We had the usual blitz start, this time when Cal fairly demolished Richard, making amends for his loss on time in the same competition last year. Luke-Andrew got a walkover against Tim. Add in a few byes due to mid-term holidays – Ross spending his in Greece at the World Youth Chess Championships of course – and that left us down to the last four boards. Boards 2 and 3 had less than 40 points between the players – the previous closest-matched pairing in the tournament so far had over 250 points of a difference – Seán had a raging attack going against Liam, while William also had an attack brewing against Aodhán. Daniel had wound up with six isolated pawns against Diarmaid – who promptly mended them and the players entered a king and pawn ending, while Dylan had played an early gambit line against Odhrán’s Caro-Kann but didn’t seem to get a huge amount out of it.
The bottom board was the first to finish; Daniel somehow missed a simple pawn push to victory and swapped off pawns instead, which ended in a promotion race; both sides queened at the same time and a draw was agreed. Liam had chosen to defend his weak g7 square with a rook rather than a queen, which made for passive rather than aggressive defence, and Seán soon crashed through. William, however, had suddenly come under a strong attack, and as he tried to shelter behind opposition pawns on d5 and e4, Aodhán’s major pieces got in around the back and soon forced resignation. On the top board – last to finish, as is generally traditional in the competition – Dylan had sacced an exchange for an attack and a dangerous outside pawn. When he picked up a rook, the game looked over bar a few spite checks from Odhrán – but Dylan surprisingly offered a draw with 2 minutes left to his opponent’s 4. The reigning champion didn’t need to be asked twice, and rather quickly accepted.
So the top three seeds are all on 2½/3 as we enter a break week for the Bodley and Armstrong B before resuming for round 4, the draw for which will be available shortly.