This article by Quah Seng-Sun was originally published in THE STAR, a Malaysian newspaper, on 17 Apr 1998
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CLOSE FIGHT TILL THE END
What an exciting finish it has been for the Asian cities team chess championship which concluded on Wednesday at the Awana Genting Highland Golf and Country Resort.
The tournament had gone into the final round with three teams having a chance to carry off the Dubai Cup and the first prize of US$3,000 (about RM10,800). Shijiazhuang (China) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan) were leading the pack of 26 teams with 25 1/2 points each while Palembang (Indonesia) was on 24 points.
Theoretically, Palembang would have a chance to catch up on equal points with the leaders if they were to score 4-0 against Beirut (Lebanon) in the final round and if Shijiazhuang and Tashkent happened to drop 1 1/2 points in their respective encounters with Chrompet (India) and Padang (Indonesia). If this had happened, the championship standings would have to be decided by a tie-break.
The interesting question is how, in the first instance, Shijiazhuang or Tashkent had allowed this interesting ending to occur.
When the event started some nine days ago, Shijiazhuang had jumped into the lead by mercilessly hammering the Penang and Beirut teams 4-0. Tashkent had also scored the maximum points against Kuala Lumpur in the first round, but only managed a 3 1/2-1/2 score against Chrompet in the second round.
The two tournament leaders met in the third round and Shijiazhuang upsetted the defending champion 3-1 to take the lead.
At the same time, Palembang beat Singapore 3 1/2-1/2, Sydney (Australia) 3 1/2-1/2 and Tehran (Iran) 3-1, to creep into third position. Palembang met the Chinese players in the fourth round, and were narrowly beaten 1 1/2-2 1/2. Shijiazhuang next played Padang (Indonesia) in the fifth round and beat them 3-1.
But Tashkent kept on to Shijiazhuang's back by beating Talesh (Iran) 3 1/2-1/2 in the fourth round and Palembang 2 1/2-1 1/2 in the fifth round. Where Shijiazhuang was concerned, after having disposed of their nearest rivals - Tashkent and Palembang - the way seemed clear for them to maintain their comfortable lead and coast to victory in the remaining rounds.
Not so, unfortunately. On the tournament's rest day, the Chinese players chose to go to Petaling Jaya to play in the Amcorp blitz tournament. It was a trip which probably lost them their comfortable two-point lead.
After returning from Petaling Jaya, Shijiazhuang could only score narrow 2 1/2-1 1/2 wins over Tehran and Yangon (Myanmar) in the sixth and seventh rounds.
Tashkent, on the other hand, chalked up a 2-2 draw with Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) in the sixth round and a 3-1 win against Tehran in the seventh.
The result, at the end of the seventh round, was a shock for Shijiazhuang. Their lapses had cost them dearly, and suddenly they found themselves tied with Tashkent with 21 1/2 points.
The eighth round left the status quo unchanged. Tashkent disposed of Yangon 4-0 while Shijiazhuang beat Karachi (Pakistan) also by the same score. The stage was thus set for an interesting finish in the final round of play.
The Asian cities was only one of two events going on at the Genting Highlands. The other was the Asian women's individual championship where, after six rounds, the sole lead was in the hands of Xu Yuhua (China). Xu, the highest rated player in this event, overwhelmed Uzbekistan's Angela Khegai in the sixth round.
Wait a minute. I should not keep you in suspense any further, should I? I am sure you want to know the outcome of the Asian cities team championship first.
Well, the long and short of the story is that, yes, Shijiazhuang won the title. It was a close race but Tashkent's challenge fizzled out. Tashkent could only manage a 2-2 draw with Padang while Shijiazhuang won handsomely by a 3 1/2-1/2 score against Chrompet.
Final standings: Shijiazhuang 29 points; Tashkent and Palembang 27.5 points each; Tehran and Padang 20 points each; Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City and Talesh 19.5 points; Yangon 19 points; Beirut, Doha, Singapore and Mandalay 18.5 points; Chrompet, Sydney, Shah Alam and Karachi 18 points; Dubai and Auckland 17.5 points; Johor Bahru 17 points; Abu Dhabi and Penang 16 points; Pontianak 15.5 points; Macau 11 points; Bandar Seri Begawan 9.5 points; and Hong Kong 1 point.
The participants were very appreciative of the superb facilities provided by the sponsor, Resorts World Berhad. Apart from the full board and lodging, the facilities at the hotel created an atmosphere really conducive to chess playing.
The run-up to the two events, covered by the national dailies, had helped promote an awareness in the country. I recognised people who made repeated trips to the Awana in order to watch the various teams and players.
The official website, located at http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Stadium/6485/ registered more than 2,800 hits during the first eight days of the Asian cities team and Asian women's individual championships. Yes, I would say that publicity for these two events has not been lacking.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Here are several interesting games from the Asian cities team event.
Rustam Kasimdhanov - Peng Xiaomin
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qc7 12. Nbd2 Rd8 13. Nf1 cxd4 14. cxd4 exd4 15. Nxd4 d5 16. e5 Ne4 17. Nd2 Bc5 18. N2f3 Bb7 19. Bf4 Rac8 20. Rc1 Qb6 21. Bb1 Nc4 22. Re2 Re8 23. Rcc2 Rcd8 24. Nb3 Bf8 25. Qd4 Qxd4 26. Nbxd4 Bc5 27. Rc1 Bb6 28. b3 Na3 29. Bd3 g6 30. Be3 b4 31. Bd2 a5 32. Be3 Nc3 33. Rd2 Rc8 34. Re1 Ne4 35. Rdd1 Rc3 36. Nf5 Bxe3 37. Nxe3 Nc5 38. Bf1 Nc2 39. Nxc2 Rxc2 40. Rc1 Rxc1 41. Rxc1 Ne6 42. g3 Ra8 43. Bb5 g5 44. Bd7 d4 45. Nd2 Bd5 46. Kf1 Rd8 47. Bb5 Kg7 48. Bc4 h6 49. Ke2 Bxc4+ 50. Rxc4 Rd5 51. Nf3 Kg6 52. Kd2 h5 53. Rc8 0-1
Zhang Zhong - Saidali Yuldachev
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Qe2 c5 8. Nc3 Nd7 9. Nd5 O-O 10. b3 Bd6 11. Bb2 Re8 12. d3 Nf8 13. a4 a5 14. Rae1 Ng6 15. Kh1 Be6 16. Ne3 f6 17. g3 Qd7 18. h4 Ne7 19. h5 Rf8 20. Nh4 f5 21. f4 exf4 22. gxf4 fxe4 23. Qg2 Nf5 24. Nexf5 Bxf5 25. Rg1 Rf7 26. h6 Bg6 27. Bxg7 Qe6 28. Rxe4 Rxf4 29. Nxg6 hxg6 30. Rf1 Rxf1+ 31. Qxf1 Qd5 32. Qf3 Kh7 33. Kg2 c6 34. Kf2 b5 35. Ke2 Rd8 36. Qg4 bxa4 37. Re6 g5 38. bxa4 Bf4 39. Re5 Qf7 40. Qf5+ Qxf5 41. Rxf5 Rd5 42. Rf7 c4 1-0
Ng Tze-Han - Sakr Nassim
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 Nc6 5. d4 cxd4 6. cxd4 g6 7. Nc3 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bf4 Bd7 10. Qd2 Qa5 11. Rad1 d5 12. e5 Nh5 13. Bh6 f5 14. Bxg7 Nxg7 15. Qh6 Ne6 16. a3 Be8 17. b4 Qd8 18. Bc4 dxc4 19. d5 Nxe5 20. Nxe5 Qc7 21. Rfe1 Nd8 22. Nf3 Nf7 23. Qh4 a5 24. Rxe7 Qd8 25. d6 Bc6 26. Ne5 axb4 27. Qf6 Be8 28. axb4 Ra6 29. Nxf7 Bxf7 30. Rxf7 Qxf6 31. Rxf6 Rxf6 32. d7 Rfd6 33. d8=Q+ Rxd8 34. Rxd8+ Kf7 35. g3 1-0
Tan Wee Sin - Arif Khouri
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. Be3 Bg7 7. f3 Nc6 8. Qd2 Bd7 9. g4 Rc8 10. h4 Ne5 11. h5 gxh5 12. g5 Ng8 13. Rxh5 Qa5 14. Be2 Qb4 15. O-O-O Nc4 16. Bxc4 Rxc4 17. a3 Qc5 18. Nde2 Qa5 19. Bd4 Bxd4 20. Nxd4 b5 21. Nb3 Qb6 22. Nd5 Qb8 23. Ne3 Rc6 24. Nd4 Rc5 25. Ndf5 Kf8 26. Qd4 f6 27. g6 hxg6 28. Rxh8 gxf5 29. Rg1 Bc6 30. Nxf5 Qb6 31. Kb1 Bd7 32. b4 Re5 33. Qxb6 axb6 34. f4 1-0
Zhang Pengxiang - Barus Cerdas
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e6 6. a3 Nc6 7. Nf3 Be7 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 O-O 10. O-O Bd7 11. Ba2 Qa5 12. Re1 Rad8 13. Qe2 Bc8 14. b4 Qh5 15. d5 Nxd5 16. Nxd5 exd5 17. b5 Bf6 18. Bb2 Bxb2 19. Qxb2 Nb8 20. Re5 Qh6 21. Rxd5 Be6 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. Re1 Bxa2 24. Qxa2 Qd6 25. h3 Nd7 26. Ng5 Qf6 27. Qd2 Nf8 28. Qe3 h6 29. Nf3 a6 30. a4 axb5 31. axb5 Ng6 32. Qe4 b6 33. g3 Nf8 34. Rc1 Qb2 35. Qc6 Ne6 36. Re1 Qa3 37. Ne5 Qd6 38. Qf3 Ng5 39. Qf5 g6 40. Qg4 Re8 41. f4 Qc5+ 42. Kg2 Qxb5 43. Re3 Qd5+ 44. Kh2 1-0
Mas Hafizulhelmi - Tim Reilly
1. e4 d6 2. f4 d5 3. exd5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Nxd5 5. Qf3 e6 6. Bc4 Nb4 7. Bb3 N8c6 8. Nge2 Na5 9. Ba4+ Bd7 10. a3 Bxa4 11. axb4 Bc6 12. Qg3 Nc4 13. b5 Bd7 14. O-O Nd6 15. Nd4 Qf6 16. Qf2 Nf5 17. Nf3 b6 18. Ne4 Qh6 19. c4 Nd6 20. Qe2 Qxf4 21. d3 Qg4 22. h3 Qh5 23. Neg5 Be7 24. g4 Qh6 25. Qg2 Qf6 26. d4 Bc8 27. Ne5 Bb7 28. Qh2 Nf5 29. gxf5 exf5 30. Be3 Bd6 31. Qf2 g6 32. Ngxf7 O-O 33. Bg5 Qe6 34. d5 Bxd5 35. cxd5 Qxd5 36. Rad1 Qxb5 37. Nxd6 cxd6 38. Nf3 Rae8 39. Rxd6 Re2 40. Nd4 Rxf2 41. Nxb5 Rxb2 42. Nxa7 Ra8 43. Rd7 Re8 44. Rc1 1-0
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