Monday, February 28, 2011


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 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?
Karpov ..

Do you play chess online?
Not really.

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?
Nescafe ice

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.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


1.More than 100 players took part in recently conclude marvellous Maverick chess tournament. Number wise, it could easily balloon to 150 should Najib did not requested bloggers to put up the STOP sign a few days ago (a rare request from organiser)...and should Najib aggressively promoting his event at shoutbox. He don’t.

2.Top 3 seeded are coming from 3 different countries, (Malaysian’s Mas, Uzbek’s Majidov and Pinoy’s Ian Udani) and we also have Indonesian’s Ahmad Rubel (though now he is a Malaysian PR) and Irish’s Dr Zaidan (he is currently studying medic at Ireland, he is Malaysian ofcourse) ...and Chief Arbiter is Singaporean’s IM Giam...a truly international event!

3.I am seeded number 23 and am happy with my play, time management and concentration. Anyway a bit frustrated with my 3rd round game against Cheah Cheok Fung...failed to convert a winning position...lost that game. All in all, again, not a bad outing for me

4.Glad to see Mustafa Said make a comeback! He won a best veteran. Mustafa Said? In 80’s he is a chess columnist, together with Ismail Ahmad (not that Sarjan Ismail Ahmad) for Berita Harian’s chess column ...missing are the regulars Abdullah Che Hassan, Saprin, Fairin etc...are they busy preparing for National Closed?...takut!

5. 3 games that stood out. Mas lost to Majidov in equal position (Mas blundered a piece), Kamaludin lost to Majidov (position equals but Kamaluddin got about 6 minutes and Majidov’s 30 seconds...Majidov checkmate Kamaluddin with 2 seconds left) you just need to be there to witness how calm Majidov is with 10 seconds remaining on his time... and Fong Yit San won against Udani (did not watch how the game unfold but any win against Udani in Allegro is definitely a news)

6. Final result. All top 6 finisher got 6 points (1 Majidov, Mas, Fong Yit San, Lim Zhuo Ren, Wong Zianwen and yours truly). Senior vs Junior wise...3-3. I lost the bet against Raymond but he is unable to make it to the restaurant...perhaps some other time, Raymond.

7.Next two months are just bumper to bumper pack with tournaments, tournaments and more tournaments! Terengganu Allegro (for members only), National Age Tournament at Tronoh, National Closed, Lim Choong Memorial, Percawi Team Event, UniKL Open, UM Team, Jax Tham’s FIDE rated event, Buccaneers Weekender (with name like this, Najiblah organise...who else), Insofar series...seems like everybody is busy doing ‘real work’ about you, Ilham?

Once, someone said this to me “...I wish you all the best if you have a positive agenda to promote chess and hopefully that includes doing real work beyond making commentary.”


Hmm, maybe what he said is true but still...ouch!

Friday, February 25, 2011


I reread my old Chess Life magazine (old habit as a lullaby or when i am in the restroom) and in July 1988 issue mentioned about New York Open 1988 which was won by then unknown Russian IM (!) Vassily Ivanchuk (USD20,000), second prize went to Cuban GM Guillermo Garcia (USD10,000) and so on...

While Ivanchuk happily bring back USD20k back to then USSR, GM Garcia bring back USD 0 to Cuba due to this US law (Trading with the enemy Act) that prohibit ‘enemy’ from taking out money and goods from US.

‘Enemy’ according to this act is countries which US considered as enemy such as North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Liberia and so on. Enemy could also be individual like Osama Laden or late Malaysian’s Nordin Mat Top

As a result GM Garcia’s USD10,000 is put into Trust Account and will only be released after US Government no longer consider Cuba as the enemy.

Fortunately, this US10k will still enjoyed interest (bet by now the amount is already double). Unfortunately, now, 23 years later US still considered Cuba as US enemy, and this fund should still remain frozen.

What does this Act mean to you and me?
After 9/11 US Government, President George Bush widen the power/scope of this law and passed amendment to this law that among others, allows (the controversial) wiretapping without court order as well as for banking industry, stricter flow of fund to the ‘enemy’.

To you and me this means we, even from Malaysia, cannot remit US Dollar to enemy of US such as to Iran, North Korea, Cuba very careful because once you do this, your money will be freeze by US and will only be returned back to you after ‘enemy’ become friend. Nobody knows when....

This GM Garcia incident reminds me of our own Norazman...Well, you are not alone and not the first... Entering a chess tournament, winning good cash prizes but went home empty handed (albeit due to different reasons)!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


"I've created a chess program that mimics human play" said the computer science major.
"So it plays at Super GM level then?" asks the advising professor.
"Not really, but it does blame its loss on outside conditions!"

Two chess players are playing a correspondence game. White lives at the South Pole. Black lives at the North Pole. The postal service is rather slow and play proceeds at the rate of one move per year. After 15 years of play, white makes a daring queen sacrifice, the consequences of which are brilliant and spectacular...

A year later, as he sees the postman returning, he is very excited. He thinks "Will black take my queen ?", "Is the sacrifice sound ?". He tears open the reply and sees "Jadoube".

Q. What is the difference between a chess player and a couple on a blind date?
A. The chess player mates then chats......

Taken from Susanpolgar.blogspot

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The Introduction
Previously we have saw crazy bishop puzzle in The Most Beautiful Chess Problem’s posting in which one single bishop destroyed an armada of army, a few weeks ago we saw a crazy rook puzzle (in which a single rook which could not be taken, keep on giving check no matter where black’s king hide) and now...crazy queen chess puzzle!

This puzzle was first shown to me by Ghalam Sani some 20 years ago. If i am not mistaken, Gambit (Fairul Yusof) manage to solve this puzzle.

The Puzzle

White to play and win

The Solution
1.h8 = Q a1 = Q
White could not take black’s queen due to stalemate.

2.Qg8 Qa2
Again, black’s queen is taboo.

3.Qe8 Qa4

4.Qe5 Ka8
5.Qh8 winning...white threaten to move his king to seventh rank with a fatal discovered check.

Black could no longer played 5. ...Qa1 because white could then play 6.Qa1 with a check, stalemate trap no longer there.

A few years later, i discovered about this puzzle inside John Nunn’s Tactical Chess Ending though inside the book, the puzzle start from below diagram and with a longer solution.

1. b6+! Kb8!
2. h4 a5
3. h5 a4
4. h6 a3
5. h7 a2
6. h8=Q a1=Q
7. Qg8! Qa2
8. Qe8 Qa4
9. Qe5! Ka8
10. Qh8 winning

According to John Nunn this puzzle was composed by D, Joseph and was published inside British Chess Magazine in 1922.

Dr John Nunn called this puzzle “ of the most famous endgame studies ever composed, but nevertheless it may be new to some people”

I have once show this puzzle to Abdullah Che Hassan...after a few minutes he managed to find the solution!

Monday, February 21, 2011


The Introduction
In a few weeks from now we, Malaysian chess player will decide who is the champion among us and worthy carrier of a title, National Master (NM), for their whole life.

The tournament i am referring to is National Closed...the ‘Wimbledon’ of a local chess tournament.

So far 75 players have put forward their name to try their luck and skills to be a new NM

The seeded
The top ten contenders based from FIDE Rating is as below
1.Loo Swee Loong 2141
2.Saprin 2139
3.Yeoh Li Tian 2115
4.Khair Wahiduddin 2089
5.Lim Zhuo Ren 2074
6.Sumant 2065
7.Ong Thian Loon 2059
8.Nik Farouqi 2057
9.Abdul Aziz Shukor 2046
10.Nabil Azman H 2044

Ok, some would say, why used FIDE when we have our own barangan tempatan? National Rating? Oklah, here is top 10 players based from National Rating...we get quite a different picture...
1.Yeoh Li Tian 1985
2.Sumant 1980
3.Cheah Cheok Fung 1955
4.Saprin 1950
5.Lim Zhuo Ren 1925
6.Tan Ken Wei 1925
7.Loo Swee Loong 1914
8.Nik farouqi 1914
9.Ismail Ahmad 1900
10.Nabil Azman H 1893

To be fair why don’t we kahwin the list to get the average? Oklah, here is the Kahwin (FIDE + Nat rating) list...not much different and Nabil still seeded number 10.
1.Yeoh Li Tian 4100
2.Saprin 4089
3.Loo Swee Loong 4055
4.Sumant 4045
5.Lim Zhou Ren 3999
6.Khair 3977
7.Cheah Cheok Fung 3975
8.Nik Farouqi 3971
9.Tan Ken Wei 3947
10.Nabil 3937

But still, no matter how we twist... and turn...and shake...and upside down the list of the player in a tournament dubbed as Wimbledon of Malaysian Chess...the Nadal, the Federer, the Djokovic of local chess sadly still did not appear in the list...

The Pledge
Why don’t all National player, former NM for once took part in National Closed once again...take a break from never ending office work and go to a place where people know who you are...appreciate who you are...and glad to see you around...aptly worded in Cheers intro below.


Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.

Well, even though currently none of former NM register their name and our chance to see them take part in this Nat Closed looks dim...I hope they would do a Vanessa William...Save the best for last!

Sometimes the snow comes down in June
sometimes the sun goes 'round the moon
just when I thought our chance had passed
you'd go and save the best for last
you went and saved the best for last

Friday, February 18, 2011


Story 1
Once, after manage to represent my district in chess, I attended the centralized training organized by this teacher, let’s call him Cikgu O... first thing he do was teaching us...the correct way of putting back chess pieces back to the box after playing...first count the pawns, make sure there are 8...then rooks, make sure there are 2...and so on. He never teach us any chess theory...only how to put back the pieces after playing...on second day he asked us exactly that..How to simpan buah catur correctly...yet he is the proud chess coach for our district team! Chess coach that teach only how to simpan buah catur correctly and nothing else...only in chess twillight zone

Story 2

Another story...Once, i entered one tournament that was supposed to start at 9.30 10.45 arbiter still accepting late last minute entrance...11am he realize he is way behind time...way way behind time...quickly make an announcement asking us to sit at any chair and start playing with whoever in front of us! We chose our own opponent...only in the chess twillight zone

Story 3
Once, i entered a tournament that did not have clock. Arbiter then mentioned since there is no clock, contestant are going to play for maximum half an hour and after that arbiter is going to ‘evaluate’ the position to determine who is winning (though the game is not ended yet)...fair enough i though...until i met this cheeky guy...i sacrifice a pawn (or maybe two) for huge initiative, almost winning i would opponent?... he start thinking...and thinking...and thinking. Half an hour is over, arbiter came and counted the opponent got more material and is duly declared as a winner! I realized...i could not do anything because i am in the chess twillight zone

Story 4
Every tournament love to have the strong player playing in it. Some even willing to pay for strong player e.g. national player to take part in their tournament.

Once, there is this tournament that did not allowed national players, or to be more specific national player that just finished their tour of duty, to take part in their tournament. Why?Only God knows...and could only the twillight zone

These and just can never know what you are in when you have make that fateful payment and are entering... a (chess) twillight zone...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Several things to observe during next week’s Maverick.

Number of contestant.
Previous tournament (Renegade), it was a huge success, a sold out (Concert terms), a box office (film terms), a knock out (boxing term) or what stock market punter called it as ‘fully oversubscribed’. It is interesting to see whether Maverick could repeat the same success...

I personally feel there is no problem for Maverick to pull in at least 60 players due to IM Mas factor and as a warm up tournament before National Closed.

IM Mas Hafizul
It is interesting to see Mas back in action in local weekend tournament and to see whether he will have mercy against his opponent ala Ian Udani who occasionally draw his last round game when assured of 1st placing or is Mas going to be ‘Ziaur Rahman’ and will aim for perfect score, nothing less?

Also his choice of openings, will it be his usual stuff... Ruy Lopez Exchange, Standard Najdorf or Grand Prix attack or will he play something totally different as suggested by Hairulov (author of How to beat IM Mas for dummies ;) ), English Opening perhaps?

I bet, a wounded and hungry Mas will have no mercy against his opponent and will left other contestant wondering...who’s next to feed to merciless Mas. His choice of opening...well, i think he will stick to his usual arsenal.

Junior vs Senior
Someone told me, in last edition it was dominated by junior....well, result wise it was also dominated by junior with a 4-2 victory (based on top 6 main category prize winner)

Somehow i feel,this time around result wise it will be a 4-2 success for senior.

Wonder what is next?

I think it will be Flamboyant...or will it be Swashbuckler?...hmm, maybe a Daredevil...

Whatever it is...good work Najib for adding colour to local chess scene!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Above diagram refers. Black is winning. Everybody can see it but suddenly, out of blue, white played the confusing 1.Rc6 !

White’s rook is taboo...captured it and the game is draw because of the stalemate...anywhere black king move, white rook is going to give a check. The question now is to play and win after white’s 1.Rc6

I first come across this puzzle about 20 years ago. I feed this position to the chess engine at that time (chessmaster, maybe first version of fritz...they cannot find the mate).

Even in early 2000 with mid fritz or Hiarc or Junior, chess engine could not see the mate

Now, year 2011 within second Fritz or Rybka will come up with the announcement, mate in 16!

We (Siraj and myself) once at DATCC showed this puzzle to IM Mok, after a few minute he is able to solve it!

1. Rc6 d6
2. Rd6 f6
3. Rf6 Kh7
4. Rh6 Kg8

5. Rh8 Kf7
6. Rf8 Ke6
7. Rf6 Kd7
8. Rd6 Kc8
9. Rd8 Kb7
10. Rb8 Kc6
11. Rb6 Kd7

12. Rd6 Ke8
13. Rd8 Kf7
14. Rf8 Kg6
15. Rf6 Kh7
16. Rh6 checkmate!

Monday, February 14, 2011


A couple of postings ago GM Susan Polgar visited my blog and drop a few lines. I was! it is not everyday that Grandmaster visit my blog but then again i did not know much about her (unlike her youngest sis, Judith Polgar). Ahh, what the heck, she is just an ordinary GM so I thought but out of curiousity, i do some research about Susan Polgar and found below interesting info about her.

1.She won Hungary under 12 girls with perfect score (10-0) the age of four! Yeap no typo here F.O.U.R. Wonder whether she is still wearing diaper when executing checkmate after checkmate! :)

2.She composed (and it got published!) her first chess problems (see below) also at the age of 4. Amazing! While most of the four years old could only come up with the trick to get candies, she already could compose below chess problem which required some form of chess mastery and creativity to create it.

White to play and mate in 2 moves

1. Kd1 Kf1
2. Qe1 mate!

3.She won World Under 16 (Girls) at the age of 12.

4.She was World's highest rated player (female) at the age of 15.

5.She got her ’male’ GM title in 1991 (age 22). First female to do it.

6.She could speak 7 languages (Hungarian, English, German, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew and Esperanto). Esperanto ?! Esperanto is the language created in 1870s with the idea to foster harmony between people from different countries, races and to be world’s second language.

7.She is also world record holder for most consecutive games played (1131 games:1112 wins, 14 draws and 3 losses). This world record still unbroken until now.

8.She went undefeated at Olympiads (56 games in total:31 wins and 25 draws)

9.She once create a world record by playing simultaneously games against 326 players (309 wins, 14 draws and 3 losses). GM Kiril Georgiev later broke her record by playing against 360 opponents. GM Morteza renewed this record further by playing against 500 opponents!

Like Gary Kasparov, she is now no longer active participating in chess tournaments but very active in chess development especially in Texas.

It is of no surprise that National Geographic chose her as subject for a documentary titled My Brilliant Mind.

Well, for me... now i know for sure GM Susan Polgar is definitely not an ordinary GM as what i initially thought!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


1. Verbally informed boss that I will take one week leave. Done (after impressing boss that this is for Sea Games Selection)

2. Informed colleague/relief that i will take one week leave during school holiday. Done (after reminding them that i have never take leave during school holidays over the last two years)

3. Officially applied leave. Not yet. This Monday

4. Informed my wife. Done. After promised her there will be a vacation for whole family in May/June.

5. Informed elder daughter. Done. Same modus operandi as above. Promised her there will be a vacation for whole family in May/June.

6. Informed youngest daughter. Done. Same as above plus promise of ice cream.

7. Register to take part. Done. Via e-mailed to Najib last week

8. Make a payment. Not yet. Promised Najib the payment shall be made on 27th February during Maverick.

9. Lobbied to represent Terengganu. Work On progress, though a bit difficult with reduce state quota. Looks like i need to be ‘independent’and not represent any political state...sounds like by election!

10. Service my old trusty kapchai. Not yet. Important cause i don’t want it kaput halfway before arriving at DATCC.

11. To see bomoh to enhance my chances. Not yet. Know anyone that could help? Preferably bomoh as pretty as Lisa Surihani in Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak 2

12. Study chess. Not yet. Every time i am in front of my pc and about to open my chessbase/engines i have an urge to check all the ‘hot blogs’ to see whether there is any hot posting or hot comments appeared or any new wars to study chess in this environment?

13. Study tie break. Not yet. Used to be ignore but now it is very important as it could determine between number one or three...don’t believe? Ask Bro Fadzil Nayan...

Wow, so many things to little time. No wonder Tiger Woods got his own manager to ‘kau tim’ all above checklist.

Friday, February 11, 2011


The Introduction
I discovered this puzzle some 20 years ago. Not sure from where but i suspect it must be from one of those Chernev’s or Kmoch’s book or maybe from one of Leonard Barden’s newspaper cutting. Sorry, i could not remember the source but i still remember the puzzle, the story behind it and the solution.

Hope you enjoyed it!

The Problem

White to play and win

Napoleon (Black King at h7) is being hunted by Prussian armies (white pieces). Question is...which square is Waterloo (place where Napoleon was defeated)?

The Solution
Hint:Just continue checking with the knights. Black’s reply is forced.

1.Ng5 Kg8
2.Nh6 Kf8
3.Nh7 Ke7
4.Ng8 Kd7
5.Nf8 Kc8
6.Ne7 Kb8

7. Ka7
8.Nc8 Ka6
9.Nb8 Kb5
10.Na7 Kb4
11.Na6 Ka3
12.Nb5 mate!

So Waterloo is the a3 square.

The Quote
"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war."
– Napoleon Bonaparte

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

"I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets."
- Napoleon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011



South Korea vs North Korea

Ivory Coast


Earth...2012 ?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


On and off, i checked my blog's visitor, where they are coming from (and tried to guess who they are), how much time spent at my blog and stuff like that..i bet my fellow bloggers also did the same right? :)

I guess most of the visitors are regulars. For you, thanks for visiting my blog, hope you enjoyed reading it (and also hope that you occasionaly clicked on the advertisements here)

Still some of the visitors are not regular. Landed on my blog from various seach engines and from various keywords. For you too, thanks for visiting my blog.

This posting is about the first time visitor who arrived here via various search engine and via various key words and they basically can be divided to two groups.

The Odyssey
Below are some of the key word that often result in them landing at my humble blog. For these visitors hopefully 2010 Chess Odyssey fulfill your mission and you may find something of value here.

Beautiful Chess Problems / study
On 29 Mac 2010 i posted World’s most beautiful chess problems’ article and after that received many visitor hoping to find the most beautiful chess problem. Hopefully they agreed with my posting.

Blackmar Diemer Gambit
Google wise, i am not on front page but still many visitors, no doubt a BDG hardcore fan, they still visit my blog via this key word. I posted BDG article on 11 April 2010.

Chess Odyssey
Chess Odyssey is the name of my blog but it is also the name of one chess club, US based, which offers classes, training etc. Their website is here . Though maybe the searcher wrongly entered my blog via above words, they normally still spent a few minutes here.

The Lost Odyssey
Below are some of the key words that often result in them landing at my humble blog...well, for this group, not sure whether they find anything of value here...and normally they just quickly exit from my blog.

Most beautiful chess player
Thanks again to my World’s most beautiful chess problems’ article, indirectly lead ’manyak hamsap’ searcher to here. Sorry, no beautiful chess player pic here, you pervert!

Senior vs Junior junior wins
Few weeks back someone outside Malaysia googled above words and voila!..landed on my blog (Senior vs Junior: My Views). Google ranked my blog 3rd for above words result. I can see Raymond is smiling...:)

Malaysia Bahrain job opportunity
Sometime last year, someone from Bangladesh land on my blog via above keywords (This is due to my posting Malaysia vs Bahrain The Musical)...all i can say to you, good luck and all the best, mate!

Monday, February 7, 2011



Today, on my way back after taking my lunch, i heard a loud sound


One chair at one restaurant along Jalan Raja Laut incidently trip over.

That sounds triggered back my memory some 12 years ago, at the exact premise- at that time yet a restaurant but a cyber cafe, when Agus Salim is playing blitz online at We (Gregory Lau and myself) are the culprit who introduce the amazing world of internet to Agus.

One night, Agus, true to his character, slapped the bulky monitor real hard because he lost on time in a winning position accusing his invisible opponent of cheating.

Celaka! Dia main tipu..alih-alih masa aku habis! Nanti kau, aku gasak kau lepas ni... Pannggg, he slapped that PC monitor one more time...

Well, his opponent is not cheating and this is due to ’lag’, common at that time due to dial up connection but of course it is pointless to reasons with angry Agus.

That panggg sound at the restaurant, Chow Kit, sudden memory of Agus....i promised myself i need to write something about Agus.

Agus Salim Harahap

.. you either genuinely like him or acting as if you like him...

1. He was born at Indonesia in 1964 (if i am not mistaken), migrate to Malaysia in early 80’s and later managed to obtain Malaysia’s permanent resident status.

2. He stayed at brutal Chow Kit area where he honed his chess skill by 'playing' at 'club' there, normally against his fellow Indonesians. Due to his unforgiving surrounding, Agus is rough by nature with strong language to boot. It is always...aku cabar kau!.or...ahh, (name of chess player), aku sudah gasak dia! Tak ada apalah dia. Watching Agus played Fikrul Saifudden...with shoutings and all... you wondered whether they will end up killing each other! They not...but almost!

3. Despite of all that rough behavior, not many know that Agus got a lovely voice. I first heard Agus sang in 1990, when he together with his fellow 'Chow Kit IM', Ahmad Rubel, Riko Sulaiman etc) took part in Terengganu Open. We stayed at hostel and after the games, with guitar in hand, Agus sang Mus Mulyadi’s keroncong (Jembatan Merah, Kemayoran etc)...his voice is superb! Norazmi once told me he heard a beautiful Azan by Agus when he took part in Malay Master.

4. Agus is also a generous host. Once I together with Mok went to Agus house at Tiong Nam. could see that he really glad we come to his house. He bring out almost all the foods he got, proudly showed me his chess books (only 2 if i am not mistaken, Informator and Chernev’s 1000 best short games, he don’t believe in books but more from sparring against opponent) and gladly introduce me to his fellow Indonesians. ’Ini Din, kawan catur aku dari Terengganu’ Unfriendly, hostile faces of Agus friends suddenly become friendly after the introduction.

5. Funny thing is even a few weeks after that i met again with Agus’ friends at Chow Kit during my lunch break. Agus friends immediately introduced me to other group of Indonesian, 'Ini kawan caturnya si Agus'... somehow the introduction, Chow Kit, the offer of could feel some raw Don Corleone’s dark power at work!...lucky they did not make me any offer that i cannot refuse! :)

6. In 90's Agus won many tournaments, especially the Malay Open series as well as weekend tournaments. He is also the unofficial tourist guide to any visiting Indonesian chess player, Agus is no doubt the best person to do that.

7. Below is one of his games in which he 'gasak' his opponent in the endgame, his favourite phase of the game. Agus (white) and Lim Kok Ann (black)

8. Agus is now no longer with us. He died a few years ago due to illness. Rest in peace, my friend.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Chess, catur, ajedrez, shatranj...We played it, we studied it, we are divided by it, we are united by it, we made friends from it, we made enemies from it., we loved it, we cursed it...A big question here...What is chess?

A board game for two players who move their 16 pieces according to specific rules; the object is to checkmate the opponent's king

Maybe...thought a bit boring.

Lets look at what did practitioner said.
Some say chess is life
“Chess is life” (Bobby Fischer)

“Chess is like life” (Boris Spassky)

“For me, Chess is life and every game is like a new life. Every
Chess player gets to live many lives in one lifetime” (Eduard Gufeld)

Though some say
“Chess is not like life... it has rules!” (Mark Pasternak)

Some say chess is a something nice
Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make man happy. - (Savielly Tartakower)

Chess, like love, is infectious at any age. - (Salo Flohr)

Though some equate chess with something...not so nice
“Chess is mental torture” (Garry Kasparov)

“Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponents mind” (Bobby Fischer)

“Chess is ruthless: you've got to be prepared to kill people” (Nigel Short)

Chess is not relaxing; it's stressful even if you win. - (Jennifer Shahade)

Gosh, this is confusing...and even more confusing to know that it is still debatable when it come to categorise chess. This is important since it will determine where chess news should it together with David Beckham or is it together with David Teo, is it an Olympic game or is it an Academy Award material....

“Chess is the art which expresses the science of logic” (Mikhail Botvinnik)

Chess is a sport. A violent sport. -(Marcel Duchamp)

I consider chess an art, and accept all those responsibilities which art places upon its devotees. - (Alexander Alekhine)

A sport, a struggle for results and a fight for prizes. I think that the discussion about “chess is science or chess is art” is already inappropriate. The purpose of modern chess is to reach a result. - (Alexander Morozevich)

Karpov, being Karpov, played it flexible

“Chess is everything: art, science and sport” (Anatoly Karpov)

Some condemned chess...
It is a curse upon man. There is no happiness in chess. - (H.G. Wells)

Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time. - (George Bernard Shaw)

Some praised chess...
“Chess makes man wiser and clear-sighted” (Vladimir Putin)

Chess is a cure for headaches. - (John Maynard Keynes)

Chess is beautiful enough to waste your life for. - (Hans Ree)

To sum it up
“The battle for the ultimate truth will never be won. And that's why Chess is so fascinating” (Hans Kmoch)

Better leave it at that...

Thursday, February 3, 2011


FIDE first introduce the title in 1950 and award it to top 27 players at that time. Only in 1953 there is a proper system introduce to get the title. Before 50’s it was based on MAS system. (MAS = Mana Ada Sistem). GM title was used loosely and freely without any clear standard or definition.

How to get one.
To the best of my knowledge, there are 3 ways to get GM title. This is the simple version. The complete version especially in norm calculation could make scientist sweat!
1) By Winning Tournament. Some tournament offered automatic GM title should you win it. These tournaments are World Chess Championship/ Zonal, World Junior, World Senior, Commonwealth etc. 1st! Call me GM please thank you.
2) By collecting norms. In simple words, if you are doing great at international tournament that offered GM norm, then you collect one norm. Collect few norms (within certain time frame) then you are a GM.
3) By award. Fide occasionally award GMship to those that played chess long enough, strong enough though not really in category 1 or 2 above.

Number of GMs? As at end 2010, there are 1275 GMs in this world

Number of women GM? Susan Polgar is the first to achieve this in 1991. Now there are 22 female that manage to get this ‘male’ GM. I did not count Nona and Maya since they get their GMs by recognizant by FIDE, not via slug it out at male GM tournament like what Susan Polgar did.

Number of countries with GM? 74 countries with Russia is the major shareholder (202 GMs), controlling about 16% of the world’s GMs.

Number of countries without GM? 54 countries…and we acutely aware about one country in this particular sad group.

Prettiest/ Handsomest GM? Just kidding, ofcourse no such category…:) too subjective

Strongest GM? In 1999, Kasparov’s rating is 2850. No one, be it Anand, Kramnik or Carlsen come close to this rating though I suspect should Rybka 4 is allowed to have Fide rating via tournament with human (and not just ratings from games between fellow engines), Rybka will be able to easily break Kasparov’s rating.

Oldest to obtain GM? Enrico Paoli, awarded Grandmaster title at the age of 88

Youngest GM? Sergey Karjakin, awarded Grandmaster title at the age of 12.

From I found this interesting info about GMs.

Age Group No. of GM
11 – 20 233
21 – 30 606
31 – 40 293
41 – 50 62
51 – 60 14
61 – 70 16
71 – 80 9
81 – 90 5

Last but not least, this is what GM Anand got to say about GM

“Nowadays, when you’re not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it.”
Viswanathan Anand

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


How many times in chess… as well as in love, in job and in life…that we reach a time in which we know we should accept the challenge thrown to us, takes the bull by its horn so they said…but in the heat of the moment, we blink and back off!…we decide to play it safe, don’t want to take the risk, do not believe in our own capability and judgment…and later when the smokes has cleared and the sun shine again, the clock has stop ticking…regret that decision forever?

“Damn it! Should follow my instinct! Things will be different…” so cried our little chicken heart.

This is the game (played during the 3rd round of Renegade Weekend Tournament) which I am proud of because I am willing to take the challenge, believe in my judgment despite of 3 pawns deficit, believe in the Spartan power of my well place pieces…most importantly believe in myself.

Check this game with my chess engine and the engine agreed with all my moves...doubly proud!

This is the game.

W: Nor Ilhamuddin
B:Muhd Taufik Azman

Sicilian Smith Morra Gambit

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 g6
3. d4 cd4
4. c3 dc3

Sacrifing a pawn

5. Nc3 Bg7
6. Bc4 Nc6
7. e5 Qa5
8. 0-0 Ne5

Sacrificing second pawn

9. Ne5 Qe5
10. Re1 Qc7

Natural move, attacking the undefended bishop. How to defend this bishop?

11. Nb5! Qc6

Bishop is taboo. 11. … Qc4 12. Nd6 winning the lady.

12. Bf4 Bb2

…and the third pawns fell

13. Rb1 Bc3
14. Re3 Ba5

White pieces (except the king) are all out at the battlefield. Time to attack!

15. Nd6 Kf8
16. Qd4 f6
17. Re7

Black resign.

It is a force mate

Ah… game like this…makes me thankful I am back playing chess after my 2 previous chess retirements. Totally agree with GM Bent Larsen below...

"Chess is a beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back, no matter how many times she rejects us."
– Bent Larsen