The first tournament of the new year – the Leinster Juniors – produced the same outcome as in previous years; Ryan, Kavin and Zhengjun were runner-up in the U10s, U12s and U14s, bringing the club’s streak of runner-up spots to eleven since we last had a Leinster Junior Champion.
The first tournament up was U10s, which was effectively a blitz tournament with one player being 400 points higher ranked than everyone else. That player – Rafael Renji – duly won the tournament outright, beating Wenle in the final round, which dropped him down to sixth, but allowed Ryan to complete a Swiss submarine – he lost in round 3 – to take second place on 6/7.
In the U12s, Kavin was top seed, and he and Patrick Brozynski had a 300-point gap back to the rest of the field. The two met in round 5 on perfect scores and, in a familiar pattern for the club in recent years, Patrick won and ended up taking the title on 7/7. Kavin was second on 6/7, with Eric a half point further back in third. Fearghal lost to Yubo but beat Karel, who in turn beat Wenle, but despite busily taking points off each other, all four ended up either 4½/7 or 4/7.
The line-up for the U14s was fairly similar, with Kavin top seed again and Ben and Zhengjun joining the entry list. In round 3, we had eight players on the top eight seven boards – Fearghal and Kavin going head-to-head on the live board; Eric and Yubo also on 2/2; Ben, Karel and Martin on 1½, and Zhengjun on 1, having lost to Kavin on the live board in round 2. Fearghal beat Kavin in a wild game for his best-ever win – eclipsing his Bodley win against the Armenians by 50 points – and as a reward was dumped off the top board, and down to board 2, where he beat Yubo. Unfortunately he lost his last two games to drop back down the rankings, but in round 6 he was still one of six Benildus players on the top 4 boards. By now Kavin was back on 1, though his opponent was a point ahead of the field and took the draw needed to secure outright victory. Fearghal lost to Zhengjun, Yubo and Eric took a draw, as did Ben on round 4, who had lost to Kavin in the previous round in one of many club derbies in this section.
In the final standings, Zhengjun was second on 5/6, ahead of Kavin, Eric and Yubo in joint third. Fearghal, Ben and Ryan were all half a point further back; Karel ended with 3½, Wenle got 2 and Martin ended his first rated tournament still stuck on the 1½ from his first two rounds.
There wasn’t even a runners-up prize in the combined U16s/U19s; Felix surprisingly lost his first two games against 800s, and though he stormed back with four straight wins to end as our top scorer, he was still half a point off second place. The other three players – Robbie, Joe and Robert – scored 3, 2½ and 2 respectively, with Robert‘s loss to Felix in round 5 the only club derby of the section.
So three more runners-up medals to add to the collection! The recent roll of honour is as follows –
|U12s||2018||Thomas and Ben|
|U11s||2018||Danny and Yubo|
|U12s||2017||Danny and Ben|
You have to go back to the 2017 U11s for our last title, won by Danny. It’s hardly all doom and gloom of course – to have eight separate players taking 12 top two spots between them in the last three years is positive in some ways!
The Leinster Juniors weren’t the only tournaments on in the Talbot in January though. There were three all-play-all tournaments, the Irish over 50s and over 65s, IM and GM norm tournaments, and a concluding blitz. Carl and Eric were in the U1300 all-play-all, but both finished well adrift of eventual (joint) winner, Luke Hayden, with Carl in particular losing many of the 200 points he picked up at the Sona Youth Cup, but losing points is unfortunately all part of the game, and there’s presumably plenty to be picked up from 7 games against higher-rated opposition than usual.
In the 1300-1800 section, Danny was bottom seed but picked up an excellent 4/9, including a best-ever win against Matthew Gallagher (1600). Kavin also scored 4/9 in the 1800+, including another titled win (against a WCM) to add to his Spanish collection, along with two games against 2000+ opposition for good measure.
Stephen‘s attempt at another IM norm fell short, with a strong finish only seeing him to 4½/9. Tim went unbeaten in the over 50s, but too many draws (including a travelling bye) meant he could only finish third, a half-point ahead of Gerry, who got to 3½/4 before losing to two of the three players seeded ahead of him. He did at least finish with what he reckoned was the nicest game he’s played in a long time when beating Pat Twomey.
Finally, in the blitz, Stephen was top scorer on 7/11, drawing against Sam Collins IM but losing to a Russian GM and two IMs. Dylan picked up 6/11, with all four of his defeats coming against 2100+, and two of those against titled players in Colm Daly FM and Andrei Maksimenko GM. Fearghal scored a highly respectable 5/11, on the way beating Batsuuri, who ended on 4½ and who next surfaced at our own club blitz last week!