Malone vs QUB

Queen University make a come-back to League competition with their opening match against last years League 2 winners Fisherwick B, also known these days as Malone. How would the young upstarts fare against the experienced, veteran campaigners?
Malone vs QUB

Calum Leitch of QUB playing his older opponent, the joint Ulster Champion Steve Scannell

QUB Chess Team made their return to league chess after a 3 years absence. This has been a project orchestrated by Chris Millar over the last year or so, only time will tell to see if it will be successful.

The Team has been growing in members and with a few careful acquisitions by Captain Chris Millar, the team, proves to be a decent side - on paper anyway.

Their first instalment of the season saw the side face a tricky away fixture against Malone – the defending Division 2 champions.

With yours truly Calum Leitch the first to arrive after being badly injured last week during a game of football and on crutches, the away side were hoping this wouldn’t affect the teenager’s performance. The groans from Malone’s Sam Ferris as player by player QUB filed in to face their opponents were perhaps a good example of how feared these group of players are within this division.

As Claudio Fierro a debutant with a FIDE rating of over 2000 was joined by John Masterson a tactically astute player, now rated over 1900. Former Malone player Chris Millar entered hesitantly and for the first time would find himself playing on the other side of the board against his former team-mates.

The last to arrive was Fred MacDonald, playing for the first time in 2 years. Fred has been a reliable QUB player throughout his chess career and a welcome addition to the team.

Malone themselves had a slight change in their line up. Richard Gould formerly of Randalstown lined up on board 4.

The match started promptly and the tenseness was evident throughout the opening hour. Both these sides can expect to be amongst the main favourites for Division 2 and this was clear between all 10 players.

The first to finish was the board 3 match between Fred MacDonald and Sam Ferris. Fred proving he is still as tactically aware as ever, despite his long absence was definitely an added bonus for QUB. At one stage, Sam joked that he had lasted half an hour. Yet, half an hour later the game was ended after a crucial mate threat from Fred, which would have ended in checkmate or sufficient material gain. This was enough for Sam to offer the dreaded resignation and secure QUB its first point of the season.

The next match to end, albeit by 10 seconds was the encounter between the author and Richard Gould on board 4. Both players were anxious to make good impressions for their new clubs. But a one-sided 15 move win for Calum takes his winning streak up to 11 in Division 2. Calum, yet again proving to be a thorn in Malone’s side.

Chris Millar did his drawish reputation no harm with a hard earned draw against Anandagopal Srinivasan. In a tight game in which Chris seemed to have the edge, concluded after Chris shook his opponent’s hand, accepting his draw offer. Chris’s post match comments indicated that he was happy to take the draw as it meant that QUB attained at least 1 bonus point, which can be crucial at the end of a season.

With QUB leading 2.5-0.5 the team needed 0.5 a point to secure the 2nd and final bonus point. This was gained by board 1 Claudio Fierro who drew against the seasoned player Neil Green. Claudio had a slight edge throughout, but accurate manoeuvring from Neil saw him steer it towards an inevitable draw. Securing the victory for QUB, regardless of the result on board 2 between John Masterson and Iain Woodfield. The match on board 2 was perhaps the most tactical, with John sacrificing a rook, dubbed to be theoretical. John wheeled himself into a good position, but the material loss proved too much, as John was trying to force a win with very little time, and this caught up with him. His King was exposed, his Queen dispatched and his hand prompted towards Iain’s – a gesture of resignation.

All in all, a satisfying win for QUB. Some good performances and hopefully the team can maintain this throughout their league campaign. If this is achieved, then the team are undoubtedly league favourites. But consistency is required to do well at this level.


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