Elm Mount B are struggling at the bottom of the top Leinster league, so it was no surprise that the reigning champions, Rathmines A, scored a comprehensive 6-2 victory. We took straight wins on the top six boards, with (in board order 1-6) Mel, Philip, Derek, Darren, Killian, and Tony winning their games against much lower-rated players.
On the seventh board, Leon was outplayed by Alec Tyrrell, and his king was exposed to a overwhelming attack. The final position, with black to move, was this (or something very similar – I am recalling this from memory). As you can see, Black is totally lost, and he was forced to resign here.
On board eight, Atanas Khoutev was debuting as a substitute for the A team. Atanas is unpredictable. He was a wise choice as substitute, if only for his ability to create chaos on the board. However, his Elm Mount opponent was unfazed by his eccentric approach and calmly took the full point.
Atanas played 1. b4, which is The Orang Utang Opening (apparently – I had to look that up because I have never seen it before!). It is also called the Sokolsky or Polish, either of which makes it sound semi-respectable. Honestly, I think it stinks, which is why it is aptly named the Orang Utang… After 1… e5, Atanas played the extremely hopeful 2. c4?, and was heading downhill after 2…Bxb4. After dropping a series of pawns, without any discernable compensation, black weaved a mating net around Atanas’s uncastled king. In fairness, Atanas can play better than he displayed in this game.
On board four, Darren McCabe played Fred Armstrong, as white. His game was an interesting endgame, with a sophisticated exchange sacrifice. It began as a Scotch, with Darren forcing the queens off early and entering a superior ending.
Darren McCabe 1857 vs. Fred Armstrong 1665
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Qf6 5. Nxc6 Bc5 6. Qd2 dxc6 7. Bd3 Be6 8. 0-0 0-0-0 9. Qg5 Attempting to reduce to a better ending… 9. …Be7 10. Qa5 Kb8 11. Be3 b6 12. Qc3 Qxc3 13. Nxc3 Nf6 14. h3 h6?! 15. f4!
White’s superior pawn centre is a big plus. Development of pieces is roughly equal, but the pawn formation of 4 vs. 3 on the kingside, with good mobility, will favour white in the middlegame/ending to come.
15…Rdg8?! 16. f5 Bc8 17. Bc4!
Highlighting the weakness on f7 17…Rf8 18. a4 To stop b5 18…Bb7 19. Rad1 Bb4 20. Bd4
If black tries to win the e-pawn with Bxc3, Bxc3 and Nxe4, the g7 pawn falls and then the exchange. Hence, the e-pawn is indirectly defended. 20…Rhg8 21. Bxf6 gxf6 22. Rd7 Rg7 23. Rfd1 Bd6
Trapping the d7 rook. But Darren has seen that he gets a lot of compensation for the exchange. Or has he? He admitted this may have been an oversight…but improvising in difficult positions is the hallmark of a strong player. 24. Kf2 Kc8 25. Be6 Kb8 26. Bc4 Kc8 27. Be6 Kb8 Offering a draw, which Darren spurns with…28. g4 h5? 29. gh Bc8 30. Rxd6 cxd6 31. Bxc8 Kxc8 32. Rxd6
And Darren emerges with a pawn for the exchange, plus the likelihood of the f6 pawn very soon. He still has the extra h pawn too, which black carelessly threw away on move 28. 32…c5 33. Nd5 Rh8 34. Nxf6 Rh6 35. e5 Rg5 36. Ke3 Rxf5 37. Ke4 Rf1 38. Rd2 Kc7? 39. Rd7+ Kc6 40. Rxf7 and black resigned in another couple of moves. 1-0.