A week which saw the the Armstrong A and the BEA tighten their grip on second and Ben draw with a 1750 also saw most of the leaders in the top scorer race slip up.
The Bodley travelled to Trinity College on Tuesday to face the runaway league leaders – Trinity are a new team who won the O’Sullivan last year, and on Tuesday had one of the runners-up at the recent Gonzaga U-1800 tournament. Luke-Andrew took him on – and unfortunately lost within an hour, having lost his queen. Des had also lost by this stage, having lost his rook to a 1600 on board 2.
But shortly after, hopes of a decent result rose when Ben picked up a draw in an interesting game –
Ben Coghlan (968) v John Kelly (1760); Bodley Cup; 09/02/16
Knowing he was being sandbagged on board 1, Ben had threatened to play the Global, but at the last minute, he decided to play a normal opening instead. And isn’t it just as well!
1. … g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nf3 d6 4. Bc4 c6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bb3 b4 7. Ng5!?
Fritz isn’t sure about black’s choice of opening line, and reckons white has a +1 advantage just by consolidating with 7. Ne2. But Mel, in his recent talk up the club, did say consolidation wasn’t the way to go against a stronger player –
7. … PxN
Black could play the safe line himself with 7. … e6, when white hasn’t really anything better than 8. Ne2 anyway. The knight on g5 may be an irritation later, or it may be kicked. But black went in for the fun line.
The bishop is immune, of course – 9. … BxB?? 10. NxB+ and the queen falls. But the move doesn’t threaten anything, and allows black a potentially vital move to repel white’s attack. Fritz says after 9. … h6 10. BxB QxB 11. Nh3, white has pretty much no compensation for the sacced material. Or another reasonably forced line is 9. … h6 10. Qf3+ Nf6 11. Nf7 Qa5 12. b4! – the only move to prevent the dual threats of BxB and cb+ – Qxb4 13. NxR BxB 14. NxP+ Kf7 15. Nf4 QxP, and black has two knights for the rook, and though after 16. NxB KxB, black’s king is up on e6, white hasn’t got enough pieces out to take advantage of this.
Instead, Fritz wants white to build up the attack along the half-open f-file – so something like 9. Qf3 Nf6 10. Ne6+ BxN 11. BxB (this exchange makes white’s light-squared bishop stronger, and stops any irritations that might follow after Bg4) Nbd7 12. 0-0 and the f6 knight will soon fall to an e6 push, restoring material equality with an interesting game ahead.
9. … Bf6
Played to create an escape square for the king, though maybe the knight is better placed on f6, given an e5 push will likely pick up this piece, and black may prefer to have a bishop over a knight in the open game that will surely ensue.
10. Qf3 cb 11. BxP Qa5+?
This is a spite check, easily repelled. Black doesn’t win the knight as, of course, his bishop on c8 is hanging. 11. … h6, however, goes along similar lines as the previous move, except that Qa5 is less effective for black – 12. Nf7 Qb6 (now Qa5, which forced b4 last time, can be met by Bc3, protecting the d4 pawn, which fell previously) 13. Bc3 NxR 14. NxR Kg7 15. e5 KxN 16. PxB NxP and black again has two knights for the rook, though white’s dark-squared bishop in particular is much better than in the previous line, giving him added compensation.
And here, the game came to an abrupt end! Which is a shame, as black’s suddenly in trouble. White’s lead in development begins to tell – 12. … QxN 13. BxB Qb5 (stopping Bb7, winning the rook) 14. a4 (white wants to castle) Qb6 15. 0-0 (D)
All white’s pieces are out; black just has a queen and a (pinned) bishop developed. White’s king is safe, black’s isn’t. White’s queen is safe, black’s isn’t. That black is a piece up is a mere trifle here. In fact, it’s very easy for black to go wrong very quickly – the natural-looking 15. … Na6?? loses to 16. Rb1, winning material immediately. This would be a good position to play out against a computer or up the club to get used to playing while material down. We may even use it in a thematic blitz!
The draw, so, gave us hopes of a draw overall – having flipped our team, we out-rated Trinity on the bottom two boards. Cal, however, went dramatically wrong when weakening his seventh rank defence while his opponent was about to double up rooks there. That didn’t end well! Liam went even more horribly wrong when, a piece up and cruising, he hung a queen to a back-rank tactic and also lost.
So hopes of a draw – which would have kept us on the outer fringes of the promotion race – vanished, and instead we got a 4½-½ hammering, sending the team slump back into mid-table where they’ll probably finish. Liam and Cal, who were both on 4½/5, both drop back in the top scorer race. Next up is a double-header against Elm Mount next Wednesday, as the Drumcondra side visit both our Bodley and our O’Hanlon.
On Wednesday, the BEA faced Finglas, who arrived with the double-edged news that they’d beaten Portmarnock 4-1 the previous week. This was great for us in that it meant we, not Portmarnock, went into the match in second place – but it also meant we were up against a team who’d beaten our main promotion rivals 4-1!
Luke took an early draw, before Luke-Andrew – playing his second match in as many days – settled any nerves with a comprehensive win on 5. William picked up a rook and the result was never in doubt after that. Finglas fought back in the last two, however, taking a draw off Seán – the first points he’s dropped, in his ninth match of the season; this may be a recent club record for longest winning streak from the start of a season – while Aodhán got into a queenside bind and dropped a couple of pawns, and then an exchange, and it was downhill from there.
Still, a 3-2 win is a solid result, and it leaves us very well-placed with just three games to go – including an increasingly-vital home game against Portmarnock. A second successive promotion may well hinge on that match in April! Naomh Barróh, our other real challengers, face Enniscorthy on the final day, while we play struggling Balbriggan.
Also looking to secure their grip on second place were the Armstrong A, facing their own Elm Mount opposition. Dave Willow’s excellent season continued with a win over Ollie Dunne on 8 – although in the analysis after, Ciarán Quinn did find a one-move tactic overlooked by Ollie which simply won a piece, and though Dave had two pawns for it, the move probably would have swung the balance of the game entirely.
Brendan won, Kevin drew and John lost, but then Gerry won his game to move to 7/8 for the season, and take over as the club’s top scorer for the season – he’s also within touching distance of a first board prize in many years, with two very winnable games to finish the season (Kilkenny and Phibsboro), while the next game, Gonzaga, is likely to be rather tougher!
Stephen won to continue his unbeaten season, while Ciarán lost and Mel was squeezed out in a rook and pawn ending – but we’d still done enough to pick up a 4½-3½ win. Trinity, currently in between us and Elm Mount, only took 5 points off Kilkenny – bad news for our Bs, but it means the As keep a decent lead back to third place.
Saturday’s game between Curragh and our Bs is, needless to say, the biggest game of the season for both sides!