Saturday, October 06, 2012


Latest October FIDE rating sees that I am at number 30 among active Malaysian chess players. However, I currently feel that I am playing miles behind my ranking, especially in short time controls. I tend to take quite some time in the opening phase of the game, especially when I play against those who should be weaker opponents than me. They deviate from the main line, and it will take me a while to find the refutation. But when I do, time is already out and the finishing touch will be way off the mark. This happened so many times during my latest outing in MAKSAK Penang. I lost 3 of the games and drew 3 because of time trouble. 

Game 1 playing Black vs Asman Aminullah (Pahang)

The above position is the final position according to my score sheet because I went into time trouble after that. The actual game continued until Black King managed to march until d3 with his counterpart was stuck at the last rank. A couple of pawn exchanges ensued later, but, with the different colour Bishops were still on board, I offered a draw when it was obvious that time was not on my side.

Game 2 playing White vs Syed Abdul Rahman (Selangor)

After the opening, I managed to contain Black at the cost of a pawn. His castled position was stretched while two of his major pieces were unable to enter the game. Here, I was presented with a problem. Do I take the Bishop first or the Knight? Making a decision like this is not my cup of tea, what more with 45 minute time control. True enough, I blundered by taking the Knight and lost. An analysis afterwards at the hotel room ensured that the c4 Bishop in my initial over the board calculation was in fact immuned. I was against taking the f6 Bishop because of this line. 

1. Nxf6+ Qxf6 2.Nxd4 Qxd4 3.hxg5 Qxc4 4.gxh6+ Kf7 5.Qg7+ Ke8 6.h7 Qh4 and the Queen stops the pawn march.

However, if I had seen a step further at the time, I would know that taking the Bishop at c4 is fatal for Black. The hotel room analysis continued with 7.Rac1! and Black is lost.

Syed Abdul Rahman went on to win the best 3rd board prize.

Game 3 playing White vs Mat Salim Kadir (Royal Malaysian Police Force)

Again time was not by my side. The opponent was really a fast player, but he lost a pawn after the opening phase. I pressed for the advantage, exchanged my passed a-pawn for his Bishop after a controversy, and took his g-pawn after an expert Knight maneuver, but still did not manage to win. Luckily he accepted my draw offer but lament afterwards about me asking him to keep score during my last 5 minutes.

Game 4 playing Black vs Morsin Ahmad (Sarawak)

This is the position before I chose a losing plan B where I set about to win his e5 pawn by moving Rde8 and Bd8. But after Nb3!, Black was lost. What I should have done was continuing with my plan A which starts with 1... c5, threatening to pushed his Bishop away. If White replies with 2.b3, Black should continue with 2...a5, planning to land at a4 and take on b3, opening the a-file for his Rook where I personally think Black is okay.

Morsin Ahmad took the best 4th board prize.

Game 6 playing Black vs Amir Mokhtar (Perak)

The game was a tragedy. Firstly, the team arrived late at the venue because of the driver's mishap. I had to play very fast in the opening, but luckily I managed to get a pawn advantage. However, he managed to maintain his 10 minute advantage over me, which landed me in time trouble, again. Then, the unexpected happened. I blundered away a checkmate during the time scramble (well, I was the only one who scramble for time). From the above position, I played 1...c6 and the game went on 2.Rd2 Qg6?? 3.Qb6! and I resigned. What I should have played was

1... Rg3 and White Queen will have to cease her control of the flight square a7 to guard a deadly check at f2. After 2.Qe2 (or Qe1), Black should reply 2...Qe6 which will surely put White on the back foot.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Liverpudlians will know the meaning of You'll Never Walk Alone. The reason I choose the title for this post is purely because my story in MAKSAK chess this year was quite similar to that of my beloved football team Liverpool F.C. 

The Performance

We arrived at the Pearl of the Orient at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday (27 Sept), a mere 2-and-a-half-hour before our kick off. Starting at 7.30 p.m. that night, we were scheduled to face the two most deadliest opponents in the group of death, Pahang and Selangor. With brain tuning and climate adjusting were still kicking in ourselves, were stepped inside the Dewan Sri Pinang with high hopes - to bring at least 4 points home. Instead, we were brushed aside by both with Pahang and Selangor scoring, respectively, 2.5 and 4 points, against us. Those results were fatal for us and another defeat against Sarawak ended our hopes of competing in the Winners Pool. My personal performance did not help my team as I ended with 2 draws and 2 loses from those four games (which includes Kelantan's win against the Police).

However, playing in the Losers Pool did not deter us from playing our best games. I started to win my games (three of them) and coincidentally the team won as well. We gave Perlis half a point, crushed the Armed Forces and the wardens with perfect scores and drew with Perak and Penang to become the champions. What made it more interesting for me were my scores - 3 wins, 3 draws and 3 loses. 

The final results were as below: 

Kelantan's Performance:

vs Pahang 1.5 - 2.5
vs Selangor 0 - 4
vs Police 2.5 - 1.5
vs Sarawak 1.5 - 2.5
vs Perlis 3.5 - 0.5
vs Perak 2 - 2
vs Armed Forces 4 - 0
vs Penjara 4 - 0
vs Penang 2 - 2

The Winners Pool:

1. Kuala Lumpur (20 points)
2. Terengganu (16.5 points)
3. Johor (15 points)
4. Sarawak (15 points)

The Losers Pool:

1. Kelantan (18 points)
2. Penang (15 points)

Best Boards Winners:

1. Nor Azmi Mohd Noor (Terengganu)
2. Kamal Ariffin Wahiduddin (Kuala Lumpur)
3. Syed Abdul Rahman (Selangor)
4. Morsin Ahmad (Sarawak)
5. Muhd Rizal Jusah (Kuala Lumpur)
6. Hairul Abdul Hamid (Kuala Lumpur)

Comments and Suggestions

Throughout the closing ceremony, we chess players watched in awe as carrom and dart players went on stage one after another to collect individual prizes. They had winners for practically everything, and yet, chess only offered 6 prizes for best boards. I discussed with my teammates on how to add individual prizes for chess but sadly we found nothing. Eventually, my ex-coach who played for the champions team overheard our discussion and suggested that chess should have offered gold, silver and bronze medals for each board. Hopefully this suggestion will come into fruition in Johor next year.

The decision to announce the would-be host two years in advance was also applauded by many. Sarawak was chosen as the host for MAKSAK Chess, Dart and Carrom in 2014, and they will surely prepare for that moment.

I also overheard some teams talking about changing the pairing system. They said that Swiss pairing is better than the system used nowadays (winners and losers pools). Well, personally, I do not know whether to support this view or not. But, with the limited teams for MAKSAK, I do believe that Swiss system is not the way forward even though they did not give enough prizes for the Losers Pool teams (having sadly experienced this with the Kelantan players this year).

You'll Never Walk Alone

Now, the similarity between me and my beloved team Liverpool F.C. was that it took me 5 games to finally get my first win, whereas they finally registered their first win (coincidentally on the same day) after 6 games. And because I won many games after that, hopefully LFC will win their remaining games in all competitions. Another similarity was that I lost my games when I was the better side (I will prove this in my next post, insha Allah) while LFC lost many of their games, especially against the Mancs, also when they were the better side. Those games I lost were mainly because of time factor, and it saddened me because the one reason I played chess was because I wanted to find the truth about my games and I did not have enough time to do that in 45 minutes.

For appetizer, I will leave you readers with a diagram taken from one of my lost games.

White to move.


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