The O’Hanlon B look set for a long season after a second defeat in two matches, while the O’Sullivan A had anything but a long night against Gonzaga A.
The O’Sullivan were in fact finished inside 40 minutes after facing ratings gaps of more than 600 points on average across the boards. In fact, the Gonzaga team was considerably stronger than both teams playing in the O’Hanlon in the next room; Daniel Fox on board 4 can hardly have expected to be facing a player just back from the World U-14 championships in Khanty Mansisk! He was at least the last to finish, though that was hardly any real consolation after what can only really be termed an annihilation. Even worse was the news that Gonzaga mayn’t even be favourites for the title, with UCD likely to be even stronger, but there’ll surely be some competitive games for the team somewhere in the season!
In the next room, the O’Hanlon B were playing a Bray side who had enjoyed a Benildus-esque Houdini escape from relegation last season, winning their last four matches to stay up by 1½ points. And with Bray having lost their opening match of the season 4-2, the target was to get at least a draw, if not a win, under our belts to avoid being cut adrift early on, having already played our As and with a trip to Enniscorthy next up.
It didn’t quite work out that way unfortunately. Luke-Andrew picked up a rook and converted from there for the team’s first win of the season – but it remained the team’s only win of the season too by the end of the night. Aodhán came unstuck against Mervyn Honner in top form, while Nicky – on her 100th league appearance for the club – had an attack going but in the end gave up one too many pawns for it, and wasn’t quite able to bring it all off. William had been material down, but shortly after recovering it, he went in for a tactic where he missed a zwischenzug and emerged just a piece for pawn down.
Luke, meanwhile, had emerged on top after his opponent blundered fairly badly in a pawn ending, but then in a completely won position, he returned his opponent’s draw offer of a few moves previously! We can chalk that up as a moral victory maybe, but it does still go down in the league table as a half-point dropped… Liam, meanwhile, picked up his second draw of the campaign as we ended the night going down 4-2. This was the first of the round 2 matches in the O’Hanlon to be played – our As play next Monday, with the other four matches next Saturday – and we’ll know a lot more about where we stand after that. We can’t expect a huge amount from Enniscorthy – who have also entered the English 4NCL this season – and so we could well be playing catch-up after three rounds. But it wouldn’t be the first relegation battle we’ve had in this division in recent seasons, so we’re well used to that!