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B&D League - week 5 analysis

Five weeks in and both divisions have leaders almost a full game-set of points ahead of their closest challenger. But there are at least another 9 weeks left and with some startling results and upsets already, especially in Division 2, consistency might be hard to come by.
B&D League - week 5 analysis

Silver King & John Strawbridge Cup

Division 1: Silver King

Fisherwick have endured Lindores whittling away at their lead carried over from Part I but their first head-to-head in the Division ended in a draw. Lindores have generally been outperforming Fisherwick in their match-point tally and if both teams continue like this, Fisherwicks Silver King hopes might well just fade away.

As for the rest of the field, there are upsets a-plenty

  • Muldoons have struggled to live up to their early promise at the start of the season; their first match in the Division against Fisherwick featured some creative board management which seems to have backfired as a handful of draws only netted them 2 points
  • The Ballynafeigh teams seem to be content to wallow in the middle of the division unable to decide whether they are going to compete seriously or squander their top board successes with dubious multi-teaming on their bottom boards. In week 5 the inappropriately named 2nd team fronted by Ulster champion Mike Redman, fielded a visiting 1900 Dane on board 2. This pushed Brendan Jamison (rated at 1719) down to bottom board - and even then, Muldoons still claimed the bonus points with a 5-2 win. Points are sure hard to come by.
  • Lagan and Belfast South's A-Team prop up the the division though no longer as far adrift as they had been when the Division matches kicked off. Both clubs can field excellent squads on the night well demonstrated by Lagan's 3-2 win at Ballynafeigh against the Redman squad. Meanwhile the A-Team, missing several of their regulars, gave their arch-rivals Fisherwick a hard time holding both top boards to draws in a week 4 face-off.

It will take a few weeks yet for the Division to settle down and the easy-match advantages carried over from Part I to get smoothed away. Then it might well get very interesting!

Links

Full standings and match fixtures

Division 2: John Strawbridge Cup

Meanwhile Division 2 is all over the place, every week is different and some of the new boys have had startling wins while disasters are not that uncommon for any team.

NICS had been putting in some great performances especially when their Cuban was available on Board 2. The new club had been slowly but surely paring away the advantage Bangor carried over from Part I; within 3 weeks, reducing the deficit to less than 6 points - a realistic one-match result. Week 5 and the two clubs met head-to-head at NICS when Bangor produced the sort of side ought to play in Division 1 and the result was no surprise, the sea-siders unlucky to drop even the 1 point in a resounding 6-1 win. If Bangor keep that sort of performance up, its difficult to see how anyone can challenge them.

The next few weeks will show us whether the Bangor club can maintain this sort of consistency. After all, NICS scored a massive win in Groomsport in Part I while only last week Kelly's Heroes almost cleaned them out in a 6-1 point win. Looks like Bangor don't know how to play at home - what is that about; a club that only a couple of years ago could field 4 teams?

It seems like NICS only have 2 game plans - full-on or switched-off; either they play out of their skins getting some excellent scores or they crash-and-burn. Still, they seem to have gotten a march on Fruithill. So far in the Division Fruithill have only played home matches and have struggled to show the sort of form that seeded them second in-line for divisional title; giving up a poor draw to NICS and then the ignominy of getting taken out 5-2 by the Ballynafeigh 3 novices and held to a draw by the novice novice's 4th team from Ballynafeigh. To be fair to both Ballynafeigh teams they have been playing exceptionally well. Considering many of their players only started competitive chess this year, their progress has been astounding. They are now a force to be reckoned with; underestimate them at your peril.

Muldoons have struggled to put out a regular squad more often falling back to their historical roots in Magherafelt or even earlier to the Ransdalstown days. They should be getting better results such as the 6.5-0.5 Ballynafeigh 3 demolition in week 4 and certainly if they can get some stability in their team, their performance should pick up. Kelly's Heroes have also struggled to get a stable team out. With at least one match being postponed and two matches played short-handed, it is not surprising that Belfast South are also propping up Division 2. But as Muldoons have shown when they do get their act together they can be a force to be reckoned with; just so, Belfast South taking out Bangor in Groomsport last week for a 6-1 win.

Even with the 3 new teams starting the Division with no carry-over points, the bottom 4 teams are all pretty close on points, no-one has yet managed to get much of a lead on the rest. At the top end NICS have leap-frogged Fruithill to claim second spot while Bangor wax and wane at the top.

Links

Full standings and match fixtures

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FIDE 100th Anniversary Groomsport Classic 2024 (Round 2) Apr 18, 2024 07:30 PM - 10:30 PM — Church of Ireland Parish Hall, 30 Main Street, Groomsport, County Down, BT19 6JR, Northern Ireland
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