Friday, April 07, 2017


Starting this month, each district in Kelantan would be organising their own selections hoping to find their best players for the MSSK event which will be held in July. Here are the dates:

10-12 April - Gua Musang
10-12, 17-19 April - Kuala Krai
17-18 April - Machang
24-25 April - Jeli
2-3 May - Tanah Merah
3 May - Tumpat
3-4 May - Pasir Puteh
16-17 May - Bachok
23-24 May - Pasir Mas

Only Kota Bharu selection is still in the dark. 


.. and I wonder if I can ever blog again. This is only the second post for 2017 and we are already in April. It was 5 posts for 2016 and 8 posts the year before. It will be just a matter of time before I stop blogging for sure. SIGH. 

I don't like to copy materials from other sources like many bloggers do, and I rely mostly on my own chess experience in order to write something, therefore, the posts will be lesser and lesser as I play lesser and lesser each year. It doesn't help much that I am newly appointed as the head arbiter for MSSK this year, and is re-elected during the Annual General Meeting on 28 January as the PCNK president which means I can no longer play as much as organising chess events in Kelantan. 

At the time of writing, PCNK had already organised and co-organised several tournaments and a coaching clinic:

28 January - Kelantan Closed & Kelantan Age Group
11 February - UiTM Open
25 February - SMK Pahi Open
25 February - Coaching Course (Beginners)
4 March - Chess2Care Open
31 March - Kuala Krai Junior Open
1 April - Kuala Krai Open (FIDE rated event)

In the mean time, Kelantan was chosen as the home of this year's Malaysian Chess Championship. The ultimate event was co-organised with MCF and it was held at Al-Khatiri Multi-purpose Hall, Kubang Kerian from 22 - 27 March. The event was nearly called off due to H5N1 outbreak, but with the cooperation of all parties involved, it continued as scheduled. 

With lots of tournaments and courses coming up throughout this year, I would really have to search for suitable time to continue blogging. 


Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I might be whining, but this MAKSAK was my worst to date. Three losses in winning positions spelled my doom which ensured my journey home filled with embarrassment and regret. It was all down to one factor - the time control. I accept that not everybody will see eye to eye with me on this one, but, in my humble opinion, the 45 minutes + 10 seconds increment time control was not my cup of tea, especially when I had to write until the end of the game. When my time was in the mercy of the 10-second increments, I basically had 3 seconds of thinking time after I had done all these:

1. Move the piece
2. Push the clock button
3. Take the pen
4. Write down the move
5. Put the pen down again

I did not even see basic tactics - pushing passed pawns, taking free pawns or basic forks and checks as I was too engrossed with writing down moves as per required. I might be smiling and congratulating my victorious opponents at the end of the flag, but deep down, I cursed myself for being incapable of thinking faster, which was something that I've been missing nowadays. One of my teammates suggested fatigue as the culprit, but I beg to differ on his opinion. The time control has to be reviewed, at least, as writing down moves using the 10-second increments is next to being impossible to be done. I saw a lot of players neglected writing the moves, and those who wrote, made mistakes they should have never done if left blitzing without the distraction of writing moves. 

Here are the final positions of the lost games:

Game 2: Yours Truly vs Nor Azmi (Terengganu). White to move.

Game 4: Yours Truly vs Zaidi Saleh (Melaka). White to move.

Game 6: Yours Truly vs Amirudin (Perak). White to move.

The Kelantan team fared badly also. We lost a lot of games we should have won had I not lost my games. I felt guilty and gutted, as playing as a team needs everybody's contribution which I clearly did not provide. The team even got a BYE for the last round because of my loss against Perak. This had caused my teammates their best board prizes, and Kelantan to return home empty handed. 

Here is the final rank (click on the picture for chess-results link):

This year also saw a handful of beautiful players playing in the women's individual category. It was a start to what I think will be the women team category next year. Each state may have to scramble to search for female players after this. 

As for Kelantan, we brought Mrs. Haslina to compete in this category, and she did okay, I believe. Here is the results for this category:

Here are some pictures from the event:

Stopped by at PCNK Vice President's place in Lipis

The playing venue

First game - Lost to Sabah

The best line up

The female category contestants

Dinner at Bangi Station

A view from Bangi Station

Baharuddin missed a mate in six moves

Thursday, October 06, 2016


 Nowadays I become an arbiter more than being a player. I have arbitrated the Kelantan Closed back in January, the Kelantan Age Groups 1.0 - 3.0, the Mahabbah blitzes, the MSSK in Kuala Krai and the MSSM in Kota Bharu (although being only a pairing arbiter), UiTM Open in August, Cobra Blitz and SK Temangan Open in September. In two more days, I will be arbitrating the National Sports Day Open.

I admit that during my arbitration, there were many instances where I made a wrong call. Most recently in Cobra Blitz, I gave a win to the opponent when the other player made an illegal move, retracted it and played a legal move before pushing his clock. When I checked The Official Rules of Chess written by Eric Schiller, page 77, it clearly states that 'An illegal move is completed once the opponent's clock has been started. The opponent is then entitled to claim a win before making a move. Once the opponent has made a move, an illegal move cannot be corrected.'

This is of course a special rule for the blitz only, whereas in standard games, an illegal move must be replaced with a legal move once the position immediately before the illegal move is reinstated. Of course, it comes with time penalty for the offender. (Article 7.4)

Most of the tournament held nowadays in Kelantan are rapids, so coaches make it compulsory to equip their players, especially the young ones, with 'the illegal move arsenal'. I've seen a lot of these players won their games after the opponents made illegal moves. They were quick to raise their hands and claim it; you could even see many hands raised at the same time in Under 12 category.

My advice is, to coaches out there, please teach your players about the illegal move. Although according to this article it is one of the most difficult concepts to explain to beginners, at least you can teach them this simple rule: a king must never be moved into check, or left in check.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016


The dust has finally settled at SMK Pahi, Kuala Krai and 36 players from 368 hopeful competitors have been selected to be the representatives for the Kelantan state team in MSSM which will be held next month at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan main hall, Pengkalan Chepa. I was selected as one of the pairing arbiters and am relishing the opportunity to perform the same task in the national chess event. 

The pairing arbiters

The state selection, which was held from 23 to 26 July, produced some interesting games. I saw a Chinese boy checkmated his opponent in the Rook + Bishop vs Rook situation, which was really a hard task to do. Nevertheless, I want to share a game where one of my students from Tumpat district failed to capitalized on his material advantage and drew the game instead. 

Danial (playing Black) moved his King to c5

Zull Heikal (KKR) vs Wan Md Danial (TPT)

From this position, as you can see in the picture above, Danial moved his King to c5. The game continued 2.Ke4 Kb5 3.Ke5 Bg4 4.Kf6 Bh5 5.f5 and Danial had a hard time defending his position afterwards.

However, he should have moved his King to d5 covering key squares and pushing the opponent's King further down the board. 

1... Kd5 2.Kf3 Bf5 3.Ke3 Bg4 

This move covers f3 so Heikal would have to make way for Danial's King to enter the key square e4 and take the Kingside pawns. As to rub salt into the wound, Heikal went on to represent Kelantan via the play offs while Danial was left painfully outside the top 10 by getting the 11th placing.

In the under 12 Boys play off, another of my student, Zal Hasani Aqil had a winning position but failed to find the correct move and lost. 

Zal Hasani Aqil (playing Black) gave check at d3
Md Hanif (TMH) vs Zal Hasani Aqil (TPT)

From this position, Aqil gave check at d3 and went on to lose the game. Instead, he should have found 1... Qh1+ which was winning if he really trained his eyes and looked at the board really closely. He too handed over the baton to his opponent when a win would have ensured him into the Kelantan team instead of that opponent. 
As a coach, you would be really upset watching your students lose this way but the experience was priceless if your students could really take something from that. 

Friday, July 15, 2016


After a week long of Hari Raya holidays, Tumpat chess players started up their engines and, for the first time ever, headed to SMK Sungai Pinang for the selection. It was a good venue for chess, and a good additional choice of venue for next Tumpat selections. As far as I know, the selections have so far been held at SK Kampong Laut, SMKA Falahiah and also SMK Chabang Empat. For your information, other districts have also held, or are currently holding, their selection: 

Tanah Merah (12-13 July 2016)
Pasir Puteh (13-14 July 2016)
Kota Bharu (16-17 July 2016)

Tumpat selection was held for only one day (13 July 2016) and all categories recorded very satisfactory attendance amidst the exams and school programmes:

U12 Boys (34 players)
U12 Girls (25 players)
U15 Boys (25 players)
U15 Girls (21 players)
U18 Boys (34 players)
U18 Girls (23 players)

Total : 162 players

There were 9 secondary schools and 7 primary schools sending their players for the selection: 

SMK Chabang Empat
SMK Kampong Laut
SMK Sungai Pinang
SMK Kutan
SMK Mahmud Mahyiddin
SMK Geting
SMK Tumpat
SMKA Falahiah

SK Berangan 1
SK Kutan
SK Kampong Laut
SK Palekbang
SK Pulau Beluru
SK Pengkalan Kubor 2
SK Padang Pohon Tanjung

The Tumpat District Officer himself handed the prizes to the winners after his motivating speech of urging the sports glory to rival Tumpat being the number one district in Kelantan in the academic achievement.  

Personally, only one player from my school won the top prize in her category. Nor Muniera Farhin, a fifth former, made it a priority to win the chess selection even though she is a target SPM student for this year. The others were first timers and did not make the Tumpat team. 

Friday, March 18, 2016


Kelantan 2016 MAKSAK Team

This year MAKSAK was held at the Bluewave Hotel in Shah Alam, starting from 11 to 13 March. This time, Kelantan could not field its usual team as Nik Mohd Nazri was waiting for his newborn. Thus, we searched for one of our previous member, Nik Mazlan Nik Soh to complete the team:

  1. Baharuddin Hamzah
  2. Muhammad Ariez Azman
  3. Md Anis Rahimi
  4. Yours Truly
  5. Nik Mazlan Nik Soh
  6. Mohd Saufi Deraman
Our van, which also brought along a member of MAKSAK Johor team, Dr. Nasrul Humaimi, the Vice President of PCNK, took the usual Kelantan - Pahang - KL - Shah Alam route. We stopped at Lipis for lunch at the home of another Vice President of PCNK, Mr. Rhozisham. 

Mr. Rhozisham prepared us a very delicious lunch

We finally arrived at Intekma Resort, a resort under UiTM Shah Alam management, at approximately 5.30 p.m. We checked in after our chief de mission, Tg Petra, confirmed our room numbers. I was with Baharuddin and Ariez at fourth floor while Anis, Nik Mazlan and Mohd Saufi, all of whom were smokers, were in the other room at second floor. The room was okay and the service was excellent, in my humble opinion at least. We even got to know the room service worker, thanks to our talkative Ariez. However, it was not until I wrote this post that I stumbled upon information that the resort was haunted as we did not encounter any happenings during our stay there.

The official resort for Kelantan MAKSAK team

The playing ground, the five-star rated Bluewave Hotel, was situated in the middle of the city. The playing hall for chess, however, was quite cramped compared to the playing halls for dart and carom. Therefore, nobody except the officials and the players were allowed inside the hall during the games. There was also a podium where the first pairing locked their horns using digital boards, which broadcasted the games live. The Kelantan team only managed to play on it once, that was in the final game against the eventual champions, Kuala Lumpur. 

Yours Truly waiting for the opponent

Imagine our surprise when we saw that the Deputy President of PCNK, Mr. Nik Ahmad Farouqi, was the coach for the Selangor MAKSAK team. Our teams were paired in the second last round, and we eventually drew. I was the last one to draw my game against Syed Abdul Rahman and I regretted it as I was in the winning position which, if won, would surely guaranteed at least a prize. 

Kelantan vs Nik Farouqi's Selangor
Kelantan team was dubbed as 'the master of draws' for drawing too many times, including games where we should have won. We drew against PDRM in our first game, Pahang in our third game, Selangor in our sixth game and Kuala Lumpur in our last game. 

Kelantan vs Pahang, one of the games which were drawn

Were were seeded sixth because of our last performance in Kedah, and were paired against PDRM for the first round. We finally ended seventh after drawing 4 times, winning twice and lost once to Terengganu, which was EXACTLY the same results in Kedah! (We drew 4 times, won twice and lost once to Terengganu also). What a coincidence. 

Kelantan vs PDRM, our first game

Our ex-Vice President, Mr. Abdul Haq, who is currently living in Shah Alam, stopped by to see the team. He brought the team for lunch at D-Wok, a branch of Kak Wok rice, in Section 13. We were quite astonished when he informed that there were 5 similar restaurants in Shah Alam area alone. 

The team having late lunch at D-Wok, Section 13

The team performance can be summed up below (taken from chessresults):

The final standing:

This MAKSAK was special to me as I had the opportunity to face one of my respected coach, Mr. Rizal Ahmad Kamal from Kuala Lumpur MAKSAK team. He was the one who shaped my chess repertoire during my IIUM days and I am forever thankful to him for that. Although I initially surprised him by playing one of Kuala Lumpur's pet line in our game, he, who has vast knowledge in chess openings, quickly had good positions. Nevertheless, with Kuala Lumpur needing only a draw, and indeed, all the three boards had already drawn their games, he gladly offered me a draw. (You may click on the picture below to see our game).

Facing my mentor, Mr. Rizal Ahmad Kamal

Friday, January 08, 2016


It has been a week into the new year and it has been very stimulating in terms of my chess life. Workloads prevent me from blogging all this while, but I try to take some time writing for the start of the year. Sitting at the helm of the PCNK pressures me to become very active in order to deliver the promise that PCNK will be better compared to last year. On top of that, the usual task of arranging teachers' teaching schedule at my workplace has also made it paramount to divide my responsibilities equally. 

On the PCNK side, we have started a revolution of sorts by publishing a calendar of PCNK programmes for this year. We also collect the annual fee in order to determine the eagerness of the members to be actively involved in the activities. The method of the payment for chess tournament organized by PCNK has also been upgraded. We do not want any delay in tournament schedule anymore and this can be greatly achieved by not accepting any payment on the tournament day. 

I've recently managed to get in touch with some old friends from IIUM days and they, being Kelantanese, too want to get involved with PCNK programmes this year. It is heartwarming to actually receive some help from them in organizing the planned events as PCNK is a non-profit organization and it is run by committees with other commitments like myself. 

Performance wise, I would like to set myself a target of regaining 2000 FIDE rating for stardard games that I've lost last year and to achieve 1800 National Rating. In order to do that I must strive to get some FIDE rated events under my belt while keeping National Rated events also in check. 

I could see exciting times ahead. MOVE ON!

Monday, October 12, 2015


Kota Bharu Blitz Chess Tournament was truly a unique event, held in conjunction with the National Sports Day on 10 October 2015. 8 minutes per player, 8 Swiss System rounds with prize money starting from RM188 for the champion, RM88 for the runner up and RM28 for the 10th placing. The Under 12 category was also true to the spirit with RM48 set aside for the winner. Even the dateline for registration was 8 October 2015.

Kelantan Youth and Sports Department was the venue for the event. It started at 2 p.m. to give way for other events such as cycling, running and aerobics to be held in the morning. Millions of Malaysians were involved on the whole in various sports and we were excited to be among the 17648 events which made it into the Malaysian Book of Records. 

Kelantan chess enthusiasts came from all over Kelantan to be involved in this event. Baharuddin, who came from Kuala Krai, won the Open Category while Faridzul Asyraf was second, albeit with the same score. Ariez was half a point behind to take the third prize. 
The champion

Open Category
1. Baharuddin Hamzah - 5 points
2. Mohd Faridzul Asyraf - 5
3. Muhd Ariez Azman - 4.5
4. Abdul Khair Jusoh - 4.5
5. Ghazali Che Cob - 4
6. Muhd Ariji Hasan Basri - 4
7. Norazlin Juarih - 4
8. Marzuki Yaacob - 4
9. Mohd Noor Khairullah - 4
10. Ahmad Mujahid - 4

In the Under 12 Category, Muhammad Ajwad proved to be too hot to handle by his peers when he won all his games effortlessly leaving Mohd Syakir Aiman (second) and Adi Safiuddin (third) two points behind. 

Under 12 Category
1. Muhd Ajwad Md Amin - 6 points
2. Mohd Syakir Aiman - 4
3. Adi Safiuddin - 4
4. Nik Abd Qayyum - 4
5. Wan Nurul Aisyah - 4

The winners with PCNK committee members

On the somber note, the KB Blitz was not without blunders, to use a chess term. The invitation letter to the school students was rejected 3 days before the event by the State Education Department merely because of the RM5 fee. Curiously, it was approved by the director on Sunday before being blocked by his committee three days later. That seriously hampered our effort to reach the primary school students to boost our participants in the Under 12 Category. Personally, I don't see any harm in imposing the fee as we don't want to make them disregard the tournament if they play without any payment. Time and time again we see players leaving tournaments before the last rounds if they think that they couldn't get any prize. At least by imposing some fee, they will finish the tournament to make what they paid worthwhile. 

As for me, my appointment letter as the arbiter never reached the school where I work. The day being a school day, I couldn't leave as I please, thus making me late to arrive at the tournament hall because the distant between the hall and my school is around 25 kilometres. The State Education Department, again, said that I had to apply for it through e-Pelepasan, upon which, when checked, has to be made 14 days prior. This is totally new to me; I never really know about this before that phone call I made to the department. I tried to follow the correct procedure in applying for my leave, but it seemed that the correct procedure was never really clear to me. 

In the last round, there was an incident where a player claiming for the illegal move. As the arbiter, I was summoned to the table to look at the dispute. He claimed that his opponent pressed the clock before adjusting a fallen Bishop of his. His opponent, on the other hand, claimed that the Bishop fell after he had pressed the clock. To settle the matter, I asked both of them to continue, as there was no chance that I would know who among them was telling the truth. Angrily, the claimant told that he would settle for a draw instead, but that was another matter whatsoever, because he had to offer the draw and his opponent had to accept it for the game to be declared a draw. Fortunately, his opponent accepted the draw without further ado. 

And then there was time when the printer's ink was going out, and the technical problem when my laptop which I used to make the pairings failed to respond accordingly, the tournament finished later than expected. Luckily, we only had to play for six rounds, which preciously saved some time. We were able to give out the prizes before 6.15 p.m. which, in my opinion, quite on schedule. 

So, there were plenty of pluses and minuses which can be taken for holding future tournaments. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


In conjunction with 12th Malaysian Chess Festival, a team tournament will be held this Friday at Mid Valley, KL. It is organized by Dato' Athur Tan Chess Centre (DATCC), a prominent name in chess organising in KL area. The details are as follows:

Date: 18-19 September 2015 (Friday-Saturday)
Format: 9 rounds Swiss system with 25 minutes time allocation to the finish for each player. 
Venue: Mid Valley, Kuala Lumpur

It will be a FIDE Rated Rapid event and is already mentioned in FIDE website

PCNK will be sending two teams to the event. I am fortunate enough to be in the team as my current performance is not something I am proud of. However, I will do my best so as not to let the other teammates down. They are currently on a high after getting podium finish here and there, notably in Pahang recently, and they surely don't want me to disturb the ongoing flow. 

As for me, after a mistake which deprived me of taking my students to the UiTM Open this month, the same mistake might cost me a rest day ahead of the journey to KL. The letter which supposedly arrive at my department this week is yet to be seen, thus, I might have to go to school tomorrow before departing.

Hopefully I will get the rest I need before the first round game.

The Red Knight jersey we will be wearing

Friday, August 14, 2015


This Saturday marks the first collaboration between PCNK (Kelantan Chess Association) with Cerdik Catur Enterprise (CCE). We have collaborated with many organisations before (UiTM, KTD, SMACH) and this only adds to it. 

CCE is managed by Stonemaster Mohd Fadhli Zakaria (FIDE 2024) and is currently one of the most active chess organisations in Malaysia. So far, they have organised many tournaments around the peninsular and now they try to spread their wings towards organising chess events in Kelantan also. 

PCNK is only too happy to make collaborations like this and is looking forward to this event. The details:

Date: 15 August 2015 (Saturday)
Venue: Kolej Teknologi Darulnaim, Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan.
Time: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. 


Hopefully we will see you there this Saturday. 

Friday, June 05, 2015


3 losses, 3 draws and 1 win was all that I could muster at this year's MAKSAK. I continued where I left off from the National Closed, still searching for my old self. I tend to be afraid easily nowadays; even innocent positions became a nightmare for me. Consider the position below taken from my game against Ahmad Mudzafar of Perak. The game was played at night because we had to cram the seven games inside two hectic days so that we could have the closing ceremony early in the morning the next day. The time control was 1 hour to the finish, enough for tired eyes to doze off during complex calculations, especially at night!

Ahmad Mudzafar (Perak) vs Yours Truly (Kelantan)

Black was not far off from development. In fact, I only had to move my Bishop to b7 in order to complete the development. I could even start an attack on his castled King by pushing the pawn to b4. In between these two thoughts, which took me more than 5 precious minutes, I suddenly became wary of his pawn push to d5 square. As though hypnotized, I took my f6 Knight and place it on the d5 square, blundering a piece.

After 14...Nd5

He didn't take too much time to remove the Knight and put it outside the board though. Play continued 15.Nxd5 exd5 16.Qxc6

After 16.Qxc6

A Queen standing on the same file with her King always spells danger. However, having just lost a Knight, I failed to see 16...Bf5 where Black can start an attack towards White's King. He has to flee with 17.Kd2 and with Qa5-Rc8-Rc2 to come, he would not be comfortable (17.Qxd5 is out of the question because Black will get back the lost piece with 17...Qc7+ and 18...Be6).

Instead, I moved 16...Bd7.

After 16...Bd7

The difference between this move and 16...Bf5 is that White's King gets to defend the Bishop with Kb1. 17.Qxd5 Qc8+ 18.Kb1 Be6 19.Qe5 Bxa2+ 20.Kxa2 Qc4+ 21.Kb1

After 21.Kb1

Here I thought of sacrificing another of my piece with 21...Bxa3 to get the perpetual, but I saw that White did not really have to take the Bishop. A simple move like 22.d5 will bring the Queen to the defense of her King already, so I scrapped the plan and moved 21...Rfe8. After 22.Qf5 b4 23.Qd3, Black has no play anymore.

Our judgment in chess really is related with our emotional and physical condition, thus keeping both of them in tiptop condition is a must in order to play our best game. Family and office problems should be settled before any tournament because they would haunt us time and time again during our calculations. Kids and teenagers really don't have these kind of problems, so they could play their game smoothly. This is what I've encountered during the National Closed, and though none of them were there in MAKSAK, the inability to cope with my problems caused me dearly.

Kelantan Team Performance

Kelantan team comprises of:

1. Muhammad Ariez Azman
2. Md Anis Rahimi
3. Yours Truly
4. Baharuddin Hamzah
5. Nik Mohd Nazri Nik Hasan
6. Mohd Saufi Deraman

Overall, the Kelantan team did very well in this MAKSAK. We lost only once to Terengganu, drew 4 and won 2.

Won vs Selangor 2.5 - 1.5
Drew vs Johor 2 - 2
Drew vs Perak 2 - 2
Lost vs Terengganu 0.5 - 3.5
Drew vs ATM 2 - 2
Won vs PDRM 4 - 0
Drew vs KL 2 - 2

(Final standings can be read here).

In fact, we should be able to be third if our last player, Mr. Md Anis Rahimi, completed his onslaught on the Kuala Lumpur player. Instead, he missed a win and gave his opponent the opportunity to get a perpetual which made our team sixth.

This is the position:

Md Anis Rahimi (Kelantan) vs Roslan (KL)

Here, the game continued 1.Ng6 Be7 2.Nxe7+ Qxe7 3.Qg6+ Qg7 4.Qxe6+ Kh7 5.Qxd5 Ng6

After 5...Ng6

The two connected passed pawns should be enough to force a win. Other teammates by now had already calculated this game as 1-0 and we were ecstatic to finally break the hoodoo and become third for the first time in Kelantan MAKSAK history. The game continued 6.e6 Kh6 7.Rc5 Kh7 

After 7...Kh7
8.Qxh5+ Kg8 9.Rc8+ Nf8 10.e7! Qxe7 

After 10...Qxe7

11.Qg6+ ? We could not believe our eyes! The simple 11.Qxg4+ should have won the Rook and the game, and Kelantan would have made the podium finish. Indeed, time trouble makes us do something unbelievable.

Nevertheless, here are some pictures taken from the event:

Kelantan vs Selangor 2.5 - 1.5

With Kelantan state team official

Team registration form

In front of Holiday Villa, Alor Star

Kelantan vs Perak 2 - 2

Final standings

The champions - KL

Nik Mohd Nazri won best board prize

Johor vs Kelantan 2 - 2


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