Monday, 22 December 2008

KL Open - Begining of a New Chapter for Malaysian Chess?

The KL Open Chess Championship has ended - on a high with a very memorable Closing and Prize Giving Ceremony at the Legend Hotel - and by any standard is happily a great success. The buzz this event generated ensured that FIDE General Secretary and ASEAN Chess Confederation President Ignatius Leong flew in from Vietnam and that the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) would be fully represented by both its non chess playing President and slighly more adept Deputy President.    

The Crown Prince of Perak, Dr Raja Nazrin Shah was at hand to give away the prizes which included the challenge trophy that he allowed to bear his name and that is indeed significant as he himself was not only a chess player in his Oxford days but is also someone who is very particular about his associations, being conscious of his standing and leadership role amongst the both the "rakyat" and his fellow monarchy.

I once played a game with Raja Nazrin, over 20 years ago after being introduced by a mutual friend as the national champion, and of course I beat him, not with too much difficulty (he was about a 2000 rating then) but only by just converting an advantage in the endgame and together with the polite noises one makes after losing (he was not a prince then and his father was still Lord President of the Supreme Court) I did not miss the gentle remark that as Malaysia's top player I should have done much better!  

This says a lot about the man and the respect he commands.

Kudos to Edmund Santhara, President of KL Chess Association and CEO of Masterskill (a real chessplayer who even attributes his success in the corporate world to strategic thinking he has developed from being a chessplayer!) which was the main sponsor, a big thank you to MCF Secretary Gregory Lau for ensuring smooth relations and close cooperation for an event that cannot be anything but good for Malaysian chess, and of course to the relatively inexperienced but hard working and always willing team put together by Chief Arbiter Latiff Mohamad.

As Tournament Director I must also thank my friends Butch Villavieja from the Philippines and Dawn Hui from Singapore for helping out in key roles and especially ASEAN Chess Confederation Secretary-General Sebastian Simanjuntak from Indonesia who not only brought a huge and representative delegation from Indonesia but also found time to help out in so many ways while playing and winning a big prize he prompty donated!  

There were many firsts, from having 11 countries represented, prizes for the visually handicapped, supporting events like the simultaneous exhibition between the VIP Tournament Guest of Honour and a National Junior Selection, the enthusiastic participation of numerous titled players despite a modest prize fund, two players becoming a Grandmaster and an International Master respectively, numerous young players getting rated, and many of these details can be found by going to www.klchess.com. 

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