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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Of Kelantan Open - 28th and 29th December 2012

Fancy going to Kelantan to play in Kelantan Open?

The Persatuan Catur Negeri Kelantan will be organizing the FIRST KELANTAN OPEN to be held on 28th and 29th December (Friday and Saturday) at Politeknik Kota Bharu, Kok Lanas. The event will have a time control of 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment over 7 rounds using Swiss Pairing.

For more details, please contact Mr Nik Ahmad Farouqi Nik Aziz via his email at farouqi.chess@gmail.com or you can also call him at +6019.999.6006

The official release for the event (with slight amendments) are as follows:

Berita baik untuk peminat-peminat catur di Kelantan dan juga tanahair, Persatuan Catur Negeri Kelantan buat pertama kali akan menganjurkan Terbuka Kelantan pada 28 dan 29 Disember 2012. Bertempat di Politeknik Kota Bharu, Kok Lanas.




TARIKH : 28 - 29 DISEMBER 2012








Monday, November 26, 2012

Of Insofar November Edition

Another edition of the Insofar Monthly event and the number of players participating increased despite having to compete with another event held in Shah Alam on the very same day. 14 players took part in the Open section led by Philippines Ian Udani, FM Ronnie Lim and National Junior Tan Li Ting with some of the top University players in the country in Ahmad Fadzil Nayan of IIU, Mohd Syazwan of UM and Chek Kin Keuw of UPM, and not forgetting, local blogger Nor Ilhamuddin

For the U1600 section, the top seed was veteran Mustafa Said and the second seeded player was non other than Mat Zaki Yeop, Insofar head honcho. Perhaps, the excitement was too much for him to bear! There were a few young and upcoming youngsters taking part such as Tan Wei Ting, Melanie and brother Benjamin Koo, Kung Kah Heng and Vinton Wong. Adding to the list of youngsters playing were 7 year old Asia Moo and 5 year old Puteri Rabiatul Adawiyah (who happens to be Mat Zaki's daughter).

The U1600 section was almost clear cut with the top leaders maintaining their lead throughout the event. The only upset came in Round 3 when Kung Kah Heng defeated the much more experienced Mustafa to disrupt his clean slate. Kung Kah Heng fine run suffered a setback when he lost to Mat Zaki in the following round. And on the last round, he faced Melanie Koo and a win would have secured his 3rd placing but, the KL lass was able to overcome her opponent to secure the lone 3rd spot.

After the surprising defeat at the hand of Kah Heng, Mustafa was able to rebound and collect 2 more additional points to maintain his 1 point deficit behind leader Mat Zaki. When both players were paired to fight it out in the last round, Mustafa managed to gain the upper hand and with the win, was able to take over Mat Zaki's position as the leader and winner of the U1600 section.

For the Open section, it was much tougher for the leaders with the first seeded player FM Ronnie Lim drawing his first round match against Chek Kin Keuw. There were two casualties for the higher seeded player when Liew Ken Yew lost to John Law and the more surprising upset on Table 6 when Nor Ilhamuddin lost to Rosamund Koo. Nor Ilhamuddin woes continued when he was paired with top seed FM Ronnie in the second round and again lost his second match for the day. 

In Round 3, the encounter between leaders Ian Udani and Ahmad Fadzil Nayan ended in a peaceful draw, paving way for 4 players to share the top spot - FM Ronnie Lim, Ian Udani, Ahmad Fadzil Nayan and Chek Kin Keuw, all with 2.5 points a piece. 

In Round 5, Tan Li Ting pulled off an upset by drawing with then leader Ian Udani and according to observers, Li Ting could have pressed for a win but decided to play it safe by accepting the draw. With the draw, Ahmad Fadzil Nayan has the sole lead of the event with one round to spare. Trailing behind him with half point different was Ian Udani, and a further half point behind was Tan Li Ting and FM Ronnie Lim. 

FM Ronnie Lim performed well in the last round to deny Ahmad Fadzil Nayan of the top spot, and with Fadzil out for the count, Ian Udani crept back into the top spot after a convincing win against Mohd Syazwan. Although he lost the last round and allowed FM Ronnie Lim to catch up on level points, Ahmad Fadzil Nayan remained in the second spot having a better tie break compared to that of Ronnie. Fine performance by Tan Li Ting put her in the 4th spot followed by brother Tan Jun Feng in the 5th spot.

Full results of both categories are as follows:
Open Section
U1600 section
Final round match up between Fadzil Nayan (left) against FM Ronnie Lim (right)
Organizer but a player for this edition - Mat Zaki (right) facing Mustafa Said (left) in the final Round 6
Philippines Ian Udani accepting his winnings from Chief Arbiter, FA Najib Wahab
A fine outing by Tan Li Ting - securing the 4th spot
Players at the Insofar November Edition
Intense last round encounter between Melanie Koo (left) and Kung Kah Heng (right)


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Of DATCC Masters - Slight Change in Schedule

"THE EVENT THAT STARTS in 2012 and ENDS in 2013"

The Rapid and Blitz event has been moved to another date as such, the DATCC Round Robin event will be reschedule as follows to minimize playing on a working day. It will also allow for students who take part in the event to avoid playing on 1st January as school reopens on 2nd January 2013.
Other terms and conditions remain the same.
For more information, please contact Najib Wahab at +6016.338.2542 or write to him at najib.wahab@chess-malaysia.com

NOTE: Drawing of lots (to determine players position in the table for pairing purposes) will be conducted on 18th December and the complete pairing will be posted before 22nd December

Of Another FIDE Rated Round Robin - DATCC Masters


At the request of some players - especially those who had to sit for year end exams (SPM, STPM) and, considering that Singapore will not be holding any event during the X'mas week (like they usually would), a Round Robin event has been planned at DATCC Wilayah Complex from 25th December (Tuesday - Christmas Day) until 1st January (Tuesday - New Year Day).

The 20 players Round Robin event (10 players to each Masters and Challenger group) will be a FIDE Rated event using a classical time control of 90 minutes plus 30 seconds per move per player.

Entry fees is free to players above a FIDE Rating of 2200 (limited to 2 players only), RM50 for players with a FIDE Rating between 2000 and 2200, RM100 for players with a FIDE Rating below 2000 and RM150 for players without any FIDE Rating.

The top 4 FIDE Rated players will be pooled in the DATCC Masters group while the balance will be divided between the 2 groups to balance the playing strength. Those without any FIDE Rating will be pooled in the Challenger Group.

Only the champions from each category will take home the prize money of RM250 for the Masters and RM150 for the Challenger section. For players with a FIDE Rating of more than 2200, the player will earn RM200 if they are able to accumulate at least 6 points, or higher. 

Tentative playing schedule is as follows:
Playing Schedule
For more information or to sign up, please contact Najib Wahab at +6016.338.2542 or email najib.wahab@chess-malaysia.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Of Nf6 Events - The Final Result

The Nf6 2012 edition would probably be remembered as the one with high attrition rate with 4 players having to pull out from the 20 field players. The latest casualty was Zaidan Zulkipli who was advised by the doctor to take a rest due to extreme fatigue. 

When top seed Yeoh Li Tian won his Round 8 game against FM Johan Iskandar, it was clear that he would run away with the event with only one round to go and two points ahead of his closest rival. The battle in Round 9 is left between Kamaluddin Yusoff, Ismail Ahmad and Kamalarifin Wahiduddin to take up the second and third spot and interesting match up beckons with Kamalariffin facing FM Johan Iskandar, Ismail facing the solid playing style of Mohd Saprin and Kamaluddin against Lim Kian Hwa. 

With both Kamaluddin and Chin Seng at 5 points a piece, a win in their last round encounter would help them to maintain their respective 2nd and 3rd spot and in their way are Kian Hwa and Ismail Ahmad. Whilst Kian Hwa may not be able to break into the top 3 spots, his objective in the last round is just to maintain a winning game hoping to keep his rating points or steal from his higher rated opponents in Kamaluddin Yusof. Unfortunately, Kamaluddin proved to be too strong for Kian Hwa and the latter resigned after his 37th move. With the win Kamaluddin secured the second spot behind Yoeh Li Tian with 6 points out of 9 rounds.

For Yeoh Chin Seng, a win against Ismail Ahmad will maintain his position in third place but Ismail had other ideas in store. A brilliant performance in the morning round to secure a point from Mohd Saprin, Ismail was clearly on a hot streak. Although Chin Seng maintained the upper hand throughout the game, he was not able to maintain the initiative and Ismail equalized his position on move 17. Chin Seng still had the chance to continue pressing but missed a brilliant rook sacrifice on move 21, pulled back his Queen to d1 and the same happened to his game. With his win, Ismail has to wait for the result of the game between Kamalarifin and FM Johan Iskandar to see if he can leapfrog into the 3rd position.

With Chin Seng losing his game, the situation is open for Kamalarifin to seize the position but his last round draw with FM Johan allowed Ismail to claim the third spot.

In the Junior Section, it was a nail biting finish with Gabriel only half point behind leading brothers Muqqri and Ghaazi both with 7 points. A win in his last round would allow Gabriel to steal the top spot from Muqqri who had the better tie break against his brother Ghazi. Muqqri did well to secure his lead throughout the event but a surprising draw to Amira Farhana in Round 8 had put a stumbling block on an otherwise exemplary run. The draw with Amira cost him the pole finish and with Gabriel winning his last round match against Lim Ming Kang, Muqqri had to settle for the second spot while elder brother Ghaazi clinched the 3rd spot. Muhammad Faqih who did well to stop Gabriel in Round 7 and continued his fine run to overcome Lim Ming Kang in Round 8, could not continue his winning streak and lost to Ming Kang elder brother Ming Xian in the last round to settle for 4th place.

The final crosstable for both Masters and Juniors section are as follows:

Yeoh Li Tian, top seed and winner with 8 points out of 9 rounds - no losses

Gabriel Bick in first place followed by brothers Muqqri and Ghaazi
Kamaluddin last round win against Kian Hwa secured him the second spot
After his first round loss to Lim Kian Hwa, Ismail Ahmad (left) fought his way back to the top and winning his last round game against Mohd Saprin (in photo - right) helped him to secure the 3rd spot with some assistance from Kamalariffin who drew with FM Johan Iskandar in their last round encounter
The 3 Juniors top finishers - Champion Gabriel Bick in the center flanked by second placed Amir Muqqri on the right and elder brother Amir Ghaazi on the right at 3rd place.
2012 Nf6 Masters Chess Champion - Yeoh Li Tian, top seed and top finisher with 8 points out of 9 games - 2 draws and 7 wins


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Of Nf6 Event - End of Round 5

At the end of Round 5, Yeoh Li Tian is the sole leader for the event at 4 points after earlier joint leader Zaidan Zulkipli surprising lost to Kamaluddin Yusof in Round 5. One of Li Tian's point came from a walkover game against Abdul Aziz Shukor who had to withdraw from the event due to medical reasons. Li Tian drew with father Chin Seng in Round 1 and Ismail Ahmad in Round 4. In the match between Li Tian and Ismail, the latter missed a winning move after opting for a repetition of moves due to time trouble. Post mortem of the game showed that Ismail could have won the game had he played Ne8 in one of the variation of the the end game. 

Coming off from a long layoff from competitive chess, FM Johan Iskandar Foudzi lost his opener against Zaidan but managed to salvaged draws against Abdul Aziz and Mohd Saprin in Round 2 and 3. In Round 4, he returned to his winning ways by beating Sarawakian Lim Kian Hwa in a nail biting King Pawn ending.

Ismail Ahmad lost his opener against Lim Kian Hwa and drew all his subsequent games to record 2 points out of 5 games. His most interesting game came in Round 4 when he drew against youngster Li Tian after overlooking the brilliant Ne8 that could have sealed his first victory.

Currently in second place, Kamaluddin Yusof won against Abdul Aziz in his first day opener but on the second day of the event, he drew against Ismail Ahmad in the second round and fared worse in the afternoon Round 3 when he lost to Li Tian. Kamaluddin came back strongly on day 3 of the event to record 2 wins out of 2 games against Kamalarifin Wahiduddin and Zaidan Zulkipli.

Mohd Saprin Sabri lost his opening game against Kamalarifin and recorded 2 draws in Round 2 and 3 against Zaidan Zulkipli and FM Johan Iskandar respectively. He scored a win against Abdul Aziz in Round 4 and drew again against Yeoh Chin Seng in Round 5.

The current standing and table for the Nf6 Masters event is as follows:

Full results and ALL GAMES from the Nf6 Masters Chess Championship can be viewed and downloaded from the Chess Results website HERE

For the the Nf6 Juniors Chess Championship, the current leader for the event is youngster Amir Muqqri Mohd Saprin who shared the top spot with Gabriel Bick, both with 4.5 points from 5 games. 3 players, Mohd Faqih, Amir Ghaazi and Lim Ming Kang are one point adrift at 3.5 points with Lim Ming Xian in 6th position with 3 points. 

So far, the young Amir Muqqri has done well to secure valuable wins against the much more experience Mohd Faqih, and siblings Lim Ming Kang and Ming Xian. Having drawn his first round game against elder brother Mohd Ghaazi, the only player capable to stop the young Muqqri from bulldozing his way through is American youngster Gabriel Bick who had earlier beaten the elder Ghaazi in Round 5. Gabriel only drawn game came in Round 2 against Lim Ming Xian.

With Abdul Aziz withdrawing from the event due to medical reasons, the Nf6 Juniors event is now left with 8 players with Aziz daughter Siti Aishah and friend Norshafaah Zamri, had to do the same. Despite their absence, the event will continue with the same playing format and pairing but unavoidable impact on the FIDE rating calculation will definitely take effect. It was sad that such a situation had arisen but all is not lost as most players still look forward to using the event as their training ground to practice playing longer time control games in a tournament environment. 

The current standing and table for the Nf6 Junior Chess Championship is as follows: 

Scene from Round 6. At the foreground, Yeoh Chin Seng having a skittle game against Lim Ming Kang
Ismail Ahmad (in yellow) playing the white pieces against Zaidan (not seen) and on the right, Kamaluddin Yusof playing against FM Johan Iskandar Foudzi (not seen)
On the first table, Kamalarifin (on the right) playing against Yeoh Li Tian and on second table, Mohd Saprin (right) is paired against Lim Kian Hwa


Friday, November 9, 2012

Of Nf6 Chess Masters 2012

The 2012 edition of the increasingly popular Nf6 chess event took off with a slight hiccup last night but, all is well and it ended well. With the massive traffic jam, heavy rain and many city dwellers taking the time to rush out of the city to celebrate the coming Deepavali and Awal Muharram celebration next week, it was a nightmare trying to get to the venue on time. Most players were able to make it just before 7:30pm but another stumbling block - the tables and chairs did not arrive due to the downpour. Some quick thinking and a bit of negotiation with the nearby Starbucks outlet, and the venue for the Masters shifted to the more comfortable (but erratically noisy) outlet. And to be fair to the younger juniors (who would probably need to get their early sleeping time), the Junior section started off first at 8:15pm while the Masters players gather the sets and clocks to move to the nearby famous outlet. 40 minutes later, after each player had ordered their teas, coffees and food - to be fair to the outlet, the players started off their games. And with the two sections divided apart, it was only logical for the Arbiter to station his table with the Junior section and leave the Senior players to temporary manage the event on the own (and a quick visit every now and then should do the trick). And as expected, the junior section concluded earlier and by 10:30pm, everything had been packed and there I was, ready to move to the more comfortable venue in the next office block. 

Things were rather quiet when I first stepped into Starbucks and as I managed to find a table on the upper level, moving as close as possible to the Nf6 playing group, I realized that the place has now been surrounded by groups of youngsters (probably university students or office colleagues) who turned the usually matured and reasonably tolerable noise level in Starbucks into your local "wet market" operated by kindies. Of course, something has got to give and while we had managed to get a more comfortable and better playing area, the noise level and crowd control was non existent as it was a public space where everyone and anyone can enter. The only consolation was that the crowd (and the noice that came with the crowd) came and went. Another point noted by most of the players taking part was that, in the usual case, once the game started and your mind become more focused, all the noise become oblivious and non existent but as one player aptly put, "Of course you won't hear anything when you are winning but if you are playing a losing game, even the sound of foot steps can become very VERY irritating!"

For the Masters series, it was rather disappointing to see Sumant Subramaniam having to take off from the event and trying to find a last minute replacement for a player with his rating and caliber would definitely be tough and challenging. The Nf6 Masters Series is already considered as the strongest individual local league ever set up by any organizer in recent years and it would be sad to see the average rating dropped if a higher rated player is not found. In stepped FM Johan Iskandar Foudzi, a powerful junior player in his days who had told me of his intention to return to competitive chess. A phone call from the organizer to Johan and voila.... a replacement was found. And the average rating of the players playing in the event increased! As mentioned by Kamaluddin Yusoff, the playing strength of this event is definitely much stronger than the recent National Closed.  So, can we crown the Nf6 Champion as "National Master"?

For the Junior section, there were some last minute request to change the schedule but after further negotiations and repositioning of the player's other activities, the list remains without any changes. Of the kids that are playing in this section, Faqih, Ming Xian and Ming Kang would probably be the most seasoned group of players playing. It will indeed be interesting to see how the three would fare against Ghaazi and Muqqri, who have been trained by their father Mohd Saprin, one of the more solid and steady players in his playing days (and still is!). Another junior player to watch is Gabriel Bick, an American student following his father who has been stationed here in KL. Shah Alam youngster Raja Bazil Bot is another rising player who has begun to play more actively in the local circuit and usually, with practice, it makes the player more mature. Whilst the three girls playing in the event are relatively newcomers to competitive chess, there might come a time where one or more of them, can spring surprises against their much experienced opponents. All in all, the Nf6 Juniors event would be a good training ground for them to enhance their playing skills and gaining valuable learning experience.

For Round 1 pairing, all the family members have been paired to play against each other to avoid controversies in the later rounds - a common practice used in many chess events. Both Saprin's sons, Muqqri and Ghaazi were paired against one another and so was Ming Xian and Ming Kang. Similarly in the Masters section, the father and son duo - Yeoh Li Tian and Yeoh Chin Seng, was also paired to play against one another. Although all the games ended in a draw, all were hard fought games which stretched to the limit. In one of the game that I witnessed between Ghaazi and Muqqri, the elder brother Ghaazi had a better position but was not able to find the win as it required him to sacrifice a pawn to open up a lane for his King to enter into enemy line. After moving his Rook and King a few times, an avoid risking the loss of a pawn, both player agreed to a draw on the 84th move.

The massive late evening jams caused 2 players in Norshafaah and Siti Aishah to forfeit their games in Round 1 of the Nf6 Juniors section. For the Masters section, playing the black pieces, Sarawakian Lim Kian Hwa created an upset by beating his higher rated opponent Ismail Ahmad on Board 2.

The remaining results from Round 1 for both Masters and Juniors Section are as follows:
Nf6 Juniors Section
Nf6 Masters Section
Returning to active duty, FM Johan Iskandar Foudzi (right) paired to play Zaidan Zulkipli (left)
Starbucks Taman Tun Dr Ismail - the alternative venue
Comfortably seated - with aircond and light music but uncontrollable noise from a nearby group
With coffee and tea, as the weapon of choice!
Focused despite the noise
No holds barred! The game between father and son ended in a draw after the 50th move.

Of Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan - Final Day

"Doing the Nadal" - 2011 defending champion BSN secured the title again for the second consecutive year, biting into their gold medal - just to make sure that it is real!!!!!
It was a nail biting finish - with 4 teams vying for the top spot. Host Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) with 22.5 points going into the last round, defending champion Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) at 22 points, 2010 winner Kastam DiRaja Malaysia (JKDM) with 21.5 points, and the surprise team of the event Suruhanjaya Sekuriti (SS) also at 21.5 points. 

To ensure an outright win for the event, KWSP will have to score a convincing 6-0 win to put their worries to bed but in their way is SS led by untouchable dynamic duo in Yeoh Thean Jern and Azman Hisham Che Doi on board 1 and 2. Out of 6 games that he has played, Yeoh won 5 games and drew 1, and on board 2, Azman has made it a perfect score in all his 5 games. For KWSP, expecting that their top two boards will lose in their final encounter, they know that further slip ups on the bottom boards will definitely diminish their hope to secure a win - unless of course Bank Simpanan Nasional lose their game to Bank Negara Malaysia which is rather unlikely. In the end, it was a 3-3 draw between KWSP and SS on table 1 which gave KWSP a total point of 25.5 and SS tallying 24.5 points.

On Table 4, another top spot contender in JKDM is hot on the trails of KWSP and BSN. Except for their surprising (and demotivating) 1-5 loss to SS in round 3, JKDM has won all their games and amassing the most match points surpassing that of KWSP and BSN as the two teams game points are much higher than JKDM. Had the event is based on match points, JKDM would surely have sealed the victory in round 6 but alas, its the game points that will be counted first. After the smoke cleared, JKDM won 4-2 and their game points matched KWSP at 25.5 points. Tie break wise, JKDM has the higher match points (in fact, they recorded the highest final match points at 12 out of a possible 14) and they had also beaten KWSP in Round 1, therefore giving them the upper position above KWSP. So what happened on Table 2 between BSN and Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)?

BSN changed their strategy slightly for the last round, matching Ros Azman Shah in the veteran spot to overcome BNM scoring machine in Lau Kah Heng, who recorded a perfect score of 100%. Having no more chance to win any team prize, BNM decided to rest their highest scoring player to secure the board prize and played their reserve player in the veteran spot. It was clearly no match for the much seasoned Ros Azman who sealed the point quickly on Board 6. On Board 1, Abang Reduan scored a walkover when BNM player failed to appear after the waiting time. BNM managed to steal the first point from their lady player Haslinda Hitam who outplayed BSN lady player Adriana Chin. Another loophole that BNM could have manipulated was the Veteran spot but BSN Dr Ridzwan did well to hold his game and secured another point for BSN. Aziz Jaffar of BSN was matched against BNM Nazreen Ghani and again, it was a clear win for the veteran BSN player. On board 2, there were a glimpse of hope as BNM Aimran Yahya did well to gain an impressive attack against BSN Zaiasron Yahaya, but the former overlooked a counter attack move by his opponent and with that, BSN hammers the nail on the coffin to give itself their second consecutive chess title for the annual meet.

Although Suruhanjaya Sekuriti put up an impressive performance in this year's edition, most notably their 5-1 thrashing of Jabatan Kastam DiRaja Malaysia, it was not enough to get a placing in the event but, it is almost clear that the team will definitely look forward to next year's event and claim their rightful place within the Kewangan chess circle which has been always been dominated by BSN, KWSP and Kastam.

On a happier note, for teams that did not win the top 3 spots, at least one player from each team took a "token" from the event by winning at least one board prize for their team. Bank Negara Malaysia Lau Kah Heng won the Board 1 prize, Azman Hisham of Suruhanjaya Sekuriti won the Board 2 prize, Mohd Sulkifly of Perbendaharaan won the Board 4 prize, Khairul Nizam of Jabatan Penilaian won the Board 8 prize and both Board 9 and Board 10 went respectively to Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri Norazri A Malek and Zulkifli A Malek.

Full table of board winners and team winners are as follows:
The final team standing for the event after completing the 7th round:
Despite tying KWSP to a 3-3 score, it was not enough for Suruhajaya Sekuriti to snatch the top 3 spots
Amassing 12 match points better than any team in the event but, due to the lesser game points collected, Kastam had to settle for second place
The best board trophy up for grabs
Azmnan Hisham did well to score 5 points out of 5 games to record a perfect 100% score on Board 2 for Suruhanjaya Sekuriti. Seen here, Yeoh Thean Jern (SS Board 1 player) taking the best board trophy on behalf of his boss!
Host and 2010 Champion KWSP in 3rd place
Kastam hosted the event last year and came fourth, and improved their position to runner up in this year's edition

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Of Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan - Day 3

This year's edition of the Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan has produced one of the most intense, interesting and the closest rivalry between the 8 chess teams competing for the top podium finish. With one more round to go, only a single point separating the top 4 teams with host KWSP leading the pack with 22.5 points, Bank Simpanan Nasional in second spot with 22 points and sharing the third spot are Kastam DiRaja Malaysia and Security Commission - clearly the surprise team of the event, with 21.5 points each. 

To make things more interesting, even the fifth placed team in Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri which has amassed 19 points, has a slim mathematical chance of leap frogging all the other teams to share the top spot - only if they can wipe out their last round opponent in Kastam Di Raja Malaysia 6 - 0, an unlikely thing to happen but not totally impossible. 

Team Standings after Round 6

Host and current leader KWSP will face Security Commission in their final round encounter and with fine performances coming in from Yeoh Thearn Jern and Azman Hisham of Security Commission on Board 1 and 2, it is very unlikely that KWSP can walk away with an easy win. A wrong line up by KWSP in the final round may just be enough for Security Commission to create an upset and secure a medal placing for the team and knocking KWSP from a podium finish. For a team that can only list 7 players in the  team for last year's event, Security Commission has done well this year to become the new force within the Ministry of Finance chess circle which has been dominated by KWSP, BSN and Kastam DiRaja Malaysia. Even Security Commission head honcho Azman Hisham took the trouble to ensure that his office meetings do not clash with the team chess schedule, traveling between KL and Bangi to contribute his time and it was well worth it, scoring a perfect 5 points from 5 games. Had he played in his team first round encounter against Bank Simpanan Nasional, the situation now would have been more favorable for the Security Commission's team.

The encounter between KWSP and Security Commission will be closely monitored by Bank Simpanan Nasional and Kastam DiRaja Malaysia who will face Bank Negara Malaysia and Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri respectively. Any points dropped by KWSP (and earned by Security Commission) will allow both Bank Simpanan Nasional and Kastam DiRaja Malaysia to climb to the top of the pack, provided they themselves are able to score convincing victories against their opponent. Similarly, any further drops of points by these two teams, Security Commission may just be able to pull the most amazing feat of the year by becoming a first time champion in the annual sports meet.

Whilst Bank Simpanan may have the easier opponent in Bank Negara Malaysia - at least on paper, anything can still happen and if Bank Negara is able to strategically placed their players at the right board, they may just be able to hold Bank Simpanan Nasional to a low scoring game. 

Kastam Di Raja Malaysia will have a slightly tougher time facing Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri as the team has a more consistent and stable line up. Although Kastam may have better players on board 1 and 2 in Rizal and Amir, the remaining 4 boards will be coin tosses between the 2 teams.

With too many probabilities and outcomes that may happen, the only way to know for certain who will win, is to wait for the rounds to conlude after it is scheduled to start at 9:00am. By 11:00am tomorrow, will we see BSN retaining the title for the second consecutive year or, will we see host KWSP victorious for this year? Or,will this year be the year for the new kids on the block in Security Commission? We have 12 more hours to go before all this will be answered.

May the best team wins!
The team in red - Bank Simpanan Nasional lost 2 - 4 to Kastam DiRaja Malaysia in their 5th round encounter
Deputy Arbiter, Nik Ahmad Farouqi having a chat with the Bank Negara Malaysia team during lunch break
Yeoh Thean Jern - Board 1 player for Security Commission who has done well to record 5.5 points out of 6 games
Scene at the tournament hall

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Of Managing Another Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan

Hosted by Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP), this year's 38th edition of the Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan sees chess being maintained as one of the sporting events offered for medals. Chess fell out of favor from the Pesta from 2006 to 2009 but when Bank Negara Malaysia hosted the event in 2010, chess was reinstated as one of the game contested. Jabatan Kastam DiRaja Malaysia followed suit to maintain chess when it took over as host last year and for this year's host KWSP, having won the event in 2010 and coming up a close second in last year's edition, it was not surprising to see chess continued to be featured in the annual meet. And for me, it was an honor to continue being part of the Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan as the Chief Arbiter, also for the 3rd consecutive year since its reinstatement. Pesta Sukan Kementerian Kewangan has a special place in my heart asI was also involved as a Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) player when I represented them way back in 1988 and 1989.

During my time at BSN, the national bank went all out to ensure a clean sweep of all the events offered by recruiting many national and strong players in all the events that it participated. For me, after my induction into BSN, I was left with the task to find more strong players for BSN and it was quite an achievement when I managed to get Ros Azman Shah, Aziz Jaafar and Adran Yong to come on board.  With Ros Azman - a regular player in the local circuit, Aziz Jaafar - one of the top Malay players at that time, and Adran Yong - one of the stronger player in Johor, we became not only the strongest team in Pesta Sukan Kewangan, but we were also one of the top teams in the country. Since then, a few players have come and gone but Ros Azman and Aziz continued to don BSN colors and with the addition of one of east Malaysia's leading player in Abang Reduan and avid local circuit regular Nor Zaiasron, BSN continue to maintain its mark as one of the better teams in the local circuit. For this year's edition, BSN is favored to repeat their feat but it will not be an easy task for BSN as other teams have also grown in their playing maturity and strength.

With 6 boards to be contested between teams in a round robin playing format, each team must field at least one veteran player (a rule adopted by Bank Negara when it hosted the game in 2010) and one lady player (another rule added by host KWSP for this year's edition in view of them having former National Champion Nurul Huda in their line up). These additional rule have made the game very interesting and nail biting as teams need to strategise their game plan to produce the most "stable and correct" line up in order to steal (or maintain) points on the critical boards i.e. the women and veteran slots. 

By the luck of the draw, KWSP Team was lucky enough to face the two toughest teams in the first day of event - against Kastam Di Raja and Bank Simpanan Nasional in Round 1 and 2 respectively. Although they lost both games 2-4, they came back with a vengeance on the second day of the event by shutting out Perbendaharaan 6 - 0 in Round 3 and steamrolling over Jabatan Penilaian Pengurusan Harta 5.5 - 0.5 in Round 4. The impressive scores has lifted their team into second place position after amassing 15.5 points, half point behind leader Bank Simpanan Nasional.

Bank Simpanan Nasional had a rocky start against lowly rated Suruhanjaya Sekuriti scoring 4.5 points against 1.5 points. Suruhanjaya Sekuriti featured a newcomer on its Board 1 in Yeoh Thean Jern who did well to split points with his higher rated opponent Abang Reduan. Suruhanjaya second point came from Azman Ahmad who defeated BSN lady player Adriana Chin. Bank Simpanan Nasional did well to overcome host KWSP with a score of 4 - 2 in Round 2 on the first day of the event but stumped when it was held to a 3 - 3 draw against the lower rated Jabatan Penilaian Pengurusan Harta in Round 3, the first round of the event's second day. In round 4, Bank Simpanan score 4.5 - 1.5 against Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri to maintain their lead of the tournament with a total score of 16 points.

The surprise of the event is the Suruhanjaya Sekuriti team which trounced Kastam Di Raja Malaysia by a score of 5 - 1 in round 4. On paper, Kastam is a much stronger team but sterling performances from Thearn Jern to beat Rizal on board 1, and Azman Hisham's to beat Amir Saraggan on board 2, helped to motivate the team to perform the extraordinary feat. After a slow start, losing 1.5 - 4.5 to Bank Simpanan Nasional in round 1 and drawing 3 - 3 in their next two rounds against Jabatan Penilaian Pengurusan Harta and Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri in round 2 and 3 respectively, Suruhanjaya Sekuriti currently placed 4th with 12.5 points, 1.5 points adrift from 3rd placed Jabatan Kastam and 3.5 ponts away from leader Bank Simpanan Nasional.

Jabatan Kastam started well when they overcome KWSP with a score of 4 - 2, and in round 2, steamrolled over Perbendaharan 5 - 1. They continued their fine run in round 3 when they beat Bank Negara Malaysia 4 - 2 but, nightmare beckons when they were suddenly - and rather easily, was out played by Suruhanjaya Sekuriti 1 - 5. Despite the loss, Kastam still manages to hold on to the 3rd placing with a total score of 14 points, 2 points behind leader Bank Simpanan Nasional.

The rest of the standings are as follows:

With 3 more rounds to go, it is still anybody's game and the strong showing by Suruhanjaya Sekuriti on their convincing win against Jabatan Kastam clearly indicates that this year's event would be one of the closest one ever contested with most, if not all of the team, are capable of vying for the top spot.

It would be interesting to see whether KWSP can maintain its fine run and with Suruhanjaya Sekuriti in the way, it does not provide any comfort to the former. Bank Simpanan Nasional still has Jabatan Kastam to deal with and Jabatan Penilaian Pengurusan Harta will have two tough matches against Kastam and KWSP in their last 3 rounds. 

The veteran and woman slots are definitely the two "weaker" boards on most teams with the exception of KWSP and perhaps, to a certain extent, Bank Negara Malaysia - since both teams have strong female players. For teams trying to hold the veteran slot by placing a stronger player to play on the board, might create opportunities for the opposing team to score on the other main boards, and if the strategy backfired, teams may lose 2 points instead of just a single one.

All in all, albeit the event may not feature top national players nor does it offer any prize money to the winners, the dedication and team spirit shown by all the players and teams taking part is indeed.... AWESOME!
Bank Simpanan Nasional Board 3 player, Aziz Jaafar. One of the top Malay players in the mid 80's through early 90's. Still plays impressive chess despite quitting from competitive chess many years ago.
Scene at the tournament hall
An interesting logo
Event host KWSP Team donning their striking orange outfit lead by Goh Teck Koon on Board 1, Ahmad Hamzah on Board 2 and former National Women Champion Nurul Huda on Board 3
Not to be outdone, defending champion Bank Simpanan Nasional in the shining red outfit led by Abang Riduan on Board 1 and Nor Zaiasron (not in picture) on Board 2
Azman Hisham put up an impressive performance for his team, scoring a perfect 3 points out of 3 games despite having to attend meetings in between rounds, rushing from Bangi to KL, and back to Bangi.
Nazreen Ghani of Bank Negara Malaysia - she was one of the top lady players during her playing days and can still give her opponent their run for the money