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.


  1. Good story. Rough exterior with a good heart. Maybe we can swap stories. I knew quite a few too. :)

  2. Just posted something in reference to your story. All my best.

  3. Agus once told me a story. In a tournament, he had a tremendous material advantage, something like a queen up in an ending. He was so upset his opponent did not resign. Somehow he lost his own queen and allowed his opponent to queen a pawn. Agus lost the game.

  4. I tried to search for Agus at Chow Kit a few years ago. His friends told me he died of brain cancer.

    I had played against him twice - in a tournament and one offhand game. I lost both. He loved to wager $5 per game.. seeing my reluctance (playing under protest), he quickly treated me to a Fresh Orange drink. "Ini untuk belanja kawan-kawan sahaja."

    He also had regrets (if I'm not mistaken) - to be the Malaysian GM ! He believed he could gain the GM title in exchange for Citizenship and support from MCF, which all of that he never gained.

  5. There is so much passion in chess that if it can be focussed on a goal we can achieve anything.

  6. Hi Raymond,
    Have read your posting. The Godfather is definitely one of the best novel i have ever read.

    Hi Jimmy,
    Vintage Agus! :)

    Hi abdooss,
    That's very brave of you to go to Chow Kit and asked where Agus is !

    Yeah, Agus is very ambitious when it come to chess but he has been greatly handicap with his Indonesian nationality and antique behaviour.

  7. Yes. The truth is very very hard to see. It is much easier to believe the lies. I think that is our barrier to that GM. The higher we go the higher the pressure and the more the fear. So you do not go into that maelstorm unprepared. Like you do not climb Everest unprepared. You must prepare technically but you must also condition the mind. Go to my blog and read the inner child if you want to learn more. All my best.

  8. Your posting about Agus not about novel or something else.

  9. Raymond Siew, what has your comment to do with Ilham's post? Not enough readers coming to your blog?