Friday, March 24, 2000
Chance of a lifetime
By Quah Seng Sun
ABDULLAH Che Hassan is one lucky kid. While most chess players only dream of playing against the strongest chess player in the world, Abdullah actually did it.
Thanks to the Internet, Abdullah played Gary Kasparov in the early hours of March 15; he was one of 30 children worldwide selected to play the former world champion in a clock simultaneous chess exhibition.
The event, set in New York City, was billed the "United Nations of Chess." It involved players from every continent except Antarctica. The simultaneous exhibition marked the worlwide launch of Kasparov's http://kasparovchess.com website.
Ten children played him live in the ABC Times Square television studios and 20 more were logged online in the website's Playing Zone. In the television studios, 20 computers, each representing one online player, were set in two rows next to where the other 10 kids were playing. Kasparov went from hand to mouse and back again as he walked round and round the room.
In a normal simultaneous exhibition, a player is required to make his move immediately when the chess master arrives at his board. But for the online simultaneous exhibition, some technological tricks were employed to ensure smooth play. When Kasparov arrived at a computer, he clicked a special "Move Now" button that sent a signal to the player to let him know that Kasparov was at his board.
Kasparov was in no way distracted by this unusual format, winning 28 games and drawing only one against his opponents. Unfortunately, the 30th game was not played as the player could not log onto the website. The lone draw was achieved by Victoria Zaks of Israel and it came from a repetition in a position where the 12-year-old girl was doing fine.
Abdullah was not so lucky in his game. He was nervous initially because, he says, "I respected Gary too much." Although he had prepared for Kasparov's opening move, 1 d4, Abdullah said that he played too fast, hoping to beat the grandmaster on time. He managed to hold on for 51 moves, finally resigning because he had to go to school. Despite the loss, the young lad said that playing Kasparov was a chance of a lifetime.
(In the exhibition, Kasparov was given two hours on his clock while each of his opponents had one hour. Considering that Kasparov had to play 29 opponents moving from one game to another, his average time spent on each game was a mere three minutes!)
Abdullah was informed of this opportunity to play Kasparov through an e-mail message from the International E-mail Chess Group, of which he is a member.
The message said that Kasparov would be launching his new http://kasparovchess.com website in New York City and the organisers of the event were looking for 25 to 30 chess players from around the world, aged 16 years and under, who would be interested to play in the exhibition through the Internet.
Abdullah responded to the e-mail and, as he was the only one from Malaysia to submit an application, he was given the opportunity to play.
Two weeks before the event, the organisers had a few anxious moments when they lost touch with Abdullah. They even contacted me to help them find the boy. Fortunately, Abdullah replied to the organisers in the nick of time.
BPM Allegro Events
The next three legs of this year's Bank Pertanian Malaysia-sponsored national allegro chess circuit will be played in Kuantan on March 25, Kota Kinabalu on March 26 and Kota Baru on April 8.
The entry fees are RM10 for members of the organising chess associations, Bank Pertanian employees, players above 50 years old and girls below 12 years old (there are no under-12 boy players), and RM15 for all other participants.
Prizes for the open section will be RM300 for the winner, RM200 for the second-placed, RM150 for third, RM100 for fourth and fifth, and RM60 for sixth to 10th. The best Bank Pertanian player will also win RM60, while the best players in the other categories will get RM50.
To register for the event, contact Wah Abdullah ( 09-583 3205) for the Kuantan leg, Sylvester Asai ( 088-764 305) for the Kota Kinabalu leg, and Nizam Hamzah ( 09-790 9870) for the Kota Baru leg.
The other legs of the series are in:
April 15 (contact Eugene Kong 06-232 1018)
Shah Alam Open
The Selangor Library will organise the Shah Alam Open over four days from March 26 to 29 at the Radisson Hotel, Shah Alam. The event, sponsored by Tenaga Nasional Bhd, offers cash prizes totalling RM5,000.
The tournament will be divided into five categories with each category played on a different day and with different entry fees:
For more details, contact Hashim 03-5519 7667.
National Age-Group Chess Championship
The second Bank Rakyat-PWTC national age-group chess championship will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on April 1 and 2. This tournament will be played over seven rounds with a time control of one hour per player for each game.
There are six age-groups in this event: under-eight, under-10, under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-18, with separate competitions for boys and girls.
The prize fund of RM6,000 is sponsored by Bank Rakyat Malaysia and this amount will be awarded between the top five players in each category. In addition, champions will receive challenge trophies.
The Malaysian Chess Federation will also consider the champions for qualification to the World Age-Group Chess Championship in Spain this October.
Entry fees for the Bank Rakyat-PWTC tournament are RM15 for the under-18, under-16 and under-14 age groups, and RM10 for the under-12, under-10 and under-eight age groups. Registration will be in PWTC's lobby foyer between 3pm and 6pm on March 31; last-minute entries will not be entertained.
Participants are required to produce either their identity cards or birth certificates for verification upon registering. If you have Internet access, you can download the entry form from my web page at http://www5.mol.com.my/qss/Library
The completed entry form can be posted, without the entry fees, to Hamid Majid, 5-1-10 Medan Intan Apartments, Jalan 1/21-C, Gombak, 53000 Kuala Lumpur. Alternatively, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Johor Baru District Chess Club will hold its 11th Tebrau open chess tournament at SM Sri Tebrau in Taman Sri Tebrau, Johor Baru, on April 2. The event is divided into the open, under-16 and under-12 sections with each section offering 10 prizes.
The entry fee for the open category is RM10; for the under-16, RM7; under-12, RM5. Games start at 8am. Participants are required to register with the organisers by March 30. Only the first 300 particiapnts will be accepted.
For more information, contact Narayanan Krishnan 07-333 8215 or e-mail email@example.com
Free School Open
Penang Free School will hold its annual open tournament on April 9. It will be an eight-round event with an entry fee of RM8 per person and prizes totalling RM600.
The first prize is RM200, second RM120, third RM80, fourth RM50, fifth RM40, sixth RM30 and seventh to 10th RM20 each. There will also be prizes in kind for the three best players in the under-15, under-12 and ladies groups, and the best performers among the under-10, Penang Free School and Old Frees players.
Closing date for entries is April 8. The first 200 people to register before this date will get souvenirs. To register, contact Saw Chee Wooi ( 04-829 7695) or Tan Jee Jian ( 04-828 4487) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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