Ireland managed their second consecutive draw in the Pandanet Go European Team Championship, going 2–2 against Austria in the fourth round.
Although things looked dark after Karl Irwin and Matei Garcia lost on Boards 1 and 4 respectively, the best was yet to come.
Playing black on Board 3, John Courtney ratcheted up the pressure against Lisa Mayer, capitalising on a couple of slow moves to harass weak groups, and forcing an early resignation. Board 3 looks like Irish home ground this season, yielding wins in all four rounds so far, two from John and two from James Hutchinson.
Meanwhile on Board 2, captain Philippe Renaut came out worst in the opening skirmish, forced to sacrifice his cutting stones in exchange for an outside ponnuki. But slack play from his opponent allowed Philippe to parlay that ponnuki into a massive central moyo, giving him a narrow territorial lead before he delivered the coup de grâce with an unexpected kill on the right side.
Ireland are now on two points, ahead of Switzerland and Lithuania on tie-break, and clear of the relegation zone. With Turkey and Italy opening up a wide lead at the top of the table, it’s likely that accumulated board points will make the crucial difference between survival and relegation at the end of the season.
Ireland’s next match will be against third-placed Croatia, on Tuesday, 6th February at 8pm Dublin time. Check the PGETC site closer to the date for pairings and any amended game dates.