Saturday, 22 December 2012

MAKITA is now over... and is a huge triumph for Indonesia

The winners on the stage with guest of honour Utut Adianto on the left and flanked by the two teams is Eka Wirya whose MAKITA sponsored the match.

In the end the results will show that Indonesia lost the single Blitz match on the opening day 1-3 but in four rounds of Rapid chess won 10-6 with three match wins and one draw while in the showcase Classical or Standard format, it was a 9.5-6.5 victory on the back of a 3-1 win in round one, 2.5-1.5 in round two and 2-2 draws in rounds three and four.

The bulk of the major individual prizes based on cumulative scores across all three disciplines went also to Indonesians, Median Warda Aulia on 7.5/9 the biggest winner, Sophie Milliet second wth 6.5 points and sharing third and fourth was Irine Kharismar Sukandar and Dewi AA Citra.

But perhaps in reality this good run of recent results for the Indonesian girls may either be flattering to deceive or perhaps women's chess is really not that good.

And if you watched all the games live as I did, you would I think tend to agree!

I was having a long lunch with Hou Yifan together with Utut Adianto when the simultaneous exhibition ended soon after the closing ceremony, and we were amazed to learn that Yifan did not have a personal coach but had to share the national coaches with the rest of the China teams. Yifan did not get an allowance let alone a salary from the Federation or any other Sports Organisation in China and this was true for all their players! Even the players winnings were taxed.

All these were questions asked by Adianto who then made the comparison with Indonesia where instead, the players got salaries from the provinces they represented on top of what the companies that also sponsored them gave.

The Indonesia girls get to keep all their winnings and were often also given extra rewards for relatively small achievements. The Federation took care of all expenses, arrange numerous trips and tournaments for them all year round, and provided foreign trainers full time to help them.

Yes, the Indonesian girls have done well. But as a return on investment?

To start with, let me just say that while all are superstars - now enjoying life and having such status to become practically untouchables - I have never seen them work on chess outside the training sessions with their coaches and while I can certainly go on in much more detail and provide more examples, I think my point has already been made.

An "Official" Evening with Hou Yifan

Indonesia beats France with one match to go!

The MAKITA Women Chess Match being held from 16-22 December 2012 at the Sekolah Catur Utut Adianto (SCUA) in Bekasi, Jakarta between Indonesia and France has been a absolute success for the Indonesians!

After losing the single Blitz match 1-3, Indonesia swept the Rapids 10-6 by winning the first three matches 2.5-1.5, 3-1, 2.5-1.5 before drawing the fourth 2-2.

Now after three rounds of the Classical matches where the French were expected to make a strong comeback, Indonesia has continued to prevail, winning the first 3-1 and the second 2.5-1.5 before drawing the third 2-2.

With this the Indonesian team has a score of 18.5-13.5, a five point lead that cannot be overturned irregardless of the outcome of the fourth and final Classical match.

But Indonesia has also won by any possible scoring system and as much as you would feel for a French team that have clearly yet to adjust from European time and have been clearly not at their best, the fact is that the Indonesians too had been with one exception, been also rather hit and miss too.

The main reason for the Indonesian victory is Medina Warda Aulia who has been 100% while playing the best chess and 4/4 in the Rapids and 3/3 so far in the Classical says it all.

Co-incidentally, the victory one round before the end has meant that the dinner hosted for visiting Hou Yifan has also been a bit of a celebration for Indonesia but with a very sporting French team happily joining in but of course still very much with one eye on revenge in the last match tomorrow!

The Head of PERCASI together with the the Leader of Women's Chess Today!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Rapid Match Goes To Indonesia!

The third round was nearly an amazing triumph of pre-game preparation. It was no exaggeration that while sitting next to the Indonesian coach once the games got underway that I was told that he had done and within 10 minutes it all unfolded exactly as predicted!

But it is another matter to execute and even more so perhaps when you are playing Rapid chess.

For sure the Indonesian girls had come out determined to build on their first day lead and get the three points needed to seal the deal with one more match to go.

In the end Medina Warda Aulia's win went exactly as planned but Dewi AA Citra mixed her moves up (and forgot some analysis) and opted to take a perpetual check. Worst was Chelsie Monica Shite lost her way after building up a completely winning position right out of the opening against her much more experienced position to even lose. But Irine Kharisma Sukandar had less problems with the help of some ready poor moves by her opponent.

So 2.5-1.5 it was to Indonesia. That made it three match wins in a row and now needing just 0.5 points from the final match.

Fittingly it was Medina Warda Aulia who wrapped it up and in doing so taking her score to a perfect 4/4 in Rapid chess. This was however easily her most unconvincing win!

It was seesaw from then on, France striking back to equalise, Indonesia then taking the lead before the last game made it 2-2 which simply meant that Indonesia emerged a convincing 10-6 winners and that France had at least drawn a match.

From tomorrow it will be a different ball game with the Classical chess matches beginning with one round a day and the link to parings and results is

Monday, 17 December 2012

Indonesia Takes Lead on First Day of Rapids

The Rapid Match has gotten underway at the Grand Ballroom of the Sekolah Catur Utut Adianto with the first two rounds being played and Indonesia has taken the lead with 5.5 points again 2.5 for France and so just needs 3 from 8 points available in tomorrows matches to win the Rapid match.  

In the first round, wins from Medina Warda Aulia and Dewi AA Citra made up for an out of sorts Irine Kharisma Sukandar to win 2.5-1.5 and in the second round, it was Medina with her second win together with Irine bouncing back with sheer determination that sealed a 3-1 victory. (For full details, please go to

Indonesian National Player, Federation Official (and Sponsor), and Foreign Coach in animated discussion during the Rapid Match

Blitz Match at the Opening Ceremony!

Soon after I arrived at the hotel from the airport where the AirAsia flight again proved to be the now usual nightmare, we held the technical meeting where the principal business was the drawing of lots for the Rapid and Classical games and then came the Opening Ceremony where four tables suddenly appeared on stage, the Indonesia and French teams were introduced and a Blitz Match broke out!

No, I am of course joking. Even if a one off match affair, there was money at stake - USD 600 going to the winning team and USD 400 a nice consolation for losers. Not to mention that although not being FIDE rated, the scores are counted towards the overall team and individual results.

But the players of course went at it for national pride (as they should) and approximately 5 frantic minutes later with a rapt crowd paying close attention and a large media turnout very much in the way of the arbiters who were reduced to spectators, the French girls emerged 3-1 winners in an exciting match that could have gone either way.

We now move to the new renovated Grand Ballroom at SCUAR (Sekolah Catur Utut Adianto) for the FIDE rated 4 Rapid and 4 Classical games (played using the Scheveningen System where each member of a team plays every member of the opposing team).

I am really looking forward to be finally able to visit this legendary chess academy in the south of the city that for some reason or another I never did but should really be saying that the matches will start at 2.30 p.m. daily except the last day so do go to to keep track of the results of the Rapid being played the next two days.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Officiating at the MAKITA Women Chess Match

My readers will know that it has been an incredibly hectic time for me chess wise since August... starting with preparing and then coaching our national women's team at the World Chess Olympiad, then returning to run the DYTM Raja Nazrin Shah International Open just a week later, followed by being part of the media team at the Indonesia Open Chess Championship (IOCC), and finally going to the World Youth Chess Championships.

Only the last was long planned for but not at all also taking on working with two very big young talents which entailed numerous and intense visits to Penang that has been for me very enjoyable and satisfying (and I hope also successful) work indeed.

I have just been back from 12 days in Australia where I found time for Doubleroo, unfortunately missing the Asian Schools Chess Championship that I had originally committed to go to (as well as the Penang Open), and now out of the blue I have been given the very big honour indeeed of being the Chief Arbiter at the MAKITA Women Chess Match which will  be held between Indonesia and France in Jakarta from 16-22 December 2012.

More details (coverage?) will follow in this blog for sure but I do already know that 16 December will be an evening of Blitz after the Opening Ceremony (hence the luxury of taking a same day morning flight) followed by Rapid on 17 & 18 December and then Classical from 19-22 December.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Speaking at Doubleroo... then Missing my Flight Home!

The night before going home I gave a small talk to parents at the Doubleroo Chess Academy and to my surprise it was a rather decent turn out and I really did appreciate the warm nice reception.

In most countries where chess is rather low on the list of parent priorities for their children, I have found that the issues are very much the same and so it would seem that it is also no different in Australia and as a start it was probably very important for parents to understand what chess talent is and how much of that would their child have (or at least at what point they would know for certain).

Parents are always supportive of chess provided the more important things like doing well in school, being well rounded, etc. is satisfied, so what they really only needed to know next is how best could chess fit in.

The good news is that I believe that in general the 'problem' takes care of itself if the parents have the means to support a program for achieving chess excellence when their child shows interest and at the same time is also prepared to make the necessary small sacrifices as part of the 'deal" and keep up with his or her schoolwork and other responsibilities.

After addressing the all important need for parents to have the guidance of an experienced, qualified and thoughtful trainer (by default no real problem as the parents and their children are already getting the brilliant help now being provided by Doubleroo), much of my talk then centered on explaining the nitty gritty of programs that work, ratings and titles, and international youth competitions.

In conclusion I felt that what was most important for the parents was for their kids to be happy and to be successful in life and that chess offered clear benefits as part of that process.

Whether or not their children achieved anything in chess was less important and also unacceptable if it came at the cost of their future (defined as a good education and professional or business career) but that if they had talent and were seriously committed to succeed in this early period of their life where they could do so, then they were all for trying to make it happen.

Doubleroo's challenge is then (as would be of all academies and trainers) to take an interested and motivated child based on talent to their fullest potential between 7-17 years of age where everything is still possible!

On an equally happy note (even if it did not quite start that way), I would like to mention that I somehow ended up spending an especially wonderful extra two days in Australia - special thanks to Jenny and Nigel Smith for their help and really great hospitality - after I managed to forget the two hour time difference and miss my original flight home by five minutes.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Enjoying Queensland, Dropping by Brisbane... and Visiting Doubleroo!

Thanks to a client I am in Australia for 10 days and yesterday, while enjoying Brisbane on the weekend, I was asked (on a quite beautiful Sunday afternoon) to "help" run the inaugural First Sunday Junior Rapid being organised by Doubleroo Chess Academy at the La Dolce Vita Cafe with generous sponsorship from local businesses and officiated by the local member of Parliament who proved to be both a popular and an enthusiastic guest of honour!

Of course my contribution really consisted of taking some photos in-between enjoying the truly excellent pizza there (and then also the great seafood dinner after) so I don't really know too much of what happened but it clearly was a huge success with a turnout that exceeded the limited space available and for sure everyone had fun and you can find the full report at

But it was a whole weekend off for me (not just the afternoon of chess) and below is a sample of the sights in Queensland that I managed to take in while being driven 100's of kilometers up and down the Gold Coast and also in and around many small and beautiful towns before the event.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Malaysia's International Participation in 2013?

I was browsing the FIDE website when I came across a calendar update for 2013 where my attention was drawn to quite a few events listed, most of which Malaysians might be interested in participating in, and if ineligible or unable, might still feel that we should be represented.

The first event that jumped right out was the Asian Zonal 3.3 from 21-30 January 2013 in Tagaytay, Philippines. That is part of the World Championship qualifying cycle and would be an incredibly strong event with GM norms on offer and I hope many of our top players with ambition from the likes of Mas, Nicholas, Mok, Yee Weng, and Ronnie would be alerted and get in touch with MCF about the possibility of their participation.

Next was the Asian Junior U-20 Championships from 1-10 April 2013 in Sharjah, UAE and perhaps enough said already but I have always felt that we have not paid enough attention to being represented at this event (and also the World Junior U-20 Championships) but several young winners of our national championships in recent years have made the trip and have found out how incredibility strong these tournaments are and where they have stood in relation to their peers at the point of maturity. I think this event is perfect from the likes of talented young players like Li Tian and Roshan who have shown they can already compete with our national level senior players.

In May the Asian Continental Championship is also listed to be in Astana, Kazakhstan but without exact dates and this, like the zonals is also a World Cup and World Championship qualifying tournament.

The big surprise to me is that Malaysia is holding, from 8-17 June 2013, the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships and since this well known as the personal money making creation of the Singaporean FIDE official we all know only too well, I wonder if MCF has willingly agreed to and is so keen on it. After all this event has no sponsorship but relies on inflated entry fees and hotel mark-ups which goes into the same individual's pocket. Can Malaysians stay on our own, enjoy a discounted entry fee, etc., and do we get royalties? What are our other tangible benefits? Our international reputation has suffered in recent years and from time to time questions have been raised about MCF by its membership so I would certainly like all to have clarity as to purpose and what the mutual benefits are together with transparent accounting.

Later the same month, from 20-27 June 2013, Mashhad, Iran is holding the Asian Youth Championships and since the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships is for some reason also open to all Asians, it is hard to differentiate between them and essentially both events are competing for much the same players.

The World Youth U-16 Olympiad, after the Istanbul fiasco where it was downgraded to become part of the larger World Chess Olympiad (and as a result the conditions became less than satisfactory), is now going to be in Chongqing, China from 21-31 July 2013, and I really hope we can this time around put together a very strong team from among our best talent eligible.

Next comes the World Junior Championships I had alluded to earlier, again in Turkey, this time in Antalya from 11-26 September 2013 and I have no doubt at all that it will be excellently run.

But for most parents and kids, the biggie will be the World Youth Championships and because it will be hosted by Al Ain, UAE, it will move from the traditional October/November dates to 17-29 December 2013. This of course unfortunately sets up a clash with another major (and arguably even more prestigious) event from the Malaysian perspective although it can be argued that the participants can easily be different and that the formats certainly are, and this is of course the SEA Games from 11-22 December 2013.

It is shaping up to be another exciting year ahead and I wish MCF every success to planning the participation of our national representatives to all these (and perhaps other events I have missed or am unaware of), from their proper selection, appropriate preparation (training) and of course the much needed funding.

Monday, 19 November 2012

WYCC 2012 - The Final Results

As expected, the best performances have come from the youngest where in the starting stages of chess pure talent rules and so even a small chess country like Malaysia is able to compete so big congratulations are in order for Under 8's Goh Jie Yi and Lye Lik Zang with a hope that in two years time they can maintain these results.

Our relatively large talented group playing in the Under 10 also did well but other than 9 year old Tan Jun Ying, they will all have to compete as Under 12's next year and so will know that it will be challenge to keep progressing in terms of results as can be seen from the performances from those participating in that category this time around.

Nithyalakshmi Sivanesan in the Under 12 and Nur Najiha Azman Hisham and Camila Johari in the Under 14 played much to  their ranking and so have not lost ground and that can also be said for 15 year old Under 16 representative Roshan Ajeet Singh and 16 year old Under 18 representative Elgin Lee Kah Meng but the question they will have to answer is if that is good enough for all five of them given their talent.

Finally it must be said that the performance of the experienced Nur Nabila  Azman Hisham in the Under 16 stands out, and when taking into account her performance at the recent World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, she should now be considered our current No. 1 women player.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Before the Final Round

I wish all our young players playing in the WYCC 2012 all the best in the final round of a long and very demanding event... they have all done the best they could under various circumstances that even I who am here can only venture to guess at.

They are some of the best young talent we have and all are playing very much to or above their initial ranking, and as we all know, last rounds are very much the luck of the draw affairs!

For a perspective on expected performances at various age groups, see my earlier post by clicking here

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Silly Season

I understand that MCF will be holding their elections at its coming Annual General Meeting and both I and KLCA will of course support everyone interested in holding office!

After all it is a thankless job in the service of others.

Strategies and plans for national development have to be made, communicated internally and externally while being promoted to media together with implementation, individually and collectively large amounts of time and effort need to be contributed for the real gritty on the ground work of such as liaison and coordination of activities with national players and member state affiliates, the various other national and international organisations, organising of major events, etc., and most importantly, for the funds to be found!

Then there is the handling of the various necessary administrative matters pertinent to the running of a national sports organisation that is both a critical and a big responsibility, currently unpaid, and without  hope of recognition or appreciation, let alone reward!

With so many incumbents, most having held positions in MCF in one capacity or another for so long, I would not be surprised if many (or even all?) have finally decided to move on but if others wish to step up and offer their services I hope they will be able to quantify what that actually that is before seeking office is as everyone is equally qualified to talk, attend meetings, be "an expert" and accompany national teams abroad.

I salute those, new or old, who would, as in the motto of my old college, be ready and prepared to "Serve to Lead"!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

At the Halfway Mark

A snapshot of the results of the Malaysians in Round 6. There are a total of 11 rounds in the WYCC 2012 so this is the halfway point. (For full details, see the official website at and the results and pairings at

Summary of scores to date:

5/6. Goh Jie Yi
4.5/6. Lye Lik Zang
4/6. Tan Jun Ying, Nithyalakshmi Sivanesan
3.5/6. Azman Hisham Nur Nabila
3/6. Camila Johari, Azman Hisham Nur Najiha, Chua Jia-Tien, Tan Yong Zhao, William Lee Kah Howe, Wong Yinn Long, Ajeet Singh Roshan
2.5/6. Lee Kah Meng Elgin, Chan Yi Ming Ryan
2/6. Kah Teng Benjamin Lee

Monday, 12 November 2012

Some Impressions and Lessons of WYCC 2012

From yesterday, after the end of Round 3, the WYCC 2012 organisers have started sending us bulletins together with a file of 96 selected games and we are now getting bits and pieces of Round 4 even as Round 5 started this morning. With two games today before the rest day tomorrow it is certainly going to be a story of catch-up for them and I certainly don't envy those doing this work!

As an organiser myself, albeit on much smaller scales,I am loath to criticise as I know something about the very real challenges - it is easy to talk but not quite so easy to do! - and I will say that to their credit, which each passing day it is clear that efforts are being made which are resulting in welcome improvements.

From my good friend Vijay Kumar I have now managed, as can be seen, to get a photo of play in Round 3 and it is clear that conditions in this multi-purpose hall at the Dras Centre are a bit tight indeed other than at the top boards. He has also provided this link to the official video also posted at which readers might find of interest.

Today the rain has come and that is the weather forecast for the next few days. Our contingent is fully ready for this (or at least now are!) but let us hope there are no side effects or consequences to infrastructure as a result of possible heavy rainfall.

But more importantly perhaps for some is that the day excursions paid for by all but 3 of our 32 strong group to Bled/Ljubjlana and to Postonja/Ljubjlana will not be ruined!

Unfortunately I am among those unable to go (Mas has been attending the FIDE Trainer Seminar and one other member is off on his dream visit to Vienna) as Bled is a major tourist spot, with postcard perfect lake, island and castle while Postonja is highly recommended, a fantastic cave complex with a train ride. For both groups, lunch will be at the Slovenia's capital Ljubjlana followed by a city tour.

I have of course been looking at the games of the Malaysians playing here and especially in relation to their opponents and what I have seen only confirms my opinion that in an event such as the WYCC 2012, there are broadly three levels of play, Under 10, Under 14, and Under 18.

At Under 10 level (7-10 years) we can compete because bright young children are all talented and generally speaking, any coaching, be it good or bad has not yet formed them and the need for having the appropriate competition is not yet been critical given their short time in chess. I think it is very clear that it is at this stage that all countries are able to closely contend!

It becomes more complicated at Under 14 level (11-14 years) as talent can still be talked about but there seems to be a clear divide, not so much in terms of knowledge and experience, but in being able to properly apply the same in competition and I think that would be due largely to their getting an uneven chess education.

Once reaching Under 18 level (15-18 years) there is not so much more that can be done if a player at that stage lacks the basics, be it theory (not just openings!), capacity for work, or having sufficient high level competition, and this is especially apparent if he or she has not gotten the right guidance earlier. Today 16-18 year olds are IMs and GMs and in contention for places in their national teams. It is sadly a universal experience to see talents at Under 10 not reach anywhere their potential at Under 14.

I am not especially referring to any of the Malaysian participants at the WYCC 2012 - they are as representative and as good as what we have.

Just look around you as the local chess scene and also that of neighbouring countries, be it a Vietnam, Singapore, or Taiwan, have too many obvious examples which should not be named. I will say however with risk of offending that their success or failure is simply that of parent and child together but hope my frankness is mitigated by fully understanding and appreciating that is their absolute right!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

First Few Days in Maribor

The Malaysian group to the World Youth Chess Championships traveled to Maribor, Slovenia from Penang and Kuala Lumpur via Singapore, Munich and Graz where we were met by the organisers and taken some 38 kilometers by bus over the border to our hotel.

It was a very easy and pleasant trip overnight on Singapore Airlines and our hotel is the excellent Mlada Lipa which is a 20 minutes walk from the two tournament venues some 3.5 kilometers from the city centre.

No baggage was lost, the hotel check in went smoothly as did the accreditation process.

Maribor is a small town of some 100,000 people in a country with a total population of just 2,000,000 but is also the European Capital for Culture for 2012 and therefore very well set-up for tourism - for example our ID tags give us unlimited travel on a very good public transportation system and there are information points staffed by multilingual volunteers throughout a city that is a pleasure to walk about.

We have settled into a routine with games at 3 p.m. daily. So breakfast is at 7.30-8 a.m. and then by 9 a.m. some players do a bit of preparation while mothers get together and bus to town for some two to three hours of sightseeing and shopping. Lunch is usually at 12.30 p.m. and most prefer to take a refreshing walk to the tournament hall around 2 p.m.

So far the weather has remained relatively pleasant although it can be quite cold at night and few opt to walk back from 6-8 p.m. in the dark and wind when the games for the round and day generally finish.

For the trainers (and most fathers who had baby sitting duties in the morning while their wives enjoyed the city), it is around 3.15 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. when the games have started and everyone has settled down that it is their turn to jump on the bus to enjoy an hour long stroll in the historical heart of the city.

There are some frustrations of course, some unavoidable as a result of the organisers having some 2,800 players, parents and officials scattered in over 20 hotels located all over the city and having two separate and rather smallish tournament venues, but others have been unnecessarily caused by a certain inexperience and inflexibility regarding accommodating the realities of the challenges arising from having so many young children playing.

But all in all everyone is happy and much of the credit has to go to the wonderful couple who run Mlada Lipa as they have gone out their way to make the Malaysians feel at home from cooking rice daily and making children friendly meals to getting hold of things like soya sauce!

Furthermore Maribor and indeed all of Slovenia is inexpensive especially when compared to most of Europe and has the advantage of being an unspoiled and a very green, nature friendly country.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Head of Delegation?

Today I officially agreed to be the Head of Delegation (HoD) for the Malaysian team of 15 players + 17 accompanying going to the World Youth Chess Championships.

Frankly this is a responsibility I have no interest in - especially since my first and foremost obligation is to work with our young National Champion whose parents are paying for me to go - but as always, once I accept, I will do my best (and professionally too!) and I think all saw that at the Istanbul World Chess Olympiad.

The Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) of course understands that I am only agreeing to this in the absence of options available to them as this point due to various circumstances and I hope those going will also understand that I while I am experienced in these matters, on the details and in this very short time, I too am going to be learning!

My role as I see it will be primarily to be the first point of contact between the Malaysian delegation and the organisers while we are in Slovenia, with my first task certainly being to facilitate a smooth check in at the hotel and getting us all the necessary accreditations.

I will also be representing us at the technical meeting (probably my main qualification to be HoD!) and then will be calling a meeting to advise on the rules and regulations, tournament schedule, the do's and don'ts arising, and to inform of any pertinent matters impacting our participation.

Although the Malaysian group are a mixture of official and guest players (and accompanying persons) with various levels of experience and exposure to such an event, there is a minimum level of obligation I will be expecting from all players since we are there under the MCF/Malaysia flag and so I will be communicating in no uncertain terms the standards of attire, matters of tardiness, of proper conduct, and the requirement for compulsory attendance at official functions.

What I will not be doing is babysitting any players, as they, if not with parents, should have already designated guardians from the adults within the group, and I am definitely not going to be the coach of the 15 players!

I am also certainly not responsible, let alone interested in addressing whatever might have transpired leading up to our arrival other than to ensure what has already been committed to by MCF and the group that goes there is fully respected by the organisers and that we will properly reciprocating their kindnesses.

Finally I understand (but will be confirming there) that many going have plans to stay on or to visit other countries after the event but for those returning as scheduled I will certainly get them on to the plane home.  

MCF has told me that two of the parents going have kindly agreed to assist with day to day affairs of the group and of course when Mr Lee Ewe Ghee, a MCF Vice President arrives after a few days, he will be able to provide valuable and much needed support.

Once final thing I wish to put on record is that all our roles at the World Youth Chess Championships, be it as player, parent, official or trainer, should be clear and so on my part that certainly does not including posting on my blog any reports, let alone commentary about the performance of the young players there especially while they are in competition.

I take the view that unless you are a member of the press or have been engaged by official media to do this work you are not independent of what you are supposed to be doing there and it is almost certain that nothing good can come of a need to put your opinions about the play of others online.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Preparing for the World Youth Championship 2012

It is no secret that I have been working for almost two years now with current national champion Roshan Ajeet Singh and in the last few days have spent time with him preparing for the World Youth Championships to be held in Maribor, Slovenia from 7-19 November 2012.

Roshan has just come off his exams - the reason why he had to opt out of playing at the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul - and is clearly very rusty but is starting to pick up a little.

I will also be going along as was my promise to him should he qualify and also become National Champion, and in the last two years he has been first U-14 champion and then, this year, even if only having turned 15, become both the U-16 and the senior champion.

The preliminary participants list is out - see official website at where they have a nice tool with the participants list viewer that allows you to group players by category and by country.

Besides being a bit out of practice Roshan will have his work cut out for him as at his 2016 rating he at the low end of players 2000 and in fact with 20 other 2000+ ahead of him is only ranked 79th with 7 players 2400+, 13 players 2300+, 22 players 2200+ and another 16 players 2100+.

U-16 is not U-14 as the talents would now have matured so assuming he plays to his strengths and at 2100 level he can at best be looking for a top 50 finish and that would in itself be quite an achievement!

Malaysia has 16 representatives in all and I have also been working with two other young players going, both very young, and the training for one particularly talented boy has gone rather well and so although like Roshan, he is at the entry side of his age group category, a surprise is entirely possible.

I do not have too much information about most of our representatives but most are very young and are going for the first time to such an event even if they are not at all unknown to the local chess community.

But I do know from the horses's mouth that Nigel Short will be there for Amier Hamzah as well as Tibor Karolyi for the three Lee siblings and that Mas Hafizulhelmi will be coming along with Camilia Johari so at least half a dozen of our representatives will have their trainers there with them!

No doubt too many of the others will have been preparing well with their usual local coaches and in the case of Azman Hisham's daughters Nabila and Najiha, I understand they even have Indonesian help.

I see this event for many of our young players to be an  opportunity to confirm their talent while also seeing where the stand in relation to their peers and for those young for their category it is a chance to get valuable experience before looking to target a good finish in next year's event.

With few exceptions I am sure all Malaysians in chess, be they players, organisers or parents, would wish every of our representatives every success and be quick to praise rather than condemn.

They are after all children playing the game they love and doing the very best they can with as much support as those around them can provide so whether they win or lose, become champion or finish last, it really does not matter in the bigger picture.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Building on the Indonesia Open 2012

As I briefly mentioned in an earlier post, from 9-18 October I was privileged to be part of the media team at the Indonesia Open Chess Championship (IOCC) 2012 and it was a hectic time indeed!

What surprised me what not so much the scale of the event but the huge number of people that were involved in the organising and it would be no exaggeration to say that practically everyone in Indonesian chess came together to help out.

Indonesians are a tolerant people and I was really impressed at the pride and unity to make the tournament work!

One challenge that Indonesia has always had was that because it is such a huge country it is often unnecessary for locals to look beyond the borders of a country spanning three time zones and with a territory of 1,919,440 sq km making it the 16th largest in the world.

But I well remember the incredibly strong Indonesian teams of the 80's where they could beat just about anyone and were constantly challenging for top honours in Asia.

The PERCASI leadership is determined for IOCC to become one the world's premier international open chess championships and so is now confirmed that there will be another in 2013 and indeed the foreseeable future.

What is perhaps even more interesting is that new efforts are going to be put into local chess development in parallel with IOCC.

In this road, as that of every National Chess Federation in the world, PERCASI has no silver bullet and may have to wait for between 5-10 years to restore Indonesian chess to some of its former glory and while I think many understand this, in today's fast paced work it would take something special to stay the course.

But in four years their women's chess has seen a transformation so I wish them all the best with their men!

Monday, 22 October 2012

New York! New York!

Seems like New York is also the centre of the Universe where chess is concerned! Recently came across this book (no, I did not buy or read it) which documents a year with a chess team. From browsing however I think there is much to relate to if a coach, administrator or parent.

But more to the point for the purpose of this blog post is perhaps the video story in this link on the BBC website as follows:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Enjoying the Rest Day in Bogor

On the rest day of the ongoing Indonesia Open Chess Championshp (IOCC) 2012 being played in Jakarta, many players took advantage of the excursion planned by the organisers to nearby Bogor to visit the Presidential Palace and Botantical Gardens.

As it was so aptly put when everyone assembled on the hotel lobby to depart: "Today is a holiday, tomorrow we fight again!".

I don't know about the players but it was a welcome break after two successive days with double rounds and one more double round to follow the next day! From my experience coaching our Woman Olympiad Team, it is much better to be a player and I can certainly say the same once again now that I am experiencing being part of the huge team here that churns out the media component of a big event!

For happenings at IOCC 2012, do visit the incredibly informative official website hosted at It has regularly updated reports, numerous interviews with participants, of course the results and pairings, links to various live feeds and even the games in PGN and bulletins you can download.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

The Indonesian Open 2012 Gets Underway...

Official tournament website:

Here you can also get a great number of interesting and often insightful interviews with the various participants.

The opening ceremony was also covered at as well as numerous other leading chess websites.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Indonesia Open Chess Championship 2012

The Indonesia Open Chess Championship will be held from 10-17 October 2012 at the Puri Ratna Convention Hall, Level 2, Grand Sahid Jaya Hotel, Jakarta.

Once again organised by PERCASI (All Indonesia Chess Federation) with sponsorship from its President Hashim Djojohadikusumo, this year's second edition builds upon last year's highly successful inaugural event with a top class, diverse and representative field of old and young talent, both male and female, from as many as 18 countries!

Our congratulations to PERCASI which has certainly put together the best International Open tournament seen in Asia in 2012!

Hashim Djojohadikusumo, the PERCASI leader, at last year's opening ceremony 

Indonesia does chess in the grandest possible fashion and no one who has ever played in an international tournament there will ever forget the experience, so the 27 Grandmasters playing including 9 rated 2600+ will be looking forward to the competition in more ways than one!

Top seeded will be Ivan Sokolov from the Nederlands but he will have serious competition from Li Chao and Yu Yangyi from China while Vlad Tkachiev representing France, the other Vietnam superstar Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, Jaan Ehlverst now playing for the USA, India's Surya Sekhar Ganguly and the large delegation from the Philippines of Oliver Barbosa, Rogelio Antonio, John Paul Gomez, Mark Paragua, Darwin Laylo, Eugene Torre and Richard Bitoon will also be looking to be winners.

Local hero Susanto Megaranto will lead Indonesia's challenge and the former World Cup qualifier will have all of the top Indonesia players for company including veterans Saidikin Irwanto, Denny Juswanto, Cerdas Barus, Ronny Gunawan, Awan Wahono, Nasib Ginting, Dede Lioe, Herman Ardiansyah, Salor Sitanggang, and Tirto.

Young Indonesian talent will also be on show, led by Olympian Tirta Chandra Purnama, Asain Continental Champion Irine Kharisma Sukandar and Brunei Open winner Andika Pitra amongst many others.

PERCASI website:
Official tournament website:

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Sergei Tiviakov wins DYTM Raja Nazrin Shah International Open Championship 2012

Despite not showing his best form, top seeded and big favourite Sergei Tiviakov, the ex-Soviet Grandmaster who has now long represented the Nederlands, emerged the winner with 7/9 after edging defending champion Oliver Barbosa on tiebreak.

Filipino Barbosa would have rued both his fourth round loss to Vietnam's Cao Sang and then failure to take advantage of a better position against Tiviakov in the second last round.

But it was all in all a professional and convincing performance from a deserving winner!

Taking the best woman prize was young Indian WGM Padmini Rout who at 18 has already been a World Champion in various age group categories while Ng Tze Han put in a steady performance to be the best local finisher after FM Dr. Ronnie Lim lost his last two games.

Many local young players took the event as a warm up for the coming World Youth Championship to be held from 7-19 November 2012 in Maribor, Slovenia and while all had encouraging if not also commendable results, there was particularly impressive talent on display from the under 10s while amongst the slightly older kids, Indonesian Jodi Setyaki Azayra (whose mother is WIM Lisa Lumongdong) confirmed that he is indeed a big talent.

Once again there was international mention by my friends at Chessdom (see and for the first time ever by local daily Sinar Harian (