Friday, October 29, 2010

Momentary slowdown


The fourth quarter of the year is a good time for chess enthusiasts to pursue a little diversion.

LAST week, I asked a few chess players what they would be doing if they were not playing chess on weekends.

Right now there is a lull in local chess activities. Chess activities haven’t stopped but have slowed down considerably.

It happens almost like clockwork because the main bulk of chess players get too preoccupied with school revision work and examinations until the end of November.

The responses I received were varied but almost predictable. Watch football on television. Visit the shopping malls. Join the gym. Go for cinema shows. Indulge in photography pursuits. Catch up on reading. “Chess books?” I murmured. “No, just newspapers,” one replied.

Go web-surfing. Yeah, right, I thought, turn to the Internet for some instant chess gratification.

“Maybe I’ll catch up with you on one of the Internet chess servers,” I told a friend, adding: “There are some great top-level tournaments going on.”

“Erm, no,” he replied, “maybe I’ll see you on Facebook instead.”

My own non-chess hobbies may overlap with many other people’s, and it is during this stretch that I indulge more in them than at any other time of the year.

There is one person I know who turns himself completely off from chess in a big way at the end of the year. Come mid-October, he would jet off to Melbourne to immerse himself in the Spring Racing Carnival there. He owns a number of thoroughbred horses, you see.

Just last Saturday, he watched his horse, So You Think, thunder down the track at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley race course to lift the Cox Plate for the second time in two years. Come tomorrow, So You Think is again the favourite to win the Mackinnon Stakes at the Victoria Derby.

In Australia, Datuk Tan Chin Nam is regarded as one of the most successful, if not the most successful, horse owners in recent history. A four-time winner of the Melbourne Cup which takes place on the first Tuesday of November.

And come to think of it, that’s just next Tuesday, four days away.

There are two ways to enjoy the Melbourne Cup races in Australia: be there yourself at the Flemington race course in Melbourne, or entrench yourself in one of the drinking holes around Australia and cheer on the horses on television with scores of other beer guzzlers.

Or alternatively, be an audience of one and watch the races on television at home here in Malaysia. The Australia Network says that they’ll be carrying the races live and it so happens that this channel is available on Astro. It offers the same thrill as the two options mentioned above, but that’s what I’ll be doing.

I shall leave you this week with a mention that the annual World Youth Chess Championships are currently taking place in Greece. The official website is

Among the 814 boys and 573 girls from around the world taking part, 14 of them are our own boys and girls battling in the under-8, under-10, under-12, under-14 and under-16 age group events in the championships. The event ends tomorrow.

source: The Star Online

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Chess Olympiad players did us proud


Kudos to our players for turning in their best.

IN the last week or so since the end of the Chess Olympiad, I have witnessed heated debates in the local chess scene about the selection process and the performance of our men’s team in Khanty Mansiysk.

The post-mortem was lively but personally, I believe that while everyone has a right to say whatever he wants about chess in this country, the debates do not matter anymore. It’s moot; the Chess Olympiad’s over.

It’s important to me, however, that we look on the positive side. At the Olympiad, what struck me was that our players tried their best. Each and every one of them, in their own way, gave their best to the Malaysian team. Collectively, it was a team effort from start to finish.

Girl power: The Malaysian women’s team comprising (from left) Nurul Huda Wahiduddin, Nur Nabila Azman Hashim, Alia Anin Bakri, Fong Mi Yen and Roslina Marmono.

So allow me to acknowledge the contributions of our players, both the men’s and women’s teams.

For Mas Hafizulhelmi, playing on the first board on the men’s team was never going to be easy. The final round was very unfortunate for him (refer to last week’s column to know what happened) but to his credit, he scored 5½ points from 10 games. That’s a 55% score.

Neither was it supposed to be easy for Alia Anin Bakri who played on the first board of the women’s team. However, she turned in the most memorable result for the Malaysian contingent. Seven points from 11 games for a 63.6% score. It’s uncertain whether her results would merit her the title of woman international master (WIM) but at the very least, it should be good enough for a WIM norm.

I’m crossing my fingers that FIDE, the World Chess Federation, will award her the title.

In the men’s team, Mok Tze Meng’s uncompromising style on the second board netted him six points from 11 games (a 54.4% result). Peter Long was a very steady player on the fourth board and he turned in 5½ points from 11 games (a 50% score). Both Mok and Long were the only players in the men’s team to play every round of the Olympiad.

Current national champion Tan Khai Boon was probably overwhelmed by his first international duty but he still contributed three points from nine games (a 33.3% result). I believe the tension got to him towards the end of the event and he was replaced by Gregory Lau. Despite playing only three games (winning two of them with a 66.7% result), Lau will be best remembered for delivering that vital final point for the Malaysian men’s team.

On the second board in the women’s team was Nur Nabila Azman Hisham. Like Alia, Nabila played in all 11 rounds and she scored five points for a 45.4% result. Although Nurul Huda Wahiduddin brought in only one point from six games on the third board, she achieved an important draw against a Dutch woman international master in the ninth round.

Roslina Marmono had a 50% result as our fourth board player, collecting 3½ points from seven games while our debutant reserve board player, Fong Mi Yen, who is also the current national women’s champion, had the tournament of her life with 5½ points from nine games (a 61.1% result).

I’m still waiting for word from the Malaysian Chess Federation whether this would warrant Fong a woman candidate master title from FIDE.

Finally, the games this week feature some of the best moves from our women players:

White: Alia Anin Bakri (Malaysia)

Black: IM Baquero Martha Fierro (Ecuador)

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. Be3 Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bd2 c6 11. Ne1 Nh6 12. d5 f5 13. dxc6 bxc6 14. Bxh6 Bxh6 15. Qxd6 Rf6 16. Qd1 Qe7 17. Qc2 Nc5 18. Rd1 a5 19. Bf3 Ne6 20. Ne2 Ng5 21. Ng3 f4 22. Ne2 Nxf3+ 23. Nxf3 g5 24. Qd3 Bg4 25. h3 Bh5 26. Qd7 Re8 27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. Rd8+ Bf8 29. Ra8 g4 30. hxg4 Bxg4 31. Rd1 Rg7 32. Kf1 Rh6 33. Neg1 Bxf3 34. Nxf3 Rh1+ 35. Ke2 Rxd1 36. Kxd1 Rxg2 37. Ke2 Kg7 38. Rxa5 Kf6 39. Rxe5 Bd6 40. Rf5+ Ke7 41. Rh5 Rg7 42. Nd4 Kd7 43. Kf3 Re7 44. Ne2 Ke8 45. Nxf4 Rf7 46. Rf5 Ra7 47. a3 Ra4 48. c5 Bxf4 49. Kxf4 Rc4 50. f3 Rc2 51. b4 Rc3 52. Rh5 1-0

White: Damaris Abarca Gonzalez (Chile)

Black: Alia Anin Bakri (Malaysia)

1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 dxe4 6. dxe4 e5 7. Ngf3 Nc6 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. c3 a6 11. b4 Bd6 12. a4 Be6 13. Nc4 Rfd8 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Ne3 Ne7 17. Rab1 c6 18. c4 b6 19. Qc2 Bc7 20. Rfd1 Ng6 21. b5 cxb5 22. axb5 axb5 23. Nd5 Bxd5 24. cxd5 Bd6 25. Rxb5 Bc5 26. Qe2 Ra7 27. h4 Rda8 28. Rdb1 Qd6 29. h5 Ne7 30. R5b2 Qf6 31. Qd3 Ra3 32. Rb3 Ra2 33. R1b2 Ra1+ 34. Bf1 R8a3 35. Rxa3 Rxa3 36. Rb3 Ra2 37. Be2 Nc8 38. Rc3 Nd6 39. Rc2 Ra4 40. Qb3 Ra1+ 41. Kg2 Nxe4 42. Qb2 Ra8 43. Qxe5 Qxe5 44. Nxe5 Rd8 45. f4 Nf6 46. Bc4 Bd6 47. Rb2 Bxe5 48. fxe5 Nxd5 49. Kf3 Nc7 50. Rxb6 Re8 51. Rc6 Re7 52. Kf4 Kf8 53. Rd6 Ne8 54. Rd8 Rb7 55. Bd5 Rc7 56. Bb3 Rb7 57. Bd5 Rc7 58. Kf5 Ke7 59. Rb8 Rc1 60. Bb3 Rc3 61. g4 Nc7 62. Rb7 Rf3+ 63. Ke4 Rc3 64. Kd4 Rc1 65. Bc4 Rd1+ 66. Bd3 Kd8 67. Ke4 Ne6 68. Rb5? Re1+ 69. Kf5 Nd4+ 70. Kf4 Nxb5 71. Bxb5 Ke7 72. Bc4 Rc1 73. Bd5 Rf1+ 74. Ke4 Re1+ 75. Kf4 f6 76. e6 Re5 77. Bc4 Kd6 78. Ba2 Rb5 79. Kf3 f5 80. Kf4 fxg4 81. Kxg4 Rg5+ 82. Kh4 Ke7 83. Bc4 Kf6 84. Ba2 Rb5 85. Kg4 Rb2 86. Bd5 Rb4+ 87. Kg3 Rb5 88. Bf3 Kxe6 89. Bg4+ Kf6 90. Be2 Rb4 0-1

White: Roslina Marmono (Malaysia)

Black: Sohair Basta (Eqypt)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. e3 cxd4 6. exd4 Nc6 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bd3 h6 9. O-O d5 10. c5 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Qc7 12. Re1 a6 13. h3 Bd7 14. Ne5 Ne7 15. Bf4 Qa5 16. Nxd7 Nxd7 17. Rab1 Ra7 18. Bd6 Re8 19. f4 Qd8 20. f5 exf5 21. Bxf5 Nxf5 22. Qxf5 Nf6 23. Rxe8+ Qxe8 24. Qe5 Qxe5 25. dxe5 Ne4 26. Rb3 Nxd6 27. exd6 Kf8 28. c4 dxc4 29. Re3 Ra8 30. Rc3 Ke8 31. Rxc4 Kd7 32. Kf2 Re8 33. Rc2 Re5 34. Kf3 g5 35. g4 Kc6 36. Kf2 Re4 37. Rd2 Kd7 38. Re2 Rc4 39. Re7+ Kd8 40. Rxb7 Rxc5 ½-½

White: Fayrouz Elgohary (Eqypt)

Black: Fong Mi Yen (Malaysia)

1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. Nbd2 Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. Bd3 e5 7. O-O O-O 8. h3 Nh5 9. Nb3 h6 10. Be3 Qf6 11. Nc1 Kh7 12. Ne2 Bxh3 13. Ng3 Bg4 14. Nxh5 gxh5 15. Be2 Rg8 16. dxe5 dxe5 17. Nh2 Rad8 18. Qc2 Qg6 19. Nxg4 hxg4 20. Rad1 Bf6 21. Rxd8 Bxd8 22. g3 h5 23. Kg2 Rh8 24. Rh1 Kg7 25. Bd2 Ne7 26. Bd3 Qf6 27. Qd1 Ng6 28. Be3 a6 29. Bc2 Be7 30. Qe2 b5 31. a3 c5 32. Bd1 Nf4+ 33. gxf4 exf4 34. Bxf4 Qxf4 35. Qd3 Rd8 36. Qg3 Qxe4+ 0-1.

source: The Star Online

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mixed fortunes at Chess Olympiad


Highs and lows at this year’s Chess Olympiad.

IT IS at times like this, with the Chess Olympiad in full swing, that I yearn to own the biggest computer monitor so that I can open multiple windows with my web browser and view several chess games simultaneously.

In any given round of this Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, there are 524 games being played at the same time. Of course, many games are not worth the time to follow but certainly, it is always useful to keep an eye out for those match-ups between the top countries. And there are plenty.

Tan Khai Boon (white) vs Vladimir Klasan (black).

Then there are the games of the Malaysian teams. Regardless of who they play against, as a Malaysian I follow their progress closely. I cheer when the team wins and despair when they miss winning chances and lose. So far in this Chess Olympiad, I’ve had my fair share of highs and lows.

Take, for example, the seventh round on Tuesday. The men were playing a team from the International Committee for Silent Chess (ICSC). The ICSC is one of three non-country teams in the event, the other two being the International Braille Chess Association (IBCA) and the International Physically Disabled Chess Association (IPCA).

The match between Malaysia and the ICSC started off well enough and our players – Mas Hafizulhelmi, Mok Tze Meng, Tan Khai Boon and Peter Long – were pressing their opponents hard. There were good chances of them winning the match.

But suddenly, the tables turned. Mok came under heavy pressure, could not defend his position adequately and had to resign his game. Long’s defence unravelled and he had to resign also. Mas Hafizul suddenly found his king being encircled by enemy pieces and he, too, had to give up. These frustrations aside, the consolation came when Tan rounded off the evening with a decisive attack on his opponent. That game cheered me up. Here it is.

White: Tan Khai Boon (Malaysia)

Black: Vladimir Klasan (ICSC)

Eduardas Rozentalis (white) vs Mas Hafizulhelmi (black).

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Nb6 8. Ne5 a5 9. f3 Nfd7 10. Nxd7 Nxd7 11. e4 Bg6 12. Be2 Qb6 13. h4 h5 14. f4 e6 15. O-O e5 16. f5 exd4 17. fxg6 dxc3+ 18. Kh1 O-O-O 19. bxc3 Ne5 20. Qc2 f6 21. Rb1 Qa7 22. Bf4 Nxg6 23. e5 Nxf4 24. Rxf4 Be7 25. Qf5+ Kc7 26. Qg6 Qc5 27. Rc4 Qa3 28. Qe4 Bc5 29. Bf3 Rc8 30. Qg6 Rhe8 31. Qxg7+ Re7 32. Qxf6 Rce8 (see Diagram 1) 33. Rxb7+ Kxb7 34. Qxc6+ Ka7 35. Rxc5 Qc1+ 36. Kh2 Qf4+ 37. g3 Qd2+ 38. Bg2 Qd8 39. Rb5 Qc7 40. Qd5 Ka6 41. Rc5 1-0

Until the seventh round of this Chess Olympiad, the most memorable round for the Malaysians must be the third. Our men were playing against a strong Lithuanian team that comprised three grandmasters and one international master.

Like many others watching through the Internet, we were expecting the worst but on the contrary, our players rose to the occasion and at one point, there were real chances of our team winning the match. Unfortunately, that was not to be and all they got away with was a tied match.

This, here, is Mas Hafizul’s Herculean effort on the first board. In my opinion, a masterful game in which he gave up a pawn but completely tied down his grandmaster opponent. A good strategical decision.

White: Eduardas Rozentalis (Lithuania)

Black: Mas Hafizulhelmi (Malaysia)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 Nf6 6. h3 a6 7. Bf1 Ne5 8. Nxe5 dxe5 9. a4 e6 10. b3 Bc6 11. d3 Bd6 12. a5 Bc7 13. Bd2 O-O 14. Bc3 Nd7 15. Nd2 Bb5 16. Qb1 Rc8 17. Nc4 f6 18. g3 Rf7 19. Bg2 Nb8 20. Qd1 Nc6 21. Qd2 Bxc4 22. bxc4 Nb4 23. Bxb4 cxb4 24. Qxb4 Bd6 25. Qd2 Bf8 26. Red1 Rd7 27. Qe1 Bc5 28. Rdb1 Rf7 29. Qd2 Qd6 30. Kh1 Ba7 31. Ra4 Rcc7 32. Rf1 Rfd7 (see Diagram2) 33. f4 Qd4 34. Qe2 exf4 35. gxf4 Rc5 36. Ra3 g6 37. Qf3 Qb2 38. Rfa1 Qxc2 39. Rf1 Qb2 40. Rfa1 Rh5 41. R3a2 Qc3 42. Ra3 Qb4 43. Ra4 Qd6 44. Rf1 Bb8 45. c5 Rxc5 46. d4 Qc6 47. dxc5 Qxa4 48. e5 Qc2 49. exf6 Qxc5 50. Qb3 Kf7 51. Bxb7 Qxa5 52. Bc8 Qd5+ 53. Qxd5 Rxd5 54. Re1 Rd6 55. Ra1 Rc6 56. Bb7 Rb6 57. Bc8 Rc6 58. Bb7 Rc3 59. Bxa6 Rxh3+ 60. Kg2 Rc3 61. Ra4 Kxf6 62. Bb7 Kf5 63. Be4+ Kf6 64. Bf3 Rc2+ 65. Kh3 Rf2 66. Kg3 Rb2 67. Kh3 Bd6 68. Rd4 Rb6 69. Kg2 Kf5 70. Be4+ Kf6 71. Bf3 Bb8 72. Bg4 Rb2+ 73. Kf3 h5 74. Bh3 Rb3+ 75. Kg2 e5 76. fxe5+ Bxe5 77. Rd7 g5 78. Rh7 Rg3+ 79. Kh2 Re3+ 80. Kg2 Kg6 0-1

And below is Mok’s game in the same Malaysia-Lithuania match. Our player had very good chances to win but he missed the best continuation and allowed his grandmaster opponent to wriggle out with a draw.

White: Mok Tze Meng (Malaysia)

Mok Tze Meng (white) vs Sarunas Sulskis (black).

Black: Sarunas Sulskis (Lithuania)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Be6 4. d3 Nf6 5. Nc3 c5 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Bxf6 Bxf6 8. Nd5 Nd7 9. h3 Nb6 10. Nxb6 Qxb6 11. b3 Qc6 12. a4 O-O 13. O-O d5 14. exd5 Bxd5 15. Bxd5 Qxd5 16. Qe2 g6 17. Qe4 Qxe4 18. dxe4 c4 19. Rfd1 Rfd8 20. Kf1 Rac8 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. Ke2 Be7 23. Rd1 Rxd1 24. Kxd1 f6 25. Nd2 cxb3 26. cxb3 Kf7 27. Ke2 Ke6 28. Kd3 Bc5 29. f3 h5 30. Kc4 Be3 31. Nb1 Bd4 32. Na3 f5 33. Nb5 Bf2 34. Nc7+ Kd6 35. exf5 gxf5 36. Ne8+ Ke7 37. Ng7 h4 38. Nxf5+ Ke6 39. Nh6 Be3 40. Ng4 Bb6 41. b4 Bg1 42. Kd3 Kf5 43. Ke2 a6 44. Nf2 b6 45. Kf1 Bh2 46. Ne4 Bf4 47. Ke2 Bh2 48. Kd3 (see Diagram 3) 48…Kf4 49. Ke2 Bg1 50. Nc3 Bd4 51. Nd5+ Kg3 52. Kf1 a5 53. bxa5 bxa5 54. Nf6 Kf4 55. Nd5+ Kg3 56. Ne7 Kf4 57. Ke2 Kg3 58. Nf5+ Kxg2 59. Nxh4+ Kxh3 60. Nf5 Bb6 61. Kd3 Kg2 62. Ke4 Kf2 63. Nh6 Ke2 64. Nf5 Bc7 65. Ne7 Bd6 66. Nc6 Bc7 67. Na7 Kf2 68. Nb5 Bb8 69. Na3 Ke2 70. Nc4 Bc7 71. Nb2 Bb8 72. Nd3 Bd6 73. Nc1+ Kf2 74. Nb3 Bb4 75. Na1 Ke2 76. Nc2 Kd2 77. Ne3 Kc3 78. Kxe5 Kb3 79. Kd5 Kxa4 80. Nc4 ½-½

Visit to watch the Chess Olympiad games on the Internet. Today’s penultimate round starts at 5pm local time. Tomorrow is a rest day and the final round will be contested on Sunday at 1pm.

--- The Star Online