Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ulster Masters on the up

I paid a flying visit to the Ulster Masters today. The event has been moved a month earlier this year. and whether it was the change in date or the generally vibrant club scene at the moment, numbers were well up on the three previous editions.

Play in the Senior section during Round 4
There are 12 players in the senior section, headed by Ulster champion Gabor Horvath, defending the title he won in this event last year. In Rounds 1 and 3 he was held to draws by Brendan Jamison and Gareth Annesley. The latter went into Round 4 on 2.5 points, just ahead of a chasing posse of Horvath, Jamison, Soren Jensen, Calum Leitch and Mark Newman.

I arrived just as the Round 4 games were reaching a climax. First Jamison and Annesley drew in a Queen and 5 pawn ending. Then Jensen with Rook, Bishop and 2 pawns versus Newman's Rook and 2 pawns was saved any technical difficulties, when Newman, short on time, blundered away his Rook.

Final game to finish was between Lindores team-mates Horvath and Leitch. Horvath had an open h-file for his two Rooks aiming at Leitch's h7-pawn. Calum was trying to counter with his two Rooks and Queen lined up on the e-file. Gabor piled further pressure on the h7 pawn with a Knight going to g5. In a surprising but effective manoeuvre Leitch abandoned the pawn, moving his own Knight, stationed at f6, to g4 and then f2, which ultimately allowed a decisive penetration by his Queen and Rook, forcing resignation from the defending champion.

Going into Round 5 Annesley has been joined in the lead by Jensen and Leitch on 3.0 points, with Jamison on 2.5 and Horvath in a group of four on 2.0.

In the Intermediate section, 25 players are taking part. Top seed Peter McGuckin is in the lead after 4 rounds with 3.5, only half-a-point ahead of a group of six, comprising of John McKenna, Paddy Magee, Andrew Todd, Stewart McConaghy, Matthew Chapman and Pat McKillen.

Top boards in the Intermediate section during Round 4

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