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Friday, May 31, 2019

Of Running the MCC 2019 - As the dust clears...

At the conclusion of Round 6 on the 3rdday of the Malaysian Chess Championship 2019, a sole leader has emerged from each of the Open and Women section as the main contenders to be crowned the next National Champions.

In the Open section, NM Mohd Kamal Abdullah is currently the clear leader with 5½ points after playing a convincing win against former National Junior Yeap Eng Chiam in Round 6 on the Board 1. Top seed Looi Xin Hao outplayed Abdullah Che Hassan on Board 2 whilst Mohd Ghaazi and Mohd Ali drew on Board 3. Two veterans facing off on Board 4 between FM Ismail Ahmad and Jax Tham – an encounter which favored the latter, and on Board 5, Mohd Saprin outplayed Yeoh Huan Hui to secure a valuable point. The only female player in the Open section, Nithyalakshmi Sivanesan continued her climb to the top of the table with a convincing win against Lee Care Greene on Board 6. Other notable games were Lim Kian Hwa beating Cheah Kah Hoe on Board 10, Iwan Schani Ibnu outplayed Mohd Asyraf Razman Board 11 and youngster Muhd Nur Daie beating his much higher rated opponent in Wan Mohd Azmie on Board 14.

In the next Round 7, the stage is now set for a showdown between former Champion and second seed NM Mohd Kamal against top seed Looi Xin Hao on Board 1. A win for NM Kamal would put him on track to win the trophy for the 3rd time after a 20-year gap from when he last won the championship in 1989 – an historical feat never been done by any other player before. On Board 2, Yeap Eng Chiam is paired against veteran Jax Tham – both with 5 points, and on Board 3, Johorean Abdullah Che Hassan will be playing against Teh Wee Zhun. On Board 4, Mohd Saprin Sabri will meet Mohd Ali Chor and on the next Board 5, Saprin’s son Amir Ghaazi will be challenged by Nithyalakshmi.

This will be a crucial round for the leaders to break away from the pack and for NM Kamal, a win in this round will definitely increases his chances to win the National title once again. 

For the Women section, Munajjah outplayed the more experience WFM Nur Najiha to gain a clear point lead against her closest rival – sister WFM Puteri Rifqah Fahada who drew with WFM Chua Jia Tien on the next board. On Board 3, Nur Nabila had little trouble to win against Athiera Fatneen and Claire Foo winning her game against Tan Wei Ting on Board 4.

Color sequence has avoided Munajjah to be paired against her sister Rifqah in the next round but wins for the sisters will definitely force their encounter in the penultimate round. For the current Round 7, Munajjah faces Claire Foo and the higher rated Munajjah should be able to hold her game well. On Board 2, Rifqah playing against Nur Nabila and on the next board, Penangite Divyadarshini will be handling the white pieces against Nur Najiha.

A win for Munajjah in Round 7 will definitely put her as the favorite to hold aloft the Tan Sri Dato Sri Ramli Ngah Talib trophy unless she bungled in her next game – possibly against sister Rifqah. After that, it should a walk in the park for Munajjah as there would be no more formidable opponent to stop her run.

Some photos from Day 3 of the Malaysian Chess Championship 2019.

Kelantan players - one for the album
Penang Power - Eng Chiam and Xin Hao
Munajjah patiently waiting - "Welcom to the slaughterhouse"
Abdullah Che Hassan
Iwan Schani Ibnu - the most dashingly stylish player on the field
Two friend facing off - Saprin and Ezmi
Johore NM Kamal and Abdullah, facing their Penang opponents Eng Chiam and Xin Hao

Xin Hao against Abdullah
NM Kamal Abdullah - He won the title 20 years ago
Tan Wei Ting
Puteri Rifqah with Nur Nabila at the background
Teh Wee Zhun
A rose amongst the thorns... And the rose can be deadlier than the thorns

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