This article by Quah Seng-Sun was originally published in THE STAR, a Malaysian newspaper, on 02 Jan 1998
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There was confusion during the past two weeks over whether Mas Hafizulhelmi achieved his second international master norm from the December edition of the First Saturday tournament in Budapest, Hungary.

Initially, there were unconfirmed reports that Mas Hafizulhelmi had missed out on the norm. Although he was leading the tournament until almost the end of the event, a loss in the final round had seen him finishing with only 7.5 points from 11 games, which was a half-point less than the stipulated eight points required for the IM norm.

The only person in Malaysia who could confirm the norm happened to be in Cannes, France, at the world age-group tournament and could not be reached.

But I had my suspicion that the initial reports could be wrong. A telephone call to Singapore raised hope that a relatively recent ruling by the Qualification Commission of the World Chess Federation could mean a world of a difference for Mas Hafizulhelmi.

In the meantime, I was also awaiting a reply from the tournament organiser about Mas Hafizulhelmi's results. When I finally received the message, it confirmed that our player in Hungary had indeed obtained his second international master norm.

According to Laszlo Nagy, Mas Hafizulhelmi obtained his norm from what he called a "part-time" norm. This may not be the best description of Mas Hafizulhelmi's achievement but what Nagy meant was that our player had already qualified for his second IM norm even before the end of the tournament.

One of the Qualification Commission's regulations stated that a player who had achieved a title result before the final round could ignore all his games played subsequently. The chief arbiter of the tournament could certify the player's result as a valid title result.

Where Mas Hafizulhelmi was concerned, the 7.5 points which he scored from his first 10 games were enough for the norm and the result of his last game in this tournament was rather academic.

Of course, it would have been nice if Mas Hafizulhelmi had drawn or won this game because it would have made him at least a co-winner of the event. As it turned out, Finland's Antti Pihlajasalo managed to finish on top of the standings with half a point more than Mas Hafizulhelmi.

Congratulations to Mas Hafizulhelmi on this achievement. He is one step nearer his goal but he will still need to try for a third norm or even a fourth one before the World Chess Federation can give him this title. The Qualification Commission requires at least 30 games to be played and so far, Mas Hafizulhelmi has managed his two IM Norms over only 19 games.

As I reported two weeks ago, Mas Hafizulhelmi left Hungary at the end of the First Saturday event for the Netherlands where he has been participating in the Groningen open grandmaster tournament. This tournament was part of the World Chess Championship festival.

Mas Hafizulhelmi's performance in Groningen - where many grandmasters and international masters are among the 200-plus players - seemed rather jaded but our player had, by the 10th round, amassed six points in the 11-round Swiss event. Unfortunately, this score would not be enough to gain him any norm.

In the final round, he was due to meet England's grandmaster Stuart Conquest but I have been told that the Malaysian Chess Federation had advised Mas Hafizulhelmi to leave Groningen without playing this game. Any failure to catch his flight would mean that he would not be able to return home until one week later.


Mok Tze Meng outpaced a field of 71 players to win the first prize of RM3,000 at the PCA Canggih international open chess championship in Penang last week.

He shrugged off an early second-round loss to score 7.5 points from nine games. In second place was Agus Salim who obtained seven points and won RM2,000.

Five players finished the tournament with 6.5 points each: Lim Chuin Hoong winning RM1,000, Wong Ji Zing RM800, international master Jimmy Liew RM600, Mak Weng Yee RM400 and Ismail Ahmad RM300. The eighth prize of RM200 went to Julian Navaratnam who was the best scorer among a group of players with six points.

The prizes for the five best Penang players went to Tan Eng Seong, Wong Chee Chung, Chuah Heng Meng, Khor Shihong and Khor Bean Hwa.

Woman Fide master Angela Khegay of Uzbekistan and Lim Jean Nie won the prizes for the two best woman players, while the under-18 prizes went to Lim Yee Weng and Ng Tze Han. Teng Wei Khoon and Deon Moh won the under-15 prizes.

Among the 71 participants were three players from Indonesia, two from Brunei, and one each from Uzbekistan, the Netherlands, India and the Philippines.

The prizes were given away by Penang state executive councillor Dr Toh Kin Woon who is also the president of the Penang Chess Association, Dr Choong Sim Poey who is a former president of the association and Puan Rohani Ismail, the business manager of sponsor KUB Tekstils Sdn Bhd.

KUB Tekstils, manufacturer of the Canggih brand of garment wear that includes tracksuits and a complete range of school uniforms and accessories, had sponsored RM20,000 towards the running of the four-day event which was held at the MarVista Resort in Batu Ferringhi, Penang from Dec 25 to 28.

The other sponsors of the event were DMV Sdn Bhd, WWT Communications Sdn Bhd and Star Publications (M) Bhd.


The Johor Chess Association will hold their Johor closed chess championship at the Pelangi Leisure Mall in Taman Pelangi, Johor Baru, starting today until Sunday.

This is a seven-round event using a one-hour time control per person for each game. Only residents of Johor are eligible to take part, and the number of players will be limited to 64.

Two rounds will be played today, three rounds tomorrow and the final three rounds on Sunday. The winners will be selected to represent the state at next year's Merdeka team championship and the national closed championship.

Entry fee is RM15 per player except for women and students who need to pay only RM8. Anyone still hoping to enter for this event should contact Sumati (07-332-4366), Wong (07-333-0931) or Cheong (016-720-2272) immediately.


Members of the Penang Chess Association can look forward to the final leg of the Penang grand prix chess circuit which will be played at the Residents Association of Bayan Baru clubhouse on Jan 18.

Readers wishing to take part in the tournament can contact Goh Yoon Wah (tel: 04-644-5687 in the evenings) or Ooi Kiem Boo (tel: 04-657-4596 during office hours).

Prizes include RM200 for the winner, RM150 for the runners-up and RM100 for the third-placed. There are five other minor cash prizes and also prizes for the best junior and woman players. Entry fee is RM20 per player.

Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia will hold its annual national open individual chess tournament this weekend, and will follow up with their annual open team tournament on Jan 10 and 11. The two events, to be run by the university's Bridge and Chess Club, will be played at Lecture Hall "U".

Entry fees for the team event are RM40 for school and university teams, and RM60 for others. For the individual event, players will have to pay RM25 and RM30 respectively.

For more details, contact the Bridge and Chess Club, Pusat Mahasiswa, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Glugor, Penang (tel: 04-6577888 ext 3491, 3497 or 3499).

Copyright: Star Publications (M) Berhad. Thank you. Author: SSQuah

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