This article by Quah Seng-Sun was originally published in THE STAR, a Malaysian newspaper, on 27 Mar 1998
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The Malaysian Chess Federation has released its latest list of foreign federations that have responded to the invitation to play in the Asian cities team championship next month. The list looks interesting, and it is definitely an indication that we shall see a lot of good chess up in Genting Highlands.

Several of the federations are putting up possibly their best line-up of players. Although these are supposed to be only city teams, they are in reality their national teams in disguise! It reflects the seriousness which these federations are placing onto the championship.

Kazakhstan, for instance, has entered their Almaty team which will feature four grandmasters and one international master. The line-up is impressive. Almaty's first board player is GM Ruslan Irzhanov and his other team-mates are GM Pavel Kotsur, GM Serik Temirbaev, GM Bolat Asanov and IM Murtas Kazhgaleyev.

I do remember seeing Irzhanov playing on a much lower board three years ago when the Asian team championship was organised in Singapore. He is a very serious player, always pacing the tournament hall, thinking with his eyes peeled to the ground, whenever his opponent was thinking. I think we shall see more of his pacing in Genting.

Another team which has an impressive line-up is Tashkent, from Uzbekistan. Theirs is a six-player team comprising GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov, GM Mihail Saltaev, GM Saidali Yuldachev, GM Sergey Zagrebelny, IM Dmitry Kaiumov and IM Vladimir Egin.

Saltaev, Yuldachev and Zagrebelny are no strangers to our shores as they have played in several other Asian-level team events here in the past six or seven years. Of course, the Tashkent team is missing Alexander Nenashev, currently their top player, but I believe that even without Nenashev, the Tashkent team will be challenging for the top prize.

Despite the economic difficulties facing the Indonesians now, the Jakarta line-up is practically that of the Indonesian national team. GM Utut Adianto will be here, as also GM Ruben Gunawan and GM Edhi Handoko. These three players are the mainstays of any Indonesian team line-up. In Genting, they will be joined by IM Barus Cerdas (another regular face in the Indonesian team) and Sebastian Simanjuntak.

China will be represented in the Asian cities team championship by the Shijiazhuang team. This team, unfortunately, is not the best that China can assemble. I am surprised that they have not taken the effort to send a stronger combination. Still, they have GM Peng Xiaomin in the team, and also IM Zhang Zhong, FM Zhang Pengxiang and FM Wang Rui, apart from two unrated players in Zhang Dingneng and Hong Kemin.

But I suppose we cannot exactly write off the Chinese from winning one of the lesser honours in this team event. The two Fide Masters, for instance, are definitely no pushovers if their ratings can be taken as an indication. Their ratings are quite high, for example, Zhang Pengziang is rated at 2420.

Despite earlier indications to the contrary, Sydney is sending only a four-player team to Malaysia. The much-touted GM Ian Rogers who was supposed to be leading the Australians, is missing from the line-up. In his absence, Tim Reilly will be playing on the top board for the Sydney team. Their other players are Matthew Drummond, Adrian Lloyd and Brett Tindall.

The Singapore team line-up is rather enigmatic. Surely there are much more experienced players than Foo Hsiang Ming, Mark Chan, Navin Sawalani and Clement Chia? A surprise inclusion in this team is the septuagenarian Dr Lim Kok Ann. I do hope he really turns up to play in Genting, for his presence will be clear demonstration that chess can be for people of all ages.

I see two familiar names among the Auckland team members: that of Robert Gibbons and Peter Goffin. I have not seen them for more than 20 years. I think the last time I met them was in Penang and that was during the time of the first Asian team chess championship in 1974! The Auckland team also comprises Paul Spiller, Hilton Bennet and Barbara Mckinney.

According to the list from the Malaysian Chess Federation, the other city teams that shall be playing in Genting Highland are Beirut, Dubai and Sharjah (both from the United Arab Emirates), Delhi, Manila , Doha (from Qatar), Tehran and Talesh (both from Iran), Yangon and Hongkong.

I shall really welcome the presence of Hongkong in this event, for it clearly shows that the Hongkong Chess Federation remains a separate entity from the Chinese Chess Association. It is an example of China's "one country, two systems" policy extended to sports.

Meanwhile, there are 16 names in the list of players for the Asian women's championship which shall be held at the same time in Genting. Half of the 16 participants will be titled players and they will be led by WGM Eva Repkova of Lebanon. As the only woman grandmaster in the field and also the highest rated, Repkova must be the hot favourite to win the tournament.

The woman international masters are defending champion Tamin Upi Darmayana (Indonesia), former champions Anupama Gokhale and Bhagyashree Thipsay Sathe (both from India), and Maria Lucia Ratna Sulista (Indonesia).

Then there is also an old friend of Malaysia, woman Fide master Angela Khegai (Uzbekistan). She has been in Malaysia so many times that it is quite possible that some people have mistakened her for a local player. Two other WFMs in the tournament will be Rena Mamedova (also from Uzbekistan) and Ngan Phan Koshnitsky (Australia). Ngan Phan is the daughter-in-law of two old Australian friends of mine, Garry and Evelyn Koshnitsky.

The other foreign players in this tournament are Irina Gorshkova of Uzbekistan, Maria Sergeeva of Kazakhstan and Cynthia Yap of Singapore.

One familiar name for Malaysians will be that of Elaine Chong. Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Elaine now resides in New South Wales and will represent Australia in this tournament. She was the Australian girls' champion last year.

The four Malaysian representatives in the Asian women's championship will be Roslina Marmono, Nurul Huda Wahiduddin, Samantha Lee and Lim Jeannie.


There is an interesting tournament now taking place in Monaco. The Amber tournament, now in its seventh year, features 12 players locked in battle over Rapid Chess and blindfold chess.

After eight rounds of the event, Alexei Shirov is leading the Rapid Chess section with six points and he is followed closely behind by Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Anatoly Karpov and Vassily Ivanchuk with five points each, Loek van Wely and Vladimir Kramnik with 4 1/2 points each, Matthew Sadler with four points, Jeroen Piket, Vesselin Topalov, Viswanathan Anand and Joel Lautier with three points each, and Predrag Nikolic with two points.

Topalov, Anand and Ivanchuk with five points each, Lautier and Shirov with 4 1/2 points each, Piket and van Wely with four points each, Ljubojevic and Karpov with 3 1/2 points each, Nikolic with 2 1/2 points, and Sadler with a half point.

The winner of the tournament will be the person with the best combined scores. Thus, after eight rounds, the honours are currently being shared by Kramnik and Shirov who have each amassed 10 1/2 points. Ivanchuk still has chances to catch up with the duo since he is only a half-point behind them.

Readers with Internet access can go to to view the details of this rather unique tournament.


The International Islamic University Malaysia will organise a team tournament at the Hotel Midah in Kuala Lumpur on April 18 and 19. The university's chess club is organising the event together with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and Hotel Midah.

Cash prizes totalling more than RM4,000 will be offered to the winners. The champion team will also get custody of the Dato Sabaruddin Chik challenge trophy.

Entry fees are RM120 for universities and other inistutions of higher learning, RM100 for schools and RM150 for public teams.

For more details, contact Azlan of the IIU (tel: 03-681-4052 after 4pm) or Linda of Hotel Midah (tel: 03-273-9999 ext 617)

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

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