Our trip to Drogheda ended up in……………….. Bettystown by the sea. Both home and away for the local lads, but a nice spacious setting. Wonder where they’ll hold their Congress this year.
The last time we travelled near salty water, it was wild and woolly weather and so it was once more. Sean made short work of their experienced Captain Pat Scanlan by winning an early exchange and then mowing down all his opponent’s pawns and pieces on his way to a stomping win. He’s done this to everyone Pat as his 8/8 indicates.
Next to finish, surprisingly, was our Captain who was facing his Drogheda Nemesis and their sharpish clash can be seen below.
C. Howlett v Stefan
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 Cillian was moving instantly so…obviously in his home preparation, and I had not expected this…..0-0 safety first, not the first time I’ve had to change opening strategy mid-game. 5. Be2 …as he is well versed in the KID, I opted for ….d5 6. b3 …another surprise and what’s coming next? ..c5 so, let’s bust up the centre…..feeling aggressive. 7. Bb2 ..challenging on the a1-h8 diagonal. …cd carrying on my *bust the centre plan* but in all honesty, I could envisage the Queens & Bishop’s coming off leading to an uninspired middle game for Black to follow, as happened earlier this year. 8. Bxd4 provoking ..Nc6 9. Bc3 ..the point, has its merits and drawbacks….one of them being…giving me a difficult choice of fortifying a solid but passive centre somehow…..ugh!! or giving up a pawn for some activity with a knight on f6 that can’t be moved due to the Bishop on the diagonal. 15 minutes later…Bg4 with GM Rowson’s words echoing in my brain….”it’s worth giving up a pawn to smash the centre” 10. Nbd2 …another long thought followed before …Re8 but the dynamic is changing: one tempo means absolutely everything! 11. 0-0 e5 12. cd Nxd5 13. Qc2 and in a nano-second …Nxc3 was played where taking the knight back with the queen loses the centre, a piece with further material loss in all variations. 0-1.
The other 3 games were no where near concluded at this stage. Robbie had to survive early pressure from Frank Pentony before tactics allowed Robbie to freely march his e pawn down the board despite facing Frank’s Rooks & Queen. Faced with loss of material, a handshake was offered ..but Robbie was sweating a bit. Gavin was sweating a lot more as he lost a pawn, got it back, manoevered into a good position and with a massive time advantage, looked set to extend his winning streak to 7 in a row, but when you face a rising star like Sean Cummins, care is required. Sean produced a perpetual from seemingly no-where and one thing I do suspect……Gavin’s ears would be warmer by the time he got home than when he left!!!
Piotr met fierce and protracted resistance from Andrew Watson in a classy encounter, where the focus was on a Queen/Rook endgame, where Piotr was a pawn to the good. This was No Hack in the Park job, as both players displayed an endgame technique that had much stronger players nodding in Appreciation. How well did they both perform?…it easily won our game of the night vote. Well done lads, and I’m glad of the 4.5-0.5 result that ensures our return to the top of the tree.
Many thanks to everyone at Drogheda who made our Captain very welcome on his return.
We all know who’s up next!!