Frankly, Mas Hafizul needs no introduction. Country second IM, he is also our country biggest hope to get a GM title. In my (unofficial) Malaysian Chess of record, he held many records such as youngest IM, highest FIDE rated player (2456 in year 2001), longest chess game(131 moves in his games against Kempen, Haarlem 2009) , most FIDE rated games in one year (150 games in 2008) and so on. In a word of Mohamad Arshad, with some adjustment 'you cannot say you are a chess player in Malaysia if you did not know who is Mas Hafizulhelmi'.
He is a role model for aspiring junior. Success in academic, success in career (currently employed as an engineer with Petronas) and ofcourse success in chess. Sorry ladies, he is also happily married with a kid!
A man of few words...he treated his spoken words like his move in chess...very carefully. Though when surrounded by his closest friends, he can be quite animated! :)
If there is a single word to describe him it is NEAT. Neatly dressed, neat handwritting on the score sheet and if you are lucky enough to play chess with him...you could feel the force of his neat chess strategy at work!...some 20 years ago when we, east coast chess players stayed together to take part in National Closed (at that time was held at Park Royal)...Mas is the one who always reminded me to put back the chess pieces after finish playing/analysing...:)
OK guys, the interview...
Who teach you to play chess?
My father, he was the one introduced this beautiful game of chess to me and keep pushing me to pursue further.
When you started playing chess?
About 4 years old.
Your first chess tournament?
If i recalled correctly, when i was 6 i played in kelantan closed (open category) scored 1.5/7 . one from a walkover/bye and i drew one game :).
Your best moment in chess?
Many to choose from. But one that gave me special 'buzz' was my win vs the Great Korchnoi in Turin Olympiad 2006.
(When the pairing were out the night before the game (Msia v Swiss), i was hoping n praying that they will put the best line up or atleast they wont 'rest' Mr Korchnoi.
To play him was an honour, and during the game when the position was 'balance', i thought to draw will be super bonus. And to win the game in about 21 moves was just
'out of this world' kind of feeling :) .. Alhamdulillah!
Your best game?
If i had to choose one (beside the Korchnoi game), is the one I won vs (my future to be coach) GM Ian Rogers in Sydney QVB GM invitational tournament.
Towards the end of the game, i was just so nervous (i couldn't believe my position was winning) i keep walking away from the board.
Your favourite chess player?
Do you play chess online?
Do you read chess blog on daily basis?
I like to check on Hairulov's blog for updates etc.
How do you rate your chances to be country first GM?
InsyaAllah I will do my best to keep pushing for the elusive title, however the older you get things are not getting easier, especially
with todays technologies, databases, softwares etc. And when you are not 'chess professional', then it is an uphill task to juggle between chess and work
(not to mention families etc). Personally i do hope our younger chess generation can start pushing for the title, I will be as happy for Msia to have a GM.
If you have to chose between RM1 Million cash or Super GM chess strength.
Which one you chose?
Haha. I would choose the super GM strength, that money can not buy :)
What is more important, to have a first class chess programmes in
school or to have a first GM?
Both are important, but having 1st GM is important to show that we can do it.
(IM Jimmy was my role model and legend (1st Msian IM) , i only do it faster because i know it is doable)
Later, the chess programmes will be as important to teach chess systematically, and produce consistency.
Your most active time. day or night?
Depends how you define active. I would prefer to do my work at night when things are calm and quiet.
But of course you have to go to work during the day :) .
Strategy or tactic?
Which one you prefer. Winning a bad, lousy game or
losing a beautiful, brilliant game?
Winning is always good, but sometimes the later is also gave a different buzz!
Your advice to young, aspiring chess player?
Chess is fun! Work hard and you will enjoy more..
Your hobby (other than chess)?
Title of last book you read?
The Element - How finding your passion changes everything.
Your favourite tv show?
Your favourite drink?
Your favourite song?
InsyaAllah - Maher Zain
The other side of Mas Hafizulhilmi that chess citizen don't know?
I always wander why we choose what we chose, and how did we come to that conclusion? Do we really choose?
Thanks Mas for your time and willingness to answer above questions and all the best to you in chess.