I decided to take a break by visiting this tournament in Penang, having played at the 2nd edition back in 2006 with a friend. Penang has always been fond memories for me, besides chess, as the food and hospitality there is always a talking point. What's enjoyable about this trip was that I detached myself from the chess and focused on meeting friends and having great meals with them!
KK Chan and Hamid have been old friends of mine since the days we worked together at the Asian Teams back in Genting back in 1998. Together with Quah Seng Sun and Chuah Soon Peng, both from Penang, we made a beeline for the famous curry-fishead meal at LineClear in Little India (Penang). What a fabulous meal it was and we even joked who'd be taking the front seat after the meal :-) There were also others like Michael Yeap and Mr Goh who treated the Singaporeans to the famous Penang char kuay teow at Jalan Selamat. The McAlister area in Penang is certainly laden with the best Penang fare and every meal was relished with great company. Dim Sum in the morning, followed by shopping in Georgetown and evening meals at the hawker fare along McAlister Road is enough for the day.
The tournament hall was most impressive, as you can see. Though the entrance of the Red Rock Hotel may not seem much, this hall is ideal to seat the numbers who came to play. Mr Teoh Eng Seong, the chief organiser must be commended for his efficient command of his team of volunteers and attention to detail as the tournament was very smoothly run.
A very interesting trend emerged this year with the appearance of several Unrated players from Sumatra. Though unrated these players made news very soon as they brushed aside most of the FIDE rated players in the Challenger's section! Some of our players though finishing 5 or 6 pts out of 9 could not even meet a FIDE rated player for the purpose of getting some rating points. The top 2 finishers were unrated, as was the 4th and 7th place. The Singaporean players' results were summarised below:
Royce Tan finished 0.5 pts more than his performance last year with 6.5 pts and was 9th. Tommy Tan finished with higher tie-break at 5th. Low Yi Quan also scored 6.5 pts and was 1 place behind Royce, with Tan Jun Hao on 6.A rather good finish by our players this time round.
I managed to meet Eric Cheah, former Malaysian Olympian now with his own law practice in Penang. He was at the tournament hall everyday to watch the games right after work and I'm sure he will start his training soon to play in the 2014 edition this year. Hopefully I can join him too with some Singaporeans, mainly to savour the great playing conditions.