Sunday, April 26, 2015

42nd Selangor Open: Registration is Closed and the History of Selangor Open

The registration for this event is closed officially today. We have received a total of 92 entries for this edition.

This event will be spearheaded by last year (41st edition) & 2012 (39th edition) winner IM Nolte, Rolando. He is challenged by compatriot IM Senador, Emmanuel from Philippines and Our local No. 1 FM Yeoh Li Tian, IM Mas Hafizulhelmi and dark horse IM Jimmy Liew (8-time winner of Selangor Open). On paper, one of these 5 players will be the Champion on the evening of 4th May 2015. GM Alexander Forminyh who won the 40th edition withdrew from the event on the night before the event starts.

Looking back at the statistics, this edition may become one of the strongest playing fields in the history of Selangor Open.  Now, let us visit back the history of the oldest chess event in Malaysia.

Here comes again another milestone celebrating Selangor Open Chess Tournament for 42 consecutive years in running. Between the year 1983 and 2008, this event is well known as "Royal Selangor Open Chess Tournament". Even up till now, many players are still referring this event as Royal Selangor Open despite this event no longer under the sponsorship from Royal Selangor for many years already. It just showed how significant the contribution from Royal Selangor to Selangor Chess. We hope one day, Royal Selangor can once again be our corporate sponsor.

Selangor Open has been accorded the longest running tournament in Malaysia by The Malaysia Book of Records in 2000. Since its inception in 1974, this event has attracted foreign participations from countries like Russia, India, Germany, England, Hong Kong, South Africa, Iran, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Uzbekistan, New Zealand, and many others.

Foreign players had a complete domination in this event by winning the first six editions with Indonesian IM Dr. Max Wotulo winning thrice. The foreign domination only came to an end when IM-to-be Jimmy Liew won the 7th edition. As a result from Jimmy wins, the year 1980 earmarked as a significant year to be remembered for our local players and signal the beginning of a new era of chess development in Malaysia. Nevertheless, Ajai Choudhry continued back foreign domination when he won the 8th edition. However, Jimmy again came to the rescue of local players when he wrested back the title in the following year before losing it to Englishmen IM David Goodman in the 10th edition. Then, a young boy by the name of Christi Hon took everyone by surprise by winning the 11th edition.

Jimmy began his supremacy by virtue of his IM strength in 1985 to win for 4 consecutive years from the 12th to 15th edition before lost back the title into foreign hand. This time it is IM F. Mirabeau who won the 16th edition. Nevertheless, Jimmy won another two times i.e. 19th and 26th edition to become the "best of the best" among the winners by winning a record of 8 times in 41 editions.

In the 1990s, we saw the emerging of Mok Tze Meng who won in the 17th, 18th, 23rd, 24th and 30th edition to become the next player after Jimmy with a record of 5 Championships to date. Other local winners are Nicholas Chan (31st, 36th, 37th, 38th edition), Lim Yee Weng (25th and 35th edition) Peter Long (20th edition), Nor Azmi (21st edition), Mohd. Kamal Abdullah (22nd edition), Anas Nazreen Bakri (32nd edition) and Lim Chuin Hoong (34th edition).

In 2000, CAS was celebrating its 27th Selangor Open, that year again saw a total foreign domination that was led by Philippines GM Eugene Torre, GM Antonio Rogelio, Ronaldo Nolte, and IM Rico Mascarinas. Meawhile, our local representatives are four-time winner Mok Tze Meng and one-time winner Lim Yee Weng together with a string of national players.

With the participation from the four Filipinos in the 27th Selangor Open, once and again it has shown that the Selangor Open event has never failed to capture the attention of foreign chess players. No wonder the Selangor Open has been dubbed as the de facto Malaysia Open over the years before the emerging of Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open in 2004.

In contrast, the 28th edition saw participation from both local and Singaporean players only. Mohd Saprin Sabri emerged winner for the first time. Next, the 29th edition won by Fikrul Saifuddin, an Indonesian whom many local players regarded him as the strongest non-FIDE rated chess player living in the country at that time. Once again, a tourist from Indonesia Tjin Hau took everyone by surprise to win the 33rd edition in 2006.

The 31st edition saw participation from Brunei National Champion AK Hira, Selangor Open winner Mok Tze Meng (5 championships) and Saprin, National Champions Siti Zulaikha and Nicholas Chan, and many other top national players. After a gruelling 9-round, CAS is very please to see the moment of waiting for a home-grown youngster, FM Nicholas Chan, to become new Selangor Open champion has arrived. He left the country shortly after that to pursue his medical study. Upon returning back to Malaysia, he went on to win the title three years in-a-row from 2009 to 2011.

The achievement of Chan is a best way to show the success of CAS Chess Training Excellent Programme which started as a brainchild of two people i.e. the late Mrs. Jackie Wong and former top-ranked National player Peter Long. While, Lim Tse Pin was assigned as the chief engineer to carry out this project in 1996 as part of his maiden assignment since joining the Association Council. By 2006, this programme had completed 10 editions successfully and churned out many national champions and age-group champions. Nevertheless, this programme will never exist in the first place if not for strong corporate support from Royal Selangor. A big thank you to Royal Selangor for 26 years support.

CAS has continued to organise the 36th and 37th edition with her own funds at a cost of using one-quarter of available fund that was built since 1983. At the going rate, CAS funds will be wiped out completely by 2015.

In 2011, CAS has made a pledge to the chess community to seek for donations. A donor who wishes to remain anonymous has stepped forward to rescue the 38th edition by donating RM 10,000/=. For the next 3 editions, CAS once again had used own funds to continue with this event. This course of action had depleted CAS reserves much further.

This year CAS with the help of Event Manager DAT Chess Centre has managed to secure a sponsorship of RM 15,000/= from Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia Pacific to organize the 42nd edition of Selangor Open. We at CAS are thankful to all donors/sponsors who have contributed towards continuity of this event as the longest running tournament in Malaysia.

Lets continue the spirit of Selangor Open and its tradition into the future generations.