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NICS entertain Ballynafeigh

NICS entertained a Ballynafeigh team - the one led by Paddy Magee. NICS had their full team roster out with all 7 boards in play. Past match-ups with Ballynafeigh have seldom been easy with the odd surprise or two.
NICS entertain Ballynafeigh

Match in Progress

Seven boards in play and unfortunately NICS were unprepared for 8th man Charlie Logan. An interesting night ahead and despite NICS rating advantage on most boards, Ballynafeigh more often give under-rated performances belying their lack of experience. Boards fell more or less in playing order as it turned out.

Board 1 Ram Rajan vs Mark NewmanRam Rajan opened to Mark Newman on board 1. With Mark's recent games being uncharacteristically "adventurous", Ram had everything to play for. But Mark's experience still built his position on sound foundations; taking control of the half-open b-file with both Rooks targeting Ram's relatively unprotected King. This was enough to turn the game in Mark's favour and claim the first board for NICS.

Board 2: Paddy Magees vs David McAlisterDavid McAlister had a rare outing in NICS' Division 2 challenge, opening on board 2 against Paddy Magee. In a somewhat convoluted opening David managed to gain the upper-hand despite Paddy's daredevil play. David's experience helped him consolidate his advantage as White, gradually securing better position move by move until Paddy was forced to concede.

Board 3 saw an explosive game as Kenny Millen opened to Alan Burns. The game was played at a furious pace - not at all for Alan's benefit. Black's pawns started to disappear and then horror or horror's: not only did Alan drop a Rook but Kenny had engineered a massive attack down the e-file where Black's King was more or less isolated from the protection of his pieces. As ever, Alan had already pushed his h-pawn to the 4th rank and this kept him in the game as he was able to quickly bring his Queen over to create a dangerous counter attack on White's King. Board 3: Alan Burns vs Kenny MillenAs each player manoeuvred to apply pressure and counter threats in equal measure, the game settled down though Kenny still had a significant material advantage. An injudicious move threw Kenny's advantage away giving Alan the edge; enough to let Black take the game. Perilously close giving Alan, and the rest of his team, palpitations!

Drew Ferguson opened on board 4 to John Price. With Drew's regular passive start, the position verged on stalling with pawns on Q-side and the centre blocking both players. The only space was on K-side with Black coming down the diagonals while White's Knights defended with other pieces in attendance. John went for broke, sacrificing  a Bishop on h3 and following-up with a lone Queen. Of course, breaking the stand-off also let Drew get his long range pieces into action and despite his exposed King proceeded to lay traps for the Black Queen. Sadly White's pieces were not as co-ordinated as they thought they were and John's Queen was able to get behind Drew's defences pinging holding pawns until Black had balanced the game numerically. Board 4: Drew Ferguson vs John PriceJohn definitely had the upper-hand now with White's pawn structure decimated and unable to make the extra piece count. Drew found an opportunity to launch an attack on Black's King from the b-file to the 7th Rank, but John forced a trade-down, effectively nullifying the attack. With Black's Queen controlling the centre and White's King still exposed, John began to push his extra pawns for promotion. Perhaps taking too much care of his pawns, John missed a horrible checking Knight fork losing his Queen and shortly after his final Rook followed in similar fashion costing him the game. Something of a steal for Drew.

Geoffs matePaul Anderson - playing at NICS for the umpteenth time this year - opened to Geoff Hindley on board 5. Paul followed his opening e5 with a forceful assault on Geoff's position establishing a strong pawn structure that was pushing Geoff back. As Geoff's pieces retreated, Paul had difficulty defending his forward position letting Geoff break through to gain a significant material advantage and deliver a crazy back-row mate (see the position). This gave NICS a clean sweep for the league match but two more games were still in progress.

Adrian Donford-Smith defended against Norman Rainey of board 6. Adrian over-committed in the centre at first losing control but eventually restoring balance. Board 6: Adrian Donford-Smith v Norman RaineyHowever, this was at the cost of letting Norman advance a pawn to c3; supported by almost all Black's pieces it looked as if Adrian could do little to prevent the pawn either promoting  or at best gaining a Rook. Indeed, this is what Norman attempted trying to force the issue. It almost came off but over-eager to press home his attack, Norman over-looked an innocuous White Bishop. Instead he dropped a piece and his attack collapsed letting Adrian take charge of the game to get another win for NICS.

Final game on board 7 with Pete Storey defending against Bobby Campbell. Bobby was a tad slow developing on the K-side which let Pete carefully co-ordinate his pieces taking control of the centre. With his Rooks in support from the back rank, Pete launched an ominous attack with the Black Queen and a pair of Knights. Bobby's pieces were out of position to offer any support to his now beleaguered King. Board 7: Bobby Campbell vs Pete StoreyIn a complex dance Pete checked White's King move after move leaving piece's en prise as the King squirmed to find an escape square. By now all Bobby's team mates had left the room with only NICS player's watching as Pete missed a mating opportunity to a collective silent intake of breath. It seemed Pete was intent on making poor Bobby suffer and indeed another mating opportunity went begging possibly letting White get his pieces active in defence. Finally it was Bobby who made the real error walking his King into a clear mate which Pete took to claim the game.

A curious evening where NICS scraped by relying on at least 3 blunders to win games but ultimately claiming a 7-board clean sweep against Ballynafeigh. With a rearranged match against Muldoons next week, NICS final match of the season will be at Ballynafeigh in a fortnight against Dennis Wilkinson's squad. No doubt a few of tonight's Ballynafeighers will be out for revenge on that night; on past performance, they might well get it.

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