Sunday, 21 April 2013

More updates on the 13th Bangkok Open - A spine tingling win by Australia's number 1!

After the incredible endgame in our previous blog post, the Filipino veteran Grandmaster continued his fine run with wins over IM Wan Yun Guo of China and GM Levente Vadja from Romania. Both games featured speculative sacrifices and displayed Antonio's fine sense of the initiative and a refreshing disregard of material. His round 5 masterpiece against the Romanian super GM is one such example:

This win propelled Antonio to sole first place with a score of 5.5/6 but his fine run was ended in round 7 by the well known Danish GM Hansen Sune Berg who was also caught up by Gerhard Schebler, a German Grandmaster currently residing in Thailand, and Australian number 1, Grandmaster Zhao Zong Yuan on 6/7. 

Round 8 would prove to be the decisive round which more or less determines the outcome of the tournament. The board 1 encounter between Schebler and Hansen was a quiet affair and ended in a relatively quick draw. On board 2, the legendary Nigel Short took the white pieces against Zhao and a win by the Englishman will bring him into a tie for first place going into the last round, an unlikely comeback after his round 3 debacle. Outrated by 160 points, the odds were not in favor of the Australian but he turned in an exceptional performance which left most of the live followers in amazement and delight:

I know Zong-Yuan personally and he has easily one of the most likeable personalities around in the chess scene. His medical studies might have deterred him from realising his full potential in chess but it is displays like this that shows that he will be leading Australia's charge in the global chess scene for a very long time. 

Going into the last round, Zong Yuan is in the sole lead with 7/8 and face Wan Yunguo who needs a draw to secure a GM norm. Sune Berg Hansen (6.5) takes the white pieces against German super GM Jan Gustafsson (6.5). The only other player who can catch Zong Yuan is Schebler (6.5) who faces an uphill task with Black vs Vadja. 

 UPDATE: The round is still in progress but both games on the top 2 boards have finished in quick draws while Vadja has beaten Schebler which means GM Zhao Zong-Yuan is the new Bangkok Open Champion with an outstanding score of 7.5/9. A well deserved win and sincere congratulations!

Full results and updates can be found here: 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Book sale!

I am intending to clear out my shelves and have made the painful and brave move to put up most of my chess books for sale. Most of these are in excellent condition and will be heavily discounted ranging from 25% - 75% depending on the condition and the degree of relevance to today's context. Therefore, a book that is published in 2007 will have a higher discount as compared to one published in 2011, ceteris paribus.

I have at least scanned through most of these books and can give a reasonably reliable review if so required. I apologise if there are some overlaps in the pictures below, these were taken while I was hurriedly packing my things! 

If interested, please leave a comment here, or contact me at

*GM 6, the Sicilian defence available

A critical round at the 10th TCA Mega Open and a fascinating game at the 13th Bangkok Open

After winning the National Championships at the end of 2012, I had to take a break from chess as the January - April period is the traditional "peak period" for all auditors. As previously reported here, I was quite happy with the opportunity to push some wood in the TCA Mega Open and was fortunate to emerge as the winner after several hard fought rounds. Ironically, I rate my game against IM Enrique Paciencia as my best in the tournament and it also turned out to be my only loss from the tournament.

Thankfully for me, I was able to win a nerve wrecking final round where I was on the ropes for much of the game and only won when my opponent pressed too hard and unnecessarily ended in time trouble. It only goes to show that in chess, one has to be vigilant until the score sheets are signed and you cannot afford to let your guard down at any point of time.

 The 13th Bangkok Open is currently underway and with an outstandingly strong field of over 20 GMs and representatives from both Singapore and Malaysia, there is plenty of exciting chess to report. After looking through some live games, here's one which is bound to entertain, although it certainly didn't appear to be particularly exciting at the initial stage!

Junior and I will undoubtedly feature more games from this important event. Watch this space!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Singaporeans at the ICC Open 2013 - by Junior Tay

The Internet Chess Club held its 2nd ICC Open with four 3 minute blitz events to qualify 8 players for the Final. The top 8 players played elimination KO matches and GM Hikaru Nakamura ultimately defended his ICC Open title (with the US$850 prize money)  with a 4.5-3.5 win over GM Simonian Hrair. GM Jon Ludvig Hammer and IM Roberto Junio Brito Molina finished 3rd.

I took part in the event together with fellow educator Choo Tong Neo (who has helped MOE win the Civil Service Teams a few times). My 8/11 score in the 1st qualifier (tied for 13th to 35th out of 503 players) looks better than it really is because my final round opponent, GM Vadim Milov decided to withdraw after realising he has no chance of making the top 2 positions ( needed 9.5/11 to qualify for the Finals).  In fact, I only scored 6.5/11 in the 3rd qualifier. In the 2 qualifiers, I got hammered by 4 GMs, but managed a win over Wei Ming's good friend, IM Erik Kislik.

The next two games demonstrate the clear difference between GMs and us club level players - the ability to keep calm and continue playing strong moves consistently at a fast tempo even if the position turned against them. Tong Neo snared eventual ICC Open runner-up GM Simonian Hrair's c2 pawn but the latter just kept plugging on and eventually won on time.  
As for me, the World No 158, Gadir Guseinov (ELO 2623) was just too quick for me. It seems that I came close to a draw but 40 seconds difference on the clock is too telling.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Zhuo Ren's turn at the event by Junior Tay

After showing how Michael Fernandez performed creditably at the Chester and Buxton Congress, now it's Lim Zhuo Ren's turn. Competing in the Gatwick Congress, Zhuo Ren ended up in a tie for 4th  place behind the eventual winner GM Keith Arkell (who outplayed Zhuo Ren in Rd 2)  and runners up GM Alexander Cherniaev and  IM Gediminas Sarakauskas. Zhuo Ren felt that he could have done better as he was pressing Alexander Galliano (2101) in the final round but just could not find the breakthrough. With his final 3.5/5 score, Zhuo Ren earned 10 more elo points. Here is a classy win by Zhuo Ren in Round 3.

Zhuo Ren with GM Peter Svidler during the World Championship Candidates last week 
(pic swiped from Zhuo Ren's FB).

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Creative Chess Advertisements - by Junior Tay

50 years ago, the Singapore Chess Bulletin was headed by Prof Lim Kok Ann with Dr Phoon Wai On as the Assistant Editor, IM Tan Lian Ann the Games Editor and Mah Beng Guan, the Business Editor. Apart from the tournament reports, game commentaries and  the Master move contests, In my opinion, there were also other novel aspects to the magazine.  The front cover had interesting figurines and a different colour scheme for different months. However what I found extremely interesting were the creative advertisements placed within the magazine. I'm not sure whether this was due to the wicked wit of Prof Lim or any other culprit. But check them out for yourself how a chess motif is woven into each advertisement.

This one suggests that Tiger Balm Oil will help the chessplayer overcome lost positions. Now we know why Chinese Grandmasters like Wang Yue apply the ointment during his tournament games.

This is especially so when after applying, you might just find brilliancies over the board, according to this ad.  Hmm, gotta get myself one of these before my next tournament....

Next up, a couple of bank ads featuring Chess Champions from the Tan family. 

Since you can rely on champions like Lian Ann and Lian Seng to deliver powerful checks, you may choose to place your money with the bank which issues reliable cheques. 

However, my favourite advertisement is the following one...

You'd better start ordering the chess magazine or you'll be labelled a 'chicken'! 

And because of this advertisment, I'm sure it's Prof Lim Kok Ann who was the for these creative advertisements!

Note: For the non Singaporean/Malaysian or Indonesian, the direct translation of the word 'Ayam' is 'chicken'. A more detailed and figurative translation can be found here.