Friday, November 06, 1998
Rooting for young players
By Quah Seng Sun
A NUMBER of interesting events, in which Malaysians took part, were held both locally and overseas during the past fortnight. I shall take you straight to the University of Malaya where the third Grand Asian Chess Challenge ended just last week.
The Chess Challenge was originally conceived as a regional tournament involving universities in the Asean region. But this year the ambitious students of the University of Malaya's Second Residential College decided to open the event to university teams from the Asian continent.
However, due to the worldwide economic slowdown, only three foreign universities responded to the invitation but with nine local university teams also entering the fray, the organisers were assured of a reasonable game on their hands.
The tournament, run as a seven-round Swiss event, was won by the University of Khorassan, Iran, which scored 22 1/2 points. In second place was the University Telekom "A" with 17 1/2 points. Next on the list were the University Teknologi Malaysia "1" and University of Malaya (Asasi) which obtained 17 points each to finish in joint third and fourth places.
University Teknologi Malaysia "2" was placed fifth with 16 points, University Telekom "B", sixth with 15 1/2 points, and the International Islamic University came out seventh with 15 points.
Eighth was the University of Malaya with 13 1/2 points, ninth was the University Putra Malaysia with 13 points and 10th was the University of Qatar with 10 1/2 points. The University Utara Malaysia finished in 11th spot with 8 1/2 points, while in 12th position with only two points was the University Brunei Darussalam.
The six-board prizes were won by Ian Lee Wen Chun (University Telekom "A"), Teng Wei Hong (University Teknologi Malaysia "1"), Mohamad Reza Ghorbanian (University of Khorassan), Erie Kashmina Yusof (University of Malaya Asasi), Peyman Sheikholharam (University of Khorassan) and Mohd Salahuddin Mohd Salleh (University of Malaya Asasi).
Late last week, I received a flattering e-mail from Mrs Ng Seong Nam who wrote: "Please refer to The Star of Oct 23, 1998. I would like to compliment you on your article. You had so many good words for the Malaysian team and each individual member, even though the final standing of the team was only 74 out of 110. You were so encouraging and positive throughout your article. Keep up your good work!"
Well, Mrs Ng, thank you for your kind comments. Actually, it was easy to compliment the players for their hard work. The real credit belonged to our four players -- Wong Ji Zing, Ismail Ahmad, Ng Tze Han and Azahari Md Nor -- who had played so well collectively despite the odds they faced at the Elista Chess Olympiad in Russia.
Speaking of Ng Tze Han, I hear he is presently in Spain taking part in the World Youth Chess Championships together with other Malaysian boys and girls. This annual event brings together youth from around the world, all seeking to score reasonably well in the 10 age-group categories.
Ng is playing in the boys under-18 section but he is far from having a good time. After seven rounds, he has only garnered 2 1/2 points. The competition in this section is tremendous.
Among the 91 participants are 12 international masters and 16 Fide masters. Cuba's Fide master and the highest rated player in this category, Leinier Dominguez Perez, is leading the field with six points, a mere half-point ahead of his closest rivals, Fide masters Sergey Fedorchuk of Ukraine and Alin Berescu of Romania.
But with 13 other players with five points each, theoretically within striking distance of the tournament leaders, it remains to be seen whether Perez can maintain his lead or lose it to one of the title-hungry competitors.
Lim Yee Weng, the current national champion, is having a better time in Spain. So far, he has obtained four points from the seven games that he has played in the boys' under-16 section.
There is an interesting tussle at the top of the standings. Leading with six points each are China's Kang Chuanqi, Greece's Dimitrios Mastrovasilis and Uzbekistan's Ibraghim Khamrakulov. Half a point below them are Ukraine's Alexander Kovchan, Russia's Alexander Grischuk, Spain's Francisco Vallejo Pons and Bulgaria's Sergei Azarov. The next few rounds will be crucial to their fortunes.
Malaysia is represented in the boys' under-14 section by Deon Moh and Khor Shihong. After seven rounds, Moh picked up 3 1/2 points while Khor scored three. The joint leaders in this section are David Navara of the Czech Republic and Bu Xiangzhi of China, both with six points each.
Playing for Malaysia in the boys' under-12 section is Jonathan Chuah. Presently, he has collected four points. However, this is nowhere near the tournament leaders who have put up a scorching pace.
Azerbaijan's Teimour Radjabov, who is already a Fide master at this tender age, has a clean score of seven points from seven games. A point behind him is Ukraine's Andrei Volokitin, while on 5 1/2 points each are Australia's Zhao Zong Yuan and India's P. Harikrishna.
The Malaysian representative in the boys' under-10 section is Ooi Ching Chung. So far, he has collected two points. Even the competition in this age-group is very tight. Georgia's Davit Jojua and Vietnam's Son Nguyen Troung are sharing the lead with six points each. Six other players collected 5 1/2 points each. How intense the rivalry was can be gauged from the position of the section's only titled player, Fide master Alexander Fier of Brazil, who has scored only five points.
There are also five corresponding age-group sections for the girls but Malaysia is only represented in the under-16 and under-12 sections. Marina Soh is playing in the girls' under-16 section and she has three points presently. China's woman Fide master Wang Yu seems to be running away with the tournament as she has not dropped even a point since the championship began on Oct 25.
Our representative in the girls' under-12 section is Nishaah Renganathan who has three points. Leading her group is Tatiana Kosintseva of Russia with 6 1/2 points, and half a point behind her are India's Humpy Koneru and Sachdev Tania.
The World Youth Chess Championship will finish tomorrow. Readers with Internet access can get further results from http://www.chesstv.com/chess-net64-es/supertorneo/marinador98/entrada.htm but be forewarned that this homepage is totally in Spanish and will require some patient navigation.
In the meantime, if you want to know how the Malaysians fared at the Elista Olympiad, you can download all their games from my homepage at http://www5.mol.com.my/qss/Library/Library.html .
Kepong junior event
THE Parent-Teacher Association of the Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (China) Kepong Dua in Kuala Lumpur will hold the Kepong juniors chess open tournament on Nov 15 in the school hall.
This annual event is divided into four age-group categories: The under-8, under-10, under-12 and under-16. Winners will get challenge trophies and cash prizes. Each of the group also stands to win nine consolation prizes.
Entry fees are RM7 for pupils of the SJK(C) Kepong Dua and RM10 for other players. Anyone registering after this Sunday will be required to pay an extra RM5 as late fees.
For entry forms and enquiries, contact F.L. Wong ( 03-6364197 after 7pm) or Total Chess ( 03-633 6306 or 016-221 8296).
Johor Baru open
THE fifth Johor Baru open chess tournament, jointly organised by the Johor Baru District Chess Club and Johor Land Bhd, will be played on Nov 22 at the Dewan Menara Komtar in Johor Baru.
The open section features 10 cash prizes totalling RM1,710 with a first prize of RM500. The winner will also receive the Piala Menteri Besar Johor. The under-16 and the under-12 sections also stand to win 10 cash prizes each. The top prize for the two sections are RM100 and RM80 respectively.
Entry fees are RM20 for the open section, RM7 for the under-16 section and RM5 for the under-12 section. Entries will close on Nov 20, and only the first 300 entries will be accepted. For more details, contact Narayanan Krishnan (07-333 8215).
Star chess challenge
THE Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh will organise a tournament on Nov 15 in its school hall. There will be three categories: boys' under-16, girls' under-16 and an open. These three events are restricted to players residing, working or studying in Perak.
Entry fees are RM5 for the two under-16 sections, and RM8 for the open section. Registration of players will start from 8.15am on Nov 15. For further details, contact Mohd Harmain ( 05-545 7733, office; 05-546 4044, house) or W.K. Wong ( 05-366 1692).