Naomh Barróg finishes 2nd in the BEA

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It was do-or-die on May 12th as both the A and B teams of Naomg Barróg had crucial games in the final round of the BEA Cup North. The A team was on the edge of the playoff zone and the B team were on the edge of the relegation zone, so every point mattered. However, both team rose to the occasion with their strongest victories of the season.

On board 1, Eric faced yet another King’s Indian defense. As he has already faced that defense two or three other times in the league this year, he played a solid opening. Very quickly he controlled the semi-open c-file with his Rook, and eventually found a small tactic to win the opponent’s c-pawn that was left vulnerable. His opponent’s lack of space on the Queenside allowed him to win a piece a few moves later, leading to a strong initiative. Another piece fell shortly after, leading to a one-sided final and a win for Eric.

On board 2, Paddy’s opponent tried to play the London, so Paddy fianchettoed on the Queenside. His opponent traded his dark squared Bishop for a Knight and tried a Kingside attack which Paddy stymied thanks to his dominant fianchettoed dark square Bishop. This allowed Paddy to attack on the Queenside, eventually getting a supported pawn to c3. His opponent had chances to take a perpetual but instead won Paddy’s Bishop which allowed Paddy to centralise his Queen. When all the checks stopped, his Queen, supported by the c3 pawn, threatened a 4 move mate, and his opponent resigned. It was a nerve racking game, which, on move 35, Paddy was 21 points up on Stockfish, and by move 40, down by 8 points.

On board 3, Robert’s opponent opened with the Sicilian Dragon. Robert succeeded in trading off the fianchettoed Bishop and weakening his opponent’s pawn structure, leaving it with many holes that could be exploited. Thanks to a dangerous pin, he succeeded in winning a Knight. As his opponent’s defences crumbled, Robert won a Rook and mate couldn’t be stopped, so the opponent resigned.

On board 4, Oliver was at a disadvantage but held on and secured a draw.

On board 5, Des won by default.

On board 1, Suzanne had fairly even game and won a pawn early. Her opponent was making gains and had a good attack, but then blundered his rook.

On board 2, Tom got good development in the opening and went a pawn up. The middlegame went well and he won 4 pawns. He set up a strong attack with his Rooks and Queen, leading to his opponent resigning.

On board 3, Ola played against a King’s Indian Defence (Yugoslav variation). It was a complicated game where very few pieces were exchanged. His opponent went for an early pawn storm which resulted in his King being open to attack. Ola took control over the d-file and went for a full scale attack on the vulnerable King. His opponent eventually lost on time in a difficult to defend position.

On board 4, Martin played the Italian Opening. He traded the rooks and a couple of pawns too, so the game went to a Queen and pawn endgame, with Martin down a pawn. He had the threat of mate and a continuous check but his opponent eventually escaped the checks and Martin surrendered.

On board 5, Paul opened with e4-e5. He attacked the centre early to open up the game, but made an error in a pawn move, so he exchanged 2 pawns, a Knight and a Rook, for a Knight and 2 Bishops. With his Bishops and Queen, he dominated the board with multiple pins and threats of forks. He won additional pieces in the middle game and his opponent resigned as Paul was forcing a Queen exchange 3 pieces up.

At the end of the season, the A team finished in 2nd place and the B team in 9th. The A team will play Dublin chess club who finished 2nd in the BEA Cup South, and the winner will be promoted to the O’Hanlon Cup.

Robert was one of only 3 players in the league who won a board prize, after missing it last year by only half a point. He scored 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss during the season.