1st Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysian Open 2004
By Edwin Lam Choong Wai
Sponsored by chess enthusiasts and lifetime President of the Malaysian Chess
Federation, Dato’ Tan Chin Nam, this event was hosted by Mid Valley City in
the capital city of Malaysia. With prize money totaling around the region of
US $12,000, it was the richest chess event to be held in South East Asia this
"Najdorf syndrome", hungry players and the "secret" of the Filipinos’ success…
August… National Day, Malaysian Mega Sale… and Chess, of course!
The month of August is indeed a unique time for the people here in Malaysia.
It is the month of our National Day celebration. Come 31st August 2004, all
Malaysians will stand united in one voice to commemorate the 47th anniversary
of our independence day with a colorful and fun-filled parade in the heart
of the city of Kuala Lumpur. Whether young or old, all Malaysians come together
on the special day to fly the Malaysian national flag (in a mini flagpole size
being stuck on the roof of their car, like an antenna sticking out) on their
cars, in front of the patios of their homes, or (the more daring ones, I would
say) even go to the extent of draping themselves with the Malaysian flag, during
the day-long carnival on the 31st of August 2004.
Aside from the National Day celebrations, the month of August is also synonymous
with the Malaysian Mega Sale carnival. Running on a month-long basis, the Malaysian
Mega Sale is in every way similar to its long-established relative, ‘The Great
Singapore Sale’ in Singapore, of course. This is the time, when locals will
go bargain hunting for designer items. Besides locals, tourists also arrive
from Europe, Oceania, Japan and the Middle East for their shopping holidays.
Bargain-hunters or not, these tourists still ultimately find the prices of
designer goods here in Kuala Lumpur much cheaper than back in their home country.
This is especially true in Japan.
For the more culturally inclined Chinese here in Malaysia, this month of August
is also synonymous with the ‘Hungry Ghost’ festival. Celebrated by the Chinese
community throughout the world, this festival is held on the seventh month
of the Chinese Lunar calendar to honor the dead. Various means of prayer and
offerings as well as live singing and performances are organized during the
For the chess players around South East Asia, August has been known for years
as the month of chess festival here in Malaysia. With a long known tradition
of having the Merdeka Team Chess Tournament towards the end of August every
year, Kuala Lumpur is definitely the meeting point for chess players from throughout
Malaysia during this time. And, that’s not all. Chess friends from Indonesia
and Singapore are also always present during this August chess festival.
Malaysia Open 2004…
The players’ meeting got under way on the eve of the start of the tournament.
It was held at 9.30 pm. When I arrived at the hotel’s function room, I first
bumped into IM Gokhale of India. IM Gokhale came with a couple, which he is
staying with in Kuala Lumpur. A little later, the diminutive IM Atanu Lahiri
also arrived. He came alone. And, thereafter came the Malaysians, the Chinese
and everyone else. A number of issues were discussed and slight changes were
also made to the schedule of the tournament, thus giving the players a little
bit more rest in between rounds. Besides the usual protocol and procedures
related to the Players’ Meeting, everyone was also shown the way to the tournament
hall, which is especially important to the foreigners, who are first-timers
here in Malaysia.
The battle began the next morning. A total of 111 players competed at the
beginning of Round 1. As expected, not much surprises occurred in Round 1 as
the top seeds began their quest by sailing past their opponents. However, minor
hiccups befell GM to-be Yu Shaoteng, who was held to a draw by Vietnamese Nguyen
Viet Chung, as well as IM Nelson Mariano, who drew against FM Johan Iskandar
Round 2 provided much cheer for the Malaysian camp as our player, the very
promising FM Lim Yee Weng, drew his game against the Vietnamese GM Nguyen Anh
Dung. Other highlights are:
GM Ian Rogers – Le Quang Liem 1-0
IM Jimmy Liew – GM Dao Thien Hai 0-1
GM Ni Hua – FM Nicholas Chan 1-0
If rounds 1 and 2 only provided minor hiccups to the GM entourage in the competition,
Round 3 certainly is about a sensational upset by a WGM from China over her
most established GM counterpart from Vietnam. GM Dao Thien Hai fell for a nice
combination cooked up by the very talented WGM Xu Yuanyuan of China. This game
is featured below. On board six, WGM Wang Yu held the gigantic GM Alexei Barsov
to a draw with Black.
China's whiz kid, GM Ni Hua
Title hopeful and top seed, GM Ian Rogers
In Round 4, the battle of the heavyweights began with GM Ian Rogers taking
on GM Rogelio Antonio, while GM Ni Hua took on WGM Xu Yuhua. Ian drew his game
against Rogelio, while Ni Hua won against Xu to take the lead in the tournament.
GM Rogelio Antonio of the Philippines is certainly the best dressed player
in the whole tournament
Three games have been selected below after the first 4 rounds of play that
includes WGM Xu Yuanyuan’s sensational win over GM Dao Thien Hai. Observers
who saw the game said that GM Dao was certainly caught in shock and surprise
at the end of the game. Besides that, the other two games include one by tournament
hopeful GM Antonio Rogelio as well as Malaysia’s best bet IM Mas Hafizulhelmi.
Dao Thien Hai - Xu,Y [D18]
Table 02 (3), 22.08.2004
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Bf5 6.e3 e6 7.Bxc4 Bb4 8.0-0 Nbd7
9.Qe2 Bg6 10.Rd1 0-0 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.e4 Qc7 14.f4 Nc5 15.g4 Bxc3
16.bxc3 Nxe4 17.Qf3 Rfd8 18.Rxd8+ Rxd8 19.f5 exf5 20.gxf5 Qxe5 21.fxg6 Qc5+
22.Be3 Qxc4 23.gxf7+ Kf8 24.Rb1 Rd6 25.Rb4 Rg6+ 26.Kh1 Nf2+ 0-1.
Sharp and charming: Chinese beauty WGM Xu Yuhua
Antonio Rogelio - Dede Lioe [B22]
Table 04 (3), 22.08.2004
1.e4 c5 2.c3 d6 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bd3 g6 5.e5 dxe5 6.dxe5 Ng4 7.Bb5+ Nc6 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8
9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.f4 f6 11.h3 Nh6 12.Be3 fxe5 13.fxe5 Nf7 14.Nf3 Bg7 15.Nbd2 Nxe5
16.Nxe5 Bxe5 17.0-0-0 Kc7 18.Nc4 Bd6 19.Nxd6 exd6 20.Bf4 Kb6 21.Rhe1 a5 22.Bxd6
c4 23.Re7 Bf5 24.Bc7+ Ka6 25.Rde1 Kb5 26.g4 Bd3 27.R1e5+ c5 28.R7e6 Ra6 29.a4+
Mas Hafizulhelmi - Siti,Z [C26]
Table 15 (3), 22.08.2004
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.d3 h6 6.h3 a6 7.Nge2 d6 8.0-0 Be6 9.Nd5
0-0 10.c3 Bxd5 11.exd5 Ne7 12.Qb3 Bb6 13.a4 a5 14.Rd1 Nf5 15.d4 exd4 16.Nxd4
Nxd4 17.cxd4 Re8 18.Qd3 Qd7 19.Bd2 Re7 20.Kh2 Rae8 21.Be1 Ne4 22.b4 axb4 23.a5
Ba7 24.Rab1 c5 25.dxc6 Qxc6 26.Bxb4 Qd7 27.Rb2 f5 28.Qb3+ Kh8 29.Ba3 f4 30.g4
Rf7 31.Bf1 Rc8 32.Bc4 Re7 33.Rd3 Qc7 34.Bd5 Qxa5 35.Bb4 Qc7 36.Qa3 Bb8 37.Rf3
Rce8 38.Ba5 Qc8 39.Kg2 g5 40.Rfb3 Nf6 41.Bxb7 Qe6 42.Bc6 Ba7 43.Bxe8 Qe4+ 44.Rf3
Nxe8 45.Qd3 Qxd4 46.Bc3 1-0.
Take a deep breath… and relax, your mind…
As one walked through the tournament hall, one can’t help but marvel at the
intensity and focus put in by each and every player into the game. Some of
them are simply so intense in their concentration that they are able to sit
down for four hours like a Sphinx, and only occasionally take toilet breaks
in between. This, I am sure would make Botvinnik proud. Not many people can
be like this, and I simply respect that.
As for players like Malaysian FM Mok Tze Meng, you will definitely see him
taking his occasionally stroll around the tournament playing area when it is
his opponent’s turn to move. This is what I would attribute as the ‘Najdorf-syndrome’,
after the legendary Argentinean player, who is well known for his affable,
chirpy and talkative self during games. In some ways, even I myself belong
to this category of players. Or, simply put perhaps such players are restless.
Restless players can’t help, but simply have to get out and stroll about more
than once during the course of the game.
Restless or not, as humans are inherently different, one can’t help but notice
the different antics exhibited by different players to stay focused throughout
the 4 hours of play in each round. Sweets and chewing gums are the most commonly
used ‘method’ to combat weariness. At the same time, chewing gum is a rather
good stress-buster, too.
Needless to say, there are some players who were even seen to be munching
on some snacks and tearing open a chocolate bar during their games. Colm Daly,
for instance! Has this got to do with the ‘Hungry Ghost’ festival currently
being celebrated (which is a two week event that will end on the 30th of August)
by the Chinese community here in Malaysia? Maybe yes, maybe not.
But, Colm is not alone. Even, Zhang Jilin of China was seen munching her way
through a chocolate bar during her game against Rolando Yutuc of the Philippines
(Round 4), and won her game in style. Perhaps, the chocolate bar gave her the
‘extra’ edge over her opponent! So, who says that having a full stomach is
bad for the concentration in chess?
The ‘secret’ of Filipino’s success…
One peculiar thing that caught my attention throughout the first two days
of the tournament is the ‘secret weapon’ employed by the Filipinos. It is certainly
no coincidence that all the players from the Philippines in this tournament,
including the likes of GM Rogelio, IM Nelson Mariano, Rolando Yutuc and even
Florencio Campomanes have this strange habit of sitting on ‘double-decker’
chairs during their game. If you can’t seem to imagine what I mean, take a
look at the photo below of GM Rogelio seated on ‘double-decker’ chair prior
to his game against GM Ian Rogers in Round 4. And, I must say the Filipinos
are doing well, with two players in the top ten standings.
Sitting on double-chair: A unique strategy adopted by all the Filipino
What a ‘secret’, I thought. I even wondered if this ‘method’ has been prescribed
by their ‘witch doctors’ back home to ensure their success in this tournament.
Wow, in that case, I would also love to try it too in my next game. Perhaps,
the Filipinos luck can also rub into me as well. Out of curiosity, I seek Rolando’s
enlightened opinion about it. According to Rolando, there is nothing spiritual
about the method. Instead, there is a rational explanation behind it: sitting
on ‘double-decker’ chair gives the player a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the board,
and thus, enabling the person to see with greater clarity. Hmmm… not bad, so
it is quite ‘scientific’ after all. Maybe I will try it out in my next game
against a Vietnamese player, starting in approximately two hours time. I had
better get started with my preparation now. Ciaos!
1st Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2004: Final Standings
All’s well, ends well. After 6 days of grueling battle, China’s GM Ni Hua
stamped his mark over the rest of the participants to win the first-ever edition
of the Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2004. After 6 days of intense competition,
it is indeed sad to come to an end of such a great tournament whereby old friends
(or, foes, depending on how you see it!) such as FM Christie Hon and Jacobus
Sampouw get together and new friends are made. I myself made a lot of new friends
and after the end of Round 11 I even became International Master Atanu Lahiri’s
tour guide around the city of Kuala Lumpur. It is a bitter, sweet end, indeed
and I must admit that I can’t wait for the next edition of the Dato’ Arthur
Tan Malaysia Open next year.
Ian Rogers receives his prize from Dato’ Tan Chin Nam
The winner: GM Ni Hua (China)
In third place: GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam)
The list of prize winners in brief is:
1st place: GM Ni Hua (China)
2nd place: GM Ian Rogers (Australia)
3rd place: GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam)
4th place: GM Yu Shaoteng (China)
5th place: IM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia)
6th place: IM Dede, Lioe (Indonesia)
7th place: GM Antonio, Rogelio (Philippines)
8th place: WGM Xu, Yuhua (China)
9th place: GM Alexei Barsov (Uzbekistan)
10th place: IM Nelson Mariano (Philippines)
A complete report with loads of pictures (that include interesting anecdotes
and stories throughout the tournament) and selected games of the last 7 rounds
of the tournament will follow next week.
Lam Choong Wai
Highly passionate about the game, but lacking the talent to progress towards
a full-fledged chess profession, Edwin Lam is a seasoned player in his home
country of Malaysia. Whenever he is not busy with his advertising agency work,
he invests his time and effort towards chess, especially in chess analysis.
From analysis and annotations (following in the great footsteps of Botvinnik,
Timman and countless other chess greats), he accidentally stumbled upon writing
chess articles as a hobby. Having written chess articles for close to six years
already, he is now a correspondent for Chess Asia, a Philippine-based chess
magazine. Besides that, his articles have also appeared at one time or another
in Chess Kids, a Melbourne-based quarterly periodical run by David Cordover.
A chess artist at heart, he is most impressed by the games of Keres, Bronstein,
Tal and Petrosian. This, however, does not stop him from marveling at the clarity
and ease of the scientific approach outlined by Botvinnik. With a large library
of chess books and magazines at home in multiple languages – from English to
German to French and Russian – he primarily ranks Bronstein’s 1953 Zurich International
Chess Tournament and Alekhine’s 1924 New York International Chess Tournament
as the best books of all time. Most recently, he did an article on GM Seirawan’s
visit to Kuala Lumpur that appeared in Chess