The club’s second team’s ability to salvage a creditable result from the jaws of a near-disaster was invaluable in getting us promoted last year – and this season has started in a similar vein after the club’s first Armstrong A v B in nearly 20 years.
The first three games were played on Wednesday, and with a big of jigging about between the teams, it led to some unusual pairings. Gerry played John Gibson for what he reckoned was the first time since 1989, Mel had the banana skin of Dylan, who has gone from O’Hanlon board 4 to Armstrong board 2 in 12 months, while Ciarán was up against Brendan Lyons for the first time. All three went the way of the A team – John Gibson had offered a draw in a level position against Gerry only to blunder two moves later, while Dylan and Ciarán were both ruthlessly squeezed out in endings.
Things didn’t get much better in the second session either – only three weeks since beating him in the club championships, I lost in 16 moves against John, who had passed pawns on g2 and h4…as black. Meanwhile, Ross had lost a pawn against Kevin McHugh after around seven moves in a King’s Indian Attack, and later said he didn’t realise this was even possible. When, now 5-0 down, Tim went two pawns down against Stephen Brady FM on board 1, things were not looking good for the Bs at all!
Brendan finally got us off the mark with a draw against his teammate from last year, Ciarán Mahon, after an IQP position liquidated. Then on 8, we got our first win of the season in another club championship re-match, with Aodhán getting to a queen and pawn ending against Dave Willow where his protected passed d-pawn was a constant thorn; Aodhán eventually got in behind Dave’s queenside pawns, mopped them up and then as Dave tried to find a perpetual, Aodhán was able to walk his king over to the queenside to deliver mate.
And amazingly, board 1 had by now completely transformed, with Tim – only on the Bs because Wednesdays don’t really suit – now a pawn up against Stephen. The open position (Q, B+4 v Q, N+3) meant there was a lot of checks on the board, though Stephen turned down a chance to take perpetual as the game entered the last two minutes each before, as Tim entered his last minute – although he was still calmly considering each move and writing it down after! – a draw was agreed.
So a respectable enough score for the Bs, and a solid start for the As. The only other result to date is that Elm Mount beat Dublin 6-2 – so the As are joint top and there is at least one team not ahead of the Bs!
The two sides go their different ways now – the As host Balbriggan, while the Bs face a daunting trip to Bray, who beat the Armstrong A 6-2 last season.