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
Lye Lik Zang
Ooi Zi Yang
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 notice....in 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.