Friday, January 31, 2014


John ‘Indiana Jones’ Goddard...
Via Discovery Channel Magazine (Issue 1307), i was introduced to John ‘Indiana Jones’ Goddard, adventurer and explorer who died at the fruitful age of 88 on May 2013.

What interesting about John Goddard is when he was 15 (!), he listed 127 things that he wants to do (Bucket List) before he died and some 73 years later, he manage to achieve 112 of it!

Among his Bucket List that he manage to achieve are #40: Learn to fly a plane, #47: Retrace travels of Marco Polo and Alexander the Great, #101: Run 1.6 KMs in 5 minutes, #117: Milk a poisonous snake and so on.

That article makes me think...what actually i really want to do in chess...what actually i want to achieve in chess...What is my chess ‘Bucket List’?

After few months consideration... few months thinking of it...few days flirting with it....and few nights sleeping with it... i finally come up with my 20 Chess Bucket wishes.

1.        To beat a GM
I have never beaten any GM...not even during simultaneous game. Well, i have beaten few IMs but GM...never. To beat a GM in a single game i know i have to win 4 times, one in in in endgame and the last one, the most crucial one, is to win against my own self/ desire to offer GM a draw when i am winning.

2.        To enter a chess tournament in Moscow.
Chess player’s life is not complete if he/she never compete in a chess tournament in Moscow, the unofficial state capital of the Chess Republic. Simple.

3.        To visit London Chess Center, London.
Hairulov has done this few years I fully intent to do this before i am 50. I can imagine that i will be like a kid in candy store ( or like a lady in LV store...) when i visit London Chess Centre....heaven!!

4.        To visit Marshall Chess Club, New York.
Marshall Chess Club...a place where Fischer played his Game of the Century...and almost every who’s who of the chess world has at least once, visited this historic club. Though i am not the known ‘who’s who’ but rather an unknown ‘who?’ in chess world, i really want to at least once visit this club.

5.        To open my very own chess center.
I dream of one day to open up my very own chess center that open 7 days a week for chess players and chess lovers to come and play anytime they like...there will be a library...hall to organized a tournament...a study room etc. It will be like Papa Midnite’s Night! will be more like Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca. Everyone is welcome at 1940s Rick’s Cafe ...from German’s Nazi to US Spies to ugly, opportunist swindlers to pretty, young lady in distress (especially!) etc...a sanctuary from the brutal, warring outside world. How nice if this could be a reality one day!

6.        To write a chess book.
I don’t know what will be the title of the book or on what topic it will covered but i know there is at least one chess book inside me waiting to be unleash! If one fine day this will become reality, it will not be crammed with opening theory or endgames analysis etc (who wants to read Ilham’s analysis of Albin Counter Gambits?...further more, i also want to ‘cari makan’ in tournament and why should i share my secret with you? :) )....that is just not me. It will be something light and easy or perhaps a reminiscent of good old days of chess in Malaysia/Terengganu...something like that!

7.        To play through all Fischer’s games.
This is (in theory) realistically achievable.From 1955 until 1992, Fischer played about 800 chess games...Say i play about a game a day, it will take me about 2 and a half years to achieve this. Actually some 20 years ago, when i was still a University student, i have tried to achieve this from a photocopy book of Fischer’s games collection and manage to go until Fischer’s early 1960’s games before i just stop. I tried this again few years ago (started again from his 1955 games and this time from Karsten Muller’s book on Fischer) but this time only manage to go until year 1957...Pathetic. Warm, warm chicken’s shit (Hangat-hangat tahi ayam...) 

8.        To organized a FIDE Rated tournament ‘Bak Memorial’
Bak is one of the regular chess player at KedaiAziz,...short in height, he is tall with humors...his National chess rating maybe zero (Strength wise, he played at earthly low 1600 level...stratosphere high of 2400 if allowed to take back moves), he is rated out of this world 2800 when it comes to cracking jokes and smiles...we all love him....we all really, really love him. He died due to asthma in late 90’s, We, the Kedai Aziz’s citizen deeply missed him and if i ever be a multi millionaire, i shall organized one tournament in his memory...least i can do to remember a great friend he is and ofcourse, during tournament there will be a free flow of ‘Kopi O’ to players (Bak’s favourite drink!) and players are allowed to smoke (but only Gudang Garam Surya’s cigarette. Bak passionately called Gudang Garam Surya as his lover...his ‘Suraya’. Sorry, mainstream cigarettes are not allowed to be smoke during games, no 'Peter', no 'John', no 'Kent'...only ‘Suraya’)

9.        To be a National Champion
Most politician entered politic to hopefully one day to become a Prime Minister. Most private sector staff worked in a company to hopefully one day to become a CEO and i, as a chess player, naturally play chess to hopefully one day to become a National Champion...and with it carry a limited two alpha characters ‘NM’, for life, in front of my name and unlimited bragging rights, also for life, that i am the best Malaysian player in year so and so. Closest i get to this nirvana is placing top 5 in 1991 National Closed at Kota Bharu. (maybe i finished in top 3, i could not remember...all i remember in 1991 National Closed is champion went to Kamal Ariffin...and before the start of this tournament, we tried to call Ghalam who initially said he is interested in entering this tournament, he didn't turn up...from a bulky car phone that belongs to father of one of the that time i was like...wah car phone!, so rich, so canggih!)

10.    To have the autograph of World Champions.
Good Great to have autograph of World Chess Champions...knowing that World Chess Champions have once spent few seconds of their historic life (and few joule of their energy), to write something to me! 


Friday, January 17, 2014


The rise and rise of young guns...
Yeoh Li Tian
Li Tian’s chess rating can be describe like a marathon runner....steadily moving at cruising speed of 30 or 40 ELOs a year (he seems to be not in hurry) and now he has breaching 2300 for first time in year 2013...What to watch in 2014 is will he ready for 2350 assault and starts collecting norms in the process.

Aron Teh
Aron Teh’s chess rating can be describe like a sprinter...zooom!! (boy o boy, he seems to be man in a hurry) Where is he, ah?...cannot see already. So fast...He gained about 300 points in single year and what to watch in 2014 is whether he still got that inhuman energy to repeat this performance and breach 2300...or maybe 2400 who knows?

Fong Yit San
Yit San’s chess rating can be describe like a middle distance runner....for a few years running at a steady cruising speed but last year saw he is increasing his speed (gaining more than 100 points in single year, suddenly... he seems to be man in a hurry). What to watch in 2014 is whether he will continue progressing at this rate and breach 2250...

The rise and rise of Cerdik Catur Enterprise...
Cerdik Catur Enterprise, lead by Mr Fadli, is no doubt the most active chess organiser around. His tournaments is everywhere...from city center to forest reserve...and easily attracts 200 or 300 contestants per tournament.

What to watch in 2014 is whether he will be progressing outside KL/ Selangor...and also on his political ambition...

His other initiative, CCR Rating, is also fast gaining popularity and now being use by even non Cerdik Catur organizer.

National Rating vs CCR reminds me of MS Office vs OpenOffice...for a long time local rating is being monopolized by MCF’s National MS Office, it is not free and of Premium Quality. Suddenly last year, Fadli produce CCR...its free (i think so) and works just as fine and now fast challenging National Rating as rating of choice for local events.

What to watch in 2014 is whether CCR will continue progressing and being adopted into more local tournaments..

The fall and fall of chess centers...
Heard that DATCC has closed its operation on 1st January 2014 and Khairun Nisha is seriously toying with the idea of closing her chess center is a sad period to chess centers operators.

To me, chess centers to chess community is like ports to trading must exist in order to prosper!...and i hope magical economic law of supply and demand will work and produce new centers...(demand in chess centers will result in the creation of chess centers (supply))

What to watch in 2014 is whether there will rise a new and better chess center after this sad chapter...a new center that rise like a phoenix rise from ashes...

MCF’s official website...
Shortly after MCF’s AGM, a demo or prototype of MCF website is being shown...from what i read and heard about this website, i am impressed but after that silent....

What to watch in 2014 is whether this much awaited MCF’s website will finally be on line and running...

First GM...
There is saying that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. First GM, arguably the most vocal blogger in 2013, championing (among others) for correct chess training while at the same time criticizing other chess players/ coaches methods. 

As such naturally (and unfortunately too) the spotlight will be on First GM’s student, Mark Siew who so far performed within close band of 2000 elo (plus minus 10 points)...not bad but not impressive either...

What to watch in 2014 is the effectiveness of FGM’s training method via Mark Siew’s performance...and whether he can breach 2050 to be in Malaysia’s Top 25.

Players for Tromso Olympiad...
In about 200 days from now, 2014 Chess Olympiad will be held at Tromso. Tromso Organizer is now busy recruiting volunteer for this event and naturally MCF should also by now be busy in determining the criteria to represent Malaysia.

What to watch in 2014 is how the players will be chosen and who will be it MAS (Mana Ada System) style? or is it MCF (My Chess Friends) style?... I don’t know and i hope not...what i hope is MCF’s Committee for National Player Selection (headed by Mr Ghalam Sani) will come up with guidelines on the criteria to represent Malaysia in Olympiad 2014. Amin.   

(Well, actually I have a list of players for My Dream Team but that is story for another day....)

The fate of Malaysian Open...
Just like previous year...and years before it...there is always rumours that there will be no Malaysian Open but somehow...abracadabra!...Malaysia Open is magically being held promoting players such as Irene Karisma and Nafisa Muminova to come and play here. I thank God for it!

This year again i heard a scary rumors that maybe there will be no Malaysia Open, and with closure of DATCC ,this rumors might be frighteningly true...

What to watch in 2014 is whether there will be 2014 Malaysian Open this year ( i hope yes, it must be held in 2014 Visit Malaysia years and that rumor will be just unfounded come we deny pretty, young players from especially Indonesia or Uzbekistan not to come and play here especially during Visit Malaysia Year? )

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


THE QUIET PART and my wife when went our separate ways in end 2012. As such in 2013... every afternoon, going back to my empty home with no Astro, no TV, half broken laptop (heck, i do not have even a proper radio!) and no kids laughter to greet me...not an easy period, i have to admit... but i guess rather than thinking about it....i guess i better use this quiet period by studying chess.

...during this time i managed to finish about ten chess books from cover to cover ( Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals, Euwe’s Judgement and Planning in Chess, Chernev’s Most Instructive Chess Games, Franco’s Chess Self Improvement etc)

...i also managed to half finished a dozen of chess books ( My System, Study Chess with Tal etc)...fully intent to finish these books this year. Amin!

...most of it is a classic books...with the idea of building up my basic chess foundations (at young age of 39!)

...its really a quiet period of my life...suddenly i found that i study chess not only to remember the theory but also to forget all the memory...the painful memory. 

...just when i planned to have a faithful relationship and undivided devotion to Chernev’s, Nunn’s, Nimzovitch’s etc, suddenly i found myself being seduce by Ayn Rand’s, Twan Eng’s and my usual mid night partners (Grisham’s, Crichton’s, Archer’s, Puzo’s etc)

...and also all of sudden i found my interest zip zap everywhere...from Theology to Teohlogy...from Mexican’s marathon runners to Blackjack strategy...from Quantitative Trader to Quantum Physic....its just everywhere (pss...i also read Richard Dawkins' book!..just curious to know about the arguments from ‘the other side’)

...and yes, i bought 42 inches TV two months ago at RM1500 ( Finally!...after  surviving a year without TV and after bargaining for half an hour from original price of RM1800)...feel damn good about it (Ha ha...big TV at RM1500...) but later discovered same TV set is priced at RM1200 at Jusco...Grrrr

With this TV suddenly i found my interest change my aim is to watch all the movies under Top 100 Movies of All Time (so far manage to achieve 20 % success...ET, Godfather, Casablanca, Gone with the winds, Star Wars, 2001:Space Odyssey etc)...still have like 80 films to go...sigh!

...Well, all these (and the friendly calls, SMSes, comments on this blog, know who i am referring to here and for that TQVM) help me went through this lonely chapter...

...and all above (Books, Films) i guess is good to make me a more ‘rounded’ person but it comes at the cost of my chess

Chess wise...I consider 2013 as a successful year for me...i manage to increase my ELO Rating from 1994 to 2023 (highest at 2034...before Malaysian Open...before Nafisa Muminova), a gain of 29 points in one calendar year.

Well, progressing at a cruising speed of 29 points a year, i should be an IM in 10 years time and a GM in 20 years time...just in time for that GM BY 58! (...or maybe not, in future good chances that IM and GM ‘marks’ will be move forward to reflect the inflation) 

...In 2013, in most of the tournaments i manage to perform better than my seeding (my usual bench mark) and as a result i manage to gain positive return on my entrance fee investment...sometimes double or triple it (though occassionally zero or negative returns).

My biggest ‘win’ is RM500 cash...not due to top finishing but via winning lucky draw for eligible contestant at one of the INSOFAR events!

Ha! ha! I love Insofar events! Full of surprises! :)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Terengganu chess in year 2013 is best be described as per Star Wars original trilogies' titles (with slight changes, Chess Odyssey style!)

A New Hope

Watch out Syazwan!...since Terengganu now got a new young star in the form Muhd Aiman Zakwan Azmi...relatively unknown outside Terengganu, he just keep a low profile and among his notable success is winning MSSM Individual (Under 18) title in year 2012. First Terengganu to achieved this!

His last tournament is last month Kuala Terengganu Open. Seeded number 7, he emerged as a champion ahead of his more well known opponents such as Fairul ‘Gambit’ Yusof, Norazmi, Rahim Ramli etc.

(Definitely Aiman Zakwan is a New Hope for Terengganu chess!)

Kuala Terengganu Strikes Back

Terengganu Chess Association is divided by two teams, the Dungun Team and the Kuala Terengganu Team, but unlike politics that normally refer teams as something that is divisive in nature, ‘teams’ in Terengganu chess galaxy are mostly due to logistic reasons. 

So this year it is time for Kuala Terengganu chess to be in power...Its very friendly change of power and chess players/officials are really like one big family.

Before this Terengganu Chess Association centered in Kuala Terengganu, then few years back it was Dungun, now its back to Kuala Terengganu. There is no fighting for power, no lobbying for post etc. Previous President (Rahim Ramli) feels it was time for others to lead and voluntarily steps down paving the way for Dr Mohd Pouzi Hamzah to be new President.

Rahim is still supporting Terengganu Chess though he no longer President, organising tournaments here and there...all for love of the game and genuine interest to see chess prosper. 

Friendship, sharing common passion, harmony, respect for each other....all these and more makes me proud to be part of big, Terengganu chess family.  

(Above aggressive and combative sub title (Kuala Terengganu Strikes Back) is for gimmick purpose only and not in anyway reflect the competition or rivalry (there is none!) at Terengganu chess galaxy.)

Return of the Ghalam

Ghalam Sani, Terengganu chess legend, make a come back to chess in 2013 after god knows how many years of retirement.

Ghalam Sani reminds me of Fischer...tall, skinny, endgame artis,, succesful chess career...legend status in their respective mother land... Retirement... Reclusive... comeback again after 20 years of retirement etc.

...anyway his come back is not as a player (that i hope for )but more as a chess official.

He is currently Terengganu Chess Association’s Deputy President.

He is also of course MCF’s Vice President. Winning it by the highest votes.

(But unlike Fischer, i hope that Ghalam did not disappear again into oblivion after this comeback...someone quick grabbed his shirt, glued his shoes to the floor before he dissappeared again!)

I naturally have no choice but to end up this posting with this wish....

May The Force Be With Terengganu Chess!

Next Posting: 2013 ILHAM CHESS IN REVIEW