Monday, October 20, 2014

Ulster Masters finale

Senior Section
On the top two boards in Round 5 Gareth Annesley and Calum Leitch won respectively against Soren Jensen and Brendan Jamison, leaving them a full point ahead of Jensen, Gabor Horvath and Mark Newman going into the final round.

Normally players on the same points total play each other in a Swiss but the two leaders had already played earlier in the tournament - Leitch apparently had a winning advantage but Annesley conjured up a check and Leitch chose the wrong King move and went on to lose. Therefore they both floated down to players on 3 points, leaving five players still in with some sort of shout at winning the Alex Beckett Trophy. Making things interesting was that the leaders would both have to play the Black pieces, Leitch against Jensen and Annesley against Newman.

Horvath, the third player on 3.0 points, floated down to Robert Lavery and won to end the tournament on 4.0. Any chance of the defending champion making a successful defence was scuppered when Jensen-Leitch was agreed drawn in an endgame where neither player could risk more.

Now if Annesley could draw, his tie-break would almost certainly be better than Leitch's. However Mark Newman was not playing ball, having won an exchange and also having a dangerous passed pawn. Both players had little time left, Leitch was too nervous to watch his rival's game, fearing that Annesley would turn the tables but Newman found a quick way through to a victory.

So the 2014 Ulster Master title went to Leitch with Annesley having the consolation of taking second prize on tie-break from Horvath and Newman.

The Alex Beckett Trophy was in hiding on the day...

... but I was able to get this close-up of the impressive Des Forson Memorial Trophy

Intermediate Section
In Round 5 the sole leader Peter McGuckin lost to Pat McKillen. So going into the final set of games, McKillen, Matthew Chapman and Andrew Todd were in the lead on 4.0. McGuckin, William Storey and Martin Kelly, last year's Intermediate champion, were half-a-point back and still in with a chance for the prizes.

The three top games all ended in White wins. McGuckin beat Todd, but the young Bangor player had the consolation of picking up a grading prize. McKillen got the better of Chapman to secure outright victory and possession of the Des Forson Memorial Trophy for a whole year.

In the final game to finish in this section, Kelly had lured Storey into grabbing a poisoned pawn and went on to join McGuckin on 4.5, but there was to be no prize this year for Kelly with McGuckin's front-running securing second prize on tie-break.

Final Crosstables and photographs of the Senior and Intermediate winners

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