The club’s two O’Sullivan teams came away from UCD on the wrong side of a combined 1½-8½ scoreline as the hosts kept up their challenge for a double title.
It was 3-0 before an hour was up. For the As, Taylor, who had been easily winning in his two previous games before ultimately losing, opted to see if that worked in reverse, and dropped a piece after four moves. Unfortunately, the reverse jinx didn’t work, especially against a player rated 1300, and so the game was over in 20 minutes. Thomas followed 20 minutes later for the Bs, having taken back a bishop instead of a rook in an exchange sequence, and so just ending up an exchange down; though he had a bit of compensation after his opponent played an ill-advised f6 push, which just opened his king, the material proved too much in the end, and it was 1-0 in both matches. And a while later, Frank saw a ghost going for a piece sac, but wound up with his uncastled king subjected to a fierce attack, which ended in mate.
The defeats kept coming – not altogether surprising given that, for example, board 1 in the B match saw Danny up against Catherine Hearne, a former Irish junior international. Danny – another who didn’t castle on the evening! – lost a pawn early on, and though he did reach a double rook ending a pawn down, there was enough in his opponent’s position that she picked up another pawn and soon, the game.
On 3, Benjamin also lost, though he was at least the closest to a result we’d had up to that stage, having had his opponent under a bit of pressure early on before opting to move his dark-squared bishop for a fourth time while his light-squared bishop was still at home and completely blocked in. This allowed his opponent, who had all his pieces out, launch a counter-attack which quickly proved decisive, and it was 2-0 and 3-0.
But we did finally get a win; Lorcan triumphed on board 5 against a UCD player who’d only popped by to see about playing a few friendlies, and was suddenly thrown into a league match! Lorcan won a rook, then lost it to leave him with just a passed pawn advantage in a queen and pawn ending. He missed a chance to cut out the checks, but just when his opponent had a draw by repetition on the board, he inexplicably pushed a pawn, which opened up his king and allowed Lorcan to push his pawn to the seventh with discovered check, and then to move his queen to a square where there were no more checks, and the pawn couldn’t be stopped.
Bhudhav also lost; having started with the curious moves 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Bd6? 3. Bc4 Nh6? 4. d4 Qf6?, he quickly found himself under pressure and lost a rook, ending his unbeaten start to the season and leaving the B team with a 4-1 defeat on the night. Meanwhile, the three most experienced players – Declan, Daniel and Diarmaid – were all still in action against players with rumoured rather than actual ratings; Daniel was holding his own against a player with a reputed 2400 internet rating, Declan was a rook down against a 1800-FIDE (give or take – the rating, not the rook, that is!) and Diarmaid was also level enough against a player down as 950-rated, but no-one was really sure whether to believe that or not.
In the end, Daniel went wrong with one passive rook move in a double rook, bishop and pawns ending and soon found himself in fatal trouble, Declan didn’t have a miraculous comeback against the 1800-ish, and Diarmaid had just dropped a pawn when someone came in and said the building was now locked, so could we all start making our way to the exits please. There was still half an hour on the clocks at this stage, but while the two captains (the UCD captain who does play for Benildus, and the Benildus captain who used to play for UCD) debated whether this meant that UCD lost the game (being the home side, and suddenly having no venue to play in), Diarmaid offered a draw, which was accepted, and the problem went away – as did the threat of a whitewash.
So 4-1 and 4½-½ overall; fairly typical scores for UCD this season (when they’re not playing Gonzaga). And it’s Gonzaga next for our Bs in what seems to be the strongest O’Sullivan Cup ever, while our As host Blanchardstown – both those games are part of another triple-bill in the club next week, alongside the Bodley against Malahide.