Friday, March 10, 2000
Tournament ends on high note
By Quah Seng Sun
WHEN I set out to organise the Wah Seong Penang international master chess tournament two months ago, one of the main objectives was to provide an opportunity for local players to achieve international master title norms.
There was no lack of title aspirants in this tournament. Apart from Mas Hafizulhilmi who was already an international master, there were five other local players who were hopeful of playing well enough to get their norms.
Unfortunately, in an event of this kind where none of the players can be considered a pushover, not everyone would be able to realise this target. Exemplary play would have to be the order of the day, and the players would have to sort it out themselves over the chess board to see who was best qualified to gain the title norm.
I had written two weeks ago that if there was anyone who could earn an international master title norm, Mok Tze Meng would be a prime candidate. As the tournament progressed, Mok proceeded to show that I was correct in my prediction.
He had a very encouraging game in the first round against Wynn Zaw Htun, stretching the Myanmar player into a long drawn endgame before they finally agreed to a draw. In the second round, Mok made short work of national champion Jonathan Chuah and continued with another win in the third round against Ng Tze Han.
Two draws then followed against Myo Naing, an international master (IM) from Myanmar, and IM Mas Hafizulhilmi before he suffered a defeat at Chinese IM Liu Wenzhe's hands. It was a loss which could have been avoided if Mok had not been overly ambitious. A safe draw against the Chinese would have seen him on an easier track towards the title norm.
Instead, Mok found Lim Chuin Hoong very determined to stop him in the seventh round. However, he managed to avoid complications when he successfully negotiated an early simplification of the position. Lim tried hard but could not win and in the end, he had to concede defeat to Mok.
In the eighth round, despite spirited play by Wong Zijing, Mok managed to pocket the full point. Finally, Indonesian grandmaster Ardiansyah's offer of a draw in the ninth round was sufficient for Mok to reach the target of six points which was the requirement for the international master title norm in this tournament.
Amidst all the excitement over a Malaysian player getting this norm was the fact that another player had also played well enough to get a similar norm. Seventeen-year-old Wynn Zaw Htun, who came into this tournament with an impressively high rating of 2,524, played solidly enough to score six points.
He had a slow start in this event: a draw with Mok in the first round was followed by a loss to Ardiansyah. But then Wynn beat Chuah in the third round, drew with Ng, Myo and Mas in the fourth to sixth rounds, and then unleashed a victory against Liu in the seventh round. Wynn put in a final spurt in the last two rounds of the tournament by defeating Lim and Wong to achieve his norm.
The nine-day tournament, sponsored by Wah Seong (M) Trading Co Sdn Bhd and played at the CitiTel Penang, was won by Mas Hafizulhilmi. This was my first opportunity to see Mas Hafizul play in an international event and I was suitably impressed with his confidence and preparation. He made all his games seem rather effortless.
He was particularly deadly against the foreign competitors and he scored victories against Ardiansyah, Liu and Myo. Wynn was the only player to give Mas Hafizul some initial difficulties but the draw was never in doubt.
He was generous with the local players at the start of the event but towards the end when it became clear that some could no longer get their norms, Mas Hafizul moved into higher gear and mopped up everyone else.
Gone are the days when the foreigners can beat our players at will--as proven by the results of this tournament. Our players are on par with the foreign players. Otherwise, how would you explain the performances of the foreign players?
Ardiansyah, Liu and Myo obviously did not play at their very best levels or else they would not have suffered embarrassing losses to our own players.
In the fourth round, Ardiansyah went down to a shock defeat at the hands of Chuah; and one round later, Wong defeated Liu. Ng's high point in the tournament was when he beat Myo in the seventh round.
Anyway, it would be too presumptous to dismiss the foreigners for not trying hard enough. I know they did try very hard. In the second round, for instance, Ardiansyah pulled himself together to defeat Wynn in a delicate endgame position. In the final round, Liu piled a lot of pressure on Ng's position but failed to make a breakthrough and had to agree to a draw.
The tournament homepage is located at http://www.geocities.com/pg-chess/WahSeong2000/index.html
BPM Allegro events
Readers wishing to take part in the Penang leg of the Bank Pertanian Malaysia national allegro chess circuit this Sunday are reminded that today is the closing date for entries.
The entry fees are RM10 for members of the Penang Chess Association, Bank Pertanian employees, players above 50 years old and girls below 12 years old, and RM15 for other participants.
To register for the event, contact Ooi Kiem Boo ( 04-657 4596), Eoh Hook Kim ( 04-826 0196; e-mail: email@example.com) or Chuah Soon Pheng ( 04-657 4316; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). Participants are required to turn up at Kolej Damansara Utama in Anson Road, Penang, at 8am on Sunday.
The other legs of the BPM allegro series in the next couple of months are: Pahang leg on March 25 (contact Wan Abdullah 09-583 3205), Sabah leg on March 26 (Sylvester Asai 088-764 305), Kelantan leg on April 8 (Nizam Hamzah 09-790 9870), Malacca leg on April 15 (Eugene Kong 06-232 1018) and Kuala Lumpur leg on April 23 (Ibrahim Yaacob 03-636 3082).
Perak Grand Prix
Next weekend will be a busy time for the Perak International Chess Association which will be holding their annual general meeting at 9am on March 19 at Sek Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh. In conjunction with this meeting, a two-day chess competition has been planned.
The first event is a continuation of the Perak chess grand prix for their Category A players who are locally rated above 1,700. The top prize for this event is RM150, so anyone wishing to take part should be present at Sek Tuanku Abdul Rahman by 2pm on March 18. A separate one-day Category B event for players below 1,700 will be held at the same place beginning 10.30am on March 19.
Both are six-round tournaments. The time control for the Category A event is one hour, while that for the Category B tournament is 25 minutes. For more details, call W.K. Wong ( 05-366 1692).
Shah Alam open
The Selangor Library will organise the Shah Alam open tournament over four days from March 26 to 29 at the Radisson Hotel in Shah Alam. The event, sponsored by Tenaga Nasional Berhad, will feature total prize money of RM5,000.
The tournament will be divided into five categories, with each category being played on different days. The under-12 category will be contested on March 26; the entry fee is RM10 per player. On March 26 and 27, the open and student categories will be held. Entry fees are RM25 and RM15 respectively. For these events, the games will start at 2pm on the first playing date.
The under-12 team tournament will be played on March 28 while on March 29, the under-18 team tournament will be held. Entry fees are RM40 and RM60 respectively. For more details, call Hashim (03-559 7667).
National Age-Group championship
The Malaysian Chess Federation will organise the second Bank Rakyat national age-group chess championship at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on April 1 and 2.
Entry fees are RM15 for the under-18, under-16 and under-14 events, and RM10 for the under-12, under-10 and under-8 events. Entries will be accepted until March 31. For details contact Hamid Majid ( 03-402 19576; e-mail: email@example.com)
Winners of the various age-group events will be considered for qualification to the world age-group chess championship in Spain this October or November.
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