Thursday, May 31, 2012


It happened almost at the same time yesterday, who knows maybe it even happened exactly at the same time since Caissa works in mysterious ways...

I am referring to the crowning of World Chess Champion and Malaysia National Champion. Happened at the same time but in totally different manner....

In Moscow, Anand won the World Chess Championship title with lots of draws (and extra round required) ....while in Malaysia Roshan won the National Closed with lots of wins (and a round to spare)

Talk about lots of wins... Roshan almost achieved the unheard of perfect score...after his win against Li Tian, Roshan was leading this tournament in a manner never seen before at this level. Like a hungry lion (Singh means lion anyway!) , he devoured one victim after another...nervous players quickly went to check new pairings to see who is the next be feed to Roshan.

In the last round Roshan was paired against Syazwan Zulkifli, a dangerous and strong Terengganu player who only 6 years ago learned how to play chess (and at his current progress, who knows what Syazwan is capable to achieve in future.. ) and the game ended in a tense fighting draw. There were a lot of 'ahhs...' when the draw result was confirmed, knowing very well what Roshan had missed of (a perfect score!). The atmosphere was equivalent to watching a snooker game where player failed to pot a last black and failed to achieve a perfect 147...or in dart where player failed to check in on his 9th dart to achieve perfect 9 dart finish....oh, boy, what a miss!

Roshan was born 15 years ago and started to play chess at age 6. His father, a tournament player himself, taught him about the game of kings...and never imagined that one day, his son, no longer a boy but a young man, crowned as the 2012 King of Malaysian chess

Roshan's favourite chess book is Tal: Life and Games...well, it is brilliant to follow chess style of Tal but just don't follow life style of Tal! 

Roshan befits his name which means shining and splendid. 2010 Chess Odyssey would like to wish him continuous shine in the chess world...with the exception when he meets Nor Ilhamuddin, of course! :)

Good luck and all the best, Roshan.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


We all know, we could feel it...that the relationship between chess players and chess are truly like a relationship between two lovers who are madly in love.

We think about chess day and night…we caress the pieces also day and night…we wonder about the future of the relationship, is there hope? Will there be happiness?…so it come as a great news, happy news, when Jimmy united again with his old flame, Ms Caissa, in year 2003 (no offence, Mrs Liew)

GM Larsen once said that chess is like beautiful mistress to whom we keep coming back… I guess we all can relate to this quote…we played chess like crazy, we retired from chess and here we are, playing chess again!

So of no surprise that at beautiful and majestic Hanoi (SEA Games 2003), Jimmy reunited again with the beautiful and majestic and sexier Caissa of 21st century (faster, no adjournment, all type of new rules etc), and hopefully this is for good, and may this renewed partnership keeps on producing successes and pretty, cute and adorable chess games for years to come.

OK, since I don’t intent to come up with IM Jimmy Liew: Part 4 or Part 3A…which I have been told not good, Feng Shui wise…I shall stop the chronology of Jimmy Liew on this posting and and conclude this series with part of Jimmy that not many knows.

Jimmy’s other interest than indefinite universe of chess is indefinite universe of Quantum Physict…makes me wonder, should Jimmy knows Bohr first before Botvinnik…or loves Feynman before Fischer… will Jimmy Liew Chee Meng…with his usual unusual devotion and passion, be Malaysian first Nobel Science winner instead of first International Master?

Still on his science interest, Jimmy is a bit disappointed when Large Hadron Collider failed to produce black hole (and swallow the whole universe in process…)...

So next time if you saw Jimmy, instead of discussing chess opening theory with him, maybe you can engage him in discussing physic’s Theory of Everything…Don’t worry if you don’t understand it and it all sounds crazy…among physicist they have this saying “We are all agreed that your theory is crazy. The question that divides us is whether it is crazy enough to have a chance of being correct”

So is chess or science is the last book that Jimmy’s read?…no, last book that Jimmy’s read is a book about Hulk Hogan! So looks like Jimmy has interest from tiniest of particle to the ‘largest of particle’.

Jimmy likes classical now we know Jimmy not only likes classical French!...actually no surprise here, Jimmy is very much ‘classical music’ type...even during hectic post game analysis, Jimmy did not zap! Zap! Zap! his move at blinding speed as ‘proof’ that he is winning etc,like many players i know who used this trick to show their chess superiority..for Jimmy, it is just one move, think, one move, think...but don’t get trick, his chess playing style is no classical music at all, Rock and Roll is best description of his chess style!

Jimmy is also a published, not music composer but chess problem composer...sorry Jimmy, but composing chess problems?...yawn! requote Tal “I chase girls, i smoke but composing chess problem is sin i don’t do” :)

Jimmy was once our pathfinder in quest for chess stardom, after seeing many failed attempts to conquer the Everest of chess title (GM)…who are we to deny his chance…should now Jimmy decided…to have a go at Chomolungma?

Would like to take this opportunity to wish him all the best in chess...and all the best in life too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


It could only happen in Malaysian chess...

Malaysia number one player who is at the top of his game...and among the best in Asian...and in his best years...needs to work part time as a trader in morning market and as a taxi driver to make ends met.

This i guess is never happen in other sports such as squash, badminton or F1 etc, to see their number one who is head and shoulder above the competitors but needs to take odd jobs...even if it really happen in other sport, i imagined immediately we can see sports Minister, sports official quickly intervene to disburse much needed 'bantuan' so the sportsman can focus in what he/she's doing best...but it did not happened to Malaysian did not happened to IM Jimmy Liew.

That year is 1986, which we all know as the best year of Jimmy's career but what we all don't know is in between tournaments and trainings, Jimmy also become a trader at morning market and taxi driver. Fortunately it is only a short stint since Jimmy's found directing his chess pieces to go to squares to suit his whim and fancy are closer to his heart rather than he, himself being directed to go to place to suit his passenger's whim and fancy...and he prefers crowds to gather at his chess table rather than at his trading/business table.

In 1988 Jimmy Liew made a move from Penang to KL and together with Peter Long they formed PRO-CHESS. PRO-CHESS maybe a chess company but to me it is more like a chess factory that keeps churning out good chess players, one after another. Enter average player here, put the player on PRO-CHESS conveyor belts and click!turn the switch on and the conveyor belt starts moving... (in which along the journey Jimmy and Peter will plan, mould, knock, shape, spray and knock again the player with instructive chess lessons) and out from this factory...voila! a better player...much much better player!

Among players 'manufactured' by PRO-CHESS are...Samantha Lee, NM Ng Ee Vern, IM Wong Zi Jing, Chen Tien Yue, Geraldine Johns Putra. Successful in chess, successful in their respective careers. Enough said.

Jimmy's reputation as coach is well known. Jimmy do not have to shout out loudly about his abilities or his methods or his student's achievement etc...but chess community knows and a blessing to Malaysian chess because until today Jimmy still do a coaching on part time basis and among his student now are Li Tian, Olivia Madhavan etc.

OK, now let's continue with PRO-CHESS...Unfortunately this partnership could only lasted for about 2 to 3 years. In year 1991 the partnership ended due to some differences between Jimmy and Peter and both went their separate ways...

It must be around here, year 1991, Jimmy started to think hard whether chess can provide a comfortable life...will he be ok in 10 years, 20 years from now? Life, unfortunately, is not like a game of chess where there will always be another game. You make mistakes or blunder in chess, you can safely resign and start a new one where everything is reset to equal again but life is not like that... there is only one life...mistakes we made in life will stay with us for the rest of our life. No take new game.

Down with a hard, cold conclusion that professional chess in 90s' could not guarantee to lead to a life he desired...he started working as a programmer with small IT company...he also doing data entry on freelance basis and at night, three times a week, he attended night classes to further equip himself. Vintage Jimmy...once he set his focus on something, he will do his utmost to gain as much knowledge and skills as he can.

In 1996 he was asked, by virtue of his position as number one player in country...only player with rating of above 2300, to represent Malaysia again in 1996 Yerevan Olympiad and he did not disappoint, contributing 5 points on top board.

It is after Yerevan that Jimmy went into full retirement, concentrating on his corporate job at MNC Company...a company he joined shortly before Yerevan Olympiad but generous enough to allow him 2 to 3 weeks leave to represent Malaysia. It is a long retirement in which he only started playing again in 2003.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


If chess is a jungle, then we can safely said that Jimmy Liew is our pathfinder who is leading the way, clearing the bush and finding the path for others to follow in quest for chess stardom. For a long time he is also our flag bearer, waving Malaysian flag to the four corner of the world…from icy cold Moscow to desert hot Dubai…from green leaves of Jakarta to white snow of Switzerland (Hmm, for this I wonder how Jimmy’s passport look like, must be as thick as my first handphone!)

We all know Jimmy Liew Chee Meng that for sure…we all familiar with his games (we just grown up studying his games) , know about his tournament victories (a lot that’s for sure), read his blog where did not hesitate to view his frank opinions and shared his chess knowledge (Chess is Chess) and we know major facts about himself (first IM… retirement… come back from retirement…etc).

On and off we can see him in chess tournament but we just too shy to chat with him, afraid we are making fools of ourselves by disturbing legend ….that’s Jimmy’s magic! We naturally feel weak in the presence of legend.

While above is Jimmy’s magic in real world, in cyber world Jimmy’s magic is there too. A good friend of mine excitedly rang me one day and asked me “hey, have you read my blog?”, “No, Why?”…”Jimmy comment on my posting!...Jimmy read my blog!...Gosh. how should I respond to his comment?”… and Jimmy is generous with his comment on blogs as a form of encouragement and in doing so makes many bloggers ecstatic…sorry, no prize in guessing who is the first person who put comment on my humble blog and indirectly encourage me to continue writing…

Ok, we all know Jimmy…we think we all know jimmy but how well do we know him actually?

Below are sides/stories of Jimmy that maybe chess public do not know.

Who would have thought the death of his grandmother when he was 9 years old marked the birth of his lifelong love to chess…

Jimmy was around 9 years old when his grandmother passed away.The funeral was in one of his uncle's bungalow in Gelugor. Many relatives came including his cousins from Kuala Lumpur. There was not much for kids to do and one of his cousins had a chess set. They started playing among themselves. The chess pieces intrigue him but they were too busy playing to teach him how to play. That was the first time Jimmy saw a chess set. Later he came to KL for school holiday and staying with his aunt. During that time one of his cousins taught him the moves...

Jimmy spent that holiday playing chess everyday and the rest is history...

Many believe Dubai 1986 Olympiad is Jimmy’s finest hour…well for that answer you are 66% correct. Dubai, correct…1986, correct…Olympiad, wrong. It is actually Asian Team, Dubai 1986.

Playing on first board, Jimmy scored an amazing 6 wins and two draws from 8 games , an elo performance of 2643…Since I think world’s number 5 at that time is rated 2645, we can say that Jimmy’s performance at this tournament is almost near to 2800 performance in today inflated rating. But unfortunately even at this heavenly level he still he did not get the much covet GM norm since he faced only 2 GMs (GM Torre and GM Suradiradja) and in which he beat both convincingly.

 In round 5 of this tournament, Malaysia faced Philippines…and this mean IM Jimmy faced GM Torre (who at that time is a candidates for World Championship). Datuk Tan Chin Nam is around among those large crowd, giving moral support and watched nervously as Jimmy, who opened the game in his favourite Veresov Opening, slowly but surely builds up a nice attacking position against Super GM Torre. Critical moment is when Jimmy pushed his f pawn to f5 in which according to Jimmy, he knows he will win this game…and win he did when GM Torre resigned few moves after that.

...So true is the saying that any man’s finest hour is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause (fight) and lies exhausted on the battle field…victorious!

GM Nigel Davies later analyses this game at chesscafe website.

For his effort Jimmy won gold medal as best board one player. ..elsewhere on lower board, IM V. Anand won board 4 gold medal in this event.

 JIMMY LIEW : PART TWO - Jimmy’s worst moment-Chess retirement. From Malaysia number one player to small trader at morning market and drive a 'teksi sapu'- illegal taxi.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Game started at 7pm Malaysian about time i reached home and should ended before i went to sleep, though sometimes (most of the time actually) game ended shortly after dinner.

Players' age 
Both in their 40's, with kid and with generous simple words, one of us and this just gave average Joe like us an inspiration, World Champion is not necessary reserved for 20 something bachelor who moonlight as a model for cloth.

Player's Ranking 
World Championship match is not exclusive right between world number one and two...not really sure whether world's number 55,000 got any right/chance on it or not

Don't like 
So far all 4 games are decisive result. In real life i am afraid to see blood but for this match, i want to see blood. The gorier the better!

Heavily prepared 
They did not really played chess, they just replayed moves they prepared at home... Looks like the winner will be crown as Chess Preparation Champion of the World!

I have a suggestion to FIDE, players cannot chose opening! Before game starts arbiter will have to pick a character and two numbers from 3 cups...say the numbers (from 3 cups) turned out to be C+5+2, C52, then players need to play Evans Gambit! Wow, i bet everybody at seven pm will be hoping for their favourite number (or in this case, favourite opening code) will be chosen!

Anand's new hairstyle 
Sorry, Anand...the helmet style... i don't like it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


1.In local banking , announcement from Bank Negara Malaysia on OPR (Overnight Policy Rate) is eagerly await by bankers because it will determine the BLR (Base Lending Rate) and to customer, indirectly it will determine savings/FD Rate or loan rate. Most of the time there will be no changes in OPR but what bankers will do is to study the OPR statement religiously, virtually word by word, to determine BNM's focus so bank could adjust itself accordingly (Prophylaxis !). example if Negara 'monitor the inflation closely'..hmm, this mean maybe Negara is toying to increase the rate or if 'to encourage domestic spending'...this mean Negara is thinking to lower the rate.

2.In local chess, announcement from Malaysia Chess Federation on player to represent Malaysia in Olympiad and other major event, is eagerly await because basically from it we can see MCF focus, or MCF inner thought. Is it to send the strongest team, elo wise? is it to gain experience? or is it depend from selection? or on some previous occasion, if i am not mistaken, sadly, depend on who could pay for the trip...

3. But most likely at the end of the day, we cannot really see the MCF focus from the list of 6 players because the final list will be differ from the original list of players that MCF have in mind. This is because most of the players are non professional, and some could not make it because of work/study commitment ...but ofcourse if MCF could let the public knows the list of players they have in mind with the standby list... that surely will be great for transparency...and even greater for transparency if there even a record on reasons why those players who have been chosen to represent Malaysia but could not make it.

If in other sports we could know the 'story' behind final list of players, who cannot play because of injury...who because want to focus on other tournament...who want to play but is not chosen...who is out because of discipline etc, why can't chess?

But ofcourse in chess i have never heard of National player who is not chosen to represent Malaysia because of discipline...

4. Having said above, i am still of opinion that players with experience, actively playing, good past records and lots of great potential should get to represent Malaysia without going through selection, if there is one.
I am ofcourse totally against the likes of old incident where one Anwar, who out of nowhere, 'represent' Malaysia in 1982 Chess Olympiad and later pushed not a single pawn at all. Here.

5. Last but not least,i do hope that Li Tian could make it in this Olympiad and equaling Mashafizul who first made his Olympiad debut at 1994 Moscow Olympiad (scoring 7.5/12 on board 6), aged 13.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


1. Chess bloggers have their own unique DNA on their posting that we sort of know and over times...become very familiar with. We know who is Mr 'hehehe', or Mr 'Of...folks', or Mr 'IT, Food Connoisseur' and Mr 'Camera man-Merakam gambar di hari kejadian'" and of course, we missed the posting of Mr 'Centaur Analysis'... For this posting let me write about Mr 'I won again' a.k.a. Muhammad Arshad.

2. Like IM Mok Tze Meng, Arshad is also a one stop chess supermarket. He is a chess player, chess coach, chess entrepreneur, organizer, arbiter, blogger, and father of a chess player (Mohd Zarif Aiman).

 He is also active in Terengganu Chess Association and he basically knows ALL Terengganu Chess Player, past and present, and in return, all Terengganu Chess Player know him. This come as no suprise as Arshad always make it a point to have a chat with new face that turn up at Terengganu Chess tournament and to monitor the progress of Terengganu's junior players. Don't believe me? ask any strong Terengganu junior chess player who is their coach...

Still remember it was Arshad who first talk to me when i first entered Terengganu Pesta Pantai Chess Tournament in 1988...and encourage me by supplying me with chess materials FOC (For that and more...TQVM!)

3. Did i mentioned earlier that Arshad is also a chess entrepreneur? He is authorized dealer for DGT's chess merchandise and a dealer for Everyman's Publisher. Very soon he is going to incorporate all his chess business activities to his new website . Consider buying chess merchandise (Clocks, books, softwares etc)? To get a competitive price, you may consider contacting Arshad. Make sure you let him know that you get this info from my website so i could get my commission! :)

4. As a chess player, Arshad is a positional chess player who did not believe in wild, attacking chess. "Primitive!" he could be heard shouting whenever his opponent started to sacrifice materials to attack his king in friendly blitz chess.

For record, in late 80's he once beat Mohd Noor Yahya in a game that is good enough to be published in newspaper. Never underestimate him.

5. Last but not least, below are few trivias about Arshad that not many people know:
-Arshad is not his real name, Muhammad is, but somehow Arshad (his father's name) name stuck.
-Arshad can speak/read Cantonese and was schooled at Sekolah Menengah Jenis Kebangsaan Chung Hwa Wei Sin, Kuala Terengganu in early 80's
 -Arshad has a brother, Azli, who is also a chess player, representing Terengganu in many National level tournaments in 90's.
-Arshad is holder of a contractor's license to do electrical wiring.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Yes, I swear its true. I was once a prodigy, highly talented so the experts said...but not in chess but in literature (You laugh, i know).

Year 1988
I know there is something not right with me. As a form two student, I love to read ‘heavy materials’ literature books such as the works of Usman Awang, A Samad Said, Keris Mas etcetera. Hard to explain but I could feel, deep inside me, the beauty of those works which my friends found it super boring. The plot, the metafora, the rhymes, the clever words play…it just ‘glow’ my heart and gave me untold pleasure. I dream of one i am able to write as well as them, my idols.

One fine day I wrote a short poetry, my first poetry that I type on my dad’s old, clunky typewriter, and send it to Dewan Siswa and to my delight it was published! For that I got RM25 cheque from Dewan Bahasa Pustaka (DBP) and many letters from my ‘fan’ asking me to be their Abang angkat and Adik angkat, some even put their photo inside the letters…:)

And it just getting better…my very first poetry was later selected as National top 12 junior poetries and I have been identified  as a talent by DBP, was selected to attend  workshops with National Laurettes and at the end of the year, among those 12 finalist, my poetry finished 3rd and I am RM800 richer…not bad for 14 years old first timer, without any literature  theory knowledge whatsoever,  to finish 3rd in DBP Dewan Siswa’s National Junior (Under 18) Writing Competition (Poetry Section)

Then I started sending my works to various adult magazines (not THAT adult magazine, ok) such as Jelita, Wanita etc..earning RM50 for every poetry published, start sending short stories to DBP etc …and getting honorarium every time DBP reprint the books.

But it is not for money it is more to unleash what I think and shared it with the appreciative party. In simple words it is simply for love of writing.

Then of course, also in 1988, I entered Terengganu’s Pesta Pantai Chess Tournament and represent Terengganu in MSSM at Negeri Sembilan (and lost horribly to 7 years old MasHafizul) but somehow  I have found a new love...

Seduce by the charming Ghalam, the friendly and ever helpful Arshad, the hospitality of Pak Mail, competitive Norazmi, Fairul 'emjee' Yusof and addictively fun environment at Kedai Aziz and other personalities that just too many to mention…slowly I left relatively peaceful writing world and entered the warring world known as chess, divorcing Chairil Anwar for Capablanca...and in process swapping Kemala with Kasparov…

Looking back
 I sometimes revisit the literature world (old human habit I guess, love to secretly peek at our former lover’s world and wonder what if...) but sadly the magic has gone…no longer feels strong emotional attachment to the art works, no longer see the colour from the beautiful phrase…yes, I see the beauty  but not the glowing colour that could warm my heart like the good old days.

Good part (to the literature world…sad part to me) is to see writers could earn a decent living (a VERY decent living by writing), like a writer of Ombak Rindu, earning more than RM200,000 for this book alone…

Gosh! That is what Super GM earned winning a strong GM tournament!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


The Plan
Let me be a guinea pig on my very own plan it possible for ordinary Joe (read:me!) to be a chess Grandmaster in 20 years without sacrificing my normal working, family and social life (as if i got one)

Current status 
My current rating is 1994 though i believe my current strength is ‘this year’ aka 2012 (ah, aren’t we chess player always believe our rating is grossly understate).

I have access to few of the strongest chess player ever...ever ready to discuss chess with me 24/7 as long as there is electricity...also access to million, maybe billion... who knows, of chess games via virtual library called internet..not to mention many chess books that i have bought but read only the first few pages..

And thanks God i stayed at Kuala Lumpur where basically there is tournament on every weeks and FIDE rated tournaments on average one in every 3 months ...

If Paul Morphy still alive surely he will accused me of chess crime for did not fully utilised chess ‘support’ around me to improve my which with all clear evidence, i clearly have no choice but to admit guilty.

The Aim
To be...
Chess Master (CM) before year 2017 (age 43)
FIDE Master (FM) before year 2022 (age 48)
International Master (IM) before year 2027 (age 53)
And Grand Master (GM) before year 2032 (age 58)

Hmm, how nice if this plan works to perfection...retire from rat race and enter Caissa race!

I don’t know but having sort of like already tell the whole world about it...Ilham, you better makes sure you achieved it (or maybe at least achieved half of it)

Ok, let’s the journey begin!