Archive for December, 2007
Liam King has sent in several photos from the Christmas blitz night held on Thursday 20th December last.
Players warm up
Atanas in mid speech amuses Jack
John Burns and son Johnny
Jack Killane congratulates Roland McGrann
Brendan Meghan, winner (with Robert Stuart) of the first section
The annual Rathmines Christmas blitz was held last night. The night was a great success, partly thanks to the generous prizes from the committee and donations by several players, but also to the general good humour and seasonal cheer.
Brady (1512) vs. Scannell (1786)
Armstrong Cup, Rathmines A vs. Dublin, Board 7.
This is a game I (Scannell) should have lost, after playing a couple of stunningly inept moves in the opening. It is not particularly well-played by either side, but it is interesting for psychological reasons (always of interest to the practical chess player) and for the difficult endgame that ensued. I always analyse my lost games much more than my won games. Perversely, this is a game I won, but consider to have been lost!
Report from Michael Kennedy, captain of Rathmines
As expected, we were well beaten 5.5 – 2.5 by top-of-the-table Kilkenny on Saturday.
Peter fixed his game with Heidenfeld for the previous Thursday. I popped into the club quite late that evening to see how he was doing. What awaited me was something I haven’t seen all season – a rational position on Peter’s board! He’s done superbly well from grandmaster-type crazy positions so far, but this was a new challenge. Unfortunately, Heidenfeld seemed to be in the driving seat and went on to win in spite of some stiff resistance from Peter.
Saturday afternoon came with more bad news: Abul rang shortly before kick-off to say that he missed his bus and would be at least half an hour late. I had visions of us conceding another default. But I was relieved when he eventually showed up some 40 minutes late to play Mark Quinn. Abul trotted out the Black side of a French Advance almost before he sat down. With kings castled on opposite sides, I was deeply impressed by how effortlessly the IM coordinated his bits in attack and won in fine style.
It was an early shower for Ken too, his London System proving not quite sufficient against the in-form ex-Irish Champion. So before we knew it we were 4-1 down and it was backs against the wall again.
David managed to halt the slide with a good draw against Griffiths . Griffiths is a prodigious young talent – the new Karl McPhillips – and who knows how far he’ll go in the game. This was a double-edged Scotch Miezes with 8… Nb6. With Black’s queen and a bishop and knight tied up on the Q-side, the time appeared ripe to exploit the weak dark squares around David’s king. However, David managed to hold the balance with good pressure on White’s e5 and c4 pawns. Well done David!
For a guy who claims he doesn’t like defending Jack has been doing it rather well this season. After a quiet Nimzo-Larsen / English opening and a nip-and-tuck middle game, Jack’s encounter with Polimac resolved into a same coloured bishop and pawns ending.
Polimac held a definite initiative thanks to his active king and better structure. On the other hand, Jack’s king was tied up defending pawn weaknesses. Jack kept his cool under pressure and managed to erect an impenetrable fortress. He’s now our only unbeaten player this season.
Keeping cool under pressure from the clock was something I couldn’t achieve in my game with Sean Bradley. I equalised early with Black and set up active defence against the hanging pawns. My opponent would have had chances of playing for a win had he patiently improved his position by standard means before going on the offensive. Instead he lashed his g and h pawns up the board prematurely and exposed his own king to mating threats. He avoided this only by sacrificing an exchange and a number of pawns, but managed to seriously damage my pawn structure in the process. He defended the resultant ending fiercely thanks to the activity of his rook, bishop and pawn against my two rooks and 3 separated pawns. I was embarrassed at my inability to win it, but my opponent played the percentages well while I made some terrible decisions in the time scramble, e.g. returning the exchange when I misjudged the resultant rook and pawn ending.
A 5.5 – 2.5 defeat isn’t the worst considering that only one team has done better against them so far. Although greater challenges await them in the second half of the season in the shape of Big Billy Goat Gruff (Rathmines A) and the probable title decider against Phibsboro A.
At the halfway point of the season the greater part of the team is standing out with excellent relative rating performances:
Peter Cafolla +226
Jack Killane +205
John Burns +194
David Goggins +176
Michael Kennedy +91
At the other end of the table, our match against Phibsboro B on 05-Feb-08 is likely to decide which of the two teams will be relegated. That said we have nothing to worry about if we can maintain our current level of performance. Before that we have St. Benildus away on Wednesday 09-Jan-08.
Rathmines B versus Kilkenny
1 Abul Kalam 2147 0 – 1 Mark Quinn 2364
2 Peter Cafolla 1989 0 – 1 Mark Heidenfeld 2386
3 David Goggins 1834 0.5 – 0.5 Ryan-Rhys Griffiths 2054
4 Ken Moore 1716 0 – 1 Eamon Keogh 1993
5 Jack Killane 1716 0.5 – 0.5 Darko Polimac 1938
6 John Burns 1763 0.5 – 0.5 Fergal O’Dwyer 1875
7 Michael Kennedy 1777 0.5 – 0.5 Sean Bradley 1694
8 John Aherne 1803 0.5 – 0.5 Aravind Menon 1733
Score 5.5 – 2.5 to Kilkenny
Played Saturday 15th December in Wicklow.
Wicklow versus Rathmines
1 S Duffy 1913 1 – 0 Peter Bishop 1392
2 S Cullen 1400 0.5 – 0.5 Dave O’Connell 1394
3 E Humphrey 1372 0 – 1 Paul Mogerley 1340
4 E O’Conchobair 1394 1 - 0 Kannika Koomvilai 1160
5 J McHugh 1291 1 – 0 Una O’Boyle 1207
6 P Maguire 987 1 – 0 Ed Cunningham 991
Kilkenny visited Rathmines on Saturday 15th December in the sixth round of the Heidenfeld. The match ended in a 4 -4 draw.
Rathmines versus Kilkenny:
1 Philip Doyle 1709 1 – 0 Stephen Roe 1645
2 John Crowley 1682 0 – 1 Liam Delaney 1643
3 Peter Lynch 1630 0.5 – 0.5 Maurice Buckley 1690
4 Pat McEvoy 1566 1 – 0 Paul Lowry 1557
5 John O’Connell 1468 0 - 1 Jack Lowry 1542
6 John Maher 1443 1 – 0 Stephen Murphy 1513
7 Pat Freer 1393 0.5 – 0.5 John Courtney 1479
8 Andrew McGrath 937 0 – 1 Liam Brady 1598
This match was held last Thursday night, 13th December. As usual, the Rathmines team displayed strength in depth, with quite an advantage on the bottom boards in terms of rating. The top boards were a little more even however. Dublin were forced to play some weaker players on the bottom boards and payed the price. Rathmines registered a 5.5 to 2.5 victory overall, despite losing on the top two boards.
Derek, Leon, Tony, Darren, and Philip registered wins, with Mel and Daire losing, and Killian drawing.
Leon won his game with a knight fork on d5 against the king on e7 and the queen on b6. Ouch! Darren managed to queen a pawn in the middle game and hang on to it. He won soon afterwards. Tony started ineptly and reached a losing position against Frank Brady, but worked hard for a draw, only to be presented with a winning endgame thanks to an unfortunate blunder by Frank. (sorry, but I have no details on the other games…)
- Mel O’Cinneide 2205 0 - 1 Jonathan O’Connor 2156
- Daire McMahon 2160 0 – 1 Martin Schmidt 1984
- Philip Hogarty 2069 1 - 0 David Moya 2089
- Derek Smith 2007 1 – 0 Alejandro Ferrero UG
- Killian Delaney 1999 0.5 – 0.5 Colm Egan 1793
- Darren McCabe 1857 1 – 0 Michael Keating 1501
- Tony Scannell 1786 1 – 0 Frank Brady 1512
- Leon Fagan 1731 1 – 0 Denis Dempsey 1376
The Christmas Blitz is being held on Thursday, 20th December. All members are very welcome! There will be prizes of bottles of wine, chocolates, and biscuits. (Members are encouraged to bring extra prizes too, if they wish to donate them…).
The Leinster chess league controller is doing an excellent job of keeping the league’s website up to date. Here’s a quick review of where all the Rathmines teams stand, beginning with the Armstrong Cup A and B teams…
At first, it looks like the A team are heading for a strong defence of their title. However, they have played one match more than their nearest rivals. I’d expect Kilkenny, Phibsboro A, and Dublin to pass them out, once they play their games in hand. They have won all five matches so far, but are struggling to win by large enough margins. The B team is looking comfortable enough for staying up this year, despite the dropping of several points due to a combination of misfortune and rule transgressions. I’d expect their underlying form to carry them through.
In the Heidenfeld, Rathmines, although near the bottom end of the table, look quite safe, given that Bray/Greystones B and Malahide B both look set for the drop.
In the Ennis, it looks like more of a struggle. Rathmines are in joint last place, on 8.5 points. However, only 1.5 points separate the bottom seven teams, and it could be that a few more matches need to be played before a pattern emerges.
Lastly, in the O’Hanlon, Rathmines truely do look to be in some trouble. Lying bottom and 3.5 points adrift of the third-last team, Balbriggan, they need to gather some points from their match in hand and then get a bit more consistency.
Overall, the club in general have lost some very strong players over the last two seasons, which have impacted on our ability to compete in every league. We’ve lost Robert Stuart, Walter Stassen, Colm Darby, Ernie McElroy, Brendan Meghan, Tony Dennehy, Ray Kilbride, Stephan Meskens, Garth Fitzmaurice, Stephen Moran (hopefully temporarily), and John Hurley (not active). We are still reigning champions of both the Armstrong and the Heidenfeld, but losing so many good players in such a short space of time cannot be fully compensated for, even with the likes of Darren McCabe, Philip Hogarty, Killian Delaney, Abul Kalam and Ken Moore joining us over the last season or two.
Some Thoughts on My Game at Gonzaga, by Peter Bishop
I was playing as black on Board 8 in the Armstrong clash against highly-rated Gonzaga. The following is the position at the end of move 13 with White to move:
As can be seen, I am well behind in tempi and development. The bishop on g7 had taken three moves to reach its position. I need to castle queenside, due to white’s menancing open rook file, which will take two moves. I had not even considered White’s 14th move of Qf4 as a possibility. I had expected a stronger move by a pawn or a knight. The game continued as follows: 14. Qf4 Nd5 (the strongest move I could see) 15. Qg5 h6 16. Qxe7+ Nxe7.
I was then able to castle in safety. The game continued with White pressing my King’s side. Rooks, minor pieces and pawns were swapped off. The following is the position for move 27 with Black to move:
The red line shows the route the bishop was to follow with the intention of penetrating White’s King side to gain space. The game continued as follows: 27. … Bg7 28. b4 Bf8 29. a4 Bd6 30. Nxd6 cxd6 31. f4 d5 (vital to halt the advance of White’s pawn on d4).
Soon after I offered a draw that was rejected. I reasoned I could defend against any White attack on my Queen’s side. I noted the weak White pawns on c3, f4 and g5. But I couldn’t see how to effectively attack these pawns with my knight. The game continued with White pressing my Queen’s side. The following is the position at the end of move 36. At this point White blundered.
37. c4? dxc4 38. Bxc4 (White offered a draw which was rejected because I knew he had blundered) 38 …Nd5+ 39. Bxd5 exd5. I should have played Kxd5 which would have been easier but I was wrongly concerned that White might be able break through on my Queen’s side. It would have been a quicker route to winning White’s f4 pawn.
In the end, Black uses e6 to advance on white’s backward f4 pawn. I presume (the report from Peter ended here – Ed) that the game finished something like… 40 Kc3 Ke6 41. Kd3 Kf5 42. Ke3 Kg4! and white must concede the f4 pawn and the game.
Armstrong Result: Gonzaga 5 – 3 Rathmines B (see full results here…)
Report from Michael Kennedy, Rathmines B team captain.
A so-so result the other night as we were edged out by a higher rated Gonzaga team, but at least no walkovers were conceded this time. The miserable weather proved an accurate reflection of how poorly things were going over the board, as the Ranelagh team raced into a 3 – 0 lead. The turning point came when substitute Peter Bishop snatched our only victory from the jaws of, well, a draw. The rest of the guys were then able to go on and hold valuable draws.
Abul wasn’t given the chance to settle into his game. Cooper won a piece early on and won quickly.
Ken was next to finish. He essayed his usual setup before sacrificing a pawn in the middle game for an initiative. But then he ran out of steam, leaving his young opponent a pawn up for nothing. It must be said that Collins – yet another exciting prospect off the Gonzaga talent production line – was impressive in finishing off the game.
Another player who impressed was Garth Fitzmaurice against some patzer called Kennedy. The ex-Rathmines player threw me by flashing out the cheeky monkey opening. ..
Too much monkey business… (This is becoming a trend in Rathmines matches…see Atanas’s adoption of the Orang Utan opening. I presume this is the same 1. b4? Michael, how could you lose to this? – Ed)
I grabbed the gambit pawn but then mistakenly opted for a solid but passive setup. Fitzmaurice created a huge hole in the black position on d6 and skilfully exploited it. With zero counterplay I was screwed. I must talk to the captain about all these blacks he’s giving me!
Peter Cafolla won Freeman’s queen and a pawn for a rook and bishop. Peter definitely seemed to be on top in another crazy dynamic position – you know, the type favoured only by grandmasters and lunatics! Unfortunately, Peter was worn out by an unusually busy day away from the chessboard and didn’t have the stamina to close the deal. A draw was the result.
Peter Bishop’s win on the lowest board proved crucial. (Highlights from this game and the instructive ending here… – Ed). Tucked away in a corner, I didn’t see much of it. I did hear Peter’s draw offer being turned down. Then somehow, shortly afterwards Peter managed to get his opponent in zugzwang in a K + P ending and won. We needed it. Well done Peter. I couldn’t restrain myself from issuing a spontaneous fist-pump. Sorry!
The remaining three games went pretty much all the way. David drew a R + P ending against the vastly experienced Ray Byrne. It seemed reasonably level all the way with little give on either side, but a good result for David given the 100+ points rating difference between the players.
After that, Jack just about managed to hold an interesting R + 2P vs. R + B + P ending against Eoghan Casey, who tried just about everything to win it. So Jack remains unbeaten after 5 games.
John Burns was last to finish again. It was a tense draw with Mark McGovern after a time scramble. A fair result; though towards the end it looked as though John might just push his opponent off the clock. To McGovern’s credit, he seemed to calmly make the right decisions when very short on time.
To put the match result in context, it probably doesn´t change much for us in the sense that we´re still in the relegation dogfight. The critical matches for us will still be against survival rivals Elm Mount B and particularly, Phibsboro B. The major positive for the team so far would be the good performances from most of the players. Take a look at these relative performance ratings:
1. Peter Cafolla +287
2. John Burns +211
3. Jack Killane +201
4. David Goggins +167
5. Michael Kennedy +125
Our next match is Kilkenny at home on Saturday, 15 December 2007