Sunday, December 20, 2009

Malaysian Masters Finals, Results

Mas has proven his number one status in Malaysia, winning the Finals against Nicholas Chan with a convincing 3.5-0.5 result.

Mas won the first two games then drew the third. In the fourth game, Nicholas needed to win to get back in the match but went down again for this third loss.

Personally I am quite surprised at the level that Nicholas was playing in this match. Earlier, I had said I expected Nicholas to win as he is the fresher man in this match but Nicholas played at a very much lower level than his rating suggests.

Congratulations to the winner who takes home RM4000 for this win, while the loser still pockets RM2000, not a bad pay day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Asian Team Championship 2009

There is not much news about this event which will start tomorrow 20th December till 29 December 2009 in Kolkota, India. Our Malaysian Chess Federation is strangely silent on this and with the current Malaysian Masters Final still on-going, it is certain that Malaysia is not participating.

It will not be the first time that Malaysia is not participating. It is a pity since this event was first organized in 1974 in Malaysia. The challenge trophy is named after our former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak.

I remember this tournament well as in 1974 it was held in the Dewan Sri Pinang in Penang. As young boy I was recruited to assist in the tournament. My job was to take down the moves of two boards and pass the moves to a runner. The runner's job was to bring the moves to the operators of the demonstration boards outside the tournament hall. It was the best job I had in my life and I still cannot believe I was actually paid to do it!

Malaysian Masters Finals, Game 2

Nicholas Chan - Mas

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 Bb4 4. Qb3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Nd4 6. Qd1 O-O 7. e3
Quite an unusual move order in this English Opening. Early queen move to b3 without first stopping ...Nd4. The e-pawn is not well placed here. White will need to move the e-pawn again to bring this queen bishop out.

7...Bxc3 8. bxc3

Now 8...Nc6 9. e4 we get back to a more common position in the English.

8...Ne6

This is an unusual place for the knight. Black wants to put the knight on c5 and entice white to play d4 weakening the c-square.

9... Qe7 10. Ne2 Nc5 11. d3 Qd6 ?!

Surely Mas did not think that Nicholas dropped a pawn?

12. d4 Ncxe4

Others are equally bad, both 12...Na6 and 12.. Ne6 are answered with 13. f4 and white wins a pawn with a very strong position (13...exd4 14. e5 wins a piece)

13. Qc2 Nxf2 14. Kxf2 Ng4+ 15. Ke1 Re8 16.Qf5

The point is that 16. h3 exd4 threatens ..d3 forking queen and knight. So Nicholas moves his queen away. But black still complicates with 16...exd4 anyway. 17. Qxg4 d3 wins back the piece and opens the e-file.

The best plan is to drive the black queen from the d-file with 16. c5. Now 16...Qa6 17 h3 and black has no tactical replies as 17...exd4 is answered with the simple 18. cxd4.

16...exd4 17. Bd5? Nf6 18. cxd4 c6 19.Bf3 Qxd4 20.Rb1 Qxc4

Black already have compensation for the piece due to the inaccurate white moves on 16th and 17th.

21.Bb2 d5 22. Qf4 Ne4

Black threatens ...Qc2 and with the white pieces totally disorganized, white is helpless.

23. Rc1 Qxa2

Black has five (!) pawns for the piece and white's king caught in the center. Mas will go two up.

24. Bh5?

Nicholas hopes for some counter play and to capitalize on Mas shortage of time. 24...g6 25. Bd4 gxh5 26. Qh6 and now 26...f6 27. Qxh5 Bd7, its time to prepare for the next game

24. Bd4 also loses to some neat tactics, 24..c5! 25 Bxc5 Qa5+ forks the bishop and king. Or 25. Rxc5 Nxc5 27. Bxc5 Rxe2+! 28. Bxe2 Qa1+ 29. Bd1 Qc3+ forks again.

24...Be6 25. Rf1 Qxb2

0-1


So Mas leads two points to nil. Since this is a six game match, it is still not over, lots of things can happen in four games.

Personally, I think that Nicholas strategy of pressuring Mas on time is correct. Unfortunately for him, he is making more mistakes from playing too fast.

Nicholas is known for his blitz skills. In fact he won an online blitz tournament before ahead of many grandmasters a few years ago. But in the two games played so far, he has yet to demonstrate this tactical ability.

So will Nicholas continue this strategy or try to match Mas with some real chess?
Not easy especially when he needs to win two games to level the match.

Malaysian Masters Finals, Game 1

IM Mas Hafizulhilmi- FM Nicholas Chan

1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 Nf6 4.Bb5+ Bd7 5.Bxd7+ Qxd7 6.c4 e6 7.Qe2 Bd6 8.d3 0-0 9.dxe6 fxe6 10.Nf3 Nc6 11.0-0 Rae8 12.Nc3 e5

A standard position arises which I remember Mas has faced before. White gains a pawn at the cost of weaknesses on d3, d4 and e3.

13.f5
This effectively gives back the pawn. White closes the e-file to avoid his weaknesses getting worse.

Nd4 14.Qd1 Nxf5 15.Bg5 Ng4

I will take black's position any day.

16. Qd2 ?! Nd4

Why not 16...h6. That is not easy to answer 17. Bh4 maybe losing to 18....e4 19. dxe4 Bxh2+ or 19. Nxe4 Nxh4 with ...Bxh2 to follow.

Nd4 17Ne4 Be7 18 Bxe7 Qxe7 19 Rae1

Position is equal, so black has solved his opening problem.

Nxf3+ 20.Rxf3 Rxf3 21.gxf3 Nh6 22.f4 exf4

Blunder or sacrifice? 23. Nf6+ wins the exchange



I had to go out for a few hours already the game is over as predicted.

23. Nf6+ Qxf6 24. Rxe8+ Kf7 25. Re4 g5 26. h4

Black will not have a chance to maintain his king-side structure

Nf5 27. hxg5 Qxg5+ 28. Qg2 Qh4 29.Re2 Kf6 30.Qxb7 Qg3+ 31.Qg2 Nd4 32. Rf2 Kg5?

33...Qe3 maintain queens is better

33. Kf1 33 Nf5 34. Qf3 h5 35. b4 Qxf3 36. Rxf3 Kg4?

Don't understand. Is cxb4 not better?

37. Rf2 Ne3+ 38. Ke2 Kg3 39. bxc5

White can win more decisively with 39. Rf3+ Kg5 40 Rxe3 fxe3 41. bxc5 as he queens on c8 with check.

39... Nf5 40. Rf3+ Kg4 41. Rf1 h4 42. Kf2 Nd4 43. Rg1+ Kf5 44. Rg7 h3 45. Rxa7 Nc6 46. Rh7 Kg4 47. Rh6 Ne5 48. c6 Nxd3+ 49. Ke2 1-0


An unfortunate blunder costs Nicholas this first game.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Malaysian Masters Finals, Pre-match Analysis

After months of matches, the eight contestants are now down to two. Mas will face-off against Nicholas Chan. Winner has bragging rights as the best Malaysian chesser, at least for 2009 (let's hope we can see a second edition in 2010).

This event proves that the juniors still have a lot to catch up with our seniors. Both National Master Evan Capel and National Junior Tariq Amru were shown the door in their first match.

Mas had a tougher time to the finals. Although he beat Tariq Amru easily, he was really stretched against "Tiger" Mok Tze Meng who took the match to the rapid tie-breaks. Mas was literally a move away from being eliminated when Mok hung a rook in a completely winning position. Mas just needed a draw in the next game which he managed without difficulty.

Quarter-finals bt Tariq Amru 3-0
Semi-Finals bt Mok Tze Meng 3.5-1.5 (tie-breaks)

Nicholas had an easier route to the finals. After beating Evan, he did not have difficulty showing Yee Weng the door.

Quarter-finals bt Evan Capel 3-0
Semi-Finals bt Lim Yee Weng 2.5-0.5

Prior to this, Mas has played many tournaments without much success. His last two were the Vietnam Open where he was 10th and the Commonwealth Open in Singapore where he finished 11th. I think the number of tournaments have been taking a toll on him.

Nicholas have not been playing much apart from winning the Selangor Open Champion this year and playing a few games in the DATCC Chess League and the Merdeka Team championships.

If I were to compare the styles for these two players, Mas is a more technical and rounded player. Nicholas is a tactician and blitz king and Mas has never been comfortable with someone who plays fast.

Who do I think will win? I pick Nicholas to win this match. Maybe my readers might find this surprising. There are few reasons for me to pick Nicholas.

Mas has been chasing a GM norm for a while now without success. When you are in his situation, you need to take a break, study your games thoroughly and evaluate why he is in the position he is in. I am willing to bet, Mas had many good or winning games in all these tournaments, which he spoiled at some crucial moments, possibly because of time trouble. He needs time to fix this and he is not in the best frame of mind to go into an important six game match with a dangerous tactical player. Besides he must be exhausted by now.

The finals starts tomorrow Saturday 19th December 2009 at 10:30 AM at the usual venue which is DAT Chess Centre. I might be following the games sporadically.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Singapore Chess Festival 2009 Final Ranking

The Singapore Chess Festival 2009 is over. The main event, Commonwealth Championship has gone to a local Singapore, Enrique Paciencia with seven and half points, one full point ahead of the top seed, India's IM Ashwin Jayaram. Australian Max Illingworth is third and with an original seeding of sixteen he performed at 2418, he must certainly be happy with his results. Not sure if he had a IM norm from this.

It's a lot of bad news for Malaysians though. Lim Yee Weng drew with Paciencia, probably a quick one as Paciencia already had the tourament in his pocket, after a tough fight. Unfortunately he still loses a bunch of ELO as does Mas who surprisingly drew his 2214 rated opponent. Maybe Mas wanted to get it over with and forget this tournament. He finished in eleventh place from an original seeding of fourth.

Edward lost to Timothy Chan and finishes with four and half points and finished twelve position just behind Mas. Not bad considering he was seeded 22nd but he did not gain any ELO points (according to Edward he did gain 29 points, a very good result! You have to wondor how many more points he would get if he had won).

Lim Yee Weng 5 points 7th place
Mas 4.5 11th place
Edward Lee 4.5 12 place

Singapore Chess Festival 2009 Round 9

The ninth and final round has started at 9:00 AM in Singapore. Singapore's Enrique Paciencia has already won the championship as he has an unassailable lead of seven points. His nearest rival only has five and half points.

The surprise for the round is that Lim Yee Weng with four and half points is playing on first board against Paciencia as Paciencia has already met all his rivals. This is due to the less than impressive number of participants, twenty-five in total.

Mas has dropped down to seventh board with four points, half a point less than Yee Weng or Edward. His play has been steadily deteriorating and he managed to lose to players rated much much lower than himself.

Edward Lee also have four and half points and should be able to finish as the highest placed Malaysian if he wins against Singaporean, Timothy Chan.

Lim Yee Weng 4.5
Edward Lee 4.5
Mas 4

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Singapore Chess Festival 2009 Round 6

Good news is all three Malaysians in the Commonwealth Open won their games. Mas beat Singapore, Jarred Neubronner and Yee Weng won against Australia's Dusan Stojic. Edward Lee beat untitled Anant Dole.

Mas now is half point away from the leaders, Enrique Paciencia and India's Ashwin Jayaram both with four points. Mas plays the Indian and have to win to be in contention for the championship.

Mas 3.5
Yee Weng 2.5
Edward Lee 2.5

Friday, December 11, 2009

Singapore Chess Festival 2009 Round 5

Malaysians at the Commonwealth Chess Championship now going on in Singapore have not been doing well. Mas has two and half points, with three draws and one win. The trouble is , except for a draw against the third seed Singaporean IM Enrique Paciencia, he has played some weak opposition. There are four players tied for the lead with three points. My guess is Mas will have to beat two of them to contend for the top place.

Lim Yee Weng and Edward Lee are not doing well, both of them have one and half points. In the third round, Yee Weng lost to Australian Max Illingworth, rated at over a hundred points below him. Max is a regular fixture in the DATMO series.

In the fourth round they were paired with each other and the game was draw which leaves both with one win and one draw.

In the Challengers section,the highest place Malaysian is Ismail Ahmad with a two and half out of four games and sitting in ninth position. Olivia Madhavan playing her first international, with one win and a draw has a respectable one and half points.

The fifth round starts tomorrow at 9:00 AM.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Singapore Chess Festival 2009

The 2009 Singapore Chess Festival officially starts today. The festival comprises the Commonwealth Open, Commonwealth Age Groups and the Challengers tournament. Each tournament is nine rounds with two games starting at 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM daily from today till Sunday, 13th December. The last round begins on 14th December at 9:00 AM.

The main event is the Commonwealth Open and surprisingly for a major tournamnet, there are only twenty-five players taking part. Most of the participants are from Singapore and India. Malaysia have three representatives, Mas Hafizul, Lim Yee Weng and Edward Lee. There are only five male international masters taking part, no grandmasters. The lack of strong participation may be attributed to the entry fees charged.

Mas is seeded fourth and judging from the opposition, this year may be the best chance for a Malaysian to actually win this event.

The Challengers event had a larger number of players, ninety-two. I spotted one familiar Malaysian, Ismail Ahmad. The other is Olivia Madhavan, daughter of our chess coach, Collin Madhavan.

In the Under 20/16, I can see Yeap Eng Chiam, Justin Ong, Tan Jun Feng and a few other unknown Malaysians.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

So gone

Philippines prodigy GM Wesley So finally met his match in GM Malakhov. The Russian appeared to have been following Wesley's matches against Ivanchuk and Kamsky and learnt something. That is, he did not try to wipe the board with So on it. Rather the first two games were drawn which means they went into the rapids tie-breakers where So lost all three games.

This boy did very well here and kudos to him and all. In an interview, he said that he did not get much support from his federation. Now, Philippines chess politics are very partisan. If you are not in or seen to be in the right camp, you will find your chess career stunted. A number of Filipino chess players actually became grandmaster after they have emigrated or started working abroad.

How about our own local talents? Yeoh Li Tian and Tan Li Ting are now in training in China, courtesy of private sponsors. I wondor what happens after their six weeks training completes. I guess they are around 9-10 years old. Wesley made his GM title at age thirteen. Let's hope the kids are given enough financial assistance to continue to show what they may be able to achieve.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Smoking can be hazardous for your chess

It's confirmed, smoking will affect your chess. Two Chinese players found out the hard way in the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk.

According to reports, both Li Chao and Wang Yue were having a smoke minutes before the start of the round. Both forfeited when they were not at their boards at the start of the games. This zero start forfeiture first came into use at the 2008 Dresden Olympiad and have claimed a number of high profile victims and no doubt will claim more in the future. It is not enough to be present in the hall, you have to be sitting at your board when the round starts (usually through a gong being sounded or announcement by the Chief Arbiter).

One of your most important games in your career so far is about to start and you are not at the board but smoking outside? Really, the only people that can be blamed are themselves. The only other person who should shoulder the blame is the team captain/manager. As the Chinese had a fairly large contigent, a team captain accompanied them even though this is an individual event. To my mind, this person should have the responsibility to ensure all the players are at their board at the start of each round.

Both players lost the next game and are eliminated. As a result there will be no more Chinese representation in the next stage. This only leaves Wesley So as the sole remaining Asian player.

In an interview, Wang Yue had this to say when asked whether the forfeiture was a fair decision on the arbiter's part.

"Yes, this was correct and fair decision. The only decision that could be taken."

No tantrums, no excuses. My respect for this guy went up quite a few notches. See you again at the next championship cycle.

Monday, November 30, 2009

COP-15 Summit on global climate change

A bit of non chess post.

As you may be aware, there is a global climate change summit happening this
December in Copenhagen, called COP-15. 192 countries will be attending this
summit, and the goal is to create a global agreement on curbing greenhouse
gas emissions. This agreement will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol,
which expires in 2012. This is the world's last chance to come to an
agreement on climate change before the Kyoto protocol expires - kind of a
big deal.

My company, Ogilvy, has been working with the United Nations to create a
grassroots movement around COP-15. Our goal is to get millions of people to
sign a petition addressed to our world leaders, asking them to take
meaningful action. That's where you come in. I'm asking all of my friends
to take 45 seconds out of their day TODAY to sign this important petition.
We must communicate to our leaders that this issue is important to us. If
they know that their constituents demand action, there's a much greater
likelihood that COP-15 will result in meaningful change with regards to
curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

If you have not yet signed the petition I urge you to do so now at http://hopenhagen.org/

You can also become a fan on Facebook  http://www.facebook.com/hopenhagen

Here is the link to download the Facebook application: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=75759089977&ref=ts

Sunday, November 29, 2009

So wins again

This time against American grandmaster Gata Kamsky. Kamsky is a top GM and was the previous cup winner as well. Fortunately for Kamsky he already qualified for the Candidates stage.

So has knocked out two super GMs namely Ivancuk and Kamsky, good news for the Philippines. However, if anyone starts thinking that Philippines is going to have their own super GM, I doubt it. Maybe in a few more years judging by the way that So won (he won the first game and drew the second in both matches). I did not see anything special that So did. I think So was just trying to draw the two games and take his chances in the rapid. His good fortune was that his opponents were trying too hard to win.

These matches are just too short but they are real entertaining to see such illustrious names being eliminated. It will be real interesting to see how far So can progress.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ivanchuk was So beaten

Filipino wondor boy Wesley So continues to make his mark in the FIDE World Cup by taking out super GM Vassily Ivanchuk. Wesley won the first game and held the second to a draw to make it to the next round. This got to be the biggest upset in the World Cup so far. Just four (or was it three) years ago, Wesley was a virtual unknown outside of the Philippines. I must say the DATMO tournament have given a number of unknown Asian players their first recognition. Look at where players like Wang Hao, Li Chao, Wesley So, Darwin Laylo and recently Yu YangYi are. All these players have made it to the World Cup.

Other players who made it through are all Chinese, Wang Yue, Yu YangYi and Wang Hao.

None of the three Indians , Surya Ganguly , Chanda Sandipan and Krishnan Sasikiran, survived. The Chinese players, Zhou Weiqi and Zhou JianChao are also out. However Li Chao still have a chance. He managed to win the second game to take it to tie-breakers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

FIDE World Cup, Tie-breakers updated

2008 DATMO champion Li Chao won his tie-breaker against GM Sargissian to move into the second round. Another Chinese, Zhou WeiQi also made it through beating Israeli GM Sutovsky. They join Wang Yue, Wang Hao and Zhou Jianchao who already qualified earlier.

Thus, there will be five Chinese players in the second round. Philippines last hope GM Laylo lost a closely contested match against David Navarra as did Vietnam's only player, Le Quang Liem.

India will have three representatives, Krishnan Sasikiran, Surya Ganguly and Chanda Sandipan. Philippines still have their wondor boy,GM Wesley So who knocked out Azerbaizan GM Gadir Guseinov (thanks to "The Raj" of DATCC, who pointed this out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

FIDE World Cup 2009

The World Championship cycle for 2009-2011 had started last Saturday with the beginning of the FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, which incidentally will also be the host of the 2010 Chess Olympiad.

It was fun and slightly nerve wracking to follow the games at Playchess server. I was particularly interested in the games of the Asian players who are up against some of the world's best. I followed a number of participants from this year's Dato' Arthur Tan tournament as I wanted to see how their games would go.

The most amazing match for me was the young Chinese sensation Yu YangYi seeded at 113th!. He won the first game against Sergei Movsesian (16th seed) and in the second game I thought he had a possible second win. The game ended in a draw and YangYi is through.

Another Chinese ,Zhou Jianchao , also knocked out his more fancied opponent. In this case it is at the expense of the Armenian GM Rauf Mamedov.

In the 2007 DATMO first round, I was paired against and unknown and untitled Filipino named Darwin. I was beaten easily and Darwin went on to become a grandmaster a year later. This is the talent that Philippines have. Anyway GM Darwin Laylo lost the first game against David Navara, but came back strongly to win the second and tie the match. Tie-breakers will be played today.

Other notable matches are Li Chao drawing both games against Gabriel Sargissian, Negi Parimarjan against Vadim Milov, Le Quang Liem also goes into tiebreakers with Vladislav Tkachiev (yes, that Tkachiev)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kids for Chess Camp

Another chess camp is planned for December and this is the 6th Edition of the Kids for Chess Camp. The camp is organized by Collin Madhavan, a well known chess coach in the Klang Valley.

The course has been designed to be fun and informative for the absolute beginner, the intermediate player as well as the aspiring tournament player. The Chess camp is headed by International Master Jimmy Liew & Candidate Master Collin Madhavan, and will be assisted by a team of very qualified trainers.

Venue for the camp is :
Pandan Lake Club (Perdana Ballroom), 28, Jalan Perdana 3/8,
Pandan Perdana, Kuala Lumpur

The camp is over two days from Monday 7 December to Tuesday 8th December. Fees are a very affordable RM90 for the two days, inclusive of breakfast and lunch!

For more information and to join the camp, contact Mr Collin Madhavan at 03-91316474 or to his mobile at 016-2123578, or visit www.kids4chess.com.

Chess Camp by Mok Tze Meng

A chess training camp is being organized by IM elect Mok Tze Meng. It is open to all children who are currently unrated or those rated under 1800. Courses will cover understanding in chess openings, creative thinking (the way how chess helps in studies too), positional understandings, planning and endgame concepts in Chess.

There will be two sections, Beginner to Intermediate and Intermediate to Expert. The first cover those who are unrated or those rated below 1000 while the latter are for those rated over 1000.

The Beginner to Intermediate is designed to attract the young to the game of chess. They will learn how to think logically and how to make good decision while in critical situations.

The Intermediate to Expert is to target those who want to break-through from their current level of play. Break-through involved many factors, only a good chess player cum trainer can uncover the students’ weaknesses, problems and rectify them.

The camp runs from 2-4 December 2009 at the Cempaka School in Cheras. Course fees are RM250 for Beginner to Intermediate and RM350 for Intermediate to Expert. Cempaka School students get a 10% discoutn. For full details, contact Mr Mok Tze Meng at 016-2233536 or email him at moktm@hotmail.com

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Semi-Final Tiebreaker Game 2

Mok - Mas

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 g6 4.cxd4 d5 5.exd5 Nf6 6.Bb5+ Nbd7 7.Nc3 a6 8.Bxd7+ Qxd7 9.Qb3 Qg4

Looks like white is in trouble right in the opening

10.Nge2 Qxg2 11.Rg1 Qh3

Why not grab another pawn? white has the better development but black has the better pawn structure. 12. Bf4 is the way to go. If white do not come up with something to exploit his better development, black will be better in the middle-game.

12. Rg3?

Perhaps Mok feels he has to do something (he has to win to tie the rapid and go into blitz tie-breaker). But giving up the h-pawn for nothing? 12...Qxh2 13. Bf4 don't work because of ..Nh5

12...Qf5!?
Mas don't see the need to take any risks. Now 13. Bf4 should be ok for white

13. Rg5 Qf3 14. Rg3

It is not Mok's nature to chicken out, so I do not see a repetition. Maybe he wants to gain back some time on the clock (he has 14 minutes left)

14...Qf5

17 minutes left for Mas

15. Na4 b5

Mas moves almost immediately, seems confident with his position. 16. Nb6 Rb8 is not dangerous at all.

16.Nb6 Rb8 17.Rg5

Only move is 17...Qh3. Mok might go for another round of repetition :)

17...Qh3 18. Rg3 Qf5


White has nothing in this position. Unfortunately for him, a draw is not an option.

19. Rg5 Qf3

1/2-1/2

Mok agrees to draw. Mas moves forward to the finals and will meet the winner of the Lim Yee Weng-Nicholas Chan match.

It was quite a blow for Mok who played quite well against a difficult opponent. If he had not blundered in the previous game, it could very well be him that goes into the finals instead of Mas.

Semi-Final Tie-Breaker

Mas - Mok Tze Meng

1. e4 g6 2. d4 c6 3. Be3

Mas deviates first.

d5 4 e5 f6

Nimzowitsch wrote a book "My System" where he laid the foundations for black against the pawn center. He advocates attacking the base of the centre with ...c5. But in the Modern , we often see black playing ...f6 attacking the head of the chain instead.

5. f4 Nh6 6. Nf3 qb6 7. Qc1 Bb7 8. c4


Traditionalists might not like to play like this as it allows black a strong d5 square after capturing on c4.

0-0 9. Nc3

Black will probably defend with ...Be6 as ...e6 will weaken the e5 square.

9...Be6

White might try 10.c5 and go for queen-side expansion. Releasing the centre tension will also allow black to try for king-side play. Maybe 10.b3 to maintain the centre.

10. h3 Qd8

10...dxc4? 11. d5 wins a piece. But now the pawn capture is a threat

11.cxd5 cxd5

white has managed to keep his strong centre intact. The only way for black to attack it is ..Nf7, ...g5 etc but this is a very risky manoeuvre. Instead black will try something like ...fxe5,...Bf5 and ...e6

12. Be2 Nf5 13.g4

Black will find life difficult after this ...
sorry...white will find life difficult after this ...

white time :10 minutes
Black time : 9 minutes

13..Ng3 14. Rg1 Nxe2 15. Kxe2 Nc6 16. Qd2 Qa5 17.Raf1 Rad8


white time :8 minutes
Black time : 5 minutes

17.Kd1 fxe5

I think there is a sac on e5 coming

18. fxe5 Rxf3 19 Rxf3 Bxe5

This is not a position you want to have as white with five minutes on the clock.
20. dxe5 d4 opens up a world of hurt for white.

white time :4 minutes
Black time : 4 minutes

20. Kc1 Bg7 21. Kb1 Kh8

Black plans ..Bg8...e5

22. Rd1 Bg8 23. Bg1

23...e5 should be strong now

23...e5 24. Ne2

Ladies and gentleman, we are now officially in blitz mode. There may be some interruptions in your live telecast :)

24...qxd2 25. Rxd2 e4 26. Rf1 Bh6 27. Rc2


Mok is scratching his head, bad sign? :)

White won.
Mok blundered a whole rook in a won position

Bg5 29.Bh2 Be6 30.Bf4 Be7 31.Bh6 Rg8 32.a3 g5 33.b4 a6 34.Kc1 Rg6 35.Bf8 Bf6 36.Bc5 Kg7 37.a4 h5 38.b5 axb5 39.axb5 Na5 40.Rc3 hxg4 41.hxg4 Bxg4 42.Ng3 Nc4 43.Nxe4 dxe4 44.Rxc4 Be2 45.Rxf6 Rxf6 46.Rc2 Bxb5 47.d5 Rf1+ 48.Kd2 Rf2+ 49.Bxf2

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Mas versus Mok goes into tie-breakers

This is without a doubt the best match in the series. For the first time, we saw a match that ended in a draw after four games. Both players won a game each and drew the other two.

The match now goes into tie-breakers. Two games of rapid chess will be played. If the result is inconclusive e.g one win each or both games drawn, then they play another two games of blitz. If this still cannot produce a winner, than they continue with sudden death blitz games. In sudden death, the first player to win will win the match.

A recap of the games:

Game 1
Mok plays an unusual Modern Defence which seems to catch Mas off-guard. Mas did not handle the resulting position and blundered a pawn and the game. 1-0 to Mok.

Game 2
Mok plays white and surprises with a main line against the Sicilian. He sacrifices pieces fearlessly but did not follow through. His 18.Kb1 is probably a mistake. Mas ends up with an extra rook for a couple of pawns. But just when it looks like Mok is a goner, Mas accepts a draw due to his time trouble. Mok leads 1.5-0.5

Game 3
Mok again surprises everyone with a different type of Modern. He gives up castling to exchange queens. In a critical position, he spends a long time to play a bad move (15...a5). Mas took control of the d-file with his rook and brought home the point.
Both players tie with 1.5 - 1.5 each.

Game 4
Mok returns to his tried and tested repertoire with 3.Bb5 against the Sicilian. However Mas appears the better prepared until he made a mistake with 15...Nh5. Mok capitalized with some tactical blows (17. Nb5, 18. Rc3) and almost looks like he has excellent chances to win. But a wrong move order (20. Nxa8 instead of 20. hxg3)saves Mas.

Both players tied with 2-2

Mok - Mas, Game 4 Commentary

Game can be replayed online at the bottom of the post

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.31"]
[Round "4"]
[White "Mok"]
[Black "Mas"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "B06"]
[Annotator "Liew,Jimmy"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+

As I expected, Mok returns to his main repertoire

Nd7 4. O-O Ngf6 5. Re1 a6 6. Bf1 b6


Next move will be Bb7 to pressure the e4 pawn. If white wants to play d4 later, he should play c4 now to answer Bb7 with Nc3. I think Mas is more familiar with this line. Mok usually encounters either ...Nc6 or ...Bd7.

7. d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4

Now black will play 8...Bb7 to which White can reply with 9. c4. The pawn on e4 cannot be taken e.g 9...Nxe4 10.f3 Nf6 11.Nf5 and the open e-file ensures that the d6 pawn will be re-captured.

Play might go 8...g6 9. Nc3 Bg7 10. Bg5 0-0 11. Qd2 with a Marozcy bind Dragon-like formation where white has managed to play c4. Black does not have a d5 break and will manoeuvre behind the black pawns. White will have a slight edge in space.

8... Bb7 9 Nc3

Looks like I am right and Mok is not familiar with this line. This is not good here. It will be hard to control d5 later.

9...e6 10. Bg5

It is better to play 10.g3 first. The light-square bishop needs to be on g2 to defend the e4 pawn.

10....h6 11. Bh4 g5!?

I do not understand this move. The bishop on h4 is doing nothing and in fact stopping white from the natural g3 move. Why chase it and weaken the king-side? True, it gains the e5 square for the knight but still...

11...Be7 and black is already ok.

12. Bg3 Ne5

When you say A you must say B. I bet the next move will be ...Rc8 "eyeing" the knight on c3

13. Nf3

It's hard for me to suggest any other moves. White's position becomes passive due to the king bishop on f1 and the weak pawn on e4. But surely this knight will not capture on e5? After ...dxe5 the d4 square will be under black's control.

13...Qc7

I prefer 13..Nfd7 supporting e5. The queen on c7 is only blocking the c-file.

Looks like Mok has gone into another long think. The position is much easier to play for black than white. Maybe Bd3 and Qe2 and wait for black to make his intentions known.

14. a4 Be7 15.Ra3 !?

Strange move, does he intend Rb3?

15...Nh5? *

This is bad. Just 15...Nfd7 heading for c5 is natural and the best.

16. Nxe5 Nxg3 17. Nb5!

Mok finds the flaw in black's knight move. Now 17... axb5 18. Bxb5+ Kf8 19. Nd7+ Kg8 20.hxg3 Bc8 21. e5 Bxd7 22. exd6 Bxd6 23. Rc3 wins back the piece with advantageous position.

17...Qb8 18. Rc3!!

Just one move has changed the evaluation of the game. This last move is quite amazing. The b5 knight cannot be taken. 18..axb5?? 19. Bxb5+ Kd8 20. Nxf7 mate. Or 19..Kf8 20. Nd7 forks the queen.

18..dxe5

This is the only move. Now 19. Nc7+ Kf8 20. hxg3 Bb4, black still maintains the material balance. 21. Nxa8 Bxc3 22. Nxb6 (threatens Nd7+ so black has no chance to take on e1) Qc7 23. bxc3 Qxb6. White has an extra pawn.

19. Nc7+ Kf8 20. Nxa8 Nxe4 21. Nxb6

White time: 25 minutes, Black time: 32 minutes. Mas can only hope to draw this game.
Mok went wrong with the early rook capture on a8. Perhaps he forgot that Nxc3 is attacking his queen.

21...Nxc3 22.bxc3 Qc7

23. Nd7 Kg7 24. Nxe5 Qxc3 maintains material equality. Black has two bishops but his king safety is an issue.



Position after 24...Qxc3 (Analysis)

23. Nd7 Kg7 24. Nxe5 Bf6 25. Nc4?

Pressure on the players must be tremendous. A wrong slip could be the end of their journey. 25. Qe2 was good. 25...Qxc3? 26.Nxf7!

25...Rd8 26.Qb1 Bxc3

The advantage has passed back to black as his king is now safe and he has the bishop pair. Time will also play a factor as both players should be down to less than 20 minutes now.

27. Rd1 Bd4 28. c3

The pawn cannot be taken. 28...Bxc3 29. Rxd8 Qxd8 30. Qxb7 wins a piece

28...Bf6 29. Rxd8 Bxd8

Mok has done a good job so far. Now 30. Qd3 will see him quite safe.

30.a5


Nothing wrong with this either.

30...Bd5


Now 31. Qb6! holds e.g 31..Bxc4 32. Qxc7 Bxc7 33. Bxc4 Bxa5 34. Bxa6 Bxc3 and opposite coloured bishops ensure the draw for white

31. Qb4 Bf6

I dont like this. Black can now activate his bishops. I wondor if Mok goes for this line:

32. Nb6!? Bxc3 33. Nxd5 exd5 34. Qb6 wins back the a6 pawn and most importantly removed the threat of the bishop pair.

32.h3

Time is around 3.5 minutes for white and 8.5 minutes for black. It's going to be tough to hold this with this kind of time left. But I hope Mok can draw...then we get tie-breakers tomorrow!

32...Qc6 33.Kh1

Black will start pushing his king-side pawns to open up the white king. It is now or never!

33..Qc7

Someone tell them to shake hands and start fresh tomorrow!

34.Kg1

Come and get me...if you dare LOL

34... Qc6 35.Kh1 1/2-1/2
Yes! Whoohooo!







Friday, October 30, 2009

Mok-Mas , Game 2

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.30"]
[White "Mok Tze Meng"]
[Black "Mas]
[Result "*"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4

First surprise. Mok rarely plays main lines

cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Nbd7 8. Qf3
Qc7 9. O-O-O b5 *


A main line of the Sicilian Najdorf is the second surprise. I guess Mok has been doing his homework, otherwise he will not venture into this

10. e5


This is going to be ultra sharp. Both players seem to have come prepared

Bb7 11. Qh3 dxe5 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. Qxe6+

This position looks very dangerous for black for example , 13...Be7 14. Bxb5 axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16. Nd6 Kd8 17. fxe5

13.. Be7 14. Bxb5 axb5 15. Nxb5 Qc6 16. Nd6+ Kd8 *

There is one famous game which went

17. fxe5 Kc7 18. Qxe7 Rxa2 19. exf6 Ra1+ 20. Kd2 Qd5+ 21. Kc3 Qa5+ 22. Kd3 Qd5+ 23. Kc3 Qa5+ 24. Kd3 Qd5+ 1/2-1/2 Grischuk - Svidler , Sochi. But I doubt if Mas is satisfied with a draw after the first game

17. fxe5 Kc7

Another super sharp line goes 18. Qxe7 Nd5 19. Rxd5 Qxd5 20. Rd1
Qxe5 21. Nxb7 Qxe7 22. Bxe7 Rxa2 Nilsson, Sebastian - Hammer, Jon Ludvig ,Cappelle op 24th which ended in black winning

18. Kb1

Probably white is out of book already. This do not look as promising e.g 18..Bf8 19. exf6 Bxd6, black remains two pieces up

18... Bxd6 19. Rxd6 Qa4 20. exf6 Rhe8 21. Rxd7+ Qxd7 22. Bf4+ *

White has five pawns for a rook and open black king. Is it enough?

22.. Kc8 23. Qc4+

After 23...Qc6 it does not look enough. Black remains safe after 24. Qf7 gxf6! So Mas will make it 1-1 after all.

23...Bc6

Idea, 24. fxg7 Qd5 forces queens off because of the attack on a2 square.

24. fxg7 Qd5 25. Qxd5 Bxd5 26. b3 Ra7 27. Rd1 Bg8 28.a4 Rxg7 29. g3 Re2 30. h4 h5

Mok might as well call it a day. Tomorrow another two tough games for both.

31. Rd3 Bh7 32. Rc3+ Kb7 33. Kb2 Bf5 34. Rc5 Bg6 35. b4 Rd7 36.a5 Be4

1/2-1/2 ???

Amazing. Maybe Mas is too short of time.

Live game below



Mas - Mok, Game 1 - Mokdern Triumphs Again

"Crouching Tiger" Mok takes the first game much to everyone's (I think) surprise. I never would have expected him to win with the Modern. Mok deviated quite early with the surprise 6...e6. Mas was probably not well familiar with the ensuring positions and did not seem to understand the situation. Allowing the black knight to come into c4 was a mistake. White got into a defensive formation and ended with a simple tactic which lost a pawn and the game.

Still, Mas managed to survive the middlegame with material deficit, but really the result could not be changed.

So Mok leads 1-0 and after a short rest, they have to face each other again. This time Mas will have the black pieces. We can expect a Sicilian with early Bb5 from Mok. And why not? His openings,though they don't look like much, have stood the test so far.

Come back in another half hour or so for game two.

Mas - Mok, Live Commentary

The 1st Semi-Final between Mas and Mok Tze Meng is now under way.

[Event "Malaysian Masters"]
[Site "DAT Chess Centre"]
[Date "2009.10.30"]
[White "Mas"]
[Black "Mok Tze Meng"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 g6

No surprise here. As expected Mok goes with Mokdern

2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 c6 4. f4

But this is a surprise to me. Mas does not normally play this line. I played this same variation against Mok in the DATCC League. Although I lost that game, I believe this variation is refuted. Perhaps he found the refutation as well? LOL

d5 5. e5 h5 6. Be3 e6

Another surprise. The white square blockade strategy involves playing an early Bg4 to avoid locking in the bishop after ...e6. Now black will get a bad bishop typical of French Defence. The bishop will instead come out to b7 or a6 after black plays the pawn move ...b6. Maybe Mok is afraid of Mas opening preparation :)

7. Nf3 b6 8. Qd2 Ba6 9. O-O-O

White already holds the edge. The plan is straightforward, he will play for the g4-f5 break. If black cannot create sufficient counterplay on the queen-side, he is doomed. I do not like this at all for black as his counter-play will prove quite slow.

Nh6

Now white will play h3, g3, Rg1 and finally g4.

10. g3

Black has to get his counter-play going with ...c5, ...c4,... b5, ...b4 and so on.

Bxf1 11. Rdxf1 Nd7 12. h3 b5

After this move, black's counter-play is almost non-existent. Black is trying to plant his knight on c4 but this can be met with the simple b3. E.g 13. Kb1 Nb6 14. b3 a5 15. Rhg1 a4 16. g4 axb3. White does not worry about the opening of the a-file as he will retake with the c-pawn and defend his queen-side along the 2nd rank.


13. Rfg1

I am not sure what the idea behind this is. Preferably this rook should remain on f1 to support the f5 break.

Nb6 14. Bf2?!


This is just wrong. The bishop must stay on c1-h6 diagonal to support the f5 break. Mas seems afraid to play b3 which is actually the correct move to stop black's plan.

14... Nc4 15. Qd3 Qa5 16. Kb1

Mok now might castle on the queen-side. The position has some similarities to his third game against Ooi Chern Ee. Black will re-locate his bishop to a better diagonal with ...Bf8 either now or after castling queen-side

Bf8 17.Nd1 Rb8 18. g4 Rb6

As I suspected, white should not allow ...Nc4. Black has sufficient counter chances now. 19. Be1 b4 20. b3 Ra6 21. a4

19. Be1 b4 20. Bh4 Be7

Black has no problems now as white has not succeeded in getting the f5 move in.After 21. Bxe7 Kxe7, white might try to force matters with 22. f5 gxf5 23. g5 but black will have 23...Ra6! 23. Qb3 Ng4! 24. hxg4 fxg4 and the f3 knight cannot move because of the knight fork on d2.

21. Rg2?

I believe Mas must be quite short of time by now due to unfamiliarity with this opening line and the resultant positions. The move looks like a blunder. 21...Ra6 22. Qb3 Bxh4 23. Nxh4 hxg4 24. hxg4 Nxg4 and the rook is overloaded , 25. Rxg4?? Nd2+

21...Ra6 22. Qb3 Bxh4 23. Nxh4 hxg4

If white had captured the bishop on e7 on his 21st move, then the next moves will not be possible due to the pin on the h-file.

24. hxg4

I just been informed that both players have twenty-five minutes each, so Mas was not in time pressure when he blundered.

24...Nxg4

White is down a pawn and fighting to hold the game now. His knight is pinned on the h-file so the next move will be 25. Rh3. Black will also need to rescue his g4 knight so I predict 25...Rh5 26. Kc1 (guarding d2) Nh6

25. Kc1 Qxa2
This maybe a mistake

26. Qxa2 Rxa2 27. Kb1

Now Mas is hoping to draw e.g 27..Ra6 28. Rxg4 Nd2 29. Kc1 Nc4 (threatens mate) 30. Kb1 Nd2+ and so on.

My computer is showing me an unexpected winning try. 27... Nge3!? 28. Re2 Ra3! 29. bxa3 Nxd1 30. Rxd1 Nxa3+ 31. Kc1 Rxh4 and black has more than sufficient material for the exchange and can play for a win safely.

27... Nge3 28. Re2

Now the question is, did Mok see the above line or it's just a desperate move?

28...Nxd1 29. Kxa2 Ndxb2

Black wins another pawn but the problem with this line is that the white rooks gain activity. Possibly the h8 rook will be exchanged and white will put pressure on f7. It is much more difficult for black to play without the rook even given his material advantage. 30. Reh2 is best now.

30. Kb3 Kd7

Mok gives up the pawn but there is no mate after 31. Kxb4 Rb8+ 32. Kc3 Na4+ 33. Kd3 Nab2+ 34. Kc3.

31. Ree1 a5

It was not easy for Mas to resolve to take the pawn, I do not think it is possible to find the correct moves over the board within the given time. But now, black has a comfortable winning position.

32. Rb1




You cannot match the computer for tactics :). 32.. a4+ 33. Kxb4 Nd2! 34. Rxb2 Rb8+ 35. Kc3 (35. Ka3 Nc4+ forks) Ne4 and wins the rook.

No new moves for some time now. Maybe Mok has not spotted 33...Nd2

32... a4 33 Kxb4 Rb8 34 Kc3 a3 35 Ra1 Na4 36 Kd3 c5 37 Nf3 Ke7 38 dxc5 Nxc5 39 Kd4 Ne4 40 Rhb1 Rb2 41. Rc1 Rb8 42. Ne1 Rh8 43. Nf3 Rb8 44. Rab1 Rb2 45. Ne1 Kd7 46. Ra1 Rb8 47. Nd3 Rh8

Mok has missed his chance to end the game quickly. But his position is still very strong due to the advanced passed a-pawn. According to -->The Raj, both are short of time with around three minutes each. Can Mas save this?

48. Rh1 Rc8 49. Nb4 Rc7 50. Rh8 *

Due to the time pressure, Mok has lost much of the advantage, allowing white to activate his pieces. Still that extra a-pawn should count for something.

Computer indicates 51...Nb6 is winning now.

50... g5 51. f5 Nf3+ 52. Kc3 Nfxe5 53. fxe6 fxe6 54. Rg8 g4 55.
Rh1 Kd6 56. Rd8+ Rd7 57. Ra8 Rc7 58. Ra6+ Nc6 59. Kb3 Kc5 60. Nd3+ Kd4


Time trouble for both now.

61. Rh4 e5 62. Rxg4+ e4 63. Ra4 Rb7+ 64. Nb4 Nxb4 65. c3+ Kd3 66. Rxb4 Rxb4+ 67. cxb4
e3 White resigns
0-1

Game can be replayed online below





Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carlsen on Norwegian tv

I just read Chessbase report on Magnus Carlsen's appearance on a local Norwegian television program. It is really good, the interviewer has some witty lines but it's Carlsen's replies that really impresses me. This boy, who everyone reckons will be a future world champion, is so modest. I wish I had a son like this lol.

Some quotes:

Interviewer: When did you realize you were just super good at chess?

Carlsen: I don’t think I’ve ever used those exact words to describe myself.

And here they are talking about dress code during a game. Notice how tactful this boy is at the end:

Carlsen: Certain players – such as Topalov… He has worn colorful shirts deliberately. But in most tournaments, there’s some kind of a dress code.

Interviewer: How about way too much of a foul aftershave?

Carlsen: I haven’t experienced that.

Interviewer: You haven’t been around players who reeked?

Carlsen: Well, yes. But not like that.

Interviewer: Who was it?

Carlsen: I don’t wish to reveal that information.

Full Chessbase report here

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fischer's Photos: Remembering Rosendo Balinas



Among the Chessbase photos , I was drawn to two of them (reproduced on the left).

If I am not mistaken, Fischer's opponent is Rosendo Balinas. This Filipino grandmaster is probably not as well known as Eugene Torre. He holds the distinction of being the first non-Soviet to win a tournament in the then Soviet Union. This achievement was at the 1976 Odessa International Tournament where he went undefeated. There were many Russian and East European grandmasters playing such as Lev Polugaevsky ,Konstantin Lerner, Lev Alburt, Vladimir Savon , Jan Plachetka, Mikhail Tseitlin ,Istvan Bilek, Lutz Espig, Vladimir Tukmakov,Anatoly Lutikov and David Bronstein. These names may not be instantly recognisable today, but at that time they were very prominent grandmasters. Bronstein was a former World Championship contender whose book 1953 Zurich International Tournament is one of the best chess books ever in my opinion.

Balinas was a talented player but he did not enjoy the support of his chess federation due to his conflict with its president , Florencio Campomanes. This probably resulted in reduced opportunities from competing in international tournaments.

At the 1990 Asian Zonals in Jakarta, we conversed at length. I believe he was already suffering from some illness. He was very health conscious and kept asking me about Chinese herbal medicines and their use. In 1998, he passed away.

In the pictures Balinas is playing white against Fischer's Sicilian. I believe Balinas drew against Fischer and this is probably the game.



Friday, October 16, 2009

Fischer's Photos

Chessbase just published some previously unknown photos taken of Fischer in 1967 when he visited the Philippines at the invitation of the former Philippine President, Ferdinand Marcos. It really felt surreal looking at these pictures, a youthful clean shaven and good looking Bobby Fischer in his prime, ready to take on the world.

At the same time I felt sad at what he finally turned into. Compare these with the pictures of him in the years before his death with a full beard and drooping shoulders and tired looking eyes. I wondor what else he could have achieved if he had not made the choices he made. These choices finally lead him to a remote part of the world, where he ended his days. His final resting place outside a church in Selfoss, Iceland.

We should consider carefully the choices we make today, for tomorrow we do not know where it will lead us.

The photos were made into a video clip. You can view the full video clip here

It's Sofia!

The venue for the 2010 World Championship match between reigning World Champion Anand and his challenger , Topalov has been confirmed. The host country will be Bulgaria in the city of Sofia. I wondor how Anand feels about the match taking place in Topalov's home country. It certainly will give Topalov some psychological advantage.

There were two other countries bidding to hold the match, Turkey and Singapore. I was hoping Singapore would pull through. It's proximity means that I would be able to attend some of the games. Unfortunately, neither of them could provide the bank guarantee required by FIDE.

Bulgaria did not provide one either due to "technical reason". The Bulgarian Prime Minister presented a letter instead which I suppose is just as good. The prize fund is two million Euros. I am not sure of the details like how much goes to the winner and loser, but two million Euros is a lot of money. No matter how it is cut, even the loser will go home with a satisfied smile.

For this, all chess players have to thank Bobby Fischer, for without him, this kind of money might have been a dream. He was the first chess player to fight for million dollar prize fund in his 1972 match with Boris Spassky. At that time, most people thought he was crazy as this kind of money was never seen before in chess. Fischer should not only be remembered as one of the greats, but also one who really did a lot to alleviate chess to a sport with real money for the top players.

Happy Deepavali


I wish my Hindu readers a Happy Deepavali. Deepavali or Diwali is the Festival of Lights

May the Light always triumph over the Dark and Good over Evil.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baby boy for Mas

Congrats to Mas Hafizul on becoming a new father to a baby boy. Its normal for your priorities to shift once you start a family. I hope Mas will continue in his GM quest as it do not look like any other Malaysian is going for it in the near future.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Carlsen wins Pearl Spring

As expected, Carlsen has won the Pearl Spring Tournament in Nanjing, China. Nothing unusual but he did it with, wait for this....two and half point over the rest of the field.What an amazing performance!

In the last round, he was already leading with two points. Playing Jakovenko, this phenomenal player went on to win instead of settling for a tame draw. To me, the most remarkable thing is how easily he did it. True, Jakovenko blundered a pawn on the 25th move in a fairly simple position. Carlsen continued to play very accurately to complete the route in 38 moves. The loss pushed Jakovenko to shared last place.

This was a 3002 rating performance for the Norwegian and likely to see him break through the 2800 rating barrier on the next list. Everyone else suffered due to the losses to him.

Tournament crosstable





Friday, October 2, 2009

Magnus the Magnificient

Magnus Carlsen is currently leading the Nanjing Pearl Spring tournament with an impressive 4.5/5, two points ahead of Wang Yue

The crosstable makes a very nice symmetrical picture.



The only player to win any games so far is Carlsen. What will happen in the second half of the tournament? Will Carlsen continue to dominate and will he be the champion and how many points will separate him from the second place? Or will Topalov make his trademark late surge to over-take Carlsen? Can't wait for the end.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Xu Hua Hua - Jimmy Liew, DATMO 2009



Xu Hua Hua - Jimmy Liew, DATMO 2009

I desperately wanted to win this game. The previous round I had managed to lose a won game.

In this position, I came up with a surprise sacrifice. Though I do not think it is correct, I was banking on my opponent time as she spent a lot of time on the opening and early middle-game

20.... Nxe5!? 21. Qd6

White can take the knight. Now 21. fxe5 Qxe5 22. Qa2 Bc6 (This looks dangerous as the black queen lines up on the long black diagonal. But white has 23. Rf4 Rxf4 24. gxf4 Qd5 25. Kf2 (escape to the queen-side) Qg2+ 26. Ke3 and to safety.

21...cxd3 22. fxe5 22... dxe2 23. Rxf8+ Rxf8
24. Qxd7 Qc5+


I spent some time deciding between this and Rf1+ e.g 24... Rf1+ 25. Kg2 Qxe5 26. Qe8+ Rf8 27. Qc6 (27. Qb5 Qe4+ 28. Kh3 Qf3) 27... Qf5 28. h4 Qf1+ 29. Kh2 Rf2+ 30. Bxf2 Qxf2+ 31. Kh3 Qf1+ black can only get a draw.


25. Kg2 Qc4 26. Bf2??


This costs her the game. White can defend by occupying the long white diagonal with her queen. 26. Qb7 h5 when in spite of an extra piece, white has no way to activate his pieces. 27. h3 Rf7 28. Qa8+ Rf8 29. Qb7 Rf7 an repetition.

Qxc3 27. Bd4

27. Qd4 loses to Rxf2!

Qf3+ 28. Kh3 Qf5+ 29. g4 Qf1+
30. Kh4 e1=Q+ 31. Rxe1 Qxe1+ 32. Kh5 g6+ 33. Kg5 Qd2+ 34. Kh4 Qxh2+ 35. Kg5 Rf7
36. Qd8+ Kg7 0-1





Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jimmy Liew-Tirto , Merdeka Team Rapid

An interesting game I played against Indonesian IM Tirto at the recent Merdeka Team Rapid. My team lost 4-0!

I had a possible winning position but due to shortage of time, I could not find a winning line. At the end, I could reach an interesting draw, but trying to win I managed to overlook a single check which led to a loss.




Friday, September 18, 2009

Malaysian Masters Semi-Finals Comments

Now that the quarter-finals are over, we can look forward to the semi-finals. While the quarter-finals were rather one-sided, the semis will pitch the most experienced and strongest players currently in the local scene.

The first match will be FM Nicholas Chan versus IM Lim Yee Weng, or what I call the "amateurs" match. As both of them are currently working, so they can be considered as amateurs. This is their big disadvantage as history have proven that working outside of chess has a negative effect on your chess :)

Yee Weng will be a hard man to beat. His performance in DATMO 2008 is probably his best ever. He had a reasonable result in the Dresden Olympiad with two wins, six draws and three loses on board two. Since then his form has taken a dip with mediocre results in the DATCC Chess League, DATMO 2009 and Merdeka Team Rapid.

From personal observation on their recent play, I think Nicholas did not drop as much in form. My bet is that he will beat Yee Weng.

The second match sees IM Mashafizul against FM Mok Tze Meng. This is the battle of the "pros" as both can be considered chess professionals at this point in time. Mas is attached to Petronas but has been playing chess non-stop for some time. Mok does chess coaching as part of his source of income so undeniably he is a chess pro.

Mas has been playing non-stop for the past two (?) years mostly against strong players in international competitions. Currently he is chasing his first grandmaster norm in Europe. We can expect him to be at the top of his game.

However, Mok cannot be discounted. He has a good run winning the Penang Open ahead of Mas, great performance in DATCC Chess League, had the best performance amongst all the Malaysians at DATMO 2009 and capped off with an outstanding turnout at the Merdeka Team where he beat GM Rogelio Antonio (Philippines) in the last round.

This will be a hard match to predict. But based on rating and recent performances, I am willing to bet that the winner of this match will win the finals as well.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri



Chess is Chess wishes all Muslim readers SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yee Weng in Malaysian Masters semi-finals

Lim Yee Weng beats Edward Lee to move into the semi-finals. However, I am very surprised at the way Edward conceded the match.

The first two games were drawn and Yee Weng won the third to take the lead. In the fourth game, a draw was agreed after eleven moves in a standard French Defence. Edward is playing white so there is every chance of winning. Besides, Yee Weng form has dropped tremendously since the Dresden Olympiad. He did not do very well in the DATMO. In the Merdeka Rapid, he blundered a whole rook against me in a possibly winning position.

It seems that Edward already gave up hope after losing the third game. It is reported that he is currently studying in Singapore and I think he do not fancy coming back again for a semi-final match(?)

The competitors in this event were picked based on their ratings and performances in the National championship as well as the National Junior Championships. I wondor why someone would agree to take part if they are not committed to the event.

Mas finishes 8th in Banicky

Mas finished a disappointing eight position in the grandmaster tournament in Banicky, Slovakia. He only managed half a point from his last three games to get a total of four points, far from the required 6.5 points (which I calculated is the GM norm requirement).

The final standings:

IM SIMACEK Pavel 6,0
IM JURCIK Marian 6,0
IM MICHALIK Peter 5,0
GM KRIVOSHEY Sergei4,5
GM POLAK Tomas 4,5
GM STOHL Igor 4,5
FM STRUNSKI Andreas4,0
IM MAS Hafizulhelmi4,0
IM HIRNEISE Tobias 3,5
FM CSIBA Dominik 3,0

So even the co-winners could not reach the required 6.5 points for the grandmaster norm.

For Mas, it will be another failure to get that first elusive GM norm. Apparently, I am told, it is much easier once you obtain the first one. The rest seems to fall into place obediently :) It is not uncommon for someone to get another 2-3 norms once they have the first norm in the bag. Strange but true.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mas draws sixth round

Mas has drawn his sixth round game against IM Pavel Simacek. This means he has to win his remaining three games to qualify for the grandmaster norm. The co-leader also drew leaving the top standings unchanged.

Two upsets in this round, IM Michalik beat GM Stohl while FM Strunski beat GM Polak.

Sixth round standings:

IM SIMACEK Pavel 4
IM JURCIK Marian 4
GM KRIVOSHEY Sergei 3.5
IM MICHALIK Peter 3.5
IM MAS Hafizulhelmi 3.5
GM STOHL Igor 3
FM CSIBA Dominik 2.5
GM POLAK Tomas 2
FM STRUNSKI Andreas 2
IM HIRNEISE Tobias 2

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One step forward and two steps back

This post title is part of the lyrics from a song called "Not meant to be".
It also sums up the mentality of a certain chess official and organizer.

The Sarawak Chess Association is organising a Sarawak Team Championship in Sibu, Sarawak. Each state can send four players. While it is billed as a team championship, in reality it is a seven round individual Swiss. The state team score will be the combined individual scores from their four players.

What is really interesting is that there will be state and individual prizes. Prizes are attractive too, $2000 for individual first prize and another $2000 for the winners of the state championship.

But what really caught my eye is one of the regulations and it goes. "This championship is opened to all Malaysian citizens only. However, players who have represented Malaysia in the last Chess Olympiad are not permitted to take part."

Eh?

The last olympiad is of course Dresden 2008, and the players affected are Mas, Yee Weng, Mok , Edward Lee and myself.

My sources told me that this rule was to prevent one (and only one player) from the above five, from taking part. Nice to know I'm just collateral damage. Anyway who is being targeted? Apparently the player is a Sarawakian himself. Still clueless? Ok, the said player has been likened to a jungle animal lately.

My suggestion, change it to read "Anyone who has made an IM norm recently".

With this type of mentality, no wondor we are lagging far behind the rest of the chess world.

Now sing it together with me now...

It's like one step forward and two steps back
No matter what I do you're always mad
And I, I can't change your mind
I know it's like trying to turn around on a one way street

Mas loses to Jurcik

Mas has lost his postponed game to Marian Jurcik and Jurcik moves into joint lead with Simacek. The standings now:

IM SIMACEK Pavel 3.5
IM JURCIK Marian 3.5
GM KRIVOSHEY Sergei 3
GM STOHL Igor 3
IM MAS Hafizulhelmi 3
IM MICHALIK Peter 2.5
GM POLAK Tomas 2
FM CSIBA Dominik 2
IM HIRNEISE Tobias 1.5

According to my calculations, the average rating of the tournament is 2455. This means a GM norm requires 6.5 points. Mas will need to win three games and draw one from his remaining four games. It is not impossible, but the loss have made it more difficult now.

Mas remaining games are with (in order of rounds) -

IM SIMACEK Pavel 3.5
GM POLAK Tomas 2
FM CSIBA Dominik 2
IM MICHALIK Peter 2.5

Simacek is also on track for a GM norm needing 3/4. So it will be interesting if he tries to beat Mas as Mas will also be gunning for a win.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mas in SloveniaSlovakia

With so many events going on the last few weeks, Mas quest for grandmaster title in Europe took a back seat. The current standings are:

IM SIMACEK Pavel 3.5
GM KRIVOSHEY Sergei 3
GM STOHL Igor 3
IM MAS Hafizulhelmi 3
IM MICHALIK Peter 2.5
IM JURCIK Marian 2.5
GM POLAK Tomas 2
FM CSIBA Dominik 2
IM HIRNEISE Tobias 1.5
FM STRUNSKI Andreas 1

However, Mas still have one game outstanding from the first round against Jurcik which has yet to be played. Theoretically he can be the leader provided he wins this postponed game.

With three points from four games and another five more to go, Mas definitely has a chance to gain his first GM norm.

I wish him all the best in the forthcoming games.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Carlsen to train under Kasparov

A Chessbase report that Kasparov is reportedly working with chess superstar Magnus Carlsen with the aim of propelling the Norwegian to be the world number one. I have to admit this really caught me by surprise and even had me checking the calendar if today is April 1st. Nope, it is still September 7th as I write this. The Chessbase article even has photos of the two working together at Kasparov's summer residence in Croatia. Wow!

I have been following Carlsen's progress ever since he came into the limelight as a thirteen year old some five years ago. I also had the opportunity to observe him at the board up close at the Dresden Olympiad last year. I believe he has what it takes to be the greatest player of all time, even over-shadowing Kasparov himself. It says a lot about Kasparov character that he is willing to help Carlsen achieve his ambitions.

The question now is not whether Carlsen will become World Champion, but when.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

KL Open Round 4 Results

After four rounds, three players lead with 3.5 points. Indonesian Farid Firman Syah (who is only rated 2207), Vietnamese GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and Uzbek GM Dzhumaev Marat are the leaders.

Amongst the Malaysians, I found that Tan Li Ting has two points together with Wong Jianwen. They might improve seeing that their next round opponents are rated 2000+ only. Edward Lee and Najib Abdul Wahab have 1.5 points and play each other.

Chess is Chess team members

Although we did not win any prizes in the Merdeka Team, it felt good to play together with friends some of whom I have known for over thirty years. Let me introduce my good friends and team members.

Chin Seng is a former national champion. After winning the championship he realized he could never top that. Thereafter he hatched Operation Beyond Sky ("li tian"), whereby he will conquer the (chess) world by proxy. This culminated in the birth of his son, Li Tian.

As a sixteen year old boy, I wandered into the Penang Chess Association one day. Chuah Heng Meng was one of the first chess player I met then. We became friends immediately. He can be called Mr. Penang because you can always see him every Friday night and Sunday afternoon at the old Hooi Lye Association at Kimberley Street where the Penang Chess Association had it's meetings. In the late seventies and into the eighties, we practically kept the playing sessions going between the two of us. Some days it would only be him and me, with a chess board and clock, churning out tens of blitz games.

One Sunday a boy of about ten wearing shorts and slippers came to the Hooi Lye premises accompanied by his father. Even at this age, Eric Cheah was quite independent and quickly became a permanent fixture at the club. Once he competed in the Asian Juniors which was held in Kuala Lumpur. The tournament was held in an empty shop-lot in a new shopping centre (if memory serves, this would be the Wilayah Kompleks where DATCC chess league was played recently). One day Eric was late for the round and running at full speed towards his table forgot about the glass front of the shop-lot. He crashed right through. Miraculously he only sustained only minor cuts. To this day he still have the scars from this accident.

Chess is Chess results

Board 1 Jimmy Liew 6.5 / 9
Board 2 Yeoh Chin Seng 5.5 / 9
Board 3 Chuah Heng Meng 4.5 / 9
Board 4 Eric Cheah 4 / 9

Friday, September 4, 2009

IA draws IM !

A surprise result from the first round of KL Open 2009. Najib (that's DATMO 2009 Chief Arbiter not the PM!) drew against IM Gokhale of India. Although Gokhale is only rated at 2284, it can be considered an upset for him.

Let's not forget Najib started playing chess first before going into organising and arbitering. He might even end up as the best performing Malaysian, seeing how few Malaysians are actually in the tournament. Unfortunately there is no prize for that, unlike in the DATMO.

Indonesian Dream Girls versus Chess is Chess!

Round 4 of the Merdeka Team Rapid saw Chess Is Chess team pitted against Indonesian Dream Girls, a team of young highly attractive girls from (where else?) Indonesia. The girls were quite a handful and we only managed to win 2.5-1.5.

Yeoh Chin Seng drew while Chuah Heng Meng lost on third board.




(Pictures courtesy of Collin Madhavan)