By QUAH SENG SUN
Dr Nicholas Chan scores a hat-trick at the 38th Selangor open chess tournament.
NOW, don’t start me off. I’m not going to launch myself with superlatives to describe Dr Nicholas Chan’s feat in winning the annual Selangor open chess tournament for the third year in succession. All I’m going to say to him is, congratulations. Short and simple.
Really, there are no big words to describe Dr Chan’s hat-trick of Selangor open achievements. He was the champion in 2009, made a great defence of this title last year and then, earlier this week, he overcame some mid-tournament jitters to become the Selangor open champion again.
Add his tournament victory in 2004, and Dr Chan has won this event four times in the past eight years.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. He led until the sixth round and even reeled off five wins in a row which included a win over international master Jimmy Liew. Then Dr Chan hiccupped in the seventh round, losing to Indian international master Srinath Narayanan. Suddenly, he found Liew, Srinath and familiar Filipino player Ian Udani leap-frogging half a point over him.
With two rounds remaining, the tournament became alive. There were four contenders who could easily be winner of the tournament. However, some of them had still to play one another and so, there would be no easy gallop towards the finish line. The event was wide open.
In the eighth round, two of the leaders met. Udani and Srinath were paired together, but their game was drawn. Then Dr Chan beat Mohd Irman Ibrahim to draw level with the Indian and the Filipino. In the meantime, Liew took advantage of their lapse by disposing of his opponent, Abdul Rahim Ramli, to take the sole lead for the first time in the tournament.
So by the end of the eighth round, the standings were: Liew in front with seven points followed by Udani, Srinath and Dr Chan just half a point behind. The ninth and final round would be crucial.
To be champion, Liew would need to win his final game. A draw might have been enough, too, but he could possibly be subjecting himself to a tie-break with two other players. It wasn’t a completely appealing situation but maybe, it would be better than nothing. In any case, his final-round opponent, Udani, refused to follow the same script and in a tensely fought game, the Filipino prevailed over Liew.
Srinath was also in a good position to join Udani at the top of the standings if he could beat his opponent, the newly minted national closed champion Lim Zhuo Ren. But Lim proved to be a tougher nut than expected and he put paid to any idea that the Indian player could have.
These unexpected results presented Dr Chan with a precious lifeline which he gladly seized. Among the top contenders, he had possibly the most comfortable pairing of all. Sitting across from Mark Siew, Dr Chan outplayed his opponent to win the game and thus finish on equal points with Udani.
But this is not the end of the story. Two players stood at the top of the standings with equal points. Who would be the champion? For Dr Chan, his spurt of five wins in his first five games would now ensure him a much superior tie-break than Udani. And with this better tie-break came the coveted winner’s purse at the conclusion of this 38th Selangor open chess tournament.
source: The Star