Tuesday, 31 December 2013

FIDE Ratings - MAS - January 2014

Sensibly deciding to have a quiet evening at home on New Years Eve, I just noticed that FIDE has published the FIDE Rating Lists for January 2014.

Thanks to their participation in Asian Cities, we already know that our current No. 1 Nicholas Chan has now been back as an active player while young No. 3 Yeoh Li Tian took the opportunity to get past 2300!

Sandwiched between them is No 2. Mas Hafizulhelmi who braved India and returned with 10 points less.

Masters champion Lim Yee Weng (No. 4) has no rated events since winning while his fellow national team members Ronnie Lim (No. 5) and Ng Tze Han (No. 7) have played both the Malaysian Open and Penang Open.

After enjoying an almost uninterrupted series of good results and often commendable performances, young National champion Aron Teh had his first (small) ratings set back at the World Youth Championship but remains No. 8 ahead of veteran Jimmy Liew on No. 9.

By virtue of participation, respectively, Jonathan Chuah (No. 6) in the Malaysian Open, and Marcus Chan (No. 10) in the Penang Open, their ratings have also been activated.

I have kept to the top 10 as it is not that our amateurs have such high ratings and also very conveniently it cuts off as 2200+ so my apologies to several of our best young players like Lim Zhouren, Fong Yit San and Wong Jianwen, all who if remember correctly are also part of the current national team.

I have of course no forgotten our women, Tan Li Ting still at No. 1 despite also braving India and with Nur Nabila Azman Hisham a close No. 2.

Fong Mi Yen who plays only occasionally is No. 3. and it the last of our 1900 girls.

Their fellow national team members Nur Najiha Azman Hisham, Puteri Rifqah Fahada Azhar and Masters champion Camilia Johari are Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

No. 7, Lee Yin Lee was our best player at the Summer Universaide while in No. 8 is Renitha Naravanan.

Why top 8 and not top 10? Well, our women's ratings are pretty low and to look lower than 1800 I think would make it an even worst exercise.

For example, a couple of years back our girls were competing (although admittedly a little worst) against their counterparts in the region but the likes of WGM Medina Warda Aulia, WIM Chelsie Monica Shite and WFM Dewi Citra are now 2300+, 2200+ and 2100+ (see http://ratings.fide.com/topfed.phtml?tops=1&ina=1&country=INA) and it is the same if we wish to compare with Vietnam (see http://ratings.fide.com/topfed.phtml?tops=1&ina=1&country=VIE) while the even girls that would represent the Philippines in the same age groups would be 2000+ (see http://ratings.fide.com/topfed.phtml?tops=1&ina=1&country=PHI).

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Malaysians at the World Youth Chess Championships 2013

For me, the results of our representatives at the World Youth Chess Championship that just concluded in Al Ain is confirmation once again that we are a amateur chess nation and that we should be happy with this and perhaps for the Malaysian Chess Federation to accept it as reality and perhaps to start to plan accordingly.

I (and many others) have for several years now provided an analysis which showed how as our kids grow up they become less and less competitive on the world stage and that is fair enough given that all kids are bright with unlimited potential at an early age and over time various environmental factors begin to kick in (especially school demands not to mention growing up distractions such as computer games and social media).

And I am not going to talk about the need for systematic coaching with the right trainer.


Our current national champion and co-winner of the Malaysian Masters is Aron Teh and if hype would have it, great things would be expected at the World Youth Chess Championships. But luckily sanity prevailed (at least in his family) and this young 15 year old work in progress opted to push up and play in the  U-18 open where IM norm chances would have been greatest. In the end, with 2272 starting ranked 53 and finishing 44th with 6/11 was not bad at all (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119502.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=53).

We had one other representative playing U-18, but in the girls section, and rated 1694 and ranked 72 she finished 73 with 4.5/11 and I congratulate this young lady for keeping up her interest in chess at her age while at the same time also wondering about her level of competitiveness.


Only one player, rated 1580 and ranked 146 in the U-16 Open, 3.5/11 resulted in 151st place.

U-14 & U-12

At U-14 level, for me always the benchmark if a young player would have matured and show his or her potential, we had one boy and two girls, one of which has in the last year been on the fringes of senior national team selection but always falling short. Nithya's score was 6/11, placing her in 46th place, a big improvement from her initial ranking of 63 based on a 1705 rating (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119453.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=63). The other girl probably had no business being there at 1164 and ranked 109, her final score of 3.5/11 giving her 112th position.

The boy on 1803 was seeded 107 and finished with 5.5/11, enough for 91st place.

Equally one must pay careful attention to our U-12 representatives, usually where the results of our young talents who shown earlier begin to decline (even if the sometimes have their last hurrahs), two well known, almost veteran(!) players from Penang who have had extensive exposure and so always been amongst the top locally in their respective age groups took part and their results showed that both with 6/11 to finish, respectively Yinn Long 67th in open when ranked 77 on 1824 (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119508.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=77) and De Zen 54th in girls section when ranked 60 on 1621 (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119454.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=60).

U-10 & U-8

Now to the U-10s and U-8s where almost all our excitement (and hopes) over the years have come from and we have a mix of very serious young talents and wannabes, many who have been and are extremely well supported in their chess by either well heeled and/or fanatical parents (of course nothing is wrong with that)!

Very young players cannot be criticised - we don't know their ultimate motivations in chess are and all should be encouraged to continue to enjoy the game even if the World Youth Chess Championship is a serious competition.

In U-10 open, our best two young players took part, the older Jun Ying at 1710 ranked 43 with 7/11 finishing 33rd (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119506.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=43) and the younger Lik Zang on 1609 ranked 65 with 5.5/11 finishing 91st (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119506.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=65). One other also played, supported by his father-player-coach and at 1587 ranked 70 ended up 106th.

U-10 girls section also saw the very active Jia-Tien on 1453 ranked 48 score 5.5/11 to finish 64th (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119456.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=48) while the daughter of the same father-player-coach and her friend, with 4.5/11, ended up 107th and 108th.

Finally we had three representatives in U-8 open, all bright sparks and two with 5/11 were 100th and 110th respectively while the youngest at just 6 years of age got 4/11 and placed 147th.

So in conclusion, no one in top 30, most thereabout their ratings and rankings (especially those with lots of exposure), and a few who were perhaps not ready. And a little worryingly, no heros yet in the lower age categories that have in past years provided Malaysian chess with buzz.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Saying Goodbye to 2013 and Looking Forward to 2014!

Gens Una Sumus

I am looking forward for a 2014 more like what I have enjoyed in previous years barring a 2013 that instead became one of constant and often unpaid national service.

First up was to develop and conduct a National Arbiter Course at the National Age Group Championships in February, something which I repeated at the Inter State Team Championships in September.

In March/April, against my better judgement I also accepted appointment to Head the MCF Technical Committee and by June/July I was more than happy to give up that position together with that of FIDE Delegate.

Of course one key initiative was the organising, sponsorship and running of a revamped Malaysian Masters, a round robin FIDE rating and title tournament where our women were not forgotten. Then it was hoped that the design of the championship would introduce a new chapter for Malaysian chess - transparency in national team selection, proper training and support for our national players and targets set for and by professional team management for major events.

Along the way I turned down the chance to be at the Asian Indoor Games in Incheon and also the Myanmar SEA Games.

However I did agree to support KPT chess and join the team for the Summer Universaide in Kazan.

Besides the Malaysian Masters, I also served as Chief Arbiter for two MCF national events in two places I never expected to go to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for the above mentioned Inter State Teams and more recently at the start of December in Johor Bahru for the National Junior Championships, both places where the wonderful hospitality often puts city folk to shame.

So for 2014, so far I have agreed to again be at the Bangkok Open in April (no-brainer when held in Bangkok!) and should things work out in Brunei for an international event to be held just before I might have the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places again.

It has been a long time since I have attended an ASEAN+ Age Group Championships and with the next edition in Macau, I will certain try to make the school break work and also make it to Hong Kong and Disneyland!

And of course I hope that Indonesia will have use for my services and continue to invite me to their fantastic Indonesian International Open Championship!

2014 is also an Olympiad year, albeit with a FIDE election, and the timing could not be better for Norway with Magnus Carlsen becoming World Champion. Equally intriguing is finding the time and money to be at the World Youth Championship to be held in South Africa. (And if KPT asks I would not easily decline joining a team at the World University Championships in Poland!).

Christmas in Hanoi

Enjoying a day out in the park with two of my very best friends in Vietnam, GM Nguyen Ang Dung and IM Nguyen Van Hai.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Last in SEA Games?

Oops, Singapore with two players, and newcomers Laos also took part... but it also seems that Brunei and Cambodia did not make it.

More pertinent perhaps is that it seems that in all forms of standard chess, the professionals of VIE, PHI and INA are clearly ahead of the rest and that MAS and SIN, perhaps now also being joined by rapidly emerging THA and MYA, are in the second group.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Birthday and Blitz in Brunei

I was honoured to be a guest at the birthday celebration hosted by GM Tahir Vakhidov and it was double the reward when despite not remembering when I last played chess, I somehow managed to stumble to first place at the Sunday blitz (final event of the year) held later that day at the Brunei Chess Centre.

Friday, 6 December 2013

National Juniors - Yit San and Li Ting retain their Titles

Heavily favoured defending champions Fong Yit San and Tan Li Ting lived up to their seedings to easily emerge as repeat winners at the National Junior Championships held at the 35th Floor of City Square in downtown Johor Bahru.

Neither had any real trouble but Li Ting perhaps went one up on Yit San by winning a round to spare as opposed to his one point cushion!

I was very impressed by the talent from Johor (even if they are at the start of a long journey) as they have a promising future because it is clear things are beginning to pick up down south with so many of their young players enthusiastically analysing their games together after each round while their more experienced competitors from the rest of Malaysia largely prefer to waste their time playing computer games.

On paper their was a possibility that one or two others would make a breakthrough but largely that did not happen.

Whatever their current limitations, more than anyone else (and one reason why they are champions), Yit San and Li Ting clearly understood that they were playing to do a job and so, besides retaining their titles and winning the prize money, they will have the right to represent Malaysia at both the ASEAN Age Group U-20 and World Junior Championships in 2014.

(For boys results, see http://chess-results.com/tnr117795.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=9&wi=821 and for girls results, see http://chess-results.com/tnr117794.aspx?lan=1&art=1&rd=9&wi=821)

The event was made possible by the generosity of Johor Chess Association President Frank Goon and wonderfully organised by their Honorary Secretary Steven Cheong Kok Love who was assisted by an enormously committed team, two standouts amongst many being Eddy Kwan Nam Seng and Jonas Tan Kok Liang.

I can say this because despite being a FIDE rated event, this turned out to be essentially a holiday for me as Chief Arbiter.

Steven Cheong also proved to be an expert in finding some very good places to eat!

Was also greatly honoured after the opening ceremony with lunch with Mr Goon and his management team and then getting a personal briefing of their many projects, and more importantly for chess a commitment was also made to further support the Johor Chess Association, so fingers crossed, perhaps 2014 will also see a Johor International Open!