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Clifton's Morgan Claims QUB Open Victory

QUB's own annual competition saw Clifton House board 1 Stephen Morgan fight off stiff competition and a final-round scare to emerge as the tournament's clear winner.

Morgan finished with 4.5/5 points, defeating fellow-favourite Claudio Mendicute, drawing with top-seed Steve Scannell, and decisively winning from a weaker position against Frank Wu in the final round. Although this was a rare tournament appearance from Belfast's Euro Club Cup 2006 top point-scorer, hopefully the capture of a 1st place and the requisite prizemoney, if not the controller's quips at the prize-giving, will incentivise this rapidplay specialist to illustrate his ability more frequently.

The 2nd place prize, meanwhile, was earned by Wenceslao Torres. The former-QUB player Torres has delivered strong performances for an out-of-form Civil Service team this season, and raised his game another gear to finish with 4/5 here. Even this impressive display wasn't enough to achieve 2nd place by itself though, Wenceslao only lifted the prize after defeating Utkarsh Joshi in an "armageddon chess" play-off. Here he delivered a mate through an eye-catching combination of rook, bishop and pawn.

This was unfortunate for young Joshi, who was nevertheless left with the under 1900 grading prize. This was the least he deserved after achieveing a dramatic time-scramble win over top-seed Scannell in round 5, an entertaing match which may be considered the highlight of the tournament. Utkarsh gained a sizeable edge over his more illustrious opponent, but then saw it disappear when he discovered that, in fact, he hadn't delivered checkmate - if only when Steve declined his offer of a consolatory handshake. Utkarsh quickly recovered his composure though, and eventually regained control of the match to force Steve's gratefully-received resignation.

Meanwhile, Przemyslaw Grzymacz of the RVH chess club claimed the under 1600 prize with 3 points. This tournament is likely to see his rating's meteoric rise continue, with victories here over the likes of Ulster Under 19 champion, Calum Leitch.

The under 1300 prize was won by MCB schoolboy Philip Chen. The "Mighty Chen" was clearly a little short of confidence upon entering his first senior event but, after gaining a 60% record in the tournament, it appears his fears may have been misplaced. Hopefully Belfast chess will see similar performances from the youngster in future tournaments.

For competition pictures and a final crosstable, visit:

http://quis.qub.ac.uk/chess/tourneys.htm#qubopen2007

QUB now looks forward to Saturday March 10th, when the club will host the Irish Universities' Championship in the Students' Union. The competition is already being billed as essentially another head-to-head clash between the "big two" of Irish Uni chess, Trinity and Queen's.

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