The club enjoyed one of its biggest pay-days at the Leinster Championships at the weekend, with the loot from two first places, a second place and a grading prize coming to the best part of a grand.
There were eight Benildus players in action over the weekend all told. Tim was our top scorer in the top section; having started with two defeats, he stormed through to win his next four games – capped by a nice win in the final round with what must be the club’s signature opening, the King’s Gambit – to end on 4/6 and a share of fourth place. Ross went about things the hard way by winning round 1 against a 1970 in just ten minutes short of five hours – giving him just ten minutes to have lunch and prepare for Henry Li in the next round! He lost that, but beat another 1970 in round 3 and also picked up a slightly quicker win in round 5 – this time in around 90 minutes – giving him a quite respectable 3/6 overall.
In the Intermediate, Dylan was top seed, but had a bit of a nightmare, losing in the first round and drawing his next three from generally better positions before deciding to opt to play a football match on the Monday. But for the other three players, it was a very successful weekend’s work. Seán had an excellent start, and was best of the Benildus players by round 4, for which he was on board 3. In the first round, he repeated his league win from last year against Joshua Redmond, and followed that up with a draw against Muhtarim-ul Haque from two pieces down, and a win against Jonathan Peoples from a piece down. Though he lost the next two, he finished with a fairly crushing win in the final round to score 3½/6 and a 1600 rating performance. This earned him the €60 grading prize, and it can’t be too long before he’s playing up into the under-2000 sections.
Mihailo had a disaster in his first game, losing on time with increments, and a draw in round 3 against a 1300 meant it wasn’t looking like a great weekend. But a final spurt of 3/3, including an entertaining win as black in the French exchange in the same room as an entertaining win as black in the French exchange in the last round of the leagues two weeks ago meant he ended on 4½/6 – joint fourth, and just losing out on a grading prize on tie-break.
I had also had a slow start, being held to an opening round draw as the Great Benildus Slayer continued his excellent record against the club – I would have been drawn against Seán had there not been a rule about no club derbies in the opening three rounds – before I scammed a draw in round 3 when my opponent, three pawns up in an ending, hung a piece. That game was also notable for a rather curious opening – 1. e4 e5 2. f4 Qf6!? This latter came after ten minutes’ thought, and for the record, apparently the best reply is 3. Nc3, defending e4, and not Nf3 as I played.
But like Mihailo and Tim, I went on a winning streak to finish on 5/6, and a three-way share of first. While the prize money was shared – €300 apiece – the title of Leinster champion was decided on tie-break. I had presumed I wouldn’t win this as, going into the final round, I was on board 1, but a point behind the leader. I won that match in uncharacteristic style – with just 35 minutes gone on my clock for a 50-move game, having already missed a cleaner win with around 20 minutes used – and there was a long wait for the rest of the round to catch up. A couple of hours later, my opponent said that according to his sums, if the last game in the entire section ended in a win for black – which it looked like doing, especially after white missed mate in 1 – then our tie-breaks would be level and I’d win on second tie-break. But when the prizes were announced, I’d lost on tie-break – the sums were correct, but it turned out my rival had gained compensatory tie-break points for playing a player who’d pulled out after round 4, which made all the difference. So technically, I’m Malahide Intermediate champion but Leinster Intermediate runner-up.
Things were even better in the Junior section, where William and Liam were fourth and eleventh seeds respectively. But the seeds in general took a battering – two of the top three and four of the top ten lost in round 1 alone – and by Monday morning, William and Liam were joint top on 3½/4, with Liam on a 100% record after taking round 4 off to go and watch Leicester play one of the many teams who just exist to make up the numbers in the Premiership these days.
Though club derbies were back on the cards for the final three rounds, William and Liam did manage to avoid each other for the rest of the tournament. William, who didn’t meet anyone higher-rated all tournament, won his last three games; the Sunday evening game was a bit of a steal as, in a R+1 v R+3 ending, his opponent simply letting William push to b7, with a rook on b8 which emerged with check, while his final round game against Mervyn Honner saw a nice king hunt as white, capped off by the unavoidable threat of b3#, to give him an overall tournament victory. Liam, meanwhile, finished with 1½/2 against the top two seeds, which made up for having played no-one higher than 850 in the first three rounds. Had he won the final round, he would have finished level with William on 5½/6, but the draw was still enough for outright second. €300 was William’s pay cheque, with €150 for Liam – so €810 all told. Not bad for a weekend’s work!
There was some fun games played over the weekend, and we’ll try get one from everyone up here over the coming couple of weeks.