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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Of Making A Clean Sweep - The Philippines Invasion

It was rather clear that with the absence of players form China and Vietnam, and with a contingent of more than 30 players, the Philippines would dominate the 9th edition of the Chess Festival and dominate they did!

It was a clean sweep by GM Antonio Rogelio Junior who won all the events that were up for grabs - he came in first/champion for the Rapid Individual event and both the Festival Blitz and Merdeka Blitz events, and his team came in on top in the Merdeka Team event. If the Philippines had sent some juniors to play in the SWENSEN'S age group event, they would probably have swept all that too.... They were just too good!!! Literally and honestly....

But there were some glimpse of hope - by Malaysians! At one point, the Chess Tigers and the Fool Gone Mad (FGM) Team, were amongst the leaders in the team event. And looking at the game points garnered by each team, it was surprising to see the Junior Team of Selangor Merah Kuning amassing 27 total points to come in second behind GM Antonio's winning team losing only by half point. Of course, the pairing and position were based on Match Point but still, it was an amazing effort by the young team led by brothers Mohd Syakir Syazmeer Azhar and Mohd Irfan Haqqim Azhar, Mohd Nabil Azman Hisham and Chan Sheng Yip. And as far as I can remember, this is probably the first time Malaysia had 3 all Malaysian Teams in the top 10 led by Fool Gone Mad Team led by IM Jimmy Liew and FM Peter Long, Chess Tigers led by FM Nicholas Chan and IM Mok Tze Meng, and of course the Selangor Merah Kuning Team. It was also surprising that last year's defending Champion - The Chesskidz Team were nowhere in the top 10 after conceding defeat to their younger team the Chesskidz Shock Troopers in the last round. And it was also good to see (and AMAZING feat!) by an all Malaysian Ladies team Serikandi 2012 led by sisters WCM Nur Nabila Azman Hisham and WFM Nur Najiha Azman Hisham, WFM Alia Anin Azwa Bakri and Puteri Rifqah Fahada Azhar who managed to seal the 10th overall spot....

There were lesser teams playing in the ASTRO Merdeka Team event compared to 84 teams which took part last year but still, the event was well contested by all and the intensity was probably much more than last year what more with some Malaysian teams actually having a shot at the top spot. The match point pairing used definitely provided a more intense and nail biting match up with teams using strategies to gain valuable match points in favor of game points to maintain their lead in the event. 

At the end of it all, the top Malaysian team came in 7th place with the first 6 teams comprising of an all Philippines Team or teams that comprised of at least one Philippines player in the team. The top team with at least a Malaysian in the team was Mastermind Team led by IM Rolando Nolte (recent Selangor Open Champion) with Malaysian Dilwen Ding Tze How playing on the last board. 

Fool Gone Mad was the top Malaysian Team at 7th place followed by Chess Tigers at 8th and Selangor Merah Kuning state team in 10th. The second best state performing team was Sabah A followed by Penang Inferno. 

For Malaysians, the best outing would probably be that of Olympiad bound young Yeoh Li Tian who was a member of the Chess Tigers Team - playing on Board 3. Li Tian also secured the Best Board 3 performer with a 94.6% scoring performance and, he was also the ONLY MALAYSIAN player to break the dominating Philippines players in the Individual Combined Rapid event finishing in 10th place overall. The nearest compatriot was his Olympiad Team Mate, NM Lim Zhuo Ren who came in 28th place overall. 

The Philippines had 12 players finishing in the top 20 with a clean sweep at all the individual top spots. GM Antonio won the Open event, IM Senador the Seniors event and Menard De Ocampo the Ambank Amateur section. And with that, a clean sweep of all the Festival section except for the Age Group event. And as mentioned earlier, if they had kids playing in the Age-Group, they would probably clean up the section as well and turn our state capital into Manila!

GM Gasanov Eldar broke the Philippines domination of the Individual event by finishing in 3rd place (behind second place IM Nolte also of Philippines) with IM Wahono Awam of Indonesia in 4th place. For the Seniors event, GM Dimitry Kayumov came in second behind IM Senador, scoring the same 8 points but losing out on tie break.

Other winners worth mentioning was FM Brian Jones of Australia securing the Above 65 category, WGM Irina Kharisma Sukandar snatched the Best Lady player, WFM Nur Najiha of Malaysia won the best Malaysian Lady prize, sister WCM Nabila securing the U16 prize. Wong Yinn Loong of Penang won the 2nd best U12 prize behond Shahzod Vakhidov of Uzbekistan and it was a surprising effort for Andrew Ooi aka Gilachess who won the best National Rating U1600 section. For the best U1800 National Rating prize, Ooi Li Tao secure the prize after an impressive performance scoring 6.5 points out of 11 rounds.

For all the results from the chess festival, do click HERE for more information
For pictorial report, please visit ChessMalaysia FACEBOOK page HERE

GM Antonio receiving his IGB Arthur Tan Challenge Trophy from Dato Tan Chin Nam and Deputy Organizing Chairman Ms Tan Ley Teng
Best performer by a Malaysian - Olympiad bound and 13 year old Yeoh Li Tian
The beautiful but deadly on the board - Emma Guo of Australia
What is the Chess Festival without IA Hamid Majid? - Seen here "pretending" to work with GACC Treasurer Khor Sik Wey
Dato Tan Chin Nam - successful businessman, MCF founder, sponsor and chess player
Second year in a row - the Iranian young chess students taking part in the SWENSEN'S Age Group event
Official photographer - Abdul Hadi. Similar to his father, "pretending" to be working :)
Chief Arbiter, FA Najib Wahab (in jacket) with the IJM Seremban 2 Junior Chess Team and their caretaker, Mr Lee Siew Fai (next to Najib on his right)
My annual ritual at the Chess Festival - a photo with my better half in front of the back drop on the stage
Pairing Arbiter Zarina celebrated her birthday at the playing hall - after everyone had gone home!
KLK - Our proud sponsor for the 3rd KLK Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng Seniors Open section
DATCC - The Organizer
The official hotel and playing venue
Our main sponsor
AmBank has been with us for the 7th year - the 7th AmBank Amateur Rapid Open
SWENSEN'S is associated with the Kids event and this is their 3rd year with the Festival - and more to come for next year's edition
Another major sponsor - ASTRO who had given us air time and continuing sponsorship of the Team Event
GM Antonio Rogelio of Philippines - a clean sweep in all the 4 major events offered. Champion of the 9th IGB Dato Arthur Tan Rapid Chess Championship, Champion in both the Festival Blitz and Merdeka Blitz and Team Champion of the 32nd ASTRO Team Rapid Open Chess Championship with his Quezon City Team. Impressive!

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