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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



  1. Sir, I missed this, please post more team photos.

  2. You can view the photos at my Chess-Malaysia FACEBOOK page. Please click on the link provided above. Thanks