Elm Mount shaded the O’Hanlon/Bodley double-header over the board last night, although a couple of walkovers meant we came out on top on the scoreboard, with the O’Hanlon picking up a potentially crucial win.
With 11 boards down for decision, Elm Mount unfortunately suffered a couple of late withdrawals, meaning they couldn’t avoid scratching the bottom board in both matches. For the Bodley, that meant a night off for Frank, who was delighted his reputation had evidently preceded him. For the O’Hanlon, it meant a quick debate between Nicky and Finn as to just who was rustier or in worse form – Finn won and got to sit the game out.
Though we started off well in the Bodley, things went downhill as the evening wore on. Des sacced a pawn for an attack on g2, but his opponent’s knight was surprisingly resilient on h4, and once the attack was repelled, Des was in trouble. Cal was facing doubled rooks on the seventh for the second match in a row, but his opponent took the rooks back off the seventh to round up and win a stray pawn, much to the watching Frank Scott’s surprise – 44 years of coaching basics means removing two rooks from the seventh is . The upshot was that Cal escaped with a draw.
Ben, meanwhile, hung a rook and lost soon after, while Liam was up a rook – and could only draw after his opponent picked up a perpetual in quite an open position. So a 3-2 defeat overall in what’s quickly becoming a rare quiet mid-table finish for the Bodley. Cal and Liam’s almost identical season continues – after alternating a win and a draw in the first two rounds, both missed round 3 to sub up, then both won three in a row, lost last week and drew this week! This week’s results also mean board prizes are unfortunately beyond their reaches.
The O’Hanlon, meanwhile, were looking to bounce back from a hammering in Celbridge last time out – and with Celbridge playing in Bray the same night, the only two sides below us were guaranteed to pick up some points. Sub Aodhán got us off to a good start – and a 2-0 lead – when reaching a rook and pawn ending a couple of pawns up. Things were looking good across all the boards, but as so often happens in those circumstances, a couple of the boards swung to go against us. Eddie pretty much had a draw in the bag in a bishop and pawn ending, but pushed too hard, gave up his bishop for two connected passed pawns, but found the bishop more than equal to the challenge and ended up losing. Desmond had won an exchange, but then overlooked a rather blunt kingside attack from his opponent a few moves later which brought about mate.
In between, though, Nicky had picked up a nice win of her own. Her opponent had a bit of an attack, and a queen on h6 meant Nicky couldn’t castle. But then her opponent allowed his two knights get forked by a pawn push – but the pawn push, to f5, just loosened up Nicky’s king some more, so he decided to go with it. What he hadn’t figured on, however, was Nicky’s king calmly walking away from trouble, via d7 and c7 to end up perfectly safe on d6! After a couple of pieces got swapped off, the attack was over, Nicky worked a passed pawn and took the win.
That just left Odhrán, who was a piece up, albeit barely into the middlegame with time running out. He was under a bit of pressure, but more pieces came off – mostly his opponent’s! – he was three pieces up with just a pawn on g7 and two minutes on the clock to worry about. But with the material advantage, he could just sac back to an easy ending and take the point.
The news from Bray was an extra boost – bottom-of-the-table Bray had beaten second-last Celbridge 3½-2½, restoring a nice gap at the bottom of the table for us –
We’ve to travel to Gorey later this month for a tricky tie in more ways than one, before hopefully a couple more solid performances against mid-table teams Royal Lopez and Aer Lingus to seal survival…