In the last few years the month of December has seen a Singapore Open – the Singapore International Chess Festival with a Masters and a Challengers plus various seminars – always a certainty because it was also apparently one individual’s main claim to successful international organisation in his own country.
With the collapse of the attempt by the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association (KLCA) to save the Singapore Chess Federation the cost of the Commonwealth Championship, this same individual had essentially no choice but to announce it as part of the Singapore International Chess Convention, but also surprisingly announced as under the auspicious of the Asian Chess Federation.
I was a little confused as I did not understand that the Commonwealth Chess Association needed its Championship to be endorsed by anyone other than the World Chess Federation (FIDE) aa in fact it is, like the ASEAN Chess Confederation, also a part of FIDE.
But how would I know? This very individual who asked for help from KLCA earlier also proudly claims to lead chess in the Commonwealth, ASEAN and Singapore (and his position in FIDE is apparently sold on that too).
Well, Singapore via this individual apparently had the money to bid for the World Championship Match Anand-Topalov so why has the Masters disappeared and all these events have a prize fund totalling just USD 14,500?
A moment ago I had a quick look up of the Commonwealth Championship at http://www.chess-results.com/tnr27873.aspx?art=0&lan=1&m=-1&wi=1000 and guess what? I saw a grand total of 5 countries participating. India, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore (this is the huge total of 24 entries in the Open!).
Well, I do know that India has kept the Commonwealth Championship going for years now, Australia and South Africa have just token representation, and of course we in Malaysia are next to Singapore.
But no Grandmasters, no one at all from Great Britain (are they not the very reason for the Commonwealth?) and not even an African nation or the usual suspects from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan?
My reaction? First relief, and then followed by a big thank you to the Malaysian Chess Federation (as claimed by the individual I keep mentioning) for objecting to KLCA doing the Commonwealth Championship.
And a hope that our Mas Hafizulhelmi, the fourth seed (in a very weak event) can win it for Malaysia and himself.