Monday, 26 September 2011

An Update from the Campomanes Memorial Yangon International GM Tournament!


I happened to catch Maung Maung Lwin on Google Talk and he started to tell me about how Mok was doing but then agreed to send me the tournament cross table (apparently after 8 rounds of play).

IM Wynn Zaw Htun is probably Myanmar's No.1 and has suffered more than most from his country's long isolation and is grossly underrated perhaps in part due to FIDE deducting 100 rating points from all their players in one of their most unfair and unwarranted actions and it is no surprise to see him leading the tournament with 6/8.

Vietnam's FM Nguyen Van Hai is a bit more of a surprise and is in joint second place half a point behind with his countryman GM Bui Vinh.

Mok is of course playing his usual fighting chess and although perhaps disappointed to be on minus one with 3/7 (with 13 players there is a bye every round), I think this will be valuable practice to get him into shape for the coming SEA games as he thrives on playing frequently to sharpen up his game.

55,000 USD prize fund for the Indonesia Open Championship


Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information: 55,000 USD prize fund for the Indonesia Open Championship

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Singapore's Latest IM?

Given that several players achieved their final titles at the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters & International Open (and with renewed interest amongst our local players in achieving the Grandmaster title), I looked with interest at http://ratings.fide.com/title_applications.phtml?details=1&id=5801770&title=IM&pb=31 to see if any if them were listed for confirmation at the 82nd FIDE Congress in Krakow, Poland from 15-22 October 2011.

Then I saw a surprising application - that of Singapore's Ravindran Shanmugam with a new high rating of 2329 after playing some 34 games and probably reflected in the three International Master norms he had managed to achieve in three successive events played from July to September 2011!

I always saw Ravindran as a 2100/2200+ player especially having played him in a IM event in Singapore a couple of years ago when the beginning of my falling out with Ignatius Leong begun when over coffee two hour before the start of play he mentioned that this fine young man had spent over SGD 20,000 on training at his (our?) academy and so I should not look to try too hard to beat him (?).

Well anyone who knows me would understand how I take such "advice" but it was not for me to ruin the prospects of a young player and so I decided to play hard but handicap myself a bit by playing 1.e4 (essaying the King's Gambit and Centre Game) and defending 1.e4 with 1... e5 and 2....d6 (with even ....Qe7 thrown in) and leave it to them to prove they could do the job!

It is good that since that setback Ravindran has continued trying (and probably still working with resident Georgian-Singaporean trainer Zurab Azmaiparashvili) and this effort is well reflected in the norms he achieved playing these tournaments in Georgia and I am sure he will soon get the 2400 rating he needs to convert the likely provisional award of International Master to become Singapore's latest title holder.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mok to play GM Tournament!

Before asking if any of the players at DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Masters and Open would be interested, I checked once again with my good friend Maung Maung Lwin about the status of entries in his GM tournament in Yangon and he confirmed that among the foreign entries was none other than Malaysia's own International Master Mok Tze Ming!

That is fantastic news - another veteran stepping forward to show our juniors what it will take.

Jimmy Liew's incredible activity in the last few years was always something I wondered about and then came the shocking news that our No. 1 Mas Hafizul had turned fully professional by walking away from his Petronas job!

Going back to Mok, I realised he had attended the FIDE Arbiter seminar recently held in KL when he called me and offered his services as an arbiter! I was a bit taken aback as he had played the SEA Games Selection but was not intending to play the Malaysian Open and it seemed he was satisfied with getting the International Master title after so many years of trying.

I have to be frank to say I declined his offer not only because I saw him still as very much as a player who should have been playing (although clearly a very much better businessman!) but also because Ignatius Leong conducted the seminar and when that little man is involved I know things would not have been done properly and as a result, Malaysian chess would have been short changed once again by FIDE.

Let's all welcome the return of Mok Tze Ming and wish him every success in getting a Grandmaster norm!

Earlier Lim Yee Weng had given it a shot too and so it really doesn't matter whether any of our players make it or not but that they actually tried and in doing so gave it their very best.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Emperor without Clothes?

Dato' Tan Chin Nam did not show up to play at the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah International Open like he promised and I like to believe he really wanted to. He did come on one of the days and while I was occupied dealing with an organisational challenge but I could not help but see how seriously ill he was.

Since the start of the Malaysian Chess Festival which began on 17 August until the end of the DYTM  Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters & International Open on 10 September, I have heard - from so many parties bar a certain nobody and more surprisingly the current Malaysian Chess Federation Hon. Secretary Gregory Lau - about practically nothing else but how the old man is interested in once again running Malaysian chess!

Dato' Tan's hand (or at least that of the people that surround him - and there have been many over the years with a few constants) has guided Malaysian chess at least since 1974 and that is a very long time indeed.

History has shown that leaders that stay beyond a second term of office tend to fail, seemly not because of themselves but in spite of their better qualities as those around him would have enjoyed certain benefits of office by then and would have worked hard to convince the leader that he or she is indeed irreplaceable!

After numerous failures, the mid 80's was perhaps a golden period for Malaysian chess and it is a pity that Dato' Tan will no longer be remembered for what he did then.

Like all Malaysian chessplayers I was so happy that Hamid managed to pull off another DATMO after it was announced by Dato' Tan last year that it would be his last as he had now a put in place a "dream" replacement in Tan Sri Dato' Seri DiRaja Ramli Ngah Talib.

To me it was strange as his successor did not play chess and was a retired politician and Dato' Tan's judgement was then further called into question with the humiliation he faced backing Hamid for FIDE General Secretary at last year's FIDE Election (as I had predicted) but now it seems besides offering to sponsor next year's DATMO he is also offering to help out with other existing events and if that is so I will certainly also be asking him if he would also be interested in sponsoring next year's DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah's.

Well, it looks that now a family dynasty (or a Sendirian Berhad?) is on the cards but the new Emperor's court will be made up of pretty much the same people who have dragged Malaysia into the ground the last 15-20 years and as far as I understand it, Gregory Lau who probably has good intentions but does not seem to have either means or support will not be part of the the incoming administration of horribly familiar faces.