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.