Armstrong: Rathmines B score narrow 4.5 – 3.5 win over Elm Mount B (Click link to see score).
Report from Michael Kennedy, Captain of the Rathmines Armstrong B team
Monday 21-Jan-08 was the most depressing day of the year according to a Cardiff University study. This certainly would have been true for the Rathmines B team had we not pulled off a series of vital saves at the death last night. In the end, we managed to edge out Elm Mount B by 4.5 – 3.5.
Rathmines B had the unaccustomed tag of favourites for the first time this season against the team at the foot of the table. However, shorn of 3 of our top 4 boards (Cafolla, Kalam and Aherne), it was always going to be a big ask to score the convincing victory we needed to lift ourselves out of the relegation dogfight. Thankfully, we managed to get some good subs, such as Lukasz, who marked a welcome return to League chess with a quick, impressive victory from a quiet Exchange Caro-Kann. It looked as effortless and logical as any Capablanca game.
Ken’s game didn’t last too long either. He was doing ok with Black against Behan’s d4&e5 isolated pawn couplet, until he overlooked a Qh7 mate in 1. Oops! These things happen after a tiring day in work.
Soon afterwards, David accepted his opponent’s draw offer in what looked like a closed Spanish. It appeared that David relieved the central tension early, with the pawn captures …c5xd4 and …e5xd4, leaving him with an isolated pawn on d6.
Next, after Armstrong’s 1.b3 opening, Jack picked up a number of pawns in the 2R+Q ending and never looked back. This fine win extended his unbeaten streak to 8 games.
I had white for the first time this season against John Loughran’s unusual Baltic defence:
Kennedy v. Loughran
1. d4 d5 2. c4 Bf5 3. cd Bxb1 4. Qa4+ c6 5. Rxb1 Qxd5 6. f3 e5 7. de Qxe5 8. Bf4 Qf5 9. Rd1 Nd7 (9… Na6 10. Nh3 Nc5 11. Qd4 Nf6 12. e4 Qg6 13. Be3 Ne6 14. Qc3 ½ – ½, Butze – Rauze , corr. 1994) 10. Nh3 Ngf6 11. e4 Qc5
Unfortunately, I lost whatever edge I may have had when he forced a Q-trade after 12. Qb3 Qb4+. I surrendered a couple of tempi trying to hang on to the B-pair. I considered this my only chance of playing for a win, although it doesn’t seem fair that Black can get away with moving his Q 5 times in the first 12 moves! It soon petered out into a draw.
When I finished we were +1 in the match, but we were in trouble in all three remaining games. Fitzsimons’ KID was working a treat against John Crowley, as he managed to infiltrate down the e-file with his big pieces and put them to good work behind White’s front line. Running short of time, he offered a draw. Of course, John nearly tore his arm off!
The Six Queens Game
New recruit Mindaugas began with a balanced game against Bajcar. He tried to expand and attack using his isolated pawn couplet as a base; meanwhile, Bajcar tried to blocade and looked for exchanges. I doubt this was planned as homage to the man who wrote the book on this and associated structures, who was sitting just opposite playing in another match at the time. It exploded into life in a tricky R+Ps endgame. Early in this endgame (i.e. in the lead up to the diagram position), I thought White’s Ps on e6 and a6 were a little too exposed to hold much chance of a result. Mindaugas fought hard to prove me wrong and reached this position:
1. Kd5 b2 (if 1… Rxd6+ 2. Rxd6 b2 3. Rb6! ab [not fast enough is 3… b1Q 4. Rxb1 Kxb1 5. Kc6 h5 6. Kb7 h4 7. Kxa7 h3 8. Kb8 h2 9. a7 h1Q 10. a8Q ] 4. a7 b1Q 5. a8Q may be a better choice) 2. Rh1 b1Q Queen number 3… 3. Rxb1 Kxb1 4. Ke6 Rg7 5. d7 Rg8 6. Ke7 h5
7. f4 h4 8. f5 h3 9.f6 h2 10. f7 Rh8 11. d8Q Queen number 4 11…Rxd8 12. Kxd8 h1Q And now the fifth 13. f8Q And the sixth! and although White has two extra pawns, he couldn’t convert and a draw was the result. There were 6 Qs(!!) in this game: pure entertainment!
As usual, John Burns was last to finish. After a fianchetto KID/Benoni opening, John got into difficulty on the Q-side and in the centre when he was forced to part with an a-pawn and got an awful position (see annotated game). All season, John has shown strong nerves and an ability to make the right decision at critical moments. In keeping with this, he looked for complications as he broke through in the centre and sacrificed more material to create threats against the Black K. Of course, all of this ate into his opponent’s clock. John timed his draw offer to perfection – his opponent accepted with only two minutes left. An exciting tactical duel. Long live allegro finishes!
In summary, this 4.5 – 3.5 win was a below par result. Even fielding a weakened team, our expected score would have been about 5 – 3. We now face into a potential relegation playoff against Phibsboro B at home on Tuesday, 5-Feb-08. It’s essential that we field the strongest possible team for this, the most important game of our season.