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.


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