Thursday, 17 October 2013

A Good & Promising Performance by Aron Teh at IOCC 2013

With Lim Kian Hwa entered as a 'local' player, Aron Teh was officially Malaysia's sole representative at the super strong Indonesia Open Chess Championship 2013.

The above extract from chess results shows our young national champion acquitting himself well and in the process getting 17.5 rating points in the process of beating one and holding one other GM and also three more IMs and one WGM as wll as beating one FM.

But it does not tell the tale of the two IM norm chances missed!

Aron had his first chance in round nine when he had to win and again in round ten when he again had to win. Perhaps he would have played more solidly if the norm was not on offer (like he did in previous games) and maybe would have ended with more points and rating points? Only he can answer that question but to get himself in that position and hold his own, time and again against so many titled players certainly augers well for him.

Well done Aron! As GM Cherniaev told you after the game, just keep playing, the title will come!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Looking Forward to a Great Indonesia Open!

On the 8th of October I will be off to Jakarta for the 3rd Indonesia Open 2013 and am very excited with an event that last year had recognised it was an achievement to repeat for a second successive year and this time around it has already grown to the point where it boasts a record (for this region and even Asia) and total prize fund of USD 100,000!

No wonder there are over 30 GMs already confirmed and there is no doubt in my mind that many more will be coming.

GM Sandro Mareco, GM Avetik Grigoryan, GM Enamul Hossain, GM Vadym Malakhatko, WGM Anna Zozulia, GM Antoaneta Stefanova, GM Nigel Short, WGM Sophie Milliet, WGM Elisabeth Paehtz, GM Hoang Thanh Trang, GM Balogh Csaba, GM Abhijeet Gupta, WGM Eesha Karavede, GM Gopal G Narayan, GM Shyam Sundar M., GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly, GM Sandipan Chanda, GM Vaibhav Suri, GM Ehsan Ghaem Maghami, WGM Nakhbayeva Guliskhan, WGM Dinara Saduakassova, WGM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, GM Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan, GM Tsegmed Batchuluun, GM Ivan Sokolov, GM Eugenio Torre, GM John Paul Gomez, GM Mark Paragua, GM Oliver Barbosa, GM Laylo Darwin, GM Alexander Cherniaev, GM Alexey Dreev, GM Ivan Ivanisevic, WGM Maria Manakova, GM Renier Vasques, GM Dimitri Komarov, GM A.R. Saleh Salem, GM Aleksandr Moiseenko, GM Jaan Ehlvest, Anton Filippov, GM Eduardo Iturrizaga, GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, WGM Pham Le Thao Nguyen, GM Dao Thien Hai, and GM Cao Sang.

Malaysia will be represented by current national champion Aron Teh and hopefully he will be joined by other members of our national team.

As before I will be helping with international media and working with the many local journalists so expect many insightful interviews (besides the usual daily reports) together with the great photography of Kristianus Liem at the special tournament website built in partnership with Chessdom at

It's Official - Mas Hafizulhelmi is Malaysia's No. 1

While some talk about how good they are, Malaysia's best ever player has quietly gone around doing his job and with the latest FIDE rating list published, Mas Hafizulhelmi is again officially our No. 1 player!

Despite playing at half pace, Mas was the easy winner of the prestigious Board 1 prize at the Inter State Teams and at the last major event, the Malaysian Masters, he shared first place with Lim Yee Weng and Aron Teh despite coming right off the exhausting top level KL Masters GM Tournament.

By no means however am I praising Mas... we all know he could do much better. At the point in time he was fully motivated, his rating was in excess of 2460 and today, with inflation taken into account, it would be a rating in excess of 2500 and he is still only in his early 30's.

If we look at the rating list I am alarmed that we have hardly any players 2300 and only 8, including veteran Jimmy Liew is above 2200!

Our IM's are not at 2400 level.

Yee Weng on the back of winning the Malaysian Masters is a little above 2300 while Ronnie's disaster at the same event (despite a decent outing at the Malaysian Open) has brought him under 2300 while we welcome back Jonathan Chuah to the active list!

Li Tian remains one of our very best young prospects even if he has stagnated somewhat in the last year and a half while globe trotting Aron Teh goes from strength to strength and will almost certainly become our next IM and hopefully a 2400+ IM and perhaps even a genuine GM candidate even if it is much too early to talk him up (as Malaysians tend to do!).

Today Malaysia is ranked 85, a steady drop over the years. When we looked to get our first IM there were no so many in Asian and even GMs were a rarity. After Jimmy, Mas was a long time coming but he too was able to compete with the best in our region.

Since then, a long time after, today(!), where the credentials and strength of many GMs are called into question we are still talking about getting a first GM?

Let me share two perspectives: A top GM who was in Malaysia recently noted that if by 18-21 years old a player was not getting to 2650, then is was unlikely he could close in on 2700 and make a good living from chess and this reality I think has been picked up by some other Malaysians already. The other is from someone who bluntly told a group of people that we have to stop measuring progress by getting a mere when it has to be done by looking at how others have also progressed and in relative terms. Don't forget that all the things we complain about is experienced by everyone else too.