The O’Hanlon A and Heidenfeld are still on course for a league double, but only after a bit of a scare along the way this week, while a new-look Bodley side picked up another couple of points to keep them in to mid-table obscurity.
The Heidenfeld travelled to Lucan on Thursday already 2-0 up, but the six travelling to Lucan could only muster a van with no back seats for transport between us, which caused predictable problems. Eventually, we managed to sort a taxi, and arrived at the venue with clocks already started. When the games did get underway, I hung a pawn inside ten moves, which my opponent missed, but he quickly went two pawns up anyway. Even though I had a 450+ point rating advantage, the position was just lost. Others were struggling to make their big rating advantages show on the board as well, and the first two matches ended in draws, with Dave and Michael settling for a share of the spoils when both were maybe a shade worse. And neither Tim, Constantin nor Mariusz were really making much headway either. A fairly close match against a side fighting relegation was on the cards.
But slowly, the tide did turn. My opponent turned down a third pawn to swap off queens instead, but at the cost of his pawn structure, which immediately cost him a pawn – and when he hung another pawn the next move, I had escaped into a level double-rook ending where I also had a bishop against a knight. Tim and Constantin both worked up attacks and eventually picked up our first wins of the evening to put us 5-1 up, but myself and Mariusz were still looking at draw-ish endings. However, the evening kept turning our way, and as we entered the fifth hour of play, both of us managed to convert and we came away having stolen a 7-1 win.
Elm Mount’s round 9 result against Celbridge isn’t yet in, and Curragh v Drogheda has been postponed until after round 10 due to the Galway Congress, leaving the table currently looking like this –
All this means we’re likely to seal promotion back to the Armstrong on Wednesday week when we host Phibsboro.
At the weekend, meanwhile, the O’Hanlon A were in Drogheda looking to build on a solid start – 2½-½ up from three games on Monday – and also try put one foot in the next division up. This time, though, things really didn’t go our way. Eddie lost for the first time this season to end the last board prize chance on the team, while Anastasija turned down a draw and ended up being mated with four seconds left on her opponent’s clock as big ratings advantages this time didn’t translate into escapes on the board. Brendan did win, so the team at least maintained their 100% winning record in winning 3½-2½, but it was a lot of points to be dropping when Enniscorthy were away to Elm Mount B, who had already scratched on 6.
Fortunately, however, Elm Mount B came good with one of the results of the division so far, taking 2½ points off our rivals – a draw overall on the day – and we had lost no ground at all on third. Gorey did gain a point by virtue of their 4½-1½ win over our Bs in midweek, but round 9 could have been a lot worse for both our sides here. Instead, 6½ points over the last two matches will seal promotion for the As, and a draw against Gorey in round 10 will go a long way towards securing the title.
Finally, the Bodley were up against Enniscorthy shorn of not just most of their squad – Felix was in Galway, while Ben, Luke-Andrew and Cal were in the schools finals – but also most of the available subs for the same reasons. Eventually, we cobbled together four players, but things quickly went wrong when Paddy – back for the first time since his motorbike accident – lost a piece and Joe, on his debut, got his queen to the nice central square of e4 only for his opponent to show that it was actually trapped there.
But we pulled off a couple of excellent wins on the other boards – Des beat Will Sidney, while Bhudhav picked up a piece against Adam Copeland and converted with ease from there as we came away with a 3-2 defeat. There’s a couple of tough matches coming up, but with only one team going down this year, we shouldn’t have any worries about relegation.