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

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'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, subscriptions. One particularly memorable event for me was'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 - 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 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!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Gambit Play by Junior Tay

I would like to present you two examples of gambit play.

Last week, after playing an online blitz game on I lost) with an anonymous Singaporean, the fella messaged me and revealed that he is Lau Keng Boon, an old chess friend whom I have not met for more than 10 years. Keng Boon was the 1996 National Champion and he has not played competitively for more than 10 years. Keng Boon is also one of Khoo Geak Chong's prodigies (an impressive list - just offhand, IM Goh Wei Ming, CM Kek Wei Chuan (National Champion 2000), CM Chua Han Wei (ex-National Youth Champion) are among them) from Boon Lay Primary and he was a rising star in the 90s. I recall that he had also played in a Singapore Pools  IM event in 1997, scoring wins over Indonesia GMs Ardiansyah and Suradiradja. Anyway, I would like to show you  this incredible game he played in the 1996 National Championships and won the title after finishing 2nd as his opponent, the strong GM Tu is not a Singapore Citizen or PR.

In recent tourney encounters between FM Jarred Neubronner and CM Tan Weiliang, the former kept hitting a brick wall trying to batter down Weiliang's ultra-solid Giuoco Piano. This time, in the Serangoon Rapid event, Jarred decided to throw caution to the wind and simply sacrifice a pawn early (move 4!)to confuse Weiliang. However, the plan misfired as Weiliang refuted the opening confidently. Jarred had to move to hustler mode to win a pulsating well played encounter.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Big 30

I have just completed what could be my last event in 2013 and will be flying back to Singapore tomorrow afternoon. The Indoor Games ended somewhat successfully when we tied for 4th and finished above the Philippines in the Blitz team event. Of course, there is always a luck element especially for such a short preliminary but a result is a result and hopefully this will count as something to represent Singapore in the chess events at the SEA Games later this year.

Naturally, I have a lot of thoughts about the KL Invitational Masters and the Asian Indoor Games and also came to some conclusions on how I can work towards that final GM norm and 2500 elo. I promised Peter to put up some games and have also been working on a book project for a long time now so I better put in some work in the next few months. 

And oh, I've just turned 30 which means its time to set some new year resolutions. For the moment, I better try to motivate myself to go back to work on Monday....

Monday, 1 July 2013

Absolute dominance by FM Jarred Neubronner and IM Luis Chiong at the Serangoon Blitz and Rapid respectively - by Junior Tay

Both Jarred and Luis dominated the respective events so comprehensively that they could even afford to sit out the final round and still claim the titles.

 Jarred scored 9/11 in the Serangoon Blitz eventually, only dropping games to FMs Tin Jingyao and Liu Xiangyi and shrugging off the challenge of Pinoy masters such as CM Nelson Mariano III, NM Roberto Suelo, IMs Luis Chiong and Enrique Paciencia. However, things didn't go as smoothly for him as he stated that he had lost positions in about 4 games and was lucky to win them.
FM Jarred Neubronner- picture courtesy of archive

The critical game sealing his ultimate victory was his Round 10 win over IM Enrique Paciencia.

The next day's Rapid event saw IM Luis Chiong scything down the field to finish a perfect 7/7, a whooping 1.5 points ahead of IM Ravindran Shanmugan, FM Tin Jingyao and Jarred. One surprise result was the meltdown of CM Tan Weiliang who was in contention after Round 4 with 3.5 points and lost 3 games in a row. Weiliang remarked after the event that he has placed far too many non-stop committments on his plate from Tuesday to Saturday before the event. Thus it is a timely reminder for chessplayers to pace themselves well as chess is hard work indeed and if you're a little off, punishment on the board comes swiftly.

 IM Luis Chiong - picture courtesy of archive

Watch the following mature display of controlled aggression by Luis at the Serangoon Rapid. Luis had a strong initiative on the Queenside in a King's Indian where CM Olimpiu Urcan's Kingside pawn storm had barely started. Olimpiu set up a devious sacrificial idea to accelerate his Kingside assault and this is how Luis cleverly dealt with it. Final Results - Serangoon Blitz
Final Results - Serangoon Rapid