Tuesday, April 24, 2012


The official tournament name is much too long, so I've shortened it to get to the meat of this post. I have to say the organisers tried their very best to attend to every detail in the ballroom to give the ideal conditions for play and I am impressed, though chief Najib Wahab is still not satisfied when I thanked him.

It was a great feeling say hi to many old friends, like IM Jimmy Liew, Ronnie Lim, Jonathan Chuah who are competing. plus others like Limono, Daniel Lam (who worked in Singapore some years ago and

now resides in HK) plus my former CTEP student (albeit only 8 days in 2 years) Sumant. He has grown quite a bit, both in size and his chess. I couldn't get a win at blitz from him! It was a good feeling when your student bests you.

I brought 4 students to this tournament to give them exposure to international competition. Mitchell, Nicholas and Royce travelled with their families while Adrian came with me with Jimmy and Poh Heng. We had a great time on route, giving the younger boy prep talks in how he should not worry about the field but play his best regardless of the strength of the competition. Though the rest took some time in checking in, we all got to Melaka safely and Nicholas's family and our group met for a sumptuous meal in Lucky Famous Restaurant.

The first round was to be expected as our young lads faced the tough pairings. Adrian was paired with Jimmy Liew, Royce with WIM Gong Qian Yun, Nicholas with an FM and Mitchell with an Indonesian FM. I expected all to lose their games but Adrian succeeded in holding IM Jimmy to a draw!

 Royce had a tougher time against WIM Gong but he was doing ok in the KIA against her Sicilian, but was careless in giving her the crucial e5 pawn. Had he defended it with his Knight at h2, it could have been tough for her to continue. What I admired in Royce was that he showed no fear of his opponent but the mistake was his to make. He would need to work on his orientation of the pieces (which cost him a Queen in a later round game) if he wished to progress further.

The boys were well behaved throughout the competition and though we had less than 1 hour in between rounds, we made full use of it by going through everybody's games to check on mistakes made and gaps in their preparation. The first 3 rounds were tough in that the opponents were playing main lines and punished any slip that came about. This happened in the game Mitchell against Sumant.

 Mitchell started with a Grand Prix against the Sicilian and the position drifted close to the moves of Short vs Gelfand. Mitchell could not find the moves and was overrun in the centre before his attack could take place. Analysis showed that he should not captured Sumant's pawn on e4 but played on for the attack. The e2 knight was also not well placed. With these findings Mitchell went to improve his game against Tay Shi Hao and got a much better position and even won it!

Royce faced an English Opening against Limono Handjojo. Though he was rated 1950, he was stunned by Royce's odd Qd7 and was thrown off for the whole game. The tactical skirmish was poorly calculated and soon Royce was 1 minor piece ahead, which he converted to a win. I was very impressed by Royce's cool
when he proceeded to exchange the pieces and did not allow counterplay from his opponent. Limono had no choice but to concede defeat. What a game!

Although Adrian lost his encounter with IM Mas (who avoided the main line in the Dragon), he was pleased with his play except for the careless move b5 which weakened the Queenside and cost him the game. b6 instead would have held the position. Through these games with IM, Adrian has understood that so long as he is careful with his play he should not fear stronger players. The outing has certainly yielded dividends in that it made the boys stronger mentally when dealing with tougher opposition.
After several rounds, the dust settled and soon the tailenders would have to meet each other. I told them to play and not fix their games, so they will have to fight it out everytime they meet. This is healthy in that it encourages peer competition, so that they will push each other to excel.
Mentally Nicholas was the weakest as he often needs reassurance before he plays. But even this time he had winning positions against stronger players only to lose on time. He realised that if he had kept better control of his clock, he could have converted some games. So it was a good lesson for this boy who often felt that he could not win against stronger players simply because they were stronger. I am pleased that he had grown up a little on this trip. More power to him and he should do better next time round once his fear is overcome.
The best performance of the group has to be Mitchell, who lost the first 4 games on the first day and was depressed. However, his resilience in the subsequent rounds was most commendable. Fighting ulcers due to his braces, he could not eat well but yet he summoned his inner strength to overcome adversity and fought well on the 2nd day. Beating Lee Qing Aun, Tay Shi Hao was a bonus. My worry was in the last game when the IM Luis Chiong brandished the latest line h4 against the Lasker Defence. This was not shown to him prior to the game, so I didn't think he would be ready to face it. Yet he secured a draw to end 5.5pts, 39th place and BEST FINISHER amongst the Singaporeans who were there! This will surely earn him a FIDE rating. 

All in all, this was a good outing for the boys and the parents who accompanied them. My thanks go to all the parents who worked closely to coordinate the boys' meals, especially Oileng and Chan Hong who voluteered to help with the meals. We shall plan for another one in December when the Penang Open is on. 


  1. Tay Shi Hao was up a piece for two (maybe three) pawns. I thought it should be winning but takes some technique against and experienced IM.