Friday, May 5, 2000
Alive and kicking among the young
By Quah Seng Sun
I WAS at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur last month to see for myself this year's national age-group chess championship and I must say I was rather unprepared for the sight of more than 300 enthusiastic schoolchildren competing in the big hall.
Yes, I am proud to say that despite the setback caused by the withdrawal of the game from the Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) calendar three years ago, scholastic chess is still very much alive in the country.
In fact, I can safely say that the popularity of chess among the school-going population is showing no sign of diminishing, thanks to parental encouragement as well as continuing support from the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF).
Ever since chess was removed from the MSSM programme, the MCF had tried its best - and succeeded - in raising the quality of the national age-group championship so that schoolchildren would not be deprived of the chance of playing in an important competition at least once a year.
To see the hall and the corridors filled with supportive parents says a lot about what they think of the MSSM's short-sighted decision. I had the opportunity to speak to some of them and I could sense the hidden anger when they talked about the MSSM's failure to reinstate the game in its calendar.
They talked of discrimination and of getting the short end of the stick from the MSSM. Basically, the parents could not express their frustrations to the education authorities because most of the schools' chess advisors (that is, the teachers) are themselves not very concerned about the fate of the game in the MSSM programme.
Without a direction, most of the schools meekly go along with their Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Negeri, which in turn simply follow the decisions made at national level.
Apart from Selangor and Penang, I do not know of any other state that continues to have their respective schools' chess competitions at the state level every year. The absence of such competition deprives the students of an opportunity to develop themselves mentally in one of the most structured and expressive means.
In the meantime, the national age-group championship will have to remain as the only conduit in the country for chess-playing schoolchildren to compete with one another.
The championship was divided into six age-groups, with separate events for the boys and girls.
The under-eight boys' section attracted 22 players and the top five winners were Tai Wei Yang (6.5 points), Sumanth Subramaniam (six points), Joel Tan Weng Yu (five points), and Koh Zhuan Khye and Bryan Homi Mehta (both with 4.5 points). The under-eight girls' section had 17 players and the winners were Adeline Gan Li Ling and Har Wanth Kaur (both with 5.5 points) and Alena Wan Yuin Yee (five points).
There were 44 players in the under-10 boys' section and the winners were Anas Nazreen Bakri (6.5 points), Loke Zhi Kin (six points), Tan Wei Jian (5.5 points), and Lim Tao Sheng and Abdul Kadir Jailani Ramli (five points each). However, there were only 14 players in the under-10 girls' section and the three winners were Effaliana Farid (clean score of seven points), Wan Khye Theng (5.5 points) and Ong Mei Wen (five points).
The under-12 boys' section had 48 players and the event was won by Zarul Shazwan Zulkafli with seven points. The other winners were Joshua Tan Hoong Yu (six points), and Thaw Chee Hou, Chan Litt Binn and Hemnath Renganathan (all with five points). With only 11 players in the under-12 girls' section, the winners were Nur Shazwani Zulkafli (six points), and Lee Su Lynn and Lim Han Ying (both with 5.5 points).
The under-14 boys' section was hotly contested and the winners were Jonathan Chuah and Nicholas Chan (6.5 points each), and Zach Han Kun Lin, Hafiz Shafruddin and Lim Choo Seng (all with five points each).
The girls' section, with nine players, was won by Nishaah Renganathan (6.5 points), Effalini Farid (six points) and Hazuin Husain (five points).
There were 57 players in the under-16 boys' section which were won by Khor Shihong (6.5 points), Deon Moh Teng Keong and Au Yoong Yow Loo (six points each), and Aaron Yee Keng Yew and Low Han Boon (five points each). There were 15 players in the under-16 girls' section which was won by Lim Jean Nie (6.5 points), Norsyafawati Ishak (six points) and Jolene Lim Suet Fung (4.5 points).
The top section of the championship for under-18 boys' attracted 35 entries and the winners were Lim Chuin Hoong (6.5 points), Teng Wei Khoon and Lim Yee Weng (5.5 points each), and Thaw Chee Yin and Ahmad Abid (five points each).
Nine players took part in the under-18 girls' section which was won by Lee Su Ann (6.5 points), and Sim Chui Fong and Marina Soh (five points each).
Meanwhile at the Malaysian Chess Federation's annual general meeting held on April 1, Datuk Sri Sabbaruddin Chik was unanimously re-elected president for a further two years. The incumbent deputy president, Datuk Mohd Rosli Abdul Aziz, also retained his post.
The three vice-presidents are Ibrahim Abu Bakar, Mrs Jackie Wong and Nasir Hussein. The secretary is Abdul Hamid Majid and his assistant is Ghazali Che Cob. The treasurer's post is filled by Collin Madhavan and the six committee members are Chan Kwai Keong, Zainal Ishak, Wong Fook Loy, Ahmad Safruddin, Haslindah Ruslan and Ibrahim Yaacob.
National closed tourney
National closed championship The Malaysian Chess Federation will organise this year's national closed chess championship at the Putra World Trade Centre from May 27 to 31. It is the most important annual event in the Malaysian chess calendar and will have separate sections for men and women.
The men's section will, at the very least, be a nine-round event and the winner will be awarded the Datuk Hussein Onn challenge trophy. The winner of the women's section, which will be played over seven rounds, will receive the Datuk Sabbaruddin Chik trophy. In addition, the PWTC will award trophies to the most promising under-18 male and female players.
The Penang Chess Association, Chess Association of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur Chess Association, Malaysian Malays Chess Association and Terengganu Chess Association can send a maximum of six players to the men's event and four to the women's, while the other state chess associations can each send a maximum of four and two players respectively.
Anyone interested in this competition and who would like to be selected, should contact their respective chess associations immediately.
The persons to contact are Mrs Jackie Wong, Selangor 03-703 8237; Ooi Kiem Boo, Penang 04-826 3764; Dr Yee Meng Kheong, Perak 05-546 4530; Stephen Cheong, Johor 07-333 9636; Muhammad Arshad, Terengganu 018-895 8041; Wan Abdullah, Pahang 09-583 3205; Khirluddin Darus, Perlis 06-976 5485; Dr Mohd Ishak, Malacca 06-283 5878; Charles Chan, Negeri Sembilan 06-631 7971; Sylvester Asai, Sabah 088-764 305; Lim Kian Hwa, Sarawak 082-427 772, Dr Mohd Foudri, Kuala Lumpur 03-9074 4810 and Rahman, Kelantan 09-787 8079.
The national champions of the past 16 years and local players who are on the FIDE rating list are given direct entry into the competition. However, they must still be registered for the championship through their respective chess associations.
10th Penang Dell chess league
The northern region's biggest chess event, the annual Penang Dell Chess League, starts on June 11 at the premises of Dell Asia Pacific in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. The tournament, now in its 10th year, is organised by the Penang Chess Association and sponsored by Dell Asia Pacific.
The championship will be played on Sundays and is scheduled to end on Aug 6.
Only teams representing the public and private sectors, institutions of learning and registered associations, societies and clubs are allowed to play in the league. A guest player may be included in each team, but the other players in the team must strictly be employees, students or members of the organisation which they represent.
Players who are unable to play as guest players in any team are requested to contact the Penang Chess Association (PCA) immediately. If the response is encouraging enough, the PCA will consider grouping them together to play under the association's banner.
Provision has been made for a maximum of 30 teams to take part, and each team is allowed up to eight players. However, only four players from each team will play in every round.
This year's event will again be split into three divisions. The third division will comprise teams of mainly novice players, while the first and second divisions will be made up of the more regular teams that have been taking part in previous chess leagues.
The entry fee is RM150 per team and cash prizes are guaranteed for the top teams in each of the three divisions. Closing date for entries is June 3.
For more details, contact Chan Kim Beng 012-451 8811 Goh Yoon Wah 04-644 5687 or Ooi Kiem Boo 04-826 3764 in the evenings.
Perak grand prix
The Perak International Chess Association will hold their latest grand prix events at the Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh next weekend.
The two-day Category A event for players with PICA ratings of above 1700 will be played on May 13 and 14, while the Category B event for players with no PICA ratings or with rating points below 1700 will be held on May 14. Both events will be conducted over six rounds but with different time controls.
For more information, contact WK Wong 05-366 1692.
Sri Aman Junior Open
The Sekolah Kebangsaan Sri Aman in Penang will hold an open tournament for boys and girls in the under-12 and under-10 age categories from 8am to 1pm on May 14. Entry fee is RM3 per player and registration closes on May 12. For details, contact Eoh Hook Kim 04-826 0196.
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