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NICS vs Ballynafeigh 3

NICS tripped down to Ballynafeigh Community Centre for a league match more to their liking - Ballynafeigh's number 3 team. After the past couple of weeks of demolitions from Muldoons, Fisherwick and Lindores, the team ought to be able to gain some points and lift themselves clear of the bottom, temporarily at least.
NICS vs Ballynafeigh 3

Mark Hewitt on board 1

The Ballynafeigh 3 line-up seems to be settling down into a stable, potential giant-killers squad. Mind you, with their top boards all pretty close on ratings, its hard to predict their playing order. Evidently some strategic thinking from on-high has been whispering in captain Paddy Magee's shell-like. On the other-hand, NICS are stuck with their rigid structure which suits their flamboyant captain Newman just fine.

The first few boards finished fairly quickly.

Boards 4 & 5: Bobby Campbell vs Drew Ferguson, Paul Devlin vs Adrian Donford-SmythBobby Campbell opened for Ballynafeigh on board 4 against Drew Ferguson. Feinting an aggressive e4, Bobby dodged an early trap at the expense of slow development. An advanced black pawn on e4 was then able to breach Whites defences and gain a Knight although Bobby had a wonderfully placed Knight on e5 and an irritating Bishop on g5 as some sort of compensation. Some aggressive play from Drew went awry and instead of gaining serious advantage, dropped a piece to balance material. The game was finally resolved when both Black Rooks combined with a forward b-pawn seeing off the White Rooks and allowing the pawn to promote unchallenged.

On board 2 David McAlister defended with the Sicilian and Barrney McGahan opted to put his Queen's Knight on d2 rather than the usual c3. This allowed McAlister to get in pawn to d5, but he then failed to follow up with pawn to f6 to strongpoint his e5 pawn. Barney then piled all his pieces into attacking Black's King-pawn and finally he played a little combination that secured his prey. However David then slipped in a sneaky pawn move (ironically f7 to f6) that netted a Rook and soon after the game.

Board 6: Norman Rainey vs Pete StoreyAdrian Dornford-Smith opened for NICS as White against Paul Devlin on Board 5. The game started with the Philador: Hanham Variation followed by Adrian's oft used tactic of thrashing around with both bishops - when will he learn to get his knights out before the bishops? This lead to a few pawn shinanegans down the middle, nicely side stepped by Paul bringing his Queen out early but effectively. Paul followed this up with a bit of thrusting with his Queen to better effect going a pawn up. Then followed a bit of desperate scrambling by Adrian to stop any more monarchic damage. Unfortunately on move 10 Paul blundered his Queen in one of those life flashing before you, slow motion moments as your finger leaves the peice and all your neurons scream in unison, "Nooooo!" It was all down hill from then on. A dispirited Paul trying a few little traps aimed at Adrian's own Queen, which were side stepped. Adrian then reverted to rather inelegantly shoving Paul's king all over the place, trying to back him into a corner eventually getting the mate on a b1, a whole board away from where he started. All in all a slightly disappointing game with NICS getting a rather undeserved point, something they seemed to be good at in this match!

Board 6 fell for NICS too. Enough for NICS to claim the match, but could the hosts give their visitors a run for their money. The final two boards dragged things out a bit longer. The Ballynafeigh 2 vs Fruithill match was already concluded and the players gone. Ballynafeigh's spare team and extras had had enough too and wandered off home. Even the heating had turned itself off. It certainly looked like Ballynafeigh had the upper-hand, albeit grinding the NICS players down.

Boards 2 & 3: Barney McGahan vs David McAlister, Paddy Magee vs Alan BurnsBallynafeigh captain Paddy Magee defended against Alan Burns on board 3. Paddy is on form at the moment, playing well above his rating as evidenced by his performance in the recent weekender. Conditions were not good for Alan, the temperature in the room was high and Paddy was piling on the pressure with lots of complications. Alan wilted under the stress, dropped a piece and in a violent ending involving at least 3 promoted queens got manoeuvred into a fine mate. An excellent point for Paddy and his team!

Board 1 went down to the last 5 minutes before it was decided. Mark Newman playing White played a slow Kings Indian Attack to Mark Hewitt as Black. Having a choice of closing or opening the centre, White choose to Open as slightly ahead with development. But the position got beautifully complicated with Mark Hewitt getting a brilliant King side bishop and a flighty Knight into the fray. Fortunately for White, Black responded by defending rather than risking the attack. Mark Newman won a Knight with a pin of his white Bishop on the Rook and a possible pin of Queen against King. Starting to run short of time Mark Newman found a combination that lead to mate. Phew! cutting it close. Mark Hewitt played a good game to keep the NICS captain contained.

With the final game over, NICS had won the match 6-1 (5-1 league fixture); a generous 6-point bolster to the teams points tally.

Late news: on the day after the match, it was determined that Ballynafeigh had played boards 2 & 3 out of rating order (i.e. a rating difference of more than 100 pts). The League Controller ruled that boards below 2 were forfeit and awarded a full 5+2 points to NICS. A bad beat for Ballynafeigh for the sake of a couple of rating points.

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