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.
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:
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.
White to move.