Thursday, June 30, 2011


Competitor Analysis
Not easy to play against Mr Razali.
First, his style of solid play (i hate solid play!) in which if overreach, can simply exploded in front of your face.
Second, his misleading rating. Razali's strength is way, way above his current rating.
Third, he just drew with NM Yeoh Chin Seng...

“Just play 1.h3” advice one of my colleague when he know i will be playing against Razali Ng6 and continued giving his reasons. While i was about to buy into his suggestion of playing waiting first move (though what i really intent to play is 1.a3, and hopefully end up playing any of my black’s opening a tempo up...) suddenly he advise me of NOT playing 1.e4 “...because he will played Alekhine and he know the opening well.”


At that instance i know i have to play 1.e4! Reason is because as white, against Alekhine, I normally played a rare and dubious Chase Gambit Variation in which for a pawn sacrifice, white has tremendous initiative.

Below is the game.

The Game
W:Nor Ilhamuddin
B:Razali Hamzah

Note from Nf6
Maybe this is still too early to say but what i think the favourite now to win this tournament is Dr Kaushal. He is currently studying medicine at UK and according to him, he occasionally played chess there. He did not play spectacular chess opening (he played a quiet positional chess, double fianchettos, hedgehog structure and stuff like that) but from middlegame onwards he slowly and surely collecting advantages...squeezing his opponent like a hungry anaconda...wonder is he secretly study chess there at UK ...?!

Good to see how Yeoh Chin Seng and Yeoh Li Tian really battled it out on their game last Saturday. No early draw (or even ‘early lost’ for that matter) that one sometimes could expect whenever there is immediate family member chess encounter. Very serious, very professional.

If memory serve me right, the last time i saw a serious game between sibling is some 17 or 18 years ago at PWTC (National Closed) when Khairunnisha played against Nurul Huda. The game was adjourned and at one corner Khairunnisha is busy analysing and at other corner, her sister is busy analysing....

Many thanks to Mr Najib Wahab who is very patience in handling the re-schedule and re-re-schedule of the tournament...and also for the efficiency in sending out tournament ‘bulletin’ FOC to contestant.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


The Call
10 am. Setiawangsa.

It should be a quiet Saturday. I was about to have my 1000 calories nasi lemak with rendang, cockles, telur goreng etc...type of stuff that they banned at school canteen. In front of me is The Star...old habit...having breakfast and reading newspaper.

Suddenly my phone rang. “Ilham, aku nie..Farouqi. Kita ada gamelah...” It turned out that i have games (Nf6 tournament). Panick...i mumbled something like oklah, a walkover win for you, Qie...but a gentleman farouqi said that he is willing to wait for me (and will not enforce a waiting time rule. Ofcourse he absolutely got the rights to claim a walkover win).

Should i go or should i stay?
Should i forfeit my nasi lemak breakfast or should i forfeit the game?

Damn! Only on my recent posting (Dear Raymond) at my blog I preached about each player should play their role by entering tournament/ playing game they promise earlier on but it seems now within 24 hours i am about to be what i preached other of not to be...

Sadly forfeiting my nasi lemak, i informed my daughters to quickly pack their books. ‘Just grab whatever books you can. ’...they need to follow me to chess tournament. Hopefully i am not double forfeiting today.

Driving my SLK (Small Little Kancil, not that Mercedes SLK) to the limit, i arrived 17 minutes before i ran out of my 90 minutes time.

The Game

I drew the game though i think i have the advantage in the final position.

My apology to my opponents (both Aqie and Ng6) and the rest of competitor for any (and i think a lot...) of disturbance caused by my daughters.

Next posting
My game against Ng6

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Thank you very much for interest you show on my below posting (If Chess Is Business). Agreed with some of your points and disagreed with some others.

Chess is an amazing tool to building future businessmen as well as a GM if we include competitor analysis.
Absolutely! Chess with its rich lesson on time management, decision making under stress, trading of pieces to your advantage, setting trap as well as well as avoiding trap, minimize losses, maximize limited resources (and like what you mentioned, competitor analysis too) is a good tool for future businessmen and GM.

Competitor Analysis (CA) is essential for business and chess.
From my experience, CA has been taught to business student, indirectly, via various methods/ studies. SWOT Analysis, Analysis of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and even on the nasty Machiavelli’s works. OK, we basically have an agreement that CA is essential in both business and chess but I think we have a different view on the ‘weightage’ of CA (especially in chess)

In June 3rd, 2011 you posted an article with heading “CA is 60% of the game” (In this article you equate CA with ‘right opening line’as well as various postings also relate CA with opening preparation.)

In my opinion, CA should be more than just analysis on the opening line. It should also cover type of position (complex/simple), type of play (aggressive/gambit/positional), type of endgame (knight/rook/Queen/bishop etc) that competitor like/dislike). In good old days they even analysis the smoking behavior of opponent!

Since you mentioned that CA is 60% of the game, it just put other aspect of the game, the technical know-how of the game at mere 40% the most.

Well, in my opinion. CA is only 10% of the game. Technical is 80% and maybe10%, others (luck, good night sleep, state of opponents etc). Consider below 2 extreme examples.

100% CA vs 0% Technical knowledge.

Armed with all info about our competitors opening but zero technical knowledge of our own, we cannot win the game. We all know that normally to beat a decent, competitive player we need to beat our opponent 3 times. First, in the opening, second in the middlegame and third in the endgame. Most likely in this hypothesis those arms with CA will only ‘win’ in the opening but not the game.

0% CA vs 100% technical knowledge…aka Rybka4.
Say we played against someone/something that know nothing about us but possessed 100% technical skills (e.g Rybka) while we know all that we need to know about our opponent yet we possessed a low technical skill, guess who will win?

In simple word, technical skill will beat CA anytime, any day hence the importance of technical should be higher than CA.

Code of Conduct
Not really agree that we have Code of Conduct to ‘govern’ our chess activities. ‘So that rogue associations, organizers etc etc is given proper guidelines to code of conduct’ so you mentioned. The idea is no doubt noble, utopian even, but I personally feel that having Code of Conduct will just complicate matters. It will create red tape and confusion. Ownership (who owned this Code of Conduct book?), how to review it (yearly basis, committee, proposals ?), the definition ?, coverage? Dealing with grey areas/ dispute? etc. I think having one FIDE Handbook as a guideline is quite sufficient.

I do not think Code of Conduct is what we need. I think what we need is for everybody to plays their part and deliver what they promise (“My word is my bond”). Player who agreed to play really come up to play, organizer who agreed to organize chess tournament did not cancel the tournament last minute and office bearer who promised to issue letter or return call, really do so….I think this is what we need.

As a banker I worked in highly regulated environment. Bank Negara Guidelines, Securities Commission Guidelines, bank’s endless manuals, policies and Standard Procedures, several Malaysia’s Acts that we need to know, a few international Regulations that Malaysia has signed that we need to comply..and yes, Code of Ethics too. In banking sector we need all these since we are dealing with other people money and the action or inaction could affect economy/country but for chess, I do not want this in my beloved chess kingdom. I would rather have it less regulated. I want to enjoy chess and not legalese chess.

In General
Unlike this posting (which to me, is quite serious), below posting is generally my a tongue in cheek posting that should be read casually and if at the end the posting, it elicit a smile on the face of the reader, I am happy. If reader puts comment for immortality feedback, I am very happy and of course if reader shows the appreciation of the article by clicking on the colourful nuffnang advertisement, I will be very, very happy. :)

Anyway, thanks again Raymond for your feedback and additional input on my posting.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Chess has long been associated with business. Most of the corporation used chess pieces on the company ads to indicate strategic thinking, long term planning, good move etc. Kasparov has also on many occasion relate chess with business e.g. study your opponents, never relax at the top etc. Mark Dvoretsky on his latest posting at also advise readers to treat every exchange of pieces as business transaction (try getting most profit out of it).

Those above makes me think…if chess is equal to business then…

The Equation
Blitz chess is derivative trading
Fast, lots of actions and just not for beginner.

Classical chess is stock/share trading
Every player is into this and every player/punter think they are better than what their performance indicator is.

Postal chess is bond trading.
Well, some bond takes 30 years to mature…yawn!

2 steps checkmate is winning lottery
You are damn lucky and odd is heavily against you

Setting up 4 steps checkmate is setting up a Ponzi scheme
You are taking risk on the stupidity of your opponent for your own quick gains.

Getting a GM title is getting listed on main board, KLSE.
Required hardwork and dedication. Once achieved will be very visible and will open doors to lots of opportunity.

MCF is SC (Securities Commission)
Supervising , monitoring and got lots of power.

Discovered a theoretical novelty is discovered oils..
Very valuable.

Chessbase is Bloomberg
Oracle. Place to go to seek information/ knowledge.

Dato Tan Chin Nam is Warren Buffett
Rich, powerful, lots of connections and who people always see when needs help.

Yeoh Li Tian is Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder)
Very young, very successful and lots of promises.

MasHafizulhelmi is Robert Kuok
Top of the game. Number one in the list

Hmm, if Mas is number one then me, ranked number 56 in Malaysia is equal to….damn! Malaysia Business/ Forbes listed only of top 40 richest Malaysian. I always miss the cut. Anyway, ranked number 56 should still put me of having estimated assets of about RM100 million…how nice!

If only chess is business...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


December last year i posted an article about my 2011 chess resolutions. Now we are at the middle of the year, let’s do a brutally honest half yearly review on my resolution (KPI !?) and my performance so far....

To Study Endgame
Out of 10 full marks, i gave myself 2. Books ready, board ready, coffee ready but then i could study just for about 10 minutes before distraction came (or my own lack of focus...maybe i should used the word ‘other commitment’ to replace ‘lack of focus’ :) Correct wording is ofcourse very important when doing KPI review.

Entered 2 FIDE rated tournament
Gave myself 7.5! Entered National Closed and currently entering the Nf6 tournament. Going to achieve this!

Pushed my FIDE rating to 2050
Gave myself 2. Over the last 6 months I gained 1 point. 6 point. At this rate it is going to take me 19 years to have a rating of 2050. Or about 350 years to be a 2700 player!

Entered 10 local tournaments and finished better than my seeding.
4 points for me. Entered about 2 or 3 tournament and all, finished better than my seeding. Plan to enter more tournaments after Hari Raya.

To buy original Rybka 4
Zero. Not going to happen. Why fork up few hundred bucks to buy a second best product when you can get the best product for free?

52 postings
Perfect 10. In fact this posting is my 53rd postings for this year.

All in all. An average achievement. Something like...not going to be sack but not going to get promotion either. Stood at the middle of the bell curve.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Same old story for me in this Nf6 tournament...

Again, I am the schedule changer. Change my game in which I was supposed to play yesterday to today. Sorry guys.

Again, I face ex-NM.

Again, I lost

Below is the game. The short game.

The Game
W:NM Kamal Ariffin

If Kamal Ariffin is Mohamad Ali the boxer, did not blame him if he told me outright in front of my face "I'm so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark." Mohamad Ali he is not (lucky me!) so Kamal Arifin just say he got lucky.

My Excuses
1. Sleep late last night, celebrating Terengganu wins against arch rival Kelantan in FA Cup. How do you know about this, Najib? :)
2. I make a wrong decision choosing chess some 25 years ago.

Well, actually there should be no excuses. Kamal played very well (95% of his move is what chess programme would play) and as he shows after the game, he knew Slav (main line, Meran and some offbeat wild lines) very well.

Farouqi, who maybe sense that i am the 'sayur' of the tournament (or maybe being a Kelantanese simply want to beat anything Terengganu today), quickly asked me whether i am in for a game with him in the afternoon. Sorry, Aqie, not today...your turn to beat me will come but just not today...

Both Fairin and Saprin bring their kids to DATCC today. Maybe to inspect and sight seeing a place in which they will become King and Queen in few years time.

Sumant (arrived in sleek green kawasaki bike wearing full face helmet!), Datuk Tan, Kamaluddin, Encik Mat Zaki and few others are also here in DATCC this morning.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Magical Place
There are some places or acts in this world that possessed that magical chess power that somehow, once entered, once done, could improve chess power tremendously within short span of time. Could boost our rating by perhaps 50, 100 or beyond within a year... no kidding!

In USA, that place used to be Jack Colin’s apartment. (He died in 2001) His students are among others William Lombardy, Donald Byrne and young Robert Fischer. You could not get any better than having Fischer as your student! It was once said that once you stepped into his apartment and getting out few days later, you should be stronger by 100 points.

In Russia, ofcourse it Mark Dvoretsky’s apartment. Check in, check out, stronger by at least 200 points. From Wikipedia

“For personal reasons he opted not to remain an active player and instead followed his urge to become a chess trainer. This was something he had tried out and enjoyed while studying at Moscow University and he quickly gained a reputation for transforming serious, hard-working 2200 (Elo) players into grandmasters. Similarly, it was said that established grandmasters could become champions under his tutelage and his student register began to read like a 'who's who' of chess greats. Kasparov, Anand, Topalov, Bareev, Lautier and Van Wely were just a few of the players who benefited from his coaching. Four of his students went on to become Junior World Champions.”

In Malaysia, closest place that could magically improved your rating within short time is, reading blog could not improve your chess and no, no apartment, to the best of my knowledge, that possessed that power. (OK, in Malaysia maybe it is not apartment but mansion since i think, Malaysian chess players are mostly rich millionaire that could spend million for chess, few million here, few million there, but again...’could’). My apology if i am wrong or if income tax people is after you guys!

That magical place is at Cititel, spent few days in end August and enter Malaysia Open, lift the Malaysian Open trophy and within short time after that, your rating just went skyrocket! But ofcourse you need to legitimately be a champion first to do that.

A simple study of past 7 Malaysia Open champs shows that all champs (with the exception of GM Dao in 2006) have their rating up by quantum leap after lifting Malaysia Open trophy. Ni Hua, Li Chao, Negi etc all benefit tremendously from these. Some already breaking the heavenly 2700 barrier and some are already knocking at that pearly gate. I would love to think this is due to their previous Magical Malaysia Open factor!

So how about you, Ilham? Will you take part in this tournament?
Ok, let see. My date of birth is 8th January 1974. The 8th edition of Malaysia Open, played in 8 month of 2011 and if in entered open section, most likely based from my very ‘humble’ rating i will be seeded number 88 or maybe lower and due to current circumstances, need to give 8 reasons to my boss why i need to take leave and another 8 reasons to my wife why i take leave to enter chess tourney (and did not take leave during our anniversary... she did! :) )....i think i will not join in the fun.

To those who will take part...all the best and have a jolly good time!