The O’Hanlon A travelled to Drumcondra for the second time this season to play Elm Mount B, having narrowly beaten their As in October. With our Bs having won 4½-1½ against them the week before, there was some pressure on to get a big win.
As is traditional, Eddie was the first finished on board 5 with more than an hour of a lead on the clock. Eddie’s early space advantage and his opponent being prevented from castling eventually let his queen infiltrate picking up some material on the way and we were 1-0 up.
Meanwhile on 2, Brendan had got the perfect start in an Advance French winning a pawn when getting his opponent’s d and e-pawns for his f-pawn. With a glorious bishop on g7 pointing all the way across the board at his opponent’s queenside castled king and a queen on b6, twin threats of Qxb2# and Nxf2 forking both rooks quickly picked up an exchange and a second pawn.
I had a nice space advantage on board 1 with white against a Kan Sicilian and was looking for a way to make something of it. On 3, Odhran had one of the blocked up centre positions that he seems to enjoy with the position looking fairly even.
On 4, Sean was on the black side of an unusual Scotch Four Knights where white pushed e5 rather than swapping on d5. His opponent sacrificed his b2 pawn to gain some time in launching a kingside attack. The attack proved quite effective with a queen and two rooks pressuring a weakened kingside and winning back the pawn. His opponent apparently went wrong somewhere and Sean escaped to a worse rook endgame.
Ronan on 6 ended up with isolated queenside pawns after an early tactical sequence but had active pieces as compensation. Some pieces came off leaving what might have been a promising looking endgame. The last pieces came off though and the pawn endgame was agreed drawn. Sean’s game ended in a draw around the same time leaving the score at 2-1.
By this stage, I’d exploited a pin down the d-file to win a pawn, get it to d6 and protect it with a pawn on c5. Brendan on the other hand had missed a tactic and had to give back both pawns and was just an exchange up now with his opponent’s rook causing some problems. Odhran’s game around this stage had a rather comical situation in the middle of the board. His opponent’s rook on e4 was surrounded by a bishop on e3, pawns on d4 and f4 and a monster knight on e5. With all white’s pieces securely defended, it was the rook equivalent of a big pawn.
When his opponent unnecessarily swapped his annoying rook, Brendan’s exchange advantage was enough to win the game. My opponent allowed me to open the f-file and pressure on f7 combined with the passed pawn on d6 secured the win. I’m not sure what happened in Odhran’s game but he had a pawn on c7 or d7 about to queen when I looked after finishing my game and he won soon after to wrap up a big 5-1 win which will keep us top for at least another month.
[Thanks to Ciarán for the report!]