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!