Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Skopje, an old city under the upper course of the Vardar river and with the history that went back all the way before the Roman empire, is the host of 20th 1972 Chess Olympiad.

Malaysia, for the first time, send a men team to this event. (Malaysia did not send a woman team.)

All teams are divided to 8 groups. Top 2 teams from each group will played in Group A, next 2 teams in Group B and so on.

Malaysian Team
Malaysia was represented, according to board order, by

  1. Foo Lum Choon
  2. Chan Mun Fye
  3. Kao Yin Keat
  4. Fang Ewe Churh
  5. Loh Chee Hoong
  6. Ariff, A

In the initial stage, we were place in Group 5. We finished last behind Chechoslovakia, Spain, Mongolia, Israel, Portugal, Ireland and Hong Kong.

In later stage (Group D) we finished at number 12 from 15 teams. All in all we finished at number 59 from 62 teams.

Top 5 and Asean finisher were as below:

  1. Soviet Union
  2. Hungary
  3. Yugoslavia
  4. Czechoslovakia
  5. West Germany

20. The Philippines

26. Indonesia

49. Singapore

59. Malaysia

Individual Performance

  1. Foo Lum Choon (5.5/21) P=2093
  2. Chan Mun Fye (9.5/20) P=2223
  3. Kao Yin Keat (4/17) P=2029
  4. Fang Ewe Churh (0/5) P= 0
  5. Loh Chee Hoong (7/18) P=2137
  6. Ariff, A (0/3) P= 0

P= ELO Performance


  1. Chan Mun Fye scored a first draw for Malaysia when he draw against Hasan Hasibul (Hong Kong) on 20th September 1972.
  2. Chan Mun Fye scored a first win for Malaysia when he win against Durao, Joaquim Manuel (Portugal-ELO 2295) on 21st September 1972 in 47 moves with black pieces.
  3. Malaysia registered it first win on 4th October (against Virgin Island). We won 4-0.
  4. Chan Mun Fye contributed more than 33% of points collected by Malaysian team (9.5/26)

Next stop

Nice 1974!

Monday, March 29, 2010


On and off we chess player from planet earth are being treated with out-of-this-world chess art such as The Immortal Game, The Evergreen Game, Kasparov Topalov 1999 (Kasparov's Immortal) etc.

But do believe me, above mentioned 'human art' is nothing compared to below art, a chess study, which is simply heavenly beautiful!

The Problems
In 90's Ghalam Sani showed below study to me. After trying for about half an hour, to no avail ofcourse, Ghalam finally showed me the solution.

zap! zap! zap! white bishop just dancing on the board and suddenly black could not avoid a checkmate!

I was speechless! I never thought such beauty exist! After that i keep on replaying the study and every time i reached the final position, i will smile.

Here is the position.

White to play and win

The Solution

1. Nf6 Kg7

1. ... Kg6 lost to 2. Bh5 allowing d8=Q since black's Nf7 is no longer possible

2.Nh5 Kg6

The only move since 2. ... Kh7 3. Bc2! black's king have to move to eighth rank allowing 4. d8=Q with a check.

3.Bc2 Kh5
4.d8=Q Nf7
5.Ke6 Nd8

Let's look at above diagram after white sacrifice his queen. White have a pawn and bishop. Blacks have bishop, 4 pawns, knights...yet there is a win for white here.

6.Kf5 e2

Force. Preventing Bd1 mate.

7.Be4 e1=N

Force. Preventing Bf3 mate.


Threatening Bd5-c4-e2 mate

8. ... c2

9.Bc4 c1=N

Force. Preventing Be2 mate

10.Bb5 Nc7

Force. Preventing Be8 mate


Black is helpless against Bd1 mate

The Mystery
Who create this beauty?

There are many versions. The famous version are:
Taxi Driver
A taxi driver (white) played a chess game with Tarrash. They reach above top diagram when the taxi driver misplayed the game and lost. That night in his dream, he discovered he actually winning!

Georgian Farmer
A Georgian farmer become obssesed with a game (rumours have it that the game is Bernstein vs Capablanca) in which white resigned when reaching above position. He stick above top diagram (when white resigned) inside his tractor. 2o years later, he found out that white is actually winning!

Gufeld believe above study is created by alien. Gufeld claimed that someone has contacted his student, Mok Tze Meng (yep, our own Mok!) and gave Mok this study as a gift. Gufeld did not believe that human capable of coming up with such a study.

According to Gufeld, both Kasparov and Karpov were impressed with this study when it was shown to them in 1992 Manila Olympiad.

Rumour has it that when GM Plaskett showed this study to Tal in 1987, the Magician from Riga carefully look at the position for 10 minutes, take a walk in a park and come back with the solution!

Rumours has it that Fritz managed to find a flaw(better defence for black) in above line. I don't bother to know and please don't bother to tell me. I hate engines!

Chess Magazine-AICF Forum (August 2003)
Chess:The Search for Monalisa

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Mas Hafizulhelmi is a positional player. Laszlo Nagy, a chess organizer has once comment that Mas played "...with clarity, positional understanding a'la Capablanca". This was when Mas wins his Saturday tournament in 90's with a perfect score.

His famous wins against Korchnoi is a positional squeeze, forcing even a great Korchnoi to launch a suicide counter attack, all in 20 moves.

Anyway, on and off, Mas do change his menu and treat us with a fiery dishes a'la Chef Tal, Chef Velimirovic etc. Below is one of such hot, fiery cuisine with some light annotations.

Take a deep breath...fasten your seat we go!

The Game.
Date:23rd July 2008
Tournament:Biel Masters 2008

Facing Mas in this game is GM Mikhail Ulibin, rated 140 ELO points higher, last year Biel winner and who can count on drawing with the likes of Kasparov, Kramnik and Shirov as his normal thing to do as we breath oxygen. Enough said!

White:Mas Hafizulhelmi
Black:Mikhail Ulibin
1.e4 c5

Mas opt to give his Grand Prix a rest

2. ... e6
3.d4 cd4
4.Nd4 a6
5.Bd3 Bc5
6.Nb3 Be7
7.0-0 d6
8.Qe2 Nd7
9.f4 Qc7
10.c4 Ngf6
11.Nc3 b6
12.Bd2 Bb7
13.Rae1 h5

3 months before this game, Fabiano Caruana played 13...0-0 against Hou Yifan and won in 107 moves. Ian Rogers, Mas coach, has also reach the position after 13 Rae1 in one of his game 10 years before this game,

14Kh1 h4
15Nd4 g6
16.b4 Nh5
17. Kg1 Bf6

Mas sacrifice a pawn, in order to sacrifice his knight!

18. ... de5
19. Ne6

See i told you!

Mas-Ulibin. After 19.Ne6!

19. ... Qd6
20.Nd5 fe6
21.Bg6 Kd8

Such a position where pieces just hanging in the air.

22.Nf6 Nhf6
23.fe5 Qd4
24.Be3 Qg4
25.Rf6 Nf6
26.ef6 Qe2
27. Re2 Kc7
28.Bf4 e5
29.Be5 Kd7
30.Bf5 Ke8
31.Bg6 Kd7

Mas two bishops works harmoniusly killing black's any hope of survival.

32. ... Raf8
Fritz announced mate in 12.

The Story
How could Mas make this win look so easy? Well, it did not easy actually.

Two weeks before Biel, Mas had the opportunity to train under the famous Hungarian coach (Laszlo Hazai) who has trained Polgars, Gelfand among others. No, Hazai did not accept walk ins. His student is strictly by invitation or by recommendation. Lucky for Mas, this training was arrange by Mas coach, Ian Rogers who believe Mas will benefit greatly from the session. (Question to ourself: How many of chess coach is willing to recommend his student, for the benefit of his student, to train with other chess coach?)

A chess training (drilling is perhaps more exact) with Hazai did make Mas more confident and prepared to face his opponent. His opening preparation is more deeper and accurate than before. According to Mas, most of his move against Ulibin has been prepared beforehand!

"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" Einstein

Friday, March 26, 2010


The much awaited 3rd DATCC Team Event has finally begin two days ago. Familiar faces are all over the place (Dato Tan, Mok, Udani, Hairulov, Andrew, Kamal Ariffin, Greg...just too many to mention) Najib and Hamid held a briefing session with captain and players at about 6.30p pm. Among issues discuss are on how to create another team so that there will be even number of teams (hence, no bye). They explore the possibilities for the team with large number of players to 'donate' some players but this idea was not accepted by members of the floor.

Najib/Hamid announced new tournament rules.

New Rules
  1. Draw can only be made after 20 moves.
  2. Team need to list down their player before the game. This new ruling basically mean no longer can team captain leave the line up blank during the game.
  3. Pairing will be based from Match Point (MP) Draw 1 point, win 2 points.
  4. Handphone ring mean the owner will be finalised 30 minutes. Should he/she got less than 30 minutes when phone ring, he/she lost on time. This is the rule to cater for those that could not off his/her mobile.

The Teams

Altogether there are 16 teams. An increased of 60% from previous edition. Top dogs are Kam Mah (Jimmy, Nico, Yee Weng etc), Think Big (Ziaur, Mok etc) and Team AU ( Ooi, Udani etc). The rest of the teams can be classified as equals underdogs with some are more equals than others (Nusa Mahkota).

There are also more foreign players (3 player with one each from Bangladesh, India and Philippine). Last edition has only 2 foreign players from Philippine and S'pore.

The Upset

Nik Farouqi (Aqie) draw with Camilia (400 points rating gap). Aqie was in lost position but managed to draw the game. I predict a great future for Camilia. Young, confident, focus and with a supporting mother, she has all the ingredients for success.


  1. Kaushal won in 10 moves against Andrew Ooi. Probably the shortest game in entire DATCC event!
  2. Mr Siraj, for the first time in DATCC event, is nowhere to be seen!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


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.

Al Fatihah

*source for this paragraph:Arshad

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


The (short) draw
Tournament: 2nd DATCC Individual
Date:1st February 2010

It is the beginning of the last round. Arbiter had just announced player can begin the game. Some players can be seen blitzing his/her opening moves, some players are waiting for their opponents to turn up, some ponders on what defense to use etc, all in all a very normal scene.

Suddenly two players who played at the middle board agreed for a quick draw (GM draw), maybe in less than 10 moves, also actually a very normal scene during the last round. So off they go to the Arbiter's table to submit their mutually agreed short draw result.

Arbiter Najib is about to accept the signed scoresheet of these players when suddenly Arbiter Hamid steps in. He said sorry, he cannot accept the short draw, tear the scoresheet and asked both players to play again the game. Both player went back to their table and played the game till the end.

The big question now. Is arbiter got the right not to accept the short draw. Let's analyze!

The Facts
  1. There is no single word mentioning short draws not allowed on the tournament T & C.
  2. Arbiters also did not verbally mentioned on no draw policy before or during the tournament.
  3. Both players did not protest Arbiter's decision.

The Laws

What did chess rules has to say about this?

  1. Under Article 5 Completion of the game (5.2 C) mentioned "The game is drawn upon agreement between the two players during the game. This immediately ends the game".
  2. Ofcourse we need to look at Article 9:The drawn game for further guidance. Article 9.1 a mentioned " The rules of a competition may specify that players cannot agree to a draw, whether in less than a specified number of moves or at all, without the consent of the arbiter." Unfortunately as far as i remember, there is no mentioning about this, before or during the tournament.
  3. On arbiter's defense there are articles 13.2 "The arbiter shall act in the best interest of the competition..."

The Verdict

Based on above i believed that the early draw agreement is valid and arbiter should accept it since it is not made known to the player beforehand that short draws are not allowed.

Monday, March 22, 2010


White to play and win

We all love underdogs. David vs Goliath, Rocky vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV), Nelson Mandela, Gandhi etc. There is something magical when the underdog beat the top dog, especially so when the odds are overwhelmingly against the underdogs.

Take a look at above position. This is the position in which a lowly pawn able to beats the raging rook and it come with the good story.

The Story
Above position first appeared in the chess column of 'Weekly Citizen', a Glasgow paper on 4th May 1895 initially thought to be a beautiful draw with a solution that runs
1.c7 Rd6
2.Kb5 Rd5
3.Kb4 Rd4
4.Kb3 Rd3
5.Kc2 Rd4
6.c8=Q Rc4
7.Qc4 stalemate, draw.


But hold on! It just getting better!

Two weeks later one of the member of Glasgow Club, the Reverend Saavedra discovered a win for white!
1. c7 Rd6
2.Kb5 Rd5
3.Kb4 Rd4
4.Kb3 Rd3
5.Kc2 Rd4
6.c8=R Ra4
7.Kb3 winning either black rook or king!

Instead of promoting a pawn to a queen and draw, white can promote a pawn to a rook and win!

Pure art!

In such a simple position surprisingly there are lots of play. Queening threats, under promotion, stalemate threat, domination and ofcourse underdog (pawn) beat the top dog (rook)!.

This position therefore has been named 'Saavedra Position'

But, is our friend Fritz agreed with above line?

Art Killer
Unfortunately, Fritz believe above line is not a best defense for black. Fritz like this line better (but nevertheless still a win for white)
1.c7 Rd6
2.Kb5 Rd5
3.Kb4 Kb2
4.c8=Q and now it is a battle between a queen and a rook which is with exact defense, should be difficult for white to win.

I hate engine!

Practical Play

To see Saavedra in action, you may see Svidler vs Topalov(Linares 2006) game. Beautiful and highly imaginative endgame play by Svidler, sacrificing a whole rook to reach Saavedra like manouvre, not to be out done a few moves later Topa sacrifice his rook hoping to reach a stalemate defence. It didn't work.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


This is very subjective subject ofcourse but I personally feel that 1st DATCC TEAM EVENT is the best chess tournament held last year due to the following reasons:

Khairunisha Wahiduddin came all the way from Kuantan, played a game and after the game finished went back to Kuantan. All in all over 500 Kms, 6 hrs travelling for a single game of chess.

Arshad later broke these record. All the way from Kuala Terengganu, 800 kms, 8 hrs travelling just for a single game!

I witnessed one game (between Greg and Hamid) when Hamid's phone rang. Hamid want to resign but Greg did not accept that and asked Hamid to continue playing!

Plan on and off the board
When there is clear that Goldis and SMS Gold is the only teams vying for top prize. There is a plan hatch to provide 'import player' for the team that these two teams meet. With the tournament format that allowed up to 10 players in a team, it is possible to add players during the tournament. No, it did not materialized and remain 'NATO' but nevertheless a good conversation subject over a piping hot Kassim's nasi lemak!.

This is a'la 1986 Dubai Olympiad when Russian team, lead by newly crowned World Champion Kasparov, is rumours to provide 'training/coaching' to Spanish team in order to stop England. Worth mentioning at this same Olympiad our own player Ng Ek Teong scored 6/7 on board 6 to win a gold medal (and when Jimmy played his chess masterpiece and being recognized as one of the memorable game from Olympiad, together with Kasparov's lost to Seirawan etc).

Internet Buzz
This event has been highly covered on the internet (with stories, pictures, predictions, results etc splashed all over the local blogs). Within a few minutes after the game finished, the result is already announced on the local blog's shoutbox. On this section maybe second only to 2009 Malaysian Master coverage.

There is always a drama when players did not turn up for his/her games resulting in change in expected result from the match.

Contestant varied greatly. We have a new player looking for a rating and seasoned player looking for IM/GM title playing, from a school boy to a tycoon. We also have player who is unknown (at least to me) in the beginning of the tournament but at the end of the tournament, became a well respected WNM.

Cameo appearance
On and off many chess personalities drop by to the hall when the tournament is in progress. We are treated by the appearance of Florencio Campomanes, Larry Parr, GM Gerherd Schebbler etc.

Teh tarik :-)
Ofcourse there is also Teh tarik provided/ sponsored by one generous soul for every round!
Served always at the right time when the position on the board is getting tensed and interesting.

On top of that this tournament marked a comeback of many ex-national players and also marked a beginning of now many FIDE rated tournaments organized in Malaysia.

Simply an unforgetable tournament.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Year 1990. I was in form four (so called honeymoon year) and my desire to improve my chess is simply overwhelming. I have borrowed most of the chess books from Dungun and Kuala Terengganu library. Have also religiously collected and compiled chess articles from newspaper. I saved every dime and nickels to buy the expensive chess books and magazines available then.But how do i go from here. How can i owned more chess materials.

Voila! Suddenly an idea begin to form...

The plan
I will write to every chess publishers, coaches or any shops that got to do with chess that i can found at the back of chess magazines and hopefully, they will reply to me and hopefully again, their reply will include some chess materials.

The result
To my pleasant surprise, most of the publishers did reply to me. I remembered receiving catalogues about Mephisto chess computers, 3 CHESS magazines that featured young Polgars, some postal chess magazines, a letter from NM Alex Dunne, magazines about Novag computers etc.

After that it just getting better.

I received a signed EG magazine from John Roycroft, a renowned British's endgame specialist and one fine day i received a large brown envelope from International Chess Enterprises, Inc. Inside it are 3 INSIDE CHESS magazines with one of it got GM Yassser Seirawan's signature on it! and not just that, there is also a letter from Yassser Seirawan thanking me for writting to his company. Yasser Seirawan thanking me !? Oh my God, it just really to good to be true, Unfortunately i have lost that letter but anyway i still keep the signed magazine.

To me, this INSIDE CHESS Magazine not only reminds me of my search for chess knowledge, it also reflect a kindness act from top GM to a stranger from a far away place.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


If Malaysia has such award such as Year Best Chess Game a'la Sahovski Informator, then the best chess game in year 2006 will surely went to Mas vs Korchnoi game.

Below is that historic game with some light annotation.

The Game
The game was played in round 9 of 2006 Turin Olympiad. Facing Mas is the legendary Victor Korchnoi, a man who was one game away from beating Karpov to be World Champion in 1978. In 80's he is one of the 3K (Kasparov, Karpov, Korchnoi) that terrorized the chess world before the arrival of fourth K in 90's (Kramnik)

Statistic wise, Korchnoi is 200 elo points above Mas and have some 50 years more experience than Mas! Odds are heavily against Mas.

White:Mas Hafizulhelmi

Black:Victor Korchnoi

1.e4 e5

2 years before, also in Olympiad, Korchnoi played a French defense against Mok Tze Meng. Unfortunately Mok lost that game.

2.Nf3 Nc6
3.Bb5 a6

Ruy Lopez Exchange is Mas pets opening .

4.... dc6
5.0-0 Bg4
6.h3 Bf3

6... h5 has been extensively analysed which (after some complications) should favour white.

7.Qf3 Ne7

A surprise. Korchnoi played 7... Qd7 against Vlastimil Hort in 1981 (probably when Mas is still in his mother's womb!). Game draw. In 1985 Korchnoi also played 7...Qd7 against John Nunn. Korchnoi lost.

8.Nc3 Ng6
9.d3 Bd6

This bishop turn out to be nothing more than a pawn that can move only backward.

10.Ne2 c5
11.Ng3 0-0
12.Qg4 Kh8
13.Nf5 Rg8

Preparing a desperate counter attack that back fired.

14.h4 Ne7
15.g3 Qc8
16.Qf3 Qe6
17.h5 Rae8
18.h6 g5
19.Ng7 Qh6
20.Ne8 Re8

Korchnoi has had enough and throw in his towel.

Mas will surely framed the scoresheet! :-)

Mas somehow make it looks simple. Positionally, he optimized the placement of his pieces making his opponent looks like a patzer and finishing the game in less than 25 moves.

Local chess scene was esctatic.

"What a performance when he actually beaten GM Pascal (Canada) in round 6 and GM Korchnoi (from Switzerland..." - Kelab Catur Setia Kuantan

"In this match, Mas Hafizul delivered a masterly knock-out blow to veteran super-grandmaster, Victor Korchnoi, in a 21 move game..." - Quah Seng Sun.

"That's the way ahak!ahak! I like it ahak!ahak!" - Hairulov Chessmaniac (old blog)

So, Ilham, do you think that this is Mas best game?

Nope, i personally like his wins against Ulibin in Biel 2008 better (but that is a story for another day)


Just imagine if a young Malaysian chess player is being transported into a Malaysia chess tournament in 80's...he will discovered many interesting things that are differents from current practice (and also some that remain sadly the same.)

First, he will need to search the info about the chess tournaments from newspaper such as Malay Mail (most popular), Berita Harian, Watan etc. Sorry, no internet here.

Second, he will discovered about manual pairing. Arbiter, just like a casino croupier, will shuffle a deck of player's cards and spread it on the table (this time, like a gypsy fortune teller) and determine the fate of a chess players. Having three blacks in a row is quite normal then. If i am not mistaken you can still see this artifact (used pairing cards) at DATCC's wall.

Third, he will discovered he can smoke or used his handphone during chess game! His phone rings? Arbiter will not scold him but instead will respect him since he manage to own a handphone. In 80's only filthy rich oligarch can afford to have handphone!

Fourth, he will discovered he can adjourned his game at move 40 and he can analyze it with friends, consult a book etc. Used chess engines (computers) ?!. Well, in 80's that is a sure way to lose an adjourned game!

Fifth, he will discovered should he entered 80's weekend allegro chess tournament, the top prize is RM300. Same as a top prize for most of today's (year 2010) weekend tournament.

Something just never change.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Chess jokes !? Yes, why not!

In a world that is flooded with bimbo, Tiger Wood and lawyer jokes, as a change it is good to hear about chess jokes.

Some of the famous one are:

Dog that play chess
In a park people come across a man playing chess against a dog. They are astonished and say:"Wow! What a clever dog!" That man disagree "No, no, he isn't that clever. I'm leading by three games to one!"

Dinner with Kasparov
I was having dinner with Gary Kasparov. Problem was, we had a checkered table and it him two hours to pass the salt!"

A died chess master
A chess master died, after a few days, a friend of his heard a voice; well, it was him!
"What's it like?, where you are now?" he asked excitedly.
"What do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?"
"Tell me the good news first"
"Well, its really heaven here. There are tournaments and blitz sessions going on all the time and Morphy, Alekhine, Capablanca, Fischer, Tal, they're all here, you can play them and there is also no FIDE here!"
"Fantastic!" the friend said"and now tell me what is the bad news?"
"You have Black against Capablanca on Saturday"

Anyway, on the personal note. I disagree with above 'Dinner with Kasparov' jokes especially on the part" took him two hours to pass the salt." Hey, he is Kasparov ok. Please show some respect! I bet it must take Kasparov less than a second to pass the salt through the checkered table. If it is dinner with Ulf Andersen or Tigran Petrosian, then maybe it took two hours for them to pass the salt!. :-)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


In over 4 (and counting!) decades of playing chess, Jimmy Liew has played many beautiful chess games.

Some of his famous and beautiful wins are against Torre (when Torre is at his peak and candidate for World Champion) and 3 years ago against Tirto (Jimmy's pawns just raining down into black's position).

But i personally enjoyed his win against Yrjola Jouni in 1986 Dubai Olympiad. Below if the game and some light annotation.

The Game:

Jimmy is facing Yrjola, a top board Finland player who are rated 50 points above him. 2 years before this game was played, Yrjola belongs to top 60 players in the world. Jimmy is playing the disadvantage black colour.

White:Yrjola Jouni
Black:Jimmy Liew

1.d4 Nf6
2.c4 e5
3.de5 Ng4

Budapest Gambit! What else to expect from player who always played original chess opening such as Veresov and even King's Gambit!

4.Nf3 Bc5
5.e3 Nc6
6.a3 a5

Two fold moves. First is to prevent white's b4 and second is to prepare a rook lift Ra8-a6-h6! A typical rook manouevre in Budapest.

7.b3 0-0
8.Bb2 Re8
9.Bd3 d6
10. ed6 Nf2

A knight sacrifice. Jimmy is in his element!

11.Kf2 Re3
12.Kf1 Bg4
13.Be2 Bf3
14.Bf3 Qh4
15.Ra2 Rae8

Black pieces just keep on coming. Now black is threatening mate at e1 forcing...

16.Bc3 cd6

A quiet move leaving white in almost zugzwang state after only 16 moves.

17.g3 Qh3
18.Bg2 Qf5
19.Rf2 Qf2

A queen sacrifice to force mate in 4.

20.Kf2 Rd3

To me this is simply Jimmy's masterpiece!

Some 20 years ago when i first saw this game, it looks like magic to me. Still is today...

Legend has it that because of this game, Jimmy Liew's name became famous in Finland. Long after this game was played, Finland chess players are visiting Malaysia and they have personally requested to see Jimmy Liew, a player who (decisively) beat their chess hero!

Monday, March 15, 2010


We chess citizen of the world, speak our own chess language that has been slowly develop and evolve over the last...1,000 years perhaps. Exotic words such as Zugzwang, Zwischenzug, Nimzo Indian, informator etc are freely spoken. Thanks to technology, lately chess vocabulary of the world has been added with few more words such as Fritz, Rybka, Hiarcs, Monte Carlo analysis etc.

Chances are even if you are not that good in chess but if you spoke a normal sentences mixing with above chess words, to the non chess citizen you are already a chess genius! :-)

But chess player, don't feel so proud...go to any of the chess 'bangsal' in Terengganu and you will find yourself in Greek due to the chess languages being spoken here. Some of the words are as below
  1. Khe'lah Kok Bing = translate it in English will be "Kok Bing class". It means a low standard, patzer or something similar to that. I shall not mentioned how Kok Bing word originate since i do want to get sued but you can asked Arshad since (i believe) he is the creator of this word. Example of this word in action is " Ekk ngak !, padaha khe'lah kok bing jer" which can be loosely translate as "Arrogance!, even though belong only to Kok Bing class"
  2. Golok = Golok can mean many things. A place in Kelantan, a small machete etc but to a Terengganu chess player Golok means assistant or second. eg "Beratlah skali nie, golok dia marii doh!" I am in trouble, his assistant is coming!.
  3. musing = castling. Guess that word derived from the word 'pusing'
  4. gajoh = gajah. bishop. Yes, we still used this classical reference to Bishop.
  5. ma'ing sima = simultaneous chess

Saturday, March 13, 2010


The Controversial
Date:1 February 2010
Place:Datuk Arthur Tan Chess Centre
Tournament: Fun Blitz

It is the final round of the blitz tournament called Fun Blitz. On 1st board, Justin Ong is facing Mok Tze Meng. Since the prizes are only for the top three finishers, stakes are high and loser of this game mean that he will not be among the prize winner. Winner of these game can expect to be the champion and pocket RM500 for 3 hours work.

So the game begin and in the opening Justin seems to be holding the advantage but later Mok managed to break through on the queenside (typical of Mok's Modern Defence modus operandi). Both players are now short of time, very short of time indeed and Mok's (claimed) played his rook to D1, Justin captured Mok's rook that he (claimed) believed is at D2. Mok protest to Justin and want to claim a win since Justin's move is illegal, Justin argued that Mok's move his rook to D2 and during the heat of the arguments, Mok's flag fell (ofcourse there is no flag since they are using digital clock, sorry! could not help it! :-))

Najib, the TD seems unsure in handling the red faced Mok and stony immovable Justin, he called Hamid Majid and after listening to both sides story, HM declared the game as draw.

Is his decision correct? Let's analyse.

The Facts
  1. Mok claimed that Justin's make an illegal move.
  2. Mok's flag fell.
  3. Justin claimed he is not making an illegal move.
  4. Justin's however did not claimed a win eventhough Mok's flag fell.
  5. Arbiter cannot ascertain who actually make the illegal move.

The Investigation.

I cannot find any clause that explain on claiming a win when flag fell.

The nearest that i can find is FIDE Law of Chess (blitz) B.3 c that mentioned "...The opponent is entitled to claim a win before he has made his own move."...Hardly help.

I also looks at any clause that mentioned whether arbiter can used his discretion or judgement. Cannot find any. However, most of the clause on claim came up with the word "...before his flag fell."

Therefore i guess Mok's win claim after his flag fell does not carry any weight.

But why draw and not a win for Justin? That only Mr Hamid can answer.

The Verdict

I might be wrong but i think Justin deserved a win here due to the one undeniable and undisputable facts that Mok's flag fell when he claimed for a win. Others are "my words against your words"


Malaysia is a land of abundant talents. If i am not mistaken, pen drive has been invented by a Malaysian citizen located at Taiwan. In arts we have Ramli Ibrahim the Indian dancer, Ib the painter, Nicole David the squash player, Azizul Hasni the cyclist, Michelle Yeoh the actress and many others.

But when it come to chess...Yes, maybe now we yet to have a giant in chess but we surely not lacking in this department.

From my personal observation, we were blesssed with a great talent in every decade.
  • 70's Jimmy Liew
  • 80's Rosazman Rosley
  • 90's Mas Hafizul Helmi
  • 00's Anas Nazreen
  • 10's Yeoh Li Tian

Same goes to women section

  • 80's Audrey Wong
  • 90's Eliza Hanum
  • 00's Siti Zulaikha
  • 10's Tan Li Ting

The list above is ofcourse debatable (Nabila, Wong Zi Jing, Nico Chan, Ooi etc) but my point is we are not lacking when it comes to chess talents.

The sad part is all those bright talents fade away after a few years of showing lots of promise. Reasons identified are many (MCF-the usual punching bag, lack of good coach etc) but i think the real culprit is moment of truth junction. There will come a time when they have to chose between study/ career and chess. All of them chose study/career.

Guess that provide us with one real and obvious solution in managing chess talents in Malaysia.

Groom and support them before they are 17 years old.

Friday, March 12, 2010


This blog is inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's novel, 2001 A Space Odyssey. A classic novel about how in 2001 man went to Saturn to investigate about a sign of intelligence signal coming from one of the Saturn's moon.

Worth mentioning is how the author's vision about the chess computer (Hal, which is also the computer that control the spaceship and later went cuckoo) that is so strong that "If Hal went all out, he could win any of them; but that would be bad for morale. So Hal had been programmed to win only fifty percent of the time..."


This novel is written in 1968 before man went to the moon and ofcourse 4 decades before Fritzs and Rybkas roaming the earth!

Just like Bowman in 2001 that venture to Saturn,i will try to use this blog to venture to chess blogging world.