Saturday, 29 November 2014

Special Treat from Mandalay

The "Bugs" arrived in time for the rest day - a very special treat for the 2600+ GMs

Monday, 24 November 2014

GM Zaw Win Lay Memorial Begins

Started with numerous interviews...

...also with local players

The Masters of Ceremonies got ready...

...then the VVIP makes his speech

All in a row...

...before making the Opening Moves!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Beyond Yangon...

I arrived early in Yangon for the GM Zaw Win Lay Memorial Myanmar International Open and was picked up at the airport by organiser Maung Maung Lwin, also the President of the Myanmar Chess Federation.

Dinner was a very nice Myanmar traditional meal before checking in at the Central Hotel and there was Sergei Tiviakov who had beaten me to get to Yangon by several hours and so after introductions a little late night drive to see the sights followed by drinks at a floating hotel down by the riverside was in order.

The next day with Tiviakov as a most agreeable sightseeing companion started with the obligatory and must see visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, a massive complex in the heart of Yangon which easily ranks as one of the wonders of the world.

Even with the annual refurbishing ongoing it is always a pleasure to visit Shwedagon although it was a little more difficult than normal to get there with traffic in the city had now having reached Bangkok levels and this time around I also popped over to see the nearby and largely unattended Ne Win Pagoda which was so very typical of the memorials erected by "strongman leaders" in history.

A very pleasant time followed in the National Kantawgyi Gardens followed and then the Zoo which Tiviakov insisted on going to turning out to be a real treat, very well organised and maintained (and best of all the animals still friendly!).

The next day we took up the suggestion to go a little out of town, beyond the river to the ancient kingdom of Thanlyin with the highlights being the visit to the amazing Kyauktan Yele Pagoda only accessible by boat and the Kyaik Khauk Pagoda which played an important part in the life of numerous (18!) Myanmar Kings throughout their rule.

Now the chess will soon start, and on the way back while dropping by the offices of the Myanmar Chess Federation located in the Traditional Games section of the National Stadium Complex I saw a hive of activity with numerous chess players engaged in blitz but which I understood had nothing to do with the tournament and which went on day and night all year around!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Competing Events in the Philippines (and Elsewhere)?

The year end local school long holiday period is starting to get rather crowded for chess enthusiasts!

My readers will know that the Myanmar Open, now renamed the GM Zaw Win Lay Memorial International Open, will be from 23-30 November and will be followed by two international Opens in Malaysia.

Those are of course the Johor Open from 1-6 December and the Penang Open from 8-12 December .

However not too many might be aware that the Philippines has recently also announced two big international opens, Philippines Cup from 5-12 December and then the PSC Chairman's Cup from 14-21 December, back to back events in Quezon City that overlap with what we are having locally in the same time frame.

Of course the core audience is not the same, the real different being that the numerous Filipino professionals will be forced to choose between the easy pickings in Malaysia or the much stronger opposition to test themselves with back home together with hopes of even bigger prize winnings.

I have already mentioned that the Asian Juniors will be held in Tagaytay from 28 November to 5 December, dates clearly chosen to dovetail into participation into their two Quezon City International Opens even if I believe less so about the players than the fact the on the ground organising team will be largely drawn from the same people.

But perhaps of more interest to locals is the Asian Amateur & Senior Championships held from 5-12 December in Colombo, Sri Lanka but again that means giving both Johor and Penang a miss.     

Malay Mail Online: Malaysia At The World Seniors

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

No Transparency in MCF Rent Seeking

In my earlier post "All Must Go" I expressed my disgust with Tan Sri and gave specifics of my own experience with his boy Greg, also I said that the rest of the MCF Council was doing nothing and so had no business holding office.

Let me put it more bluntly to those in MCF: Get rid of Tan Sri and put an end to all this endless nonsense that is going on or accept that you allow it and so are part of the problem.

I was very involved in the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships in Macau earlier this year and in two distinct capacities, the first being responsible to coordinate and help organise the supporting events and the second, because many KLCA members were represented.

So it was no surprise that eventually a copy of the following email got sent to me, something that absolutely confirms and proves again that everything I say is true and yes, I also have official standing in this matter.

Dear Tan Sri & MCF Council Members
During the recent Malaysian Chess Festival, the Organizers of the 15th 
ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship
held in Macau from 3rd - 12th June mentioned that there was a rebate 
given to all participants from Malaysia
amounting to US$ 4,320.00 (x3.4 = RM 14,688). This money was to be given 
back to the participants, but up to
now, no refund has been made to anybody.

Some parents approached me to speak to MCF about this. I attach the 
documents concerned for your information Tan Sri.
Appreciate a reply from MCF, so that the participants for the event can 
be advised accordingly.

Thank you, Tan Sri


Cc. All MCF Council Members

Several of the parents whose kids qualified to go either via rating requirement or through performances at the National Age Groups under KLCA have also since spoken to me and given this is now on record as per the email I will wait for MCF's response before officially writing in as KLCA although I can already guess at what is already going on.

1. Tan Sri is probably irritated that Hamid sent the email, missing the point that it is about money being taken or kept that does not belong to MCF let alone Greg who made the arrangements and was there early as Head of Delegation.

2. Greg has probably told Tan Sri the administrative fees he collected from each of the 50 or so attending (I am right that it is then RM 200 x 50 = RM 10,000) was insufficient and that he needed to use the rebate. He probably claimed he had to pay for hotel for him and various MCF officials, etc. Again that is not the point, that rebate money was not budgeted and certainly not given for this use. Probably, based on my observations of his usual modus operandi, Greg likely even demanded this rebate for himself with the hidden threat of MCF pulling out its players.

3. Now let me explain as part of the main organising team that every Federation was given a free room, no one asked Greg to come early with a female assistant and have to take another room and I have not checked but almost certainly Greg did not spend a cent on his room. As for other MCF members, I understand that the then MCF Treasurer came to attend the ASEAN Chess Confederation meeting so she would have gotten a free room and if talking about the then Secretary, as member of the ticket he was hosted as part of Kasparov Team Asia meetings.

I would sometimes want to feel sorry for Greg given the type of leadership we have in MCF but the fact is that he chooses to live this way and yet is so arrogant despite being dependent on his appointed position in MCF.

Bottom line is should someone (who I wonder and will the meeting even have a quorum?) raise this serious matter at the next MCF Council meeting it would likely either be brushed aside by Tan Sri and/or all would all find it easier to accept Greg's lying explanation again.

Which would then prove my argument that "All Must Go". I hope that for once I am wrong!

Zaw Win Lay Myanmar International Open 2014 Update

Finally I have gotten the interim list of foreign players (paid up?) from the organisers and have uploaded to

Two Malaysians are going - Justin Ong and Dilwen Ding - I also understood Mok Tze Ming was also playing but his name is not on the list of players I received but who knows, he has a lot of business dealings there.

Unsurprisingly quite a few Thais will be there and surprisingly is the large number from Singapore.

Including Nguyen Doc Hua whose GM title was just confirmed by FIDE, there are now a total of 11 GMs (Two are 2600+) and over 50 rated players. Around another 50 unrated locals will swell the already impressive number of entries.  

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Asian Junior Championships to be in Tagaytay, Philippines in Two Weeks!

I just noticed the following email and doubt very much that our current National Junior Champions Fong Yit San (open winner) and Tan Li Ting (girls winner) have been told yet by the Malaysian Chess Federation.

Press Release

The Asian Chess Federation shall organize the Asian Juniors and Girls Championships from 28 November (arrival) to 5 December (departure) 2014 hosted by Tagaytay City, Philippines.

Entitled to participate are chess players from the federations in Zones 3.1 to 3.7 who shall not have reached the age of 20 by January 1st 2014.

Attached are the regulations.

The tournament was originally scheduled 21-29 November 2014 in Shandong,China which had to withdraw at this late date. FIDE Secretary General Abraham Tolentino graciously agreed to assist to ensure that this developmental junior competition is held within the year 2014.

Casto Abundo
Executive Director
Asian Chess Federation

A quick look at the FIDE website sees no front page announcement as yet to this "Press Release" made to National Chess Federations in Asia and the official FIDE Calendar has not been updated too. Not even the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) website!

Well, to be fair, all very sudden - the event is in a little over two weeks time! (Typical of how FIDE and ACF operates).

The question is whether Yit San will take this opportunity given he has probably already planned to play the Johor Open 1-6/12 (it does not clash with the probably stronger Penang Open 8-12/12) but I understand that there will be the Philippine Cup 5-12/12 in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

He has not done well since Tromso Olympaid, a very so so result at the Malaysian Open followed by a disaster at the World Junior Championships. But he should still take the chance and play as this is his last year in the junior ranks and the competition with his younger (and older) peers is not going to get any easier.

Even less certain is Li Ting who opted out of playing the World Junior earlier in India, probably happy enough to be a Juara Kampung via Malaysian Masters and was then easy winner of Asian Schools so others eligible might want to apply to play.