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.

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