The Armstrong B were brought down to earth after their excellent round 2 draw in Bray when going down to a 6-2 home defeat against Dublin.
Dublin arrived with a fairly strong squad; the Bs were outrated on the top six boards and had less than 10 points on board 7, so there was a bit of pressure on Mihailo to deliver a full point on board 8, where Dublin had a 1200. This he did very quickly –
Mihailo Manojlovic (1552) v Ross O’Mullane (1275); Armstrong Cup; 22/10/15
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nc6 4. d4 ed 5. NcP Nd5?!
White’s woes start here, and soon get a whole lot worse… 5. … Bb4 is the usual continuation. White takes full advantage of black’s early slip.
6. f4 c5??
Fatally weakening the d6 square. If only white could get a piece there!
7. Nb5 Nc6 8. e5 Ng8?
Saving the knight, but at too high a cost elsewhere. Fritz says black should cut his losses here and try 8. … a6 9. PxN PxN 10. Qe2+ Ne7 11. PxN NxP 12. Nd5 and white will swap off into an ending a piece up.
9. Nd5 Rb8?
Again, black errs in trying to rescue an unrescueable situation. Here, Fritz suggests 9. … Be7 to give the king a flight square – and accept the a8 rook as lost. The alternative is worse, as white shows…
10. Nbc7+ (D)
Black, in need of something to fill his evening, played on for another 10 moves or so, but his queen is lost and there’s no hope left.
A good 90 minutes later, Dylan added a draw on board 2 – and was immediately annoyed that he’d missed an immediate continuation to swap off into a better (if not necessarily winning) endgame. Still, we were half way to the 3 points the ratings predicted we’d pick up.
Across the other boards, Tim had sacced a piece for two pawns, which happened to be passed and rolling a and b pawns. Mariusz and Ross were coming under attacks – Ross ended up losing an exchange after a tactical sequence – while the bottom boards were yet to really take shape. However, as the evening wore on, Dublin started turning the tides on most of the boards. Mariusz was finished off with a single tactical blow, while Ross’ opponent gave back the exchange in return for a mating attack. Ciarán had seemed to have a promising position, but his opponent showed the queen was offside on h6 and got in a winning attack as a result. Brendan had looked better in a double rook ending where he controlled the only open file, but then swapped off both sets of rooks thinking his protected passed pawn was a game winner – but it wasn’t to be, and he had to settle for a share of the spoils. Tim’s pawns never got past a5 and b3, and in time trouble, his attack foundered and what was certainly the most interesting game of the night ended in Benildus defeat. I rounded off the evening with another defeat, although deep in time trouble (into my last two minutes) and figuring I was lost, I missed a chance of a draw in this position, where black has just played 34. … Rb1 –
Most of my second rank is weak, and things aren’t looking good. I played 35. Rd1, and six moves resigned having lost my queen to a discovered attack. But there’s a draw here, starting with 35. Bd3! If black tries 35. … Ra1 or Rc1, I have 36. Be4 and I can get rid of that annoying knight and swap off into a level rook and queen ending. And if black takes the b-pawn, I can also draw by 36. RxN! PxR 37. QxP g6 (to stop the mate) 38. Qd8+ Kh7 (Kg7 39. Qf6+) 39. BxP+ KxB (PxB 40. Qe7+ and perpetual) 40. Qg8+ Kf5 41 Qg4+ (not QxP+ 42. Ke4 and black’s king will eventually find shelter on a1, leaving me a rook down) KxP 42. Qg7+ and 43. QxR.
So that leaves the early Armstrong table like this –
Curragh have played Balbriggan and Phibsboro, two who’ll likely finish below the three teams we’ve played, so that we’re a half point ahead of them has to be a bit of a positive. Our next game is against Dún Laoghaire as our opponents get progressively “easier” – though we don’t face any of our genuine relegation rivals until after Christmas.