Ireland Forge Ahead Against Norway

In the penultimate round of the Pandanet Go European Team Championship, Ireland demonstrated steely resolve in a 4-0 win over third-placed Norway.

None of the games went to counting, with the first resignation coming in Karl Irwin’s game on board 1. The game rapidly spiralled into a running battle that dominated the centre of the board — when “Houdini” Irwin extricated his weak group, his opponent was left dangerously exposed to a vicious counterattack and resigned shortly afterwards.

There was a distinctly nostalgic feeling on board 2 as Norway’s Tomas Hjartnes essayed a grand moyo style rarely seen in the AI era. Ebullient Irish champion Philippe Renaut showed why this style has fallen from fashion, taking early profit before making a straightforward life inside the moyo. When it was clear that Philippe was alive everywhere and Tomas far behind on territory, he too took the honourable way out.

On Board 4, Matei Garcia took on occasional visitor to these shores, Rasmus Stene. Rasmus also plumped for early profit but left a weak group behind that came under heavy attack. Matei built territory while attacking, forcing his opponent into increasingly desperate measures to recover the game. The denouement came when Matei blocked the still vulnerable weak group’s escape route — under severe time pressure, Rasmus missed his one opportunity to make two eyes, and resigned a few moves later, his dragon definitively slain.

Board 3 started late and the game dragged on well past eleven. The opening was diffuse and hard to evaluate, but as the groups began to settle, John Courtney made crucial thickness in the centre that clearly tilted the game in his favour. Already leading on territory, he tightened the screws throughout yose to build up a commanding lead. The coup de grace came in the last moments of the game when his opponent overlooked a peep that threatened the life of corner. The victory was complete.

The UK team eked out the narrowest of victories against Slovenia to keep their promotion hopes alive, scraping a 1.5 point win on their final board to win 3–1. Ireland remain two points clear at the top of the table and need only a draw in their final round match against Bulgaria to guarantee promotion to League B.

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