This year we see the Tigers triumph over the Lions at the annual Singapore vs Malaysia match. The games were well-fought, both teams should be commended for their tenacity and dogged determination.
I was there as usual on both days, catching up with my friends Greg Lau, Michael Yeap whom I had not met since the Merdeka in August. Both are MCF officials now and we exchanged several views on how to take the sport further in our countries. Though both teams are competing for the covet Tan Kim Yeow trophy, the spirit of friendship and camaraderie pervaded so we did not get any major disputes.
Malaysia started the match on a loss in the Rd 1 Classical time control, drew level in Rd 2. The turning point came in Rd 3 when they commanded a 10 pt lead in the Rapid round. This raised the hopes of the Malaysians who for the first level reckoned they have a clear shot at beating Singapore. Some nerve-wracking moments in Rd 2 ensued, with several cliff-hanging games and the tension was mainly on the last few games in the Ladies. When the smoke cleared amidst the musings and calculations, it became clear that the visitors had won and applause and cheers filled the hall - a long-awaited one I'm sure.
While the victory cheers of MALAYSIA BOLEH rung in everyone's ears, it was heart rending to see the reactions of the vanguished. Some were non-chalant, some silently disappointed, but there was no comforting words or gestures to even pat them for their efforts over the last 2 days. The Malaysians were treated to a meal but sadly the Singaporeans trooped out of the hall amid stolid silence and disappointment.
This is surely not what the match is all about? This is a annual meeting of friends and comrades in chess, regardless of the result. Our ties in chess go way back, over 30 years or more, so this spirit of togetherness in chess should prevail. A fitting end to this should be a good get-together meal with both teams, to share thoughts and ideas that bond , build partnerships and mend strained differences that may have occurred in our dealings with other. This is the legacy which should be passed on to the next generation of chess players so that the right tone is set for future matches and other collaborative activities involving the 2 chess federations.
Even a simple send-off by our Federation officials at the railway station will have gone a long way in fostering good relations with our neighbours. In the respect, I hate to say but we have not been good hosts. Time to reflect on this - as Singapore, we need to do better.