Ireland took a major step towards promotion in the Pandanet Go European Team Championship, with a 4–0 victory over our closest rivals, the UK. Although some results from the other matches are not in yet, Ireland move two points clear at the top of table, with three rounds left to play.
In truth, the bulk of the damage was done on the 13th. The UK team demonstrated a hitherto unsuspected romantic streak, claiming that three of their players had other plans for Valentine’s Day. Despite some scepticism (cries of “aye, right!” echoed from points north), Ireland agreed to reschedule.
First blood went to captain Philippe Renaut, eking out a tight 1.5 point victory in a game where the AI graph was flatter than last night’s Guinness for the last two hundred moves. On board 3, Gavin Rooney established an early lead against the UK’s hot young prospect, Scott Cobbold. Cobbold narrowed the margin in the endgame but ultimately resigned.
On the top board, Karl Irwin took on UK captain Bruno Poltronieri in a grinding, low-scoring game. Under time pressure Poltronieri misread a ko fight, overlooking a group of stones left in atari after Karl took the ko. Worse yet, this threatened the life of a second, larger group. Retaking the ko was scant compensation and Karl ran out the winner by 5.5.
It was left to James Hutchinson to put the icing on the cake. The game looked even until mid-game when Tim Hunt gambled on running out with a group instead of safely making a second eye, and then upped the ante by continuing to attack when he had a second chance to live. He paid the price when James connected his own running group, killing Hunt’s, and then turned the knife by resurrecting a dead group late in the endgame.
Ireland’s next match is against Spain, on March 21st.