Friday, January 14, 2000
Mas' golden touch
By Quah Seng Sun
A FORTNIGHT ago, while most of the country was caught up in the excitement of ushering in a new year, there were at least 10 people in Kuala Lumpur who felt they had more important things to do. They were hard at work at a tournament which would decide the ultimate pecking order of chess players in the country.
For this event, which was named the PWTC Malaysian junior masters tournament, the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) had gathered together the country's only two international masters, three past and present national champions and five promising junior players who had proven themselves locally and in international chess tournaments.
Needless to say, our two international masters, Mas Hafizulhelmi and Jimmy Liew, proved themselves a cut above the rest.
Mas Hafizul, especially, was rather ruthless in handling his opponents and he only agreed to draws with Deon Moh, Jimmy Liew and Ng Tze Han.
All the other players could not stop the Mas juggernaut from rolling over them. Every slightest misjudgment, apparently, was punished decisively and by the fourth round, Mas Hafizul had opened up a small lead which was widened considerably by the end of the tournament.
Liew, on the other hand, was more laidback in his approach. He was not adverse to drawing his games and in fact, he conceded six draws. However, those draws did not mean that Liew could not bite, for as Wong Zijing, Ng Ee Vern and Ng Tze Han found to their regret, Liew still had a lot of venom in his games.
Tze Han found out the hard way that when the situation required Liew to conjure up a win, he was prepared to dig in for a battle. In the final round of the tournament, Ng had a chance to finish second but he found that Liew, who was his final-round opponent, was in an uncompromising mood. Ng had to concede the game and was not the runner-up.
So with Mas Hafizul and Jimmy Liew finishing one-two in the tournament, it was left to the other eight players to pick up the rest of the spoils. Ng Tze Han's loss to Liew in the final round meant that he was in sole third place, while taking the fourth and fifth places were Lim Chuin Hoong and Deon Moh respectively.
There was also a two-way tie for the sixth and seventh places by Wong Zi Jing and former national champion Lim Yee Weng, in eighth place was another former national champion, Ng Ee Vern, and propping up the standings were present national champion Jonathan Chuah and Aaron Yee in the ninth and 10th spot respectively.
The tournament was organised by the MCF at the Putra World Trade Centre which also sponsored the event.
Latest Fide ratings
THE World Chess Federation has released its latest Fide Rating List which shall be effective for a six-month period beginning this month.
The full list includes more than 33,000 chess players throughout the world whose ratings are at least 2,000 points. Topping the list yet again is Gary Kasparov (Russia) who remains at 2,851 points despite not having played any rateable game during the past six-month rating period.
His closest rivals are still Viswanathan Anand (India) who is rated at 2,769, Vladimir Kramnik (Russia) at 2,758, Alexei Shirov (Spain) at 2,751 and Alexander Morovich (Russia) at 2,748. Also in the Top 10 are Peter Leko (Hungary) at 2,725, Michael Adams (England) at 2,715, Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine) and Evgeny Bareev (Russia) at 2,709, and Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) at 2,702.
This list also marks the first time in three decades that the former world champion, Anatoly Karpov (Russia), had fallen outside the Top 10. Karpov is presently in 11th spot with a rating of 2,696. It is interesting to note that the present world champion, Alexander Khalifman (Russia), is in the 31st position in the list with a rating of 2,656 while his opponent in the last Fide world championship, Vladimir Akopian (Armenia), is placed higher than him in 27th position with a 2,660 rating.
Eyebrows are already being raised in the western world with the emergence of Myanmar player Zaw Win Lay among the world's Top 50 with a rating of 2,633. Zaw, in 44th position, is supposedly the highest-rated player without a title but I do remember reading from the Fide homepage last November that an International Master title had already been awarded to him. There are five other Myanmar players in the Top 100.
To the westerners, players like Zaw are unknown to them but to Asians who have seen the Myanmar players perform in events such as the Asian team or Asian cities team championships, we know how strong they are. Still, as long as Myanmar remains closed to the world, the capability of their players will continue to be questioned by the west.
There are 58 Malaysians in the Fide Rating List, headed by Mas Hafizulhelmi who is rated at 2,413. Ooi Chern Ee is rated at 2,340, Aaron Yee at 2,337, Jimmy Liew at 2,325, Wong Zijing at 2,324, Jonathan Chuah at 2,271, Ng Ee Vern at 2,240, Ng Tze Han at 2,216, Lim Chuin Hoong at 2,214, Mohd Saprin Sabri at 2,210, Mohd Kamal Abdullah at 2,205, Ahmad Maliki at 2,200, Lim Jean Nie at 2,168, Deon Moh at 2,164, Lim Yee Weng at 2,149, Julian Navaratnam at 2,125, Lim Kian Hwa at 2,110, Azahari Md Nor at 2,108 and Lim Chin Lee at 2,081.
Among those players listed as inactive by Fide are Peter Long (2,350), Francis Chin (2,275), Mok Tze Meng (2,270), Eric Cheah (2,255), Mohd Fadli Zakaria (2,250), Christi Hon (2,235) and Yeoh Chin Seng (2,195).
The full list of Malaysian players in the Fide Rating List, together with some new collection of games, can be downloaded from my web library at http://www5.mol.com.my/qss/Library/index.html
Selangor chess kicks off
THE Chess Association of Selangor (CAS) is organising its first tournament of the new year this Sunday at the Sunway College. Registration for the six-round allegro event will begin at 9am and the first round is slated for 10am.
Entry fees are RM10 for members of the CAS and RM15 for non-members. Cash prizes and other prizes in kind will be given to the winners of the open, under-12, under-16 and girl sections. In addition, the best CAS members will receive prizes and the best junior players will get certificates of achievement.
Also, to mark the first CAS event in the new millennium, there will be limited edition T-shirts available for sale to chess enthusiasts.
Meanwhile, CAS also said that its chess camp at Genting Highlands last November was a success. The group of six boys and two girls who took part in the camp have started to produce respectable results in tournaments such as the recently concluded national closed chess championshp.
Among the achievements were the good results of two young CAS members, Siti Zulaikha and Lim Han Ying, who emerged as the champion and the third-place winner respectively in the women's section of the national closed.
To strengthen and widen the players' horizon, CAS is starting a three-month chess programme designed for tournament players from tomorrow. The programme is divided into two classes: the core group which comprises participants from the chess camp and the enthusiast group which will be made up of tournament players. Both the programmes will be conducted by Terry van der Veen.
Each class will be conducted over two hours on a weekly basis. For enquiries, contact Mrs Jackie Wong (03-703-8237) or Lim Tse Pin (012-298-4922).
The Perak International Chess Association will organise its first competition of the new year at the Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh on Jan 22 and 23. For more information, contact Hamisah (05-313-3809) or Wong (05-366-1692).
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