Monday, 3 December 2012

Tan Weiliang - Undisputed Champion of Cairnhill 2012! - by Junior Tay

Mowing down one strong opponent after another, Tan Weiliang was the surprising winner of Cairnhill 2012 despite the presence of 3 Pinoy IMs and other assorted ELO 2000+ players (as well as last year's champion FM Tin Jingyao). Here's how he did it.

In Round 1, Weiliang showed great confidence in his calculating abilities. 2 pawns to the good, he chose to finish aesthetically with a sacrificial attack.
Round 2 had him facing the extremely dangerous Osric Mooi (whose attacking play had KO-ed quite a few IMs before) and outslugged him tactically.
This moved him up to top board where he had to defend with all his might against top seed and Cairnhill Blitz Champion IM Steven Kim Yap. Tired by the exertions, Steven made just one slip and Weiliang pounced and grabbed the point.
In Round 4, Weiliang got a breather as ELO 2290 rated Jimson Bitoon inexplicably gifted him the Christmas present of a Bishop for next to nothing. So Day 1 ended with Weiliang and NM Suelo on 4/4 with your scribe and IM Luis Chiong 1/2 point behind. Weiliang continued his winning streak on day 2 with a Shirovian style attack against NM Roberto Suelo in Round 5.
Round 6 was the watershed round for Weiliang as WIM Gong Qianyun's marvellous positional play had him on the ropes for most of the game. Only in this round did Weiliang stare defeat in the face....
In the final round, I got to play Weiliang and after confirming that he knows at least 14 moves of the Chekhover Sicilian theory, we split the point and ran off with the money.($700 for Weiliang (6.5/7), $400 for 2nd placed IM Luis Chiong (6/7) and $300 for me (5.5/7).

A happy Weiliang with his 700 bucks cheque and Cairnhill Champ trophy!

Had I somehow beaten Weiliang (much easier said than done...ask those previous 6 opponents of his), Luis would have emerged Champion instead due to his superior tiebreaks. I'm pretty pleased with my unbeaten result at the event and the following win over an out-of-form IM Enrique Paciencia (who had won the Toa Payoh Rapid with consumate ease a week ago).
A truckload of outstanding reports, pictures and videos on Cairnhill 2012 can be found on NM Olimpiu Urcan's blog.


  1. Wei Liang, please tell us the secret of your chess success?

    1. I believe there are no real secrets of any "success" below GM level... It's all about studying the different aspects of the game and applying the knowledge/skills assimilated during training in practical play... Many, including myself, believe that anyone can become a 2300+ player with thorough study of the game. In fact, I am of the opinion that becoming an IM is a matter of spending sufficient time on Chess - in training and in playing serious tournaments.

      Every player will have good tournaments and bad ones. It's about making the most of your chances... In this event, I had good fortune in 2 games (against Kim Yap and Qianyun) as well as pretty nice pairings. A combination of these and some decent play made this minor miracle possible!

      What I like about these events (Cairnhill, Queenstown, Thomson) is that they stimulate and strengthen the fighting spirit in me. For instance, I couldn't sleep after losing to Suelo twice in the Deepavali events (rapid and blitz!) from winning positions. I was really pumped up this time to take revenge against him. Fortunately, with 100% concentration during the game, I was able to succeed in that...

      To me, these local events are really exciting because I get the chance to fight for the title -- I don't have the strength to win big international events, so playing in international events is a different matter altogether...

  2. Can you share something about the organiser and the tournament's history, am sure would be appreciated by many novice stakeholders.

    1. As far as I know, the Cairnhill Open started annually in 1969 but the CC moved to Anthony Road in 1982. Hence, this year's edition is the 30th (with 1982 as the base year). Since I started playing the event in 1987 or 1988, it always had the biggest prize fund among the local swiss events. (In the 90s, 1st prize was $1500 to $1600) so I suppose the organizers then Michael Siong and now Kenny Chern (and the CC staff) - so they must have done something right to ensure this. The strongest player ever to win Cairnhill was GM Ian Rogers (then ELO 2600)in 1998 when he beat GM Wu Shaobin and GM Tu Hoang Thong to win the title and the 1600 bucks (one point ahead of them, I think). Cairnhill used to be divided into Novice and Open Section and now it's separated into Open, Major and Minor Sections (with varying age groups U8, U10, U12 etc). I'm not sure about the number of entrants - you can check with Kenny about this but with 30% of the Minor section players promised prizes this year - there should be many happy kids benefitting. A good comparison would be that the 7th place prize money for this event today is equivalent to the 1st place amount for the SCF November rapid. Of course, many play chess not for the money but for the love of the game, I think. Also, the organizers usually provide food after the prize giving so there you go.

      I usually only play one event a year since I started work and that's Cairnhill.