Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Indian sensation leads Abu Dhabi Masters

The Masters section of the Abu Dhabi Festival is in its eight round. A young Indian IM is leading the field which includes 32 grandmasters. IM Murali Karthekeyan rated at 2462 has six points after drawing two games and winning five beating four grandmasters in a row. His current performance is 2830!

In round six, he won a game against a strong grandmaster with some neat tactics.

The Chinese super GM Wang Hao is the top seed but is not doing well with only five points.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Susan Polgar interviews Olympiad winners

Here is an press conference held by Susan Polgar for the Open winners.  Good questions being posed by reporters and our players and officials should take note of the answers and comments from the Chinese team , we could learn something.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tromso Olympiad Final Results

The Tromso Olympiad will be remembered for China's first ever gold and the failure of Russia, Ukraine and Armenia to win any medals.

In the Open, the silver went to Hungary on tie-break. A great send-off for GM Judit Polgar who had just announce her retirement. A deserving final olympiad for a great player and classy lady. The big surprise was India taking the bronze, again on tie-break ahead of Russia. A great success for the Indians who are playing without their best player, Anand. The team performed fantastically and only lost two games. Their fourth board , GMAdhiban played every game without loss.

In the Women Olympiad, Russia took gold ahead of China (silver) and Ukraine (bronze).

Board Prizes

Board prizes are awarded to the players with the highest performance on their boards. The most closely watched is the Open Board 1 which was won by Veselin Topalov, even after losing to Vladimir Kramnik.

Note China's Yu Yangyi performance on board three, an unbelievable 2912!

Open Board Prize Winners

Women Board Prize Winners

Malaysian results

Both Malaysian team lost all games in the final round, the men's to Norway and our women's to Australia. This was a tragedy for our girls as they were leading Category "C" before the final round. A draw would still have given them the bronze but the Australians were too strong. The only two consolations was Azhar Puteri Rifqah Fahada gaining the WFM and WCM norms with her 6/9 score and  the team finished in 54th position out of a seeding of 78th.

The men's team finished in 72nd position better than the seeding of 103rd.  A good result but still, a bit of a distance from the previous Istanbul olympiad where we finished in 64th position.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Judit Polgar announces retirement

A piece in ChessBase about Judit Polgar's retirement from chess. Lots of mixed emotions I have now.

Round 11: Malaysian Women's

I have not been following our Malaysian women's team as there are just too many interesting matches and games in every round. I only knew that they were doing very well. I have just checked their progress and very happy to report their success.

The team has scored 12 match points (same as the men) and lies in 40th position. A very good result as they are original seeded 78th. In the olympiads, there are rating categories with trophies for gold, silver and bronze. Malaysia is leading Category C and a win will give them the gold. For the record, our women's won the bronze in the 2012 Istanbul olympiad.

The fifth board, Azhar Puteri Rifqah Fahada, is making her first olympiad appearance, and very successfully too. Losing only one game in eight matches, she has 6/8 and a 2105 rating performance. This means that she has the chance to get one WFM norm with a good result in the final game. The years of hard work that she has put in is finally paying off.

In the final round, the team meets Australia.

Round 11: Malaysia meets Norway!

The final round of the Tromso Olympiad will continue on Thursday, 14th August 2014 as today is a rest day. History awaits Malaysia as we are drawn to meet Norway! As the home team, Norway is always playing on the third boards and their matches are always covered on their local TV stations. Our boys will be in the limelight in the final round.

I hope Carlsen will play and give our IM Lim Yee Weng a chance of a life-time to play with a world champion in a proper tournament. Carlsen lost to Ivan Saric in the 10th round so he may not take another risk to lose more rating points.

China is poised to make history as she has a one point lead over second placed Hungary. China plays Poland which has done much better than its original ranking. They beat Bulgaria in the 10th round. A draw may be enough for China to take gold on tie-breakers as they have beaten their nearest rival, Hungary.

The Chinese team have been outstanding on all boards. They only lost one game (Wang Yue against Leko)! GM Ding Liren and GM Yu Yangyi making their first olympiad appearance is the revelation of the tournament. They are not that known on the world stage, although they are familiar names in Asia. Ding Liren is performing at 2801 while Yu Yangyi is at a staggering 2902 and this shows that China fully deserves to be at the top.

Hungary meets Ukraine for a shot at the silver. Ukraine must win to have any medal prospects. Top seed Russia meets third seed France and this is also another possible medal match. All in all, this will be a most exciting finish to the Tromso Olympiad.

Round 10: Malaysia draws Switzerland!

Our Men's team has just completed their games against Switzerland and the surprise result was a draw!
In this match, strangely all black players won!

On first board, IM Lim Yee Weng jumped on a mistake by GM Pelletier and suddenly his bishops became too menacing. Yee Weng finished with winning tactic starting with 25...Bxf2+. The same also happened on third board when IM Georgladis weakened his king-side with the f4 push and again Yit San crashed through the white king-side. This draw puts Malaysia on 12 match points same as the Istanbul team but with an extra round to go. A final round win will put this team on a best ever placing in any olympiad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Round 9: Leaders clash

At the Tromso Olympiad in Norway, two leaders have emerged at the pen-ultimate round with 15 match points. China will play against France in what may be a gold medal match.

A few teams are still in contention for medals amongst them are one of the favourites Ukraine currently a point behind. Ukraine meets another 14 pointer, Azerbaijan.

Malaysia team continues with a good run  by drawing the higher rated Tajikistan 2-2. Both the bottom boards won. Fadzil had the good fortune of winning a piece after his opponent blundered in the early middle-game. Fong Yit San's impressive victory over IM Jamshed Isaev gave Malaysia the other point.

Malaysia has reached 11 match points , just one short of the points obtained in the last Olympiad. With two more rounds to go, the current team have good chances of improving. However in this 10th round, the team has to deal with a strong Swiss team. We have met Switzerland in Khanty-Mansiysk 2010 scoring one point and also at Turin 2006 where we scored a shock 2.5-1.5, IM Mas beating GM Korchnoi on the first board.

At time of writing the games are in progress and it is still too early to predict what will happen.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Round 8: China leads

China is the sole leader after eight rounds of the Tromso Olympiad. They convincingly beat Azerbaijian 3-1 in the match yesterda. Will China lift the trophy this year? This could happen as the favourites, Russia and Armenia, all past winners are almost out of contention for medals.

Malaysia had another good round beating a weak Pakistan 3-1, although the positions after two rounds of play did not indicate such a result. Fadzil Nayan came through with a win despite opposite colored bishops and Yee Weng took care of  IM Lodhi on first board.

Malaysia will now play Tajikistan in the ninth round, one of their strongest pairings since the first round.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Round 7: Malaysia beats Nigeria 4-0, Russia in shock

In the seventh round of the Tromso Olympiad, the Malaysian men beat Nigeria 4-0. Everyone won smoothly as the Nigerians offered little resistance. Malaysia is now in 65th position with 8 match points and extra-ordinary result.

However there is still four more rounds to go. In the eight round Malaysia will meet Pakistan. The Pakistanis are seeded 159, but this is due to their having three unrated players and they are not weak. On paper it looks like Malaysia have another chance to win their fifth match but the opponents cannot be under-estimated.

Their were two leaders at the start of round seven. The surprise is that neither are the heavy favourites, who are finding this olympiad unusually tough. Cuba lost 1.5-2.5 to Azerbaijan despite Domingo Lenier beating Mamedvyrov. Azerbaijan is now in the sole lead with 13 match points.

The biggest shock is Russia's demolition by the  Czech Republic 1-3. Both their top boards lost their games.

Another big surprise is Carlsen losing to Germany's Arkadij Naiditsch. All other games were drawn so Norway has lost 1.5-2.5 to Germany.

China, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and surprise Romania are in second spot with twelve points.China will meet the leader ,Azerbaijan , in round eight.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Round 6 : Great games and Malaysia wins again

There were some great games being played last night in round six of the Tromso Olympiad. First let me get the Malaysian games out of the way.

My prediction of the results of the Malaysian games was right on as Malaysia beat Namibia 3.5-0.5. The only thing I got wrong was the results of Aron Teh and Fadzil Nayan's games. I am not sure where he went wrong but Aron got into some difficulties and was lucky to reach a drawn R vs B ending.

IM Lim Yee Weng also had a pretty end with a mating attack while Sumant easily won with some tactics which his opponent totally over-looked.

IM Lim Yee Weng - L. Mueller
Black has just played 26...Rc4 and white finished beautifully.

27. Qe7 Bxa4 28. Nf4 Rc6 29. Qe8+ Kh7 30. Ng5+ hxg5 31. hxg5 and mate on h1 is unavoidable

Fadzil's opponent had things under control until  he gave up his bishop for the black knight on c6. The white knight on the queen side was totally out of the action and Fadzil just piled his pieces on the open f-file. The move 30...Bd4!! would have won the queen after 31. Rd1 Rf1+ 32. Rxf1 Qxe7. His opponent preferred to be mated instead.
Handjaba - Fadzil Nayan

After 19. Qxf7 white has the upper hand but a draw will still be logical result. White wanted more and played

19. Qb5 Bh4 20. Bxc6? bxc6 21. Qxc6 Bxf2+ 22. Kh1 Qh5 23. Qd5  Rf4 The threat is ...Qxh2 with mate soon. 24. h3 Qh4 25. Qe6 Rf6 26. Qe7 Rdf8 27. Rxd6 e4 28. Qd8+ Kh7 29. Nc1 Bd4! 30. Rxf6 Qh1+ 31. Kh2 Bg1+ 32. Kh1 Bf2+

A quick glance at our women's where they were playing the strong Germans. Puteri Rifqah did very well to hold a draw against WGM Sarah Hoolt  rated 458 points higher. This was the only half point as the rest of the team lost.

We come to the top games which were a pleasure to watch.

Uzbek GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov shocked GM Vladimir Kramnik with 29. Rxf7 resulting in mate in all variations.

Uzbekistan could have drawn with Russia if Marat Dzhumaev had won against Peter Svidler which he almost did. When you are the overwhelming favorite you tend to play something unusual to take your opponent out of his comfort zone. Svidler did just this with Qa5 and a Dragon like setup but Dzhumaev played logically and even won a pawn from the opening. In the rook ending the Uzbek GM maintained the extra pawn and looked set for the biggest upset of his olympiad.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Round 6: Malaysian evaluation

Here are the positions after around 75 minutes of play and my evaluation

Board 1 - Lim Yee Weng - L.Mueller  1-0

Black played an unusual opening and transpose to a French like middle-game. The problem is the black knight on g6 should be on the queen-side, preferably on c6. Black has no counter-play and end up having to play ...f6 which weakens some squares.

Board 2 - Charles Eichab-Aron Teh 0-1

White completely misplayed his opening and his pieces are very un-coordinated compared with Black.

Board 3 - Sumant Subramaniam - M.B. Nitzborn  1-0

Black also played an unusual opening here. White has a big space advantage. The problem is Sumant did not try to expand in the centre by pushing e4 at some stage. Instead the three pieces bundled together on the d-file looks out of place. Still his position is better and I expect him to win.

Board 4 - Handjaba - Fadzil Nayan 0.5-0.5

Opposite colored bishops usually leads to a draw. Black has problems with his white squares and logically a draw will eventually be reached.

Malaysia should win this match at least by 3-1

Intelligent Minds training tomorrow

Intelligent Minds Chess Academy is having chess training every Saturday starting at 9.00 AM  to 12 noon for a total of three hours. Venue is at A-1-9 Amandari ,Jalan 30/38A Sri Sinar in Kuala Lumpur. The fees charged are RM120 per student per session.

The topic for tomorrow's training is a special one.

Intelligent Minds Chess Academy chief coach IM Mok Tze Meng has represented Malaysia at numerous olympiads the last being the olympiad in Istanbul in 2012.

As the Chess Olympiad is currently being held in Tromso, Norway, IM Mok will bring his unique view and vast experience as a member of the previous Olympiad Teams. Tomorrow's topic will be touching on the chess olympiad games and how it feels to represent the country at this major event.  Other topics will be on how to prepare and analyse your games and the teamwork required  for a successful team.

See you all tomorrow at 9:00 AM.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Round 5: Top matches

The fifth round of the Tromso Olympiad had some interesting matches. Azerbaijan could only draw with Serbia while Russia had the same result with Bulgaria. The first board pitted two old rivals, Kramnik and Topalov. Both have not been on speaking not hand-shaking terms since their acrimonious World Championship match where the Topalov team basically accused Kramnik of cheating. It was sweet revenge for Kramnik as he sacrificed an exchange to get a dominant position.

Armenia narrowly defeated Norway with the two top rated players in the world, Aronian and Carlsen playing to a draw. Sargissian beat Agdestein to allow Armenia to win 2.5-1.5.

The upset of the round was the loss of the highly rated Ukraine team to Uzbekistan. GM Vassily Ivancuk is having a horrible tournament so far and he suffered another loss to GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov. The hero for Uzbekistan was  IM Jahongir Vakhidov who upset GM Anton Korobov to give Uzbekistan a 2.5-1.5 win.

As expected Malaysia won 4-0 over Saudi Arabia. Fong Yit San had it easy as his point came without a single move being made. The sixth round will be another easy one as they are playing against Namibia and they can expect to pick up another match win.

Today is a rest day and the sixth round will resume tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Round 4: Another loss for Malaysia

Malaysia paired against a slightly stronger team in Guatemala lost narrowly by 1.5-2.5. The points came from Aron Teh who won on second board and Fong Yit San who drew on third. This was not the expected result after two hours of play when it looked like Malaysia could win the match.

Both Yit San and Aron had the better positions after the openings. Playing on the white side of a Grunfeld Defence, Aron sacrificed a pawn in the opening and obtained an over-whelming position. He neatly wrapped up with a mating attack.

Yit San was a clear pawn up and a win was to be expected here. His opponent set up a few problems for him which he never managed to solve. Despite maintaining his extra pawn in a rook ending, it ended in a theoretical draw.

Yee Weng had a slighly worse rook endgame. He made the mistake of playing passively and was ground down.

Fadzil was a strange game. Instead of playing the normal b3, a3 and b4 advance on the queen-side he choose to play on the king-side 15. f4. This is not bad but he followed up with some aimless moves or maybe he was just waiting to see what would happen on the other boards. His opponent cleverly opened up the king-side and saddled him with serious black square weaknesses and he never recovered.

This loss dropped Malaysia to 129th position. The good thing is that when you hit rock bottom there is no other way but up. Malaysia will play Saudi Arabia in the 5th round. This should be an easy win.

Olympiad games selection

This has to be the shortest decisive game in this olympiad A WIM loses to a 11 year old player , rating 1538 , in 8 moves.

You might think the above must be the shortest decisive game in this olympiad but you will be wrong. Observe this. Black played like a complete beginner because she is a complete beginner.

It takes a lot of guts to play the "Fried Liver" against Mr Fire-on-board himself.

Very speculative play against one of the best players in the world but it paid off.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Round 3: Malaysia 0.5 - South Africa 3.5

Last night, Malaysia lost 0.5-3.5 to South Africa. Rating wise, a reasonable result but I was hoping for more.

The only draw came from Fadzil Nayan. His opponent played a passive opening and white and never got anything from the opening.

The first and second boards had the same identical opening and up to the 11th move both positions were the same.  Yee Weng was doing alright until he overlooked a tactic and lost a pawn for nothing.

Aron ended up worse from the opening and forced to give up his queen for rook and bishop. He tried to set up a fortress. It was a good effort but not enough to avoid losing.

Yit San could have had a draw as he had a equal position from the opening. Maybe he thought he should try for more and inexplicably sacrificed a bishop. The attack was an illusion and there was no doubt to the result.

The fourth round opponent is Guatemala with two IMs and higher rated. The difference is only 40 points so we certainly have chances. The last meeting was in Dresden in 2008 where we drew 2-2. Note that at that time we were higher rated than Guatemala.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Round 3 - Malaysia vs South Africa

Round three is about to start and Malaysia is paired with South Africa. This will be the first real test whether this team can score against slightly stronger opposition. On paper, the South Africans are the stronger team but not so strong that an upset is not possible.

The South Africans have three International Masters and everyone is rated higher than our players. However I believe our players have chances. On board one, Yee Weng's game should be the one to watch as he goes up against the experienced IM Kenny Solomon. Chances are equal here.

Aron is up against IM Henry Steel who I think recently obtained his IM title. Aron has been playing very well. His black openings are very well worked out and I think a draw here is an expected result.

Yit San's game is unpredictable. If black plays the opening that Yit San likes, he has chances.

Fadzil Nayan has black but he does not crack easily provided he is not awed by his opponent or the occasion. Self confidence is the key here and our guy has it. I give this equal chances for both sides.

My verdict

2-2 !

Round 2 - Narrow win for Malaysia

Malaysia was paired against the weak Kenya team seeded 130th, for the second round. It is normal to get a weaker team after losing to a strong one. It is the compensating effect of the Swiss system. I went to bed shortly after all the Malaysian games started. Everything looked good, Fadzil was already winning, Aron had the better of the opening, the rest not clear yet but hey, we outpoint them on every board.

This morning I checked the results and got the shock of my life.  A narrow win against a team like this? The team cannot be too happy with this. We should start getting worried.

Ben-Magana-Aron Teh  (draw)

13. Nxg5 is the kind of move my opponents unleash on me in on-line bullet games. It sometimes works because well, it's bullet. But in an olympiad game? Aron went wrong almost immediately with 14. Bg4 which is not necessary at all and leaves the bishop trapped on the king-side. With his bishop trapped on g4 and White's killer bishop on the a2-g8 diagnoal, Aron wisely bailed out with a draw by perpetual.

Fong Yit San-Joseph Atwoli (white won)

Yit San won easily in a Scandinavian opening as the opponent did not have the theory at all (7...Bc8!?) and had his king caught in the centre.

Stephen Ouma - Sumant Subramaniam (white won)

Sumant crashed to his second loss. He made a big mistake with 17...dxe4? opening up the long diagonal for the white bishop on g2 and was outplayed.

Fadzil Nayan - Ngedwa Jackson (white won)

Black is unrated and Fadzil won easily straight out of the opening.

Malaysia 2.5 - Kenya 1.5

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Round 1 - Malaysia loses 0.5-3.5 to Spain

In the first round of the Tromso chess olympiad, Malaysia was drawn to meet the strong Spanish team. This is quite traditional as we always seem to be seeded in the lower half of the draw. Compare this with our southern neighbour, Singapore , which shut out Papua New Guinea with a 4-0.

Anything other than a loss would have been a big surprise. Still, Aron Teh managed to draw against his grandmaster opponent, Anton Guijar thus Malaysia lost by 0.5-3.5. I am reminded in the last olympiad, how Lim Zhuo Ren drew the first round game against a grandmaster and went on to make an IM norm (a first for a Malaysian at an olympiad). Aron has been very active in playing and already rated at 2309. We wait to see if he can achieve the same result as Zhuo Ren.

IM Lim Yee Weng played a solid Scotch game against GM Paco Vallejo. He may even have a slight edge in the middle-game. After exchanges, a rook ending was reached where he was ground down from an equal position.

Watching the Malaysia games, I notice a pattern (is that possible after only one round). Our first two boards uses safe and solid openings while the bottom two are more risk taking in their opening choices. This can work well against weaker teams but against a grandmaster team will always result in a loss. On the other hand, if I am going to lose anyway why not try my best opening and get free instruction from a grandmaster?

First round in the olympiad are always very one sided, in many games the rating difference between players can be 500 point or more.  4-0 scores are all over the place. Still, there are upsets where the stronger side could not win or even lost. Example Damion Davy (Jamaica ) drew GM Jan Markos (Slovakia) a rating difference greater than 500. Filipino FM Bersamina (2363) could only draw against Afghanistan's Ahmadi (2031)

I was watching the game Kojima (2373) against GM Sergei Movsesian (2672) The former is a frequent visitor to the Malaysian Chess Festival and I even played him once. The position below happened after 31 moves.

Kojima - Movsesian

It looks like the grandmaster is winning easily but take a closer look, he is black!

5....Nxd5 6. Bh6+ Kf6 7. Bg5+ Kg7 8. Bh6+ White repeats moves as he is very short of time  Kf6 9. exd5  Now he is back on track, the threat is Qg5 mates. Black plays the desperate  Kf5 which should result in mate after 10. g4+ Ke4 11. Ke2 Kxd5 12. Qc4+ Ke4 13. f3#

10. f3 Rxd5 Black desperately makes an escape square for his king on e6 11. Qg5+ ? The quiet move 11.
Rc6 tightens the noose around the black king. There is no defence to the
threats of mate on g4 and g5  11... Ke6 12. Re8+ Kd6 13. Bf8+ White still
wins after 13. Qd8+ Kc6 14. Qc8+ Kb6 15. Bg5 and the check on d8 will win
material. 13... Kc7 14. Qc1+ ??  14. Qe7+ Rd7 15. Qb4 Although he is not
mated immediately, black cannot survive with his king surrounded by active
white pieces. 14... Kb6 15. Rc8 Qd7 Now all the mate threats are stopped and black himself threatens ...Qh3+. White is the one looking for draw now  16. Qc4 ?? Qh3+ 17. Ke2 Qg2+ White will
be mated.  0-1

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Round 1 : Malaysia vs Spain

View the games live here.