Friday, January 28, 2000



Awaiting foreign flavours

By Quah Seng Sun

CHESS enthusiasts in the country can expect some fascinating clashes between our local junior players and several veteran foreign players when they compete in an international chess tournament in Penang towards the end of next month.

This round-robin event, which will be known as the Wah Seong Penang international master chess tournament, is organised by the Penang Chess Association and will be played at the CitiTel Penang from Feb 26 to Mar 5. The sponsor is Wah Seong (M) Trading Co Sdn Bhd.

The list of invited foreign players has not been finalised but tentatively, grandmasters Herman Ardiansyah and Edhi Handoko from Indonesia, international master Liu Wenzhe of China and Fide master Maung Maung Lwin of Myanmar have been identified.

The other six participants in the tournament will be our local players led by international masters Mas Hafizulhelmi and Jimmy Liew, Fide master Wong Zijing and national champion Jonathan Chuah. Ng Tze Han and Lim Chuin Hoong, both nominated by the Penang Chess Association to play in this event, complete the line-up.

There will not be any prize money for the winners but the champion is given custody of the Dato Tan Kim Yeow trophy.

However, since the tournament is expected to qualify as a Category Four event, there is an added incentive for the two Fide masters and three non-titled players who can aspire to gain an international master title norm if they can score at least six points from the nine games.

Although this shall only be the fifth time in 28 years that the Penang Chess Association is organising an international-level event, the association is confident that the Wah Seong Penang IM tournament can be the first of several more that will be held in the state.

Selangor chess kicks off the new year

The Chess Association of Selangor (CAS) will organise a six-round CAS closed under-20 tournament for its members on Sunday. Registration for this event starts at 9am and the games will be played from 10am to 6pm.

Cash prizes, millennium T-shirts and complimentary entries to future CAS tournaments will be given to 10 winners in the under-20 section and three winners in the under-12 section. Non-CAS members who wish to play in this event can contact Mrs Jackie Wong ( 03-7038237) or Lim Tse Pin ( 012-2984922) for more details.

In the meantime, the CAS first quarter allegro tournament on Jan 16 attracted 70 participants. The open section was won by Ng Ee Vern who scored 5.5 points from six games. The players who scored five points were Law Zhe Kang, Fikrul, Rizal, Chin Ching Shiung and Terry Van Der Veen, while a further half point behind were Thaw Chee Yin, Cheah Eu Gene, Ismail Ahmad and Foong Chee Leng.

The CAS members section was also won by Ng Ee Vern with Law Zhe Kang placed second, Chin Ching Shiung placed third, Thaw Chee Yin fourth and Cheah Eu Gene sixth. Lim Han Ying won the Best Girls section, Gerald Soh took the under-16 prize with Nicholas Chan and Marcus Chan placing second and third respectively, while the under-12 prize was won by Zarul Shazwan with Fang Chin Yao in second place and Abel Yap third.

Also, in the first CAS closed blitz tournament held recently, there were 28 players. The winner of the CAS members section was again Ng Ee Vern who scored 6.5 points from seven games. Jointly second and third were Mok Tze Meng and Nicholas Chan with 5.5 points each, while fourth was Julian Navaratnam with five points. The other winners were Navin Pillay, Chin Ching Shiung and Marcus Chan with 4.5 points each, and Thaw Chee Yin, Cheah Eu Gene and Wong Zi Chuang with four points each.

The under-16 winner was Nicholas Chan, with Marcus Chan second and Wong Zi Chuang third. The best under-12 player was Thaw Chee Hou, while second and third were Anas Nazreen Bakri and Mohd Kamal Firdaus respectively.

In a Deep Blue funk over Kasparov

FOR two years after Gary Kasparov lost to IBM's Deep Blue in the historical match between man and machine three years ago, he kept challenging IBM and the Deep Blue development team to a rematch.

Until earlier this month, computer scientists and chess players worldwide were salivating on the anticipation that a third match would prove once and for all whether Deep Blue's defeat of Kasparov in 1997 was indeed a fluke. The only question was when the match would be played.

These scientists and chess players do not have to wait anymore. There will not be any third match.

According to Hsu Feng-hsiung, one of the three main programmers of Deep Blue, the rematch is unlikely to take place because Kasparov has effectively backed down from his challenge.

About two weeks ago, Hsu released an open letter on the Internet to relate the developments after Deep Blue had beaten Kasparov in 1997.

Hsu said that he had done everything within his power to make the new match happen, but Kasparov had not responded positively, and added that he doubted Kasparov would change his mind.

In his open letter, Hsu said that when Kasparov challenged the Deep Blue team for a rematch at the end of the 1997 match, he believed that the Deep Blue team had a personal obligation to honour Kasparov's request.

When Hsu left IBM a few months ago, he spent a small personal fortune to get the right to the chess chip. Officially, he was getting the right to commercialise the chess chip but his real purpose was to answer Kasparov's challenge. If Kasparov was serious about his challenge, Hsu would see to it that Kasparov got his match.

Towards the end of last year, Hsu contacted Owen Williams who was Kasparov's agent. In his first e-mail, Hsu asked Owen directly whether Kasparov was serious about the match and whether Kasparov was indeed willing to play the match as a world title match. According to Hsu, the initial response was not encouraging as Owen ruled out the possibility of a title match immediately and was noncommittal about the new match.

"In reality, I was not unhappy that Owen ruled out the possibility of a title match. I don't believe that a computer should be the World Champion. Personally, I believe that the title should be for humans only. Some of the potential sponsors did indicate that a match with the title on the line was certainly more desirable, although I believed that it might be okay if Kasparov was willing to state that he would treat the match as seriously as if it were a title match," Hsu wrote.

After a long sequence of e-mail exchanges, Owen sent a message vaguely suggesting that Kasparov was not interested. Hsu now said that he then asked Owen point blank: "Can I safely assume that Gary is not interested in a match any more?" and received Owen's reply that "Gary does not want to be involved in any way."

Hsu mentioned that throughout the entire sequence of e-mail exchanges, Owen never said a straight yes or no to his question of whether Kasparov was interested in a match. But, Hsu added, the last e-mail has only one reasonable interpretation and that was, after over two years of issuing public challenges, Kasparov was no longer interested in playing a new match.

"I don't know the reason behind Kasparov's decision. Maybe his priority changed; maybe he felt offended somehow in my dealings with Owen. (But) it is no longer of concern to me. Even if Kasparov somehow changes his mind, the chance of a new match is now very slim," he said.

"Given what has happened so far, it would be very hard to convince match sponsors or funding sources that the match will happen. Kasparov could change his mind yet again or come up with match conditions that are unacceptable. Anyway, I give up. I have now done everything possible to make the match happen," Hsu added.

Hsu said that there were people who were interested in seeing the chess chip commercialised. However, he said it was unlikely to happen as the Deep Blue chess chip was not commercially viable.

To be commercially viable, he would have to redesign a new chip but without a new match, it was difficult for him to muster the energy to create it. He said that the only chance that anyone would ever see the chess chip commercialised would be if he decided to build a Shogi (a Japanese chess game) chip someday. "Then you may see a new chess chip designed as a by-product," he added.


Quah Seng Sun's chess articles are archived at ( or ( Readers can write to him at:

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