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Friday, January 29, 1999




Fischer in the news again

By Quah Seng Sun

I WAS looking through back copies of The Star before consigning them to the kacang putih man when I came across an article in the racing pages heaping accolades on the horse which won the Lion City Cup in Singapore last Sunday. No, I haven't become a racing correspondent, neither am I a particular fan of horse racing. But this horse caught my eye--Fischer was its name. Surely it had been named after American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer.


Fischer the horse, currently basking in glory in Malaysia and Singapore

Who has not heard of the legendary Fischer, the only man to have spooked the Soviet chess machinery when he beat Boris Spassky in a world chess championship match in Reykjavik, Iceland, back in 1972 and then failed to defend his title three years later or play another competitive chess game for the next 20 years?

Fischer reappeared on the chess scene in 1992 when he played Spassky again in another match that took place in Yugoslavia. But this time, Fischer was no longer a hero in the Americans' eyes. By playing in Yugoslavia which was in the midst of a civil war that was breaking it up into four or five pieces, Fischer brought the fury of the American government down on his head.

The US Government claimed that by playing the match, Fischer was contravening a United Nations resolution on sanctions against Yugoslavia. He was warned of "dire consequences" upon his return to the United States. As a result, after the match ended Fischer chose to remain behind in Europe rather than face the music at home.


Fischer the chess grandmaster, in this 1992 file photo of his rematch against Russian-born Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia. The match raised a furore over political reasons.

So what has he been doing since then? I don't really know, but two weeks ago, Fischer resurfaced when he consented to be interviewed by grandmaster Eugene Torre over a Filipino radio station. During the interview, a really upset Fischer complained about the way that the "Jewish-controlled" US Government had seized his personal belongings and auctioned them off.

He claimed that a safe and cabinets in his home were broken into and memorabilia like books and photographs taken away and sold for a few hundred dollars. Throughout the 10-minute interview, he ranted and raved about a Jewish conspiracy against him.

If you are interested in this interview, you can retrieve it from the Internet. It can be downloaded from ( but you will need a software program like RealPlayer or MediaPlayer to listen to the soundclip.

Fischer the man may be down on his luck with the US Government, but Fischer the horse is currently basking in glory here in Malaysia and Singapore.

Reading about its exploits brought another chess-horse racing connection to mind. Datuk Tan Chin Nam, the honorary life president of the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF), has a penchant for naming his horses after chess players and chess terms. I have heard his horses have been named Gufeld and Bishop's Opening, among others; though it turns out that Fischer doesn't belong to him.

There's an even closer connection between racing and chess, thanks again to Tan. A horse of his called Saintly (not all his horses have chess names) won the prestigious Melbourne Cup in Australia two years ago so Tan has allowed this name to be used in conjunction with an international chess tournament in Sydney.

The QVB Saintly Cup tournament, touted as Australia's strongest chess event, will end on Sunday; there are 10 grandmasters and international masters taking part. Malaysia's Mas Hafizulhelmi is one of the players while the others are GM (grandmaster) Ian Rogers, GM Darryl Johansen, IM (international master) Alex Wohl, IM Stephen Solomon, IM Guy West (all Australians), GM Joel Benjamin (United States), GM Zhang Zhong (China), IM Tomas Oral (Czech Republic) and IM Mathias Roeder (Germany). You can follow the tournament at its website at (

Mas Hafizul seems to be holding his own against the other top-notch players. Many are becoming admirers of this local lad. Certainly, he is now Malaysia's top chess player. If you are interested in seeing how he plays, you can download some of his games from my web page at (

The site also has games from several international events where Malaysian players have taken part: events such as the 1996 and 1998 Chess Olympiads in Erevan (Georgia) and Elista (Russia) respectively, the 1998 World Youth Chess Festival in Spain, the recent Cairnhill open tournament in Singapore and the Yangon zonal tournament late last year.

I would like to expand this collection of Malaysians' games as much as possible, so if any reader has anything to contribute by way of a chess database of games, you can send them to me at (

National allegro circuit

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the national allegro Grand Prix chess circuit which is being re-introduced by the Malaysian Chess Federation after a lapse of several years. This 15-leg event, sponsored by Bank Pertanian Malaysia, will kick off with the first leg at the Bank Pertanian building in Jalan Lebuh Pasar, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday.

Following are dates for the other legs which will be played in various parts of the country:

  • Second leg--Kuala Terengganu, Feb 25
  • Third leg--Kuching, March 7
  • Fourth leg--Johor Baru, March 21
  • Fifth leg--Kota Kinabalu, April 4
  • Sixth leg--Penang, April 25
  • Seventh leg--Petaling Jaya, May 9
  • Eighth leg--Kuantan, June 13
  • Ninth leg--Alor Star, July 1
  • 10th leg--Kangar, July 4
  • 11th leg--Seremban, July 27
  • 12th leg--Kota Baru, Aug 5
  • 13th leg--Ipoh, Sep 26
  • 14th leg--Malacca, Oct 10

The Grand Prix final will be staged in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 23 and 24.

Each leg consists of six rounds with a total cash prize of RM1,500. The bulk of this prize money will go to the main winners while RM500 is set aside for the minor winners. The winner of each leg will qualify for the Grand Prix final.

Entry fees are RM10 for members of the state chess associations organising their respective legs, Bank Pertanian employees, women, under-12 and veteran players, and RM15 for all other participants.

The closing date for entries for the first leg this Sunday is tomorrow. However, the MCF is prepared to receive last-minute entries provided such players pay an additional RM10 as a late penalty.

Entry forms are available from the Bank Pertanian building foyer, and also from MCF secretary Abdul Latif Mohamad ( 03-282 6341) or Ibrahim Yaacob ( 03-636 3082).


THE Perak International Chess Association (PICA) is organising its own state-level Grand Prix chess circuit beginning with its first leg next weekend at the Sekolah TAR library in Ipoh.

Category A is a six-round event with a time control of 60 minutes per player for each game; it will be played on Feb 6 and 7. It's open to all players who have a Fide (the international chess governing body), MCF, Perak or Penang rating of 1,700 or better. Entry fees are RM10 for PICA members and RM15 for non-members.

Category B is a one-day event on Feb 7, open to players without a rating or rated below 1,700. Entry fees are RM5 for PICA members and RM8 for non-members.

Registration will start at 2pm on Feb 6 for the Category A event, and 8.30am on Feb 7 for the Category B play-off. For details, call W.K. Wong at 05-366 1692.

Further north in Penang, the fourth preliminary leg of the Penang Grand Prix will be played this Sunday at the Berjaya Georgetown Hotel in Pulau Tikus.

Only members of the Penang Chess Association can take part.

Qualified readers interested in playing in this event should contact Goh Yoon Wah ( 04-644 5687 in the evening) or Ooi Kiem Boo ( 04-657 4596, office hours).

For details of this tournament, visit (

On Monday (Feb 1), the FCLCHESS club will hold its third local rating tournament at the Holiday Villa hotel in Subang Jaya, Selangor, beginning 9am. The event will have four categories: the under-15, under-12, under-9 and beginners.

The entry fee is RM20 if you register before Sunday, and RM25 if you register on the day of the competition, though these entries will only be accepted if there are vacant places. The total prize fund is RM900 but the organisers may reduce the prizes if there are fewer than 30 players in each of the categories.

For more information, contact Foong Chee Leng ( 013-332 3380).

Also in the same area, the SMK Subang Jaya will hold its open tournament in its school hall on Feb 11 and 12.

On the first day, the boys' under-17 and girls' under-17 individual events will be held; this will be followed by the boys' and girls' team events on the next day.

Entry fees are RM10 per player for the individual events and RM45 per team for the team events. The prizes for the boys' individual and team events will be RM150 for the winner, RM100 for second position and RM50 for third. For the girls' individual and team events, the three winners will receive RM120, RM80 and RM40 respectively.

For details, contact Chan Wei Wei ( 03-747 1822), Lee Su Ann ( 03-733 7526) or Edward Teoh ( 03-733 0875) in the evenings.


Quah Seng Sun's chess articles are archived at ( or (

Readers can write to him at:

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