Friday, December 17, 2010

John Wong's blog

I just added John's Chess Food for Thought to my blog list. I do not know why I missed adding it for so long. Maybe John is not so good at self-promotion unlike some other bloggers I know.

John is a chess coach across the Causeway (that's Singapore for those less acquainted with the region). He blogs from the point of view of a trainer and writes some interesting posts. His latest post is on his satisfaction seeing how his students have improved after training with him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thoughts on Penang Open

A bunch of Pinoy second liners descended on the island. None of them would be considered a contender for any future Philippine olympiad team. Yet they swept most of the top prizes.

We had two members of the 2010 olympiad team competing but with six points each they could only join a big group tie for 6th to 15th placing. They had the best placing amongst the locals.

Our other players capable of fighting for the top prize - Nicholas Chan, Mok Tze Meng and Ronnie Lim (who recently made his 1st IM norm at this year's Malaysian Open) were nowhere in sight. It is quite simple to deduce that their work does not permit them to play. It is a shame especially for Ronnie as Penang is his home state.This is the sad fact for us - first studies and than work will put an end to our players chess career.

Further down the list, I spotted two juniors whom I have been keeping an eye on. I first got to know them during a training camp organized couple of months ago. They are Low Jun Jian and Tan Jun Feng. Jun Feng is the older brother of Tan Li Ting. Both only scored four points but I think they have potential to become the next batch of strong juniors. These three need a good trainer to work with them to realize their potential.

The last mention is Yeoh Li Tian who scored five points. There is so much expectations from this young kid that this result can be considered a failure. His best result was at this year's K.L. Open. Following on was the Malaysian Open and now this tournament. Looking at the opposition and his results in these three tournaments, my opinion is that his game is not improving. For such a young player, this is of concern for this is the time when he should be making leaps and bounds in strength.

There are other juniors playing but as I have not worked with any of them and therefore know little about them, I cannot comment on their performance.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Zero to Hero

Here is something you do not see very often. In a Swiss tournament in Italy, with several grandmasters taking part, a 2149 rated untitled player ties for first place ,takes the trophy on tie-breaks and makes a IM norm in the process.

 Pos  Title  Name Rtg  PRtg  Fed  Pts
 1  --  Herman Matthew J 21492571 USA 6.5
 2  GM  Solodovnichenko Yuri 2563 2570 UKR 6.5
 3  GM  Tratar Marko 24922464 SLO 6.5
 4  GM  David Alberto 2587 2438 LUX 6.5
 5  GM  Salvador Roland 25272515 PHI 6.5
 6  IM  Bellia Fabrizio 2399 2496 ITA 6
 7  IM  Colovic Aleksandar 24572513 MKD 6
 8  GM  Marin Mihail 2562 2426 ROU 6
 9  IM  Saric Sinisa 24522395 SRB 6
 10  --  Mertens Heiko 2320 2472 GER 6
 11  IM  Tesic Dragan 24032395 SRB 6
 12  GM  Drazic Sinisa 2524 2459 SRB 5.5
 13  IM  Borgo Giulio 24142363 ITA 5.5
 14  FM  Damia Angelo 2302 2382 ITA 5.5
 15  IM  Vezzosi Paolo 23792266 ITA 5.5
 16  --  Garano Nicola 2171 2270 ITA 5.5
 17  --  Lapiccirella Daniele 22252344 ITA 5.5
 18  --  Iudicello Giovanni 2158 2283 ITA 5.5
 19  FM  Sbarra Marco 23122221 ITA 5.5
 20  --  Gagliardi Christian 2188 2291 ITA 5.5

His list of opponents -

 Rd Colour  Title Opponent  Rating Result
 1  W  GM  David Alberto  2587  1 
 2  B  IM  Manca Federico  2405   0 
 3  W  --  Agrifoglio Fabio  1999   1 
 4  W  --  Garano Nicola  2171   1 
 5  B  IM  Saric Sinisa  2452  1 
 6  W  IM  Borgo Giulio  2414   1 
 7  B  GM  Solodovnichenko Yuri  2563   0.5 
 8  B  GM  Marin Mihail  2562   0.5 
 9  W  GM  Tratar Marko  2492  0.5 

Unfortunately for him, this was only an IM norm result as he played two low rated players in the third and fourth round. Nevertheless, this kind of performance is every 2200 rated player dream. I really hope our Malaysian players can read this and be inspired to achieve something similar.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lim Chong has passed away

I just got a call from Hamid informing that Lim Chong has passed away, apparently on a flight back from London. This is very shocking news as he is only in his fifties and looked well when I last met him at this year's DATMO.

We have all lost another friend of chess.

R.I.P. my friend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Aronian takes World Blitz

Levon Aronian won the 2010 World Blitz Championship, a twenty player double-round robin tournament. He finished just half a point ahead of Teimour Radjabov. Magnus Carlsen was third and trailed Radjabov by just half a point.

 No. Title  Name Fed.  FIDE Total
 1  GM Aronian, Levon ARM  2801  24.5 
 2  GM  Radjabov, Teimour AZE  2744   24 
 3  GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR  2802  23.5 
 4  GM  Gelfand, Boris ISR  2741   21.5 
 5  GM Nakamura, Hikaru  USA 2741  21.5 
 6  GM  Karjakin, Sergey RUS  2760   20.5 
 7  GM Kramnik, Vladimir  RUS 2791  20.5 
 8  GM  Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar  AZE 2763   19.5 
 9  GM Svidler, Peter RUS  2722  19.5 
 10  GM  Eljanov, Pavel UKR  2742   19 
 11  GM Grischuk, Alexander  RUS 2771  19 
 12  GM  Mamedov, Rauf AZE  2660   18 
 13  GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian  RUS 2720  18 
 14  GM  Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime  FRA 2703   18 
 15  GM Movsesian, Sergei  SVK 2721  17.5 
 16  GM  Andreikin, Dmitry RUS  2683  17.5 
 17  GM Grachev, Boris RUS  2654  16.5 
 18  GM  Savchenko, Boris RUS  2632   15.6 
 19  GM Caruana, Fabiano  ITA 2709  13.5 
 20  GM  Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR  2744   12.5 

Although the first three positions were very close, I felt Aronian is a worthy winner. His game were generally solid and in blitz where everybody blunders he just did less of that.

Radjabov's second placing came with a seven games win out of the last eight games. Kramnik lost his last two games to stay out of contention for the top placings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chess playing robot

Not a robot as we usually think of it. But a robot arm that can move the pieces and even press the clock. It is probably linked to a chess playing software , the mechanical arm is really just programmed to do just that - mechanical action. There is no real intelligence there. My guess is that there is a software that interprets the input from the chess program and sends the appropriate signal to the robotic arm.

Actually this is nothing new, robotic mechanisms like this can be found in any modern factory. The novelty is in introducing it into the chess setting. For some reason I found the movements very amusing especially when the robot presses the clock!

Notice in the video how Kramnik tries to fool the program. He moves his a7 pawn in between a7 and a6. Maybe it is pawn to a6.5. That really froze the program :)

I can imagine the robot reprimanding its opponent somewhere in its circuitry :)

At another point, Kramnik extends his hand and offers a draw only to quickly retract - his hand that is. You do not want to get in the way when that giant arm swings into action.

Watch the video here Kramnik versus robot arm

And if that is not enough to give you the shivers, here is the robot giving a simultaneous display robotic simul

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 World Blitz Championship

The 2010 World Blitz Championship is now on-going in Moscow. Twenty of the best players in the world have been invited to this annual event. I think the only top players missing are Anand and Ivancuk.

The event will be held over three days from 16th-18th November 2010. This is a double round robin event meaning a mammoth 38 rounds. Yesterday fourteen rounds were played. Another fourteen today and the rest on Thursday 18th November.

Magnus Carlsen and Levon Aronian are leading after 14 rounds. Standings after 14 rounds:

 No. Title  Name Fed.  FIDE Total
 1  GM Carlsen, Magnus NOR  2802  10 
 2  GM  Aronian, Levon ARM  2801   10 
 3  GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar  AZE 2763  9.5 
 4  GM  Kramnik, Vladimir RUS  2791   8.5 
 5  GM Svidler, Peter RUS  2722  8.5 
 6  GM  Gelfand, Boris ISR  2741   8 
 7  GM Eljanov, Pavel UKR  2742  7.5 
 8  GM  Karjakin, Sergey RUS  2760   7.5 
 9  GM Grischuk, Alexander  RUS 2771  7.5 
 10  GM  Nakamura, Hikaru USA  2741   7.5 
 11  GM Radjabov, Teimour  AZE 2744  7 
 12  GM  Nepomniachtchi, Ian RUS  2720   6.5 
 13  GM Caruana, Fabiano  ITA 2709  6.5 
 14  GM  Ponomariov, Ruslan UKR  2744   6.5 
 15  GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime  FRA 2703  6 
 16  GM  Grachev, Boris RUS  2654   5.5 
 17  GM Movsesian, Sergei  SVK 2721  5 
 18  GM  Andreikin, Dmitry RUS  2683   5 
 19  GM Savchenko, Boris  RUS 2632  4.5 
 20  GM  Mamedov, Rauf AZE  2660   3 

The time control is three minutes and two seconds increment for every move. You might think it is hard to blunder with such increments but it happens to even the best of them.

Vachier Lagrave - Magnus Carlsen, After 67.Rc8
 Carlsen has an extra pawn though he is about to lose his c3 pawn in exchange for white's h6 pawn. The game should be drawn as Black cannot queen his last pawn in this ending as White will simply sacrifice his knight for the pawn at the right moment leading to a drawn RvR+N ending.

But something possessed Carlsen and he proceeded to lose with 67...Ne4?? allowing white to push his h-pawn. 68. h7 c2 69.Rxc2 Rxc2 70. h8=Q Rc6 71. Qe5+ Kd8 72. Ne6+ Kd7 73. Nd4 Rc5 74. Qe6+ Kc7 75.
Nxf5 1-0

Against Boris Gelfand, Carlsen in a winning position surprisingly lost on time. Despite these two setbacks, he won nine and drew two games to finish at the top.

The surprise is Hikaru Nakamura who is generally acknowledged as one of the best blitz player alive today. He lost six games to position on tenth.

Here is a selection of games:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

16th Asian Games

Chess will be included in the 16th Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou, China next month. The tournament will start on 13th November to 26th November. There will be individual as well as team events with four gold medals at stake. I suppose that means there will be men and women sections for each event.

As usual, our Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) is silent on this. I think both Mas and Mok are the only sure bets for the individual event. Maybe they will send the 2010 Olympiad team?

China is very strong in WeiQi (Go) and Xiangxi (Chinese Chess) so there is no surprise to see that both these games also feature in the Games.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Carlsen loses again, Kramnik leads

What's up with Magnus Carlsen this days? First a really poor performance at the Olympiad, losing three games. Now two consecutive loses in as many rounds at Bilbao.

Granted, this is a very strong field but still this is something unexpected from the highest rated player today. This is only a six round tournament, so there is no way he can make a comeback. Unless he wins his next four games. I'm a Carlsen fan but even so, I cannot believe that is possible.

Kramnik is in great form as he won another game by beating Shirov. So the current standings are:

1. Kramnik 6 points
2. Anand 4 points
3. Shirov 1 points
4. Carlsen 0 points

The third round sees Anand playing against Kramnik. This should be interesting to see what Anand else he has in his repertoire for Kramnik.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bilbao begins

The 2010 Bilbao Masters begins with World Champion Anand, World Number 1 Carlsen, Kramnik and Shirov playing a double-round robin.

Each player will meet the other three players twice. Bilbao rules are in place which means you better win some games. Wins scores three points, draw is one and a loss ... is a loss.

Watching four guys play is pretty boring if none of the games get interesting. So far nothing much to follow and I believe both the games will be drawn. Yawn.

Dubai 1986 our best performance!

Hairulov have a flawed argument -Dubai 1986 our best performance? - regarding one of my statements in my olympiad review.

There are so many other factors that can be considered when determining which Olympiad we did the best.

Hairul argues that there are many more strong countries especially after the break-up of the Soviet Union. The case seems to be that because of addition of more strong teams a 42nd placing in 1986 is not worth a 42nd placing in the present. This is a fundamentally flawed argument.

The fact is that there are also weaker countries participating now than in 1986. A quick glance shows that Nepal, Monaco, Korea  ,Chinese Taipei, Aruba  ,Jersey ,Namibia  ,Malawi , Ethiopia      ,Guernsey   , Surinam , Macau ,Mozambique , Madagascar ,Cameroon ,Sao Tome and Principe , Sierra Leone, Burundi  ,Rwanda were not at Dubai and arguably they are weaker than us.

Then lets look at rating performance. Dubai performance was 2337. There is another team that bettered this which is Turin 2006 which performed at 2405 - just 68 points better. But have we considered rating inflation? I would say a rating in 1986 is worth another 100 points today. Which would make the Turin performance below Dubai.

A world championship candidate in 1980 would have a rating in the mid 2600s. For many years only Fischer could exceed the 2700 barrier. Today there are quite a number of 2700 players and the barrier is now 2800. Read this article regarding rating inflation. and you might start thinking that my 100 points is too conservative.

IM Lim Yee Weng also mentions that the Turin team had excellent results winning against stronger teams like Canada 3.5-0.5 (!)  and Switzerland 2.5-1.5. However, a tournament is not an single match but a series of matches. I am not talking about best performance in a single round. I already mentioned that Malaysia assembled the strongest team ever in 2006. Luck also plays a part as in Turin they were unlucky to meet two strong teams in the last two rounds and could only manage a single point from the eight games.

Finally Hairul poses the question, how would the  Dubai 1986's team final ranking be if they were to face the post -Soviet & Yugoslavia countries. Let me ask a question, how would Morphy do in a match with Fischer? Or Capablanca in a match with Carlsen? Morphy was the best compared with players in his era and similarly Capablanca was the best in his time. You cannot make this comparision and you cannot compare how a team in 1986 will perform in a tournament in 2010. The only comparision is how they performed against in the company of their peers. And that actually is what the Olympiad is about.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Impersonations of chess blogs

I love watching impersonations. You know, people acting like other (usually famous) people.

Then my every active mind started thinking, what if we could do impersonations of chess bloggers? What would that look like? Well, wondor no more, here is my impersonation of some well-known Malaysian chess bloggers.

But first to get into the proper frame of mind, here is an example of what I mean, Kevin Spacey doing impersonations of other actors.

Ok , now here goes my impersonations of (in)famous Malaysian chess bloggers


Olympiad Round 8 live...zzzzzzz
Olympiad Round 9 live...zzzzzzz
Olympiad Round 10 live...zzzzzzz

DAT Chess Centre

Olympiad Round 8 live
Olympiad Round 9 live
Olympiad Round 10 live

First GM.

Can you see this? If you can join all the dots, and not drop the ball , shut out the noise then maybe....we have something here. can you understand this?


This isn't fucking poetry. If you want to see beautiful language, go read Shakespeare and if you didn't wish to be further dragged into this 'debate', you would have never made a reply.

Do you really think we have the IQ of a dead frog? We know we didn't find out who you were talking about through our brilliant skills of observation and investigation.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Olympiad 2010 review

"The time has come", the walrus said, "to speak of many things...". So goes the line from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland".

"Let's start at the very beginning/ a very good place to start" from Do-Re-Mi (the song from "The Sound of Music"). The selection of the mens team was rather haphazard and roundly critized by all. How did two chess officials appoint themselves into the team? What has the selection committee got to say about this?

And the board order. Khai Boon on third board? I think Greg would have put him on first board if Mas and Mok were agreeable. That's not to say it is a bad idea, a few teams actually used this strategy. We probably could have obtained a better placing if we followed this strategy.

Ok, never mind, what is done is done. Important thing is to give a good account of themselves. First round against England, it is a foregone conclusion. Someone thinks that Mas should have played on against Michael Adams. Hannah Montana goes "Say what?".

A missed chance against Lithuania in the third round. This could have been the highlight of our performance if only Mok had figured out the win. Instead the highlight turned out to be a lost match against the Bolivian team.

Halfway through the tournament, it became obvious that a lack of a real reserve player was a considerable handicap.

Individual performance

Mas performance was pretty par for the course. He scored 5.5/10 including five grandmaster opponents. There were some anxious moments in the last round when he lost due to his mobile alarm. Mobile phones nowadays double as PDA as well and shutting down the phone does not shut down the PDA functions as Mas found.

There was an interview with a phone designer once and according to him, studies showed that 99% of phone users have no need to shut off their phone completely. Unfortunately chess players fall into the 1% that does. Lately (at the Malaysian Chess Festival), I started taking out the battery from my mobile for peace of mind.

Mok scored 6/11 and normally one should be satisfied with this score on board two. However there were too many lowly rated players in his list of opponents. Both he and Peter are the biggest losers in rating points.

Khai Boon first olympiad will be memorable for the wrong reason. He scored 3/9 and started his meltdown from round seven. It was a wise move to rest him in the last two rounds.

Peter Long did much better than I expected, given that he had not played at this level for a number of years. He contributed 5.5/11, a 50% score , easily his best performance at an olympiad. Except for the first round, he played some solid openings and obtained good middle-game positions that he could play.

Gregory Lau played three games, winning two and losing one. He contributed a point in the match that mattered most, the final round. Strangely, he was the only one beside Mas who actually gained rating points.

It looks like we will never better our best olympiad , 1986 Dubai. Never. The best team we ever put together, 2006 Turin with Mas, Mok, Yee Weng, Jonathan and Anas, we still managed only 80th position. The reason is that every country is improving and we are stagnating.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rationality, Enigma is Thy Name

When Rationality speaks (or writes) I am all ears. Mainly because he has a way of writing what about my own deepest thoughts - some that I will not (or dare not?) share openly.

His latest post with his (her?) trade-mark biting sarcasm , understanding of human psychology and just plain in-your-face attitude.

You want to know why everyone is interested in who you really are? It is because deep down, everybody knows you are right and admire - even if grudgingly - your guts to tell it like it is.

And by way of throwing in more confusion into the mix. Everybody is guessing Gregory,Peter Long, Joseph Toh, Christi Hon, Lim Yee Weng and even Collin Madhavan (heaven forbid) and a host of other names. But nobody has ever mentioned me. Why not? I can be Rationality. Maybe it is Rationality writing this and not Jimmy. Think about it, guys.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ukraine wins

Ukraine drew their match with Israel to win the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. Russia 1 took the silver also drawing their match with Spain.

Israel takes the bronze on tie-break. Hungary have the same match-points by beating Poland but they lose the bronze on game points.

The womens tournament is won by Russia 1 who beat the Russian second team. They were convincing as they won all their eleven matches. China is clear second after beating Ukraine 3-1. Poland and Georgia ties for the third spot after drawing each other 2-2. It looks like Poland will take the bronze on tie-breaks. This means Georgia which have always done very well in the women olympiad goes home empty handed.

Final Round live commentary

Live games are here

All games still jockeying for position in the opening.

Board 1 Al Sulaiti Ali - IM Mas Hafizulhelmi

Black transposes to a Benko Gambit which white decline. Here is a struggle for the queen-side squares - b5 and c4. Whoever can control these squares better will have the advantage.

Live games show Mas lost? Don't know why but sometimes the live relay has problems and errors. Hope it is a mistake.

Board 2 IM Mok Tze-Meng - Bukhalaf Khalil

Black cannot do much with his broken king-side pawns. Mok now have space advantage and potentially strong bishop on g2.

Mok must win this to win the match. If the black queen leave the f5 square then Nf5+ will win the f6 pawn (and the game).

Board 3 Ayyad Maher - FM Long Peter
White's tenth move 10.e4 is rather unusual in this position. He weakened the d-pawn voluntarily. Black should equalize now with 15...Nxe5 16. dxe5 Qc7 and exchange the light-square bishop. White will have the weak e-pawn and slightly worse bishop in an ending.

Now 17. Rd7 can be answered with Rfd8 pinning the rook.

Peter got a good position in a Q+B V Q+B ending

Peter has a better ending but it is not winnable

Peter agrees to draw. Up to Mok now. Mok may have something now.

Board 4 FM Ayyad Husain - Gregory Lau

13...e4 14. Nd2? inviting e3 and white have to capture. Instead 14. Nd4 to answer 14...e3 with 15. f3. White's position looks bad now.

Nice tactic from Greg, 23.Nd5 winning.

Greg finishing brilliantly. 25..Kxf8 26. Qd8+ Re8 27. Bg7+ Kg8 28. Qxe8+ mate


Greg winning, Peter drawing, Mas has lost. Mok has to win his game to take the match.

Mok is winning so we win the match by the narrowest margin, 2.5-1.5

Our women's team also secured a win through Nabila and Mi Yen who both won and Roslina draw. Nabila beat a Women Grand Master.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Round 11 pairings for Malaysia

 89  Bahrain (BRN)Rtg   85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Al Sulaiti Ali 2134    IM Mas Hafizulhelmi 2422 
  Bukhalaf Khalil  0     Mok Tze-Meng  2416 
 FM Ayyad Maher 2160   FM Long Peter 2302 
 FM Ayyad Husain  2165     Gregory Lau  2159 
 72  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg   73  Egypt (EGY)Rtg
  Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904     Elansary Eman 1836 
 WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829    WGM Mona Khaled  2103 
  Marmono Roslina 1933    WIM Basta Sohair 2030 
  Fong Mi Yen  1905     Elgohary Fayrouz  1820 

Our mens team field the same players as in the last round. I wondor why. Peter was more effective on fourth board and should deliver something. Combined with Mas and Mok power, the match should be sealed. Now both third and fourth board are weakened.

Womens team plays Egypt who is sporting a WGM on second board! Strange.

Final Round 11 on Sunday 3rd October

The final round of the 2010 Chess Olympiad will start tomorrow (Sunday 3rd October). All the top teams are looking around them trying to figure out what they can achieve and what the rest will try for.

A win could move you up twenty places, a draw perhaps ten and a loss...well you don't really want to know what a loss will do to your placing.

Yes, it does not get tougher than the last round. This is the last chance to get your best placing throughout the tournament or to secure it. Your final placing will be in the history books - better known as OlimpBase - for all future generations to see and admire (or laugh at). This is the last round or as I like to call it, the "money" round.

In the women's olympiad, Russia 1 has already secured the gold. They won an incredible ten matches i.e every round. On the first table Russia 1 play the Russian second team. So what will happen here? Will there be a fight or will they "lose" to Russia 2? We will be watching.

China, Ukraine, Poland and Georgia join Russia 2 in the race for the silver and bronze medals. China plays Ukraine and needs only a draw to secure the silver on tie-breaks.

In the Open section, Ukraine leads with seventeen match points. They are folowed by Russia 1 (16 match points) and Israel (16 match points).

Ukraine plays Israel. Ukraine needs only a draw to secure the gold. The Israelis have a chance at bronze if they draw.

The final round will start earlier as per tradition. The round will start at 11:00 AM local time and 1:00 PM Malaysian time.

Round 10 Malaysia draws Wales

 85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg  118 Wales Rtg
IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422 1-0FM  Jones Richard S 2373 
IM  Mok Tze-Meng  2416  1-0   Bennett Alan  2154 
FM Long Peter  2302 0-1CM  Jones Iolo C 2294 
  Gregory Lau  2159  0-1   Young Alan  2009 
75 Chile (CHI)Rtg  72 Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Abarca Gonzalez Damaris 1991  0-1  Bakri Alia Anin Azwa  1904 
 WFM  Toro Pradenas Maria Jose  1951  1-0 WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
  Jorquera Cabello Valentina 1970  1-0  Wahiduddin Nurul Huda  2020 
  Cortes Arias Mariela  1772  0-1   Fong Mi Yen  1905 

A round of mixed fortunes for our men and women.

The men team could only draw with Wales which only seeded 118th position. Mas and Mok managed to save some honor after both Peter and Greg lost.

Peter had what looked like a superior position but suddenly collapsed. Fatigue probably. Did he really overlook Bxf2?

Greg blundered in time trouble overlooking white's Ne4. I really did not expect that from him.

Mens team plays Bahrain in the last round, a very weak team (well, we are standing below the 100th position at the moment). If they win the match (and why not) they will improve on the last olympiad where we were 96th.

Womens Team plays Egypt. The good news is that Alia won her last game and makes her WIM norm. That is according to me. It's up to the team captain or manager to work that out.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Round 10 live commentary

For live games go here

Board 1 IM Mas Hafizulhelmi - FM Jones Richard S

Board 2 Bennett Alan - IM Mok Tze-Meng

Mok plays his Modern Defence with 6..Ne4 which results in a weak pawn aftr 7. Nxe4 dxe4. I think he played this before probably in Turin Olympiad if not mistaken.

Mok sacrifices an exchange for two pawns. I do not see a clear winning plan for Mok.

8:28 PM: Mok has created a mating net out of nowhere! Nice. White forced to give a piece to stop mate.

Board 3 FM Long Peter - CM Jones Iolo

Peter plays his English Opening.

Peter has pressure on his opponent position. He will probably convert it.

Board 4 Young Alan - Gregory Lau

A French for Greg and white gambits a pawn with 6. h4. If you do not know the line, you can get into trouble very easily.

Greg declines to win the pawn, in this line his king goes to f8 and he gives up option of castling.

Greg finally grabs the pawn but he will be under pressure from the open lines and his uncastled king will be a source of worry for him.

Greg takes the e-pawn - he has to - otherwise his position will be permanently cramped. Now he just need to survive. Both players in time trouble now as they have to reach the 40th move.

8:30 PM: Greg in his element now in time trouble. I mean he is better in time pressure than his opponent.

8:41 PM: Looks like I spoke too soon. Greg blundered horribly 31...Rh8??


7:49 PM: Things are not going well. Nobody have a clear plus yet. Greg is in great danger as he has not solved his king-side problem, the rook remains on h8. Peter appears to be losing some pawns. Mok does not look like he can make something of his position.

8:11 PM: Right now the only one who have chances of winning is Mok, by virtual of his totally imbalanced position. Peter might be lost to be followed by Greg. I can hardly bear to watch this.

8:31 PM: Peter is lost now. Mok and Greg turning their game around. Mas starting to show his class. Maybe a 2.5-1.5 win or 3-1 even.

8:42 PM: We have to depend on our experienced duo to draw this match now.

10:00 PM: Malaysia draw with Wales 2-2

Women's game:
Alia has some advantage (more active pieces).
Alia about to win a pawn! She choose the wrong way to win the pawn and lost it back. Now her win is slipping away

Today's good news is that Alia's opponent managed to blunder and lose rook for knight. Alia with R v B winning ending now!.

10:35 PM: Alia wins

Ukraine maintains lead

I have been concentrating too much on the Malaysian results that I forgot to mention the "real" tournament.

Ukraine maintains its lead despite Ivancuk losing his first game (to Mamedyarov) yesterday. They lead with sixteen match points a slim one match point margin. Next is Russia 1 and France (!) with fifteen match points each. This could be France best outing so far, but it remains to be seen if they can maintain because today they have to face Ukraine!

Israel, China, United States are not far behind with fourteen match points a piece.

Some crucial matches are on today. Ukraine versus France, China plays Russia 1, United States square off with Israel.

Sergey Karjakin is in great form for Russia 1 with 7/8 and undefeated with a performance rating of 2957. Quite amazing. If he were still playing for Ukraine, it could possibly be over as far as the gold is concerned. Unfortunately for them , he changed his federation to Russia.

The entire Russia 1 team has only lost two games. Former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov has drawn all his seven games so far.

So many games to follow. I have to watch Alia's game as well to see whether she will achieve her norm.

Round 10 board pairings for Malaysia

 85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg  118 Wales Rtg
IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422  FM  Jones Richard S 2373 
IM  Mok Tze-Meng  2416     Bennett Alan  2154 
FM Long Peter 2302   CM Jones Iolo C  2294 
  Gregory Lau  2159     Young Alan  2009 
75 Chile (CHI)Rtg  72 Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Abarca Gonzalez Damaris 1991     Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904 
 WFM  Toro Pradenas Maria Jose  1951    WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
  Jorquera Cabello Valentina 1970     Wahiduddin Nurul Huda 2020 
  Cortes Arias Mariela  1772     Fong Mi Yen  1905 

Its a bird! Its a plane! Its ....Super Sub!

"Super Sub" is Mas references to Greg in round eight when Greg saved Malaysia much embarrassment. Khai Boon gets a rest but no such luck for either Mok or Peter.

We should have no problems scoring some match points in this round.

The women will have a balanced match with Chile who is seeded 75th. Alia will have to win her game to get her first WIM norm. A draw will leave her having to win against an opponent with a 2400+ rating in the last round. It is now or never for her.

Round 9 results for Malaysia

 89  Andorra (AND)Rtg 2.5-1.5 85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
 GM De La Riva Aguado Oscar 2521  1-0 IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422 
 FM Simonet Marc  2277  0.5   Mok Tze-Meng  2416 
 FM Garcia Raul 2236  1-0 FM Tan Khai Boon  2160 
  Santamaria Vicens  2085  0-1   Long Peter  2302 
 72  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg 01-Mar 19  Netherlands (NED)Rtg
  Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904  0-1 GM Peng Zhaoqin  2400 
 WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829  0-1 IM  Lanchava Tea  2342 
  Wahiduddin Nurul Huda 2020  0.5 WIM Schut Lisa  2288 
  Marmono Roslina  1933  0.5 WIM  Van Weersel Arlette  2174 

Both teams crash to defeat. Mens team lost narrowly to Andorra. Mas is not his usual self and lost too easily. Both Khai Boon and Mok Tze Meng again showed they are not prepared in the opening. Mok only drew against a player he should be expected to beat on ratings alone. Khai Boon blundered a pawn in the opening and as they say, the result was never in doubt.

Peter played his usual Reti/English setup and won rather easily, in fact I think he is the first to finish. What he showed is interesting and should be of value to others and those who will play in future olympiads. You do not have to do anything special to beat weaker players. Just playing to your strength is enough. It also helps that he is a positional player and not rely on too much tactics which can rebound on you.

Both the senior women players showed why experience matters when they drew their games to give Malaysia a point against a strong Dutch team.

Alia did not have a worse middle-game position but time trouble and inexperienced lead to a defeat. A draw would have given the young girl her first WIM norm. But she stands very good chances because a win in the next round will be sufficient for the norm.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Round 9 live commentary

My prediction for this round, 2.5 - 1.5 in Malaysia favour

Follow the moves here

Just got home and things looks expected.

Board 1 GM De La Riva Aguado Oscar - IM Mas Hafizulhelmi

Mas has lost a pawn and in a bad way now. He should be losing.

Mas exchanges into a rook ending where he will be two pawns down. Still it is the best chance for draw.

Board 2 IM Mok Tze-Meng - FM Simonet Marc
Black plays the French and Mok choose the Tarrasch. 8. c4 is a bit unusual. Normally white will play against the isolated black q-pawn but now the pawn will be exchanged. 8.dxc5 is the normal move.

Slightly better for Mok, hopefully he can do something because Khai Boon is lost.

7:58 PM: Mok ended with opposite colored bishops and unlikely to win now

Board 3 FM Garcia Raul - Tan Khai Boon

Khai Boon plays Benoni Defence. 10...Nh5 instead of castling lost him a pawn. It looks very bad for him.

Actually Khai Boon is very lost and he can resign except being a team tournament, he cannot just give up as it is bad for morale of the team-mates.

Board 4 FM Long Peter - Santamaria Vicens
Peter looks like having a good position. Black is in trouble for example if 13...Bg6 14. e5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Bxb7 wins.


Khai Boon is lost, Peter is winning. Mok has an optical advantage - looks good for him, winning is another matter. Mas in a bad way. Looks like we are losing 1.5-2.5

8:02 PM: Khai Boon resigns, Peter wins.

8:14 PM: Mok draws 1.5-1.5 for both teams now. Mas might hold his position for a draw.

8:42 PM: Looks like Mas lost on time. Malaysia loses 1.5-2.5

Board 1 Alia - GM Peng

Good news here. Alia is holding her own against the GM. Maybe even slightly better game for her.

If she can draw this game, her WIM norm chances are very good.

Alia's position is better than I first thought. The grandmaster should be sweating now ....

26. Ba1 and 27. Rh4 with strong attack

Black plays 26...Qf8. If 26...b5 to trap the bishop , she could run into 27. Qh6 with Rh4 to follow. White has a strong attack with 27.Rh4 now

Both sides very short of time now and still a long way to go to move 40. Someone is bound to make a losing mistake.

White should play 30 Qd3 now to avoid the bishop on a6 being trapped by ...b5

It looks like a draw in this game will give Alia the norm already.

White made mistake with 30.Be2 allow black to take control of the c-file with 30...Rbc8. Now black has the advantage

Both reaches the 40 move. Alia down a pawn now and black pieces become active. Black should win now.

Black missed some easy wins. Now Alia might have a chance. 59...Kg6 60.Qd3+ could be a perpetual.

Too bad she blundered and lost now.

Roslina playing good in time trouble...

Round 9 board pairing for Malaysia

 89  Andorra (AND)Rtg  85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
 GM De La Riva Aguado Oscar 2521   IM Mas Hafizulhelmi 2422 
 FM Simonet Marc  2277   IM Mok Tze-Meng  2416 
 FM Garcia Raul 2236   Tan Khai Boon 2160 
 Santamaria Vicens  2085   FM Long Peter  2302 
 72  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg  19  Netherlands (NED)Rtg
 Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904   GM Peng Zhaoqin 2400 
 WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829   IM Lanchava Tea  2342 
 Wahiduddin Nurul Huda 2020   WIM Schut Lisa 2288 
 Marmono Roslina  1933   WIM Van Weersel Arlette  2174 

The men is taking no chances and field their top four players.

Our women will have a very difficult task to match with the Netherlands who are seeded 19. The team - especially Alia who is in line for a norm - have nothing to lose so any points they can score will be considered a success

Alia have chance for WIM norm

I was checking Alia's results and quite pleasantly surprised. She managed to win her last five games!

Furthermore she is holding six points from eight games. There is a possibility for her to get a first WIM norm. A quick check shows that she is short of either 1 point or 0.5 point (because of the possibility of dropping two games from the computations, it is not easy to work out the exact total points she requires).

If she wins or draws her game today against Netherlands then she will have achieved the norm. Even a loss is alright as long as she gets another point in the remaining two rounds against 2200 rated opponent. The possibility is very good and she has to watch who her last two opponents are. It will be wise to rest against unrated or lowly rated players.

Round 9 pairing for Malaysia

Round 9 pairs the men against Andorra who have a GM on first board. After the experiment yesterday which give everyone some anxious moments in the match, I am sure neither Mok nor Mas will ever rest again. They will play the remaining three games.

The big question is whether to rest Khai Boon. His game is not matured and when he loses it is without any fight. He just loses.

Peter Long is very steady so far. He does not win often but he don't lose often either. He is on fifty percent with two wins, four draws and two losses.

And what of Gregory Lau? Last night he turned hero for Malaysia by winning a crucial last game to give Malaysia the match points. I already said much earlier that he is not that bad. He cannot hold against stronger opponents but against similar strenght or lower than him, he can be effective.

Read Rationality take on the round. I did thought the match was lost at some point.

If I were to decide, I will rest Khai Boon and see how Greg fares again. Not that I trust Greg skill more, but I trust Khai Boon less. Greg should have equal chance against the Andorrans.

The women team also won last night and surprisingly get to play against Netherlands. Netherlands have Chinese grandmaster Peng Zhaoqin on board one and IMs on all other boards. They are in the top twenty seeding.

It turns out they only have eight match points same as Malaysia. Actually it means our women are doing quite well! Other Asian teams with the same points are Philippines and Singapore.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Round 8 winning round for Malaysia

 114  Sri Lanka (SRI)Rtg 1.5-2.5 85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Perera W C C 2016  0-1 IM Mok Tze-Meng  2416 
  Koggala W S V K  2026  1-0   Tan Khai Boon  2160 
  Weerawardane R 2165  0.5-0.5 FM Long Peter  2302 
  Anuruddha G C  2144  0-1   Gregory Lau  2159 
 81  United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rtg1.5-2.5  72  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
 WIM Saleh Nora Mohd 1906  0-1  Bakri Alia Anin Azwa  1904 
 WFM  Al-Zarouni Kholoud Essa  1890  0-1 WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
 WIM Al-Harmoudi Mona 1821  0.5-0.5  Marmono Roslina  1933 
 WFM  Al Ali Amna Nuaman  1752  1-0   Fong Mi Yen  1905 

Both men and women won their matches by the same score 2.5-1.5.

Mok won and Peter drew what could have been a losing game when he lost an exchange. Things were not looking good when Khai Boon found himself mated.

This left the last game by Gregory who had to win to secure the match. This he did after some inaccurate play from his opponent and Malaysia narrowly squeaked past a team which normally we should easily beat.

Our women also did very well to beat United Arab Emirates who on paper were the favourite to win the match. Alia and Nabila won their games and Roslina held the draw to give Malaysia the match.

A very good day indeed :)

Round 8 Malaysia live commentary

Follow the live games here

My prediction is 4-0 for Malaysia!

Board 1 Perera W C C - IM Mok Tze-Meng

Mok gets another black, no prizes for guessing the opening.

Ah...Mok surprises everyone and plays 1...e5. The game goes into a Two Knights Defence but Mok plays 5...Ne4 instead of the normal 5...d5. Is it a prepared line or he just do not know the opening?

7:37 PM: Mok is piece up so no surprises here.

Board 2 Tan Khai Boon - Koggala W S V K

5.Nbd2 is not exactly the best way to play this position. White gets problems on the e1-a5 diagonal and lose some control over the centre.

6.e4!? can we really give pawns like this in the opening? 6...Nxe4 7. b4 Qxb4 looks ok for black. 8. Rb1 is good for white

7:37 PM: Wow what happened here? Khai Boon has queen for two rooks.

8:26 PM: After exchanging of minor pieces, the rooks will have control of the game. Khai Boon may be already lost here.

8:31 PM: 29...Bc3 is a winning move. 30. Qxc2 Bd4+ wins the white queen.

Board 3 Weerawardane R - FM Long Peter
Peter uses a Blumenfeld Gambit, a form of Benko Gambit where white does not immediately accept the pawn. They have now reached the starting position of the Blumenfled. Black will use his strong pawn centre to compensate for the sacrificed pawn.

Peter has a perfect Blumenfeld, can expect him to score today.
7:34 PM: Peter has strong attack but exchange down. But he should be winning already.

7:46 PM: Peter settles for a draw. It turns out that 43...Nf3+ is not working because 44. Rxf3 Rxf3 45. Bxe4+ is check!

Board 4 Gregory Lau - Anuruddha G C

This looks like the most even contest judging from their ratings. I think Greg can pull this one off. He's not that bad a player. I think.

This line in the Fianchetto Variation with ..Bg4, black aims to attack the d4 pawn and weaken it. White has to play accurately. Black can follow up with ...Nd7 and sometimes ...e5 to attack the pawn.

7:36 PM: This do not look good at all. The white king is a bit exposed due to g-pawn exchanged off.

8:33 PM: 40...Nxa4 and Greg is in trouble. 41. Nxc7 Nc3 should be close to winning for black.

8:49 PM: 41...Rc8 not the best. White now back in the game , 42. Rxc5 Nxc5 43. Nd5 with chances.

9:00 PM: Greg missed his chance. After 42...dxc5 he should have tried 43. Qg4 Rxc7? 44 Rb8+ Kg7 45. Qd7+ winning!

9:17 PM: Greg actually have a winning position now!

7:38 PM:
Both Peter and Mok should win. Greg might lose due to king position. Khai Boon is not so clear.

7:47 PM: Peter just drew. Now pressure on the other three to deliver two points.

8:14 PM: Mok clearly winning now. Gregory still in some trouble and likely to remain so. Mok's opponent resigns, 1.5-0 to Malaysia now

8:27 PM: Khai Boon can only hope for a draw at best. Which means Greg must win now for Malaysia to win the match.

8:34 PM: At this point I have to say we will lose the match 1.5-2.5

8:46 PM: Khai Boon loses. 1.5-1.5 now

9:18 PM: Strangely we will win this match 2.5-1.5, as Greg is winning

Round 8 board pairings for Malaysia

 114  Sri Lanka (SRI)Rtg   85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Perera W C C 2016    IM Mok Tze-Meng 2416 
  Koggala W S V K  2026     Tan Khai Boon  2160 
  Weerawardane R 2165    FM Long Peter 2302 
  Anuruddha G C  2144     Gregory Lau  2159 
 81  United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rtg   72  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
 WIM Saleh Nora Mohd 1906     Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904 
 WFM  Al-Zarouni Kholoud Essa  1890    WCM  Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
 WIM Al-Harmoudi Mona 1821     Marmono Roslina 1933 
 WFM  Al Ali Amna Nuaman  1752     Fong Mi Yen  1905 

Mas takes a rest and allow Gregory Lau to see his first action. There is little risk for Sri Lanka cannot possibly pose any problems to our team.

The women play an interesting team , United Arab Emirates, that features two international masters and two FIDE masters. However their ratings do not reflect their titles. I suggest the girls forget about those two letters and go all out for the win.

On the main event, Ukraine has emerged top dog. They lead with thirteen match points, one ahead of Russia 1. Today the two teams meet in a "Clash of the Titans". Kramink versus Ivanchuk on board one will be one to watch. Ivanchuk has scored 100% in his games so far.

Armenia , two time winner in the last two olympiads, only managed eleven match points - two full points behind. There is still hope yet for them if Russia manages to take down Ukraine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Round 7 Malaysia loses to IPSC

 86  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg 1-372 ICSC (ICSC)Rtg
IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422 0-1GM  Gruenfeld Yehuda 2464 
IM  Mok Tze-Meng  2416 0-1 IM  Collutiis Duilio  2447 
  Tan Khai Boon 2160  1-0  Klasan Vladimir  2393 
FM  Long Peter  2302  0-1   Parfenov Pavel  2242 
106 Pakistan (PAK)Rtg 0-474 Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Nida Mishraz Siddiqui 1796  0-1 WCM Bakri Alia Anin Azwa  1904 
  Wasif Zenobia  0  0-1   Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
  Begum Ghazala 0  0-1  Marmono Roslina  1933 
  Shakir Ayman  0  0-1   Fong Mi Yen  1905 

A number of unwanted firsts today :)

Mas lost his first game. First 1-3 score. First time that Khai Boon won and the rest lost! Ok, enough already.

Bright side from the women's - they shut out Pakistan 4-0.

Round 7 Malaysia live commentary

Follow the moves here

Well, I just got back home and things have really started heating up.

Board 1 IM Mas - GM Gruenfeld Yehuda

Mas has pawn majority on the queen-side. He has a weakness on b4 though. Black d6 pawn is weak but white cannot attack it. I would rate tihs as equal.

8:11PM: This game looks like going to be drawn due to perpetual check. Mas will not dare to move his king to h3.

8:21 PM: Black declines the perpetual, he is trying for win

8:24PM 40. f3 is a nice tactic from black, maybe missed by Mas. ...f2+ queens the pawn.

Board 2 IM Collutiis Duilio - IM Mok Tze Meng

It is another Mokdern! Dont he get tired?
After 10...e5, black will be left with a isolated e-pawn which will be the cause of his problems later.

Ah...Mok plays better than me here. 11...f5 solves the problem of the e-pawn.

Mok has two strong bishops. White just played the trick 21. Bc2, 21..Qxc4? 22. Rxe6 Rxe6 23. Rxe6 Qxe6 24. b4 chasing the knight and threaten to pin the queen with 25.Bb3

Mok living on the edge ; 21...Kf7!?

25. Ne4 looks like a very good move. 25...Be5 26. Nd6+! Qxd6 27. Rxe5 with clear plus for white.

8:08PM: Mok is now in trouble on the long black diagonal. He could get mated or lose material soon.

Board 3 Tan Khai Boon - Klasan Vladimir

Khai Boon reaches a standard position in a Semi-Slav.

14. f4 is not a good idea. The pawn is better on f3 to support the e4 pawn and shut out the black queen bishop.

Opposite sides castling with black opting for queen-side. Khai Boon chances for attack on the queen-side is better as the b-file already opened.

24. Rxf4 is not the correct way to re-capture. 24. Qf5+ followed by 24. Qxf4 is better.
Watch out for 24...Qe3 by black now. Black opts for 24...Be7. What's wrong with 24...Qe3 threatening 25...Rd2

Now 26. Qe6 Qc6 27. Bf3 idea 27...Qxe5 28. Rxb7+!

7:36 PM: I'm not very good at predicting Khai Boon's moves :) 26. Qg6 goes for the g-pawn at the cost of allowing the black queen to come alive. 26..Qe3 27. Re4 Qxc3 28. Qxg7 Rde8 (only move) and now 29. exf6 black can just answer 29...Qxf6. Hope Khai Boon did not overlook this.

8:08PM: Black played 26..Qc5? effectively letting white off the hook and getting into a difficult position as well

Board 4 Parfenov Pavel - FM Peter Long

White avoids a Benko by declining to play c4. But Peter plays ...b5 anyway.
White sacrifices his b2 pawn, but I do not see why black cannot accept. 6...Qxb2 7. Nxa4 Qb4+ 8. c3 Qa5 is possible. White has to prove he has some compensation for the pawn.

White is giving pawns left and centre. Peter two pawns up now but king-side un-developed and king in the centre. Despite knight exchanges, it still looks dangerous for Peter.

7:40 PM: Peter gives back a pawn (its almost forced) and now his king will be exposed in the centre. This is not good.

8:28PM: Peter is lost now. His opponent actually missed the simpler win with 40. Rf5

Mas and Khai Boon still in opening stage, not clear yet what will happen. Mok has solved his opening problem and can look forward to a middle-game struggle. Peter grabs a pawn. It is still too early to say if white can exploit the black queen position. Personally I prefer black.

This looks like it can become an interesting match. All our players have chances to win (or lose depending on how you look at it :)

8:12PM: At this stage, I predict Mas to draw, Mok and Peter to lose and Khai Boon to win.

8:20PM : Mok just lost followed by Mok. Looks like Mas is also lost so its over.

8:45PM: Ladies team will win 4-0 against Pakistan

Rationality comments on Mok's ending

First GM had a post on my analysis of this ending.

I read Rationality's comments on this post and I am very impressed by his thoughts. He wrote with such clarity that I just have to re-publish it here for everyone's benefit, with my own notes which I put in bold

Rationality says:
The win is not easy to see. Someone who has been playing the whole game and not an individual position tends to miss wins that don't look forced, which was the case in this endgame.

Me: Also read the third paragraph

The winning move, 48.Nd6+ was counter-intuitive. It gives black the option to play Kf4-g3, although with calculation it will prove to be losing. The idea behind it is not obvious either. The first instinct would be to attack the b6 pawn; the follow-up, Ne3 is not an easy move to see and might not even come under consideration.

Me: In positions with knight versus bad bishop, the instinct is not to place the knight on the same color square as the bishop (because of the possibility of being exchanged). That is why Ne3 is not easy to see at all.

Given the position at hand and asked to find a win, anyone could do that. The problem is that Mok has been playing the entire game. To search for a forced win rather than make moves to improve you position is not easy. In other words, Mok was making strategic rather than calculative moves. You see, 48.Nd6 would not be a good move if it was not winning. Mok wanted to improve his worst placed piece, namely the king, and picked the most obvious choice.

To search for a win on every move is not feasible since it is time consuming, and obviously you tend to overspend your time when you try to find a non-existent win.

In short, the reason Mok missed the win was not because he didn't have the technical strength to calculate it through to the end. In fact, if you told him there was a forced win in the position, he would have found it within a short while. Rather, the reason for him to miss the win was because he did not sense that there was an opportunity to win that position. This is one of the many things that make the good and great different.

Me: Which leads to the question - when should we stop and tell ourselves - "There must be something here".

The player is at the board from move one. He is analysing many lines and ideas. This lines and ideas persist to the current position and does affect his current analysis and judgement. This is "baggage" in a sense. If you clear your mind of this baggage, you might see things you did not notice before. There are countless times when I get up from the board to go to the washroom. Half way there I start seeing lines and ideas which were hidden to me when I was sitting at the board.

Round 7 board pairings for Malaysia

 86  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg  72 ICSC (ICSC)Rtg
IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422  GM  Gruenfeld Yehuda 2464 
IM  Mok Tze-Meng  2416   IM  Collutiis Duilio  2447 
  Tan Khai Boon 2160     Klasan Vladimir 2393 
FM  Long Peter  2302     Parfenov Pavel  2242 
106 Pakistan (PAK)Rtg  74 Malaysia (MAS)Rtg
  Nida Mishraz Siddiqui 1796    WCM Bakri Alia Anin Azwa  1904 
  Wasif Zenobia  0     Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829 
  Begum Ghazala 0     Marmono Roslina 1933 
  Shakir Ayman  0     Fong Mi Yen  1905 

Mas gets another grandmaster, his fourth. Earlier I thought that a grandmaster norm was already impossible due to the low ratings of some of his opponents. However I found a clause in the regulations - "A player may ignore his game(s) against any opponents he has defeated, provided he has met the required mix of opponents, and provided that this leaves him with at least the minimum number of games as in 1.41, against the required mix of opponents. Nonetheless, the full cross-table of the event must be submitted." .

What this means is that Mas can drop the two lowest rated opponents he has defeated provided that he plays all eleven rounds. Based on his current score, he is therefore still on track for a grandmaster norm. He has already played two low rated players. So he will need to continue meeting 2400+ players. This is where the team factor comes in. If the team keeps losing, they will meet lower ranked teams and the ratings will not be high enough.

Based on some of my calculations, Mas needs at least three out of the last five rounds to have a chance, plus the opponent's rating should be sufficiently high.

For the record, no player for the mens team has ever made even an IM norm in the history of our participation in the olympiads.

For the women's team, Roslina steps in to replace Nurul Huda. The strategy is to give all the newcomers as many games as possible for exposure and the two older players alternating. Quite sensible.

Round 7 Malaysian pairings

After their 4-0 win yesterday, our men is paired with the ICSC (which stands for International Committee for Silent Chess). This is quite a good team with one grandmaster and two international masters. After the easy round yesterday, our players will be thoroughly tested again.

Two years ago we lost to the IPCA (International Physical Disabled Chess Association) . That team featured four international masters and we lost narrowly 1.5-2.5. This time IPCA has grandmaster Thomas Luther - the same Luther who was in Malaysia for the K.L. Open recently .

Olympiads traditionally is a competition amongst nations. Then FIDE started admitting teams like IBCA (Blind Association), IPCA and ICSC. This teams have an unfair advantage. They can pick the strongest players from any country as long as they belong to that particular association. What next? A team of chess problem composers? Maybe I can form an assocation of right-handed chess players and submit a team for the next olympiad.

Meanwhile our women meet Pakistan who only have a single rated player. It is a certainty the women will be able to gain back some match points.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Malaysian men wins 4 - 0, Women loses to Ecuador

 85  Malaysia (MAS)Rtg 4-0118 San Marino (SMR)Rtg
IM Mas Hafizulhelmi  2422 1-0  Berardi Giancarlo 0 
IM  Mok Tze-Meng  2416 1-0 CM  Grassi Enrico  2053 
 Tan Khai Boon 2160  1-0 Cecchetti Roberto  1930 
FM  Long Peter  2302 1-0 CM Righi Ezio  2116 
72 Malaysia (MAS)Rtg 1-338 Ecuador (ECU)Rtg
 WCM Bakri Alia Anin Azwa 1904  1-0 IM Fierro Baquero Martha L  2368 
 Nur Nabila Azman Hisham  1829  0-1 WIM  Vasquez Ramirez Rocio  2227 
 Wahiduddin Nurul Huda 2020  0-1 WIM Moncayo Romero Evelyn  2127 
 Fong Mi Yen  1905  0-1  Romero Echeverria Abigail  2058 

Round 6 Malaysia live commentary ( Round 6 started )

During the rest day yesterday, Malaysian team took part in a run "Nations Cross". Some of our players featured on the official site photos.
Mok looking happy and ready for battle after this rest!
Malaysian flag proudly held up, is that Mas?

Board 1 WCM Bakri Alia Anin Azwa - IM  Fierro Baquero Martha L

Alia has an extra pawn but opponent has two bishops versus two knights for compensation. Alia winning now

Board 2 WIM Vasquez Ramirez Rocio - Nur Nabila Azman Hisham

Nabila omitted playing ...d6 and allow white to move his pawn to e5. Furthermore black has castled king-side and now white going for the crass 6.h4 attack. It can get very nasty if black is not careful. Nabila position looking very bad now.

Nabila should be losing this game.She did.

Board 3 Wahiduddin Nurul Huda - WIM Moncayo Romero Evelyn
Nurul Huda has the edge here but still plenty of play left in the position. Our player is in some trouble here and likely to lose.

Board 4 Romero Echeverria Abigail  - Fong Mi Yen

Mi Yen opponent play a strange looking Scotch Opening (5.Nb3!?). Mi Yen mixing it up with 9...Qxb2? Did she overlooked that after 10. Bxb6 white will fork on c7?
The game already looks lost for Mi Yen as she has no compensation for the sacrificed rook.

Mi Yen actually survived to an endgame which is quite an achievement. She has N v R with an outside passed pawn on the queen-side but her knight is somewhat trapped. She should lose this.She just did.

Mens Matches 

The first board for San Marino is an unrated player. So far he played three games and lost all three. I guess they are using him as a sacrifice. Still they field him against Mas and hope to snatch points from the lower board.

Mok plays Mokdern as usual :)

Peter plays against the same variation that Mok used against Bolivia. Maybe he will show how to beat weaker player with  it :) . Peter somehow transposes the position into one similar to a Modern Defence where black equalizes easily.

All the mens games look good after the opening. Peter steadily improving his position, clearly better now. I won't be surprised if he is the first to pocket a point.

Carlsen played a strange looking Modern with his knight on h5. Adams could take on h5 with bishop and win a pawn but did not. Instead he choose to play normally and transpose back to more traditional position. A bluff from Carlsen? Or he is playing chess on an entirely different dimension?

Peter has won and also Mas too giving us a 2-0 lead. We only need a draw from Mok or Khai Boon.

Mok opponent just blundered a piece so the match is won irrespective of Khai Boon's result.

Khai Boon took advantage of his opponent's time shortage to score his first win and make it 4-0.