Round 2 of our club championships went the same way as round 1 – very few upsets, with Pawel winning decisive material inside the first four moves, but Seán finishing first – and it means there’s some big ties set up for round 3.
A late withdrawal meant a jigging around of the draw, and lots of prep out the window. Anastasija, for example, had prepared for Ross, but now had to face me, although I’d been preparing for Pawel. However, Anastasija’s prep turned out to be a French Exchange, which Pawel has been known to play, so it all worked out quite well in the end. Pawel, meanwhile, was up against Odhrán, who had very uncharacteristically just hung a piece after four moves, grabbing the g4 pawn with a bishop in a Grob and losing it to a check fork almost immediately. Liam had been down to play Eddie, but instead got a chance at revenge against John, who’d scraped past him in round 1 last year. This time around, John went for the jugular, with an early f7 sac followed by, shall we say, complications.
First to finish, though, was Seán, as he had been in round 1. The result was the same this time too – after a piece for two pawn sac didn’t quite come off, Desmond regrouped and powered home down the newly-opened h-file for what would prove the only upset of the evening.
Eddie, who had taken a bye in round 1, wasn’t far behind, as is to be expected. He took just ten minutes in beating Cal, even though the game went all the way to a pawn endgame. Beside him, Mariusz atoned for his round 1 upset with a nice win against Des; getting a bishop to h2 and a knight to g3 with check, and with a discovered check to follow, is usually a positive, and Des took it as a cue to resign – it was mate in four anyway.
Further down the way, Stephen was unfortunate enough to get a walkover – just the fourth such default in the past three years, but three of them have been against Stephen! The improving Frank had the bishop pair and an advanced pawn against Denis Dempsey – who was quick to reassure me that the bottle of chardonnay at his table, while it did once contain chardonnay, was full of water for the purposes of our tournament – but eventually, Denis’ experience told, and the pawn fell, and a while later, the game. Meanwhile, Paddy had an almost symmetrical position against Aodhán – down to the doubled, isolated, f-pawns – but Aodhán did have one extra pawn, isolated and passed, which decided.
The only other game in the bottom half of the draw saw William take three pawns for a piece against Luke, but the pawn storm couldn’t quite force its way home, and when Luke gave the material back to reach B+3 each, we had our first – and only – draw of the evening.
That just left the top five boards – including Odhrán, who was at least being tenacious from a piece down. John decided the piece sac wasn’t quite enough, so threw in an exchange sac as well to go two pawns for a rook down; it wasn’t entirely clear though if the sac was worth it. I had built up an early crushing attack against Anastasija, won two pawns, and then swapped off all my active pieces to allow serious counterplay against my one weak spot on f7 and give effectively my entire advantage away. Zdravko had pressure against Ciarán Mahon, while the other Ciarán was still holding his own against Gerry on the top board.
Zdravko eventually ganged up on a pinned piece and won, while I ganged up on a backwards pawn which at least created the impression of pressure, even if the opposite coloured bishops and reduced number of pawns meant a draw was still the likely result – only my extra one pawn and the set of rooks on the board gave me any winning chances. But appearances can be deceptive in chess, and my pressure finally translated – maybe unnecessarily, but with best play – into the h3 pawn, and then a tactic finished things off, although I now had a big advantage with connected, passed kingside pawns ready to roll.
John finally got to leading Liam’s king on a walk into the middle of the board, saw a tactic to win queen for rook and then channeled his inner Frank Scott by sitting on his hands for a moment and realising he also had mate in one on the board. Pawel finally disposed of Odhrán, while Gerry eventually scraped past Ciarán on the top board in a rook and pawn ending.
So six of the top seven seeds have yet to drop even a half point over the board, and all look set to meet in round 3. It looks like Gerry v John will take centre stage, with Zdravko v Pawel and me v Ross just behind (pending official confirmation of the draw – depends on colours, etc). But with all the top seeds in the running for a change, there’s plenty more potential challengers lurking behind us!
The full round 2 results are –
|8||Ciarán Ruane (1)||1674||0-1||1||Gerry O’Connell (1)||2015|
|2||Pawel Madynski (1)||1931||1-0||13||Odhrán McDonnell (1)||1573|
|10||Ciarán Mahon (1)||1667||0-1||3||Zdravko Manojlovic (1)||1874|
|4||John Healy (1)||1852||1-0||20||Liam Kelly (1)||1254|
|12||Anastasija Manojlovic (1)||1585||0-1||7||Kevin Burke (1)||1694|
|21||Cal Nolan (½)||1219||0-1||15||Eddie Gahan (½)||1396|
|26||Des Carroll (½)||968||0-1||6||Mariusz Lokasto (0)||1758|
|14||Seán Devilly (0)||1492||0-1||23||Desmond Beatty (0)||1199|
|24||Felix Jordan (0)||1157||– +||16||Stephen Cunningham (0)||1365|
|17||William Kenny (0)||1329||½-½||25||Luke Hayden (0)||1124|
|19||Denis Dempsey (0)||1264||1-0||28||Frank Kelly (0)||636|
|22||Aodhán Keane (0)||1218||1-0||27||Paddy Power (0)||778|
|5||Ross Beatty (1)||1843||½-½||Bye|
|9||Mihailo Manojlovic (1)||1672||½-½||Bye|
|11||Dave Willow (½)||1657||½-½||Bye|
|18||Finn McDonnell (0)||1315||½-½||Bye|