Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mas - Mok , Pre-match Analysis

Quite a lot of us have been waiting for this match. Both are very strong contenders to win the 1st Malaysian Masters title, in fact I think the winner of this match WILL be the eventual winner.

Mok has a good year including winning the Penang Heritage Open ahead of Mas and the only grandmaster in the even, GM Gerhard Schebler. At the DAT Malaysian Open, he gained a long awaited final norm for his IM title. According to Quah Seng Sun's column in the Star, Mok has reportedly said that he waited ten years for this final norm!.

Mas also have not been idle. In fact, it seems like he has been playing all year. The difference is that he is aiming for a first grandmaster norm so all his tournaments are all in pretty strong field.

Now a match is not like a tournament. In a tournament you need not beat your closest rivals. If we examine the Penang Open results, Mok did not beat Mas or Schebler, he drew both. Both his rivals lost a game each to other participants while Mok was undefeated and this gave him the first place.

However, in a match like this, you cannot just draw games, you need to win at least one game more than your opponent.

Mok does not have a wide repertoire of openings. He always plays the Modern as black, leading someone to quip that it is now the MOKdern Defence. As white, he usually plays the king pawn, although I did see him open with 1.c3 some time back! We can expect Mas to use his normal Sicilian Defence. Mok will normally steer clear of main lines against the Sicilian, prefering something along the lines of Bb5 to be followed by Bxc6. This is a very safe way of playing against the Sicilian, but does not gain any advantage against correct play. It will be hard for Mok to win in this case as Mas also knows this opening very well. He might even play for a win with this opening.

Mas has recently adopted the queen pawn openings which gives white more chances to maintain an opening edge into the middle-game compared with the usual king pawn. I expect him to use this exclusively and try to annihilate the MOKdern.

In closing, I favor Mas to win. He should be in better form due to playing consistently only very strong opposition whereas Mok only faced a few strong players in the DATMO and Merdeka Rapid. Mok's opening preparation is also suspect and I think Mas will be ready for them.

I expect Mas to win one game while drewing the rest for a 2.5 - 1.5 victory.


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