Thursday, 27 June 2013

Drama at the Malaysian Masters - by Junior Tay

Aron Teh, IM Lim Yee Weng and IM Mas Hafizul were leading the event after the penultimate round with 5.5/8. The last round pitted Mas against Yee Weng and the game was uneventfully drawn rather quickly. Not surprising for Mas, actually, since this was the 19th(!) game he had to play back to back. This meant that FM Lim Zhuo Ren (5/8) had the chance to catch up. To Yee Weng's disbelief, Zhuo Ren eschewed a whole exchange against Ng Tze Han, choosing to settle for a pawn advantage. Now, a win would give him 6 pts too, together with Yee Weng and Mas. However, Tze Han's endgame proved too solid for Zhuo Ren to convert his pawn plus.

Now it's down to Aron to make his White count against FM Dr Ronnie Lim who was by far a pale shade of his usual strength, having just completed a few academic examinations prior to the event. SB calculations showed that Yee Weng would narrowly pip Aron to the title in the event of a draw by less than 1 SB point so Ronnie is now handed the role of the King-maker...

A trench warfare ensued...

CM Aron Teh vs FM Dr Ronnie Lim 

Hence Yee Weng emerged the Malaysian Masters Champion on SB tiebreak from Aron and Mas. Looking at the games, I remarked that Yee Weng either dragged his opponents into long manouvring games of attrition or took quick, no-fuss draws. His explanation was that the 2 games per day schedule was just gruelling and energy zapping. In fact, on one occasion, when he reached home after the 2nd game of the day, he just slumped onto the bed and fell asleep. So his strategy of alternating fighting games and peace gestures paid dividends. He also noted that he had some lucky breaks indeed.

Ronnie had him on the ropes, outplaying him to win the exchange. But with 10 minutes each left on the clock, the inexplicable happened...
And of course, the game that did wonders for his SB a seemingly tranquil position, Yee Weng unleashed a deadly pawn sacrifice and got back a lot more for his investment.
Finally, here's the most talked about game of the event. Mas was clearly out of sorts against the World Amateur Co-champion (2nd on tiebreak)and Malaysian National Closed Champion who declined a draw on move 10 to record a memorable Queen sacrifice.
Final Crosstable here.

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