The 2016 running of the Mick Germaine Cup was held in the Ierne Sports and Social Club, Elm Mount’s premises on Sunday 11th December. It was the largest ever running with 27 teams coming from as far as Manorhamilton with Blanchardstown, Malahide and Rathmines making up the bulk of the teams between them. St Benildus also took part for the time.
Criteria for entry were players had to be under 16 and rated under 900. The club was represented by Thomas, Danny, Benjamin and Lorcan, ably assisted by their honorary member and team mascot, Felipe Cooney. The format was a four-man team Swiss tournament with 1 point for a match win, half for a draw and zero for a loss and 15 minutes each for all moves.
With the players of such similar strength, we rotated boards 1,2,3 throughout the competition with Lorcan on board four in each round. Our first two rounds were simple 4-0 victories and this may have lead to a certain complacency in our third round against a Malahide Militants team who were each a couple of years older than our boys. In short order so, Lorcan and Benjamin lost their queens and their games. However, on the other two boards, Danny (on board three) was two pieces up and Thomas (on one) had a promising position, so hopes of a match draw were still alive. Unfortunately we then fell foul of our use of the clocks. Danny, who had won his two pieces advantage in less than 2 minutes of his own time, continued to play at breakneck speed and then found himself with 11 minutes left in a R+3 vs R+4 endgame he was unable to hold. Lesson 1: Use most of your time in every game.
Thomas, on the other hand, had won his opponent’s Queen, used a tactic to win two knights and a pawn for his rook, pushed his b-pawn and swapped off his Queen for his opponent’s remaining rook to allow his b-pawn queen. At this stage Thomas had one minute 40 seconds and his opponent about a minute and as this was the only game still going in the round a small crowd formed. The crowd then watched Thomas’ opponent play no moves for 1 minute and 35 seconds at which point he started to stretch, rub his hands together and smile causing Thomas to briefly look at his clock and press it just as his time ran down to zero! Lesson 2: Always press your clock. Lesson 3: In a time scramble, if your opponent isn’t playing any moves, it’s because you haven’t pressed your clock.
The lunch break came as a welcome release at this point and in round 4 we were pitted against a Gorey team managed by one Mel O’Cinneide. Each of these games was closely-fought but in the end we prevailed 3-1. Round 5 was a 3½-½ victory against what was effectively the Malahide O’Sullivan B team and this left us in third place on four out of 5 going into the final round. Here we played the team from Manorhamilton and after 2 quick losses Danny and Lorcan came through to win, drawing the match and giving us 4.5 out of 6.
After a one hour and twenty minute delay the results were finally calculated and announced and St. Benildus had come second to Malahide Militants, the team we lost to in round 3.
All in all, an excellent day’s chess was played, queens were won and lost, lessons were learned, clocks were pressed both too quickly and not quickly enough, players avoided being pushed off the clock and much experience was gained all round. Trophies and selection boxes were won and all involved enjoyed the experience greatly.