Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Qualifers from the Asian 3.3 Zone Championships

The Asian Zone 3.3 Championships ended in a huge success for Vietnam as Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Nguyen Thanh Thi An were the respective winners of the Open and the Woman sections.

But it was also a big success for hosts Philippines with Wesley So finishing second in the Open and taking the other World Cup qualifying spot and 16 year old Bernadette Galas the sensation of the tournament with giant killing feats earning her the Woman International Master title in sharing second to fourth places with Indonesia;s Medina Warda Aulia and Pham Le Thao Nguyen.

Our young representative in 13 year old Yeoh Li Tian acquitted himself well, playing to his rating in a strong field of seasoned professionals and won many admirers. In the last two years Li Tian has made a name for himself in the region and so all his opponents came well prepared as they rightly took him very seriously indeed and while it is almost impossible to keep up with his analytical ability, I have also noticed some weaknesses but this will remain for private consumption.    

Those inetrested would know that I have been covering the event at www.chessdom.com and all details are at http://www.chess-results.com/tnr90536.aspx?lan=1.

Friday, 25 January 2013

He is to Blame!

I am here in Tagaytay as a guest of Casto "Toti" Abundo Jr, currently the Deputy President of the Asian Chess Federation based in Al Ain, UAE, but who is also the Phillippines's FIDE Delegate and supervising the Zone 3.3 Championships as the Chief Arbiter.

This is the third time I have been Toti's guest in the Philippines. We have known each other for a long time, in fact since 1980 where as a young player and winner of the MSSM and finishing third in the National Championships behind our two professionals Jimmy Liew and Christie Hon,  I represented Malaysia in the Asian Junior Championship held in Baguio that year.

In the 70's and 80's, the Philippines was amongst the most advanced of Asian nations and when Baguio and Manila were hit by a typhoon, I took the opportunity to stay on. Florencio Campomanes ("Campo") was then FIDE Deputy President (Asia) and Toti was his right hand man as Executive Director of the Philippine Chess Federation and he took the opportunity to turn me from chess player to chess organiser (like Campo had done before to him!)

It was from Toti in the two weeks that I was stuck in Manila, staying at his home and hanging out with him daily, that I learned first hand about organising, experience Campo first hand, how to do ratings, even write for a magazine and these lessons remained all my life. In chess, Philippines was undisputed No.1 in Asia and it was an unbelievable opportunity. I also started a friendship with too many to mention including the golden society couple that was Eugene and Marilyn Torre then and which has endured until today.

When I was asked to give something back  to chess at the end of 2006 after practically 12-15 years away from the game, it was again sparked by Toti who invited me to Cebu to attend the Asian Individual Championships.

On arrival I was roped in as an Assistant Arbiter (there is no free lunch in chess!), and after one more day I was persuaded (challenged?) to also attend the FIDE Arbiters Seminar being conducted by an all star line-up of senior and experienced FIDE officials giving lectures including Campo who had become Honorary Life President of FIDE, Toti, Ignatius Leong, Merhdad Pahlevanzadeh and Andrzej Filipowicz. To my surprise and Campo's horror I topped the exam well ahead of the many Filipinos attending and I remember well Toti explaining to him the reason was because as a player who has been there I could understand the rules and provide context better than those who were mainly just officials.

Twice before Toti has changed my life, arguably not for the better, and I wonder if third time will be lucky instead!

Stories from the Asian Zonals in Tagaytay

Just five countries are represented at the Zone 3.3 Championships being held in Tagaytay and for many there is a familiar feel to the proceedings with a large delegation from Vietnam and good sized groups from Indonesia and Mongolia comprising most of the usual suspects!

I was told that last year everyone stayed at Character Hotel which is part of the Tagaytay International Convention Centre conplex but this time around only the Philippine players are staying there as the foreign players are instead being put up at the Taal Vista Hotel, the city's oldest and best luxury resort which boasts easily the most stunning views of Taal Volcano and Lake, just a 10 minute walk from the Tagaytay International Convention Centre where the games are held daily.

While there is a barely acceptable 42 players in the open championship, there are  just 16 players in the woman championship which simply means that practically everyone is going to have to meet all their rivals and there will be numerous own country match-ups.

Round four saw big favourites Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Wesley So play each other and in as early as in round three the top women have met and all those in contention amongst them would have played by round five or six! So it will be a story of who drops more points and the willingness of team mates to help might be decisive.

Malaysia of course has no title aspirations and also the smallest representation - just one - but Yeoh Li Tian's participation is being very much appreciated especially with numerous comments being made as to the no show from Singapore despite the organisers having gone out of their way to change the dates to accommodate them. This also hurt participation as many of their top girls had to play for their universities during these dates as was Le Quang Liem also being unable to play as he had already long committed to participation in Gibraltar.

The Major of Tagaytay City, Abraham "Bambang" Tolentino is both FIDE Zone 3.3. President and National Chess Federation of the Phillippines General Secretary and he was truly horrified to see his face on the banner (see photo!) as he is currently campaigning for a seat in their House of Representatives! Within hours there was a brand new banner but I kind of like the original as that is so much more the Philippines!

I have seen so many of the young girls playing for Indonesia and Vietnam growing up in the last 7 years, and to put it as delicately as possible, I should only say that I don't envy their officials having to now deal with so many of them starting to become young ladies. But I think this growing up of kids has always been a challenge that all who are in chess has always struggled with, be it girls or boys.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

International Arbiter!

FIDE has just published the list of titles approved by the 1st quarter Presidential Board 2013 meeting held in Tsakhadzor, Armenia from 19-20 January 2013 and I have been awarded the International Arbiter title.

While I was happy with the FIDE Arbiter title which I earned by topping the exam at the seminar held at the Asian Individual Championship, Cebu, Philippines in 2007, this award comes after having been involved in around 150 international competitions in the last 25 years (including the 24 as Chief or Deputy Chief Arbiter in the four years since I became a FIDE Arbiter and of course organising the five successive KL International Opens and two KL Masters in that time).

In line with my long time policy of doing while others talk, I will now be putting together and conducting the MCF National Arbiters Seminar at the National Age Group Championships in Perak from 1-3 February 2013, and should MCF desire, to also make this available at other national events or for its state affiliates.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Asian Zonal Championships

Young Yeoh Li Tian will be the sole Malaysian representative at the Zone 3.3 Championships to be held in Tagaytay, Philippines from 21-30 January 2012.

This will be the strongest tournament ever for 13 year old Li Tian, with the top two open finishers qualifying for the World Cup to be held in Tromso from 10 August to 5 September 2013, and his participation is very clearly for further exposure to top level competition.

Super GM Wesley So will return from the USA to lead the strong and deep Philippine challenge which will include at least 10 of their other grandmasters, Indonesia's Susanto Megaranto will be back to defend his title, and the top Vietnamese players are expected to provide very serious competition together with and the best of the rest of the region.

I will be accompanying Li Tian to Manila since I have been invited to be a guest of the organisers and also have some unfinished business to look into, so even if I can't help him much before and during play, I will certainly be able to keep him away from any distractions!

The Malaysian chess community I am sure will be joining me in wishing our young talent every success, and with some luck, to even have a chance at making a title norm.

Monday, 14 January 2013

The KL Masters is On!

KLCA will be organising the DYTM Raja Dr Nazrin Shah KL Masters from 12-22 June 2013. It will be a 6 player, double round robin, FIDE title and rating tournament with a mix of legends, GM candidates, and young talents.

Last year's KL Open Champion Sergey Tiviakov has already accepted an invitation to take part and he will be joined by fellow GMs (and legends!) Thomas Luther, Niaz Murshed, and Dr. Wong Meng Kong.

Friday, 4 January 2013

National Age Groups is from 1-3 February 2013

The National Age Group Championships is early this year, from 1-3 February 2013 and to be held at Chancellor Hall, University Teknologi Petronas (UTP) Tronoh, Perak.

Since this this event is used primarily for selection of national representatives to the various international age group championships like the World Youth Championship, Asian Schools Championship, ASEAN Age Group Championships, etc., I think it is not bad at all to be held so early in the year although I would prefer if it was held in December during the long school holidays.

As always, the categories are U-8, U-10, U-12, U-14, U-14, U-16 and U-18, for both open and girls respectively in line with international convention and the time control is a tolerable 45 minutes + 30 seconds time increment from move one.

I think that full details will be out soon on the usual local chess blogs but of course the Malaysian Chess Federation website should be an even more reliable source but on the prospectus I have received, the email contacts are masianchess2010@gmail.com and chess1malaysia@gmail.com, both Attn: Gregoy Lau no later than 25 January 2013 with payment banked to Persatuan Catur Malaysia, AmIslamic Bank, Jalan Raja Chulan Branch, Kuala Lumpur (A/C No. 2111-202-200852-2).