Wednesday, 28 January 2015

More Right Than Wrong?

I rarely do this but recently I have been working late every night and so it was a no brainer to keep one of the many live game links to Tata Steel open in my browser.

My analysis/review of chess in 2014 (see was a litle different from most others, not only because I took the trouble to try and identify the underlying challenges for the world of chess and offer solutions (or at least materials for debate) but I also did not consider some things that others raved about to be such a big deal.

As expected, Magnus Carlsen started slowly in Tata Steel but once he started winning it was clear that he would, baring his now usual drop in level towards the end, emerge as the champion.

But to me it was also once again the case of no one quite able to do more rather than Carlsen being dominant and I did expect Wesley So to do as well as he did and even believing that with some luck he could finish on top!

No, its not that I think So is that good already - it is more that he is as good as the others given all have their strengths and weaknesses and he is also certainly as well prepared as anyone.

What was becoming certain is a changing of the guard with the older players largely not going to be able to compete much longer and probably that is more an issue of having less motivation to work like the younger naturally more ambitious players growing up with computers, together with an increasingly diminishing physical ability to sustain hard and long calculation move by move in game after game, all factors that are nullifying their still superior class.

Yes, someone reading this would have now realised I did not place any significance on Fabiano Caruana's 7-0 winning streak in the Sinquefield Cup. (The same reasoning of course applied for the older Alexander Grischuk who actually had a golden period at the end of last year to break 2800 and not just one performance).

Don't get me wrong as Caruana is of course already one of the best players and should get better given his age and total dedication to chess but the same can be said for the many young players who are thereabouts in his rating league like Anish Giri, So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, perhaps even Ding Liren already and there are many equally young not so far away (or arguably already there sans the experience of playing and the opportunity to play such elite events) amongst them of course Yu Yangyi (and perhaps sooner than later the likes of the much younger Wei Yi's).

Live ratings are fun to see as even the monthly official FIDE ratings but as we all know it depends who is playing and what and who is not at that moment (amongst many things!).

So for our further entertainment it is on to the Grenke Chess Classic in Baden Baden, Germany, for young Carlsen and Caruana who together with Levon Aronian are fellow Tata Steel participants and where they will be joined by old man Viswanathan Anand and the not so much younger English No. 1, Michael Adams, a former prodigy but now also veteran Etienne Bacrot, and locals Arkadij Naiditsch and David Baramidze.

Not as strong as Tata Steel but a nice mix and will show only for that moment if I am more right about the young or less wrong with the elders!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

What A Joke

Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or to cry... for me it is now always the former with MCF.

Today I found some time and dropped by GACC (Grand Asian Chess Challenge?) being held at Universiti Malaya (MU) to fulfil an appointment made with some foreign friends participating and I was well and truly shocked how bad the event was.

Yes, it is a long standing competition started by chess enthusiasts at MU but now as my friends there put it, a dying event having been reduced to a mixed swiss tournament?

I don't blame the students organising, from what I saw they were hardly chess players and clearly lacked not only guidance but despite the MCF President apparently recently named as its Pro Chancellor (how low MU has now fallen!) there has been clearly no effort on his part to help this event but then again that is what he has always been all about.

(For the record I thanked GACC for but declined an invitation to the official closing dinner)

Then by accident I clicked on an old link later today and saw to my surprise that the long untouched MCF website (see actually had an update!

Yes, no less than Yeap Joo Hock had apparently taken on the job of being MCF webmaster or perhaps he felt that the news was so important someone had to do it and it was about the very same MCF President being appointed FIDE VP for South East Asia Chess Development.

Immediately I remembered in Tromso last August how Tan Sri (with Greg doing his running) was trying to get illegally elected ASEAN Chess Confederation (ACC) President by going around for signatures from delegates (failing miserably of course) notwithstanding the ACC meeting and elections was in June of this year.

For his trouble and for voting against his own Deputy President and Hon. Secretary whom he endorsed earlier at the Asian Chess Federation (ACF) elections, Tan Sri was apparently rewarded with an appointment to the position of Vice President but there is sadly (for him) no record of this important achievement on the ACF website.

ACF instead lists a Board of Directors, its FIDE Executive Board Members, and Zone Presidents.

I have many friends in ACF, many are real chess people and know that a united Asia is stronger with FIDE and they clearly wish the current ACC leadership well and are also supportive.

However I am also sure ACF would have found many VP positions to give away to try and make all happy and that most certainly the MCF President is not a FIDE Vice President (Some in FIDE was a little shocked when I asked) but does Tan Sri know the difference or is Yeap confused too or just misinformed?

Still, VP whatever, in charge of South East Asia Development? Perhaps Greg should tell him to start with doing something tangible in a nice country he lives in called Malaysia. Like pay the arrears instead of finding yet another Deputy to use?

Or at least to learn to play chess.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Anyone For Chess In Pattaya?

Earlier I had already posted on the 15th Bangkok Open from 12-19 April 2015 in Pattaya (see and now I have read that Thailand will also be hosting the World Schools Championships from 6-15 May 2015 and this will also be in Pattaya!

For full details please go to

What surprised me is that the venue is the same as the now home of the Bangkok Open, the well appointed five (arguably six) star Dusit Thani Pattaya, and the rates reflect this even if it is still a bargain all things all and with meals included.

It would be chess but I think also sun and sand!

School Holidays International Youth Chess Galore in Singapore!

It just got better! After posting about the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships from in  8-17 June 2015 in Singapore I noticed that they are also organising the Asian Schools Championships, from 30 May to 8 June 2015, so just before and also coinciding with the school holidays!

That is a lot of chess! But for many of our chess mad kids, probably not at all a problem should they have the chance to play in both.

However it should be noted that the ASEAN+ is played in categories from U-8 to U-20 while Asian Schools is from U-7 to U-17 and so with the National Age Group Championships played from U-8 to U-18 together with minimum national ratings being currently used as the official basis for selection, it is questionable if that system can properly (equitably) apply to determining participation in the Asian Schools.

Probably a challenge too far indeed for an MCF with practically no money, too many vested interests, and which is very technically limited.   

16th ASEAN+ Age Group Championships 2015

The 16th ASEAN+ Age Group Championships will be held from 8-17 June 2015 in Singapore.

Very good new indeed for our young chessplayers as it is being organised during the school holidays and right next door and apparently very affordable too.

So no need this time for a rebate to be given to parents even if pocketed instead by Gregory Lau on top of the administrative fees he charges and which I understand does not go direct into the MCF account (but even if it does it apparently still gets rerouted to the bank account of "his assistant").

I am confident that the arrears due to FIDE will be settled by then and our suspension lifted, after all it is not so much that there is an election AGM due in April (who actually cares?) but Malaysia's participation in youth events is together with the charging for local ratings done by Lim Tse Pin are both core services that should be free, and yet is the main business of these in MCF other than the periodic selling our vote for personal gain during FIDE election time.  

Hopefully we will this time not see the usual inconsistency with selection of players for the ASEAN+ and this is the only part of the sad story above I am concerned with as our young players should be encouraged and supported, not made the victims of the pettiness, business and politics we have too often now being seeing.   

Monday, 19 January 2015

R.I.P. Ahmad Fadzil Nayan

In a much happier time not so long ago when we were all together in Kazan at the Summer Universiade Games 2013.

What is there to say? - Fadzil was a great guy - he got along with everyone, tried to help others the best he could and was completely dedicated to chess.

Malaysian chess will miss him, in his short time he had already made his mark in our history with his success in winning the Asian Amateur Championships and had become a full fledged international by being part of the national team at the Tromso Olympiad 2014.

I am sure he is playing chess now with a very big smile on his face.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Malay Mail Online: Chess Highlights of 2014

In Arrears... Again!

Federations in ArrearsPrint
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 09:36
official logo
In accordance with decisions of Presidential Board in Sochi FIDE publishes the list of Federation in Arrears.

Until the arrears have been paid off, players from these Federations cannot participate in any FIDE events that are under the aegis of
a) the World Championship & Olympiad Commission or Events Commission,
b) Continental competitions that provide qualifiers to any of the aforesaid competitions.

The list will be regularly updated.
4Comoros Islands
7Dominican Republic
9El Salvador
29Puerto Rico
30Sao Tome & Principe
31Solomon Isles
32South Africa