Friday, December 25, 2015

3rd ASEAN Chess Championship

The 3rd ASEAN Chess Championship is now in progress in Indonesia in Jakarta from 21-30 December 2015. The championship is open to players from ASEAN countries which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  However only five countries sent representatives. The rating requirement is 2300, but those who do not meet this requirement can play in  the Challengers section. There is also a Women's championship held at the same time.

There is an interesting prize for the winners of the Open and Women. The champion will be receive a GM and WGM norm respectively. In case there is a tie up to three (!) IM and WIM titles will be awarded. This means the winner will automatically become IM/WIM straight away. This is relevant for our players as none of them are IM/WIM yet.

This year's open drew 12 participants  and will be a 11 round all-play-all. There are three grandmasters and six IMs so even if one does not win the championship international master norms are attainable (not grandmaster since there four grandmasters will be required for 11 rounds). For the open the  magic number is 6.5 points from the 11 rounds and for the Women, it will be 7.5 points.

Malaysia has sent three representatives. Yeoh Li Tian in the open and Nabila and Najiha in the Women's. Five rounds have been played so how are our players doing?

Open standings after round five
 Surprisingly none of the grandmasters are in the lead. Li Tian is actually in the joint lead with 3.5/5. There is another six rounds to go so its too early to celebrate.

Women standings after round five
Nur Nabila has three points with four draws and  a win while her sister , Najiha, has two points coming from four draws and  a loss.

Yeoh Li Tian (picture from Chessdom)

Here is Li Tian's win over Myanmar top player rated at 2414.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

At the 7th IIUM Open

I noticed a Facebook post about the IIUM Chess Invitational Championship and immediately signed up to play. This is a rapid tournament and I really needed some practice in this format. On checking my GPS, I found IIUM is in Gombak. I figured IIUM might stand for International Islamic Universiti of Malaysia or something like that. But the road signs were rather confusing (it states UIAM instead).

Anyway, it was a pleasant early morning ride for me and I found the university using my trusty mobile phone's GPS.

On sitting down at the board for the first round, I noticed the clock showed twenty minutes. Great, I have even less time for my aging brain.

I was clearly going to be in a lot of trouble in this tournament judging from the first round where I blundered a piece in a winning position. I switched to blitz mode and managed to flag my opponent.

My second round reached this position

Jumis Hasibin - Jimmy Liew

Although a pawn down, the poor position of the white king is enough for compensation.

28....Re1+ 29. Kc2 Re2+ 30. Kd3 

After 30. Kb1 black has nothing better than to keep checking. White tries to win thinking his two passed pawns give him the better winning chances. However I saw some possibilities for myself.

30....Rxa2 31. h4 Rb2 32. Ke4 

32. Kc4 is answered by 32...a5 and 33 Rc2+

32....Rxb3 33. g4 Rg3 34. g5 b3 35. Rh8 ??

35. Rf7 was the only move to stop the pawn but Black retains better chances.

35... Ka5

The engine shows the simple win with 35... Rg4+ 36. Kxe5 (36. Kf5 Rb4 -+) 36... Ka5 37. Rb8 Kxa4 ! This is the unexpected move. The rook dominates the white king-side pawns and neither can
push forward. 38. Kf5 Rb4 and queens with check. 39. Rxb4+ Kxb4 40. g6 b2
41. g7 b1=Q+ 42. Kf6 Qh7 43. Kf7 a5 44. Kf8 Qf5+ 45. Ke8 Qg6+ 46. Kf8 Qf6+ 47.
Kg8 a4 wins easily.

36. Kxe5 Kxa4 37. Kf4 b2 38. Rb8 Rb3 39. Rxb3 Kxb3 40. g6 b1=Q 41. h5 Qb2 42. h6 Qf6+ 0-1

Replay below

In the fourth round my opponent played a dubious combination.

Ng Jen Sheng  - Jimmy Liew
18. Nxe5?? Bxe5 19. Rd8+ Ka7 20. Rxa8+ Kxa8 21. Rd8+ Ka7
22. Bxf7 Bxc3 23. bxc3 Nxe4 24. Rxe8 Rxe8 25. Bxe8 Nf6 26. Bh5

Better 26. Bf7 Nxg4 Black is still winning but with minor pieces on, more care is needed. The text
move allows liquidation into a won pawn ending for black.

26... Kb6 27. Kd2 Ka5 28. Kd3 Kxa4 29. Kc4 Nxh5 30. gxh5 Ka3? 

I miscounted the moves. The ending is easily won after 30... a5 31. h3 Ka3 32. Kd5 Kb2 33. Ke6 a4 34. Kf7 a3 35. Kxg7 a2 36. f6 a1=Q

31. Kd5 Kb2 32. Ke6 a5 33. Kf7 a4 34. Kxg7 a3 35. f6 a2 36. f7 a1=Q 37. f8=Q Qg1+ 38. Kxh6 Qxh2 39. Qb4+ Kxc2 40. Qxb7 Qd6+ 41. Kg5 Qe5+ 42. Kg6 Qe6+ 1/2-1/2

Replay below

The sixth round was a disaster. I effectively lost a piece after 14 moves.

Kamalarifin Wahiduddin - Jimmy Liew

14....Bh4?? 15 f3 and now 15....Nf6 16 g3 traps the bishop on h4.

I won the last game through some opponent displaced a piece which is penalized by loss of the game. My final score was 5.5/7 good for 7th place!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DATCC Open Invitation

Knowledgeable chess players and fans should have known that the Dato Arthur Tan Centre in Wilayah Kompleks has closed down. The good news is DATCC has relocated to new premises in Setapak.

Chess fans and players are invited to its Open Day this coming Sunday 29th November. A blitz tournament will be held in conjunction with the opening. Further details below:

Date: Sunday, 29 November 2015 - Time: 4 – 7pm.
Opening: 4:30 - Makan: 4:45 – 5:30 - Blitz Tournament: 5:30– 7:00

Add: F-3A-09 StarParc Point, (opposite Setapak Central), Jalan Tmn Ibu Kota,Tmn Danau Kota, 53300 Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 Malaysian Chess Festival

The 12th edition of this Festival ended Sunday. As in past years, the players were treated to a sumptuous dinner followed by the prize ceremony.

I partipated in the KLK Seniors section as in past years. I have always come second but this year was a stronger field with two grandmasters and a strong IM from Indonesia. My final placing was 5th good for the Best Malaysian prize.

The winner was Dimitry Kayumov, also a previous champion. This year there was stiff challenge from Russian GM Fominyh and IM Ronny Gunawan from Indonesia. In the end Kayumov drew with both and won the rest of his games for a 8/9 score. Fominyh came in second as he was held to a draw from Filipino Bagamasbad Efren. Ronny Gunawan took the third placing with solid play despite being away from serious competition for over twenty years.

In round six I bungled this won ending.

Jimmy Liew - Dang Tat Thang

I was down to increments and continued poorly. The simple win is to defend the f-pawn and advance with the king, 39. Rh4 Ke7 40. Kc3 Ke6 41. Kd4 Kf5 42.
Rh6 and white will pick up the queen-side pawns. I thought I played a clever move.

 39. e6  Expecting to pick up Black's b-pawn.

39... a6 Totally overlooked by me. The win is more difficult now as pawn exchanges on the king-side is now inevitable. The line is 41. exf7 Kxf7 42. Rh7+! Kg6  (If the king goes to the back rank he is cut off forever and will lose) 43. Ra7 b4 44. Rxa6+ Kf5 45. a4! Maintains a pawn for an easy win.
Black's pawns on c4 and b4 are easily blocked by the white king.

40 f5?? After this the draw is secured for black.

41... fxe6 42. fxe6 b4 43. axb4 (43. a4 Nc5 44. Rc8 Nxa4 45. Rxc4 Kxe6 is an easy draw. )
43... Nxb4+ 44. Kc3 Nd5+ 45. Kxc4 Nf4 46. Ra8 Kxe6 47. Rxa6+ Ke5 48. Ra1 Ke4 and white no longer can win.

The Malaysian Open was won by Jahongir Vakhidov. He has been playing here for a number of years as an untitled player but is now a full fledged GM.  He won the first four rounds but slowed down in the last three with consecutive draws. This allowed a number of players to catch up and he only won on tie-break.

It is clear that Malaysian players are streets behind the rest in the region. This is more glaring in the Challengers section where the top two seeds are locals but they could not challenge the unrated Filipinos and Indonesians. Philippines swept most of the top prizes.

The only bright spot I could see was local lass Ho Chen Ee, rated a lowly 1461 scored 6/9 against mostly higher rated players to finish 18th and gain a whopping 160 ELO points.

Full chess results:

Malaysia Challenge

Malaysia Open

KLK Seniors

Friday, August 7, 2015

Writing the Veresov

When I was offered to write a book on the Veresov for Everyman Chess, I had no idea how much time I was committing myself to this book. After all I had been playing the opening all my life; so how difficult could it be? I only started examining the Move by Move format after signing the contract. This is a question and answer format pioneered by Everyman Chess which is quite different to any chess book I have encountered.

All in, it took a year to get a first draft out and another four months before the book was ready for publication.

So what goes into producing an opening book? Roughly the steps I went through were:

1. Sieve through as many games as possible from various sources.
2. Decide which games were suitable for inclusion. It did not matter who the players were or what format it was played under (blitz, rapid, online etc), as long as I thought it was of some value to readers.
3. Going through my own analysis and notes for inclusion.
4. Structuring the chapters. I started with less common lines before moving on to the main lines.
5. I mainly did all the work in Chessbase and using an external program to engine-check the games and analysis.
6. Finally, transfer everything from Chessbase to Microsoft Word
7. Prepared the List of Games at the end of the book. This was very trying because as I checked my work, I kept making changes and everytime  I had to update the page numbers for every game!

Still , it was a great experience and I learned a lot about writing on chess openings. So much that I have contracted on a second book!

Copies of the book can be purchased from me directly by contacting me at or Alternatively my mobile is 6019-6571628. The book is priced at RM98 plus RM10 for postage.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lessons on rigging the deck

First, read Peter Long's article today.

I can confirm that a part of Peter's accusations at MCF is true.

The MCF President and his men are trying to keep those affiliates who are known to be "unfriendly" away from the coming elections and according to Peter, one of the tactics will be to suspend these affiliates thereby preventing them from voting at the coming AGM.

I know at least one affiliate which is eager to pay up whatever is outstanding. The MCF President and Secretary thwarts this by just refusing to issue any invoice. Attempts to contact them are just ignored.

At the last election in 2013, the President and his entire committee were allowed to vote. This is unprecedented and unheard off. The normal practice is for all MCF council and committee to be discharged from their positions at the start of election process. They thus have no further roles to play in the proceedings unless they are also the official delegate for an affiliate.

The votes from the President's men helped to beat off his challenger at that AGM. The big mistake by the challenger and his supporters were to allow this illegal voting to happen. They should have just walked out even though it meant the incumbent would retain his presidency. That way they could have challenged the election process in court.

It is a fact that the majority of the committee will support the incumbent as they either owe their positions to him or stand to benefit from their positions and wants to continue in office. This explains why the recent appointments and  shuffling in positions. It is merely to beef up their vote bank. If you are appointed to your position by the President it is likely that you will want to see that same President in place for the next two years, so you will vote accordingly.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Saving Malaysian Chess

My favourite TV series is Game of Thrones which is based on the books written by George R. R. Martin. One often repeated saying in the series is “Winter is coming”, a reference to the dark and difficult times that will come after summer ends. In this fantasy world, seasons lasts years not months.

This is Sam, one of the main characters in GOT, I kind of taken a liking to his character, though Mr. Martin keeps killing off characters whom the viewers starts identifying with , with startling regularity. It is quite annoying. Thankfully, Sam has survived till the end of season five.

Anyway, winter may be coming in Season 6 for Game of Thrones but Malaysian chess has already been entrenched in this “winter” for many years.

A few years ago I wrote a piece on the future of Malaysian chess.
That was five years ago. Till today I see nothing has changed, Malaysian chess is still floundering and regressing. In my post above I argued that the Malaysian Chess Federation is to be blamed and its leadership should be held accountable.

What has the current MCF President done to promote the game? The answer is Nothing. So why does one so desperately cling on to this post that does not come with any obvious benefit other than the title of President? He is not a chess lover nor a chess player as far as we know.

What contributions did he make to Malaysian chess since becoming President? The federation’s finances are still in a mess. For a while our players were even taken off the FIDE Elo Rating List due to our federation being in arrears (this has since been rectified). Every two years MCF have to go hat in hand looking for someone to pick up the tab for sending a team to the Chess Olympiads. In 2014 MCF only managed to get enough money to send a men’s team. Our women’s team which had participated in 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk and 2012 Istanbul were left out.

The federation has effectively been running on auto-pilot for many years. Recently I read a interesting piece of news here.

If I remember correctly, only the posts of Treasurer, Secretary and Auditors are appointed positions. The rest are elected during the AGM every two years. Basically the MCF committee has now started electing themselves to different positions without holding any EGM. I am unsure if this is constitutional but this year is an election year so why start shuffling positions when we are just a few months short of an AGM in an election year.

The reason I am writing this post is that I have been informed that Dato’ Tan Chin Nam, who has stayed out of the Malaysian Chess Federation since stepping down in 2005 in favor of the current incumbent, Tan Sri Ramli bin Ngah Talib, has decided to return as MCF President. When I heard this news I did a double-take. I had to check with my source that I had heard him correctly.

My first thoughts. Why is Dato’ Tan making a comeback to the President post? And what will he bring with him to the table?

It cannot be denied that the man has very deep pockets but this is not his most best qualification for the post of President. He has a deep love of the game. It is common for him to play at least one game daily. He makes it a point to be updated on what is going on in the world of chess locally as well as internationally. He is genuinely trying to promote the game not only amongst chessplayers but also others who depends on chess part-time or full-time like arbiters and coaches.

He has good intentions but what else? MCF like any other organization, cannot function as well without funds. Dato’ Tan understands this very well and has promised not only to ensure that MCF have the necessary finances to function and promote the game. The state affiliates will not be left out but they will also benefit. I have the privilege of chatting with him on more than a few ocassions and he has shared some of his plans with me over the past year. 

In the works are plans to hold nation-wide series of Grand Prix style tournaments and possibly IM/GM tournaments. There are plans to set up a chess center in Mid Valley Megamall which will be used for chess training and also act as the Malaysian Chess Federation office. It will also be a place for chess lovers to come together to socialise and play chess.

The question is whether there will be a new invigorated Malaysian Chess Federation after the forthcoming elections. A federation that can put forward looking policies in place and a rejuvenated chess program. Or will we see the same tired faces re-elected and we all continue to wither in this “chess winter”?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Malaysian Chess Festival 2015

I have received the following announcement for the Malaysian Chess Festival for 2015. This year it will be held in September.

The Dato' Arthur Tan Chess Centre (DAT Chess Centre) will be organizing the 12th Malaysian Chess Festival 2015 as follows:
18 - 19 September 2015
ASTRO Merdeka Rapid Team Chess Championship
20 September 2015
6th SWENSEN's Age Group Chess Championship
20 - 28 September 2015 (FIDE Rated / Title Tournament)
12th IGB Dato' Arthur Tan International Malaysian Open Chess Championship
6th KLK Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng International Seniors Open Chess Championship
Malaysia Chess Challenge
Entry Forms are attached. Please register early so that we can accept you! Last year we had to reject many entries especially Merdeka and Swensen because of space constraints.
My email address has also changed, please use all the emails in your reply. Thank you

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women): Najiha victorious

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) started off today with ten participants in a round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting today till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

The new Masters Champion is Nur Najiha Azman Hisham with a clear half point lead over the rest of the field. Najiha defeated Camilia in the final round to tally 7.5 points.

Tan Li Ting managed to win her last round against Alia Bakri but could only come second once Najiha won. The other front runners , Nur Nabila and Puteri Rifqah Fahada also won and maintained their standings as third and fourth respectively.

At the end of the tournament, there was a simple closing with MCF Secretary giving out the certificates to all the players. The trophy will be awarded to Nur Najiha during the Malaysian Chess Festival scheduled for September.

The full crosstable below:

Now the game which decided the champion with some light notes.

[Event "Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women)"]
[Site "Wisma OCM, Kuala Lumpur"]
[Date "2015.06.03"]
[Round "9.3"]
[White "Johari, Camilia"]
[Black "Azman Hisham, Nur Najiha"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A00"]
[WhiteElo "1924"]
[BlackElo "1957"]
[EventDate "2015.05.30"]
[EventRounds "9"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 f5 8.
Nf3 d6 9. e3 Nd7 10. Bd3 Ndf6 11. O-O g5 !? 

This aggressive move is more show than real threat. It is hard to believe that Black can whip up an attack on the king-side without help from white.  

12. Nd2 d5 13. b4 Ng4 14. Nf3

14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Be2 will show black that the advance on the king-side with 11...g5
is uncalled for.

14... c6 15. Ne5 Nxe5 16. dxe5 g4 17. b5

Again 17. Bxe4 dxe4 and Black has no attack although the opposite colored bishops could be good
for a draw.

17... Ng5 18. a4 Rf7 19. Ba3 Rg7 20. bxc6 bxc6 21. cxd5 cxd5 22.
Qc5 Bb7 23. Rab1 Qe8 24. Qd4 Qh5 25. Kh1 Kh8 26. Rb3 ?

Prepares to double rooks on the b-file but black has been amassing pieces on the king-side and a
sacrifice on f3 is coming.

 26... Rag8 27. Rxb7?

White was in serious time trouble with less than two minutes on the clock and facing serious problems with her king. But still giving up the exchange is as good as resigning. The only defence is 27. Rbb1 in order to answer Nf3 28. gxf3 (There is an interesting mate after 28. Qf4 g3!  29. h3 Qxh3+ 30. gxh3 g2 mate) 28... gxf3 with 29. Rg1 Rg2 30. Rxg2 Rxg2 31. Qf4  and the king-side holds and white has his own threats on the b-file for counter-play

 27... Rxb7 28. Be2 Ne4 29. Kg1 Qh4 30. g3 Qh5 31. Rc1 Ng5 32. Qd3 Nf3+ 33. Bxf3 gxf3 34. Qf1 Qg5 35. a5 h5 36. a6

36. Qa6 with the idea of Qxe6 and Qf6+ exchanging queens was the only chance
not to lose outright.

36... Rh7 0-1

White cannot prevent the opening of the h-file with h5-h4 and so resigned.

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women): Who will be champion?

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) is a ten player round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting Saturday 30th May till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at the Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

Today is the final round of the Masters. Nur Najiha is in the lead with 6.5 points , half a point over the second place Tan Li Ting. A loss for Najiha and a win for Li TIng could change the eventual winner.

Final round pairings

Najiha faces Camilia and needs only a draw to ensure a tie for first at the minimum. This may seem easy as Camilia has drawn all eight games (!) but I believe Camilia will be trying to win in order to get a place in this year's squad.

Tan Li Ting plays Alia Bakri and both will be trying to win, the former in order to have realistic chances of finishing first and the latter also needs the win to have some slim chance in making the squad.

Tan Li Ting

 If things go her way, she could be champion.

Camilia, undefeated but also winless, unless she can change that in the final round.
Melanie v. Nithya
Nithya (picture above) is playing Melanie and needs to win to have any chances to make the squad

Najihah  Mohd.Saufi
Najihaha is probably the most relaxed player in the last round,

Monday, June 1, 2015

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women): Round 5

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) is a ten player round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting Saturday 30th May till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at the Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

Round five was a repeat of round three where results were concerned with four white wins and a draw.

Camilia could have made it a five white wins if she won the following ending.

Camilia - Nur Nabila, Round 5
Now 51 h4 would have won since knights are extremely bad at stopping rook pawns. Instead she played

51. g4?!! fxg4 52. hxg4 Kc5 53. f4 perhaps expecting the two passed pawns to win easily.  Kd6 54. Kf6 Kd7  If the king reaches the queening squares the draw is unavoidable so 55. Kf7 Ne6 56. f5 Ng5+ 57. Kg6 Nf3 58. f6 Ke6 59. g5 Nxg5 1/2-1/2

The top three in the standings won so the positions are unchanged. The standings after round five:

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women): Round 4 highlights

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) is a ten player round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting Saturday 30th May till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at the Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

Three draws were featured today, two of them quiet affairs with both white and black players trading pieces to equal endings. 

However, the following should have ended in a win for black.

Melanie Koo - Tan Li Ting, Round 4

Despite the aggresive white king position, black's outside passed pawn will decide the game. At the end of the tournament, Li Ting will surely regret giving away the half point with her next move.

 50. ... b5 ??
This does not work since the black king is too far from the king-side.

Black gains the opposition and wins after 50... f6 51. f5 (51. Ke6 b5 52. axb5 axb5 53. Kd5 Kb6) 51...
Kd7 52. Kc4 Kc6 53. Kd4 Kd6

51. axb5 axb5 52. Kc5 g5 53. Kxb5 
This is the easiest way to a draw although 53. fxg5 is also possible after 53... Kd7 54. Kxb5 Kd6 55. Kc4 Ke5 56. Kc5! Kf4 57. Kd6 Kxg5 58. Ke5 f6+ 59. Ke6 Kg6 60. Ke7 Kg5 61. Ke6 and no progress can be made.

53... Kd6 54. Kc4 gxf4 55.Kd4 1/2-1/2

Replay the game below

Najihah Mohd Saufi - Nur Najiha Azman Hisham, Round 4

The game started as a Smith-Morra Gambit with white catching the black king in the centre. Now white has a great chance to finish the game. She starts correctly with

28. Bxf6 Qxf6 
28... Bxf6 29. Bxd5! crashes through since exd5 30. Re7+ wins the black queen.

29. Qxg4 Qg5 30. Qf3+ Bf6

The position is critical for black and white should look for the killer blows. The most obvious is
31. Rxe6 Rxe6 32. Bxd5 Rc1 (the only move to avoid complete collapse) 33. Bxe6+ Kg7 and White has two pawns and despite the opposite colored bishops can still try to win due to the exposed black king.

Instead white can take advantage of the over-loaded black queen. 31. h4! Qxh4 32. Rxe6 Rxe6 33. Qxd5  and White has a winning attack.

 31. Qe2 This is less decisive but white is still in a very strong position because of the exposed black king 31... Rcc6 32. Qxb5 d4

A desperate try to exchange queens. After 33. Qb7+ Kf8 34. Rxe6 Rxe6 35. Bxe6 Rxe6 36. Qc8+ Kg7 37. Qxe6 white wins comfortably but instead she blunders overlooking her queen.

33. Rxe6 ??  33... Qxb5 34. Rxc6+ Kg6 35. Ba4 Qb4 36. Bc2+ Kf7 37. Rc7+ Be7 38. Rcxe7+ Qxe7 39. Rxe7+ Kxe7 40. f4 Rb6 41. b3 Rc6 42. Be4 Re6 43. Bf3 d3 44. Kf2 Kd6 45. g4 d2 46. Be2 Kd5 47. f5 Re8 48. h4 Kd4 49. g5 hxg5 50. hxg5 Re5 51. g6 Rxf5+ 0-1

Replay the game below

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women): Round 3

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) is a ten player round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting Saturday 30th May till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at the Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

Round three was a most bloody day with four out of the five games being decisive and white on the winning side.
Najihah Mohd Saufi - Alia Bakri, Round 3
 This simple looking ending is not that simple and Black lost to a much lower rated player after 31...Rc6 ?

The best chance was 31...Re7 and if 32. Rc5 to defend the pawn with 32...Rd7 and then bring the king to the defence of the d5 pawn.

32. Rc5! Now black is forced to exchange and give white a potential passed pawn on the queen-side
 Rxc5 33. dxc5
Kf6 34. b4 Ke6 

Despite pawns are equal, black is worse as he cannot create his own passed pawn on the king-side due to the white pawn on e3. Now 34... Ke5 35. b5 and 35...d5 is not possible because of 36 exd4+ Kxd4 37 c6 queening the pawn.

35. a4 a6 36. b5 a5 37. h4 Ke5 38. g4 fxg4+ 39. Kxg4 h6 40. Kf3 Ke6 41. Kf4 g5+ 

Black is in zugzwang. 41...Kf6 loses to 42 c6 bxc6 43 b6.

42. hxg5 hxg5+ 43. Kxg5 Ke5 44. Kg4 Ke4 45. c6 bxc6 46. bxc6 Kxe3 47. c7 d4 48. c8=Q d3 49. Qc5+ Ke2 50. Qxa5 1-0

After winning a pawn, Nabila made a horrible blunder with 31...Rxc2?? overlooking an in-between move. It always pays to check every possible capture!

Camilia had the better pawn structure though it is not easy to find a good plan. The game was agreed drawn.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Malaysian Masters 2015 (Women)

The 2015 Malaysian Masters (Women) started off today with ten participants in a round robin format. The tournament will be played over five days starting today till Wednesday , 3rd June 2015 at Dewan Ho Koh Chye at the Olympic Hotel in Jalan Hang Jebat.

The first round saw some interesting mistakes. Renitha Narayanan could have scored a win if she had seen a simple tactic.

Tan Li Ting-Renitha Narayanan

White to move sees that the knight cannot be taken since after 34. fxe4 Qe3+ 35. Kf1 Nxa4 36. Qxa4 Qxe4, the white king is too exposed.

34.Ng2?? whereupon Renitha immediately played 34...Qd8 and lost a rook ending a pawn down after some major exchanges. Instead she could have won with 34... Nxa4 35. Qxa4 Nc3 simply winning a rook for knight.

Renitha's blindness continued in round two where she simply overlooked her queen was en prise.
Alia - Renitha
Black played 34...Bxd4?? and resigned immediately after 35. Qxa5

Also in round two I came across the following interesting ending.

Nur Nabila-Puteri Rifqah
Black is in some danger and should now play ...f6-f5 blocking the king-side.

37...h5? 38. f5+ Kxf5 39. Kxd5 Ne5 40. e4+ Kg4 41. Kd6 Kf4 42. Kc7 Nc4

Black recognizes her position is hopeless and goes for the best practical chance.

43. Kxb7 Nxa5+ 44. Bxa5 Kxe4 45. Kc6 Ke3 

Black's objective is simple; to exchange all white pawns on the king-side

46. g3??

This is a  crucial loss of tempo. White was too short of time to find the winning plan. 46. Bb6+
Ke2 47. Kd5 Kf1 48. g4 hxg4 49. Ke6 (White wins this position as he is able to
stop the black pawns.) Kg2 50. Bc7 Kf2 51. Kf5 Kf3 52. Bd6 Ke3 53. Kxg4 Ke4 54.
Kh5 f5 55. Kg5 g6 56. h4 wins.

46... Kf3 47. Bc7 Kg2 48. Kd5

Now 48. g4 hxg4 49. Kd5 Kf3 is a draw as white cannot stop the f-pawn from rolling forward. 50. Ke6 Ke4 and starts pushing the f-pawn.

48... Kxh2 49. Ke4 Kg2
More to the point was 49... Kh3 50. Kf3 g5 intending ...g4 and than ...h4 exchanging
white's pawn.

50. Kf5 Kf3 51. Bb8 g6+ 52. Kxg6 Kg4 53. Kxf6 h4 54. gxh4 Kxh4 1/2-1/2

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My new book

It has been many years since I wrote my first and only book. It was published sometime in the early 80s and called "Chess Malaysia", a collection of games and essays on chess in Malaysia.

The Veresov is is an opening that I have been playing for over 30 years. Today I am proud to announce that my book "The Veresov: Move by Move" is being published by Everyman Chess, a well known international chess publisher. It will be available by end May or latest by June 2015.

You can download a sample pdf here.

I will receive a limited copy of the book from the publisher and if anyone wishes to place an order from me, you may email me at the address on the "Contact Me" tab.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

World Schools in Pattaya

Thanks to Peter Long for highlighting this interview.

Ng Jen Sheng is currently competing in Pattaya, Thailand in the World Schools. He had an excellent start of 4/4 but then lost three games in a row. As of the eighth round he has five points one point behind the leader , Wong Chi Jit from Singapore.

Malaysia is represented in the U11, U13 , U15 and U17. Malaysia has only one girl player, Rosamund Koo in the Girls U-17. The best player so far is Tan Jun Jing in the Open U-13 with 5.5 points after 8 rounds.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

NCC Playoff

I was reminded today that I have not written anything for a while....

The playoff is necessary to decide the two players from the National Championships last month who will proceed to this year's Malaysian Masters. Six players tied for the second position, they are

IM Jimmy Liew
Mohd. Saprin
Lye Lik Zang
Ooi Zi Yang
Ryan Chan
Muhd. Szawan Zukifli

Ooi Zi Yang pulled out at the last minute which meant the remaining players had to have a bye. This make it a bit challenging to figure out who was going to take the top two places. Thankfully by the penultimate round, things got much clearer.

Lye Lik Zang and I were leading with two points and played each other this round. While Lik Zang already had his bye, mine was in the last round. This meant I had to win this game to avoid getting involved in a play-off. Things went easier than I expected and basically Lik Zang did not handle the opening well.

Szawan  was involved in a do-or-die game with Saprin; the winner had a chance for at least a playoff for the second spot. Saprin blundered in the opening but his opponent did not the end Saprin won beautifully with a mate in the centre of the board.

With this win, Saprin caught up with Lik Zang and interestingly they will face each other in the last round. The winner will get one of the coveted spots. In case of a draw, they have to play a rapid game followed if necessary by a blitz game and then an armageddon game until a winner is found.

In the game below, White is already in trouble.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Without sacrifices, you will not reach the top

Even with great sacrifice there are no guarantees you'll make it to the top but without sacrifice, it's a sure thing you won't. 

This is  what GM Wesley So said during an interview with US Chess. Thanks to my friend Eliseo Tumbaga who posted the link on Facebook.

How true.

How many Malaysians are willing to make these kind of sacrifices?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Merdeka Team 2002

Recently I found amongst my old scoresheets, games from the 2002 Merdeka Team Championship. I have already forgotten how many times I have competed in this event. I thought there were years when I had stopped playing completely but evidence shows that I played in 2002 as well as 2003.

The 2002 Championship was quite special as it was held after the World Youth Under-16 Olympiad in Malaysia. Some of the teams stayed back for this tournament. This meant a stronger than normal event. I played for the Chess Network though I do not remember who my team-mates were, apparently we were quite strong because my score-sheets showed that we were on the top table for most of the rounds. Only in the final round we were relegated to the second table.

Among my opponents were two not familiar names to me at the time. Of course now they are quite famous, Vietnamese Le Quang Liem and Chinese Wang Yue were some of my opponents and I was only playing on board three! Wang Yue was only an FM then but already sporting a 2400+ rating while Quang Liem was below 2200. Today both of them are 2700+ grandmasters.

As this was a rapid event, my scoring stopped in the early middle-game so there are no complete games to show. Worse was that I did not even record the results of most of my games, which was quite unlike me at all. I guess at that time I was already dis-illusioned with chess and playing only as  a favor to a friend.  I only have two recorded results and one of them was against Wang Yue which I drew. I was rated around 2333 then so I guess my chess was still not too much of an embarrassment.