Monday, November 25, 2013


At the recently concluded Singapore vs Malaysia annual chess match, the final scores ( Rd 1 and 2 are classical games, 3 and 4 rapid games)

Round 1: Malaysia 23    - 13    Singapore

Round 2: Malaysia 20    - 16    Singapore

Round 3: Malaysia 21.5 - 14.5 Singapore

Round 4: Malaysia 14   -  22    Singapore

Overall  : Malaysia 78.5 - 65.5 Singapore

A close scrutiny of the rounds indicate that our girls were not playing in their own category, especially the U14 and U16 sections. These were filled by our U10 and U12 girls who were forced to play up for the first 2 rounds. The other sections were evenly matched. 

The  Veteran's honour was defended by stalwarts IM Giam, IM Leslie Leow ( who agreed to play even though he was on holiday) and Lim Chye Lye. Giam even took a game off IM Jimmy Liew, which was a surprise to many. Leslie for all the years of chess inactivity managed to hold off Nicholas Chan in the rapid games. 

I don't think we should read too much into the result of this match where the focus was on building camaraderie between the 2 countries chesswise. However it does serve as a barometer of where necessary action should be taken in terms of the overall state of chess playing among the girls in Singapore. 

The dwindling of players in the U14-U18 sections, coupled with the drop in interest (as shown in the poor turnout of girls in the U12-16 sections in the National Age Group in November) is cause for concern. 

There is unconfirmed news that the oldest girl school to have Chess as a CCA, ie Singapore Chinese Girls School (founded by Dr Lim Boon Keng who introduced chess there) is closing their Chess CCA. I hope the parents can lobby for support to keep it going. Of course, we understand the school's viewpoint that poor turnout for the CCA is the major reason for withdrawing the school's support, but honestly I think the school does not realise that many of the top players in the school cannot attend the Chess CCA mainly because of scheduling. It is therefore up to the school authorities to flexibly move the date for Chess CCA to ensure attendance. The introduction of enrichment classes at P1 and 2 may perhaps unearth even more talents if this can be brought about. Hopefully, the SCF and the parents concerned can collaborate in some of my ideas mentioned to keep Chess in SCGS alive. For I fear that once this happens, it will be the start of a domino effect that will creep into the minds of the other principals...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Another year with newer students taking part in this year's National Age Group held at Jurong East Sports Hall.

The students taking part in the various sections include:

Girls U-8   -  Cadence Loh

Boys U-8   -  Naython Tan, David Tan, Emmanuel Lim Rei

Girls U-10 -  Grace Ho, Cheong Sue Lyn

Boys U-10 -  Caleb Loh, Jonathan Tan, Malcolm Sow, Jaryl Seah, Elliot Lim Han, Jaden Rabind Charles

Boys U-14 -  Lee I-Shiuan, Tan Zhong Kai, Keith Khoo, Rohin Singh, Adrian         Yeo, Bryan Sow


The 3 female students that took part did reasonably well. All were playing in the first-ever long time-control of 1.5 hrs per side. They managed to stay in the game for about 1-2 hrs which is commenable. Though Cadence has just started with me, Sue Lyn showed the most promise having beaten the likes of Lisa Tan, R Shahana and Grace and achieving a performance rating of 1224. There is great potential for this girl if she takes the game seriously and works hard.

Though there were not too many contestants in each U8 and U10 category, Cadence got a prize for finishing 4 / 9 to come in 10th place. The U-10 saw Grace and Sue-Lyn on 5 / 9 pts, finishing 8th and 9th placing.


Naython and David were a little overawed by the size of the tournament. However, it was David who managed to compose himself to play each game past the 1 hour mark and I'm very proud of him. Scoring 5/9 ending at 29th out of 84 players, David has done very well!

Naython has just started and therefore requires guidance to the world of tournament chess. In time, we will see more of him.

Here my U10 students were paired against each other and this makes for a photo opportunity- Malcolm against Caleb, Elliot and Jaryl against others. Of the 4 boys, my praise goes to Jaryl for dutifully following my advice of keeping to the checkpoints (ie 27 minutes for first 12 moves, then another 18  minutes for next 8 etc) and spending his time concentrating and finding good moves. He scored the best among  the newbies with 5 / 9 pts at 24th place. Malcolm threw 2 games away ending on 5 / 9 but at 33rd, Elliot on 4.5 at 34th. Jaden's lack of practice showed in his games as he was unable to concentrate and ended on 54th with 3.5 pts.        

 My heart goes out to the pre-tournament favourite Royce, currently my best and hardest working student. He was cruising on 6 / 6 when disaster struck. Trying his best to erase the negative score he had against the eventual winner Alfred Chua, he erred in a better position and allowed Alfred to queen his pawn with just 2 minutes left on the clock. I suspect he was trying to win the game but took unnecessary risks allowing counterplay. This was the 3rd time I've seen Alfred run away winning from a lost position. Playing Delroy with his confidence shaken, he was unable to lift himself up from the earlier loss and lost again. Only a last round win kept him at 3rd place.  Another painful lesson for Royce,  but best learnt now.   Never let your guard down even when victory is in sight. You do not stop pushing until the other player resigns.    

Adrian Yeo was also a favourite to win the U14 being among the top seeds, but his lack of preparation showed in the way the winner Tommy disposed of him within 30 moves. Having realised his Achilles heel several tournaments ago, he made no attempt to improve on it and hence suffered 2 significant defeats. Only through a win against Cameron Goh did he redeem himself into 4th place. Thus talent alone is not enough. It is important to put in preparation, lots of it in fact if you aim to reach the top. 

My other boys did not do as well. Based on my post mortem analysis  I believe that their tactics and positional sense generally let them down. Not spending enough time on the position too is a causal factor. Before the competition, I had urged everyone to improve their physical fitness in order to withstand the strain of the gruelling 3 rounds a day. In the end, fatigue, inadequate game preparation plus weak tactical calculations did them in.

Overall, in spite of the shortcomings, I am satisfied with my students' behaviour and performance given that they are not accustomed to such a time-control of 1.5 hrs per side. Though I had prepared them to change their habits of playing the first move that comes to mind, it takes discipline to resist that and ponder for candidate moves. That comes from playing slow games I'm afraid.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


To take part in this 1 day event at TOA PAYOH WEST CC on 1 December,

Click Here

I urge my students who cannot bear the strain of the 3 day National Age Group to consider this event.