Report from Michael Kennedy, Captain of the Armstrong B team
(Results from the match are here: https://rathmineschessclub.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/rathmines-b-post-important-win/)
Nerves were high for this relegation playoff between Rathmines B and Phibsboro B (5-Feb-08). Although we were 3 points clear of Phibsboro B at the start of the day, we expected them to bridge the gap, thanks to an easier run-in. We needed to put more daylight between us with a win of any margin. Thankfully, the players did the necessary with some stirring performances on the way to a 6.5 – 1.5 victory.
On top board, Peter opted for a KID / Dragon setup versus Knudsen’s aggressive treatment of the English (Ps on c4, e4 and f4). At a glance, it appeared to be an interesting encounter with a number of imbalances and chances for both sides. After the game, Peter considered himself lucky to have won what looked like a level position.
David had white in a French Tarrasch against Tony Mooney. A clash of ideas was apparent in the ensuing IQP position. David seemed to be doing most of the attacking in an otherwise close game. In the end, he took advantage of Black’s exposed K to win it.
Mindaugas had a good win over Jurkiewicz in another complicated game. He’s proving to be a great acquisition for the club.
Lukasz maintained his 100% record with a thoroughly deserved victory over Coldrick. It was a lesson on how to play against the Budapest with 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. de Ng5 4. Bf4 Bb4+ 5. Nc3 Bxc3+ 6. bc Nc6 7. Nf3, etc. He was able to hold on to his extra pawn and use the two Bs and half-open files to attack the black K, which was hiding on the Q-side.
John Burns took his favourite French for a spin against Tecklenborg, who bravely went in for a typical Bxh7+ sacrifice which John calmly refuted with a sequence of only-moves. A lesser mortal might have cracked under the pressure, but no one on the team has shown stronger nerves than John in game after game this season.
Jack lost a P somewhere in the middlegame, (it was right at the start – he played 1. e4 c5 2. d4 cd 3. c3 as far as I know – Tony) but escaped to the sanctuary of a R+Ps ending. Pretty much every chess player knows Tarrasch’s quote “all rook endings are drawn”. This proved an exception, as Jack went down to his first defeat of the season.
I couldn’t buy an imbalance in my game, which made it difficult to play for a win. It was a dull QP opening against Michael Delaney. I was surprised by his choice of opening, as he usually goes in for swashbuckling stuff. We were both guilty of relieving central tension too early, leaving a pawnless centre and a slight initiative for white, which I was able to nullify through exchanges. The resultant K+Ps ending was soon agreed drawn. With my sixth draw from 9 games, I’m gaining a reputation as a drawmaster.
I was delighted to see Ken getting back to winning ways in fine style. His London System racked up a quick win over his opponent’s Slav setup.
We’re now 8 points clear of the relegation zone, and all but home and dry thanks to this great team result. Now that the future of the team in the Division has been settled, we can switch the focus to the individuals. Most of our players are having a good season. With 4.5/7, Peter will be soaring back up over 2000 thanks to a near-2200 performance. On 5/9, David and John Burns will gain over 40 rating points each. On the same score, Jack will gain over 30. After only 2 games, Lukasz will gain ballpark 20-30 points. I reckon I’m gaining 10-12.
Can we maintain this level of individual performance in the last two rounds? On the road to this, can we do our A-team a favour by indulging in a spot of giant killing against Phibsboro A? Or can we finish ahead of Gonzaga and / or Dun Laoghaire? It’s clear that we’ll move towards answering some of these questions in our next match away to Elm Mount A, on Monday 25-Feb-08.