Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Medina Warda Aulia is Indonesia's Youngest WGM!

Medina Warda Aulia is Indonesia's youngest ever Women Grandmaster, achieving her third and final norm at the ongoing World Junior Championship.

Last time around she almost won the championship, ultimately finishing fourth on tie-break and in fact was the leader in Turkey after six rounds till back to back losses pushed her back and essentially end her challenge.

But Medina has shown great strength of character to bounce right back to make the WGM title with one round to go!

I remember first seeing her as a 10 year old winning the World School Championship in Singapore and was privileged to be present as Chief Arbiter to watch her demolish the entire French team and carry her country to victory at the MAKITA Indonesia-France Match last year!

At that time the Indonesia coach, a former Georgian super GM, told me that she was now clearly the best woman player in her country.

Yes Medina is a super talent with the only reservation being she is growing up and sometimes that makes for inconsistency but when it comes together (as is starting to become the norm more and more often) her play is a a real pleasure to watch indeed.

Congratulations Medina! I look forward to seeing you at the Indonesian Open next month!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Big deal indeed: After 15 Years, an Inter State Team Championship!

The Malaysian Inter State Team Championship returned, after 15 long years, and fittingly, to Kota Kinabalu, capital of beautiful Sabah which is celebrating its 50th birthday!

Organised as part of the Sabah Chess Festival which saw numerous supporting events - Sabah Junior Championships, National Arbiter Seminar, Sabah King Blitz and the first ever FIDE Rated Rapid in the Sabah Grande which is ongoing, having started on 15 September.

While the majority of teams arrived on 11 September, a few came a day earlier to have a bit of a holiday and although I managed to beat all of them by coming on the evening of 8 September, it was to conduct the National Arbiter Seminar from 9-10 September, an activity that turned into a three day training program helping prepare the many enthusiastic locals attending to help run the Inter State Team Championships.

On the final day of the Inter State Teams, numerous officials from the Malaysian Chess Federation joined a well represented leadership from the various participating states attending in great show of support for Sabah chess and this was clearly appreciated at the closing ceremony by the Minister of Sport and their City Mayor patron.

These were Kelantan (two teams), Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Selangor, KL, Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Sarawak joined hosts Sabah (four teams) but conspicous by its absence was Penang who with Kedah were the only two states not participating.

We all know some leaders of state associations think that they are by themselves the reason for chess alone and even if KL (and I understand at least one other state too) was approached by many unhappy Penang players to be allowed to play under their banner, I had to decline to help as it would have been hard to defend them against their vindictive self serving state association head (after three terms still a non playing chess parent?) who even clearly stated his sad (and I must say rather pathetic) reasons electronically when asked if Penang would be participating but we already know that is the man.

Going back to chess, I must congratulate the Sabah Chess Association which has the largest number of active and actually working chess officials I have ever seen and everyone would have been impressed by the energy and passion of all, with their President Muammar Jukarain the best example!

In the end the heavily favoured Selangor team emerged winners but like everyone else also suffered defeat, surprisingly badly in the fifth round against a KL team which opted to expose some young talent rather can field a representative national team. KL unfortunately lost their last round match against Perak to finish second on tie-break to and Johor proved to be a worthy third place winner.

But in fact there were no pushovers thanks to the adoption of match scoring which ensured players fought as teams and which gave a lot of room for strategy.

See details at: http://chess-results.com/tnr110741.aspx?lan=1

As Chief Arbiter I did my best to ensure the best playing conditions possible at Masterskill Global College in Likas together with the huge team from the Sabah Chess Association in line with the requirements of a national championship as mandated by the Malaysian Chess Federation while adopting international standards and practices.

Yet there was at least one idiot who really should know better than to believe his own high opinion of himself gives him such special privileges and rights that as a spectator he could enter the playing area, sit down, talk loudly, even read newspapers, and to tell those who ask him to leave that rules did not apply to him because he was the No.1 player.

However, the fact that the event ran smoothly with players wanting for nothing is satisfaction enough and I thank my newly adopted arbiter team (all who passed as National Arbiters) for being excellent students.

Friday, 6 September 2013

At the 9th Asian Schools Championships...

The obligatory Malaysian group photo

Goh Jie Yi was the standout performer amongst Malaysian's participating at the 9th Asian Schools Championships with one gold and two silver medals (which with a little luck could easily have been two golds and one silver).

The rest contributed two more medals, both bronze.

But all this is really nothing to be too carried away about (or even be too disappointed about) as several months ago, recognising where this event really stood in the hierarchy of official international youth competition, I had asked the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) to make this a developmental event where our young players could get their first exposure to or training for international competition but as can be seen the implementation of my proposal has been rather mixed but to be fair the timing of the event was a little difficult for too many to participate.

Kudos for the organisers led by Sri Lanka Chess Federation Hon. Secretary, Zome President and International Arbiter, Luxman Wijesurija, which ran a very good event indeed which was held in an excellent hotel, the very well appointed beach resort Citrus Hikkaduwa where every meal without exaggeration a gastronomic delight.


Originally I had promised to go as an arbiter but then it became an opportunity to work with two young players and I think the major difference of results between the equally talented kids was both the extent of cooperation by parents given during the preparation leading up (so as to be able to take a longer term view) and also the management of priorities and time during the competition itself (sports component).

Going back to Jie Yi, like so many of our talented young players before they pass 11 years of age, the world stands before them, but in the event that really mattered, standard chess, the winner made a runaway 9/9 and in their critical match up the mismatch of their respective comprehensiveness of training and systematic exposure was already in evidence.

Yet Jie Yi, in the event that best measured pure talent, blitz, she was equally dominant with 7/7 and in the Rapid she came up in the middle of a three way tie tiebreak where the rather fortunate winner probably had the biggest success of her life already as she never was in contention subsequently in the standard and blitz chess events.

So there are already lessons for all of us beyond those that the  young talent and her parents will have taken from this event.

One thing that has always disturbed me with our players going for international competition, a point I raised there with Gregory Lau who was in attendance as Head of Delegation, is that MCF allows players to play under the Malaysian flag in international competition without proper preparation (and often without real training) lack alone understanding of what each competition is all about, and perhaps the solution is to begin with well through out and clearly stated objectives. 

The links to results: