Galway has the Second Best Team in Ireland!

 

In the most exciting National Club Championship for many years, Galway came second, being narrowly pipped for first place by Adare, by half a game point.  By coming second, Galway has qualified as one of the two teams to represent Ireland in the European Club Cup which will be held in Bilbao in September.  This is only the second time Galway has achieved this honour.  Indeed, as far as the records show it is only the third time that Galway has come second in Ireland in the 60 year history of the competition; the other two were in 1956 and 2006.

This year there were four teams which were in with a chance of the title or qualification: Adare, who had won it for the previous three years with crushingly strong teams consisting mainly of imports from outside Ireland; Gonzaga, who had been runners-up in each of those three years but were top seeds this time; Galway, third last time and third seeds; and Ennis, who had been runners-up on a number of occasions in recent years.  There were also a team consisting largely of juniors from Blanchardstown in Dublin, and the local team Ballinasloe, again consisting mainly of juniors, which had been asked to enter at the last minute to keep the numbers even when Dublin Chess Club withdrew.  As expected, Blanchardstown and Ballinasloe were no match for the Big Four, but they both put up excellent performances and scored more points than most had expected; perhaps the best result they had was Ballinasloe achieving four draws against the favourites Gonzaga, to go down by only 4-2.

But the real tournament was between the top four.  In the first round, Gonzaga beat Ennis; in the second, Galway lost to Adare when we were overwhelmed on the top boards; and in the third Gonzaga and Adare fought each other to a draw.  That left the scores going in to the last round as follows:

                                     Scores   after round 3

 Match Points

Game Points 

Adare

5

13

Gonzaga

5

11

GALWAY

4

12

Ennis

4

11½

Ballinasloe

0

5½

Blanchardstown

0

2

 

The final pairing was Adare against Ennis, whilst Galway was up against the favourites Gonzaga – and Blanchardstown played Ballinasloe for the wooden spoon (or perhaps the junior trophy).  Any of the four teams could win the competition, though Adare were clearly in the driving seat; perhaps as important, with places being determined first by match points, Ennis and Galway both knew that a win in their match would qualify them for Bilbao, whilst Adare and Gonzaga only needed to draw to qualify.  Coincidentally, our final round pairing against Gonzaga was a repeat of the last round in 2013, when we again needed to beat them to come second but that time ‘only’ managed to draw the match (‘only’ in scare-quotes, as a draw was an excellent result against a considerably stronger team); this year their team was exactly the same as the previous year, but augmented by Killian Delaney on board four, so our task was even more difficult.

Both matches turned out to be nail-bitingly close.  In our match, Yury seemed to have the better of the game against Sam Collins, the Irish number two and was never in much doubt of getting a draw, and Joona and Pete got on top quite quickly to bring home their points against strong players; when Carlos lost, there were two games remaining from which we only needed one point to win the match: Oissine was the exchange for a pawn up in a fairly blocked position, whilst Gabor was defending grimly in a double-rook ending.  Somehow Gabor created enough threats to force his opponent to repeat the position, so it all came down to the final game being played by Oissine, our youngest team member.  Oissine had turned down a draw somewhat earlier on team orders, when it looked as if Gabor might lose, but now his opponent – knowing that he needed to win – threw everything down the board to try to turn his extra pawn into a strong passer.  Oissine responded by sacrificing the exchange back, only to discover that his opponent’s king could invade and win a pawn, leaving his opponent a pawn up with a dangerous passed h-pawn.  But Oissine in turn created mating threats in the endgame that were sufficiently strong that his opponent had no alternative but to repeat the position and concede the draw and the match.  So this year we finally managed to defeat Gonzaga and claim second place.

Or maybe even first?  For in the match between Ennis and Adare, Ennis were more than holding their own.  By the time our match finished, there had been draws on boards two, three, and four, and their board one had pulled off a surprise victory against Alex Lopez.  So they also needed just one point from two games to win their match, and seemed to have a won endgame on board 5, although their position on board 6 did not look so good by then.  So if Ennis secured their point, they would end up second and Galway would win, in view of our better game points score going in to the last round.  Unfortunately for us, the Ennis captain John Cassidy misplayed the endgame, sacrificing a pawn to secure a passed pawn without noticing that his opponent got one as well that could also queen.  (There is a discussion of this game on the Ennis blog at http://ennischessclub.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/ncc-rounds-3-and-4/#comment-2734.)  Ennis did indeed lose on their bottom board, so they ‘only’ drew with Adare, allowing Adare to squeak home in first place, ahead of us by the narrowest possible margin of half a game point.

But to come second from all the clubs in the whole of Ireland is a great achievement.  Now we are planning for Bilbao, where we will have to take on the strongest players in the world.

The full results were as follows:

 

 

Round 1

 

 

Galway

 

4½

Ballinasloe

 

1½

Bd.

PLAYER

Rating

Result

PLAYER

Rating

Result

1

Yury Rochev

2363

1

Mark Halley

1758

0

2

Gabor Horvath

2097

1

Thomas Dunne,   Junior

1495

0

3

Oissine Murphy

2059

0

Cian Guinan

1565

1

4

Joona Kiiski

1924

1

Shane Bleahene

980

0

5

Pete Morriss

1882

1

Ruairi   McKenna-Carroll

1310

0

6

Carlos Silva

1191

½

John P. Dunne

1206

½

Gonzaga

4

Ennis

 

2

Blanchardstown

0

Adare

 

6

 

 

Round 2

 

 

Galway

 

2

Adare

 

4

Bd.

PLAYER

Rating

Result

PLAYER

Rating

Result

1

Yury Rochev

2363

0

IM Alex Lopez

2440

1

2

Gabor Horvath

2097

0

Valentine   Kalinins

2207

1

3

Oissine Murphy

2059

0

Anthony Fox

2010

1

4

Joona Kiiski

1924

½

Jan Heinrich

1919

½

5

Pete Morriss

1882

1

Drahoslav   Stejskal

2128

0

6

Carlos Silva

1191

½

Orison Carlile

1928

½

Ennis

4½

Blanchardstown

 

1½

Gonzaga

4

Ballinasloe

 

2

 

 

 

Round 3

 

 

Galway

 

5½

Blanchardstown

 

½

Bd.

PLAYER

Rating

Result

PLAYER

Rating

Result

1

Yury Rochev

2363

1

Emmanouil   Pandelias

1669

0

2

Gabor Horvath

2097

½

Randolf Bruin

1373

½

3

Joona Kiiski

1924

1

Sean McLoughlin

1667

0

4

Pete Morriss

1882

1

Luke Scott

1468

0

5

Carlos Silva

1191

1

Rudolf Tirziman

1394

0

6

Dara Murphy

1819

1

Daniel Dwyer

983

0

Adare

3

Gonzaga

 

3

Ballinasloe

1

Ennis

 

5

 

 

 

Round 4

 

 

Galway

 

3½

Gonzaga

 

2½

Bd.

PLAYER

Rating

Result

PLAYER

Rating

Result

1

Yury Rochev

2363

½

IM Sam Collins

2440

½

2

Gabor Horvath

2097

½

Conor O’Donnell

2105

½

3

Oissine Murphy

2059

½

David Murray

2112

½

4

Joona Kiiski

1924

1

Killian Delaney

2121

0

5

Pete Morriss

1882

1

Gordon Freeman

2070

0

6

Carlos Silva

1191

0

Peter Hayes

1958

1

Ennis

3

Adare

 

3

Blanchardstown

4

Ballinasloe

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                     Final   Scores

 Match Points

Game Points 

Adare

6

   16

GALWAY

6

15½
Ennis

5

14½
Gonzaga

5

13½
Blanchardstown

2

 
Ballinasloe

0

 

 

 

1 Comment

  1. […] Galway has the Second Best Team in Ireland! Galway Chess Club In the most exciting National Club Championship for many years, Galway came second, being narrowly pipped for first place by Adare, by half a game … […]

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