Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ballynafeigh Super Series 2012 finale

The final event in the Ballynafeigh Super Series took place last night. Many of the usual suspects had returned but there were a couple of newcomers too. 27 souls in total eventually turned up, the second-best attendance of the four tournaments. These included Gareth Annesley, who just happened to be walking past the Ballynafeigh Community House, saw the lights in the upstairs windows, remembered it was Tuesday night and reckoned "there be chess players up there". The Beard welcomed him like a long-lost relative and asked yours truly was there any way we could squeeze Gareth into the draw. Even though we'd been going nearly half-an-hour, I was up for the challenge and gave the big man a travelling bye for Round 1. Trouble was, with the accelerated draw already underway, there was a danger of him stomping all over a couple of 1100s for the next two rounds, but after fiddling with the innards of SwissPerfect, I found a solution that allowed him to roam with the other big beasts without troubling the impalas.

Anyway, enough of the preliminaries, the first few rounds seemed to have less shocks than some of the previous editions, and in this calm state it looked as if the Round 4 showdown between the top two seeds, Michael Waters and Steve Scannell, would decide the winner.

Throughout the evening, I had become aware of rock music seeping through the windows but it was very difficult to pinpoint exactly where it was coming from. It was almost as if Chris Millar, fabled promoter of the quick chess-background music combination, was influencing events. When I raised this conundrum with the Sultan, Ballynafeigh's eminence grise, he informed me that the music was drifting over from the other big event of the evening in Belfast, an open air concert being given by the Foo Fighters to 30,000 fans in Boucher Road.

Back in our own little Nirvana, things had taken an unexpected turn. Scannell had beaten Waters in the battle of the giants and general expectation was that he would go on serenely to take the top prize. But we had reckoned without Stephen Morgan, making his debut in the Ballynafeigh Super Series. After a theoretical Gruenfeld Defence (something of a rarity in Ulster chess) Scannell seemed to have Morgan in a spot of bother in the endgame (two bishops, passed pawn) but the latter had other ideas, creating a passed pawn of his own which was to cost Scannell one of his bishops and ultimately the game. When I mentioned to Scannell that he seemed to have lost a theoretically won ending, he good-naturedly put this patzer in his place by telling me I needed to study some of the 1990 World Championship Gruenfeld endgames before making such sweeping statements.

So instead of a single winner and a nice easy prize allocation, we had four players tied first. Oh, dear, only two main prizes to give out, so recourse had to be made to the dreaded tie-breaks. Unfortunately for the gallant Morgan, the tie-break placed him third and therefore out of the prizes. Scannell had just hung on for first with Waters second. Ian Woodfield, who had beaten Super Series One winner Damien Lavery in the final round in a flurry of hands moving pieces and pressing clock-levers, was fourth in this tie-break evaluation but had the considerable consolation of winning the under 1900 Grading Prize.

The other two Grading Prizes also went to tie-break with Niall Troughton just edging out Tony Redden for the under 1600 Section with Ram Rajan marginally ahead of John Monaghan in the under 1300s. In what I hope is a small consolation for missing out in a prize by the slimmest of margins in each case, our three unlucky tie-break losers were offered free entry next time they come to a Ballynafeigh-organised event. Hopefully, we can give them that opportunity next Summer when, all other things being equal, the Beard and I plan to run the Super Series again. However, before that comes around, we are hoping to do something in October before the league season starts, something a little different which hopefully will be sufficiently interesting to attract our faithful participants back to the Ormeau Road. Look our for details here or at the Ballynafeigh CC website (or possibly a personal e-mail from the Beard himself).

Having finished the prizegiving and made a desultory attempt to help in putting away the tables and chairs, it was time to wend my way home. As I drove up the Malone Road and then on to Balmoral Avenue and Stockmans Lane I passed many happy concert-goers walking home from their night-out listening to Dave Grohl and co. Hopefully our own little events have given our paying customers an equally good time.

No Name              Rtg  Total  1    2    3    4    5   Prize

1  Stephen Scannell  2046 4     12:W 15:W  4:W  2:W  3:L First
2  Michael Waters    2132 4      5:W 23:W  3:W  1:L  6:W Second
3  Stephen Morgan    1969 4     17:W  6:W  2:L  7:W  1:W
4  Ian Woodfield     1689 4      9:W  8:W  1:L 13:W  5:W Grading U1900
5  Damien Lavery     1725 3      2:L 13:W 11:W 10:W  4:L
6  Damien Cunningham 1649 3     16:W  3:L 15:W 14:W  2:L
7  Gareth Annesley   1921 3      0:D 16:W  8:W  3:L  9:D
8  Mark Newman       1781 3     10:W  4:L  7:L 19:W 18:W
9  Eamonn Walls      1954 3      4:L 18:D 14:W 25:W  7:D
10 John McKenna      1633 3      8:L 19:W 23:W  5:L 21:W
11 Niall Troughton   1562 3     15:L 12:W  5:L 16:W 17:W Grading U1600
12 John Bradley      1723 3      1:L 11:L 22:W 27:W 20:W
13 Tony Redden       1537 3     22:W  5:L 26:W  4:L 15:W 
14 Mathew Chapman    1345 2.5   26:W 17:D  9:L  6:L 24:W
15 Danny Mallaghan   1780 2     11:W  1:L  6:L 22:W 13:L
16 Desmond Moreland  1801 2      6:L  7:L 19:W 11:L 27:W
17 Sam Flanagan      1706 2      3:L 14:D 20:W 18:D 11:L
18 Steven Eachus     1546 2     23:L  9:D 21:W 17:D  8:L
19 Colin Fenton      1356 2     27:W 10:L 16:L  8:L 25:W
20 William Storey    1329 2     24:D 25:W 17:L 21:D 12:L
21 Ram Rajan              2     25:D 24:W 18:L 20:D 10:L Grading U1300
22 John Monaghan     1110 2     13:L 27:W 12:L 15:L 26:W
23 Callum Ormerod    1756 2     18:W  2:L 10:L 26:W  0: 
24 Paul Anderson     671  1.5   20:D 21:L 25:L  0:W 14:L
25 Gary Johnston     1167 1.5   21:D 20:L 24:W  9:L 19:L
26 Paul Logan        1007 1     14:L  0:W 13:L 23:L 22:L
27 Patrick Magee     1039 1     19:L 22:L  0:W 12:L 16:L

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