It is not easy to manage Terengganu chess in the 80's. As arguably the most oiled east coast chess machinery (and perhaps top five in Malaysia) , with its varied citizens from ambitious and talented youngsters to the orthodox oldies, it really demand someone strong to manage Terengganu chess and to gel/consolidate all these factors in order to be One Terengganu Chess.
Luckily we are blessed to have one in the form of Sachlin Mail, fondly called as Pok Ma'el. He helmed Terengganu Chess Association (Persatuan Catur Negeri Terengganu, PCNT) in 80's and early 90's, a turbulent and exciting period when chess is being recognised and supported as a proper sport by Terengganu's Sport Council . Who is Sachlin Mail by the way?
He was born in Indonesia. Teaching is his profession (Sekolah Menengah Belara, Kuala Terengganu) while chess is his passion. Married to a lovely wife we simply called 'Ibuk', the doted couple are blessed with about 3 to 4 lovely daughters (all are now very succesful in their respective careers, doctor, engineer etc) and one son (Adithia), who is now working at JB.*
Pok Ma'el loved chess so much, he even allocate the other half of his house at Jalan Panji Alam as a chess 'sanctuary'. Chess player who is having a 'domestic' problems, those who 'lompat pagar' from his school hostel (read: me!) or those who simply want to stay at his house for uninterrupted chess training session, are most welcome to do so. He even, without asking for a single cents provided food cooked by Ibuk, a great chef, to us a chess refugee. Of no surprise that PCNT's address at that time is his home address... to me a chess heaven.
I remember once incident that touched me personally. Year 1990. For the first time, I have been chosen to represent a senior Terengganu Chess Team by a young committee member of PCNT (Ghalam, Arshad), much to a chagrin of senior committee member who feel i'm not ready yet and the right player should be this veteran teacher (whom i have beaten many times before).
At that time to represent Terengganu simply meant to be showered with a generous pocket money, free accomodation, transportation, free nice sweater, sometimes even a coat! a share in the prize money (Terengganu consistently be in top three team in Merdeka)and a ticket to be in the team that will be nominated, year in year out, among Terengganu's best sports team in the grand Malam Anugerah Sukan Terengganu. But i'm not looking at all that, all i want to do is playing chess for Terengganu. I will even do that for free.
Sachlin Mail, who hold a veto power, chose me and i repaid his trust in me by scoring something like 3 or 4 losses! Yet he did not scold me and keep on saying that chosing me is not a mistake as it will be a good exposure to me.
Next year (1991) i paid his trust in me by being the best player in the team and i even have been nominate as Olahragawan Harapan Negeri Terengganu for year 1991.
After that i went to further my study at UUM and have lost contact with him.
Sachlin Mail passed away in 90's but he will forever lived as a godfather of Terengganu Chess.
*source for this paragraph:Arshad
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