Saturday, 18 May 2013
Malaysia is represented by IM Jimmy Liew at the Asian Continental Championships being held in Manila from 17-27 May 2013.
He is seeded 58 from 76 players in a top class field from 14 countries including 26 GMs and 19 fellow IMs and 10 FMs and probably the only good news is that he should be too good for the majority of players ranked below him!
See details at http://www.chess-results.com/tnr101373.aspx?lan=1
Friday, 3 May 2013
The very existence of FIDE, the World Chess Federation for those who still do not know this, is owed to the World Chess Championship and its basic reason for existence is completely dependent on it!
FIDE only gained legitimacy when with the death of Alexander Alekhine it ceased to a personal property of the holder, and they took full opportunity to organise a World Championship tournament with all the top players invited, and from which the first of many Soviet World Champions, Mikhail Botvinnik emerged.
Much later, world chess again had a crisis when Gary Kasparov (who if rumour would have it, would be running for FIDE president next year), with the Professional Chess Association, held his own title matches but after a period when we had two championships in parallel, everything became reunited again and in fact, like many, I see the continuing line of Fischer-Karpov-Kasparov-Kramnik-Anand as correct.
But what is certain is that since the time of the Kasparov-Short match, FIDE has chosen to have very strange and every changing ways to determine its World Champion and worst the qualifying process has been largely a lottery too.
Is it money or the people in FIDE? Maybe only God knows!
From what I see, the World Championship Match is too short and the Candidates, if not reverting back to match format should also be longer and if because of too many games being too difficult, then what is wrong to have it in two parts with a break in-between? Maybe in today's fast paced world we have forgetten the huge events of yesteryear where the tournament would go on for months!
It is worst for women chess. They alternate every year between a tournament and a match??? I know the argument that maybe it does not make sense for women to have a separate championship but this is already the same in all sports so such reasoning might only fly when talking about FIDE player titles such as GM, IM, and FM.
What I find ridiculous is the men do not have to defend a title every year and would not ever agree to such a system.
Something is also very wrong when there is no alignment with its own ranking system, in this case the FIDE rating system. I can understand small differences or a challenger who is one or two places behind others due to a couple of elo points but for the men, Carlsen as challenger is No. 1 on 2868 well ahead of champion Anand ranked No. 5 at 2783 and for the women, Ushenina at No. 19 and 2491, of course a good player but still only ranked No. 2 in Ukraine, is defending her "accidental title" against Hou who at 2617 is a clear and massively stronger No. 1 (amongst women who also play women).
Look at other sports. Have a points ranking system like Tennis or Golf.
In recent weeks there is the flurry of activity to confirm India as the host of the World Championship match based on a promise made by FIDE to give it first right of refusal after taking its better bid away last time around to give it to Russia (who had very conveniently upped their bid once the amounts where known).
Well, everyone knew it was going to be India after Anand retained his title against Gelfand so Carlsen can complain all he likes but if he does not play we should logically see a Anand-Kranmik match (or perhaps even a default) and once again the claer No.1 player is not the world champion (even if he is not now there is a difference because he is able to play for it).
I find this particularly ridiculous because Anand was agreeable to defend his title in Bulgaria against Topalov who enjoyed the full support of his people in his own country and now Ushenina is happy to play Hou in China where a tough match is only going to be so much more difficult.
Yes, it will not be easy to play in India but I think (like too many now) that whatever the conditions, if Carlsen plays anywhere as he can, he will beat an Anand who is now clearly and sadly past his best and who at his age is now making mistakes in games that he never did before and it is not so much he loses much too often but that he is not closing out games often enough. It is also not helping that many of his long serving team is deserting him too.
(My apologies to a great champion I have known since he was 14 years of age and those from my generation might remember that once, so many years ago, when I ran the Selangor Open, Anand came as our guest of honour).
Of course, what a great thing it would be for India to have Anand beat Carlsen in his hometown - they are pulling all stops to help their greatest son - but on the flipside, I cannot imagine how it would be for them to have put up all that money and raised everyone's hopes and instead they witness a passing of the torch from one generation to another.
In chess great World Champions have always stood out. I fear for India but have to welcome the Carlsen era should he decide to start it this year.
Unfortunately there became many problems with dates with the announcement of GE13 and so I am very happy that in the end it is still going to happen although regretfully I will not be able to go as Chief Arbiter as originally planned.
I remember fondly the years I built my entire annual vacation around a drive to the east coast, participating in the Pesta Pantai, hanging our with chessplayers all over Terengganu and Kelantan before, and then, still a bachelor, going off alone to do my 10 days of scuba diving off many different islands including Pulau Kapas of Kuala Terengganu and of course Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian. And in the days when you rented your own fishing boat!
So congratulations is indeed due to Terengganu chess and I trust that with this event and also having one of them in Ghalam Sani returning to chess as their Deputy President (and also a Vice President in MCF) we will once again have Terengganu amongst the most active of our state affiliates.
As before the National Closed will be open to previous winners and each state can send four players and the MSSM and National Junior Champions are also invited.
But the main difference is that all have to register through an MCF state affiliate which will endorse them as their players and while others who do not qualify this way can also apply, besides getting their state affiliates agreement, they have to meet a minimum rating requirement so as not to dilute the quality of the event, a consideration that has taken on greater importance with three qualifiers from the men and four qualifiers from the women now joining the National Team.
Under COS regulations, MCF's membership is the state affiliates and at the AGM it was also unanimously adopted that the states would regulate individual membership, in itself a problem for some in that many are also required to do it via clubs!
So gone now are the days one plays in a National Championship as MCF without needing to be a member of a state affiliate.
Wednesday, 1 May 2013
Encouraging performances by several of our usual young players, although really nothing to really shout about, at the just concluded Selangor Open, was further helped by an SMS forwarded from Greg with some good news and now there are more details at: http://www.kgwm.blogspot.com/2013/05/malaysian-boy-aron-teh-finishes-2nd-in.html
MCF has made three qualifying places to a preliminary 8 person National Team available from this event and this is their chance!
Tuesday, 30 April 2013
Over the years there have been many great battles and of course also upsets galore, so I am not the least surprised at what has been going on this year even if some would like to read a little too much into it (why not, chess players are optimistic by nature, parents will be parents, and Malaysians are particularly quick to congratulate themselves).
The main question going into the last two rounds is whether Wong Jianwen can hold on to the lead and I am sure we all wish the young man to succeed.
Roshan Singh who has not worked at chess since the World Youth Championship and Jimmy Liew who like our latest National Master is also obviously preparing for the Malaysian Masters in June are both looking to get into some form and their eighth round encounter will be of interest to many.
Nur Najiha and Nur Nabila Azman Hisham have been giving the boys a run for the money in every game and once again they will face serious competition without fear!
Finally, congratulations to the Chess Association of Selangor and especially its President and Secretary for doing such a good job including being constantly there to make sure everything runs well and I must also state my admiration to the many chess mummies that are there. day in and out, for their children!
Friday, 26 April 2013
In many recent years Jimmy Liew has become very active in chess and with his recent retirement he seems to be ramping it up even further.
Jimmy is particularly interested in still being a part of the national team set-up when others of his generation would have long given way to younger players and choosing to make a contribution to the game in other ways or simply enjoying playing for fun.
He is so far our only applicant to play in the Asia Continental Championships and told me that he is also intending to attend the FIDE Trainer Seminar.
Why not? Not everyone might know that Jimmy is married to a Filipina and both these events are in Manila so it could be a combination of business and pleasure! But I should know Jimmy well enough that when he does chess it is a very serious matter indeed!
I have always understood him to be a player. He will become a FIDE Trainer and is already a National Arbiter but ultimately he is a player, good and bad, and I wish him all the success in competition.
Mok Tze Meng is currently ranked No.1 in our active rating list and while not as young as he thinks, is a generation younger than Jimmy even if all of us had chess playing careers that overlapped, mine earlier but Jimmy for sure in two different periods of time!
But he seems to be going in the opposite direction from Jimmy even if I understand they have an intention to work together to offer chess lessons.
Mok is a rich man, having done well for himself, and known for having an "austere" life (those who know him will understand exactly what I mean by that!) so when with his famous single mindedness he has gone about acquiring FIDE certificates and paying licence fees and seeks position in MCF and KLCA, something is up!
I was not surprised he opted out of the Malaysian Masters which effectively ends his international career for at least the next year although if he plays the National Closed Championship he will prove me wrong.
Will Mok live up to all those titles he has? It is possible but there is a need to switch from self to service and that is always the most difficult thing for a chessplayer and even more difficult when you have lived this way all your life. Good luck to you, the former Mighty Mok!
Jimmy or Mok?
As a former No. 1 and long time national player I understand well, perhaps even better than most, the many challenges and I have also experienced the the life of organiser! I was also an investor in a serious chess business and continue to be associated with a relatively successful local chess academy.
Obviously Jimmy still believes he can contribute while Mok still can but perhaps knows that it is time to move on? I think that is a question all our "senior" players have asked or should be asking themselves given the pressures of career and/or family.
Beyond Jimmy & Mok!
The future however is certainly with our young players - at least with those having both talent and the determination to succeed - and I can only say that unfortunately with very few exceptions, very clearly their parent's really don't actually know better!
Which parent can be objective over their child? This is where everyone needs to get real over what it takes and not be satisfied with being 'Juara Kampung' or to 'Shiok Sendiri'. Jimmy and Mok in this respect, if not looking at solely becoming your child's coach, are among those who can certainly tell you the truth!
Over the years I have seen several batches essentially miss the boat. Today a large group U-11 (and some U-13) show great promise. Unfortunately there are big talents U-17 soon to be lost and although some will not differ and be angry, those above that age should better be looking to college.
Argue about ratings all you like but remember everyone suffers alike from the system. Not even 2000? Grow up. If there, then get to 2100. Then look to break 2200. Make all the excuses you like but around you in Malaysia some have managed to do it.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
MCF has sent invitations to our players 2200+ (men) and 1900+ (women), 100 hundred points below that for additional players. Hopefully at least one would step up to the challenge!
Our deadline is end of this month which I suppose could be taken to be 5 p.m. 30 April (or even 9 a.m. 1 May!).
Since the MCF Council Meeting, a brand new MCF website was planned for and a vendor quickly engaged but somehow, for one reason or another, we have had delay after delay and it has reached the point when termination of services is now being seriously considered.
It has really been much too long for MCF to be unable to publish various announcements and so we agreed that until the website got sorted out I would try and quickly come up with something that would meet our most immediate communications needs.
So here it is, the product of a couple of hours work and even so still very much a work in progress, but do expect lots of public announcements (as opposed to internal communications with our members) to be put up in the next few days.