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Below par Queens Pegged back by Portadown

After QUB’s disappointing and demoralising defeat against Bangor Groomsport, they faced a tricky tie last Wednesday night against division 2’s surprise package Portadown.
Below par Queens Pegged back by Portadown

The Peter Froggatt Centre- QUB's new venue

Portadown have proved thus far, that they are no pushovers since their promotion and have started the season with a 100% record. The catalyst to this is their strength on boards 1 to 5, with all 5 players being in close proximity in terms of playing strength. Can Portadown stop QUB? Or perhaps more suitably – can QUB stop Portadown?

Incidentally QUB’s new venue The Peter Froggatt Centre would be used for the first time. Unaffected by this, Portadown players arrived very promptly with their sleeves rolled up and undoubtedly ready to give their younger opponents a proverbial hiding.

The one change in the QUB line up saw the feared Slovenian Vladimir Pucovsky replace (Dr) Fred MacDonald.

Yet again, Portadown altered the board order of the top 3 boards, with John Canning fancying his chances on board 1 and Nigel Telford, perhaps mistakenly taking the easier option on board 3. This tactical deploy would prove to be a wise move.

The first game to be decided was the encounter on board 1 between Claudio Mendicute and John Canning. A slight misjudgement in the middle game from Claudio gave John a slight edge on which he couldn’t quite capitalise. Claudio offered his opponent a draw in which he gratefully agreed via handshake, almost pulling Claudio’s arm off in the process in his eagerness to take a draw.

Calum Leitch had a rare early finish to his game, Leitch normally prefers the 3 hour struggles, but this week earned a comprehensive victory over Colin Fenton to silence those who exclaim that the player is off-form, following his defeat to Richard Proctor. The game saw a "plethora of anomalies" from Colin Fenton which resulted in considerable material gain for Leitch, who dispatched his opponent convincingly. The score now stands at 1.5-0.5 in favour of QUB.

On board 3 Vladimir Pucovsky played a dubiously non-theoretical opening against Nigel Telford. Telford found the flaws in this and attained an exceedingly favourable position. Pucovsky battled bravely but couldn’t contain the many threats of Telford and was forced to resign, and thus level the scores at 1.5-1.5.

Tony Redden and John Masterson played out a long, close-fought game which saw neither player gain any serious momentum. The players agreed a draw in the closing stages which was a fair reflection of the game. The scores now stand at 2-2.

QUB Captain Chris Millar was looking to add to his 1 match winning streak against Portadown’s John Lambe. The game saw Millar achieve a much better position and a pawn advantage. With time coming to a close and the pieces being dismantled, Millar hesitantly chose a defensive route for his King – only to give his opponent a perpetual. Millar must be frustrated with this, as he played very well but became too passive in the ending.

Portadown remain unbeaten with this overall draw and are definitely surprise title contenders. QUB remain lacklustre with yet another disappointing result and the team's results are reflecting their acquiring status as "The Liverpool" of the league so far. Millar will undoubtedly have selection problems for future games, with none of these top guns hitting any real form of which they are capable of.

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