Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kindle my Fire

Yesterday, Amazon Inc revealed its new Ipad killer, the Kindle Fire. At just USD 199.00 it is about 50% cheaper compared with the Ipad at RM 1499.00, I am betting the Amazon offering will eat into Apple's tablet market.

Already the stock market is reacting to this news. Yesterday Amazon shares closed 2.5 percent higher while Apple shares dipped 0.6 percent.

Amazon's founder and CEO , Jeff Bezos expects to sell 3 million tablets this Christmas. While this won't topple Apple's position as the number one tablet maker, it will bring Amazon to number two.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Grand Slam Masters Final

The Grand Slam was traditionally held in Bilbao. This year Sao Paolo will be hosting the first stage. Now Sao Paulo is in Brazil and last time I looked at a map Bilbao is in Spain on the European continent. Nice. They get to play a tournament held over two continents.

The players are Aronian, Anand, Carlsen, Ivanchuk, Nakamura and Spanish entry (well if they organize it they should be allowed to enter their own player) Francisco Vallejo.

I just checked into Playchess and did not see any on-going games. No wonder (all you Ninjas out there take note of the spelling) because the rounds starts at 3 PM Brazilian time. That's 2 A.M in Malaysia. So no on-line spectating for me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Incident at Elite Final

In the fifth round of Insofar Elite Open Final , Fadzil Nayan had five points , a full point ahead of me. I needed to win to catch up and he needed only a draw to be almost certain of pocketing the first prize. The following position was reached.

Black cannot defend the a-pawn so I played 32...Bd7 and offered a draw. At this stage I was behind on time compared to Fadzil, who thought he could take advantage and he continued playing. A couple of moves later I had improved my position and had some slim winning chances. This time he offered a draw which I also turned down.

Many moves later we were both blitzing our moves away reaching the following position was reached ( the rooks might be in slightly different positions but everything else is mostly correct).

Fadzil  - Jimmy Liew

Both sides had less than a minute on the clock and had been moving instantly. White stopped the clock and called the arbiter. He claimed a draw because "Black was not trying to win". Those who can play chess can see that the position is hard for any side to win, but by no means can be called a drawn position. The arbiter - Najib - ordered us to continue playing.

Here I told Najib that white should be penalized by time for making an incorrect draw claim. Both arbiter and my opponent seemed shocked. But this penalty is provided for in the FIDE Rules. Article 10 states (the bold statements are highlighted by me for clarity) -

10.2 If the player, having the move, has less than two minutes left on his clock, he may claim a draw before his flag falls. He shall summon the arbiter and may stop the clocks. (See Article 6.12.b)

a. If the arbiter agrees the opponent is making no effort to win the game by normal means, or that it is not possible to win by normal means, then he shall declare the game drawn. Otherwise he shall postpone his decision or reject the claim.

b. If the arbiter postpones his decision, the opponent may be awarded two extra minutes and the game shall continue, if possible in the presence of an arbiter. The arbiter shall declare the final result later in the game or as soon as possible after a flag has fallen. He shall declare the game drawn if he agrees that the final position cannot be won by normal means, or that the opponent was not making sufficient attempts to win by normal means.

c. If the arbiter has rejected the claim, the opponent shall be awarded two extra minutes time.

d. The decision of the arbiter shall be final relating to (a), (b) and (c).

Take note of (c) which clearly states that a penalty should be awarded but in this case player has less than two minutes therefore two minutes will be added to his opponent's time. Under no circumstances can you lose a game on time because of a time penalty. In retrospect, I should have informed Najib that I should be awarded two extra minutes - I simply assumed that he understood. If he deducted two minutes from white, then Fadzil would lost on time. Perhaps this affected his decision. Najib said something which I cannot recall and simply told us to continue the game.

I been playing chess long enough to know that arguing with an arbiter is a waste of time. The decision of an arbiter always stands since he is the highest authority present unless there is an Appeals Committee formed at the start , which obviously there is none in this case.

So we re-started the clock. Actually I saw a winning attempt but it fails if my opponent sees the correct reply. For example black can sacrifice the rook for the white e-pawn on e5. However if white positions his rook correctly this will fail. After ...1...Rxe5 white must be able to check on the f-file for example after 2 Rf1+ Ke4 3. Re1+ wins the rook for free.

The end came differently. Both of us were blitzing when Fadzil touched his king but hesitated. I was moving so fast that I actually moved my bishop before he pressed the clock. Experienced players will know this is not so un-common in blitz.

He complained to Najib that I made "double move". Here Najib made a second mistake. He decided to rule the game a draw. There is no specific regulation covering this situation in the Laws of Chess. Now the arbiter cannot call the result because of this. In my opinion the first time it happens, the player should only be issued with a verbal warning and "touch move" rule applied.

Anyway I decided to let it go. I know Najib tries his best and do not really blame him. He has to make his decision on the spot and only have a few seconds to consider.

One thing I noticed about our local arbiters is that they are not really familiar with the FIDE rules on chess or unable to apply what they know to real life situations.

Arbiters should be thoroughly well versed with the Laws of Chess section in the FIDE handbook. As it is, the Laws of Chess do not cover every scenario that can happen in real games. I occasionally go to Geurt Gijssen site where he gives his opinion on the correct decision to make in specific cases. Most of the time, there is something new to learn there. Co-incidentally, in this week's latest article, there is a question relevant to this incident so it is worth your while to take a read over there.

In the next post, I will examine some personal experiences involving arbiter's incorrect (and sometimes astounding) decisions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Campomanes Memorial in Yangon - update

The tournament that IM Mok Tze Meng is currently playing in.

Peter Long has the standings here after eight rounds.

Asian Amateur Championship 2011 - correction

This event was originally scheduled to take place in Yemen. However, with the current situation in Yemen, it is very unlikely to take place there.

The good news is that Malaysia is offering to host this tournament. There will be a USD 20,000 USD 6,000 prize fund with USD 4,000 USD 1,500 going to the champion. The event is only open to those rated 2000 and below. Additionally you must not have crossed the 2000 ELO at any time in the last two years.

This event should not be confused with the World Amateur Championship which is going to be held in Antalya, Turkey starting 1st October.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

41 bankrupted daily

Last night I wrote about "Credit Card Debt"

Co-incidentally, this morning I read in the Star this article

This line is rather shocking. "41 are declared bankrupt every day, mostly due to credit card debts"

I believe the problem is bigger than our government and Bank Negara would like us to believe. The last time I read a statement from Bank Negara about credit card debts, it was something like "under control" or similar words. In other words, nothing to worry about. Really.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Credit card debt

Credit card debt is rising this country and it is likely to keep growing. Banks are making it too easy to own a card and many own more than one.

I urge you to watch this video. It is a ten part video but worth your while to watch them all. It explains what is credit card debt and how you can get caught in a spiralling problem which you may find impossible to get out off.

Even though this video made in US and apparently addresses a an American credit card problem, it is relevant to everyone everywhere. Many of the points brought up are also relevant to us in Malaysia. Not a month goes by without at least one bank calling me to offer me either a balance transfer, credit card upgrade on the limit, or - get this - a loan up to my credit card limit.

I understood that the bank is trying to get me into debt. And it frightens me  how the bank can give me a totally unsecured loan. What happens when I am unable to pay the installments on the loan?

It will be very easy especially for the younger working generation when faced with some temptation to accept a loan of say RM10,000. What will they do with it? Likely buy the latest iPad2 or new handphone, splurge on designer clothes and what not. Would they understand that they are spending money they do not have to buy a luxury item which they probably do not need? What do you  think?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Carlsen split with Kasparov

A new insight on the co-operation between Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen and why they actually broke up the partnership. Fascinating. Read it here

Svidler nearer to goal

Peter Svidler is one game away from winning the 2011 FIDE World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. He won the first game and drew in games two and three to lead 2-1 over Alexander Grischuk. Now he needs just another draw in the fourth game which will be played tomorrow.

Grischuk will have to do something "extra-ordinary" (as he described it during the press conference after the game) in the fourth game which he must win to take the match to tie-breaks.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Svidler wins first game of World Cup Final

Yesterday at the FIDE World Cup Final, Peter Svidler scored the first win over Grischuk. Grischuk kind of imploded rather than Svidler winning it.

After a rather unusual Sicilian variation, Svidler was in trouble and had to sacrifice a pawn for development. However Grischuk started taking a lot of time.

As one of the commentators put it, this is hardly an unusual situation for Grischuk. He plays much better in time trouble and this has been proven time and again. Then the other commentator made a nice analogy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Us" and "Them"

This is the philosophy of Raymond Siew, what he tries to indoctrinate into those people who still surround him. By creating groups he can manipulate and make himself  important and relevant.

But even I was shocked to read that he had advised Sumant Subramaniam to avoid me at the forthcoming SEA Games. This amounts to interference and attempting to split the team into factions. The SEA Games comes under the jurisdiction of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM). Raymond continually likes to bait  MCF (since he knows they will not do anything)  by telling them to do this and do that. But OCM will not be amused by his antics. Luckily he is too insignificant for OCM  to notice.

I was in a bit of a dilemma. I have always been on good terms with everyone including our juniors.  Even Mark Siew whom I gave some advice once, but he looked embarrassed to be seen with me so I gave up on that so as not to cause him any difficulties.

As I do not want to get Sumant into trouble with Raymond who claims him as a "student" so I had resolved to avoid Sumant at the SEA Games if possible. However  I need not have worried about that.

At the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters, I was chatting with GM Wong Meng Kong, when someone came up and greeted me.  I looked up and to my surprise, there was Sumant standing in front of me. He was there to play in the blitz event. He said hello and we briefly exchanged a few friendly words on the tournament.

That was a big relief for me. The youngster has shown more level headed and common sense than his elders. Thank God for that,  for a while I was worried there would be a lot of awkward moments at the Games.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

FIDE World Cup Semifinals - Ivancuk falls

In an unclear attacking position, Alexander Grischuk gambled a piece in mutual time scramble. It was a big shock to see Ivancuk give away two pieces with seconds on his clock. What a heart-breaking loss. In the second game, Ivancuk needing a win to equalise the score, sacrificed a piece for a non-existent attack. Grischuk calmly accepted, played a series of queen moves after which Ivancuk could not avoid a draw.

So Grischuk goes into the final and faces Svidler. Both have qualified into next year's Candidates. The winner of this match gets USD120,000, the loser still takes away USD80,000 so the stakes are still high.

Ivancuk still have to face off against the loser of the other semi-final, Ponomariov. They will play for the third spot for next year's Candidates tournament. It is still a good payday for them. Both gets USD50,000 for reaching this stage.

Today is a rest day and tomorrow the final matches will begin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chatting with IM Mas

A group of us had the opportunity to chat with International Master Mas Hafizul over drinks on the last day of the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters which ended recently.

Some of the subjects we talked about.

On quitting Petronas

He did confirm that he has resigned from his Petronas job. He will be concentrating on chess fully (meaning professionally?). This is quite a shock to me as Mas already started a small family. Chess definitely does not pay as well as a regular job as an chemical engineer. This is a very bold step to take although I am sure Mas has given the matter his thorough analysis :)

Svidler in World Cup Final!

The FIDE World Cup is currently going on in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Peter Svidler is the first player to make it to the FIDE World Cup Final.

He has just beaten Ponomariov in the second game of their match (the first game was drawn). And he did it with style sacrificing an exchange which many of the observers just could not understand. But Svidler proved his understanding of the game was far superior. His compensation was in the bishop pair and potential passed pawn(s) on the queen-side. This proved too much for Ponomariov to handle.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thoughts on "glass ceiling"

This term can be used in many areas but usually it is used in the context of the workplace. It refers to an invisible barrier  through which a minority (usually women) can see (hence "glass") elite positions but cannot reach them ("ceiling").

In our context of chess in Malaysia, someone used it to imply that our juniors have been unfairly prevented from  reaching the top levels and representing the country in major tournaments. Further implication is that the elite group (the IMs) are colluding amongst themselves to "keep" their positions, by "fixing" their games and agreeing draws while going all out against the juniors. How true is this?

Monday, September 12, 2011

FIDE World Cup Semi-Finals

Ivanchuk eliminated Radjabov by winning one and drawing one of the two rapid tie-breakers.

Grischuk did the same to David Navarra.

So the semi-finalists are Vassily Ivanchuk, Alexander Grischuk, Ruslan Ponomariov and Peter Svidler. The pairings are Svidler - Ponomariov and Ivanchuk - Grischuk. The winners will be decided over two games with tie-breaks in case of tie.

The winners of the semi-finals will be guaranteed a place in next year's Candidates. One more place will go one of the losers with the two losers playing a four game match to decide the last qualifier.

Ivancuk and Svidler are my favourites to win. Svidler especially has been playing some great chess so far.

Both semi-final matches will be interesting and nerve wracking for the players as well with so much at stake. Not only will the top three advance to the Candidates, but the eventual winner will pocket USD 120,000.  That is some serious money.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Instructive ending

Last night there was an instructive ending from the on-going World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. The following position was reached in Gashimov - Ponomariov

After 78. Kh5

World Cup Quarter-finals results

Peter Svidler bt Judit Polgar 1.5-0.5 . Svidler advances to semi-finals

Vassily Ivancuk ties with Teimour Radjabov 1-1 and goes into rapid tie-breaks  tomorrow

Ruslan Ponomariov bt Vugar Gashimov  1.5-0.5. Ponomariov advances

David Navarra ties with Alexander Grischuk 1-1 and goes into rapid tie-breaks tomorrow

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Barbosa, Vakhidov and Bitoon makes GM norms

In the final round, Jahongir Vakhidov had a quick draw with tail-ender GM Wong Meng Kong to secure his norm. Oliver Barbosa , who had already secured his norm with a round to spare, also drew with IM Mas.

All other games were quickly drawn.

Philippines IM Richard Bitoon had to carve out a win to reach the magical 6.5 points. Not an easy task against GM Vakhidov who was unbeaten till then. Eventually the Filipino prevailed and therefore three GM norms were achieved.

For Filipinos Barbosa and Bitton, these was especially significant as they have fulfilled all requirements and will receive their GM title. Congratulations to all three.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters

The standings of the Masters after six rounds -

 Rk.  Title  Name  Rtg  FED 1   2  3   4  5   6  7   8  9   10  Pts.
 1   IM  Barbosa Oliver  2538  PHI  * 1  ½  1  ½  1     1  5.0 
 2  IM  Vakhidov Jahongir 2392   UZB 0  * 1     1  1  1  1    5.0 
 3   IM  Bitoon Richard  2504  PHI  ½ 0  *    1   1  1  1   4.5 
 4  IM  Das Arghyadip 2461  IND  0    * ½   1  ½ 1  1   4.0 
 5  GM  Vakhidov Tahir  2485  UZB  ½   ½ *  ½ ½ ½ 1    3.5 
 6  IM Nguyen Van Huy  2449  VIE  0   0   ½ *  ½  ½ 1  2.5 
   IM  Goh Wei Ming Kevin  2449  SIN  0  0   0   ½  * 1    1  2.5 
 8  GM Nguyen Anh Dung  2479  VIE  0   0  ½ ½ ½  0  *    1.5 
 9   IM  Mas Hafizulhelmi  2413  MAS   0   0  0   0  ½     *  ½ 1.0 
 10  GM  Wong Meng Kong2355  SIN 0   0  0    0  0   ½  * 0.5 

Singapore's GM Wong Meng Kong with only a single draw is right at the bottom of the table. He must have known he is just making up the GM numbers (norms for GM must have three grandmasters taking part), but I am quite sure he did not expect to be in this position!

Malaysia sole representative, IM Mas Hafizul , is having one of his worst tournaments I have ever seen him in. Scoring only two draws he is just ahead of Meng Kong.

At the other end of the table, both IMs Oliver Barbosa (Philippines) and Jahongir Vakhidov (Uzbekistan) are sitting very comfortably. They have five points each and with three more rounds left, only require 1.5 points to make their grandmaster norms.

Barbosa has two tail-enders who are totally out of form to meet, so should make it without too much difficulty. Vakhidov still has one dangerous opponent who still has a chance of a GM norm. That is the Indian IM Das Arghyadip. But his two other opponents are the unfortunate Meng Kong and GM Tahir Vakhidov. We can reasonably expect his own father not to try to beat him!.

Indian IM Das Arghyadip needs two wins and a draw in the last three rounds. His task is more difficult as he has to meet Jahongir and IM Richard Bitoon who is also in the running for the norm and needs only two points more.

So it looks like this tournament will be very successful in generating at least two grandmaster norms. Unfortunately Malaysians will not be among them.

Today is a free day so the 7th and 8th round resumes tomorrow (Friday). The final round starts on Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. The tournament is held at the Swiss Garden Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. An Open tournament is running side-by-side so there is lots of chess to watch. After the final round, there will be a blitz tournament so there is plenty of reason to be there on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

IM Jimmy Liew - GM Joseph Sanchev, Merdeka Team Rapid

After 27...Nf6

White has built up a nice position controlling almost everything and is now close to winning. But one must still beat the clock ....

28. Qxe7 ?

My engine tells me 28. Bd6 Qxc7  29. Rxc7 Bxd6 30. Nxd6  Bg8 31. e5 wins due to the pin on the f-file.

Bxe7 29. Rc7 Bd8 30. Rc8 Kg8 31. Bd6 Re8 32. e5 Nd5 33. Ra8 ?

A totally useless move. I could not see a clear plan and made this move to gain time. I calculated that 33. Bxd5 exd5 34. Nc7 Bxc7 36. Rxe8+ Bxe8 37. Bxd8 and this  looks very drawish. I had missed a one move mate 37. Rf8 mate!

Also 33.. Bg6  loses to 35. Rf4 (Not 35. Nxe8 ??  Be4+ 36. Kg1 Rg2+ 37. Kh1 Rxg3+ 38. Rf3 Bxf3 mate)

33....Ne3 34. Rg1

Another time pressure move. 34. Bf3 Rc2 (34... Rxh2+ 35. Kxh2 Nxf1+ 36. Kg1  Nxg3 37. Bc6 wins material) 35. Re1 Nd5  36. Bxd5 exd5 37.e6 Bg6 38. e7 Bb6 39. Rxe8+ Bxe8 40. Rf1 Bf7 41. e8=Q+ Bxe8 42. Rf8 mate

34... Nxg2 35. Rxg2 Re1+ 36. Rg1 Re2 37. Rg2 Re1+ 38. Rg1 Re2 

Black is happy to repeat moves. At this stage I had a look around. All my team-mates had lost or were losing, so I decided to go for a win. Later it turned out that an extra half point would have given us the 2nd Best Malaysian Team.

39. Nc3 ?

39. Rc1  Bg5 40. Rxe8+ Bxe8 41. Rc8  Kf7  42. Bc5 Bd7 43. Rc7  Ke8 44. Nd6+ Kd8 45. Bb6 Ke7 46. Bxa5 Ra2 47. Ne4! Rxa3 48. Bc3 (48.Rxd7+ Kxd7 49. Nc5+ Kc6 50. Nxa4 Kb5 and black regains a piece). After 48.Bc3 black must lose material.

 39...Rd2 40. Bc5 Bg5

Black's turn to blunder. 40...Bg6 41. Rf1 Rd3 and the threat of fork on e4 with the bishop.

41. Rxe8+ Bxe8 42. Rf1

Threatening mate on f8.


Only move. Black had intended to play 42....Bc6+ 43. d5 wins material for white.

43. d5??  

Totally overlooking the winning fork 43. Ne4

43... h5 44. d6 

Again missing 44. Ne4 Rxd5 45. Nxg5 Rxc5 46. Nxf7

44...Be8 45. Rf2 Bc6+ 46. Kg1 Rd3 47. Nb5 h4 48. gxh4  Bxh4 49. Rc2 ??

A horrible blunder.

White still can hold on with 49.Rf4 Rd1+ (if 49....g5 50 Rd4 Rb2 51. Rd1 and no more mating threats by black) 50 Rf1 Rd2 51. Rf4 repeats.

Rd1 mate  0-1

Sunday, September 4, 2011

IM Jimmy Liew - Junta Ikeda

IM Jimmy Liew - Junta Ikeda, Merdeka Team Rapid, Round 5

15.Nf5! cxd4 

I missed the winning combination 16. Nxd5 Bxd5 17. Qh5 g6 18. Qh6 Bf6 (18... gxf5 19. Bxf5
Re8 20. Qxh7+ Kf8 21. Qh8 mate) 19. exf6 Qxf6 20. Bg5 Qh8 21. Ne7 mate)

16. Nh6+ 16... Kh8 

16... gxh6 17. Nxd5 Nxe5 (17... Bxd5 18. Qg4+ Kh8 19. Qf5 Nf6 20. exf6  mates) 18. Nxe7+ Qxe7 19. Bxh6 and White has a dangerous intiative e.g Rfe8 20. Rf5 f6 21. Rxe5 fxe5 22. Qh5 Bd5 23. Rf1 Rac8  24. Bf5  (24. Bxh7+ Qxh7 25. Qg5+ Kh8 26. Qf6+ Kg8 27. Rf5 Rc1+ 28. Bxc1 Qf7 Black survives)
29. Rg5+ Kh7 ) 24... Rcd8 25. Bxh7+ Qxh7 26. Qg5+ Kh8 27. Qf6+ Kg8 28. Rf5 (mate is
unavoidable) Rd7 29. Qf8+ Rxf8 30. Rxf8#)

17. Nxd5

After 17. Qh5 black must defend carefully  17...f5!  (17... g6 18. Rxf7!

18. Rxf7

Rxf7  (18...gxh5?? 19. Rxh7 mate) 19. Nxf7+ Kg7 (19... Kg8 20. Bxg6 hxg6 21. Qxg6+ Kf8 22. Bh6+ Ke8 23.Nd6 mate) 20. Qh6+ Kxf7 21. Qxh7+ Ke6 22. Qxg6+

Bf6 23. Qf5+ Kf7 24.Qh5 + Ke7 26.Nxd5+ Bxd5 27. Qh7+  Ke6 28. Bf5+ Kxe5  29. Bf4+  Kxf4 30. Rd1 (threatens g3+ with mate soon) Bxg2 31. Be6! with mate) 18. Rxf5 gxh6 19. Bxh6 Rxf5 20. Qxf5 Qg8 and black survives

 17... Bxd5 18. Qh5 g6 19. Qe2 Bg5 20. Nxf7+ Bxf7 21. e6 Bxe6 22. Qxe6 Rxf1+ 23. Bxf1 Bxc1 24. Rxc1

and black survived with an extra pawn though I managed to draw the ending.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Simple rook ending

IM Rolando Nolte - IM Jimmy Liew
The position is from the game IM Rolando Nolte - IM Jimmy Liew , Merdeka Team Rapids. Although I reached a theoretical draw, there simply was not enough time on the clock. Matter of fact I lost on time after a couple of moves.

The black king is cut off by two files from the passed pawn. Nevertheless, black can still draw because the white pawn is only on the third rank. This requires that the defending king be cut off by three files. When the pawn is that far back, there is an instructive drawing resource. Black to move draws with


The point of this move is that black can prevent the pawn from advancing by attacking it from the front contrary to normal "behind the pawn" principles.

2. g4 Rh8+ 3. Kg3 Rg8

Black prevents the pawn from advancing further. If the white king comes out from behind the pawn, checks will take care of that.

4. Re4 Kd5!

The white rook cannot simultaneously protect the pawn and cut off the black king.

5. Kf3 Rf8+ 6. Rf4 Rg8! 7. Rf6 Ke5 8. Rh6 Rf8+ 9. Kg3 Rf6! 10.  Rh7 Rg6 11. Rf7 Ke6 12. Rf4 Rf6

Black's king will reach the front of  the pawn with a drawn position.