Tuesday, 31 December 2013

27th SEA Games - the story (Part 1)

Liu Yang and I have returned from Myanmar and while we may not have won any medals, I am pretty satisfied with my play in general and our team work during the mixed transfer event. As the results often tell very different stories, I thought I'll give my own version of what exactly transpired during the events.


I finished 7th in the above event with 9/14, losing to all the players that finished above me apart from Megaranto Susanto from Indonesia. However, the cross table did not really tell the whole story as I had a real roller coaster ride throughout the event.

After 2 smooth wins in the first 2 rounds, I had the black pieces against the eventual winner, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son from Vietnam, who incidentally finished 4th in the World Blitz Championships this year. I was perfectly aware who I was up against and my immediate aim was not to fall too far behind time and to obtain an easy and playable position.

The game started well after 1.d4 Nc6 2.d4 e5 3.Nf3 ed 4.Nxd4 Qh4?!. Truong Son was visibly surprised and thought for a minute here before unleashing the outrageous 5.g4!?!?! An exciting game soon ensued:

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.14"] [Round "?"] [White "Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C45"] [PlyCount "54"] 1. d4 Nc6 2. e4 e5 3. Nf3 exd4 4. Nxd4 Qh4 $6 {An old favourite of mine. Truong Son is predominantly a 1.d4 player and I was hoping he wouldn't be familiar with this unorthodox move.} 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. g4 $6 {Played after 45 seconds of thought. Clearly, Truong Son doesn't know his theory very well.} (6. Be2 $1 Qxe4 7. Ndb5 Kd8 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 a6 10. Nd4 Nf6 11. Bd3 {with good compensation is the established mainline.}) 6... Nf6 $2 {Allowing Nf5 was just plainly ridiculous and justified White's extravagant idea.} (6... d6 $1 {would have secured a rather significant advantage.}) 7. Nf5 Qxg4 8. Qxg4 Nxg4 9. Nxg7+ Kf8 10. Nh5 Nd4 11. Bd3 d5 12. exd5 Bf5 13. Bxf5 Nxf5 14. Bd2 Re8+ 15. Kf1 Bc5 16. Nd1 Rg8 17. h3 Ne5 18. Nf6 Nf3 19. Nxe8 Nxd2+ 20. Ke2 Ne4 21. Nxc7 Ke7 22. Nb5 Neg3+ 23. fxg3 Nxg3+ 24. Kd3 Nxh1 25. Nd4 Bxd4 26. Kxd4 Rg3 $2 ({ Here,} 26... Rg1 $1 27. Rb1 Nf2 28. Nc3 Rxb1 29. Nxb1 Nxh3 {was my best shot, with decent drawing chances.}) 27. Nc3 Rxh3 {I was worse at this stage and had less time and swiftly went down in the blitz finish.} 1-0

In round 4, I faced the Malaysian Lim Chuinn Hoong who I’ve faced several times in Sin-Mas matches over the years. From an equal-ish position where I was probably very slightly worse on the White side of an Italian Game, I managed to gain a positional edge after a couple of inaccuracies:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.14"] [Round "?"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Lim Chuinn Hoong, Ronnie"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C54"] [PlyCount "81"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Nf3 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 a6 6. Bb3 d6 7. h3 h6 8. Nbd2 O-O 9. Nf1 Be6 10. Bc2 b5 11. Ng3 Bb6 12. O-O d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Re1 Re8 15. Bb3 Qf6 16. Ne4 Qd8 17. Ng3 Qf6 18. Qc2 (18. d4 $1 exd4 19. Nh5 Qg6 (19... Qd8 20. Bxh6 $1 gxh6 21. Bxd5 {is the sneaky idea.}) 20. Nh4 {looks good for White. I've never seen this motif before.}) 18... Nf4 ({The simple} 18... Rad8 {is fine for Black.}) 19. Bxe6 Rxe6 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. Rxe6 fxe6 $2 {A serious structural concession.} (21... Qxe6 {is normal and equal.}) 22. Ne4 Qf5 23. Re1 Re8 24. d4 Kh8 25. Kh2 Ne7 26. a4 {Black has no counterplay here and is effectively lost:} Nd5 27. axb5 axb5 28. Qe2 b4 29. Nh4 Qf7 30. Qg4 Ne7 31. Nd2 g5 32. Nhf3 Qf5 33. Rxe6 Qxg4 34. hxg4 bxc3 35. bxc3 Kg7 36. Ne5 Ba5 37. Ne4 f3 38. gxf3 c5 39. d5 Bc7 40. d6 Bxd6 41. Nxd6 1-0

In the next round, I was getting squeezed by Ng Tze Han but somehow managed to survive to a drawn endgame. However, with a significant time disadvantage (30 seconds to his 45 or so), my hopes of salvaging a draw wasn’t huge until he made a tremendous slip and blundered in the pawn endgame. I only just managed to promote my extra pawn and mated him with 4 seconds to go.

So after 5 games, I had scored 4/5 but have yet to face 3 remaining Grandmasters. In round 6, I had the White pieces against the dangerous Nguyen Van Huy who is an excellent blitz player. After getting outmanoeuvred the entire game (again!), I again managed to survive to a clearly drawn endgame until I presented him with an early Christmas present by gifting him a whole rook.

This was a devastating loss in an extremely important game against a direct competitor for a medal. Naturally, I was disappointed but had to pick myself for the 4 remaining key encounters. In the next round, I faced a relentless Farid Firman Syah who calmly accepted my dubious exchange sacrifice and consolidated his position without too many problems and so after a fairly good start, I only had 4/7 to show for my efforts.

The next game was probably my best of the blitz event. I had previously prepared for Megaranto’s Alekhine in an older event and I was able to obtain an opening advantage. I managed to maintain control throughout the game, a rarity for me especially in a blitz game and the game eventually had a frantic finish with me barely surviving a last ditch attack and I even found mate with 8 seconds to go. This put me firmly back in contention as now just 2 wins against Mark Paragua and Rogelio Antonio will virtually assure me of a medal finish.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.14"] [Round "?"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Megaranto Susanto"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B03"] [PlyCount "97"] 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. c4 Nb6 4. d4 d6 5. exd6 exd6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. Nge2 Bf6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. b3 Bg4 12. Qd2 Bh5 13. Rae1 Bg6 14. Bxg6 hxg6 15. d5 Ne5 16. h3 Ned7 17. Bd4 {I was pleased with the outcome of the opening as I had a pleasant spatial advantage with no weaknessess in my camp.} a5 18. Ng3 a4 19. Rxe8+ Qxe8 20. Re1 Qd8 21. Nge4 Bxd4 22. Qxd4 axb3 23. axb3 Ra3 24. Nd2 Nc5 25. Nb5 $1 Ra2 $2 26. b4 $2 ({I missed the terribly strong} 26. Nxc7 Rxd2 27. Qxd2 Qxc7 28. Re8+ Kh7 29. Qf4 {, winning on the spot.}) 26... Ncd7 27. Nf3 Nf6 28. Ng5 Nbd7 (28... Nfxd5 29. Nxf7 {was one of my little traps.}) 29. c5 dxc5 30. bxc5 Ra5 31. Qb4 c6 32. dxc6 bxc6 33. Nd6 (33. Nxf7 Kxf7 34. Nd6+ Kf8 35. Nb7) 33... Rxc5 34. Ngxf7 {Swopping the c5 pawn for Black's f7 pawn is a major achievement as now the Black king is weak and susceptible to attacks. In blitz, this is very undesirable.} Qb8 35. Qh4 Rh5 36. Qg3 Rd5 37. Re7 {Allowing Black some counterplay.} ({The computer pointed out} 37. Qxg6 $1 Rxd6 38. Nh6+ Kh8 39. Nf5 Qf8 40. Re7 $1 {I doubt that I can find this line in with standard time control let alone a blitz game!}) 37... Rd1+ 38. Kh2 Qb1 39. Qe3 Rh1+ 40. Kg3 Nh5+ $2 {We were down to our last 30 seconds at this stage and not surprisingly, the quality of the game decreased drastically from here on.} (40... Qb4 $1 {would have maintained strong counter attacking chances.}) 41. Kh4 Qb4+ 42. g4 Nf8 43. Qf3 Nf6 44. Nh6+ gxh6 $2 ( 44... Kh8 45. Nhf7+ Kg8 {is drawn.}) 45. Qxf6 g5+ 46. Kg3 Qb3+ 47. f3 Rg1+ 48. Kh2 Rg2+ 49. Kxg2 1-0

For those who have been following my games regularly, you should know that Mark is not exactly my favourite opponent. I have a horrendous 0-5 score against him and on top of that, Mark is well known to be an excellent blitz player in the Philippines. I honestly didn’t fancy my chances and the plan was to avoid something mainstream and not to fall behind significantly in time.

The plan worked to perfection as after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5!? de 5.Ne5, Mark was visibly slightly surprised and I soon attained a time advantage in an unclear position. In time trouble, Mark blundered a pawn and I was cruising comfortably to the full point. And then, disaster struck:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.14"] [Round "?"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Mark Paragua"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B50"] [PlyCount "77"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 $5 {One of my favourite sidelines which I constantly employ when I didn't feel like contesting a theoretical Najdorf or Dragon.} dxe5 5. Nxe5 a6 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Qc7 8. Nc4 Bd7 9. d3 Bc6 10. Bf4 Qd8 11. O-O (11. Ne4 $5 Nxe4 12. dxe4 {looks like a pleasant edge for White.}) 11... Bxg2 12. Kxg2 Nc6 13. a4 Be7 14. Re1 O-O 15. Ne5 Nd4 16. h3 Nd5 17. Bd2 f6 18. Nc4 e5 19. Ne3 {It looks like White is playing without any ideas.... which is almost but not entirely correct. My knight moves have forced my opponent to find a concrete way of making progress and allowed me to gain a significant time advantage.} Nb4 20. Ne2 f5 $2 {A tempting move to play in blitz but here, it allows White to liquidate favourably.} ({The calm} 20... Qd7 {was better.}) 21. Bxb4 cxb4 22. Nxd4 Qxd4 23. c3 $1 {and all of a sudden, White is better! At this stage, I had a 1 minute plus advantage and was confident of finally notching my first win over Mark.} Qd6 24. Nc4 $2 (24. Qf3 $1) 24... Qc6+ 25. f3 bxc3 $2 (25... e4 $1 26. fxe4 fxe4 27. Rxe4 Bc5 {would probably have caused me to suffer a major panic attack.}) 26. Nxe5 Qd5 27. bxc3 Bf6 28. d4 Rfd8 29. Qc2 g6 30. Nd3 Rac8 31. Qb2 Qc4 32. Nf4 Qxc3 33. Qxb7 Qd2+ 34. Re2 Qxd4 {Around this time, I had about 1 min 30s to my opponent's 25 seconds. With a calm move like Rae1, victory is more or less assured but instead, calamity struck} 35. Ne6 $4 Qxa1 $3 {This was an extremely effective refutation of my attempted tactic to win the exchange. My heart sank but the time on the clock gave me hope - afterall, my opponent only had about 20 seconds left...} 36. Nxd8 Rxd8 37. Qb3+ Kh8 38. Qc4 Qd4 39. Qc6 {and here, my queen unfortunately toppled on the board and the rules indicate an immediate loss by default. A terrible, terrible way to lose a blitz game but I only have myself to blame for not holding my nerves when the finish line is so close.} 0-1

After the game, Mark gentlemanly apologised (he certainly wasn't obliged to) and admitted he was lucky to win this. While I was naturally disappointed at losing my medal chances once and for all, I appreciated the gesture and this shows that Grandmasters are not just good at chess but also have very good manners.

The rest of the tournament was purely academic as my medal chances were essentially over. Still, I chalked up a score of 9/14 and 7th position, finishing behind the 2 representatives from the top 3 countries (Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia). Truong Son showed why he is one of the best blitz players in the world by slicing through the field with a tremendous score of 13/14 while his very likeable compatriot, Nguyen Van Huy finished with the silver medal. Joey Antonio from the Philippines finished 3rd.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Outstanding performances by Edward Lee and William Woong at the London Chess Classic FIDE Open - by Junior Tay

Last week's London Chess Classic saw Nakamura demonstrating why he should be considered a contender to the World Champion Magnus Carlsen's future title defence. From the quarter finals onwards, Nakamura upended two World Champion finalists (Gelfand and Short) and 1 former World Champion (Kramnik) to win the title.

Meanwhile, Edward Lee Kai Jie, playing in the FIDE Open section, made 5/9 to clinch the Top Junior Prize of 125 pounds.

Here's an outstanding win from Edward over ELO 2508 IM Vladimir Hamitevici in Round 5.

William Woong made twice of what Edward earned (250 pounds) by finishing 1st in the U2000 category. Estonian IM Kalle Kiik must have felt he was up against a brick wall as his kingside attack failed to pay dividends when met by William's extremely solid defence.

Congratulations to both Singaporeans for taking out IMs with their superb defending and for topping their categories!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Naypyidaw (10th - 21st December) - Acknowledgements

In approximately 1.5 days, I will be on my way to the 27th SEA Games. This has been a very difficult period in my career as the responsibilities of becoming an audit manager have been overwhelming in the last few months. I've never underestimated the challenges that were forthcoming when I knew I was getting promoted but the added pressure of being part of Team Singapore in this year's games was one I didn't expect and prepare for.

The Singapore chess team is a large contingent consisting of Mark Choong (team captain), Liu Yang and me. With 2 representatives from virtually all the neighbouring countries in all the events, the odds are clearly against us - it is unrealistic to say anything otherwise. However, we have trained hard every evening (after we are done with our day jobs), sacrificed our weekends and have done everything we possibly could to be as prepared as we can. Make no question about it, we will not be there to make up the numbers - we will be playing to win.

Throughout the last couple of months, I have received all kinds of messages, the odd sarcastic comment or snide remark and even had people questioning our selection but I'm glad that more often than not, I have friends that put their words into action and showed that they care about us and genuinely wanted to help. There will always be people who prefer to cause disruption and I have grown to live with that. Instead, I prefer to acknowledge those who have spent considerable effort into helping both Yang and me in the last couple of months: 

- As always, Junior Tay, who basically took care of this blog, organised training get-togethers, offered the function room in his condo as our training arena plus providing countless advice along the way;

 - Olimpiu Urcan: for offering himself as a punching bag during training and always knowing the right thing to say;

- GM Zhang Zhong, who must have played at least 100 blitz games with me all in his own spare time just to get me ready for the games, IM Steven Yap and Liu Xiang Yi for offering to be transfer partners with Zhang Zhong and IM Chan Peng Kong for showing up one friday evening even though they are clearly not very interested in the game! Big effort guys, appreciate that;

- Mr. Tin and Mr. Lee and their sons, Jingyao and Qing Aun respectively for sacrificing their weekends while knowing that they have nothing to gain from this. The training was incredibly helpful and we are grateful for that;

- Balestier Gang: Tim Chan, for spending a precious morning playing a rapid game with me. I know how important weekends are to NSF! Chongghee, for joining us despite flying in on the same morning and having very little sleep and the blitz monster Malcolm for spending time with us. Malcolm, I'll lock LKB in his cage the next time both of you are in the same room!

- National Squad: Luke, Jason, Jarred - I know you guys really have better things to do than spending Friday evenings with us and appreciate the time and effort spent; and of course,

- the Boon Lay Primary School Gang - Keng Boon, James, Yong Li, Qing Quan, Mark and the Bak Kut Teh master Hanwei for climbing out of retirement at my request. Too bad Khoo was uncontactable again... 

Thank you all, we will fight hard in Myanmar!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

One heck of an attack! - by Junior Tay

Yesterday's blog post saw how Tan Poh Heng crush FM Jarred Neubronner in a Grand Prix attack. What readers didn't read about is that Jarred got fed up with having to defend the whole game so he resolved to play the final round game all guns ablazing. And what a cracker of a game he whipped out!

Games from the Toa Payoh West Rapid 2013 - by Junior Tay

The abovementioned event, which boasts the 2nd biggest prize fund among local Swiss Opens (after the TCA Mega Open) had thirteen ELO 2000+ rated players participating, inclusive of 2 IMs and 2 FMs. IM Enrique Paciencia claimed the title on tiebreak (from fellow 6 pointers Leonard Reyes, Reggie Olay and FM Tin Jingyao) after a full-blooded last round draw against IM Luis Chiong. With White in a Nimzo Indian, Luis whipped up a massive attack against Enrique's king and was rebuffed by precise defence from Enrique. Eventually Luis repeated moves settling for a truce. In the post-mortem, Luis was convinced his position was better and he should have pressed further but Enrique kept demonstrating resource after resource to hold the position. However, in Round 6, Enrique was on the ropes against National Age Group U12 champion, Ashvin Sivakumar on top board when he conjured up the following... An excellent photo capturing the shocked look on Ashvin's face upon realising that he had been outfoxed can be found on Olimpiu's website here. As the other tournament leaders, Jingyao and Leonard Reyes drew on board 2, this gave Enrique a half point cushion going into the final round. Jingyao, in order to join the tournament leaders after the final round, was stymied by Tan Jun Hao for most of the game as the latter played ultra-solid chess. We join them in the endgame here. And hence, Jingyao kept pace with the 3 Amigos...sorry, Pinoys at 6/7. Now, the recently concluded World Championships match was in a sense, the triumph of youth over the experienced old guard. However, in our backyard, Tan Poh Heng scored one for the oldies in this smashing victory over FM Jarred Neubronner (who generously sent us the gamescore).

FM Jarred Neubronner (left) vs Tan Poh Heng (right). In the foreground, Napolean Recososa (left) plays NM Dr Derrick Heng (right), a former National Champion. (picture courtesy of sgchess.net). Final results - Toa Payoh West Rapid 2013.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

FM Daniel Chan-top Singaporean player at RCA Open Blitz Tourney- by Junior Tay

The Remote Chess Academy (helmed by GM Igor Smirnov) and Chessbase has combined to hold a 13 round, 3 minute (with 2 second increment per move) blitz event on the Playchess.com server, in honour of the Anand-Carlsen World Championships match. The 30 main prizes and 18 more lucky-winner prizes proved to be a great draw as 366 participants started the event, with at least 5 GMs and 10 IMs taking part.

Wei Ming, Daniel Chan and your scribe all reached 8 points after 11 rounds. In round 12, I lost to Haapana from Finland (he had also beaten Daniel earlier). Wei Ming slowly but surely overcame Chinese IM Wang Shuai and Daniel took out Yozimar Hernandez of Mexico. In the final round, Wei Ming agreed to a 3 move draw with eventual champion GM Jose Carlos Ibarra Jerez -handle name Singapu(!) who scored 11 out of 13 for clear 1st. At the end of the event, I introduced myself as a Singaporean and asked him how he ended up with this handle name. He said he had always liked the place but at the age of 11, when he created the handle name, he did not know how to spell it! My best game of the tourney came in the final round.
Here is the game which allowed me to find the a3-f8 diagonal + back rank combination.
Daniel Chan was pitted against the very strong Russian GM Sergey Volkov (ELO 2615) and they fought tooth and nail to secure a high placing. At one point, Daniel rode his luck as Volkov missed a mating idea but after that, Daniel pounced upon a dubious winning attempt by the Russian to clinch the point. Hence, Daniel finished an impressive 6th (10 out of 13 pts) winning US$150 worth of RCA products, while Wei Ming's 12th position (9.5 out of 13) earned him Deep Fritz 14 . My 19th place (9 out of 13) got me 6 months premium membership at Playchess.com.

Here's a nice positional lesson by Wei Ming where he kept improving his knight placement until his opponent's position became untenable. Final Scoretable - RCA Open 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A clash of champions - by Junior Tay

The recently concluded World Championships won by GM Magnus Carlsen had English GM Nigel Short tweeting about the 'end of an era', signifying that the new generation has finally taken out the old guard.

Unfortunately, chess strength deteriorates as one ages, some exponentially, some in lesser degree. At the highest level, the slightest inaccuracy, as demonstrated by Carlsen, is ruthlessly pounced on, just like Vishy waning in the 5th hour of the games and Magnus forcefully exploiting this in the endgame.

In the local context, it is intriguing to see IM Leslie Leow making a comeback by representing Singapore in the Malaysia-Singapore match held today at KL.  Leslie, the 1979 and 1984 National Champion,  last represented Singapore in the 1992 Manila Olympiad and has not competed for more than 20 years! It would be interesting to see if he can cope with Malaysia's best. Whatever the case, it is great that a former local chess giant is coming back to chess, and hopefully, Leslie can dish out lessons to our young punks on the local circuit.

In 1993, IM Lim Seng Hoo, who had gone into retirement after more than a decade, had a conversation with Dr Nithiananthan and he queried who the strongest local player then was. Nithia replied that IM Hsu Li Yang, who was the defending National Champion (he won it in 1992 and 1993), is the best bet. A friendly match was promptly arranged at Cairnhill  CC.

This is the first game of the match, which showed that Seng Hoo is still a force to be reckoned with. We would like to thank the good doctor for the game-score, meticulously preserved to mark this previously unknown match.

For the record, Li Yang won 2.5-0.5 but I think spotting 15 years of play, Seng Hoo had demonstrated that he is still not easy to beat!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Optical Illusion by Jr and Wei Ming

I was very pleased with a win I made at 3 minutes blitz - in which I had stopped my opponent's aggressive intentions with an exchange sacrifice to nullify his kingside attack.

Check out the following position.

White to play...what is your assessment of the position? 

Black looks good eh? Although White is exchange up, Black holds the initiative and has a powerful long light square diagonal battery bearing down the White kingside. Also, there are  no entry points for White on the e file while Black will simply ram down his queenside majority. In fact, my opponent caved in and played Qf3 and I happily traded queens and the queenside pawns marched to victory.

To my surprise, as I checked with the computer, it declared that Black is simply lost. Here's the analysis.

As I showed the position to Wei Ming and Olimpiu, both found the strong 1.Be7 which gives White the advantage though Black retains drawing chances. They both declared 1.f5! to be a classy move. Wei Ming remarked that he too had a similar experience.

We move back to his First Saturday GM event in 2011.

After sacrificing the exchange against Ukrainian GM Dmitri Maximov, Wei Ming emerged with this position.

For the price of an exchange, Black has all his pieces activated perfectly, controls the centre absolutely with two mobile central pawns and is generating strong pressure on the f-file. Moreover, White's Rh1 isn't a very inspiring piece either. However, it's all an optical illusion as the game continuation below will show you.

That's why it's not enough to assess a position based on general considerations. Your eyes can deceive you!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Some updates - what we've been up to lately - by Junior Tay

As you have probably noticed, the blog entries practically dried up in the past three months or so. Both Wei Ming and I had been working on our respective chess books + e books for Everyman Chess which will be out next year. and we do hope to get your support for our publications.

Wei Ming's Chess Developments - Sicilian Najdorf 6.Bg5 should be out early next year and the book focuses on the latest happenings in the ultra-sharp line and improvements/refinements from his 'research lab'.

My Benko Move by Move is a repertoire driven guide on how to play my favourite opening against 1.d4 and this will be followed by Ivanchuk Move by Move, comprising illustrated games of my favourite player, Vassily Ivanchuk.

I have also started a column at chess.com and my first article Chess Tales from Asia: The Great Singapore Swindles (Part 1) is up already. Please do lend your support!

Update: Part 2 is also up at Chess Tales from Asia: The Great Singapore Swindles (Part 2)

IM Chan Peng Kong in New Zealand - again...by Junior Tay

IM Chan Peng Kong (right)  tying for 3rd place with IM Paul Garbett and FM Luke Li  (picture taken from the New Zealand Chess site )

IM Chan Peng Kong makes yet another sojourn to New Zealand to take part in the George Trundle Master Event and the South Island Championships. In the first event, he was unbeaten by pegged back to an equal 3rd placing with 8 draws(!) and 1 win. Here is his draw against FM Luke Li from the 1st round which was a precursor to show that he wasn't going to have an easy time in this event.
At the South Island Championships, he managed a tie for 4th place. It looks like he was determined to get a decisive result this time as he logged only one draw this time.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

GM Wong Meng Kong - 3rd in Hong Kong International Open 2013 - by Junior Tay

After a horrendous KL Masters outing where Meng Kong could not muster up a single point, he took part in the abovementioned event where he was seeded 6th. In Round 2, he was stunned by 16 year old Mohammad Agus Kuniawan. However, the 1925 rated Indonesian boy was clearly underrated as he racked up a 2303 TPR by the end of event, with a fantastic 108 ELO point gain. Meng Kong kept plugging on, with no more losses in the event and he saved his best for the final game, having made his way back to Board 1 to face the top seed, 2426 rated Spaniard IM Marcos Llaneza Vega.

The win pulled Meng Kong to 7/9, tying for 2nd with Marcos and Filipino Nelson Villenueva and finishing 3rd on tiebreak, thus earning Meng Kong HK$5000. Li Bo from China won the event with 7.5/9. Hong Kong based Singaporean schoolboy Wong Yee Chit finished with 4.5/9 while a familiar face, Alberto Muniz Pardino who used to work in Singapore, scored 5.5/9 to win the HK$2000 prize for the 2nd best local player prize.

 GM Wong Meng Kong (left) - picture courtesy of Alberto Muniz.

Final results - Hong Kong International Open 2013

Monday, 30 September 2013

Pinoys top NUSS Open event by Junior Tay

IM Luis Chiong and Napolean Recososa made a Pinoy 1-2 finish at the NUSS Open when they finished with 6/7, half point ahead of CM Olimpiu Urcan who drew Luis in the final round. CM Tan Weiliang put himself out of contention with losses to Luis and Napolean in Round 5 and 7 respectively after he had started with 4/4 after the following win.
Weiliang seems to be FM Tin Jingyao's bogeyman. Just watch the brilliant career of Weiliang's f pawn

However, Weiliang's chances were stymied when after fending off Luis' powerful queenside initiative which kept coming in waves, he missed a curious rook manouvre which won a pawn. Luis' finish was certainly classy.

The rest of IM Luis Chiong vs Tan Weiliang can be seen from sgchess.net in 967. Videos (81): Light-Squares Supremacy

Finally, the game which secured Luis the title (on tiebreak) and Olimpiu the 3rd prize. The NUSS Open Champion IM Luis Chiong in the left on the top board during the early rounds of the NUSS Open 2013 (Courtesy of sgchess.net)

Weiliang had also generously sent in the fully annotated notes of his loss to Napolean but I believe it will be a strong contender for Olimpiu's brilliancy cash prize game for October 2013,  so I'm going to wait and see if it turns up on Olimpiu's site first...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

One mighty hack - by Junior Tay

Best blitz game I've seen for a while. White is obviously a fan of the Swede GM Ulf Andersson. But he doesn't get a chance to play the += endgame which Andersson is famous for winning.

Monday, 26 August 2013

The mistakes are there, waiting to be made...by Junior Tay

This oft-used chess phrase, attributed to Tartakower, summed up Wei Ming's National Blitz Championships. I found out from Olimpiu that Jason Goh had won the National Blitz Championships and Wei Ming took 2nd place on tiebreaks. So I whatsapped Wei Ming, congratulating him. "Terrible...', he said. "I played so badly. Not my day". I remarked "Played badly and finished 2nd? What about your opponents?" "Oh, they played badly too". And that evening, he proceeded to show me some really incredibly blunderful chess from the National Blitz.

 FM Tin Jingyao (who won the National Rapids the next day) was outplaying Wei Ming from the Black side of a Giuoco Piano (the very quiet kind) and exerting a lot of pressure on the centre. Just when it seemed that the coast was clear, disaster struck... Next up, CM Olimpiu Urcan, with a reasonable position, all of a sudden decided to sacrifice the exchange...for next to nothing. Wei Ming happily accepted the gift and that was it. Wei Ming was dealt two losses, one by IM Steven Yap and the 2nd, by CM Tan Weiliang in the following game. Wei Ming uncharacteristically accepted a strong bishop sacrifice by the national serviceman and there was no recourse as a delighted Weiliang put him away. Finally, FM Daniel Chan fluffed his chance of retaining his National Blitz title with this absolute howler in the penultimate round. Yep...the mistakes are there waiting to be made...just make sure you make the 2nd to last one...

Blasting the Barry Attack - by Junior Tay

Hi! Long time no see. For the past month, Wei Ming and I have been pulling all stops to work on our respective first chess books, hopefully to be out for sale before the year is up.

Anyway, here's a smashing win by IM Daniel Fernandez over British GM Mark Hebden last week in the Coventry Open.

Daniel is currently leading the event with 4.5/5 and playing White today against FM Peter Sowray who has 4/5 together with Hebden and James Jackson (both playing on Bd 2). Coventry Open pairings and results here.

Update: Daniel drew Peter Sowray and Board 2 was a draw too. So Daniel goes into the final round with 5/6, 1/2 point in the lead and will be playing James Jackson.

Final Update: Daniel defeated James Jackson to win the event with 6/7, half point ahead of Hebden.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The one mere second that decided the Whampoa Rapid title! by Junior Tay

Final Round - Whampoa Rapid. On Board 1 was Filipino NM Reggie Edgar Olay needing only a draw against FM Jarred Neubronner. Reggie, who already has 3 IM norms looked to be coasting home with an advantageous opening and he was aided by Jarred blundering an exchange. However, the game got messy according to CM Lau Keng Boon and Jarred got the upper hand in the endgame, especially time-wise. As the clock wound down, Jarred only noticed that Reggie's time had reached 0:00 while he had 2 seconds left and upon pressing the pause button, his time ran down to 0:01. Boy, that was close. Only after the game did spectators inform Jarred that Reggie ran out of time when Jarred had 8 seconds on the clock!

FM Jarred Neubronner at the Whampoa Blitz event where he finished 2nd to IM Luis Chiong 
(picture courtesy of sgchess.net)

Here is Jarred's Round 5 win over Napolean Recososa annotated by the winner.

Final Results of Whampoa Rapid can be found on chess-results. Also, do look at sgchess.net's generous coverage of the Whampoa Blitz event with many excellent pictures, gamescores and videos.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Wacky Chess Prizes - by Junior Tay

After 2 tough blitz games with a French FM, Paul Velter, online, I realised that I have read about him just recently and congratulated him on his recent IM norm in the 16ème Open des Vins du Médoc event (English Translation- 16th Wine Open event). He asked me where I read about it and we had a good laugh at IM Alex Wohl's account of the event, especially of Paul's picture. What's unusual is that Paul had won 52 bottles of Médoc red wine instead of the standard cash prizes which most tourneys award for winners. The winner (Paul) gets the total number of bottles as per his weight (meaning Paul weighs 52 kg) while the 2nd place winner gets bottles according to half his weight up - all the way down to the 6th place winner who will get 1/6th of his weight in wine. Alex had won 20 bottles for 5th place so you can do the math....No one goes empty handed in the Wine Open as every participant gets a souvenir bottle anyway as well as 1 free Yoga session per day! 

Since I started working as a teacher, I began to play more online chess events than over-the-board and have been the recipient of prizes such as NIC Magazine subscriptions, KARL (a German chess magazine), Chesstoday, Chesspublishing.com subscriptions. One particularly memorable event for me was Playchess.com's 1st Lasker Memorial event where 19 players play 4 games of blitz against each other (72 games in total!) and I narrowly edged out FMs Samy Robin and Arnold Essing for a spiffy 5 kg metallic trophy with wooden stand which Chessbase actually couriered to my doorstep! Wei Ming used to win all these playchess events on a weekly basis though.

There was one interesting event in the early to mid 2000s held in playchess.com - the Gifhorner Online Open event, which was organised by a German chess club. After the qualifying rounds, the players moved on to an 8 player KO event and the winner received a 1 gm gold bar! Of course it's probably worth about 50 bucks in today's context but hey, the winner could say in earnest that he won the genuine gold medal in that event, not a plastic version. In 2005, I made it to the Quarter Finals only to get KOed by German IM Michael Kopylov and the winner was Bulgarian FM Tihomir Atanassov Dovramadjiev who also won the European Chess Boxing title in the same year. 

Here's Tihomir's novel prize from the Gifhoner event (picture from Tihomir's Facebook)

Yes, that oblong thing on the bottom left in the  plastic wrapper  is the 1 gram gold bar...

There was also the World Mind Games Qualifiers / Candidates / Finals Online event held late last year also on playchess.com and we were eyeing that Samsung Tablets awarded for the  2nd and 3rd prize.  None  of the local players made it to the Final though IM Daniel Fernandez came very close.

In the local context, we have NTUC vouchers awarded to top finishers of the recently concluded Patrick Tay rapid event,  2nd hand chessbook prizes given out by a local organizer and also the famous Khoo Geak Chong Hainanese Chicken Rice prize for the winners of his blitz events for his students. The winners of the National Interschools events in the late 1990s/early 2000s would surely recall winning a huge hamper of goodies to go along with their trophies, surely making their mummies very happy. 

IMs Goh Wei Ming, Hsu Li Yang and Lim Yee Weng remembered receiving health boosters such as bird nests and Brands Essence of Chicken prizes, which made perfect sense as chessplayers would benefit with supplements which could help raise their energy level or concentration. 

One strange prize I received in the 1989 Cainhill Open for finishing as one of the top two Cairnhill Club players (tied for 4th in the Open, I think), was half a ticket for a dinner for 2 at Hotel Asia...except that the other guy who won the prize was NM Koh Kum Hong. It was quite a dilemna as then I hardly knew the chap. However, the matter was resolved simply when Kum Hong generously decided to just give me the whole prize. I suppose by then, he had won the local events so many times, such trifle prizes cease to interest him any more.

Another  interesting non-cash prize I have heard from CM Olimpiu Urcan - In a Transylvanian Open event, besides the cash prizes accorded to the top finishers, a 'shame bread' prize sponsored by a local bakery. It was awarded to the player with least points after each round. 11 year old Olimpiu, was the unfortunate receipient of 3 such loaves of bread. This hat-trick 'honour' only spurred him to improve and 3 years later, he made a National Master norm in the same event.

As pointed out by Olimpiu perhaps the most novel prize given for top flight chess was from the  Piterenka rapid/ blitz event held last December when up for grabs for the winner was a  piece of land in the Moscow region, along the river Piterenka. In the Armagedon final, Karjakin, who had 4 minutes, needed a draw to clinch the prize while his opponent Grischuk, with one minute extra, needed to win. The game ended in stalemate and thus Kajakin become a landowner. Now that's a cool prize indeed!