Round 2 games below, in pgn format. We got two draws from good positions (for both Killian and Darren) and could have had more if Robert had not thrown away an excellent position. It did include the, ahem, loss (with white) after 7 moves from Niall. Is this the shortest decisive game ever seen at the European Club Cup?
Here are some of the interesting positions. I do not claim to be able to interpret them fully at all. Indeed, some are quite puzzling to me. (But maybe YOU can tell me more? If you have any comments on the games, or useful analysis to add, please send comments or emails and I’ll try and include them on the site!)
First, Killian reached a fantastic position, after a very good game, with three extra pawns. The next-to-final position looked like this, with white (Killian) to move:
Clearly, the knight and bishop are under threat and black is on the verge of equalising if he wins one of them. The general rule is that three pawns = one minor piece, but with an open board and pawns still on the initial squares, it can be hard to hold onto them and the extra piece usually dominates. Bg5 only results in black renewing the threat to win a piece via Rf5! After, say, Bh6, Rf6 keeps up the pressure and results in either the loss of a piece or a 3-fold repetition. Killian instead moved Kb1 and a draw was agreed.
Robert reached a drawish-looking ending and is white, to move, on move 40.
He played the astonishing blunder Qxc5??. I can only surmise that he resigned on the spot and that the blunder was due to incredible time pressure. Nxe4 looks safe to me.
Darren reached this position in his own game, as black.
It looks like the knight has to retreat to b5. White has two bishops and a fine position, although his pawns look rather loose. But Darren found a beautiful way to end the game immediately. He played Ra1!! and after Qxa1 (forced, because the knight guards all exit points!) Ne2+!; Kh1 Ng3+ they agreed a draw because of perpetual. Well done Darren on a fine save.
Derek’s key moment (as black, to move):
Here, Derek decided to sacrifice the queen, probably hoping for a draw via perpetual, or even a mating attack. He played 27…Bxh3?; 28 gxh6 Rxg2+; 29 Kh1 Nxe4; 30. Be1 Ng3+ 31. Bxg3 Rxg3 32. Rg1 Bg2+ 1-0 I presume he miscalculated something here and hoped for Kh2?? Rh3++ or something else. But there is nothing there and he resigned.
Niall, ahem, probably wants an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records for shortest loss ever in a serious chess game: 1. c4 g6 2. Nc3 Bg7 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e4 Bg4 6. Be2 Bxf3 7. Bxf3 Nxd4 0-1 Ouch.
Unfortunately, Ersahin, our secret weapon, was totally outplayed from the black side of a Benoni. Jack sat it out yesterday. Overall, I think the lads can be rather pleased with their performance in this match. But for a couple of lucky escapes from opponents and tragic blunders, we might have emerged with 2 or 3 points.