Mariusz was one of the surprise winners of this year’s Drogheda Congress, coming out on top in the Over 1600s section. That’s not the 1600-2000 section, but the open-ended over 1600s section, where he was seeded 13th of 17 entrants!
His first round started off with what he reckons was one of his worst ever blunders. In the position below, Rudolf Tirziman, as white, has just played Nb1-c3. The computer reckons the position is about +12 (!!). Mariusz, however, managed to legitimately resign three moves later. How to continue? And how to spectacularly not continue?!
The mating threats on h2 mean that the knight is just hanging – so 1. … BxN, and if 2. PxN?? Ne2+ 3. RxN Qh2#. White has to create luft for his king – say, 2. Rb1, when 2. … Nxg2! is crushing. Three pieces are now hanging, but the check on h2 is still overwhelming. Fritz says white’s best is 3. QxR Nf4+ 4. Qg3 Ne2+, and Fritz calls mate in 16, while the human can see black’s about to go queen for rook up, with a huge attack against an open king.
Mariusz, meanwhile, played 1. … Ne2+??, which hands the game over to white, and after 2. NxN Bh2+ 3. Kh1 Bg1+?? 4. QxR, it’s now white who’s +12 (and then some).
Mariusz got the bye in round 2 and was thinking of giving up on the weekend and enjoying the sun instead – by contrast, his first round opponent, Rudolf, took a draw off top seed Tom O’Gorman! – but Mariusz couldn’t turn down a round 3 derby against Ross. After a hectic 4-hour game, Ross sacced a piece to queen, Mariusz sacced back, and Ross eventually had to defend well to hold the draw.
In round 4, he had a quick win against John Nicholson, 1780, after a “spectacular trick” won material. In round 5, he beat the third seed (1850), and with Ross also winning in rounds 4 and 5, the two were on the top boards for the final round. There, Mariusz had Bernard Boyle, also having an excellent tournament, but victory for Mariusz meant he shared first place with Rudolf and second seed Juan Campos (1890)
It’s Mariusz’ second win in Drogheda, though the previous time, in 2013, was when it was still split into all-play-all groups of 6. This win should also remove the awkward issue of Mariusz and Dave Willow having the exact same rating – so at least we’ll be able to separate them in the seedings now!