Ireland on a Roll; Xinqun Levels Championship

Ireland continued their winning streak in the Pandanet Go European Team Championship with a 3–1 victory over Spain on Tuesday night. The games were complex, bloody affairs with all four decided by comfortable margins.

Gavin Rooney was the first to finish: an ill-judged invasion left his opponent cut in two with fatal consequences, and things spiralled from there, with Gavin ultimately cleanly taking a full quarter of the board. A late slip cost him almost thirty points but it was not enough to reverse the game. On board 2, captain Philippe Renaut also took the lead in the early fighting. His opponent made a large-scale sacrifice in the middle game to leave two massive territories facing off, but Philippe’s was marginally the larger and the score was now 2–0 to Ireland.

Karl Irwin had a harder time of it on the top board — the first joseki left him with two groups struggling for a small life, giving his opponent both corner territory and thickness facing the centre which proved too much to reduce. Thus it was left to last-minute substitute John Courtney to save the match. John rose to the occasion with aplomb, adroitly handling the middle game fighting and ultimately forcing a resignation from his increasingly desperate opponent.

The UK also managed a 3–1 victory in their match against Denmark, with the top board game decided by a mere half-point, meaning that the relative position remains the same: Ireland at the top of the table with the UK snapping at our heels, two points behind. Our next match is against Norway on Tuesday, April 11th.

Philippe was back in action the following night in the second game of the Championship Finals. This time the boot was on the other foot as Lu Xinqun gave Philippe few opportunities, establishing a commanding territorial lead in the middle game that secured victory by a margin of twenty points. The series now stands at 1–1 with the deciding game to take place next Wednesday, March 29th.

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