Monday, 27 May 2013

Winners at the Asian Continental Championships

Congrats to a worthy winner in China's Li Chao. The top five qualify for the World Cup and because Barbosa had already qualified, the top six above are effectively all in!

For the women it was just one place and second seeded Huang Qian took the only qualifying slot on tiebreak ahead of top seeded Chinese compatriot Tan Zongqi.

Malaysia was represented by IM Jimmy Liew (no woman player was interested) and given he also attended the FIDE Trainer Seminar held concurrently, I think a 9-10 point rating loss could even be considered to be a success in such an incredibly strong field!

No doubt he will be telling his reader all about his adventure in his blog in the days to come but the table above would indicate that Jimmy is still too strong for those lower rated than him, that on his day he can hold stronger IMs but those with the GM title are now a little beyond him.

And we must end here by congratulating Jimmy on now also achieving the FIDE Trainer title, joining Mas and Mok who in the last year have also done so, and so that now makes four of us and MCF's job a little easier in introducing a national coaching panel.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Manny Pacquioa Cup Asian Continental Chess Championship Starts

Image19.jpg (1600×1396)

Malaysia is represented by IM Jimmy Liew at the Asian Continental Championships being held in Manila from 17-27 May 2013.

He is seeded 58 from 76 players in a top class field from 14 countries including 26 GMs and 19 fellow IMs and 10 FMs and probably the only good news is that he should be too good for the majority of players ranked below him!

See details at

Friday, 3 May 2013

Of World Championships, Both Men and Women

The very existence of FIDE, the World Chess Federation for those who still do not know this, is owed to the World Chess Championship and its basic reason for existence is completely dependent on it!

FIDE only gained legitimacy when with the death of Alexander Alekhine it ceased to a personal property of the holder, and they took full opportunity to organise a World Championship tournament with all the top players invited, and from which the first of many Soviet World Champions, Mikhail Botvinnik emerged.

Much later, world chess again had a crisis when Gary Kasparov (who if rumour would have it, would be running for FIDE president next year), with the Professional Chess Association, held his own title matches but after a period when we had two championships in parallel, everything became reunited again and in fact, like many, I see the continuing line of Fischer-Karpov-Kasparov-Kramnik-Anand as correct.

But what is certain is that since the time of the Kasparov-Short match, FIDE has chosen to have very strange and every changing ways to determine its World Champion and worst the qualifying process has been largely a lottery too.

Is it money or the people in FIDE? Maybe only God knows!

From what I see, the World Championship Match is too short and the Candidates, if not reverting back to match format should also be longer and if because of too many games being too difficult, then what is wrong to have it in two parts with a break in-between? Maybe in today's fast paced world we have forgetten the huge events of yesteryear where the tournament would go on for months!

It is worst for women chess. They alternate every year between a tournament and a match??? I know the argument that maybe it does not make sense for women to have a separate championship but this is already the same in all sports so such reasoning might only fly when talking about  FIDE player titles such as GM, IM, and FM.

What I find ridiculous is the men do not have to defend a title every year and would not ever agree to such a system.

Something is also very wrong when there is no alignment with its own ranking system, in this case the FIDE rating system. I can understand small differences or a challenger who is one or two places behind others due to a couple of elo points but for the men, Carlsen as challenger is No. 1 on 2868 well ahead of champion Anand ranked No. 5 at 2783 and for the women, Ushenina at No. 19 and 2491, of course a good player but still only ranked No. 2 in Ukraine, is defending her "accidental title" against Hou who at 2617 is a clear and massively stronger No. 1 (amongst women who also play women).

Look at other sports. Have a points ranking system like Tennis or Golf.

In recent weeks there is the flurry of activity to confirm India as the host of the World Championship match based on a promise made by FIDE to give it first right of refusal after taking its better bid away last time around to give it to Russia (who had very conveniently upped their bid once the amounts where known).

Well, everyone knew it was going to be India after Anand retained his title against Gelfand so Carlsen can complain all he likes but if he does not play we should logically see a Anand-Kranmik match (or perhaps even a default) and once again the claer No.1 player is not the world champion (even if he is not now there is a difference because he is able to play for it).

I find this particularly ridiculous because Anand was agreeable to defend his title in Bulgaria against Topalov who enjoyed the full support of his people in his own country and now Ushenina is happy to play Hou in China where a tough match is only going to be so much more difficult.

Yes, it will not be easy to play in India but I think (like too many now) that whatever the conditions, if Carlsen plays anywhere as he can, he will beat an Anand who is now clearly and sadly past his best and who at his age is now making mistakes in games that he never did before and it is not so much he loses much too often but that he is not closing out games often enough. It is also not helping that many of his long serving team is deserting him too.

(My apologies to a great champion I have known since he was 14 years of age and those from my generation might remember that once, so many years ago, when I ran the Selangor Open, Anand came as our guest of honour).

Of course, what a great thing it would be for India to have Anand beat Carlsen in his hometown - they are pulling all stops to help their greatest son - but on the flipside, I cannot imagine how it would be for them to have put up all that money and raised everyone's hopes and instead they witness a passing of the torch from one generation to another.

In chess great World Champions have always stood out. I fear for India but have to welcome the Carlsen era should he decide to start it this year.

National Closed Championships 2013 is Official!

Terengganu is one of my absolute most favourite places in Malaysia and for many months now it had been confirmed that the National Closed Championships would be held there.

Unfortunately there became many problems with dates with the announcement of GE13 and so I am very happy that in the end it is still going to happen although regretfully I will not be able to go as Chief Arbiter as originally planned.

I remember fondly the years I built my entire annual vacation around a drive to the east coast, participating in the Pesta Pantai, hanging our with chessplayers all over Terengganu and Kelantan before, and then, still a bachelor, going off alone to do my 10 days of scuba diving off many different islands including Pulau Kapas of Kuala Terengganu and of course Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian. And in the days when you rented your own fishing boat!

So congratulations is indeed due to Terengganu chess and I trust that with this event and also having one of them in Ghalam Sani returning to chess as their Deputy President (and also a Vice President in MCF) we will once again have Terengganu amongst the most active of our state affiliates.

As before the National Closed will be open to previous winners and each state can send four players and the MSSM and National Junior Champions are also invited.

But the main difference is that all have to register through an MCF state affiliate which will endorse them as their players and while others who do not qualify this way can also apply, besides getting their state affiliates agreement, they have to meet a minimum rating requirement so as not to dilute the quality of the event, a consideration that has taken on greater importance with three qualifiers from the men and four qualifiers from the women now joining the National Team.

Under COS regulations, MCF's membership is the state affiliates and at the AGM it was also unanimously adopted that the states would regulate individual membership, in itself a problem for some in that many are also required to do it via clubs!

So gone now are the days one plays in a National Championship as MCF without needing to be a member of a state affiliate.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

New Hopes?

Encouraging performances by several of our usual young players, although really nothing to really shout about, at the just concluded Selangor Open, was further helped by an SMS forwarded from Greg with some good news and now there are more details at:

In the SMS his mother also confirmed that he will be playing in the National Closed Championships and I will be very curious to see if he and many of our young players who have shown so many flashes of promise can really step it up when it matters.

MCF has made three qualifying places to a preliminary 8 person National Team available from this event and this is their chance!