Well done to Killian Delaney who won both the Irish blitz championships and the Irish rapid championships last weekend. He scored 6.5 from 7 in the rapid with a performance of 2396 and 9 out of 9 in the blitz for a performance rating of 2853. Impressive stuff!
Paul Walsh retained the Munster title last weekend in Ennis on a score of 4 from 5. There were 4 players tied in second back to fifth on 3.5 points: Philip Short, Gerry McCarthy, Piotr Leichert and myself.
Erick McPherson and PJ O Reilly tied for first on 4.5 from 6 in the Joe Browne Cup. Kerry Tyrell and James Naughton tied for 3-4th on 4 points.
The position below is from the game Philip Short versus Paul Walsh from Round 3 which eventually ended in a draw. How could white possibly have improved on that result by playing differently in the position?
As the players analysed after the game White can play 1.Bxf7+ and if Kxf7 2.Qb3+ Be6 3.Nfg5+ hxg5 4Nxg5+ Kf6 5Rxe6+ Nxe6 6Qxe6+ Kxg5 7.Rb6 and white mates in a few more moves. If instead white hopes for mate in two with 6f4+ followed by Qh3#, he might get a shock when black Qxf4! though that line is winning for white too as blacks king is so exposed. Of course black does not have to back on f7. Just 1…Kh8 and the position still seems ok for black.
3 players share the lead on 2.5 points in the Senior Championships, Paul Walsh and Philip Short who drew in round 3 and Piotr Leichert who beat Eric Salsac in this round. There isn’t any player on full points in the Joe Browne either. PJ O Reilly is in sole lead of that tournament on 2.5 points tomorrow. So 2 rounds of chess battling left tomorrow to decide the final standings in both tournaments.
You can follow live games, results and pairings from the Munster Chess Championships this weekend at the Munster Chess Union website I’ll post some updates from the tournament here as the competition unfolds. The first round starts at 7.30pm this evening.
Well done to Henry Li who confirmed his status as one of Ireland’s best junior chess players by winning the masters section in the City of Dublin tournament last weekend. Ioana Gelip came second and Marin Vlaicevic was third. Full standings for all the sections are available at the Irish Chess Union website.
A reminder also that the Munster Championships are on this weekend in the West County Hotel in Ennis. Full details and online entry are available at the Munster Chess Union website.
When last we checked in after round 9 the Irish mens team was on something of a roll and looking good for their best Olympiad finish for some years. Unfortunately losses in the last 2 rounds on 3-1 scorelines, firstly to Austria and earlier today to Venezuela meant that Ireland finished in 81st place, 12 places below their original seeding.
The women also finished below their seeding. They trounced Aruba 4-0 yesterday but lost a close match to Tajikstan 2.5-1.5 today. A draw or win in that match would have propelled them up the standings but they finished in 95th place, 14 places below their seeding.
Its been a while since Ireland had a good Olympiad. At some stage I will take a look back at some of the stats on previous performances and try to identify the best of our previous performances.
The gold medal in this years Olympiad was won by the USA who were tied on points with Ukraine but had a better second tiebreak and had won their match against them. Russia finished third. The womens event was also very close. The top seeds China edged out Russia in the last round to clinch first. The Polish team came second with Ukraine getting the bronze.
Well the mens team are certainly starting to build momentum. They won their match yesterday easier than I expected winning 3.5-0.5 against Iraq which was a really good result. As I suggested the Iraqi board 3 did miss a chance for a quick knockout with a thematic exchange sac on f3 followed by Bf4 but even if he had found that, it would not have changed the match result. The men followed with another good result today beating Thailand 2.5-1.5. Mark Heidenfeld who seems a bit out of form lost quickly and Alexander Baburin was held to a draw but wins by Stephen Jessell and Colm Daly clinched the points.
The women faced their third South American team in a row today after yesterdays 3-1 loss to Paraguay. Bolivia proved tough opponents today and despite an excellent win on board 1 by Alice O Gorman they lost by the same scoreline today. The games were pretty close though especially on 3 and 4. Karina probably missed a chance to draw right at the end of her game and Gearoidin just played a bit passively at the wrong time.
On top boards Ukraine remained on course for the gold medal with victory over India. It would be a fantastic result for them to take the gold especially considering they are without Vassily Ivanchuk. Meanwhile England are also moving into medal contention and a win today over Iran would have put them in a good position but they drew the match. Its set for an exciting last 2 rounds.
Two match wins for Ireland yesterday in Round 7 of the Olympiad. Stephen Jessell managed an almost miraculous save in his game as at one stage he was a piece down in an endgame but his opponent couldn’t find a way to win. It didn’t matter too much in the end as wins by Baburin, Heidenfeld and O’Donnell meant we would win the match anyway.
The women also had a narrow escape in one of their games as Poornima Menon looked in trouble at one point but managed to turn things round to win which was a great result as it turned a possible 2-2 draw into an excellent 3-1 win for the team as Mirza and Ui Laighleis both won their matches.
In todays games the men are playing Iraq and got off to a great start with a quick win by Alexander Baburin on board 1. The match is still in the balance though as it looks like Conor O Donnell is lost or close to it if his opponent finds 23…Rxf3! Mark Heidenfelds position looks a bit worse but Colm Daly is better so we might be looking at a draw or else a narrow Irish win in the match.
After their win over Uruguay yesterday the women will be hoping for a similar result against another South American team, Paraguay, today. That match is also in the balance as Ui Laighleis is two pawns up on board 4 but Kruk is in trouble on 3. Board 2 looks still in the balance. Paraguay seem to be gaining the upper hand on board 1 so this match looks like it will be quite close also.
The mens team unfortunately crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Wales today. The Welsh board 1 Richard Jones, who I remember having some chess battles with when I played in the Welsh league, has been one of Wales best players for quite a number of years now and in fairness played a very nice game today on the White side of a Steintz French to beat Stephen Jessell on board 1.
Jones has always been an aggressive player, for a long time the Kings Gambit was his main response to 1…e5, even while he was a 2300+ player, so kudos to him for that alone. I am not sure he plays it so much these days though. He showed some of his attacking qualities in today’s game.
18. Bxh7+! (Ok this is a standard sacrificial motif in the French but White has to do some accurate calculation before playing this to make sure everything works cos there is no going back now!) 18…Kxh7 19,Qh4+ Kg8 20.Rd3!
It seems very difficult, if not impossible, for black to prevent white crashing through here. A sample line 20…bxc3 21.Rh3 cxb2+ 22.Kb1 f5 23.Qh7+ Kf7 24.Qh5+g6 25.Qh7+ Ke8 26.Qxg6+ Rf7 27. Rh7 Nf8 28.Qxf7+ Kd7 29.Nc5+ Kc6 30.Qxe7 and white is winning. The game continued 20..Ndxe5 21.Rh3 f5 22.gxf6 Bxf6 23.Qh7+ Kf7 24.fxe5 Nxe5 25.Rg1 bxc3 26.Bxe5 Bxe5 27.Qh5+ Kg8 28.Qh8+ Kf7 29.Rf3+ Ke7 30.Rxg7+! and white won in 36. A well played game by Jones.
In the other games Mark Heidenfeld lost to Carl Strugnell, Conor O Donnell drew with Tim Kett while Colm Daly had the same result with Charles Morris.
The womens team also lost today though their match was a bit closer. Mirza lost to Stojkovska while Poornima Menon lost to Nikolovska, Alice O Gotman beat Bejatovic on board 2 to pull a game point back for Ireland so if Kruk won we would tie the match. Unfortunately it looked like Karina allowed a three fold repetition in a position she was better in. It certainly wasn’t a trivial win, as her king is exposed and with heavy pieces on the board she has to be careful not to allow a perpetual but with best play I guess it should be winning. So the match finished 2.5-1.5 with the match point going to Macedonia.
Ireland will play Namibia in the Open competition tomorrow while in the Womens event Ireland will pay Uruguay.
A slightly disappointing result for the mens team today as they were held to a draw by a lower ranked Madgascar team. Wins for Daly and Heidenfeld were cancelled out by losses for Baburin and O’Donnell resulting in a 2-2 match score. There is a rest day tomorrow and then the men have something of a derby match the following day against the Welsh.
The women had a good result today beating Nepal 3-1 with draws by Mirza and O Gorman and wins for Kruk and Ui Laighleis. They have Macedonia in the next round.
Some fascinating matches on the top boards in the Open earlier today. I haven’t had a chance to look at too many of the games yet but Ukraine had a massive result, this time beating China. They have now taken out 2 of the top 3 seeds in the last two rounds but they still don’t find themselves leading the table going into the break. That honour goes to the Netherlands who have a slightly better tiebreak. Not too many would have predicted that before the tournament. Given the teams they have played however you would have to say Ukraine are favourites now but it seems to be one of the most open Olympiads for some time with lots of teams in with a realistic shout of winning.