While those not playing were in the next room watching the World Championship blitz play-off – and updating the results sheet in the playing venue – we had a play-off of our own on the top board, which was a straight shoot-out between Dylan and Mihailo for the title, but with four grading prizes, there was plenty to be decided elsewhere. Down on the bottom boards, Lochlann got off the mark for the tournament with a win over Eoin, while Ben surprised last year’s runner-up Luke-Andrew. This put Ben in line for the Under-700 grading prize as Joe was exchange up against Bhudhav, but he allowed Bhudhav an unnecessary passed pawn, which ultimately queened and decided the game and the grading prize.
The Under-1000 grading prize was made a bit clearer when Richard, Daniel and Declan all requested byes for varying reasons, so it was a straight shoot-out between Danny and Diarmaid. And when Danny lost to Thomas, Diarmaid didn’t even need his opposite-coloured bishop endgame draw against Felix to take a grading prize for the second year in a row.
Closer the top, Aodhán held on for a draw against Seán despite being material down in an ending, while William and Utkarsh also drew – with just 7 points between them, it was the most evenly-balanced match in the whole competition. Liam beat Cal to draw level with William on 3½/5, and both took home the top grading band prizes.
The top two boards both went right to the wire. Odhrán walked into mate in 1 when under big pressure against Ross, while on 1, Mihailo had had an advantage in the middlegame, but then lost it as the game came to its conclusion; Dylan had two bishops for a rook, with a few pawns each as well. And when a fork picked up the exchange for Dylan, the tournament came to a close, with Mihailo having to settle for runner-up again, while Dylan – who had never previously finished in the top three – taking the title.
The final standings were as follows, with * indicating grading prize winners. In addition to Dylan, William and Diarmaid also recorded best-ever finishes.
The 2017 competition will start on the Wednesday after Junior Cert results night next year – and we’ll be guaranteed a new name on the trophy!