Wednesday, March 30, 2011

European Championship cheating?

Participants at the European Championship have come out with an open letter aimed at fighting against cheating using electronic devices. The letter follows:

Open Letter

Dear French chess federation, dear ECU, dear chess community,

In view of the rumours and allegations about possible cheating using electronic devices and outside help taking place during the European Individual Championship in Aix-les-Bains, we have an atmosphere that makes it impossible for the players to approach their games calmly and being sure that their opponents do not break the rules.

We therefore demand that

- the arbiters reserve the rights to search any player’s pockets in case of suspicion

- no electronic devices can be brought into the playing hall, switched off or otherwise

- electronic boards can be unplugged if one of the players demands it


Among the players that signed are Victor Bologan, Boris Grachev, Jan Gustafsson, Anna Muzychuk, Tomi Nyback, Jan Smeets,Gabriel Sargissian, Peter Svidler and Natalia Zhukova.

I guess it is no accident that this came about seeing that the "star" of the cheating allegations in the French Chess Federation is playing in this championship. See here and here for context.

Yes, Sebastien Feller is taking part in the European Championship. He is able to take part despite a ban on him playing because he is appealing the decision.

Feller is currently doing very well with a 5.5/7 score after seven rounds behind the current leader, Vladimir Potkin who has 6/7. There are another nineteen players with the same 5.5/7 score! Feller plays GM Francisco Vallejo Pons today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First GM Norm for Goh Wei Ming

Congratulations to Singaporean IM Goh Wei Ming who made his first grandmaster norm recently.

He scored 5 wins and 4 draws to reach the required 7/9 at a tournament in Kecskemet, Hungary. His TPR was 2617 .

You can play through some of his games here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lim Chong Memorial

The Lim Chong Memorial will be held this Sunday 27th March at DATCC. The tournament is held in honour of Lim Chong who passed away last November. Lim Chong is a journalist, chess player and a ardent supporter of chess.

This promises to be a well attended affair with many of our strong players as well as inactive and less active players promising to show their support.

Entry forms can be obtained from Abd Hamid (Tel: 019 3158098 or email to

See you there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts on MCF Selection

To recap, Malaysian Chess Federation has decided on the selection criteria for 2011 Asian Team Championship. Both IMs Mas and Mok plus the top eight positions from the recently concluded National Championship will be short-listed. The final team will be decided from these ten players, perhaps through a training round-robin tourney.

Firstly the decision not to subject Mas and Mok to qualifications is a no-brainer. These two are the highest rated players and shown good consistency in team events. They are amongst the four Malaysians who have breached the 2400 ELO barrier - the others being Nicholas Chan and myself. This is not easy to achieve. So no question about this decision.

Personally I think it is a good move by the MCF to select players from the nationals. This might draw in other top players who might harbour ambitions to represent the country and thereby give the event some prestige. Unfortunately this did not happen.

Now, a Swiss tournament to select eight players is not ideal. The Swiss is only accurate to determine first place and perhaps second to fourth. After that it is a bit of a lottery. The top eight are:

 No.  Name  Elo    Points    TB 
 1  Lim Zhuo Ren 2080   8  52.5 
 2  Subramaniam Sumant  2065  7.5  46.5 
 3  Liew Chee-Meng-Jimmy  2302  7  51.5 
 4  Fong Yit Ho 1995   7  38 
 5  Yeap Eng Chiam  2140  6.5  56.5 
 6  Loo Swee Leong  2141  6.5  53.5 
 7  Fong Yit San 1945   6.5  47 
 8  Lee Kah Meng Elgin  1904  6.5  43.5 

Let's look at the tie-break (TB) column. This tie-break score indicates the level of opposition that the player faced. Four players have TB over 50. Sumant and Yit Ho has the lowest tie-breaks. They even lose out to those players who have half a point less than them! If both had not won their last game, they would be out of the top eight on tie-breaks. The unfortunate victims were Edward Lee and Yeoh Li Tian. Both needed only a draw to qualify. Both also had tie-breaks over fifty and were always amongst the top boards which means they had to play the strongest players. Unfortunately they lost the last round against determined opponents. It is a pity that these two will not have a chance to make it into the national team this year. However we cannot fault the others for the imperfections of the Swiss.

Still there is only five places on the team. In my opinion the current national champion should always have an automatic spot. Therefore, Zhou Ren should join Mas and Mok in the final team and eventually five of the remaining seven will be disappointed to be left out.

At least there is a chance for those with potential to show what they are capable of.

I have to agree with MCF on this one. Having said that, I have to say that some of these players are not yet ready to take on the other Asian opponents in a major tournament at this point in time. But we all have to start somewhere, who is to say that they will not be our future IMs or GMs?. MCF has mentioned training camps and hopefully these players will use that opportunity to improve their readiness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Cheating

I feel rather sorry for S├ębastien Fellers in the cheating scandal. Not that I doubt that the cheating really took place. All evidence proves it (the SMS messages with the coded moves were available, though not admissible to the Ethics Commission due to French privacy laws).

I feel sorry because he is just a young 19 year old boy. Not everyone of his age have a clear concept of right and wrong. I think he was manipulated into it because of his friendship with Cyril Marzolo ( the operator of the computer engine). I believe Marzolo engineered the whole scheme to make money (the cheating apparently started at the 2010 Paris Championship where Feller took first place).

Feller's chess career and reputation is probably doomed. There is a three year ban on him though it is not clear whether this is just applicable in France or everywhere. A top junior grandmaster like him also depends on being paid to play in open team events e.g the Bundesliga league in Germany. Invitations to round robin events with the attendant appearance fee and possible prize money is gone. There might also be sponsorship money involved. He can say goodbye to all these now - no one will touch him with a ten-foot pole.

Let's face it, we cannot pretend that cheating does not happen. Buying and selling happens. There are players who can be counted on to lose a game for a price so that the buyer can get a title norm or win a major prize. Locally, I personally witnessed two players sharing the prize money in one of the Selangor Opens (relax, that was long ago and the players are no longer active). I was also shocked to learn about games being manipulated to achieve certain results at junior and even scholastic level.

I hope this Feller incident will show our own players that cheating does not pay off in the long run.

Monday, March 21, 2011

French players found guilty of cheating

The Displinary Committee of the French Chess Federation have found three French players guilty of organized cheating at the Khanty-Mansiysk Olympiad last September.

The guilty parties are GM Sebastien Feller and Arnaud Hauchard and IM Cyril Marzolo. Arnaud Hauchard was French team captain. Feller won the gold medal on board 5 with a score of 6/9.

Marzolo was sentenced to a 5-year suspension from play. Feller received a 3-year ban followed by 2 years of community service with the federation or another association. A lifetime ban will be imposed on Hauchard and he will never act as a captain again.

According to what I understand the scheme went like this. Marzolo used a computer engine to analyze Feller's game. He then sent a SMS message in code to Hauchard. As team captain, Hauchard could move freely about the playing area. He would then stand behind the French opponents briefly. Using a coded system by standing at boards 1-4 he could then signal the computer move to Fellers. For example board 1 is A and 1, board 2 B and 2, board 3 is C and 3 and so on. To signal the c2 square, he first stands behind board 3 then move on to board 2.

This is quite a simple system but requires the involvement of the team captain as a relay for the moves.

I really admire the French Chess Federation for tackling this issue so seriously rather than close one eye and let it slip by. It says something about the integrity of its president and the committee.

Jimmy Liew - Ismail Ahmad, Round 6

I had many interesting positions in the 2011 National Championship.
Here is one against Ismail Ahmad.

Black has just played 14...Qg5. Hard to believe but he just lost a pawn by force. Quite a difficult tactic to find.

15. a3 Be7 16. Nf3 Qh5 17. e4 Nf6 18. Nd6 Nc5

After 18... Bxd6 19. Bxd6 both the knight on a6 and rook on f8 are under attack.

19. Nxb7

This is simpler than 19.b4 Bxd6 20. Bxd6 Ncxe4 21. Bxf8 Rxf8 which wins an exchange but black has a pawn for it and some chances with his active minor pieces.

Nxb7 20. e5 Nd5

Other moves allow 21. Rd7 forking bishop and knight.

21. Bxd5 exd5 22. Rxd5 Rad8 23. Rad1 Rxd5 24. Rxd5 Qg4 25. Nd4 Qc8 26. h3 Qc1+ 27. Kh2 Bc5 28. Nf5 g6

Black tries to chase away the knight otherwise white plays Qg4 with dangerous attack. I found a neat reply.

29. e6!

29... gxf5 30. Rxf5 f6

Black can lose in various pretty ways if he does not give back the piece. White's immediate threat is 31. Qg4+ Kh8 32. Be5+ f6 33. Rxf6 and mate follows.

30... Qh6 31. Qg4+ Kh8 32. Rxf7! (threatens Be5+) Rxf7 33. exf7 (now Qg8 mate is threatened) Qg7 34. Qc8+ Bf8 35. Qxb7 , black has stopped the mating threats but now his pieces are completed tied up and white can win pretty much as he pleases.

30... Nd6 31. Qg4+ Kh8 32. Be5+ f6 33. Rxf6

30... Bd6 31. Qg4+ Kh8 32. Rxf7 Qxb2 (32...Rxf7 33. gxf7 and mate on g8 cannot be avoided) 33. Bxd6 Rg8 34. Qh5 Rg7 35. Be5

31.e7 Bxe7 32. Qxe7 Rf7 33. Qe8+ Kg7 34. Rf4 h5 35. Qe2 Qc5 36. Rh4 Kg6 37. Qe4+
Kg7 38. Bf4 Re7 39. Qf3 Kg6 40. g4 hxg4 41. Qxg4+ Kf7 42. Rh7+ 1-0

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lim Zhuo Ren - Jimmy Liew

In the final round this morning, I needed to win to force a play-off.

[Event "National Closed"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2011.03.20"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Lim Zhuo Ren"]
[Black "Jimmy Liew"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A04"]
[Annotator ",Jimmy"]
[PlyCount "79"]

17... f5

Opening the f-file for attack is the best chance.

18. b3

This is necessary to defend the c-pawn and brings the knight back to the centre with Nc3.

Rf7 19. Be3 c5 20. Kh2 Rbf8 21. Qd2 fxe4

Zhuo Ren suggests 21... f4 22. gxf4 Rxf4 23. Bxf4 Rxf4 and the rook cannot be captured due to the pin on e5. This may be the best practical chances to play for win.

fxe4 22. Bxe4 Bd4!?

Just a bluff from me :)

The bishop can be taken 23. Bxd4 cxd4 24. f4 g5 25. Rf1 and black has no more pieces to pile on f4 square.

23. f4 Bxe3 24. Qxe3 g5 25. Bg2

Black has no time to capture on f4 as his bishop on e6 is hanging.

Bf5 26.fxg5 Ne5 27. Nc3 Bg4 28. Rd5 !?

28. Rf1 is better.

28...Bf3 29. Rd2 Rd2 Qd7 30. Nd5

30. Qxe5 Bxg2 31. Kxg2 Rf2+ wins material for black.

30... Bxd5

30... Bxg2 31. Kxg2 a4 (black tries to open lines for the queen to enter the attack) 32. Rcc2 axb3 33. axb3 Qb7 34. Qe4 (the diagonal must be closed, already black threatened ...e6) Qxb3 35. Nf4 and white has closed the dangerous f-file.

31. Bxd5 e6 32. Bg2 Nf3+ 33. Bxf3 Rxf3 34. Qxc5 Qb7

I spent some time considering 34... Qf7 but there is no win here either. 34.Qd4!
(White should not be greedy 35. Qxd6?? Rf2+ 36. Rxf2 Qxf2+ 37. Kh1 Qf3+ 38. Kh2 Qe2+ 39. Kh1 Qe4+ 40. Kg1 Qe3+ wins the rook.

35. Qd4 a4 36. Rb1 Rf1

There is nothing better. White has already fended off the attacking possibilities and should be winning with the extra pawns.

37. Rxf1 Rxf1 38. Rg2 axb3 39. axb3 Qxb3 40. Rb2

White offered to draw. Black is already losing after 40...Qa3 41. Rb8+ Rf8 42. Rxf8+
Kxf8 43. Qh8+ Ke7 44. Qxh7+

Replay game below:

2011 National Championship concluded

Firstly I must say I was surprised by the number of parents and players and officials, who came up to me and thanked me for joining this year's tournament. I did so for my own personal reason. I did not expect this reaction and I felt really humbled. I look forward to taking part again in 2012 tournament if possible.

The tournament was well organized by chief arbiter Najib Wahab and his team. Over a hundred players in the Dato Arthur Tan Chess Centre was a sight to behold.

The 2011 National Championship was won by Lim Zhuo Ren with a 8/9 score , no losses. He was running away with the tournamnet with a 7/7 score until stopped by Yeoh Li Tian in the eight round. Li Tian came close to an upset win but Zhuo Ren managed to steer into a worse but drawn bishop versus knight ending.

In the final round I had to win to take the championship on tie-break or force a three player play-off. Sumant beat Edward Lee and waited for me to win against Zhuo Ren. In the end Zhuo Ren overcame his jitters and offered a draw in a superior if not winning position. I will be showing this game in the next post.

The top positions were dominated by our many juniors as shown below.

The women's section was won by Nur Nabila.

I had the consolation of winning the blitz tournament right after. IMs Mas and Mok Tze Meng showed up to make an interesting event. Lim Zhuo Ren came second in the blitz.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 National Closed

The 2011 National Closed starts today. As most of you know I will be joining in the fray this year. If memory serves, the last time I played was in 1988. That's twenty-three years ago! And I did not win as Mohd Kamal was in great form that year. He managed to draw with me and I lost to Eric Cheah and that was that.

Someone asked me why I wanted to play. I could not think of a diplomatic reply and countered with "Why not?".

Indeed, why does the senior players not continue to take part in our national championship? The answer is really simple. There is more to lose than gain. For them, winning the championship (again) does not do anything for their reputation. There is simply no incentive. MCF should really consider paying these players an appearance fee to encourage them to take part.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wesley So training with Carlsen

There is a piece in The New Yorker featuring Magnus Carlsen written by D.T.Max who interviewed the chess genius.

One stunning revelation that came out was that Carlsen had offered Filipino Wesley So to go to Europe and train with him. I know Wesley is an up-and-coming player and certainly will be among the world elite one day. But for Carlsen to make such an offer means he must have a high opinion of Wesley too. I believe Carlsen choose Wesley precisely because while Wesley will be a rival one day, that day is not now. So it makes sense that way I suppose.

I'm quite sure Wesley would not turn down the offer. It's not everyday or even every lifetime that you get a chance to work with one of the world's best player. This collaboration will benefit Wesley tremendously and I hope his rise to the top will come sooner than later.

Monday, March 14, 2011

2011 NAG is over

Naturally the Under-18 Boys section is the most interesting to follow. The Under-18 Boys was won by Muhd Nabil very convincingly. He scored 7 out of a possible 8, drawing two games and losing none. The runner ups are Mark Siew and Low Jun Jian with 5.5 points. These three are amongst those I identified as the most promising juniors here.

The top two seeds , Evan Capel and Sumant Subramaniam cannot be too happy with their score of 5 points. Both lost three games with Evan losing to both Sumant and Nabil while Sumant lost to Nabil and Jun Jian. That Nabil met and beat both the top seeds proves that his winning the title is thoroughly deserved.

In the Under-16, Wong Jianwen continues his good performance after winning last month's Renegade tournament. He finished with an astonishing 8/8 outdistancing his main rival Yeap Eng Chiam who scored 6.5/8.

The Under 18 Girls section seems to be missing from the results. In the Girls Under-18 Under-14, Tan Li Ting and Nur Nabila finished with identical 7 points. Li Ting is the champion as she beat Nur Nabila. In my opinion, both of them could have competed in the Under-16 section and be in contention for the champion. However the rules prevented anyone from entering above their age group.

The only other perfect 8 score was posted by Teh De Zen in the Girls Under-10 section.

Congratulations to all the winners.

Full results:


U-18 Champion - Muhd Nabil
1st Runner up - Mark Siew
2nd Runner up - Low Jun Jian

U-16 Champion - Wong Jianwen 8/8
1st Runner up - Yeap Eng Chiam 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Elgin Lee 6/8

U-14 Champion - Roshan Ajeet Singh 6.5/8
1st Runner up - Aron Teh 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Tan Wei Hao 6/8

U-12 Champion - Ooi Zhi Yang 7/8
1st Runner up - Mohd Noor Azam 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Tan Yong Zhao 6.5/8

U-10 Champion - Teh De Juan 7.5/8
1st Runner up - Wong Yin Long 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Benjamin Lee 6.5/8

U-8 Champion - Tan Jung Yin 7/8
1st Runner up - Lye Lik Zang 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Muhd Faqih Aminuddin 5/8

U-16 Champion - Pavitranayagi Jayamurthey 6.5/8
1st Runner up - Sarika Subramaniam 6/8
2nd Runner up - Hoh Tjin Li 6/8

U-14 Champion -Wendy Tan Li Ting 7/8
1st Runner up - Nur Nabila 7/8
2nd Runner up - Camilia Johari 6/8

U-12 Champion - Nur Najiha Azman Hisham 7/8
1st Runner up - Puteri Rifqah Fahada Azhar 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Nithyalakshmi Sivanesan 6/8

U-10 Champion - Teh De Zen 8/8
1st Runner up - Puteri Munajjah Az-Zahraa 6.5/8
2nd Runner up - Teh Ming Min 6/8

U-8 Champion - Goh Jie Yi 8/8
1st Runner up - Chua Jia-Tien 7/8
2nd Runner up - Zainoor Ikmal Munirah 6/8

Saturday, March 12, 2011

2011 Amber Tournament begins

The 20th Amber Blindfold and Rapid Tournament will take place at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monaco, from March 11 to 24, 2011. The organizers have assembled a very strong and interesting field, Anand , Carlsen, Kramnik, Ivancuk , Aronian are the top five seeds.

Nakamura, winner of the recent Tata Steel super tournament as well as a host of other super GMs rounded up by the up-and-coming Anish Giri.

 No.   Name    Title   FED   Elo  
 1  Anand, Viswanathan  GM  IND  2817 
 2  Carlsen, Magnus  GM  NOR  2815 
 3  Aronian, Levon  GM  ARM  2808 
 4  Kramnik, Vladimir  GM  RUS  2785 
 5  Ivanchuk, Vassily  GM  UKR  2779 
 6  Karjakin, Sergey  GM  RUS  2776 
 7  Topalov, Veselin  GM  BUL  2775 
 8  Nakamura, Hikaru  GM  USA  2774 
 9  Grischuk, Alexander  GM  RUS  2747 
 10  Gashimov, Vugar  GM  AZE  2746 
 11  Gelfand, Boris  GM  ISR  2733 
 12  Giri, Anish  GM  NED  2690 

Amber is different from other tournaments in that it consists of both a blindfold and a rapid event. The twelve players play one blindfold and one rapid game with each other participant. Those not used to playing this format might be at a disadvantage and this includes Nakamura and Giri. Anand, Kramnik, Ivancuk and Aronian are all veterans at this event and I expect one of them to win it.

Round 1 games starts today. One unusual thing I noticed is that the games are staggered. Nakamura, Carlsen, Aronian , Giri, Ivancuk and Gashimov starts their first blindfold games at 2:30 PM but the rest starts at 4:00 PM. I guess this gives spectators a better chance to follow all the games. Nice touch and I like this.

There are two games per day. The blindfold will be followed rapidly by the rapids :) Not much rest for the players but they are well paid for it, so they cannot complain. The total prize-fund is a cool € 227,000 (around RM958,000). That's Euros, ladies and gentleman. Now who says chess is not a rewarding game monetary wise?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Majestic Hotel closes

I just read in the papers that the Majestic Hotel in Ipoh will cease business operations. I was really impressed by this colonial style building. Just hope it will not be torn down to make way for new development.

I remember staying at this hotel in the 80's when I was accompanying the late Filipino master Ruben Rodriguez. We were stopping over in Ipoh on our way to Penang from Kuala Lumpur. After dinner, Ruben showed me and Collin Madhavan some of his wondorful games  in the 1979 Riga Interzonal in the former USSR.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chess Camp by IM Mok Tze Meng

A chess camp will be organized this coming March school holidays. Camp is conducted by IM Mok Tze Meng. Full details below -

Registration form below:

14 and 15 March 2011
9.00am to 3.00pm
12 hours
IM Mok Tze Meng and his trainers






Please tick one level only
Beginner ( start to play)
RM 150

Intermediate Player
RM 175

Tournament Player
RM 200

Payable to
Intelligent Minds Academy
Eon Bank 0053-10-004865-0

l  Breakfast, lunch,certificate and course materials will be provided
l  Please feel free to visit our blog at
l  For further information, please contact Ms Wong 017 357 7788 or