Ennis Open: A success

Sue has already recounted the games step by step but I’ll do a quick roundup of the whole event. We arrived on Thursday lunchtime and were picked up from the airport by Gerry Casey who was also our host for the weekend. We spent the afternoon walking round Ennis, me occasionally remembering the directions and we popped into Ennis’s museum “The Ritches of Clare” for some history (I’d never been there in the couple years living here).

In the evening we made our way to the pub for my simul and were pleasantly surprised by my mum who’d made the 7 hour (!) bus trip to see us. In the end it was decided that I would do an alternate simul with another visiting GM, Vlad Jianu from Romania and despite some hiccups we managed 100%. Friday morning Sue and I spent with my mum checking out the market and second hand bookshops before my mum embarked on her long journey back to Enniskillen. The afternoon we spent napping and the tournament started at 8 in the evening. I managed to convert without too many problems but Sue’s game was much longer but finally she triumphed too.

Straight to bed and up early for the three rounds on the Saturday. I played Pete Morriss, an English player who works at Galway university and who recently spent a year teaching in Australia. He played his typical 1.b4 and my opening went rather wrong but after suffering I exchanged into what should have been a drawn endgame but I had a few chances and he soon blundered under pressure. Sue was Black against Pat Twomey a solid player from Cork and after missing something just out of the opening was a couple of pawns down for negligible play but true to her style drummed up an attack out of nowhere and quickly mated him.

Round Three and Sue was paired against the top seed (on Irish ratings – my FIDE is actually higher) GM Vlad Jianu. She was white and after a Grand Prix Attack that went a bit wrong (in my eyes although Sue was more optimistic) Black was clearly better but Sue fought on very well and actually had great winning chances in the queen vs two rooks ending before missing her bishop being trapped. I kept up 100% in an ever unconvincing manner against FM Colm Daly who has been one of Ireland’s top players for the last couple of decades. I was White in a French and he played a very solid line. I sacrificed a pawn for some play but objectively I don’t think it was sound and had he played accurately I would have had to suffer for the draw but after one error my rooks suddenly became active and I had a winning rook endgame despite the pawn deficit.

Round Four was the final game on the Saturday and all the players were rather tired. I was Black against the reigning champion Jan Sodoma from Czech Republic. I was a little over-ambitious and soon found myself having to grovel a draw but somehow after declining a repetition Jan allowed a trade of rooks leaving him in a highly unpleasant queen and pawn endgame. I believe with best play it still should have been a draw but short on time the position was very difficult to play and he erred allowing a queen trade into a lost king and pawn (the instructive endgame is below – the queenside pawn structure ensures Black has an extra tempo whoever is to move. ###pgn###[Event “Ennis Open”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.05.21”] [Round “4”] [White “Sodoma, J.”] [Black “Jones, G.”] [Result “0-1”] [WhiteElo “2399”] [BlackElo “2598”] [Annotator “Sue”] [SetUp “1”] [FEN “5rk1/1p6/p6p/3q2p1/1P2p1QP/P3P1P1/8/5RK1 w – – 0 40”] [PlyCount “24”] {White is definately the one pressing} 40. Rxf8+ Kxf8 {the computer says equal and with perfect play it should be but this is now unpleasant for white} 41. hxg5 hxg5 42. Qc8+ Kf7 43. Qc7+ Kg6 44. Qc1 {No more checks and now white is very passive} Qb3 45. Kh1 (45. g4 {is a better try}) 45… Qf7 46. Qd1 {just turns into a lost endgame} Qf3+ 47. Qxf3 exf3 48. g4 Kf6 49. Kg1 Ke5 50. a4 Ke4 51. Kf2 b6 {It’s zugzang for both players but whoever needs to move first is lost and here it’s white!} 0-1%%%pgn%%%

Sue moved to 3 out of 4 with a weird win against Orison Carlile. She completely wrecked her own pawn structure but in return got a big attack and White was defenceless. The trebled isolated pawns are known as “Irish pawns” and so perhaps this was her homage game to the tournament. The game is below.###pgn###[Event “Ennis Open”] [Site “?”] [Date “2011.05.21”] [Round “4”] [White “Carlile, O.”] [Black “Maroroa, S.”] [Result “0-1”] [ECO “C30”] [WhiteElo “1797”] [BlackElo “1999”] [PlyCount “48”] [SourceDate “2011.05.22”] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. f4 d6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. Na4 Nh5 8. Nxc5 dxc5 9. O-O exf4 10. h3 Be6 11. Bb5 O-O 12. Bxc6 bxc6 13. b3 g5 14. Ba3 Ng3 15. Re1 g4 16. hxg4 Bxg4 17. Bxc5 Re8 18. Kf2 Re5 19. b4 Bxf3 20. gxf3 Qh4 21. Rg1 Rg5 22. Qe1 Qh2+ 23. Rg2 Nxe4+ 24. Qxe4 Rxg2+ 0-1%%%pgn%%%   Saturday evening was spent having a few beers and attempting to solve some fiendish chess puzzles with Summerscale, Peter Cafolla, Colm Daly and others. Then another early start on the Sunday with me paired up against Vlad on top board and Sue on board 4 against Peter Cafolla an Irish 2100. I instructed Sue to check out my Grand Prix book which reaped dividends when she won a pawn in the opening which quickly became three (Sue has already put the game up on the site). My game was much more hard fought. I noticed Vlad always plays the Dragon and so I couldn’t resist giving it a go from the White side. He plays an unusual …Qc7 rather than the normal …Rc8 ideas and I was confident of getting an advantage out of the opening. That I did as he sacrificed a pawn for what must be insufficient compensation (although he did blitz it all out so perhaps he disagrees) but then I couldn’t resist going for mate myself. Rybka informs me that my rook sacrifice was indeed sound but I subsequently misplayed it and was left grovelling yet another position. The pieces were exchanged and I was left with rook and five pawns against rook, bishop and two but his pieces were completely dominant and he must have been winning. However times were short and after a couple of inaccuracies my king and rook suddenly became active and my pawns started moving and I took the upper hand. I found a trick which forced a pawn through and we reached the technical endgame of queen vs rook and bishop with a pawns each. The position much have been drawn but with just 10 seconds a move the defence was tough and I picked up the rook. Going into the final round I was outright first with 5/5 with Sue, Vlad and Aaron on 4. As Sue had already played Vlad the pairing Sue vs me on one was forced. We fought for six moves before she gave me the draw and guaranteed outright first while board two wasn’t played out much longer. A success for me and a great tournament for Sue too who finished 2nd= and yet again proved her rating is far too low! Hopefully she’ll manage to keep her form for next weekend in Sunningdale. Time to have a few celebratory drinks before heading back to London tomorrow morning.

Special thanks should go to Gerry Casey who not only housed us in a lovely en-suite bedroom in his house but also was our private driver, waiting for us and ferrying us the couple of miles between the centre and the venue the Auburn Lodge. Thanks also to John Cassidy for organising the event and Gerry Graham for being arbiter. Hopefully we’ll be back again next year and I’m sure we’ll be back playing another Irish weekender soon – if only to keep my streak of wins going 🙂

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