Saturday, July 19, 2008


UKM Hardcore - Yours Truly
KUiTTHO Chess Challenge (Round 3), 23.03.2002

This is my third encounter with him. The first was played during our friendly match with UKM, discussing the Classical variation. Our second was in the Merdeka tournament 1999, debating the Sveshnikov variation. However, this is the first time I played with Black, so the Najdorf variation is very much expected.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Qc7 9.0–0–0 Nbd7 10.g4 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6

After 11…gxf6

This position offers chances for both players. From the White side, the mobility of his pieces and clear-cut plan (usually attacking the pawn mass in the center) makes his game freer. However, Black’s defensive resources are not to be underestimated. The pawn mass in the center and counter attacking chances in the Queen’s wing balances White slight advantage. Black can castle Kingside, or not castle at all, if he so wishes.

The irony is that not many players are courageous enough to play this line, opting instead for 11…Nxf6 or 11 Bxf6. In fact, I can say that I am the only player in Malaysia who play this line, and with great results! Among those who have been my victims were Muhammad Arshad and Nor Ilhamuddin, both were Terengganu’s best players. The cause of their defeat was that they were unprepared to face this line, as they have not encountered it anywhere. This is the case here in this game. The fact that White spend 15 minutes on his next move shows.

The usual move here is 12.f5, exerting pressure on the e6 pawn – the crux of White’s plan. It is then followed by Qh3 and Nc3 - e2 - f4, adding to the misery of the e6 pawn. I don’t know what is his idea with this move.

12…Nc5 13.Nb3
This knight move from the center is not to be recommended.

12… b4 14.Nxc5 dxc5 15.Ne2 Bb7 16.Rhe1 Rc8 17.f5
Trying to open the game, as for now Black has all the spaces he needed.

17… e5
Denying White’s Knight the access to d4 and f4. 17… Qe5 is playable, with the idea of pushing the a-pawn down the board to a3. However, I was not going to give him any counter play.

18.g5 c4 19.gxf6 Bxf6 20.c3 Bc6
I try to complicate the position with the threat of 21…Ba4. The b4 pawn is a temporary sacrifice, as Black will get it back with devastating position.

21.cxb4 Qb7
Threatening both the e4 and b4 pawn, thus gaining the material back.

22.Nc3 Qxb4 23.Kb1 Rb8
Pressuring White’s defense with the immediate threat of mate.

24.Re2 h5 25.Bf1
The unfortunate Bishop is trying to get to the defense of White’s King.

The last piece to enter the game, after watching it from the edge of the board. The h5 pawn in immune because of the undefended Knight. Can you believe this rook will help in the final mating attack?

26.Rc2 Rg4 27.Bxc4?
Frankly speaking, this move is beyond my expectation. The idea is to lure Black Queen in the line of the rook on c2. With 28.Nd5 to follow, threatening the Bishop and the Queen, White can hope to get better exchange. However, White is in for surprises!

After 27.Bxc4

27…Qxc4! 28.Nd5 Bxd5! 29.Rxc4 Bxc4
Black’s exchange of the Queen for three of White’s pieces is totally justified.

30.Qc3 Rxe4 31.Qf3
White desperately tries to get into the Black’s camp. The rook seems lost as moving it will allow White’s Queen to penetrate into c6 with check. However, White is in for more surprises!


After 31… Rxb2+!

I spend about 5 minutes on this spectacular move. It is unbelievable that despite the absence of the Queen, Black can still sacrifice his rook!

32.Kxb2 Re2+ 33.Ka3??
A bad blunder in time trouble. The best defense is 33.Kc1, when Black is to play accurately to realize his advantage. Even then Black’s control of the board will prevail. Some sample line 33….e4 34.Qxh5 Bb2+ 35.Kb1 Be5 36.Rd5 Bd3+ 37.Rxd3 exd3 38.Qh4 Bc3 39.Kc1 Re1+ 40.Qxe1+ Bxe1 41.Kd1 Bc3. However, White’s best would be 34.Qf4 Bb2+ 35.Kb1 Bxa2+ 36.Kxa2 Be5+ 37.Qd2 Rxd2+ 38.Rxd2 Ke7 (diagram), when accurate play by Black is needed.

Analysis position

33…Be7+ 0–1

Unavoidable mate. Notice that Black’s King has not move an inch from the start of the game until it ends. It is unbreakable!

Final position

Friday, July 18, 2008


Date: 11th - 12th July 2008
Venue: State Stadium, Kota Bharu
Format: 6 rounds Swiss

Open chess tournaments are a rarity in Kelantan these days. Therefore, you must take the opportunity whenever there is one. Last weekend (11th - 12th July 2008), an open chess tournament was held at the state stadium, and I was never going to miss it. Fortunately, it is this Saturday that I have to attend a course at my school, thus enabling me to participate in the tournament. I was eager to test my competitive chess nerve as well as my knowledge in chess theories, whether I still have it or I already lost it in a drain. That and the added motivation of dubbing this tournament as a selection for MAKSAK which will be held at Penang earlier next month made it necessary for me to participate in it. Given the 9th seed among the 50 odd players in the Open category made my path easier for the first 3 rounds. The 4th round pitted me against a former national player Azhari whom I beat before going down fighting to Abdullah Che Hassan (picture below).

The last round was an anti-climax as my opponent blundered away 2 pawns in the opening which he never got back. Finishing with 5 points placed me 4th, but considering that 4th place's prize money was RM100 shorter than Kelantan's Best Player, I was given the latter. It was really so, as the first to third came from Johor, Terengganu dan Pahang, respectively.

See also Muhammad Arshad's blog on this tournament here.

Final Standings

Open Category
  1. Abdullah Che Hassan
  2. Muhammad Arshad
  3. Mohd Khair
  4. Yours Truly (Best Kelantan Player)
  5. Azahari Mohd Nor
  6. Kamal Azmi
  7. Abd Khalid Musa
  8. Ali Akbar Kuning
  9. Mohd Zainuddin
  10. Fairul Yusoff
  11. Hamidi

Under-15 Category

  1. Ahmad Zulhilmi
  2. Laila Husna
  3. Wan Emilia Elisha
  4. Fadhil Aiman
  5. Mohd Afiq Aiman
  6. Mohd Muhaimin
  7. Najihah
  8. Mohd Fadhil
  9. Mohd Afham
  10. Mohd Ahza

Monday, July 07, 2008


When is the right time to start learning chess? In my case, I learned chess when I was fifteen. I just finished my PMR exams and there was nothing to do except attending some post-PMR programmes organized by the school which was made compulsory for PMR students. I, however, went to the AV room and found several of my friends were playing chess. I learned the moves and no more than a year later I had beaten every one of them. So, is learning at an earlier age gives an advantage over late learners, or is it the other way around? The famous story of the Polgar sisters, who were trained by their father when they were merely 4 years olds, seems to stress the point. Nevertheless, a blogger by the name of Half Sigma does not agree and wrote an article refuting the works of Laszlo Polgar. In contrast, there's another father who initially did not make his child play chess, rather the child himself was a natural prodigy. Fred Waitzkin, and his chess prodigy Josh (picture right), were potrayed in a film The Innocent Moves (Searching for Bobby Fischer).


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