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B&D League - Part 2, Week 8 round-up

The highlight of the week was undoubtedly Tuesday night at Ballynafeigh Community House, when the Division 1 title chase was blown wide open on a remarkable night of chess.
B&D League - Part 2, Week 8 round-up

It's up for grabs now

Division 1

Tuesday the 18th of March, when both champions and league leaders Fisherwick and their closest rivals Lindores were to do battle in the same venue - but not against each other, as they would instead take on Ballynafeigh's senior teams - had the potential to be an utterly crucial moment in the chase for the Silver King. It did not disappoint. Both of the visiting teams fielded more-or-less their strongest line-ups, and their Ballynafeigh counterparts were not far off. Among the 20 players gathered in Ballynafeigh Community House, five were rated over 2000 and between them they had no less than 16 Ulster Championships to their name, making this probably the strongest event in Ulster chess since the QUB Rapidplay of 2010. As for the matches themselves;

Ballynafeigh 1 3-2 Fisherwick

Fisherwick fell to their first defeat in over two years thanks to some inspired performances from the home team. Damien Lavery and Chris Black both overcame significant rating disadvantages to claim draws against John Masterson and Gavin Fong, and speaking of significant rating disadvantages, Thomas Donaldson - despite giving away nearly 150 rating points - beat Callum Ormerod with the black pieces to go to 14/17 for the season. Someone call 999, because he is on fire. Worse was to come for the champions as on board 2 Steve Scannell and John Cairns both had advanced passed pawns, but with the white (Scannell's) king closer to the action Cairns' passer was living on borrowed time, and sure enough, Scannell sealed the match for Ballynafeigh 1. Michael Waters eventually defeated David Houston in a rook and pawns ending to keep things respectable.

Ballynafeigh 2 1.5-3.5 Lindores

On the other side of the room, Lindores took full advantage of Fisherwick's slip-up by defeating Ballynafeigh 2. Intermediate champion Robert Lavery - who, at 1519, was the lowest-rated player involved in either match - drew with the black pieces against Ross Harris in a cagey King's Indian, while Damien Cunningham capitalised on a blunder by Fred MacDonald. On the higher boards, however, it was one-way traffic as Alan Delaney defeated Brendan Jamison, Soren Jensen's Blackmar-Diemer Gambit failed to ensnare Calum Leitch and Gabor Horvath chalked up another win over Mike Redman to ensure that those all-important bonus points would be heading east. They trail Fisherwick by just 2.5 points now.

Lagan 1-4 Belfast South 1

Belfast South 1 put some distance between themselves and bottom team Lagan with this convincing win. There were wins for Ray Devenney, Bruce MacLean and Martin Kelly, the latter coming back from an inferior position and severe time trouble to beat relative newcomer Dominic Galllagher.

PlayedPoints
Fisherwick 16 85
Lindores 16 82.5
Muldoons 15 70
Ballynafeigh 1 17 68
Ballynafeigh 2 16 59
Belfast South 1 17 56.5
Lagan 17 49

Division 2

Bangor 3-2 Ballynafeigh 4

Bangor kept their significant cushion at the top of Division 2 intact with this win over Ballynafeigh 4, although the visitors showed yet again that they are highly underrated. Dennis Wilkinson (1261) drew with Alan McConnell (1708) on board 1, while Bill Lavery continued his fine recent form with a draw against Ken Browne, and Eoin Carey beat Garry Johnston. Wins for Walter Wilson and Ashley McWhinney gave Bangor the win.

Belfast South 2 2.5-2.5 Muldoons 2

"Kelly's Heroes" and Muldoons 2 shared the points at the Bankers' Club. There were fine performances from Rodney Orr and Paddy Maguire (beating George Jackson and drawing with Cathal Murphy, respectively), and after draws on boards 2 and 3 the visitors looked to be in a good position. However John McKenna salvaged a draw for the home side with a win over Steven Eachus.

NI Civil Service 3-2 Fruithill

NICS entertained Fruithill and earned their first victory over the west Belfast side in three attempts. Drew Ferguson played vigourously against John Robinson on board 3; however the Fruithill man defended well and held out for the draw. Mark Newman beat Sean Linton after the latter blundered a rook in the early stages. Despite obtaining counterplay, Linton couldn't turn the game around and so NICS took the lead. Board 2 was a sharp affair between Alan Burns and Gerry Collins - that wasn't a surprise with Burns involved, but Collins proved himself more than up to the task and won to level the match. Board 5 saw a fine performance from Peter Storey to beat Paul Logan in another highly tactical encounter, while Geoff Hindley sealed the win for NICS with a draw against John Monaghan.

PlayedPoints
Bangor 6(+10) 57
NICS 6(+10) 42.5
Fruithill 6(+10) 39
Belfast South 2 7 30.5
Ballynafeigh 3 6(+10) 20.5
Muldoons 2 7 19
Ballynafeigh 4 6 14.5
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