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

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