After four rounds of the Cork Chess Congress I was in the Excuse-Search-Mode. Desperately. I have just lost a game against Simon Williams, an endgame a pawn down but with opposite colored bishops on the board. It was one of those positions which one considers easy to hold when looking outside the board, and devilishly unpleasant to defend over the board. Taking into an account the draw that I made in the previous round the chances of a price seemed already gone.
Well, I thought, my headaches are good excuses. Right, but they are something which I always have throughout the tournaments. And it did not prevent me from winning an important game at the last Cork Congress.
I’ve been rusty, did not play for a long time? True, but this happens to everyone. Have a look at Alex (Baburin) who plays very seldom at the Irish events and is a whole point ahead of you.
Then, you know, the toe of my right leg aches. I even went to the Doctor for that.
You know what, I said to myself, if we continue this way I might end up with a recommendation of head amputation for stupidity.
Let me try first to win my two remaining games and think again about the excuses then.
It actually appeared not that bad as I managed to win both of them:
Collins,S (2465) - Bojkov,D (2507)
Cork (6), 21.04.2013
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Nb3 a5 15.Be3 a4 16.Nbd2 Bd7 17.Rc1 Qb7 18.Qe2 Rfe8 19.Bd3 Rab8 20.dxe5 Nxe5
In this theoretical position Sam decided to surprise me:
21.Bb1 [21.Nxe5 dxe5 22.Bc5 is the main course of the events instead.]
21...Bc6 [After a brief check I decided to hit the center. This leads to a very interesting tactical skirmish:]
22.Nd4!? Bxe4 23.Nxe4 Nxe4 24.Nc6!
24...Ng5! [The only way.]
[24...Nxc6? loses the horse on the pin after: 25.Bxe4 Rec8 (I must admit that I missed the check in this line- 25...d5 26.Bxd5 Nd4 27.Bxf7+ Kxf7 28.Bxd4 Bb4 29.Qh5+) 26.Qf3 Ne5 27.Bxb7 Nxf3+ 28.Bxf3+–]
25.Nxe7+ [We both missed in the line: 25.Nxb8 Ngf3+ that White can go for the tricky- 26.Kh1!? (Instead- 26.gxf3 Nxf3+ 27.Kf1 leads to a draw- 27...Nh2+ (Sam was afraid of: 27...Nd4 but there is a simple refutation- 28.Qg4 Qh1+ 29.Qg1 Qxh3+ 30.Qg2+–) 28.Kg1 Nf3+=) 26...Nxe1
I saw that far, the computer a bit further- 27.Nc6 the same motif again. It's funny how people (or it is probably just me) tend to miss recurring tactical themes in a single game. 27...Nxc6 28.Be4 True, this time the resource- 28...d5 works- 29.Bxd5 Nd3 30.Qxd3 Nb4 31.Qxh7+!? (Or- 31.Bxb7 Nxd3 32.Rc7 Nxb2 and Black should survive.) 31...Kxh7 32.Bxb7 Nxa2=]
25...Qxe7 26.f4?! [26.Qh5 Better was: Although also interesting is: 26...h6 (when I intended to go for: 26...Ngf3+ 27.gxf3 g6 28.Qh6 Nxf3+ 29.Kg2 (29.Kh1 Qb7) 29...Nxe1+ (29...Qf6? 30.Red1 Nh4+ 31.Kh2+–) 30.Rxe1 with unclear play) 27.f4 Nc4 (27...Ngf3+ 28.gxf3 g6 29.Qxh6 Nxf3+ 30.Kf1 Nxe1 31.Rxe1±) 28.Bf2 Ne6 29.Qf5 Still, in this line White keeps strong pressure for the sacrificed pawn.]
One mistake and the game is thrown away. White could go for an endgame:]
[27.fxg5 Qxe3+ 28.Qxe3 Rxe3 29.Rxe3 Nxe3 30.Kf2 Nc4 31.b3 axb3 32.axb3 Na5 33.b4 Nc4 34.Be4 The good bishop compensates a bit the lost pawn.]
27...Nxh3+ 28.gxh3 [Or: 28.Kh2 Qh4]
28...bxc4 29.Qg4 Rxb2
The bishops will not have the time to show their potential. White resigned.]
The top board that day finished a draw. Alex Baburin was half a point behind Simon Williams and everyone was surprised seeing him call it a day in a playable position with good chances for an advantage. The Englishman won the tournament, Baburin came second, I took third.
However, I was most proud of Michael Bradley, who scored 5/6 at the major tournament to share the second place! Fionn O'Neil won this section, and Padraig Sheehy won the minor section with 6/6.