Thursday, September 29, 2011


I like articles here. Can i re-publish it on my blog?
Thank you and yes, you can. No, problem and do not required my prior permission but any reproduced article must be credited to 2010 Chess Odyssey. Give me credit sikitlah.

Your writing...comments on shoutbox...wonder do you eyeing any of the MCF’s (or other association) position?
NO! Plaese don't torture me. I am a chess player who enjoys playing chess and also enjoying writing about it but position in MCF...? That is a definite no, no for me. Ok lets me rephrase it. That is definitely NO NO NO for me.

I am just not the ‘berpersatuan’ type. Let put it this way, I love playing chess, love writing about it, but to be involve in any chess association is something that is so not me. The meetings, meets people, planning, meeting again, cannot freely air your views because it may represent the association’s views....thanks but no, thanks!

Congratulations! You got number 2 in recent SM Mini Blitz tournament.
No, Ilham that got second place there is not me. It is another Ilham. (I am enjoying myself at Cherating on 24 September 2011) After all i am not the only chess player with ‘Ilham’ name...

To clear the air once and for all, maybe CM Fadli could be kind enough to publish the picture of all the winners if you guys still do not believe that the second winner there is not me. CM Fadli?

Monday, September 26, 2011


1. 'Kedai Aziz' or roughly translate as ‘Aziz’s Shop’ is not really a shop/restaurant. It is a stall, typical Terengganu’s thousand of stalls that dotted the landscape that served World’s finest Nasi Dagang or Nasi Minyak , Nescafe Peng etc.

Kedai Aziz is a wooden stall, cement floor and roof from zinc and nicely place under the large ‘Ara’ tree. It has about 6 or 7 tables and it can be divided to 3 parts. Proper stall, chess corner and checker corner. No, no toilet here though many regulars unashamedly act as if Kedai Aziz got one... Openly.

2. Kedai Aziz closed on Friday and operating hour for Kedai Aziz is from 7.30 in the morning till 6.30 in the afternoon with the exception on Thursday (or the ‘Hari Khamis Malam Jumaat’), somehow on 'hari Khamis Malam Jumaat', Aziz, the owner can be seen closing it early by half an hour. Wan Mamat, the contractor and one of the regular can always heard teasing Aziz “Asa ari Khamih Ma’lang Juma’’lek awa” or roughly translate as whenever Thursday’s night you come home early!

When Wan Mamat not around on Thursday i blurly said to Aziz the some words uttered by Wan Mamat though not really understand the significant of the night. :)

3. From late 80’s up to late 90’s, Kedai Aziz is the unofficial centre of Terengganu chess. (Before it was ‘Jalan Kamaruddin, belakang Wisma Armon’ and now that honour went to Dungun). Ghalam, Abdullah Yunus, Arshad, Azli, Adnan, Hashim, Lim Sim Leong, Ghani, Cikgu Mat, Bak, Awie, Zailan, Gambit, Ustaz Ali, Aik Kiat, yours truly are the regulars here. Norazmi, Rahim somehow dislike the place.

4. Whenever PCNT got some cash flow problems, Aziz is the ready banker to advance his money first. Once the association got its cash from Majlis Sukan, Aziz will be immediately reimbursed. Aziz luckily did not charge us any interest for this uncollateral loan!

5. ‘Kedai Aziz’ is definitely not Cafe de la Regence that could attract artist (Voltaire, Rosseau) or VIPs such as Napolean but still on and off you can meet the late Aziz Afkar here (Aziz Afkar is the writer of ‘Hartini). Aziz is the chess lover and proudly said he learned chess from Chessmaster programme. On and off local politicians will drop by here for a lunch or maybe a game of checker. If i am not mistaken, NM Kamal Abdullah used to play chess here.

6. Time did not move slowly here, time crawl. It is common to set the time to meet at Kedai Aziz as ‘ we meet there in the morning...’ It means anytime between 7am to 11.30 am! Or maybe if you want to be specific ‘we meet after Asar’...anytime between 4 to 6.30pm! far cry from today Corporate meeting...meeting start at 4.05pm sharp.

...Damn, i missed the place...I don’t know about others but i definitely feel closer to Kedai Aziz, a sense of belonging/acceptance among adults. I am always happy here, playing chess from morning till afternoon, no cares about world...Kedai Aziz (and its regulars Ghalam, Arshad, Cikgu Mad) are one of the major reason why i chose chess over writing. Yup, I was once among the best Malaysia junior writer (poetry, short story etc) with ready invitation to write for compilation etc, dumped that careers and play chess where i am totally nobody... but maybe that is story for another day.

7. Talked about art and languages...we, the citizen of Kedai Aziz, talked our own chess language here. Chess Opening is 'lagu', bishop queen battery is 'buah dagu', Alekhine Defense is 'lagu kuda sesat' etc...yes, still used that classic 'sah' for check or 'mat' for mate!

8. Later in mid 90’s, under the name of development , kedai Aziz’s site has been earmarked for a building and he shifted his stall some 100 metres forward, behind the new Kuala Terengganu bus station. Chess/checkers hippies (read:me!) followed suit and rebuilt the ‘markas’ there but somehow it cannot restore its old glory. The magic has gone. For the record Aziz closed his iconic stall in late 90’s and now successfully went into sand transportation business.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Jack of all trades, master of all.
If there such a title as Malaysia Most Complete Chess Personality, Mok Tze Meng …sorry, I mean IM Mok Tze Meng, would surely win it hands down.
As a chess player, he holds theIM title, peak strength of ELo2416, once nominated as candidate for Perlis Sportsman of the year etc.
As a chess coach, NM Lim Zhuo Ren and NM Edward Lee are among his student . Enough said though he actually also involved in coaching for schools, clubs etc.
As a chess entrepreneur, via Intelligent Minds Academy , you can always count on him to quote a competitive price for chess equipment (books, clocks, etc).
As a chess tournament organiser, his 2011 Hillcrest Open is arguably among the best local tournament this year.
As for involvement in chess association, he is vice president of CAS and committee member of MCF
As a chess blogger…well, err, hmm…ok, I think if he puts more time and efforts on it, it will surely be one of the top chess blogger in Malaysia.

Mok Tze Meng actually are more than above. He is now into arbitership (second in his class), father to a chess player, captain to Malaysia chess team on various outtings etc. He is also perhaps the only Malaysian player who got opening name after him (Mokdern Defense).
In banking there is this term ‘financial supermarket’ to financial institutions that could offered variety of services to variety of customer, not wrong to say Mok is our chess supermarket.

Early days
I first heard about Mok via newspaper articles in late 80’s, most probably on Chessmate, about one Sarawakian player who shuttle/fly regularly to take part in chess tourney at KL…and this is time before ‘now anyone can fly’ era!

He later settled down at Kuala Lumpur.

He won his first National Closed in 1990, a feat which he repeated in 1992, same goes with Selangor Open, God knows how many times he won.

I first know him personally in early 90’s as the unofficial banker to encash the cash cheque. Still remember whenever I won a few hundred bucks in tournament and it is in the form of cash cheque, Mok is the ready banker to cash it, normally half via buying his chess books and other half cash.Of course at that time outside of the chess world he was a banker in trade finance department.

One good thing in buying books from Mok is you will get advice or summary about the books. Oh, not recommend this book for you or Hey, this book is for you! Etc. You have the feeling that he knows his stuff, he knows his customer.

Later when I settled down at Kuala Lumpur in late 90s, we sometimes met at Royal Selangor Club and Agus’ house and various chess tournaments.

Chess style.
His style of playing is simple, positional and with strong endgame technique. He is not into wild swashbuckling attacking ala Tal or Shirov but rather crystal clear strategic play ala Fischer or Capablanca.

Maybe, just maybe that his Achilles Heels is on his opening repertoire. His choice of opening is however rather limited (Ruy Lopez Exchange and Modern Defense) and in the era of internet, databases…he maybe needs to widen his openings. Anyway don’t be surprised, before his love affair with Modern Defense, Mok used to play double edge opening such as Dragon and even Alekhine!

Below is sample of his endgame mastery at best. He is one pawn down in rook ending against an active GM...and playing at GM's own 'stadium'...where local considered Utut as national can be intimidating.

W:GM Utut Adianto
B: Mok Tze Meng
1993 Jakarta Interzonal

1. ... Rc7
2 Kd2 Kf7
3 Rc1 Rc1
4 Kc1 a5
5 a4 ba4
6 Kb1 a3
7 b3

now the excitement begin

7 ... f5!!
sacrificing a pawn. Mok has seen deep into this endgame.
8.ef5 Rg8!!
now when he is a pawn down...and just created pass pawn to his opponent, he offered to exchange rook? Rook actually cannot be taken. Black's passed pawn (s) are faster.

Only move to draw. Other move lost for white!

9. ..... Rg2
10. Re5 Rb2
11. Ka1 Rb3
12. Ra5 Rd3


Chess Progress.
Mok’s progress as a player can best be described in steady 10 years leap. Roughly in early 80’s(or maybe late 70’s) he started playing the game, in 1990 National Master (NM), in 2000 FIDE Master (FM) and in 2009 International Master (IM)…based on that steady progress, who are we to say in future he will not obtained that elusive GM title once he set his target on it?

Next month he will be taking part in Yangoon GM chess tourney…2010 Chess Odyssey wished him all the best.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Hari Raya
Hari Raya…in between lemangs, nasi himpit, rendangs and other normal Aidil Fitri routines (and chaos too…after all Aidil Fitri is always about controlling domestic chaos affair…and queeing to take shower… and quarrelling on where is butang baju melayu…and taking pictures…and asking for forgiveness…), I picked up Seirawan’s Winning Chess Brilliancies (published in 1995) and went through Seirawan’s comments on 1991 Ivanchuk vs Yusupov FIDE semifinals candidate match. Game played in Brussels yet at Moscow, there was a political coup to oust Gorbachev. Both players are worried about the fate of their family back home.

The Game
Below is the full game.

Black won the game.

The position
The interesting part of the game reached after black’s played 24. … Qh4.

Which side is better?

White is a piece up and controlling the center while black ( a piece down) got the attack against white’s king.

Seirawan is the eyewitness to this game and he together with his friend (Larry Christiansen, William Watson and John Nunn no less) analysing the position and they just unable to determine which side is better though Seirawan believed that white should be winning.
Some line discussed
25. Nce7 Kh8
26. Nf5 Qh2
27. Kf1 Be5!!
28. Be5 Re5
29.de5 Rg8 threatening a queen sac 30... Qh1 31. Bh1 Nh2 32. Ke1 Rg1 checkmate!

The position haunted Seirawan and he visit and re-visit the position several times before finally he found a defense for white.
25. Nce7 Kh8
26. Nf5 Qh2
27. Kf1 Be5!!
28. de5 Rg8
29. Nde3 fe3
30. e6!

All in all Seirawan devoted 4 pages analysing above position.

Still I wondered, is his analysis accurate? Is white really winning in this game?

Now the position haunted me.

Two weeks after Hari Raya …still in between lemangs, nasi himpit, rendangs of open houses and somewhat less chaotic environment, I consulted my ELO 3000 professor…Mr Fritz agreed that from above position white is winning (eval of 6.3) and gave below convincing line

25. Nce7 Re7
26. Ne7 Kh8
27. Nf4 Qh2
28. Kf1 Rg8
29. Ne3 Bd4
30. Rd4 Ne3
31. Ke1 safe! What a convincing line.

Case closed! Haunt me no more! What Seirawan achieved in few days, i achieved it in few minutes.

The Contemplation
Makes me think how lucky I am today. I have with me, Mr Chess Engine, arguably stronger than even Super GM, that is always ready 24/7 to give me advices , access to millions of games , access to live games, access to thousands and thousands of players all over the world for a quick game between human or some discussion about Caissa, access to maybe million hours of chess videos and training materials, access to tablebase …bet Kasparov and Karpov of early 80's is willing to pay million dollar (or maybe million Ruble) to enjoy what i am enjoying now... what a waste if i did not fully utilized it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


1. No, i am not referring to Malaysian Airline System in crisis, though it is not wrong to say so (with MAS shares is now at only RM1.53, not so good financial results, many senior management resignation etc). I am referring to our IM Mas, who seems to be in crisis of sort, scoring only a point from 6 games.

2. If my memory served me right, the last time Mas was in crisis is at 2009 Bangkok Open when he just losing game after game to opponents not really of his strength, trying extremely hard to win even when the position did not warrant it...legend has it that GM Ian Rogers, his coach, then advice Mas via e-mail saying that result in chess, other than win or lost, there is a draw (or something to that effect). Mas got the message, regrouped and starts winning again.

3.Maybe we demand too much from Mas. We are not used to see Mas at his current state. Over the last 20 years, we are just being pampered with Mas' fine tournament result (beating Korchnoi, Ulibin, drawing Michael Adam etc) till we always unreasonably demand Mas to perform excellently, all the time and at all the place. We questioned his human error in letting his phone rang in the middle of the game, questioned his decision to take a draw against super GM, questioned his fighting spirit, questioned his decision this...questioned his decision that And this maybe, just maybe put unnecessary pressure on him.

4.Mas honestly did not need all this crap from us. What he needs is support from all of us. Continued support in his best of times and worst of times...

5. We forgot that how much sacrificed (money, time, other opportunity, etc...) Mas has done on his mission to put Malaysia on chess map. Without Mas, Malaysia can easily ranked number 100 in Chess Country Ranking, without Mas we may not even have such a strong junior line up (who find inspiration from him or strength by sparring with him). We forgot even Ivanchuk or Shirov also sometimes performed below their true strength. We take Mas for granted...

6.Then again who am i to give my comment on Mas. One blogger recently questioned whether a 2200 player qualified to comment a game of someone rated 2400. Now i am 1900 something player, let alone comment, that put me not even in the position to whisper about his performance. So i guess i better stop now.

7. To IM Mas. A poem...Don't Quit!

Friday, September 2, 2011



We, human, came to this world pre install with this ability. Though unfortunately it came without any instruction or manual on how to use it. Somehow, we just know when danger is around the corner …and instinctively position ourselves either to fight or flight.

We, chess player too, came to any chess games also pre install with this ability. We know when our opponent tried to crush us positionally… We know when we should shelter our king from danger… we know when we should rush our pawns and king in endgame. We hardly think…we just ‘know’ what to do. It is as if some mysterious forces guide us what to do.

But the big question is how accurate and reliable is our chess instinct? To what extent we can trust this basic instinct of ours (I am referring here to chess basic instinct, not Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct)? Which one is stronger, our mysterious, hard to explain instinct or brute force logic a.k.a calculation?

Honestly, I don’t know…

The Study
Anyway I do know that for below study compose by F. Sackmann 1912, to solve it you cannot rely on your normal instinct. Hope you enjoyed (and understand) this study as much as I do.

White, one pawn down in pawn ending (normally is a death sentence), is to play and win.

1. Kf5!! Kb6
2. Kf6 Kb7
3. Kf7 Kb8
4. Ke6 Ka7
5. Ke7 Ka6
6. Kd8! Kb7
7. Kd7 Kb6
8. Kc8 and white wins.

What I like about this study is the fact that to win both black’s c pawns, first thing that white needs to do is move AWAY from it. Immediate 1.Kd6 Kb6 draw or 1.Ke6 Ka6 also draw. To explain this beautiful concept to those who don’t know how to play chess…it is equivalent to inform that first step in getting a degree, first brilliant thing to do is NOT to enter university. Or to explain this to our hamsap (Casanova, Don Juan, Romeo whatever) non chess player friend, key to win a girl's heart is by avoiding her! Confusing!

Of course to any chess master , above concept is nothing strange. It is called Distant Opposition. A battle between two kings to conquer key square,that happen at least 3 files (or ranks) between them. Some distant opposition battle even happen 5 files away!

In Malaysian political kingdom, maybe there are one or two opposition, but in political kingdom of chess (and in the state of pawn ending alone) there exist at least 4 oppositions (normal opposition, distant opposition, diagonal opposition and virtual opposition). Who said chess is dull?

Opps!, guess i have already strayed away from 'CHESS INSTINCT' topic...instinctively i know i have to stop now.