Monday, May 5, 2008

Royal Selangor International Open Chess Tournament 2008 - The Day After

The Royal Selangor International Open Chess Tournament remained as one of the more successful Tournaments organized by The Chess Association of Selangor or CAS. Success is measured by the participations of current top and active players in the country although the fees seemed to be prohibitive to many, time is not right and the logistics never ideal. Nonetheless these participants were able to overcome such obstacles to show their support and mettle. The journey for Malaysian chess however has still quite a distance to go requiring the self-reliant and independent spirit of these, and other players and supporters who want to see breakthrough results in chess in the country along with sustained and selfless efforts of forward thinking organizers and promoters.

The objective of Selangor Open Tournament from the player's standpoint is not just about winning or outplaying one's opponent. With the long list of strong local and foreign players with equally impressive credentials vying for the top spots the probability of winning cannot possibly be the sole reason. The recently concluded Tournament saw a number of changes at both Fide and MCF Rating List. These rating systems on the other hand serves as a yardstick of one's performance or 'strength' and is widely followed of late.

But whichever way we look at it we need not be too obsessed with the figures to the extent of say, not wanting to play out of fear of rating loss or to go to the other extreme of chest thumping.

But chess tournament is not just about winners, beating your opponents or gaining rating points. In this Tournament we witnessed the Wahiduddin siblings KamalArifin and Khairunnisa' taking part, both established players in their own rights as National Champions. Chess brings out the common interest in them.

They are not as active as before but chess seems to be in their blood. In this Tournament the brother Kamalarifin could still show a thing or two as to draw over Ronnie in the last round despite a pawn down in the end game. In a rapid game one can easily fall into a blunder but definitely not easily so in a Fischer time control.

Another common scene is to see a generational kinship in this Tournament. The current NWM and WCM Shazwani was seen playing in the Tournament alongside his father Cikgu Zulkafli. NM Yeoh Chin Seng introduced his son Yeoh Li Tian to chess only recently and the kid is now making waves in the local junior circuit. Also in the Tournament is a new family from Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam starting to make their presence felt. The Saleh family is only starting out but looks like the son is already making an impact in this Tournament to secure a place in the Under-12 Category.

Father and daughter - The father giving comfort to his dear daughter Wani

The Yeohs - Can he provide the unwavering support to his son to achieve excellence in chess?

Side by side in the Tournament - a new family in the chess scene from Shah Alam

This is a strong Tournament and it can be an expensive affair if the only reason is to win. On the other hand this is about the handful game where a family can take part in a competitive environment, on equal terms.

On a final note, chess in Malaysia has still a long way to achieve the due recognition it deserves. Chess needs the all-encompassing commitments of the players and chess enthusiasts to support themselves and to demonstrate their worthiness, or be outplayed by little fortune-hunters and glamour seekers along the way.

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