Friday, October 22, 1999
Sunk in oblivion
By Quah Seng Sun
IN THE past fortnight, a four-man Malaysian team slipped quietly out of the country to compete in this year's Asian team chess championship in Shenyang, China.
Normally, I would have expected the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) to issue a press release, but this time there was none. It is as if the MCF had been caught procrastinating over the selection of team members and is now embarrassed by its final choice.
The question begging to be asked is why only four players were sent. With that number, every one of them would have been required to play without rest. Not only is that mentally tiring, it is also psychologically and physiologically bad, especially if one player were to hit a bad patch during the event.
Including a fifth player would have allowed some sort of rotation within the team. The stabilising effect of an extra player can mean the difference between sinking into oblivion or giving a respectable performance.
Because the challenge trophy was originally donated by the late Tun Abdul Razak in 1974, Malaysia has always considered the Asian team championship a very important tournament. It will be a shame if Malaysia no longer considers this event worthwhile enough to send our strongest possible team.
According to precedence, three of the team's players are selected from last year's national closed championship. The MCF committee then select two more players while the federation's president has the right to choose the sixth player.
In last year's national closed championship, the top three places had gone to Ng Ee Vern, Lim Chuin Hoong and Jonathan Chuah. They would have automatically qualified but since Ng and Lim were unable to join the national team, Agus Salim and Ng Tze Han were selected in their places.
However, a most embarrassing situation arose when it turned out that Agus does not hold a Malaysian passport. He has a Certificate of Identity which means he is not a Malaysian citizen. His place was offered instead to Azahari Mohd Nor.
Luckily, Mas Hafizulhelmi had indicated to the MCF that he would be available to play in the Asian team event. The experienced Mas would be the asset required to prop up the team on the first board. Ng had already played in several international tournaments, so he was the logical choice for the second board. But of the other two players in the team, neither could really be considered to have the necessary temperament for such a high-level event.
It would have made sense to select a more experienced fifth player for the team. Names like Jimmy Liew or Mok Tze Meng readily come to mind, but there are also a host of younger and relatively stable players like Wong Zijing or Lim Yee Weng to consider. Regrettably, for one reason or another, the fifth position in the team was never filled.
Malaysia was one of 16 teams in Shenyang. The first round was a real embarrassment as Malaysia went down 0-4 to the Philippines. After a 1.5-2.5 loss to Tajikistan, the Malaysians beat Macau 3-1, drew 2-2 with China "B" and lost 1.5-2.5 to New Zealand.
Another 2-2 draw followed, this time with Mongolia, after which the team's luck went downhill for the rest of the tournament. A 1.5-2.5 loss at the hands of traditional rival Singapore was quickly followed by 0.5-3.5 results against Iran and China "C."
The total points scored was 12.5 which placed the team in 14th position ahead of only New Zealand and Macau. By Mas' own standard, four points from nine games cannot be considered good but I suspect he was affected by the form of the other players. Ng was slightly better, scoring 50% with 4.5 points, while Chuah and Azahari ended with 2.5 and 1.5 points respectively.
At the other end of the table, there was a strong fight for the Tun Razak trophy. Going into the final round, India was the surprising leader with 20 points but only half a point behind the Indians were Kazakhstan, the Philippines and Iran. A further half-point behind the trio were China "A," Uzbekistan and Indonesia.
In the final round, India could only overcome a stubborn Indonesia by 2.5-1.5. It was not enough for the Indians who watched Uzbekistan breeze ahead of them with a 4-0 trashing of hapless New Zealand. Meanwhile, Kazakhstan and the Philippines joined India in joint second to fourth placings with similar 3-1 scores against Vietnam and Iran respectively.
Final standings: Uzbekistan 23 points; India, Kazakhstan and the Philippines 22.5 points each; China "A" and China "B" 22 points each; China "C" 21.5 points; Indonesia and Iran 20.5 points each; Vietnam 19 points; Singapore and Mongolia 17.5 points each; Tajikistan 16 points; Malaysia 12.5 points; New Zealand 6 points; and Macau 2.5 points.
The Chess Association of Selangor held its third-quarter allegro tournament at the Sunway College in Petaling Jaya last month. Although there were only 34 players, the field was very strong and included Singaporean international master Giam Choo Kwee and second-quarter allegro winner, Terry Van Der Veen.
The eventual winner of the competition was Fikrul Saifuddin who beat Giam in the fourth round and Van Der Veen in the fifth. A fighting draw with Saprin Sabri in the final round ensured Fikrul the first prize. This round also saw Giam drawing his game with Lim Chin Lee and Van Der Veen drawing with Ilhamuddin to keep the standings of the top boards unchanged from the previous round.
Top standings: Fikrul 5.5 points; Van Der Veen, Giam, Saprin, Lim and Ilhamuddin 4.5 points each; Mohd Erwan, Abdullah Aziz Shukor and Mak Weng Kong 4 points each; Cheah Eu Gene and Nicholas Chan 3.5 points each.
National allegro results
The Kelantan leg of the Bank Pertanian Malaysia-sponsored national allegro chess circuit was played at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (formerly ITM) campus in Machang earlier this month.
The tournament attracted 36 participants and it was won by Ahmad Maliki Mohamad with 5.5 points.
Mohd Nizam Hamzah and Fairul Yusoff both tied with five points each, while Mohd Bakri Jusoh and Mas Harithul Fadli obtained 4.5 points each. The four-pointers who were among the prize-winners were Arjunawira Ahmad, Halim Suhaimi, Hashim Jusoh, Farid Hassan and Tengku Zulkifli Tengku Amri.
Wan Abdul Fatah Wan Ali won the prize for veterans, while the three women's prizes were given to Yusma Yuhanis, Wan Syarina and Che Nor Emelia Abdul Halim. The under-12 prizes were won by Mohd Tajul Aris, Mohd Tajul Subki and Mas Latiful Syukri.
Kuala Beliat Open
THE Kuala Beliat Chess Association and the Brunei Shell Recreation Club are jointly organising a one-day open chess tournament at the BSRC in Seria, Brunei, this Sunday.
The nine-round event will be played using a 15-minute time control per player for each game. The first round will start at 10am and the final round is expected to conclude by 5.30pm.
There are five cash prizes with B$300 (about RM675) going to the winner. The second prize is B$200 (about RM450) and the third prize B$100 (about RM225), while the fourth and fifth prizes are B$75 (about RM170) and B$50 (about RM112) respectively. In addition, the top three winners shall receive trophies.
Entry fee is B$10 (about RM23) per player. Registration closes tomorrow. For more information on the event or accommodation, contact Leong Voon Choon at 673-3-373 612 during office hours or e-mail (email@example.com).
Kepong Junior Open
FOR the sixth year running, the Parent-Teacher Association of Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (China) Kepong Dua in Kuala Lumpur will be organising the Kepong junior chess open tournament. This annual event, which is divided into four age categories, will be played on Nov 7 in the school hall.
Children born in 1991 or later will be eligible to take part in the under-eight section, and the winner will receive the SJK (C) Kepong 2 PIBG trophy. The winner of the under-10 section will get the Cheah Lim Choy trophy, the under-12 winner will win the Kong Foo Leong trophy and the under-16 winner, the Datuk Tan Kim Hor trophy.
The top four winners in each age-group will also receive cash prizes, while the next six winners will get consolation prizes.
Entry fees are RM7 for pupils of the school and RM10 for other players. Anyone registering after Oct 30 will be required to pay a RM5 late fee.
Lunch and snacks will be provided for all players, and the first 180 entries will be given souvenir chess boards. There will also be lucky draws after the event.
Enquiries, contact F.L. Wong at 017-888-2216 or 03-636 4197 between 3pm and 10pm.
THE sixth Johor Baru open chess tournament, jointly organised by the Johor Baru District Chess Club and Johor Land Bhd, will be played on Nov 14 at the Dewan Menara Komtar in Johor Baru.
There are three sections in this event: the open, under-16 and under-12. The open section features 10 cash prizes totalling RM1,710 with a first prize of RM500. The winner will also receive the Piala Mentri Besar Johor. The under-16 and the under-12 sections also have 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 12; only the first 300 entries will be accepted.
Details, contact Narayanan Krishnan at 07-333-8215 or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE Urusetia Alumni Kamsis Rahim Kajai, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, will organise an open tournament at the university on Nov 27 and 28.
Entry fee is RM15 for students and RM30 for the public. The closing date for registration is Nov 20. Details, contact Bakri Abdul Karim at 03-829 3101, e-mail (email@example.com) or write to Penganjur Kejohanan Catur Terbuka KRK UKM 99, Urusetia Alumni KRK UKM, Kamsis Rahim Kajai, UKM, 43600 Bangi.
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