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French FM Maxime Sorin Wins QUB Rapid 2008

The QUB Rapid 2008 proved a huge success, with the increased prize fund drawing the largest, strongest and most nationality diverse array of competitors tournament chess in Belfast has seen for some time.
French FM Maxime Sorin Wins QUB Rapid 2008

Sorin collects the £200 1st place prize

The 41 competitors - after battling it out over 5 rounds on the top floor of the QUB Students' Union - eventually saw French Fide Master, Maxime Sorin, emerge as this year's champion. The 2286 rated Sorin claimed the prize with a perfect 5/5 after defeating the likes of QUB's latest signing, Vlado Spiriak (1972), and Dublin's Gordon Freeman (2074).

Marking a profitable return to the Belfast chess scene was the second place prize winner Semyon Mkrtchyan (1977). With the exception of a half-point dropped to Freeman in the second round, Mkrtchyan could do no wrong and finished with 4.5/5. Semyon played strongly and enjoyed the breaks at just the right time too, winning in the last round despite a hopelessly lost position - only awarded the final crucial win virtue of his sole remaining pawn and opponent's fallen flag.

On the day, it just wasn't to be for the strongest Belfast players competing. Ulster and Belfast Champion Steve Scannell lost momentum with a defeat against Steve Morgan and, after an unforgivingly tough draw, wasn't to recover. Morgan himself was left frustrated in round 3, following up his win over Scannell by losing a king and pawn endgame to William Storey (1315). Nevertheless, Morgan was to finish level with Fisherwick's John Bradley on 4/5 as the top finishing Ulster players.

The best under 1600 player in the tournament was another southern-based competitor, Steve Stokes of Bray Chess Club. The Greystones man - through his work driving forward the Irish University Chess Association in recent years - is certainly no stranger to chess in Queen's. Stokes' prize was extremely well-earned, with the 1537-rated player facing higher-seeded players in 4 of his 5 matches yet going through the entire tournament unbeaten. The highlight of Steve's tournament perhaps came in the 4th round, where he drew against the 2006 joint Ulster Champion, Michael Waters.

At least one prize was gained by a locally-based player, with Ismail Haji Jaya winning the award for the best ungraded player. Ismail's lack of competitive experience certainly didn't show, winning against more battle-hardened opponent's such as Chris Armstrong of the Lagan Chess Club on his way to an impressive 3.5/5 points tally.

Also deserving of note was the performance of the young Gupta siblings, who are currently the most precocious prodigies in Ulster Chess. Radhika and Raghav, both primary school pupils, each recorded wins and amazed all of the participants with their remarkable talent and all-too-evident potential to develop into extremely strong players. Hopefully such experience as this will be another step in nurturing their natural flair for the game.

There was also a very encouraging turnout of Queen's students enjoying their first taste of competitive chess. A superb total of 17 QUB players in all participated, reflecting the growing size of the club and all-round increase in chess interest at the University.

In conclusion, the 2008 edition of the QUB Rapid sees the expansion of the tournament begin to accelerate. Even bigger and better things are already being planned for next year. As the QUB Chess Club continues to move from strength-to-strength, the club's annual tournament will do so along with it.

The full final standings, more pics and video content are available here:

http://quis.qub.ac.uk/chess/tourneys.htm#qubrapid2008

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