A familiar face came back to haunt the Ds as they and Cs saw their winning run brought to an end this week, but the Bs and the Juniors march on while the As picked up a familiar scalp.
The Junior team had another big win, typified by Wenle winning both his games using a total of 36 seconds plus increments. Karel had a dull draw in his opener, but the rematch was anything but as he hung a piece and had to hang on grimly for 20 moves before his opponent kindly hung a rook back. In the end, 13 seconds wasn’t enough to find a way through R+2 v N+2 and he had to settle for a draw. Diana won two endings, while Max picked up a piece in the opening, but then hung a rook in the return only for his game to go like Karel’s return as his opponent kindly hung the rook back some 20 moves later and a draw was agreed.
So another big win – an unbeaten 6½-1½ – and we stay on top of Group D. At this stage, each group is headed by a team on 4 wins from 4; our 26½ points is bettered by one team. This week sees a tough challenge though against the team one place behind us, who have three wins and a draw (against a side we beat 7-1). If we can win that, we’ll have one foot in the knock-outs. Top scorer is Wenle on 8/8.
In the senior 4NCL, our two Div 6 teams were on the top three boards, but both were heavily outrated. The Ds are used to this of course, but the 560-point gap this time proved too much to surmount. Ronan missed a trick and was lost early on, while Danny and Thomas were also both gone by the hour mark, meaning it was 3-0 as, once again, Dimitri was left holding the fort. He was playing Hackney’s board 4, a guy by the name of Gerhard Reilly. This, as Brendan Lyons was quick to spot, is FIDE’s typo for Ger Reilly, who had played in one of our own club blitzes earlier this year and who had played Leinster leagues for us for a dozen years or so. Dimitri battled gamely, but Ger’s rating is about twice as high, and that was always likely to tell in the end – as did the video Ger sent of him delivering a knock-out punch at his most recent chessboxing match! He did at least send this shortly after the game, so couldn’t be accused of intimidating his opponent, but still, Dimitri probably was right to lose!
So a 4-0 defeat, which pushes the side back into the pack a little bit, but still, the Swiss format for the Ds – unseeded in round 1 – was always going to be about pushing themselves as far as they could, and they’ve more than exceeded expectations so far! Danny is top scorer on 2½/4.
The Cs were also out-rated for I think the first time, and by a decent margin of 220 points per board. Like the Ds, they were 1-0 down early, this time with William losing his 100% streak when missing a check. Their board 1 arrived almost ten minutes after the default time after some panicked communications with their captain (who was busy beating William) but in the interests of just getting gametime, we let the game go ahead. Slavko won to make it 1-1 – had we claimed the default, that would have been a match-winning point, but instead Dave lost, having been under pressure from the middlegame with a rook entombed on h1, while Ben also lost as we went down 3-1. So the Cs and Ds drop to fifth and seventh respectively, though with ten teams on six match points, a derby looks unlikely in round 5. William is top scorer for the Cs with 3/4, though Slavko‘s 4/4 is split evenly between the Cs and the Ds.
The Bs continued their recovery from their opening-day whitewash defeat with a 4-0 win of their own. Ciarán started things off with a straightforward win against a 1200 on board 4, and Lara added to it with a good win over their 2000 board 1 in a knight and pawn ending where the computer analysis gets quite spiky when her opponent a number of times decided against swapping off into what the computer says is a drawn 4v3 ending, with all the pawns on the same three files. John won in a rook and pawn ending where he had a protected passed pawn, and we had the match win, and my opponent confirmed the whitewash when letting his flag fall in a won position which proved that it’s not a good idea to try play chess at the same time as eating your dinner, contacting opposition captains, setting up the Frank Scott Shield and cleaning the cat litter! I had at least gor a clear edge from the opening before spending an age prepping an f4 break when it was playable all along, and then I hung not just one, but two key pawns before my good fortune right at the end. John is top scorer on 3/4; we’re now up to second, and play Hatch End A next, who are just one point behind us in fourth.
The As had another tough match, this time against Wood Green Monarchs who had David Fitzsimons in their team, but for this match also rolled out Conor O’Donnell. Again, these were pretty much the last four games to finish as we put in another battling performance in the face of huge rating disparity (300 points per board) Kevin took David Fitzsimons to a level rook and minor piece ending before finally going wrong around move 40. Leon was also under pressure due to a backwards c-pawn but it also took close on 40 moves before that became critical, and 70 moves for the result to come in. But elsewhere Joe was annoyed to only take a draw as black off an IM – partly because the IM had wheeled out the Wing Gambit against the French – while Kavin picked up the result of the night, beating Conor O’Donnell for the second time this year, having also done so at the IM norm tournament away back in the distant past of January. The game in January technically only came on time in a position that Kavin was doing well to hold, and this game also had a twist – why is Kavin’s h6 push a huge blunder here?
Conor here missed the reply 1… RxP! and if Kavin takes the rook, it’s stalemate, and otherwise black can now hold the ending a pawn down. Instead, Kavin shortly converted, and is now top scorer on 2/4.
So 2½-1½ was the final score – another defeat, and we now have three games to avoid the drop, but the performances have generally been excellent and it’s been a great experience so far. Next week though is a different matter – a huge game against Wimbledon 1, the only other side with no points. Can we turn out the performances when the pressure is on?