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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Of Chess Events Up North - Penang and Sungai Petani

I was in Penang over the weekend to meet some friends during the Penang Open. It was indeed a grand event - with display board acting as a "mural" to the stage hall, displaying the game between two players on the top board. Somehow, you have the feeling as though you are witnessing a World Championship game held some where on the other side of the globe! Kudos to PCA for an astonishing organization....

It was a short trip - was there for less than 2 hours, but the memories were lasting! It was indeed a great set up....

On a more interesting note, I drove up further to Sungai Petani for the Kedah Open. Since my wife hails from Sungai Petani, it was a trip back home for her, and a trip for chess for me. She does her "family kindling" and I, my "chess fiddling". Earlier, I thought that Penang Open will end on 16th December and with all the strong players flocking to Penang, this will be a "quiet" outing for me... Boy I was wrong!

Top seed was Nelson Villaneuva and the next two seeded were 2 National Masters - Evan Timothy Capel and Tan Khai Boon, followed by Anthony Ing, Nik Ahmad Farouqi and Ismail Ahmad - All of whom (except Anthony) were fresh (or tired) from their outing in the Penang Open. If they had not come, I would have been seeded 2nd or 3rd (behind Ismail Ahmad - since this is his adopted home!)

The seven round event started with 20 minutes per player per game but changed to 25 minutes per player per game after lunch - due to popular request. Regardless, it was a fun outing and, after almost a year of not playing in a Rapid event, I find this outing rather refreshing. 

My first round was an easy one - a youngster from Kedah but, he did give me a scare in the opening (I was playing too ambitious!). But pieces start to drop as early as the 10th move and I quickly won the game. The second game was harder if my opponent had not missed a queen move to check my King, i would probably be the end of my game. 

I drew my third Round game with youngster Mohd Faqih - again for being too ambitious as I had wanted to win his Queen. I dropped a piece and was playing a piece down for the next 5 moves before he made a mistake and I managed to win the piece back. The game went on for a few more moves and mistakes after mistakes were made and we ended up in a drawn position

I lost my Round 4 game against Mohd Ali Chor who went on to grab the second place. His seeding showed that he was Unrated but after digging the National Rating list, he has a rating of 1625. Minor issue as he had played well to secure the place beating myself and Tan Khai Boon along the way, and drawing Nelson in the last round.

I won my Round 5 game against another Kedahan and ended up meeting Lim Kian Hwa for my Round 6 encounter. Kian Hwa admitted his game was a bit cramp and after winning the center pawns from him, and a few exchanges later, he resigned as he would drop more pawns and pieces in reaching the end game

My last round encounter was with former National Champion Tan Khai Boon, handling the black pieces in a Benko Gambit opening. The game started with the not usual Benko (he declined bxa6) and after pressuring the lone white a-pawn on the Queen side, I shifted my attack on the Kingside, pushing the h-pawn to the limit - h3, threatening Queen mate on g2.

Somehow, he ended a Knight up but time was not on his side. After some exchanges, he overlooked a simple win. I took the opportunity to exchange off all the pawns and he was left with a lone Knight on the board - draw due to insufficient material.

For my effort, I managed to secure 7th placing, a single notch higher than my actual seeding - an ok outing.

According to Percak (Persatuan Catur Kedah) President, Tuan Haji Yahaya Ahmad, the event will be bigger next year.... Another good reason for me to "persuade" my wife to visit her parents... yet again! :)

Top board playing in the Penang Open - with display board on hand
I managed to get 7th - a nice weekend outing
Champion in action - Nelson in Round 1
Nik Ahmad Farouqi addressing the crowd, inviting them to Kelantan Open to be held next weekend. Nik suffered a shocking first round defeat, but managed to crawl back up to the top to secure the 3rd place
Champion Nelson with Puan Habshah (center), Principal of SMK Bandar Sungai Petani and Tuan Haji Yahaya Ahmad (right), President Persatuan Catur Kedah


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