Thursday, 20 March 2014

It's Happening with Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific!



The Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia-Pacific (KCFAP) was launched by Garry Kasparov in Singapore on 16 November 2013 and as can be seen on its website, KCFAP has been busy, and can be seen from the article above, has already provided technical assistance to the organisers of the 27th SEA Games that was held less than a month later!

During the launch on the occasion of the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) Awards Dinner, the SCF had received SGD 30,000 (see: http://en.chessbase.com/post/kasparov-visits-singapore-and-thailand), a sum that was apparently given to start a Talent Development program.

Kasparov is going to be making another sweep through the region soon and from what I have heard from my friends in several of the countries he visited earlier, in a very short time he has made major contributions of time, energy (and even provided seed money) to actualise ideas at that are doable, make sense and clear addresses specific local needs, and so big things are happening, beginning with USD 400,000 given by the Macau government for chess in schools!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Countdown to KL Open


We are practically ready to go now, various organising details are now bringing firmed up and the technical team has also now been confirmed and since there is a very limited budget I will have to be the Chief Arbiter, and in return for IO and FA title norms respectively, but also without pay are Amiriul Mohamad as the Tournament Director and Cheong Kok Love serving as a self sponsored Deputy Chief Arbiter!

In what is likely to be the last KL Open (at least not on this scale in the foreseeable future), even without any serious effort to promote the event internationally and with minimal local publicity, the breakdown of participation is as follows:

18 GMs and 18 IMs, 44 titled players, 81 from 86 rated, 20 countries.

The Malaysians include our new National champion and current National Junior champion Fong Yit San, also our first IM Jimmy Liew, nationally third ranked Yeoh Li Tian and National Junior Girls Champion Tan Li Ting.

See more at: http://www.klchess.com/2014_03_01_archive.html#2494868688783252404

Saturday, 15 March 2014

R. I. P. Laurence How - Malaysian Chess Owes You A Lot!


The older chess community will remember Laurence How, founder of the Chess Association of Selangor and former Malaysian Chess Federation Hon. Secretary in the 70's and 80's. He was a prime driver of Malaysian chess in arguably its most successful period.

Sadly in the last month he was battling with cancer and in the last week picked up an ultimately fatal infection with his immune system down after undergoing chemotherapy.

At the moment his family requests for privacy and a quiet funeral in this difficult time for them.

Yeoh Li Tian at HD Bank


Yeoh Li Tian is arguably our brightest young prospect, now nationally ranked No. 3 after breaking the 2300 barrier last year, and his participation in the HB Bank Cup International Open held in Ho Chi Minh City from 10-15 March 2014 was in my mind going to be a barometer of his progress.

Unfortunately his (and his father's) desire to play the strongest possible events this year to confirm his level and to be able to move to a higher level meant he was going to choose between this tournament and the National Closed Championships.

Going to Vietnam meant that if MCF sticks to the rules they have already announced as to national team selection, Li Tian would miss out on qualifying to the Malaysian Masters and so will unfortunately not be part of the Malaysian team at the coming Tromso Olympiad in August.

HB Bank is now in its fourth year and it has never been a very large tournament, usually having less than 40 players participating of which the majority are Vietnamese (but with a couple of strong Chinese players invited), and once again this proved to be the norm.

In the end, Vietnamese superstar (and defending champion) Le Quang Liem's making the trip back from the USA, where he is part of the SPICE program at Webster University, did not end as hoped for by the organisers as their other big talent Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son defeated him and emerged the winner in a trhee way tie-break.


Going back to young Li Tian, besides his actual performance, I was very curious how he would do compared with Singapore's Tin Jinyao and the Philiipine's Paulo Bersamina, both players who have received a lot of hype over the last few years.

Looking at Li Tian's games and the "black and white facts" as shown by the his results against his individual opponents, I have the impression of a player really not very much different than say a year or two ago and I would even argue he has played better.

  
It seems like Li Tian is still not able to compete with the really strong players (and also the professionals able to wait their chance to exploit his limitations) but can easily hold and can even on occasion be able to beat veteran titled players.

But on the plus side, Li Tian is picking up valuable experience and I do hope he is able to review his post tournament games not just with his father and a computer but with also other strong players so that he gets all the right lessons and then knows what he needs to do (and better) to be able to continue to improve. And it is of course nice that he picked up a few more rating points!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Let's Not Kid Ourselves - We Know What The Real Issues Are!

Following what I have learnt about Kirsan (previous post), I have spent a lot of time checking out the campaigns of both parties and now, against the background is what is happening to Ukraine in Crimea, the letter below has been published.

Together with the "right" moves by decent people in chess I am now seeing everywhere, in particular Asia and Africa (where the future of chess must reside in a post Russia (Putin) chess world), change is certainly coming.


Appeal Letter from Government Officials to Baltic Chess Federations

Elections for the next president of FIDE, the International Chess Federation, will take place in August 2014 in Tromsø, Norway. The elections for president of any major sports federation are always extremely important and have a certain political significance, but in the case of the upcoming FIDE elections the political factor is especially salient. In large part, this has been determined by the two contenders for the post: the 13th world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, and the current head of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
Garry Kasparov is not only a legendary chess player who has made a tremendous contribution to the sport’s development, but he is also an individual who has devoted himself to the spread of democracy and freedom around the world. At the end of the Soviet era, he consistently supported the Baltic countries in their fight for independence. Today, Kasparov is one of the leaders of the Russian opposition and a harsh critic of Putin’s authoritarian regime, a regime that has destroyed democratic institutions and human rights in Russia, as well as threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of neighboring states.
His challenger, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, has been the president of FIDE for nineteen years. The former president of one of the republics of the Russian Federation, Ilyumzhinov is an active supporter of Putin’s regime and takes advantage of its support.
In these circumstances, the choice the Baltic countries’ chess federations face in the upcoming elections is not a matter confined to sports, but a political, even civilizational, question. The people of the Baltics long ago made the choice to build their states on the principles of democracy and freedom. Supporting a candidate who relies on the administrative and financial resources of the Kremlin is entirely unacceptable and counter to their national interests. Consequently, we appeal to the heads of the chess federations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to act swiftly to announce their support for Garry Kasparov’s candidacy for the FIDE presidency.
Vytautas Landsbergis – Member of the European Parliament. Chairman of the Supreme Council of Lithuania (1990 – 1992). Chairman of the Seimas of Lithuania (1992, 1996 – 2000)
Artis Pabriks – Member of the Parliament of Latvia. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia (2004 – 2007); Minister of Defence of Latvia (2010 – 2014)
Mart Laar – Prime Minister of Estonia (1992-1994, 1999-2002); Minister of Defence of Estonia (2011-2012)