Gonzaga again took the honours in our 2017 charity blitz, though Conor O’Donnell FM was felled in his bid for a fourth successive title on a night which saw €680 raised for the Samaritans and the Simon Community, and the one and only Frank Scott honoured on his birthday.
We had 53 entrants all told, with reigning champion Conor O’Donnell leaving it late before arriving, and so getting dumped into the “leftovers” group, where he made short work of four unrated juniors. That’s not to say it’s a good tactic to arrive late of course – he did the same last year and ended up in the same group as Stephen Brady FM!
Pádraig Sheehy came through Group A after drawing with Gerry O’Connell in the last round, when a win for Gerry would have seen him through. Pádraig was fourth seed in the group overall, behind Gerry, Alex Goss and Gavin Melaugh, but his only other half point dropped was against 930-rated Hugh Moran, who was the surprise package of the group, ending on 5/7 and only losing to Gerry.
Group B was by far the tightest, with five players ending within a point of each other. Brendan Cooney, a finalist a couple of years ago, shared top spot with Lukasz Goralski, who beat four-time quarter-finalist Mihailo in the last round to sneak into the quarters as joint group winner.
In Group C, I started with a swashbuckling win over top seed Constantin Vogel, but things went badly wrong in the next two rounds – first, I lost on time against Finn when a queen up and only a couple of moves away from mate, and then I lost on time against Seán when two queens up and only a couple of moves away from mate! I had at least taken all Seán’s pieces and could claim a draw, but it put Constantin back in the driving seat. As we got to the last round, I was still a half-point behind and had to beat second seed Conor Nolan and hope Thomas Cooney could overcome a mere 1100-point rating advantage and do me a favour. In the event, I hung my king against Conor, and though Thomas went a queen up against Constantin, he too lost, and Constantin was through.
Tom O’Gorman cruised through Group D, only giving up a draw against school-mate Ross Beatty, whose own loss against Fiachra Scallan put paid to his quarter-final chances. In Group E, Dermot Nolan beat the rusty Jack Donovan in the last round to take the group, with last year’s semi-finalist William Kenny in third, having lost to both Dermot and Jack. The results for Group F are incomplete, but Dylan took top spot to round off the quarter-final line up.
In between times, of course, we had a quick pause for spot prizes and a presents from the club and the juniors for Frank Scott’s latest birthday. Although technically this was a surprise, you have to get up early in the morning to get the better of Frank, and he was able to quickly reel off a speech to better the rest of us!
The serious business then got underway – though the quarters were an open draw, the seeds were largely kept apart in what was our strongest quarter-final line up in many years. Pádraig put paid to Constantin’s hopes of winning, but Conor and Tom both came through against Dylan and Lukasz respectively, while Dermot Nolan beat Brendan as the home club’s hopes of a first win in five years were ended.
I can’t remember the semi-final pairings were, so we can skip that and move straight on to the final, where Conor met Pádraig. Early on, Conor got a good position, and soon had a couple of very dangerous passed pawns. But the handicap time control is a big factor in this tournament, and though the pawns won Conor significant material, he was getting down the his last few seconds – and in the event, his flag fell with just one more of Pádraig’s pawns to mop up, which would have earned him a replay.
So Pádraig is the 2017 champion after Conor’s first defeat in some four years in the competition. The full results were as follows –
|Alex Goss||1560||x||1||1||1||0||0||1||1/2||4 1/2|
|Gerry O’Connell||2046||0||1||x||1||1/2||1||1||1||5 1/2|
|Thomas Cooney||929||x||0||1||1||1/2||0||0||0||2 1/2|
|Finn McDonnell||1358||1/2||0||1||0||x||1||1||0||3 1/2|
|Seán Devilly||1502||1||1||0||0||0||x||1/2||0||2 1/2|
|Kevin Burke||1664||1||0||1||1||0||1/2||x||1||4 1/2|
|Cian Fitzgerald||478||x||1||0||0||1/2||0||0||1||2 1/2|
|Peter Carroll||1465||1||1||x||0||0||0||1/2||0||2 1/2|
|Tom O’Gorman||2187||1||1||1||x||1||1/2||1||1||6 1/2|
|Ross Beatty||1700||1||1||1||1/2||1||x||0||1||5 1/2|
|Cillian Scallan||950||x||0||1||1/2||1||0||0||1||3 1/2|
|Jack Donovan||1350||1/2||1||0||x||1||0||1||1||4 1/2|
|Liam Ó Laoide||1300||0||0||1||0||x||1/2||0||1||2 1/2|
|Dermot Nolan||1670||1||1||1||1||1/2||x||1||0||5 1/2|
|Conor O’Donnell FM||2300||1||1||1||x||1||4|
Thanks to everyone for taking part and contributing to our two charities. We’ll be back again in 2018 for the next version!