Friday, 26 August 2011

Jan Markos - Li Chao, Universiade Shenzhen 2011, Round 6

Below is a game which I've analysed for SCN and I've decided to reproduce it here. This game is the perfect illustration of the difference between being well-prepared or not. To all those who still think that opening preparation isn't important, it's time to wake up!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

SEA Games 2011 - no Singaporeans in chess events?!

Not so sure if I should be writing all this but apparently, SNOC has rejected SCF's appeal to include Dr. Wong Meng Kong & I into this year's SEA Games and as such, Singapore will not be represented in the chess events.

According to my understanding (which may be wrong), SNOC only allows athletes who fulfill a certain criteria to play in the SEA Games, that is, to have achieved a top 3 placing in South East Asian events for the past 1 year. Even so, these athletes will only be "considered for selection" and by no means are their participation guaranteed.

Given that I've finished 15th in the Zonals and I did not really play in any regional events in the past few months, that means I am out. And since Meng Kong was relatively inactive this year, he also did not survive the cut.

To be honest, I am completely baffled by this decision (though I can't say that I am really surprised). Firstly, such a selection criteria, when applied to Chess, is clearly flawed for so many obvious reasons that I can't even be bothered to list them down one by one. As one good friend put it succintly, if every country adopts the same mentality, the tournament will just be between Indonesians, Vietnamese and Filipinos (no offence to my Malaysian friends).

Secondly, which is a perfectly valid point from Nat, if Singapore wants as many medals as possible, it makes sense to send as many participants as possible to increase the probability. Now, I do not mean that we should send any Tom, Dick or Harry. Neither do I imply that our participation will guarantee medals. But just because we did not finish in the top 3 placings in a regional event, or within the top 3 rated players in South East Asia does not mean that we stand zero chance of achieving something. Jason won a silver medal ahead of countless GMs in Vietnam 2003 when he wasn't even an IM yet and the Singapore team came within a whisker of knocking out the Philippines on their turf despite being heavily outrated on every board. These are just a couple of examples, I can easily list more.

Thirdly, and this is one which I personally find it hard to fathom. Is it really that big a deal to send 2 more players?

To be perfectly frank, I am not really disappointed (as explained, I wasn't really surprised) but what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the younger chess players?

Sports are meant to be competitive, make no mistake about it. But the bonding between players from each country, the mutual respect and friendship that is being built, and the sharing of knowledge all comes along with competition and that should never be downplayed in favour of the number of gold medals obtained.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Universiade Shenzhen 2011

I just returned from Shenzhen after coaching the Singapore team at the Universiade 2011. It has been a real eye opener for myself as this is the first time that I was attending a major tournament as anything but a player. The players worked hard and enjoyed themselves tremendously and I am proud of all of them not just because they fought hard each game but also because their conduct was exemplary throughout the event. Special mention has to be given to Jason, Qingyang and Nat who took time during the event to annotate their games for publication on SCN and in doing so, do a small part in contributing to chess writing and ultimately, to the chess community as a whole.

I am preparing a final report for SCN which will conclude my thoughts on the event and for those who have not seen my articles on the first 8 games, please head to and check them out now!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Tummy Bug

Funny how things turn out. I was just reading this the other day and I was wondering how it will feel like to be "hurling your guts out" in the middle of the night. Don't get me wrong, I am not focusing on the wrong things (of his article) but since I know Dave to be an adventurous and nice guy in general, I wasn't really suprised with his Peru trip. While Dave and I love chess with a passion that few can understand, I don't see myself doing anything similar given my current obsession with training and playing.

What I didn't expect is that I would be caught with a horrendous bug in my tummy just 2 days before I travel to Shen Zhen with the Uni students and would end up experiencing the same thing for 8 hours. In the end, I dragged myself to the nearest 24 hr clinic (puking on a batch of grass along the way back), took a jab, and has been washing down pill after pill ever since.

I hope I do not embarrass myself by retching while checking in on Sunday, in front of 500 other Uni students no less!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Forthcoming tournaments

So it seems like I have a few options to complete the final stretch before I head back to work. Of all of the following tournaments, I've only confirmed my attendance at the Raja Nazrin Shah Masters:

4 - 10 Sept: Raja Nazrin Shah Invitational, KL (
21 Sept - 1 Oct: Yangon GM Invitational (13 player round robin), Myanmar
1 Oct - 13 Oct: First Saturday GM Tournament, Budapest
17 - 24 Oct: Caissa GM Tournament, Kecskemet
5 Nov - 13 Nov: First Saturday GM Tournament, Budapest
26 Dec - 31 Dec: Asean Open Championships, Singapore

This looks like a very busy schedule but of course, I will not play all of them. Ideally, I would like to play at least 4 of the above events but because of a variety of reasons, I can't quite make up my mind which ones. Hopefully, the current murky situation will clarify in a couple of weeks time.

In the meantime, I will be travelling with the Singapore team to the World Universities Games in Shenzhen as their official coach. This is quite a novel experience and a refreshing challenge for me. Out of the 7 in the team, IM Jason Goh, WFM Liu Yang and WFM Jeslin Tay are experienced players who have been mainstays in the National Squad both past and present while Nathanel Ong, Ng Qingyang, Zhang Changjie and Cyril Chua while not quite having the same level of experience, make up for it by showing an abundance of enthusiasm and effort during training sessions.

It is particularly pleasing to have Jason back in competitive mode and he played his first game in classical time control in 5 years, in a training game against me. It is clear that he will take some time before getting back to the level he was at but his talent is certainly not in doubt. I am still amazed at the speed at which he can solve puzzles and lesser mortals like myself can only dream of having the same kind of tactical vision he possesses. It will certainly be interesting to see how he does at Shenzhen.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Adams - Williams, 98th British Championships, Round 7

While browsing through the British Championships games just a moment ago, I was surprised and to be honest, a little disappointed to witness the following game. This is because Adams has just made this line with 8.h3!? and 10.d4! famous, a line which I've spent tons of hours studying in the hope of making it a surprise weapon.

Well, since it's obviously not going to be a surprise anymore, I'll present the following humdinger.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Ivanchuk - Karjakin, 5th King's Tournament, Round 5

The venerable Italian Game is one of my favoured openings and recently, the top players are testing it once in a while as an alternative to cracking the solid 1...e5. In the above game, Karjakin exploited some insipid play by his Ukranian counterpart with some explosive tactics. According to my analysis, Ivanchuk could have held the game at one point but it was admittedly much too computer-like.