From 6-21 January 2008, Tarakan, Indonesia provided a perfect start to the ASEAN Masters Circuit, with the holding of simultaneous GM, IM and WIM events with players from Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and of course Indonesia taking part.
Players first flew into to Jakarta for a good nights rest and the following day travelled together to the island of Tarakan via Balikpapan in Kalimantan where they were warmly received by Yusof SK, the Mayor of Tarakan (seen making the opening moves in the picture).
Chessplayers in the region know it is a certainty that when PERCASI (Indonesian Chess Federation) organises an international event you can be sure that everything possible as been done to make guests comfortable and there is also no doubt that Indonesian hospitality is second to none but when a entire town opens its arms to embrace you it is something extra special.
In the Grandmaster "A" event, the top seed, GM Zhang Zhong (Singapore) was an easy winner as was GM Mark Paragua (Philippines) in the Grandmaster "B" event (the IM event was even upgraded). See full results at http://www.aseanchess.com/ and full coverage at http://www.indochess.com/.
The WIM event saw innovation as veteran Indonesians, GM Handoko and IM Irwanto took part although clearly male. They volunteered their ratings to help the event meet title and category requirements but fought hard nonetheless, giving their female opponents no breaks and took the top two places!
Both GM events were productive in terms of title norms, as in Grandmaster "A", IM Jayson Gonzales (Philippines) managed to make his final GM norm while veteran IM Tirto (Indonesia) also made his first GM norm, and from Grandmaster "B", FM Rolando Nolte (Philippines), FM Mahmud Sharif and FM Sugeng Prayitno (Indonesia) also achieved IM norms.