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.