The last time I played in National Closed was in 1993 and the venue was Parkroyal Hotel Kuala Lumpur. At that time, Dato' Sabaruddin (now Tan Sri) was the MCF President and the Secretary was either Laurence How or Abdul Hamid Majid - can't remember who it was. In that event, I lost to Mok Tze Meng in a Sicilian Opening game - blundered a piece in the first 10 move. I also played Mas Hafizulhelmi (not yet an IM then) and came out victorious - playing the white side of the King's Indian Defense. In our recent chat, Mas told me that is one of the reason he does not play King's Indian anymore - yeah right!
This is also the first time in 3 years that I am not handling the event as the Chief Arbiter. I was promised the position but somehow, it was given to NWM Khairunnisa. Disappointed that I am, I find that it would be good to put some time to play instead - one door closes, and another one open.... So, there I was in the middle of the players meeting, raring to play in my first National Closed event after almost 20 years not playing in the Championship.
The number of players playing for this year event was a dismal 54 players for the open section and 18 players for the ladies section. Although most titled players and most of the top players in the country did not make it for the event, it was a significant presence from the Juniors in Yeoh Li Tian, Yeap Eng Chiam, Muhd Nabil Azman Hisham, Fong Yit Ho, Fong Yit San and Roshan Ajeet Singh. Some of the more senior players playing in the event are Loo Swee Leong of Penang, Nik Ahmad Farouqi of Kelantan, Zaidan Zulkipli of Negeri Sembilan, Mohd Khair Wahiduddin of Pahang and Masrin Erowan of Sabah. Noticeably missing were last year's champion, Lim Zhou Ren and 2010 champion, Tan Khai Boon.
Most of the top seeds managed to secure a point from their first round encounter except for Muhd Nabil who drew with in-form Syazrin Abdul Rahman. For my game, I had a lucky escape after having some difficulty to convert a 2 pawns advantage into a win. It looks drawn but after after a positional mistake made by my opponent, I had two passed pawns on the the f and g file which was unstoppable.
Results for Round 1 are as follows:
For the Ladies section, most of the top ladies in the country are playing in the annual event. Defending champion Nur Nabila is back to defend her title and also 2010 champion, Fong Mi Yen. Others noticeable players were Tan Li Ting, Nur Najiha and Camilia Johari.
For Round 1, Tan Li Ting was held to a draw by Siti Khadijah Sabirin of Terengganu whilst the other top seeds managed to secure a win.
Results for Round 1 for the Ladies section are as follows: