Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Reflections on the SCF Administrative Fee - by Junior Tay

Rather than to dispute or speak in defence of the controversial SCF adminstrative fee (which in short requires local players to pay 60 bucks or get their ratings wiped off the FIDE list, unless you are a GM, IM, FM, pre-2000 SCF NM/CM or NJS member),  I thought it might be interesting to poll titled chessfriends on Facebook on their views. After all, they are the 'exalted minority' who do not risk getting their ratings delisted. So last evening, I simply facebook messaged those who were online with the question "If SCF requires you to pay a $60 admin fee, will you pay up?"
Within 90 minutes, 8 of them (comprising 1 GM, 3 IMs and 4 FMs) responded with the result of 6 not in favour of paying and 2 willing to cough up the moolah. What's more interesting is the rationale they offer for their decisions and the queries they made.

Two of the masters stated that since they are not playing actively, they would not pay and they have no issues having their ratings wiped off. One of the two indicated that if he is still active on the circuit, and an admin fee is necessary, he will dole out the cash.

Another master was strongly against paying the fee,and asked me if this move is constitutional, as this is a decision that affects all SCF members and hence should be tabled for voting during the AGM. I am not versed in such matters and hence cannot offer him an informed answer.

One master, who would have declined to pay as a matter of principle, pointed out the irony of  Team  Kasparov (of which the SCF President belongs to) FIDE Election  Program's pledge to decrease federation fees by 50% and all other fees by 25%  and SCF's introduction of an admin fee. 
The two masters who advocate the paying of the fee (if required), felt that they should do their part for the local chess federation, since they can afford to do so. One of them reflected that SCF is saddled with a huge wage (+ utilities) bill and it is only fair for chess players to help keep it afloat. He suggested that for players who cannot pay, they can assist in tourneys at $5 an event and offset their dues (I suppose on the basis that they help out in one tourney per month). However,  he indicated the need for good communication with the chess players and stakeholders on the rationale for the fee.

One master expressed fears that this move may drive players to focus on online chess servers instead given that there are quite a number of free chess servers with strong players online.
Yet another master noted that the admin fee essentially ends up with FIDE and not SCF per se and thus the issue is more politically than financially motivated. I suppose he is referring to the FIDE License fee which FIDE previously intended to implement but subsequently put aside. Under that rule, the federations which collected the fees might get a cut after the collection. It's not clear if these two issues are related but if they are, then the local chess player must then consider the political element when they make the decision to pay or not.

Personally, I find it strange to penalise the majority of the chess players who are good enough to earn a FIDE rating but not the strong minority with FIDE titles. Kasparov's platform also indicated 'FIDE must provide benefits to the huge base of chessplayers, not just serve the elite', so there you have another paradox again. Perhaps this is not a good analogy contextually but to me, it seems that the opposite is happening here. Anyway, since the top players are excluded from paying the fee, SCF does not risk losing its best players from the FIDE rating list.

Note: My survey is not meant to represent the views of the general chess community or the sentiments of the strong local players. Of course if I were to poll the masters in the SCF committee,  the results will most likely be different. This is merely a simple straw poll among chess friends who happen to be on facebook chat last evening.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

An old but interesting game, and an update on book sales!

Since I woke up unusually early today, I thought it will be interesting to run through some of my old games with Houdini 4 and correct some of my old analysis. I retrieved one game which I remember being very proud of after it was played and I thought I'll share it with my readers.

The game in question is not in the databases and featured an important win at the Caissa IM tournament, Kecskemet, in 2007 where I obtained my 2nd IM norm. A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "Caissa IM Tournament"] [Site "?"] [Date "2007.05.24"] [Round "6"] [White "Jesper Morck Lauridsen"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B43"] [WhiteElo "2293"] [BlackElo "2375"] [Annotator "Goh,Wei Ming, Kevin"] [PlyCount "118"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 {The Sicilian Kan and the French defence were my 2 main defences against 1.e4 in the past.} 5. Nc3 (5. Bd3 {is the other big mainline in the Sicilian Kan and here, I favored and have played both} Bc5 6. Nb3 Be7 ({and} 6... Ba7)) 5... b5 (5... Qc7 6. Bd3 Nf6 7. O-O Bc5 8. Nb3 Be7 {is the other mainline.}) 6. Bd3 Qb6 {Diverting the d4 knight to a less active square is a common motif in the Sicilian Kan.} 7. Nb3 (7. Nf3 $1 { is critical but that's another story.}) 7... Qc7 8. O-O Nc6 9. f4 d6 10. Qe2 Nf6 11. Bd2 Be7 12. Rae1 O-O {Both sides have continued extremely logically. White's plan is typically centred around the line-opening e4-e5 while Black will go on the offensive on the queenside with ...b5-b4 and ...a5-a4. An alternate plan for White involves aggressive g2-g4-g5 ideas although I'm normally quite happy to see this as my b7 bishop will be a dangerous piece for me.} 13. Kh1 (13. e5 dxe5 14. fxe5 Nd7 15. Bf4 Bb7 {was my idea and I didn't see a concrete way for White to proceed with his attack.}) 13... Bb7 14. Rf3 { [%cal Gf3h3] Played with the obvious idea of Rh3 followed by e5, winning on the spot. Such rook lifts are typical in the Sicilian although Black's position is often resilient enough to withstand such caveman attacks.} g6 { Closing the door on White's light square bishop.} 15. Rh3 b4 16. Nd1 Rfe8 { [%cal Ge7f8,Gf8g7,Ge8e1] Discouraging any f4-f5 ideas and preparing Be7-f8-g7 which is a typical manoeuvre in the Sicilian Scheveningen/Kan complex.} 17. Ne3 {This keeps the possibilities of Ng4, exchanging a key defensive piece, or Nc4 where White gains control over some key squares. During the game, I thought this was logical but it turned out that the temporary loss of control over the e4 square was more critical than I thought.} (17. Nf2 $5 Bf8 (17... a5 18. c3 a4 19. Nd4 $1 Nxd4 20. cxd4 {is the point, when e4 is now defended. Still, Black seems fine after} Qb6 {,with a complicated position.}) 18. Ng4 Nxg4 19. Qxg4 Bg7 20. c3 a5 21. Qh4 h5 22. Qg3 {with complex play seems better.}) 17... a5 $1 18. c3 a4 $1 19. Nc1 a3 $1 {Black managed to gain several tempi and since I had the chance to break White's queenside early, I should take it! However, I had to calculate the consequences of the following exchange sacrifice.} 20. bxa3 Rxa3 21. Nc4 bxc3 $1 {An extravagant exchange sacrifice where Black didn't even gain a pawn for it. I was a little bit nervous going into this sequence as there was no immediate win and I was counting on the activity of my minor pieces to generate enough play. I also understood that Black's compensation lies in the discoordinated pieces but this was a temporary weakness and I had to stop White from consolidating at all costs.} ( 21... Rxc3 22. Bxc3 bxc3 {was also possible but I liked the idea of pushing the white knight to c3 so that I gain a tempo with the liberating ...d5.}) ({ I didn't consider the retreat} 21... Raa8 {due to the obvious} 22. cxb4 {but even here, Black gains an excellent position with} d5 $1) 22. Nxa3 cxd2 (22... Nd4 $1 23. Qd1 cxd2 24. Qxd2 d5 {may be more accurate.}) 23. Qxd2 d5 24. Nc2 $6 {This handed a permanent advantage to Black although it seems like he gets a complicated game with sufficient compensation in every scenario:} (24. e5 $2 Bxa3 25. exf6 Bb4 26. Qf2 Bxe1 27. Qxe1 Qxf4 $19) (24. Nb5 $1 {may be best.} Qb6 25. e5 (25. exd5 Bb4 $1 (25... Nxd5 26. f5 $1) 26. Qb2 Nxd5 $44) 25... Ng4 26. Rf1 Nb4 $13) 24... dxe4 25. Bxe4 Bd6 $5 {During the game, I was very happy with this move but the powerful engine demonstrated} (25... Nxe4 26. Rxe4 Na5 $1 27. Re1 Nc4 28. Qf2 Nd6 $1 {[%cal Gd6e4,Gd6f5] A truly extraordinary and creative manoeuvre!}) 26. Qc3 $2 {After this, White's game went downhill very quickly.} ({Keeping 1 bishop with} 26. Bf3 {was crucial to White's defence, for example,} Bxf4 27. Qc3 Be5 28. Qc4 {with counterplay. This was also why 25. ..Nxe4, mentioned in the previous note was much stronger.}) 26... Nxe4 27. Rxe4 Rc8 $1 {Taking advantage of White's awkwardly placed pieces on the c-file. This move opened up numerous tactical ideas which was hardly easy to defend against in a practical game.} ({My opponent expected the materialistic} 27... Bxf4 {which I rejected on account of} 28. Nd3 Bg5 29. Nc5 {which unnecessarily allows White's pieces to be somewhat activated. Still, I prefer Black here but White would have something more to play for.}) 28. Nb3 (28. Rc4 Ba6 {was an important detail. Black's domination down the c-file was very critical and this cannot be compromised.}) 28... Ne7 $1 {I was initially reluctant to trade queens as I was still an exchange down here (with no extra pawns) but my doubts quickly dissipated when I saw that the f4 pawn will soon be lost and it would be virtually impossible to restrict the activity of Black's bishop pair and active knight. This was one of those rare cases where the minor pieces simply work better than the rooks despite the presence of several open files.} 29. Qxc7 Rxc7 30. Re2 Nd5 31. Rf3 {Returning the exchange after which White no longer had any chances.} (31. Rd2 Bxf4 32. Rf2 e5 33. Ne1 e4 {would have been also quite gloomy for White but at least some accuracy from the second player would still have been required.}) 31... Nxf4 32. Rd2 Bxf3 33. gxf3 Be5 34. Kg1 Bc3 35. Rd8+ Kg7 36. Na3 Bb4 37. Nb5 Rc2 {Winning a second pawn and the game.} 38. a3 Rb2 39. axb4 Rxb3 40. Nd6 Rxb4 41. Rd7 Rb1+ 42. Kf2 Rb2+ 43. Kf1 Rb1+ 44. Kf2 Nd3+ 45. Kg2 Ne5 46. Ra7 Rb6 47. Ne8+ Kf8 48. Nf6 Rb2+ 49. Kg3 h5 50. f4 Rb3+ 51. Kg2 Ng4 52. Nh7+ Kg8 53. Ng5 Nh6 54. Ra8+ Kg7 55. Ra7 Kf6 56. Nf3 Rb4 57. h3 Rxf4 58. Kg3 g5 59. Rxf7+ $5 Nxf7 {This important win eventually led to my 2nd IM norm.} 0-1

I've sold several books since my last advert - here's the latest update on available books. PM me if you are keen:

                        The entire "Openings for White according to Anand" up till Volume 13 is available

                                    I don't think anyone is interested in the Master Tax Guide?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

27th SEA Games - the story (Part 3)

After the heart breaking loss in the previous round, I had to pull myself together as I had to face another strong Grandmaster in the form of Oliver Barbosa. A medal was still within reach but I had to win 2/2 which was anything but easy. Still, I was determined to make a fight out of it and the result was another interesting fighting game:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Oliver Barbosa"] [Result "*"] [ECO "B12"] [PlyCount "64"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. c4 $5 {This was an old move favoured by the Romanian Grandmaster Nevednichy which I felt contain a fair bit of venom. Ideal for blitz and rapid!} ({I have also played} 4. Nd2) ({and} 4. h4 h5 5. c4 {before.}) 4... e6 5. Nc3 Nd7 6. Nge2 Ne7 7. Ng3 Bg6 8. cxd5 cxd5 9. Bd3 Nc6 10. O-O Qh4 11. Bb5 $1 Rc8 (11... Bb4) 12. Be3 (12. f4 $5 f5 ({grabbing a pawn with} 12... Nxd4 $2 13. Bxd7+ Kxd7 14. Be3 {is too dangerous for Black}) 13. exf6 Nxf6 14. f5 $1 {with the idea} Ng4 15. h3 Qxg3 16. Bf4 Ne3 17. Bxg3 Nxd1 18. Raxd1 {and with the pair bishop in full force in a wide-open position, this looks very promising for White.}) 12... Bb4 13. f4 f5 14. Rc1 {With simple play, White has secured more space and an easy advantage.} Qe7 15. Qb3 ( 15. Na4 $1 O-O 16. a3 Ba5 17. Rf2 $1 {followed by Rfc2 is a logical and strong positional idea.}) 15... Ba5 $2 16. a3 $2 ({The unlikely} 16. Bxc6 $1 bxc6 17. Nb5 $1 {wins a pawn by force.}) 16... O-O 17. Na4 Bb6 18. Nxb6 Nxb6 19. Rc3 $2 {A serious inaccuracy that allows Black to make sense of his previously awkward pieces.} (19. Qd3 a6 20. Bxc6 Rxc6 21. Rxc6 bxc6 22. Bd2 $14 { maintains the advantage.}) 19... Na5 20. Qc2 Nac4 21. Qf2 Rc7 22. Rfc1 Rfc8 { Black had built impressively on the queenside and I decided to sacrifice a pawn to relieve myself of some of that pressure. Objectively, this was unnecessary but I gained a lot of practical chances especially due to the time control.} 23. b3 $5 Nxa3 24. Rxc7 Rxc7 25. Bd3 Be8 26. Rc5 a6 27. Qa2 Nb5 28. Qa5 Nc8 29. Qd2 Rxc5 30. dxc5 Nba7 31. Bc2 Bb5 32. h3 g6 *
I wasn't able to recall the full game here but after a series of twists and turns, we arrived at the following position:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "6"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Oliver Barbosa"] [Result "0-1"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "5k2/2nQ4/4p2p/1PP1qp2/2B3p1/6PP/6K1/8 w - - 0 1"] [PlyCount "1"] {I'm not exactly sure of the details but we reached a position that looks approximately like this. I had several chances to play the obvious and pretty straightforward} 1. Qd6+ {, winning right away. This is one of those moves that I'll normally play 9 out of 10 times and again, it is inexplicable how I can miss such a simple move. As luck would have it, I went on to lose the game, and together with it, my medal chances once and for all.} 0-1
Clearly, I was nowhere on Caissa's good books. In the last round, I took the black pieces against Grandmaster John Paul Gomez who was still in the running for a medal finish. After 2 devastating afternoon losses, I was not exactly in the best of moods and decided to go all out for a consolation win: A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "7"] [White "John Paul Gomez"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B00"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "78"] 1. d4 Nc6 $1 {No, I was not interested in any theoretical battles and simply want to play creative chess.} 2. e4 e5 (2... d5 {is also one of my favourites.} ) 3. dxe5 Nxe5 4. Nf3 Nxf3+ 5. Qxf3 Bc5 6. Nc3 Ne7 7. Bc4 O-O 8. Bg5 h6 9. h4 $5 Qe8 10. O-O-O d6 11. Qg3 Kh8 12. Nb5 Bb6 {Here, I felt I was getting pressed but I thought White's pieces were not exactly well placed too. If I manage to get my light square bishop out in time, Black would be fine.} 13. Qc3 Ng8 (13... Bd7 $1 {is strong, with the idea} 14. Bxh6 $4 f6 $1) 14. Be3 (14. f3 Bd7 15. Nd4 Qe5 16. Kb1 Rae8 17. Bd5 {seems better for White.}) 14... a6 $1 { My opponent missed this move in his calculations.} 15. Nd4 $2 ({Sacrificing a pawn for very little. After the game, I suggested} 15. Na3 {but Gomez didn't like} Bxe3+ (15... Qxe4 16. Bxb6 cxb6) 16. Qxe3 b5 {when he felt his knight was slightly estranged. However,} 17. Bd5 Rb8 18. Qa7 Be6 {would have remained pretty unclear.}) 15... Qxe4 16. f3 Qe5 17. Qb3 Bd7 (17... Nf6 $1 18. Rhe1 d5 $1 {would have been very good for Black.}) 18. Rhe1 Qf6 {This allows White to launch an attack afterall.} (18... Qg3 $1 19. Bxf7 $4 Bxd4 $1 $19) 19. g4 $1 { Now everything is unclear again.} Qxh4 20. Bxf7 Qf6 21. Bxg8 Rxg8 22. g5 Qf8 23. Rh1 Re8 24. gxh6 g5 $1 {For some weird reason, Black is still surviving here and despite the loose king, I can at least point to the activity in all my pieces as consolation. It is not easy for White to make progress in his attack although the passed h-pawn looks menacing, it provided ample cover for my king. I was very optimistic about my position here and felt it contained good practical chances.} 25. Qd3 Qf6 26. Qd2 Re7 27. Kb1 Bc6 28. c3 $2 { Overlooking an important trick.} Bxf3 $1 29. h7 (29. Nxf3 Bxe3 $17) (29. Rdf1 Qg6+ $1 {wins for Black.}) 29... Rgg7 30. Rdf1 Qg6+ (30... g4 $1 $17) 31. Ka1 Bxh1 32. Rf8+ $1 {I completely missed this move and was very fortunate that I wasn't just losing.} Kxh7 33. Qh2+ Qh6 34. Rh8+ Kxh8 35. Qxh6+ Kg8 36. Qxh1 ( 36. Ne6 $1 Bxe3 37. Nxg7 Rxg7 38. Qxh1 c6 39. Qe4 Bf4 40. Qe8+ {forces a draw. Now Black is back in the driver's seat.}) 36... Rxe3 37. Nf5 Re5 38. Nxg7 Kxg7 $2 {A terrible automatic move.} ({Missing the not so obvious} 38... Bf2 $3 {, winning immediately.}) 39. a3 d5 {The game went on for many moves but with very little time, I was not able to stifle White's counter play effectively (he managed to take my b7-pawn and create a passed a-pawn) and had to be content with a draw.} 1/2-1/2

The result was certainly disappointing but I felt good about my play in general and with a bit of luck, a medal was certainly not unthinkable. Ultimately, the experience and composure of the Grandmasters told in the end but at least I put up a lot of resistance and was happy that I was able to get good positions despite the lack of theoretical discussion involved. I generally rely on my opening preparation a lot but the games at the very least show that I was able to play creatively when I need to.

The next few days were spent earnestly preparing for the Mixed Pair Transfer event. Before the Games, it was everyone's opinion that here lies our best chance of snaring a medal, given that the rules were written locally and we had the benefit of actually playing out the rules in training games by following the National Transfer Chess Championships, even before these were finalised. After following the Mens' Pair tournament, it was clear how difficult it was going to be. The street style of transfer chess clearly suited the Indonesians who looked formidable in their gold and bronze medal finishes in the Mens' Pair. Megaranto in particular was a speed monster who plays amazingly fast and accurate. At the same time, they had the benefit of training against one another during the days leading up to the event while Yang and I had no one to train with (more on this in a later post). We were fortunate that the Malaysians offered to train with us or else we would literally have zero warm up games. A shout out to Yee Weng, Zhuo-ren, Jianwen, Li Ting and Nabila, thanks a lot guys!

We finished tied 4th, losing in critical matches to both Indonesian teams and the Vietnamese pair of Dao Thien Hai and Nhu Y. We certainly had our chances but I am fairly confident in saying the above medal winners would beat virtually any Mens' Pair from Singapore, such is the strength of the Indonesian girls in display. Still, I am very pleased with our final result and feel that both Yang and I could not have done anything more.

I'll just like to credit my partner for being very accommodating with all my training requests and putting up with a lot of my harsh words during practice. I am genuinely very proud of her as she clearly improved by leaps and bounds and saved a lot of the games when I was in dire straits.

To all those who have been encouraging and helping us throughout this period, thank you. It means a lot to us. If we do include Chess in the next SEA Games, 2015 will be a better year!

27th SEA Games - the story (Part 2)

My next event was the 7 rounds rapid event where there are formidable opposition in the form of Vietnam's GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son and IM Nguyen Duc Hoa, Indonesia's GM Megaranto Susanto & IM Farid Firman Syah and GMs Oliver Barbosa and John Paul Gomez from the Philippines. Again, I didn't fancy my chances very well but I still had reasonable hope of a medal finish. I finished 9th out of 15 players but again, the story is very different as you shall soon see....

After a smooth win in the first round, I was paired against Farid with the Black pieces. After losing to him in the blitz event, I was perfectly aware of the danger that he posed. The game was an exciting one where I missed a golden opportunity to score an important win.... A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)

[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Farid Firman Syah"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A40"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "76"] 1. d4 Nc6 $5 {I have decided to utilise my primary school repertoire for the SEA Games, hoping that my experience with this line would be useful against my younger and faster opponents. In fact, I managed to play this 3 times during the Rapid event and arguably could have scored 3/3 as you shall soon see....} 2. d5 Ne5 3. Nf3 {A small surprise. I've played countless games with 1...Nc6 and this was the first time I ever had to face this move.} Nxf3+ 4. gxf3 e5 5. e4 Bc5 6. f4 ({I was expecting} 6. Rg1 {which is certainly more logical as it makes use of the half open g-file immediately. I intended} Qh4 7. Qe2 Ne7 { with unclear play.}) 6... Qh4 {Hoping for a swift end to the game but unfortunately, my opponent defended my not-so-obvious threat easily....} 7. Qf3 Nf6 8. Nc3 Ng4 9. Nd1 exf4 10. Bxf4 d6 {I have achieved an ideal position with decent chances of playing for an attack plus a time advantage to boot.} 11. Bb5+ c6 $1 ({The computer suggests} 11... Kf8 {but I was always going to sacrifice a pawn for the sake of development.}) 12. dxc6 O-O 13. Rg1 f5 $5 { Played to open lines at all cost.} (13... bxc6 14. Bxc6 Rb8 {was another idea.} ) 14. exf5 Bxf5 15. cxb7 Rab8 16. Kd2 Nxh2 $1 17. Qg3 Qxg3 18. Rxg3 Rxb7 19. Bc6 $2 {A serious blunder which presented me with a golden opportunity.} ({I was expecting} 19. Bc4+ Kh8 20. Be3 Rc7 {with a tangible endgame edge. My passed h-pawn will likely be able to create some problems in the foreseeable future.}) 19... Nf1+ $2 ({The unexpected} 19... Rb4 $1 {with the dual threats of ...Nf1 and ...Rxf4 wins by force.} 20. Bd5+ Kh8) 20. Ke1 Nxg3 21. Bxb7 Be4 $1 {An important move that maintains the advantage.} 22. fxg3 Bxb7 23. Nc3 { During the game, I assessed the position as slightly better for Black in view of the bishop pair but actually, Black had a significant advantage at this juncture. The key factor is Black's kingside majority and White's slightly awkward pieces which means that Black could continue to generate threats despite the reduced material.} g5 $2 {A complete misassessment of the position and allowing White to alleviate the pressure.} ({Instead,} 23... h5 $1 {is the move, when the idea of simply pushing the h-pawn down is extremely difficult to meet. For example,} 24. Na4 h4 25. Nxc5 dxc5 26. Bd6 h3 27. g4 Rf6 {with excellent winning chances.}) 24. Bxg5 Rf2 25. Rd1 Rxc2 26. Rd2 {White has consolidated and the game soon petered out to a draw.} Rc1+ 27. Rd1 Rc2 28. Rd2 Rc1+ 29. Ke2 Rg1 30. Bf4 Kf7 31. a3 d5 32. b4 Bb6 33. Na4 Rg2+ 34. Ke1 Rg1+ 35. Ke2 Rg2+ 36. Kd3 Rxd2+ 37. Kxd2 Ke6 38. Nxb6 axb6 1/2-1/2

An unfortunate miss but there are still plenty of games to go. Somehow, I was paired, again with the Black pieces with Megaranto. A tough manoeuvring game ensued where neither side appears to be doing much and the game eventually finished in a draw in an equal queen ending.
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "3"] [White "Megaranto Susanto"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "D02"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "48"] 1. d4 Nc6 {A second 1...Nc6 in a row!} 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bf4 Bg4 4. e3 e6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. O-O Bd6 7. Nbd2 O-O 8. Bg5 Be7 9. c4 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. cxd5 exd5 12. h3 Bh5 {White had played tamely and it was clear that I had gotten a comfortable position from the opening. In addition, I had a significant time advantage on the clock as I didn't have much to think about in the opening moves.} 13. Rc1 Rfd8 14. Nxe4 dxe4 15. Nd2 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 Nb4 $1 17. Qc4 (17. Rc5 Nd3 $1 (17... Nd5 18. Qg4 {forces Black to make a concession with} b6 19. Rc6 Re8) 18. Rc3 Nb4 19. Qg4 Re8 {seems fine for Black}) 17... Nd5 18. Qb3 c6 19. Nc4 Kh8 20. Na5 Rab8 21. a3 h6 22. Nc4 Qe6 23. Ne5 f6 24. Nc4 Rd7 {After here, the game seemed to go on for ages with both sides manoeuvring their rooks everywhere. Eventually, all the pieces were traded off and the game was drawn.} 1/2-1/2

In round 4, I took the white pieces against Malaysian youngster, Wong Jianwen. He in fact, equalised pretty comfortably after I misplayed the opening early in the game. However, one critical error (14...Qc6?) led to his downfall and there was no way back:
A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "4"] [White "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Black "Wong Jianwen"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "73"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nf3 $5 {As I was facing a Malaysian, I thought it would be polite to follow the repertoire of one of the best Malaysian players of all time, IM Mas Hafizul!} Nc6 4. d4 ({Almost immediately, I regretted not playing} 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. Bb5 {which I believe is the mainline here.}) 4... e5 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 Bxc3 7. Bxc3 e4 8. Ne5 Nxe5 9. dxe5 Ne7 10. Qh5 Bf5 (10... Be6 { was probably more accurate. My idea here was to play} 11. Qg5 {but after} h6 12. Qxg7 O-O-O {, Black has enormous compensation and is having all the fun.}) 11. Rd1 Qe6 ({I've intended} 11... Qxa2 12. Qg5 {but} h6 $1 13. Qxg7 Rg8 14. Qf6 Rg6 15. Qh8+ Rg8 16. Qxh6 Bg4 $1 {is problematic for White.}) 12. Qg5 O-O 13. b3 h6 14. Qg3 Qc6 $2 {Virtually the decisive error.} ({Black would have been completely fine after a normal move like} 14... Rad8) 15. e6 Bg6 16. exf7+ Kh7 17. Bc4 Nf5 18. Qe5 e3 19. O-O e2 20. Bxe2 Rxf7 21. Bc4 (21. Bb5 $1 Qb6 22. Rd7 Rxd7 23. Bxd7 {would have forced immediate resignation.}) 21... Re7 22. Qd5 Qxd5 23. Rxd5 Nd6 24. Bb4 Bxc2 25. Bxd6 cxd6 26. Rxd6 Bg6 27. h4 {This is a technically winning position. White's main ideas is to put his kingside pawns on light squares and further restricting the Black King, swapping rooks before making inroads with his king.} b6 28. Rfd1 Rf8 29. f3 Rf4 30. R1d4 Rxd4 31. Rxd4 Re1+ 32. Kf2 Ra1 {It is normal to seek activity with your rook in endgames but in this situation, it was better to keep the rook on a defensive stance.} 33. a4 Ra2+ 34. Kg3 {Now the threat is simply Rd7. The Black rook should have been on e7 to guard against this.} Rb2 35. Rd8 h5 36. Bg8+ Kh6 $2 37. Rd6 {and in view of the unstoppable threat of Bf7, Black resigns here.} 1-0

We then break for lunch before resuming the tournament at 4pm in the afternoon. As luck would have it, I was "lucky" enough to be paired with the first seed with the Black pieces. This was an extremely unfavourable pairing as I was secretly hoping to play Truong Son only in the last round where perhaps a peace agreement may be a good deal for both sides. Nevertheless, I went to Myanmar to play chess and was quietly excited at the challenge of facing the Vietnamese superstar.

I decided to put 1...Nc6 aside and essayed the Grunfeld this time, an opening that is slowly but surely becoming one of my favourite openings of all time. A theoretical position soon appeared on the board and while I completely forgot the theory in the Prins variation, it seems that my esteemed opponent wasn't too familiar as well. Somehow, I managed to place a monster piece on the d3 square, ably supported by a c4 pawn and won a clean pawn in a rooks + knight vs rooks + knight endgame. Clearly, all the winning chances lie with me and the worst I could do was a draw. Or so I thought.....

A game that I liked (ChessBase 12)
[Event "27th SEA Games Rapid"] [Site "?"] [Date "2013.12.18"] [Round "5"] [White "Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son"] [Black "Goh Wei Ming, Kevin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B12"] [Annotator "Wei Ming"] [PlyCount "111"] 1. d4 Nf6 $1 {I thought a triple dose of 1...Nc6 poison in consecutive Black games may be a bit too much for me to take and so the Grunfeld was thrown into action.} 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Qb3 {A small surprise, as Truong Son has seldom employed the Russian system against the Grunfeld in his previous games.} dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bg7 6. e4 ({I once had a game with Jason Goh where after} 6. Bf4 {, the gambit} Bf5 $5 7. Qxc7 Nc6 8. Qxd8+ Rxd8 9. e3 Nb4 {led to very interesting play.}) 6... O-O 7. Be2 Na6 8. Nf3 c5 9. d5 e6 10. O-O exd5 11. exd5 Bf5 12. Rd1 Re8 13. Be3 (13. d6 h6 14. Bf4 Nd7 $1 {is the main continuation according to my notes.}) 13... Nd7 $6 {This isn't a bad move in itself but I accidentally mixed up my theory.} (13... Qb6 14. d6 h6 15. Rd2 Ne4 16. d7 Re6 17. Nxe4 Rxe4 {is supposedly fine for Black. White's passed d-pawn will not be allowed to be promoted.}) 14. Rd2 (14. g4 $5 Nb6 15. Qf4 Bd7 16. Ng5 Qf6 17. Qxf6 Bxf6 18. Nge4 {looks like a promising way for White to proceed }) 14... Rc8 15. a3 Nb6 16. Qf4 c4 $1 {Here, I was very optimistic about my position and the plan of ...Na6 - c5 - d3 was obvious but yet awkward to defend.} 17. Bd4 Nc5 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Nd4 (19. Bxc4 Ne4 $1 {was my sneaky trap. Admittedly, this was a bit too obvious for a 2650 GM.}) 19... Bd3 $1 20. Bg4 $2 {Provoking my next move, but the tempo move turned out to be a pretty useful one.} (20. Bf3 {was better although Black retains the initiative and the advantage with} Qf6) 20... f5 21. Bf3 Qf6 {Preparing ...g5. Black had completely taken over the initiative and was the one playing for the win now.} 22. h4 Nbd7 ({The direct} 22... h6 $1 {is surprisingly annoying to face. However, such harmless looking moves are the most difficult to make over the board.}) 23. Rdd1 Be4 $2 {A silly slip, after which I was lucky not to be simply lost. I was eager to put a knight on the d3 square but this was completely missing the point.} ({The natural and very intuitive} 23... Qe5 $1 24. Qxe5+ Nxe5 {would have been very strong for Black.}) 24. Ne6+ $1 {I have completely missed this.} Nxe6 25. dxe6 Nc5 26. Bxe4 $2 ({After the game, Truong Son told me he had calculated} 26. Rd7+ $1 Re7 27. Bxe4 fxe4 $2 (27... Nxd7 28. exd7 Rd8 29. Bxb7 Rexd7 30. Bf3 {was much better for White.}) 28. Qxf6+ Kxf6 29. Nd5+ {and wins. For someone who is as calm and composed as him in quick time controls, such errors are really rare.}) 26... fxe4 27. Qxf6+ Kxf6 28. Rd5 Kxe6 {Somehow, I have emerged with an extra pawn and with roughly equal time, Black is pushing for the win!} 29. Re1 (29. Rd4 Kf7 30. Rxc4) 29... Kf7 $2 {....and yet almost immediately, I made a critical slip.} (29... Red8 $1 30. Rxd8 (30. Rg5 Rd4) 30... Rxd8 31. Nxe4 Nd3 32. Re2 Kd5 $1 {was necessary to maintain the edge. Black would continue by charging his queenside pawns up the board and his more active king and pieces are certain to play a critical role in the next few moves.}) ({Alternatively, even the calm} 29... a6 $1 {, preparing ...b5 is pretty good.}) 30. Rd4 Re5 $2 {A moment of chess blindness, completely forgetting that c4 was en prise. Truong Son didn't wait for an invitation card.} 31. Rxc4 b5 $5 32. Rd4 a6 33. Re2 Rce8 34. b4 e3 35. Rxe3 ( 35. f4 $1 Nb3 36. Rd7+ (36. fxe5 Nxd4 37. Rxe3) 36... R5e7 37. Rxe7+ Rxe7 38. Nd5 {was Truong Son's idea but here I had} Rd7 39. Nxe3 Rd3 {with strong counter play although admittedly, anything could happen.}) 35... Rxe3 36. fxe3 Rxe3 37. Nd5 Ne6 $1 38. Nxe3 Nxd4 39. Nd5 Nc2 40. Nc7 Nxa3 41. Nxa6 Ke6 42. Kf2 Ke5 43. Ke3 Nc4+ 44. Kd3 Nd6 45. Nc7 Nf5 46. g3 h5 47. Nxb5 Nxg3 48. Nd4 {I've managed to simplify my way to a ridiculously easy draw and with 1 minute to go, should really have finished the game off pretty easily. However, what transpired instead was an inexplicable error of judgement that probably qualifies for Singapore's costliest blunder of the year award...} Nf5 $4 49. Nxf5 gxf5 50. Ke3 Kd5 51. Kf4 Kc4 52. Kxf5 Kxb4 53. Kg5 Kc5 54. Kxh5 Kd6 55. Kg6 Ke7 56. Kg7 {To my utter dismay, I was not able to bring my king back to f8 which was what I calculated. I had to muster all the energy I had left to prevent myself from eliciting an anguished howl....} 1-0
This was a terrible set back and a huge blow to my medal chances. A draw would have been an excellent result given that none of the Grandmasters were on top form and I felt I certainly deserved something from the game.

I didn't have much time to pity myself though, as I was paired against Oliver Barbosa, another strong Grandmaster from the Philippines. I will cover the last 2 rounds in the 3rd and last part of this series....