Saturday, 26 January 2013

Michael Fernandez unbeaten at Chester Chess Congress - by Junior Tay

Michael Fernandez - picture from the English Chess Federation website.

Michael Fernandez demonstrated at the Chester Open that he can hold his own against ELO 2000+ players. Scoring 3.5/5, he finished in a tie for 4th position. Michael was one of the 4 unbeaten players at the event, the others being eventual winner GM Mark Hebden, runner up GM Keith Arkell and 2076 rated Liam Rabbitte.  Michael made a TPR of 2214 and will emerge 29 ELO points healthier.

After a slow start of 3 consecutive draws, Michael  concluded the event with 2 wins inclusive of the following which is a nice instructive lesson on how not to hurry in the endgame...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Upset galore at Thomson Club - by Junior Tay

Right smack in Round 1, Tin Ruiqi was slotted in to play on Board 1 against the top seed, ELO 2208 rated Raul Gomez Munoz, a Research Fellow at NUS. Showing no signs of nerves, she plunged headlong into the sharpest of all openings, the Sicilian Najdorf English Attack. Gomez got the upper hand but chose to trade Queens, perhaps trying to outfinesse her in the endgame. Here's how Ruiqi overcame a 626 point ELO deficit to earn the biggest scalp of her short career (so far).
Gomez reeled off 5 subsequent wins over some of Singapore's top juniors and made it back to the top board in the final round as the joint leader. He was paired against EL0 2139 rated veteran Tan Poh Heng. Poh Heng rose to the occasion and beat off the challenge of the Mexican!

Thus Poh Heng won the event with 6/7, one whole point ahead of Tommy Tan (who beat him in Round 3), Ong Yew Chiang, FM Tin Jingyao (unbeaten but bogged down by 4 draws), Steve O'Reilly and Gomez. 


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Some brilliant games of NM Prof Lim Kok Ann

During the 1996 National  Championships Qualifiers, Prof  was pitted against the 1994 Cairnhill Open and National Under 16 Champion Lau Keng Boon. Prof gambled on a pawn sacrifice  to wreck Keng Boon's central  pawn wedge and to open Queenside lines. Another daring  pawn sacrifice was made to  establish a strong central Knight  outpost and raking Bishop diagonals. The youngster was  reduced to pushing Queenside  pawns when Prof zoned in for the  Kingside kill and there was no  defence to the heavy Black

Though Prof had never reached the ranks of IM or GM, he had even in  his late 70s given strong players
and youngsters a good lesson or two over the chessboard.Once, I asked Prof which was his  favourite personal chess game and he showed me the following riposte:

Three Singaporeans from the National Training team took part in a selection event to pick Singapore's representative for the Philippines Meralco Open Championships in 1968. Prof had qualified after scoring 6/8 against Lee Chee Seng and Giam Choo Kwee.  The Meralco event was won by GM Gligoric and Balinas with 12/15. Prof eventually finished 12th with 5.5/15 but not before crushing the 1963 Jarkarta Zonal champion IM Bela Burger.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Remembering Prof Lim Kok Ann - by Junior Tay

10 years ago, I published this article in the final issue of Correspondence Chess News. Now, heading towards the 10th anniversary of Prof's passing, I would like to present to you, this writeup of Lim Kok Ann, the father of Singapore Chess and so much more...

Just prior to the SARS outbreak, on 8th March 2003, Singapore lost its 'Father of Chess' when Professor Lim Kok Ann passed away at the age of 83 from an apparent heart attack. Prof Lim was evidently famous in Singapore for his contributions to the game of chess. What was not so clear to the younger generation was his contribution to medical science. The older generation remembers the Asian Flu of 1957 where schools were closed and many people bedridden with fever. The Asian Flu was just as contagious as SARs and more significantly, a million people around the world had succumbed to it. However, at the height of the epidemic, a young Singaporean doctor isolated the flu virus. His name ­ Lim Kok Ann. I only got to know Prof in 1992 when Fong Ling ( then my girlfriend and now my wife ) introduced me to him. His passion for chess, his generosity and his bubbly wit was evident for all those who knew him. As for his achievements, I will leave it to his daughter to relate...

The Inspiring Achievements of Lim Kok Ann By Stella Kon
(Stella is Prof Lim's daughter, a well­ known playwright, novelist, short story writer and poet, whose works are frequently used as literature texts in Singapore schools)

Most people know Dr Lim Kok Ann as a spokesman and promoter of the game of Chess. For over forty years, he has taught the game to others, organized competitions, collected funds and generally built
up this area of the national sportsfield. It is mostly due to his efforts that in 1992, Singapore could muster a National Team for the Chess Olympiad in Manila, and from our small population, there were three International Masters on that team.

Dr Lim Kok Ann is also known as Singapore's "Flu Fighter", because in 1957, he was the first person to
isolate a new strain of the virus which causes Asian flu. This was among his other contributions to science, in his chosen field of microbiology the study of very small organisms which cause disease. He has worked beside Nobel prize winners in the world's leading research laboratories, and has a solid reputation in the
scientific community. As a teacher and academic, he reached the top when he became Dean of the Medical School of the University of Singapore. For many years, he was a member of the Senate, the University's governing body. Long before that, he was known as the youngest Professor in the University of Singapore.
But Lim Kok Ann doesn't regard his life as one of great triumphs, of challenges met and overcome. "I never imagined anything as a challenge in my life," he said, in the sense of taking something which carried the risk of personal failure. "Maybe I never attempted anything I felt I could not accomplish."

He described his return to the Christian faith of his youth, as a reevaluation of all he has achieved­ "When I had done all these things, I looked at them and they didn't seem so important. All those things didn't really matter much." What does matter to him? Things like the desire for fame and money have never really been important to Lim Kok Ann. Asked where he learned his sense of values, "I suppose I learned this from my
family tradition," he said, "from the examples of my father and my uncles."

Early Influences
Lim Kok Ann's father and uncles were the sons of Dr Lim Boon Keng. Though Lim Boon Keng was eminent in his own time, the young Lim Kok Ann was not much aware of his grandfather's achievements; he knew more about his eldest uncle, Dr Robert Lim Kho Leng, who was Professor of Physiology of the Peking Medical Board, in Chiang Kai Shek's China in the 1930s. Robert Lim became Surgeon­ General of the Chinese Red Cross. He could have used his job, like many other in similar positions of responsibility, to enrich himself, sell off every movable asset, and pocket any foreign aid. Instead, "When Robert Lim retired in 1949, he left the Ambulance Corps with two years' supplies of tires and batteries," Lim Kok Ann said proudly. "Robert Lim was the only General who retired without any money of his own." Millions of dollars of American aid were poured into China through Robert Lim's personal bank account because the officers of the Rockefeller Foubndation rightly trusted his integrity. Kok Ann's father, Kho Leng, was a bank officer in Singapore. Capable and hardworking, nevertheless, he never got ahead in his profession, was often transferred and never got promoted to Director. "I heard my mother scolding him, 'you don't know how to do business!' It means that he wouldn't please his Directors by bending the rules, conniving at irregularities." Like his brother Robert, Kho Leng set Lim Kok Ann an example of total incorruptibility, an idealistic
integrity that cares nothing for material wealth.

What about the other uncles, the other sons of Lim Boon Keng? Lim Kok Ann laughs. Two of the uncles were flamboyant characters, though perhaps not ideal role models. The third brother was a powerful influence in the shady world of the Amoy waterfront. The fourth brother, Lim Peng Han, was one of Singapore's top racing drivers in the 1930's, an exuberant personality who was a 'bon vivant and hobbyist extraordinaire', who enjoyed his life in the collection and appreciation of fighting fish, fighting cocks, fighting kites, matchbox labels, racing cars and beautiful women. And the message from these other figures of Lim Kok Ann's past is perhaps that "Money is not that important. What is important, is to work hard at whatever you decide to do ­ and enjoy doing it!"

Lim Kok Ann was a keen Boy Scout. The scouts were an important influence, with their ideals of honesty and service to others. He also learned ideals from books. "I went on a reading jag when I was about 11," he remembered. "Every day after school, I would borrow a book from the Raffles Library, which was near Anglo Chinese School in Coleman Street. I'd walk back to Oldham Hall in Barker Road, reading all the way... down Clemenceau Avenue, along the railway track..." He mimes, as he's good at doing, how he'd look left and right to cross the road and return to reading as he walked along. One sees a visual image of a small "specky" boy walking with his nose stuck in his book, putting the miles behind him and absorbing books by the yard. "I started at A on the Library shelves and worked my way through the alphabet". Under the letter C, he found the adventures of Simon Templar, aka The Saint ­ whose gallant and quixotic idealism stirred his imagination. He wasn't then aware that Leslie Charteris, the Saint's creator, was a distant family
relation, being a nephew of Lim Boon Keng's wife ­ another uncle, though unknown! Other adventure
novels by Buchan, Haggard and Wren told the noble deeds of gentlemen imbued with the ethos of the British public school; idealistic chaps who kept a stiff upper lip and always "played the Game".

Chess Master 

Speaking of games, the most important thing in Lim Kok Ann's life has always been the game of Chess. He became Singapore's 1st National Champion in 1949 and after his retirement from the medical fratenity, he went on to win the National and British Veteran titles twice over. There's no counting the hours he spent not only pushing pawns himself, but teaching others, giving classes, coaching. The (then) Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once said that Singaporeans should 'play Chess, not dum (draughts)'. Lim Kok Ann picked up on that remark. He wanted to make Singapore a chess­ playing nation, with ­ according to his slogan ­ "A Chessboard in every home". Over, the years, he succeeded in his aims; to popularize chess in Singapore; to train and build up a core of strong players; and to establish training and selection structures, which would enable chess in Singapore and develop without him. He taught schoolboys and schoolgirls, university students, blind students, using his own teaching system called the Bartley system (having first been used at
Bartley School). He wrote regular chess articles in The Free Press and the Straits Times. He set up the Singapore Chess Federation; organized competitions and tournaments, and raised millions of dollars,  almost single­handedly, for chess events.

"Singapore's welfare and survival depends on our own intellectual and social skills­ not manpower numbers but on brain power. Moreover, mere technological know­how would not be sufficient, you need wisdom too. A chess player learns to develop his mental skills ­ wisdom comes from within by interaction with other chess

With these lofty words, backed by his authority as a university teacher, Lim Kok Ann would approach his potential sponsors of chess events, telling them that playing chess is good for individuals and good for the
nation. Maybe it was too obvious to need mentioning, that people also play the game for fun.

In 1982, after retiring from the University, Lim Kok Ann left Singapore to become the Secretary General of the World Chess Federation, FIDE. Fidel Campomanes had just become the 1st Asian President of FIDE and invited Lim Kok Ann to help him in reorganizing and modernizing the organization. Lim Kok Ann threw himself into the job. For six years, he worked in FIDE's headquarters in Lucerne, Switzerland, at a tremendous pace, administering the world­wide sport of chess with great energy and enthusiasm. He was happy. He was actually being paid, though modestly, to do what he'd been doing all his own life on his own
time and at his own expense.

Flu Fighter 

Lim Kok Ann had a long and successful career as a research scientist. As a young lecturer in Singapore, in 1949, he conducted the world's first clinical trials of the new Sabin polio vaccine, for the World Health Organization. He oversaw the process of administering the vaccine to thousands of Singapore school children, and collated the results. As a result of these trials in Singapore, the once­ dreaded disease of polio has been almost eliminated throughout the world. Lim had the opportunity of working at major research centres in Australia and America. "My Uncle Robert once gave me this advice for any young scientist," he
said. "Identify the field in which you'd like to work. Find our who is the best man in the field and go work for him for some years. And then find out who is the man's enemy, and go to work for him for some more years!" The meaning seems to be that Robert Lim was talking about the idealistic quest to pure knowledge, impartial and far above personal bias. "Well, I was able to do something like that, more or less chance. I
worked for Wilbur­ Smith in England, and then someone in his lab gave me an introduction to Sir Mac Farlane Burnet, who was his, you could say, friendly rival".

Lim worked for a spell in the Canberra laboratory of Mac Farlane Burnet, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine for his work on cellular immunology. Lim Kok Ann was the head of Microbiology Department at the University of Singapore for nearly thirty years while also working for WHO in Singapore and elsewhere in the world. The 'Flufighter' incident, picked up by the newspapers, was one incident in a full professional life. One of the satisfactions of that life, was the technical skills to be used and developed. "I like working with my hands", Lim Kok Ann said, explaining that his line of research requires a high degree of manual skill: in marking cultures, inoculating animals, and even in handling the apparatus required (American colleagues were once amazed to see him manipulating glass pipettes two by two in his right hand, when everybody else handled them one by one). He also liked Mathematics as a boy. Combined with liking to use his hands, this led to his hobby of Mechanical Engineering in his own home workshop. "I'm fascinated by tools and craftsmanship. In London, I took a night­study course in Mechanical Engineering. Then I could talk to the lab technicians, tell them how to make the apparatus, argue with them when they said it couldn't be done. I don't want to tell someone to do something that I can't do myself".

His most memorable professional achievement was to devise a new diagnostic procedure, while working at the Houston headquarters of the World Health Organization in 1959. It was a simpler way to identify
enteroviruses ­ viruses which cause enteritis. There are 49 known types of enterovirus. Health workers around the world, having isolated the virus that was causing enteritis in their area, would send it to WHO in Houston for identification. Forty­ nine different tests had to be run. Lim Kok Ann devised a method for testing for one combination of several viruses, then another combination, and so on. By permutation of the combinations, a result could be 'shaken out' in only six tests. It was the principle of the football pools; another instance of the playful element in the Lim character, being put to good use. "We prepared enough test material to last till the year 2000", Lim said. WHO's adoption of the Lim­-Benyesh­-Melnick antiserum pools was a seminal event that enabled hundreds of scientists to work with enteroviruses and to discover new ones.

In 1994, Lim Kok Ann made a phone call to Houston, to chat with Marge Watson, who was his colleague in those exciting days more than forty years ago. "I said, 'You know, Marge, we should have got a medal or something for what we did. WHO never really gave us much recognition for it'. And she said (guffaw of throaty laughter) "Haw haw...But we had a lot of fun doing it, Kok Ann!!'" That has been Lim Kok Ann's motivation from the start, a combination of idealism, and a youthful, playful spirit. The real and only reason for doing anything is because you enjoy it, because you think it's fun. And if you do it right, you do it with integrity. In the words of those old adventure novels, "Always play the game!" And when the games are over? Late in life, says Lim Kok Ann, he looked at the things he had achieved, the honours he had gained, and thought, "There must be more to life than this". The academic honours, the titles and respect, did not mean much. Even the world's greatest chess­players had feet of clay. When seen in close­up: in 1978, at the World Championship Final match between Korchnoi and Karpov, the competition was dominated by arguments over 'stupid things like the colour of the yoghurt'.

The meaning that he found in life was Christianity. He was brought up in the Methodist faith, drifted
away from it, and then returned to it in middle age. 'It's more important to serve God than man". Back in Singapore and almost fully retired , the high point of his week was the regular prayer meeting with a group of close Methodist friends. He used to teach chess six hours a week at Raffles Girls' School and to young pupils of Boon Lay Primary School. He plays in the occasional local chess match, with more enjoyment than success. He became the Advisor to China's National Chess Federation, where he helped mentor Women World Champion Xie Jun. And several times a year, he accepted invitations to officiate at major chess tournaments around the world, as Chief Arbiter for FIDE.

The Arbiter is the Appeals Judge at a chess tournament, the authority who interprets and enforces the
rules. His decision is final and cannot be challenged. He needs to be someone whom all parties trust, whose integrity and freedom from bias are known to all. To be such a respected authority, in the sport to which he had devoted so much of his life, is Lim Kok Ann's final achievement.

Some personal recollections of 'Prof' Lim...
by Junior Tay 


Prof had just learned from me that a chessplaying friend of mine (whom he was not even acquainted
with at all) was involved in an accident and had just landed in hospital, facial bruises, leg fractures and all. So he insisted that we visit the fellow immediately. Armed with both Chess and Xiangqi (Chinese Chess) sets, we whizzed down to the hospital where Prof spent the majority of the time there blitzing with the chap at both forms of chess. It was a funny sight indeed, a bedridden young man and a chatty veteran hunched over a chessboard on a hospital bed, discussing the finer points of the King's Indian Averbakh and 'Ping Feng Ma'.

On another occasion, Prof made one of his abrupt phone calls and asked both my wife Fong Ling
(then girlfriend) and I out for lunch. Thinking that it was another one of those hawker fare Teochew
Porridge lunches at Lau Pa Sat, I got out in my slipper and shorts garb, only to panic after realising that he had made a lunch arrangement with property tycoon Datuk Tan Chin Nam (one of the key movers of the
USA­-China summit matches) at a posh hotel restaurant. Yikes...Major faux pas...I couldn't back off from the appointment and was wondering what to do about the social blunder but the light banter between Prof and Datuk Tan put us entirely at ease.

Disregard for material 

While walking along Orchard Road with Prof, my girlfriend and I told Prof about our impending
wedding and he immediately went to the ATM and withdrew $500. He stashed it into Fong
Ling's hands, insisting that she buy some nice pearls with it to go with the wedding gown.

Once, he called me over to his place where he wanted to find out who was then the most promising
junior player in Singapore and why.  I mentioned "Goh Wei Ming, who had finished 7th in the Disney World
Youth Championships" and that was the last I heard about the matter. Much later, I met Wei Ming at a friend's place where a chess tournament was held. He was reading Seriawan's'Inside Chess' and I found out that Prof had paid for all his issues of the excellent magazine.

Fong Ling was playing in the Manila Olympiad 1992 when she traded Queens in a position where she had a big advantage to wrap up the game in the ending. After the game, Prof went to the chess store to buy her a book on Capablanca to indicate his pleasure at her style of play.

In 1982, on sheer impulse, Prof accepted an invitation to go to Lucerne, Switzerland to serve as
the Secretary­General of FIDE. He didn't even consult his wife. "I just told her to pack the bags," he said
matter of factly...

In 1995, Fong Ling and I were then studying at the National Institute of Education, training to be school
teachers. When Prof asked why we were not playing in the Singapore­ Malaysia International Match which was to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we told him about the impending school examinations which will end on the first day of the event and he told us he will settle matters for us. A few days later, he called me up to pick up a couple of air tickets at the American Express office and we were whisked off to Kuala Lumpur
where we made the flight and landed in Stanford Hotel, KL, just in time for the 2nd Round. Both
Fong Ling and I won....

Pragmatic Decision making
(Related by GM Dr. Wong Meng Kong in 'Chess, Medicine and Psychiatry').

Before joining medical school, I was a medium ranking chess player with a modest ELO rating of 2285 and an International Master title from the World Chess Federation, and the honour of being the only Singaporean to win a World chess event (Asian Junior Championship 1979). My doubts about pursuing a difficult and often unrewarding career in medicine were tossed aside when my mentor Professor Lim Kok Ann
admonished me and said, ``Chess is for fun. You need a proper job to eat.''

Chess and Life 

When asked what chess had taught him in a New Paper interview on May 17, 1995, Prof said, "People
compare chess with life. You prepare your forces, make split second decisions, take risks and learn from defeat. All these are valuable lessons in life".

The Chess Official
(Related by Prof in 'Indian Summer of a Patzer, Singapore Chess Digest, Nov 1995).

When I officiated in some important FIDE event, I was given to remark, "Those who can, play; those who cannot, teach; those who cannot teach, become arbiters".

In a later blogpost, I will demonstrate some of Prof's wins.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Eternal Rivalry - by Junior Tay

In the Japanese Go Manga/Anime Hikaru No Go, much of the attention in the story is formed by the bitter rivalry betwen the protagonist Hikaru Shindo and the antagonist Akira Toya and their struggle to outdo or keep ahead of each other pushed them to greater heights to reach the lofty ranks of Japanese Professional Go.

In the local chess scene of the 90s, the closest thing to an eternal rivalry is probably between IM Hsu Li Yang and IM Terry Toh. Somehow, when they play one another, one of them will get crushed. Even after their chess careers had given way to their professional ones (Li Yang is an Assistant Professor at NUH and Terry practises Law), whenever they face off in the match between Singapore Medical Association and the Law Society at the Interprofessional Games, the bludgeoning of one of them continues.

IM Hsu Li Yang preparing for yet another siege on his Kingside.

IM Terry Toh 'smokes' Weiliang yet again

Here are two examples of how these two former National Champions manhandles one another over the board.

Last year, they had kindly agreed to play some training matches with IM Goh Wei Ming, CM Jarred Neubronner and Tan Weiliang so they did not get a personal match. However, both of them were outplayed by IM Goh Wei Ming in the English Reversed Dragon. Nevertheless, Terry had the last word when after his game, he noted "Ah! But I lasted four moves longer than Li Yang!"

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Grinding out the Junior Tay

Looking at Weiliang's games from the Kickoff Rapid 2013, one would realise that he does not have the  chessplayer's opening theory equivalent of the big  booming tennis serve like say...IM Goh Wei Ming (athough these days, Wei Ming seems happy to play less cut-throat lines). His games are lots of grindouts and late middlegame/endgame tussling types.

For that matter, Weiliang often gets next to nothing from the opening and often has to work his way back into the game. Here's a good example from the Kickoff event.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Tan Weiliang utterly dominant in the 1st 2013 Grand Prix Rapid Event

Smarting from a bruising Saturday morning 3 hour blitz marathon session with his badminton doubles partner IM Lim Yee Weng yesterday where he was on the receiving end, Tan Weiliang demonstrated the tenacity that allowed him to dominate most of last year's local Swiss events. He continued his winning streak following his 1st place wins at Cairnhill 2012 and National Challengers 2012 to clinch the Kickoff 2013 event by beating IM Luis Chiong in the last round to finish with 6.5/7, half point ahead of Cameron Goh, IM Steven Kim Yap and FM Tin Jingyao.

          The crucial final round game between IM Luis Chiong and Tan Weiliang

11 year old Cameron Goh was the lucky recipient of an early angpow from IM Steven Yap in the form of a free Queen in Round 3.  But he fully deserved his 2nd placing after besting  National Age Group U10 champion Heng Zheng Kai and ELO 2000+ players like Kenneth Tan and Collin Hornell. 3rd and 4th placings went to IM Steven Yap and FM Tin Jingyao and respectively. Steven nursed the loss to Cameron by beating all his other opponents while Jingyao, like Weiliang was unbeaten throughout - though he was slowed down by draws against Cyrus Nisban and Luis.

Here is the nervy final round game on top board. (Analysis by Tan Weiliang and Jr Tay)

           Final results can be found here

Sunday, 13 January 2013

WIM Gong Qianyun wins National Women Championships 2012 - by Wei Ming

WIM Gong Qianyun literally pulverized the opposition at the National Women Championships 2012 with an astounding 9.5/10 result, finishing 3.5(!) points ahead of WIM Angela Khegay. Only WFM Victoria Chan managed to nick a draw off Gong. WFM Danielle Ho acquitted herself well with the bronze medal result - finishing with 5/10 points. Gong's result will easily push her ELO rating (currently at 2298) past the 2300 mark with a 29.4 point gain.

WIM Gong Qian Yun at the Cairnhill Open 2012 (Thanks to  for the pic).

Here is Gong's crushing win over Victoria with the White pieces. Meanwhile, on Sunday, IM Luis Chiong nabbed the bronze medal place in the National Premier playoff when he upended IM Lim Yee Weng in the 2 game rapid playoff, 2-0. As late as Round 4, Luis was mired (with Yee Weng, no less) in the cellar with 1/4 but both of them rallied in the 2nd half of the event to reach equal 3rd place with Rico at the end of 10 rounds. A great testament for fighting chess!

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The new SCF initiatives - by Junior Tay

In recent months, SCF rolled out a slew of innovations.

1. HPE League

December saw the end of the 1st SCF HPE league. ELO rated players are encouraged to stake their ELO points by pitting their skills against our talented National Junior Squad players for $50-$120 per game. Personally,  I feel it is a great idea as I've indicated before in a previous blog post. Many of the juniors rose to the occasion and earned juicy ELO points. As for the ELO rated players, they go home with nice 3 digit dollars Christmas presents. One foreign International Master lamented to me that if he had been based somewhere nearer to Singapore, he would make the to and fro trip here just to play in the league every weekend!

2. Hou Yifan Blitz and Simultaneous Exhibition.

Getting the former Women's world champion to take part in a blitz event at a posh hotel is certainly a great idea. 10 lucky players got to pit their skills one to one with a world class player in a tournament and some of them acquitted themselves pretty well though ultimately, her superior play prevailed as expected. You can check out the videos of almost all the blitz games she played here. 

She also had the very tough task of taking on 46 top juniors after that and they nicked her for 8 draws and one loss, thanks to FM Tin Jingyao.

2. The new Grand Prix system.

SCF will flag off a new Grand Prix concept tomorrow with points given for placings (the higher the placing in the GP events, the more the points amassed), culminating with the top 20 in the Standard/ Rapid section and Blitz section winning attractive prizes (Standard/Rapid - from $50-$3000 and Blitz - from $50 to $1000). I think it's a brilliant concept as it gives many players something to play for other than rating points, trophies and cash prizes as the top 20 in each standard/rapid event and the top 10 in each blitz event get GP points. One top local player has already indicated to me excitedly that he will arrange his personal schedule to fit the Grand Prix events.

3. Removal of SCF rating list

This radical move is probably made to increase the number of FIDE rated Singaporeans. With the introduction of FIDE rapid and blitz ratings for events, this makes good sense. However, it also means that many non-FIDE rated players have to start from scratch (or no rating) after working their SCF ratings up to their present level.

4. The charging of administrative fees for publishing FIDE ratings for local players.

This is probably the most radical and controversial idea of all.

SCF is levying a charge of $60 per adult player (for the current year) to keep his/her FIDE rating on the published list unless he or she plays 10 FIDE rated games in SCF events (IMs and GMs are exempted and FMs/WFMs, CMs/WCMS need to play 5 FIDE rated games in SCF events to keep their names on the list).

Juniors (under 20) have to pay $60 and ALSO play 10 FIDE rated games to get their names on the list.  Even if they join the National Junior Squad (and pay $265-$382 per term (3 months' training)), they will still have to play 10 FIDE Standard rating games.  Within the Junior Squad training, they might (or might not) get to play at least 10 FIDE rated games until their ratings reaches above 1600, after which, they have to play 90 minutes per side FIDE rated games. (Update: I was informed in the Comments section by a poster who noted that Junior Squad players play 1 hour per side training matches. Another poster noted that this sufficed for FIDE rated games and a check of the FIDE handbook showed that for players below 1600 - 1 hour per side games can be FIDE rated, 1601-2199 - 90 minutes per side suffices and for >2199, 2 hours per side game is mandatory).

I personally find this $60 admininstrative fee too high for my liking. FIDE charges each chess federation one Euro (about $1.64) per rated player up to a total of 1500 Euros (meaning if a federation has more than 1500 FIDE rated players, there won't be any extra charges per extra player). Every FIDE rated event (with average rating up of 2300) will cost the federation 50 Euros (about $82). Assuming an SCF Event has 100 players participating, this will amount to less than $1 per player. You can find information on these charges in the FIDE handbook.

So in total, it will cost SCF less than $3 per player to keep his rating on the list, assuming the player takes part in 1 SCF FIDE rated event.  Surely, the entry fee that players have to foot for each event can cover this cost sufficiently. Perhaps there are hidden charges I'm not aware of.

Hence, I am perplexed by the logic that SCF gave - that  "in view of the increasing amount of resources required to maintain the FIDE rating lists in the upcoming years, the SCF will be levying a yearly administrative fee to remain on the FIDE rating list for Standard chess".

A player who is inactive will also not have his ratings changed unless he/she participates again. How much effort or cost will it take to keep his/her name on the inactive list when the subject's FIDE rating does not even move at all?  Probably nothing needs to be done at all!

Also, I always have this impression that it is FIDE which publishes and maintains the rating list instead of the individual chess federation? I might be mistaken though.

I presume SCF's intention in doing this is aimed at encouraging local players to set aside time to participate in SCF events. However, I don't suppose any other chess federation will try to force their players to 'play or pay' so the measures meted out seem unnecessarily harsh, in my opinion.

Oh, and for that matter, the admininstrative charge is poised to rise in subsequent years, as the $60 is noted as  a 'concessionary rate'.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The so-called weak c Junior Tay

This article is inspired by an analysis session with IM Goh Wei Ming and IM Lim Yee Weng following  Wei Ming's game against IM Enrique Paciencia.

In lines such as the Queen's Gambit Exchange and the Catalan Opening, frequently, Black is saddled with a 'weakie' on c6 or c7. However, in master praxis, more often than not, it is not so easy to exploit the weakness due to either good defence or strong counterplay to deflect White's attention. Take the following position which Wei Ming had against Enrique at the recently concluded National Premier...

The game continuation and corresponding analysis can be followed here .

I would like to share with you some adventures I had with such c pawns. About 11 years ago, after saddling my opponent with such a weak c-pawn in an English Opening, I also had to suffer for the duration of the whole game trying to grovel for a draw.

In the following game, my opponent's c pawn is 'so weak' that I did not even consider loping it off.
Of course, I should have just taken the c pawn off. There's no good excuse for the blind spot. Lastly, in the final game, in order to get at the c2 weakie, I had to make positional concessions of my own.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

SCF's HPE League - The Big Elo gainers - by Junior Tay

The 1st SCF HPE league saw the emergence of quite a few strong National Juniors who demonstrated that they could confidently take on masters at FIDE time control. The biggest ELO gainer is Ashvin Sivakumar (featured here in an earlier article) who completed his assignment with a massive 42.75 increase after scoring +1 against 6 ELO 2000+ players. Tin Ruiqi (+24.75), FM Tin Jingyao (+13.35), Lee Qing Aun (+28.5) and Heng Zheng Kai (+28.35) also did very well at the event.

But today, I would like to feature William Woong who not only earned 38.1 points in the HPE League, but also chalked up a massive 36.45 points gain in the 2012 Penang Heritage Open event. Even though he was only seeded a lowly 7th, he dominated the National Age Group U12 event with 8 wins out of 9 games, finishing with a tremendous 1.5 point gap ahead of his rivals! The total ELO gain from these three events for the ACS Junior schoolboy in December 2012 is a fantastic 100.8! Extremely well done indeed!

William (left) at the National Age Group U12 event playing Tan Jun Hao (Thanks to for the pic!)

Here is William's forceful win over WFM Zinmar Min Thahn in the HPE League.