Report from Michael Kennedy, Captain of the Rathmines B team
Last night, (i.e. Tuesday 25th Feb – ed) we were badly beaten 2 – 6 by a much stronger Elm Mount A team. Realistically, we were never going to win it, but this was still our worst result of the season.
Mindaugas stood in for Peter Cafolla on top board. His modern treatment of the Closed Sicilian (without f4) faced a huge challenge from David Fitzsimons, who set out his stall with the Botvinnik Centre or V-formation (Ps on c5, d6 and e5). It seemed to be going smoothly for Fitzsimons, as he gained the B-pair after an early Nf6-g5xBe3, before taking over the centre with Ps on c5, d5, e5 and f5 and opening things up for his bishops. Can Black ask any more from this opening? Soon after, he picked up a couple of pawns and liquidated to an advantageous R+B vs R+N endgame. It was here that Mindaugas demonstrated superb skill in holding the balance thanks to the activity of his R, N & K. This was a great draw for Mindaugas and the team.
David Goggins felt he never really got into the game against his Lithuanian opponent’s English. He seemed to linger under a slight disadvantage for a long time. Jakubauskas was very patient in killing David’s counter play and grinding it out.
John Aherne put up a good show against MacElligott’s Benko. He played the main line fianchetto variation, and seemed to be marshalling Black’s threats and piece play effectively. Unfortunately, next time I looked, MacElligott was very short of time, but the exchange up for a passed pawn on the 6th. Gerry kept his cool in the scramble to win it with only 2 minutes to spare. It was great to have John back in the team, though.
Lukasz and his Dragon faced the lethal Yugoslav attack in a highly theoretical duel. Unfortunately, Spirek’s assault proved the quicker. In the end, he caught Lukasz’s K in a mating net in the corner. Lukasz should be proud of a brave fighting display against a much higher rated player.
As ever, John Burns was last to finish. He played the QGD exchange against Ciaran Quinn. It went down typical minority attack channels and there were chances for both sides. Quinn managed to create more immediate threats by shifting his heavy pieces over to the kingside. John, founder member of the neat pawn structures fan club, reacted with an uncharacteristic f4 push in order to blunt the action of Black’s B on the b8-h2 diagonal. Black latched on to the resultant weaknesses and set about exploiting them in exemplary fashion. John may have had chances of holding the position, but dropped an exchange somewhere along the way. There was no way back.
Jack’s Dutch Defence came under severe pressure from Bernard Boyle’s London System. Jack defended accurately against White’s attempted mating attack, as he succeeded in beating it back and creating threats of his own. At this point, Boyle offered a draw and Jack accepted. Excellent work from a man who doesn’t like defending!
I misplayed the Taimanov Variation against Oliver Dunne’s Modern Benoni. This left him with a middlegame advantage with B and Q-side majority vs N and central majority. Gladly, I was able to equalise by trading my central Ps for his Q-side Ps. Once Rs came off, it resolved into a dead drawn B vs N endgame with only g & h Ps on each side.
Ken got an excellent draw against Marian Hotak who, with a FIDE rating of 1990 is almost 300 points higher rated than Ken. This was the first game to finish. At the conclusion, White was 2 Ps up, but could only avert mate-in-1 by giving a perpetual check himself.
It was a strange coincidence that all 4 of the games we lost involved losing/sacrificing the exchange! In spite of these nasty reverses, most of us are still gaining rating points. Peter, though he didn’t play in this tie, will be shooting back up over 2000 on the next rating list. David will gain 30 or 40 points. John Burns will be back up over 1800, while Jack, Lukasz and I won’t be far behind.
The final round on Sunday, 9-Mar-08, promises to be even tougher. We’re up against a rampant Phibsboro A side looking for a big result to secure their first title in 3 years.