Friday, June 02, 2000



Close fight

By Quah Seng Sun

DESPITE the absence of prize monies, the East Asian (Zone 3.2a) men's zonal tournament which ended earlier this week in the Vietnamese town of Vung Tau still attracted five grandmasters and six international masters among the field of 32 players.

At stake were at least two precious tickets to this year's world chess championship. Playing in the world championship would mean the opportunity for qualifiers to earn more money than most regional events could offer. Thus, the importance of the zonal tournament becomes more significant.

The World Chess Federation (Fide) divides the world into many zones and sub-zones. Normally, each zone or sub-zone will consist of several countries in the geographical vicinity but at times it can also be made up of only one country especially if the country is big enough to be a chess power on its own.

For example, in Asia there are six zones or sub-zones. Zone 3.1a comprises the Middle Eastern countries, Zone 3.1b the countries of the Indian sub-continent, Zone 3.2b the southern Pacific countries, Zone 3.3 is the regional chess powerhouse China, while Zone 3.4 is made up of the former Soviet Union countries in central Asia.

Zone 3.2a consists of countries in the east Asia corridor which are Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Each of these Asian zones and sub-zones, as well as the others around the world, have either held or are presently holding their zonal tournaments to determine their respective qualifiers to Fide's world championship.

According to Fide, India and Iran have put in a joint bid of US$2.7mil (RM10.26mil) to host both the world championship and the women's world championship. The total cost of holding these events is expected to be US$3.6mil (RM13.68mil) and the shortfall of US$900,000 (RM3.42mil) will be met from elsewhere.

New Delhi will host the preliminaries to the semi-final of the world championship and the whole of the women's world meet, while the final match for the world championship will be held in Tehran. The preliminary rounds will start on Nov 25.

Representing the east Asian zone will be Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam and Buenaventura Villamayor of the Philippines who finished joint first in the Vung Tau tournament with seven points from nine rounds.

Dao, Vietnam's only grandmaster, was the sole leader in the tournament after the third round. He was only the fourth seed in this event but it was obvious that the home crowd was rooting for him all the way. Dao beat two other Vietnamese players in his first two games and in the third round, he beat the Mongolian grandmaster Dashzeveg Sharavdorj.

Interestingly, Dao's remaining five games in the tournament were all against Filipino players. In successive rounds, he drew with international master Rico Mascarinas, co-winner Villamayor and Petronio Roca, then he beat unheralded Enrique Pacienta before ending the event drawing with third-seeded grandmaster Rogelio Antonio.

International master Villamayor was even ranked lower in the pecking order. He was designated as the eighth seed and his progress through the tournament began with two draws with Thailand's Banjuab Jiravorasuk and Vietnam's Vinh Bui.

Then came a spate of good results: winning against Indonesians Sebastian Simanjuntak and Cerdas Barus, and Myanmar's Wynn Zaw Htun, then drawing with Dao and Mascarinas, before finishing with triumphs against an off-form top-seeded Indonesian grandmaster Utut Adianto and Vietnamese international master Thanh Trang Hoang.

Six players shared the third to eighth placings with six points: Mascarinas, Roca, Adianto, Antonio, Pacienta and Filipino player Richard Bitoon. To get an idea of how strong this event was, it is sufficient to add that the illustrious second-seeded Filipino grandmaster Eugene Torre could only score five point and finished jointly ninth to 12th with the likes of Barus, Tu Hoang Thai and Simanjuntak.

Lower down the table of final standings, sixth seed Wynn Zaw Htun and fifth seed Myo Naing (the two Myanmar players who had played in Penang last February) had only four points.

Malaysia's two representatives failed to make any headway in this strong event. Mok Tze Meng finished with 3.5 points while Ismail Ahmad scored only 2.5 points.

Up next

Chess Association of Selangor AGM (tomorrow): Sungei Wang Plaza exhibition hall, Kuala Lumpur (2pm). A new council for the next two years will be elected.

Selangor girls under-20 (tomorrow and Sunday): Organised by CAS, this event will be held at Sungai Wang Plaza. Registration of players will open tomorrow at 9am.

Fifth Royal Selangor under-16 grand prix (June 11, 18, July 8, 9): Also organised by CAS, this event will be held at the Sunway College. For the first leg, players can register at the playing venue at 9am.

Direct inquiries pertaining to the three aforemonetioned events to Mrs Jackie Wong ( 03-703 8237) or Lim Tse Pin ( 012-298 4922, e-mail:

27th Royal Selangor open: Ending this Sunday at Sungai Wang Plaza.

10th Penang Dell league (June 11): Organised by the Penang Chess Association and sponsored by Dell Asia Pacific, the tournament will be played on Sundays and is scheduled to end on Aug 6. Only teams representing the public and private sectors, institutions of learning, registered associations, societies and clubs are eligible to play. A guest player may be included in each team, but the rest must be employees, students or members of the organisation which they represent. Players without a team to represent can contact the PCA; if there are enough players, the PCA may form a team. Closing date for entries is tomorrow. For details, call Chan Kim Beng ( 012-451 8811, e-mail:, Goh Yoon Wah ( 04-644 5687 evenings, e-mail: or Ooi Kiem Boo ( 04-826 3764 evenings, e-mail:

Bank Pertanian Malaysia allegro circuit: June 11 in Johor Baru, call Stephen Cheong ( 07-333 9636) to register. June 24 in Seremban, call Charles Chan ( 06-631 7971). The dates and venues for the Kedah and Perlis legs will be announced later.

Kuala Terengganu (June 23 and 24): The Terengganu Youth and Sports Department will organise an open chess competition in conjunction with the state's Sports Month celebrations. For details, contact Muhammad Arshad (018-895 8041, e-mail:


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

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