Zdravko.