Friday, February 26, 2010

Women Master qualifiers

Wow, the last match of the Women's Masters just finished minutes ago. The men's edition was a leisurely affair compared to this. The women players have to finish their matches in just a day with some of the matches going to the rapids and two going to the Armageddon stage. Gilachess has posted all but one of the matches and it's 10:35 PM as I write. Salute to Andrew!


Nurul Huda bt Latifah Syamimi
Fong Mi Yen bt Winnie Hong
Khairunnisa Wahiduddin bt Latifah, Kaiyisah Bt. Mohd Latif
Alia Anin Azwa Bakri bt Renitha Narayanan
Tan Li Ting won a close Armageddon against Ahmad Fuad Fairuz Hamizah
Nabila Azman Hisham beat sister Najiha Hisham
Haslindah Ruslan prevailed over one of the Wahiddudin sisters, Fadzilah

The final qualifier will come from the Hoh Tjin Li Amira vs Syahmina Zullkafli armageddon.

There will be little rest for the eight qualifiers as they will have to complete another round tomorrow.

Update at 11:12 PM:

Syahmina won the armageddon against Hoh Tjin Li and qualifies.

The next round pairing is here

Missed win for Fairuz Hammizah

Browsing through the Malaysian Women Master blog, saw this game , Fairuz Hammizah - Tan Li Ting

White played 41. a4 b6 and the game was drawn.

A common tactical theme in such positions with double bishops is to play 1. b6! fixing the b7 pawn. White will win the b7 pawn with Bc8. Black must capture 1...Bxb6 2. Bxg5+ followed by Bb7 Bc8 and the two bishops plus passed pawn will ensure white wins

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Final Women's Master List

The final list of participants of the 1st Malaysian Women Master is out on DATCC blog.

And I must say I am very disappointed with MCF and whoever made the selection.

This is the list, I have taken the liberty to include the qualification criteria in the last column. All the players in the colored rows cannot be disputed as they really qualified through the published selection criteria. The rest are selected by MCF.

Of those selected, Haslindah Ruslan and Zullkafli Amira Syahmina can be justified based on their FIDE ratings. The last two are not so easy to justify. Neither of them are in the top 20 of the National Rating list. The rationale given by Greg on their inclusion does not really hold much water. Sarika Subramaniam is rated 1570, higher than either of them, yet she is bypassed and named as a reserve as if to add salt to the wound.

What is the rating list for if not to measure the relative strength of our players?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Selection of 1st Malaysian Women Masters

There is some controversy over the selection of the sixteen players for the 1st Malaysian Women Masters which starts this Friday. At the DATCC blog, some people using the shoutbox claims that three deserving players were not given the places they deserved. The players are Camilia Johari, Nithyalakshmi Sivanesan and Sarika Subramaniam.

I sms this matter to Greg Lau, MCF Secretary, and this is what he replied.

"Dear Jimmy
MCF Selection Comittee on d selection criteria for Women Masters event:
4 players selected frm FIDE list up to max 20 players.We have 4 players selected frm National Rating up to max 20 players. 4 frm National Closed 2009 results n 2 frm National Junior 2009 results. After d above criteria, MCF reserved d right to choose 2 players from outstanding excellence performance result n not base on ratings anymore since its already d criteria for choosing d Top 8 players earlier. Camilia n Nitya is not in d top 20 in National n Fide. MCF choice 1. Latifah Kaiyisah GU-16 international Event selection 2009 Champion, National Junior 2009 3rd placing shared points with 1st n 2nd placing. Latifah Syamimi 2nd placing in National Closed 2008. Sarika 6th position in National Closed 2009. MCF uses 2 main event in National closed n National Junior results as basis of selection for d 2 choice. D others events are not considered as priority coz they are considered age group category events where else both National closed n National Junior gathers d best players in 1 event for selection basis. Both Camilia n Nitya is not in d list of outstanding performance basis frm dis 2 events."

I decided to check the selection criteria and unfortunately I found that there has been a mistake in the list as original provided by MCF of the top twenty players from the National Rating of January 2010.

Here is the list provided by MCF and my list extracted from the January 2010 National Rating

I informed Greg straightaway but whether the line-up will be changed is unclear.

Another thing is that MCF only selects the top four from the National Rating List (the last criteria). Once this four is selected, the next MCF two selection will not be from this list but based on performance in other tournaments.

MCF first choice is Latifah Kaiyisah who placed 3rd with shared points as the 1st and 2nd placing (Nur Najiha Azman Hisham who is already selected and Amira Shahmina Zullkafli whom I think declined)

The second choice is Latifah Syamimi with 2nd placing in National Closed 2008. However I do not think it is a good idea to based on a tournament in 2008. Juniors improve very quickly and others may be even stronger by now.

Anyway we have to wait and see if MCF announces a change in the line-up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is the future of Malaysian chess? (Part 4)

You might want to read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 first to get the thought continuity.

In year 2000, I took part in a discussion on the chess malaysia groups on Yahoo Groups. The discussion centred on when Malaysia would get its first grandmaster. Most of us especially me, were very optimistic and thought that Mas was almost on the verge of breaking through and it was a matter of a couple more years. It has been ten years and we are still talking about the first GM.

Why is it important to have a Malaysian grandmaster? Currently the chess base (not Chessbase the software, mind you) in Malaysia is fairly small. The base needs to expand to a certain size and the talents will start appearing. Think of it as critical mass which is defined as "An amount or level needed for a specific result or new action to occur". With the achievement of a first grandmaster, everyone, especially children have a hero to look up to (and as a Whitney Houston song goes, I believe children are our future). This will generate more interest in the game and the base will naturally expand. Critical mass again sets in, the cycle repeats, and the rest is history.

I already argued that it is the responsibility of the Malaysian Chess Federation to promote the game. Thus far, the MCF has only shown interest to continue what it is doing.

There is a saying "If you never set any goals, you will never know any failures". OK, there is no such saying, I just made it up. Sounds good though, so just be sure to quote my name when you use this :)

I might suggest that the MCF has never known any failures for thirty-six years (if you don't understand this number it means you forgot to read Part 2). Does it still want to continue on the same road for the next thirty-six?

Ok, I know the previous paragraph is rather unfair, but I'm trying to hammer a point home here :)

Some of you reading this might think that criticism is easy. Some feathers might get ruffled. What I'm trying to do is to tell you that there is a problem and we should start working on a solution. If there are some who are unhappy with what I have to say, so be it.

The time for action is not ten years ago nor ten years in the future, but now. If we start now, we could be seeing some results in five years. If we are lucky.

What is the future of Malaysian chess? (Part 3)

Read Part 1 and Part 2

Last month, Dato' Tan invited all interested parties to a meeting at the Dato’ Arthur Tan Chess Centre. Each participant was given an opportunity to talk. Some talked about their frustrations with the local chess scene and difficulties with certain officials, some had suggestions on improving chess.

Here I wish to present as well as expound further on what I said during this meeting.

Chess is very structured organization internationally. We have the world body which is FIDE. Each country have their own national federation which will represent that country as a member of FIDE. Each country can have only one federation recognized by FIDE. Otherwise it will be chaos.

In Malaysia, the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) is the body that represents the country in FIDE. There are other non-national organizations that represent specific interest areas that can be affiliated to FIDE. Examples are the IBCA (International Braille Chess Association) and ICCF (International Correspondence Chess Federation).

Just like FIDE, MCF have affiliates and these are the state bodies such as Chess Association of Selangor and Penang Chess Associations. Individuals are not represented in MCF so for example to attend a meeting, you have to be a representative of one of the state bodies.

It is very clear that Malaysian chess is tied to the MCF.

One can only get ratings, titles through the MCF which makes the applications (and payments) to FIDE. If you hold a rated tournament, you have to depend on MCF (and its officials) to submit your results for ratings and title considerations. If you achieve a title requirement, you have to depend on the MCF (and its officials) to make the application so that you can be conferred the title.

What is less clear is that every chess player, organizer, coach, chess parent, in fact anybody that have anything to do with chess in this country is directly or indirectly affected by the actions or inactions of the MCF.

The Malaysian Chess Federation has the moral responsibility to assist everyone who is involved in chess in this country. If a coach or trainer requires an official letter to enable him/her to approach schools to set up chess classes, they should not be denied unless there is good reason for doing so. This is a good thing for chess, to popularize the game amongs school children. If regulation is required, set up the course/seminars/certification to ensure all coaches/trainers have the proper credentials.

The MCF exists for Malaysian chess's sake not the other way round. It has a duty to see that Malaysian chess flourishes and achieve the heights that it may be capable of. If it cannot or will not do this, then there is no need for a Malaysian Chess Federation.

What is the future of Malaysian chess? (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here

In the 1970s, the Penang Chess Association members met every Sunday afternoon at the Hooi Lye Association in Kimberley Street. I remember one afternoon in the year 1974, Mr Gong Wooi Mau (a senior PCA member) coming up to us and announcing that PCA was organizing the very first Asian Team Championship in Penang. He asked for volunteers to assist in the tournament. My hand shot up immediately.

My job was to record the moves played on two boards. This meant I had a ring-side seat just three feet away from the boards. Imagine a sixteen year old boy who just started learning chess and I was in the midst of chess gods. At least that was how I felt. I was so near to the players, I was actually afraid to make any sudden move, in case I distracted them. At that time, the time control was forty moves in two and a half hours. Some games could go the full five hours and I would not move from my seat for the whole time.

Once I was peering at the other games around me, I missed the move being played on the boards I was assigned. I had to stand up and try peeking at the player's scoresheets while trying to remaining inconspicuous. After a while I was a couple of moves behind. On noticing this, one of the players, a New Zealander, offered me his scoresheet with a smile.

I saw some bad behaviour too. I watched as another New Zealander, a boy even younger than me, sweep the pieces off the board after losing a game. This is none other than Murray Chandler, now a British GM and owner of Gambit Publications, a publisher of chess books.

One of the members of the Malaysian team is none other than The Star chess columnist, Quah Seng Sun. I think he is the only one left in the team who still maintains an interest in the game to this day.

Why am I telling all these? In 1974 the participating countries were Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand and Australia. China did not participate though they sent an observer. It would take them another 3 years before Chinese players ventured out of China and joined this tournament. Where is Vietnam? It will be another 17 years before Vietnam joins this tournament, interestingly also in Penang in the year 1991.

Altogether, thirty-six years have passed since this event. Vietnam now have a couple of grandmasters. Their top player, GM Le Quang Liem is rated ELO 2647 and probably in the top fifty in the world and rapidly progressing. The other Vietnamese GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son rated 2616 and have not reached his peak yet.

I acquired the international master title in 1985. As of end 2009, we produced another four international masters. If I use simple maths, Malaysia produced one IM every six years since. Hardly a success by any measure.

1st Malaysian Women Masters is a disappointment

The 1st Malaysian Women Masters is set to start this Friday, 26th February to Sunday, 28th February. The full list follows:

1 Wahiduddin, Nurul Huda
2 Fong, Mi Yen
3 Wahiduddin, Khairunnisa
4 Bakri, Alia Anin Azwa
5 Tan, Li Ting
6 Nur, Nabila Azman Hisham
7 Haslindah, Ruslan
8 Zullkafli, Amira Syahmina
9 Hoh, Tjin Li
10 Wahiddudin, Fadzilah
11 Nur, Najiha Hisham
12 Narayanan, Renitha
13 Azhar, Puteri Rifqah Fahada
14 Latifah, Kaiyisah Bt. Mohd Lati
15 Hong, Wee Ni Winnie
16 Mohd Latib, Latifah Syamimi

The reserve player is Sarika Subramaniam in case any of the above pulls out at the last minute.

The objective of this competition is to throw together the senior (and therefore experienced) players with up-and-coming players as well as the juniors. The experience will be good for the latter and might even uncover hidden talents among them.

However, WIM Siti Zulaikha Foudzi is not playing nor is the other top players like Wan Khye Theng ,Nur Shazwani Zulkafli and Roslina Marmono. Probably they are busy with studies/work but I am going to say it again, the miniscule prize fund of RM2000 is not attractive enough.

These senior players have nothing to gain in joining this competition. In order to get them into the game, the prize fund needs to be attractive enough. Do not get me wrong, I do not mean to say that these four players are materialistic. But the reward must match the effort and sacrifice. They have everything to lose and little to gain, so why bother?

In any case, the objectives of holding such a competition will not be met. Just a waste of time for all concerned.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What is the future of Malaysian chess?

Over the last few weeks, I was following the progress of Vietnamese grandmaster Le Quang Liem, Chinese GM Zhou Jianchao and Philipino GM Wesley So in the Aeroflot and Moscow Open.

Zhou has been in the shadows of his more famous compatriots such as Bu Xiangzhi, Wang Yue and Wang Hao. But I think this year he will be emerging out of their shadows so expect to hear more from this 22 year old. He was undefeated in the Aeroflot Open and tied for third with 6/9.

Wesley So finished with a creditable 5.5/9, this is no easy feat considering that the Aeroflot Open is one of the strongest open around.

Le probably had his best performance ever, tying for first in the Moscow Open and coming clear first in the Aeroflot Open which immediately followed.

As I was watching these players on Playchess, I feel kind of sad. Will Malaysia ever have these kind of players who are able to compete with some of the world's best chess players and bring some glory to the nation? And who will these players be? Will it be Sumant Subramaniam, Yeoh Li Tian or Yeap Eng Chiam or some other yet to be discovered talent? Or is it just wishful thinking on my part?

Another thought came to my mind. Besides having monthly meetings, submitting tournament results to FIDE, running annual Nationals and send a team to the chess olympiad every other year, what is the Malaysian Chess Federation doing? Does the MCF have any plans to achieve something that we can be proud of?

Kuala Lumpur Chess Camp

Another chess camp scheduled for next month's school holidays. Full details below:

The Kuala Lumpur Chess Academy is once again organizing its CHESS CAMP program during the 1st term school break from 17th March until 20th March 2010

The 4 days Camp is designed for chess players of all strengths and levels of experience who want to improve their game. We will divide our campers into groups according to level and ability. Each level helps cultivate their chess skills, expand upon their existing knowledge of the game, and gain greater confidence as players. Throughout the camp, players will review the basics of the game, including rules, the history of chess, terminology, and etiquette while also working towards mastering opening principles, middle game understanding and developing end-game strategies and concepts.

At the KL Chess Camps, we combine learning and fun bringing it to a whole new level. This course is appropriate for both beginners, Intermediate, developmental and advanced students. In this program, campers will have a blast and develop basic understanding and skills while encouraging creative thinking. Participants will receive copies of course worksheets and supplementary material. All campers will have the opportunity to participate in friendly tournaments with prizes for all.Finally they will received medals and a certificate with photo. The Camp program blends these traits into an exceptionally fun and competitive experience.

Our CAMPS Theme is;
"A fun and inspiring introduction to the game for beginners,"
A motivating and educational experience for the intermediates,
A stimulating and enlightening adventure for the advanced."

Our CAMPS Goals is to “Help build a love for the game & assist students to develop skills for their future”

Headed by CAMPS Chief Trainer Grandmaster Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh, we have assembled a team of notable Malaysian Trainers who represent years of extensive chess coaching and are considered among the best in the country. Alongside GM Ziaur Rahman, our featured team of Trainers are;
1. International Master Mas Hafizulhimi (MALAYSIA)
2. International Master Lim Yee Weng (MALAYSIA)
3. Mr Gregory Lau (MALAYSIA)
4. En.Najib Wahab (MALAYSIA)

CAMP programs starts at 9:00am with the beginner sessions conducted in the morning, and advance classes to be held in the afternoon from 2:00pm onwards. Rates vary from RM120 for the beginner sessions up to RM300 for the advanced classes. Registration closes on 10th March 2010 and only a limited number of seats are available. Grab your slots now and earn this opportunity to be trained by a World Class Chess Player and a qualified trainer.

For further inquires on the CHESS CAMPS programs, rates, schedule and registration form, feel free to Contact CAMP DIRECTOR, Mr Gregory Lau at +6012 902 0123 or

Cheras Chess Challengers 2010

School holidays will be starting next month. Few tournaments and camps are been slated for this period and one of them is the Cheras Chess Challengers organized by chess coach Collin Madhavan. This is for players rated ELO 1950 and below as well as those who are unrated. Prizes are awarded according to ELO ranges. Full details follows:

Dates: 17 to 20 March 2010

Playing Venue: Excel Chess Academy, 26A. 1st floor,
Jalan Hujan Emas 4, OUG, Old Klang Road, KL

Organisers: Cheras Chess Academy and assisted by Percawi.

Sponsor: Insofar Chess Academy & Cheras Chess Academy.

Format: 7 round Swiss FIDE rated tournament.

Time control: 2 hours each for the whole game.

Entry fee: RM 50 for rated players
RM 80 for un-rated players

Elo 1751 to 1950: 1st RM 300;2nd RM200;3rd RM100;4th RM80.
Elo 1551 to 1750: 1st RM 300;2nd RM200;3rd RM100;4th RM80.
Un-rated & Elo below 1551:1st RM 300;2nd RM200; 3rd RM100.


Open to all Fide rated players with an ELO rating of 1950 and below. Un-rated FIDE rated players will be limited to the 1st 30 players only. Maximum number of participants is 60.

Registration & enquiries: Email at
or SMS to 016-2123578


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Najib Wahab review Mas-Singapore match

Najib did a review of the recently concluded Malaysia-Singapore match at DATCC blog

It is an intelligently written piece analysing the weaknesses of our team and must read for everyone interested in our chess situation.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My first rapid game in Mas-Sin match

Black has just played 30...Qe7 "pinning" the e-pawn.

31. exd5! Qxe2 32. Qxe2 Rxe2 33. dxc6

Both black bishops are under attack and white will win back the piece. I just had to calculate a little bit further to ensure the combination is sound.

Bxg3+ 34.fxg3 Bxc6 35. Rd2

White wins thanks to this saving move.

Rbe8 36. Rcc2 Rxg2+ 37. Rxg2 Bxg2 38. Kxg2 Re3 39. a6 Rxg3+
40. Kh2


Replay game below

Singapore beats Malaysia again

After two days and four rounds of chess, Singapore managed to overcome a 6-0 deficit from the first round to win the Dato' Tan Kim Yeow trophy.

It looks like Malaysia is weaker in the rapid games which was the time control for the 3rd and 4th rounds. The final score 76.5 to 75.5 points in Singapore favour.

I managed to return from Penang yesterday to do my part today. I was placed in the Veterans (over forty-five) section.

This is the second game against my opponent, a Filipino who teaches chess in Singapore. The time control is twenty-five minutes with ten seconds increment for each move.

[Event "Malaysia-Singapore Match"]
[Date "2010.02.17"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Louie Polistico"]
[Black "Jimmy Liew"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A36"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. e3 c5 6. Nge2 Nc6 7. O-O d6 8. h3
a6 9. d4 Bf5 10. a3 Qc8 11. Kh2 Rb8 12. b3 b5 13. Nf4?

Blunders a pawn but I did not reply with the best move.


It is better to capture first on c4 first creating another weakness.

14. exd4 Nxd4 15. Ncd5

15. Qxd4 loses the queen after 15...Ng4+

15...Re8 16. Bb2

I spent about five minutes looking at the complications which arises from 16... Nxb3. For example 17. Bxf6 bxc4 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Ra2 e5 20. Nd2. I have three pawns for the piece and active play for all my pieces.

White can also play 17. Nxf6 Bxf6 18. Bxf6 bxc4! 19. Bc3 Nxa1 20 Qxa1 which is probably worse than the previous variation.

However I decided it was better not to take any risks with this tactical play. After all it is rapid chess and I should outplay him easily.

16...e5 17. Nxf6 Bxf6 18. Nd5 Bg7 19. Rc1 Qd7 20. cxb5 Nxb5 21. Re1 Be6 22. Nb4

This looks like it wins a pawn. But black pieces become really active now which will compensate. Besides, I felt I could easily win the b3/f2 pawn back.

22...Rec8! 23. Nxa6 Rxc1 24. Qxc1 Rc8 25. Qe3

This looks logical as it defends the b3 pawn and prevents ...Qa7 forking the knight and f2 pawn but allows an invasion of black pieces. 25. Qd2 was probably more testing (25...Bxb3? 26. Bxe5)

25... Rc2 26. Bc1 Nd4 27.Nb4 Rc8 28. Nd5 Nc2 29. Qe2

and in a lost position, White lost on time. Black will win easily after 29..Nxe1 30. Qxe1 Bxd5 31. Bxd5 Qb5. The whole point of the exchange on d5 is that the d-pawn will now be mobile as the bishop on c1 is vulnerable, 32. Bc4 Qc6 33. Qd1 d5! 34. Qxd5 Qxd5 35. Bxd5 Rxc1


Friday, February 12, 2010

Gong Xi Fa Cai

chinese calendar 2009

Wishing all my Chinese readers and those who celebrate this occasion a very Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bullet tactics

I had been playing a lot of bullet (one minute) chess online. In fact it is an addiction which I am trying to rid myself off. With the right partner, I can really go on a bullet binge. It is not uncommon for me to go online in the afternoon and only stop playing the following morning.

Two weeks ago I played over a hundred bullet game against the same opponent on Free Chess Server. At two minutes a pop, that's two hundred minutes of my life down the drain :)

Anyway we reached the following position with me as White. Black has just played 17...f6

In a flash, I saw the next moves. Try spotting the win for white

Now the interesting part is we reached this position a couple of games later.

You can easily see it is almost identical to the first diagram. And ended the same way too :)

Solution: 1. Bxh7+ Nxh7 2. Qf7+ Kh8 3. Ng6 mate

Friday, February 5, 2010

7 Reasons why you should (not) start a chess blog

Nowadays it is very easy to start a blog and moreover it can be free thanks to sites like You can set up a new blog with just a few clicks, no web programming required.

So every other day, someone starts a new chess blog with the best of intentions. For those of you comtemplating to start a new chess blog, let me tell you, blogging is hard work so before you start your journey check out the reasons why you should (not) start a chess blog.

Reason #7 You have too much free time

Blogging is hard work, trust me. Give up now. Unless you are doing it because of Reason #6.

Reason #6. You just learnt how to copy and paste

There is no need to plan your next post for hours or even days. Now you can do it complete with chess diagrams just using the power of cut and paste.Chessbase, TWIC are fair game for you. But why should anyone read your blog when they already read it on Chessbase?

Reason #5. Your think you are God's gift to Malaysian chess


Reason #4. Bringing chess news, results, tournament announcements to the masses.

There is a saying which goes like this, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". A log of new blogs started with this intention. Let me tell you, Gilachess have been doing this for years and lately DATCC is also doing a great job. It is impossible for you to bring anything different to the table. I suggest you forget it.

Reason #3. You just installed the latest Fritz and Rybka

You can now present complete game analysis just by running Rybka and copying the evaluation and moves. You can proudly announce that White is 4.65 pawns up instead of "white is now winning".

I suggest you stop right now because Malaysia is known as the piracy capital of the world and every other Malaysian with an iota of interest of chess already have those two software and can do their own home analysis without your help.

Reason #2. Everyone's doing it why not me?

aka jump on the bandwagon

Reason #1. You have originality/ valuable insights and suggestions

You are a rare duck indeed. You have originality in your thoughts and can express it clearly as well as put a different spin on everything. We need bloggers like you. I will come to read your blog everyday as will many others.

Get some inspiration from Gilachess and Hairulov as well as First GM and go forth and blog now.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chess back in MSSM

Earlier reports were that chess was among the 11 sports that were axed from the Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM). The good news is that chess has been re-instated back together with the other ten sports.

The Education Ministry has agreed to allocate a fund of RM89 million for sporting and co-curriculum events in schools for all twenty-four sporting events which include sports such as squash, softball, archery and table-tennis and chess.