Where a Hundred Cultures Met

7/7/2005 – Everyone who attended the Sixth ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championships took back memories. For ten days you could witness the meeting and blending of a hundred cultures – in a region with half a billion people, called Southeast Asia. It was staged in Pattaya, Thailand. Here's Leung Weiwen's illustrated report.

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Where a Hundred Cultures Met

Sixth ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championship

By Leung Weiwen (Singapore)

Just a few years ago, any foreigner to Southeast Asia would be inevitably remarking, “ASEAN? Where exactly is that?” After all, besides the rare exception of GM Utut Adianto and a few other talents, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has hardly produced any outstanding players. However, with the emergence of rising stars such as Grandmasters Megaranto Susanto and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, to name but two, one can hardly overlook the chess potential of this region, home to 500 million people.

The 6th ASEAN Age-Group Chess Championships was played in Pattaya, Thailand, previously a small town until it was used during the Vietnam War as a Rest & Recreation station for returning US troops. The city played host for the first time to an international chess event.

From 11th to 20th June, a total of 235 participants from eight Southeast Asian countries battled for top honours at the Jomtien Thani Hotel. The Championships was comprised of three events, the standard, rapid, and blitz, each being contested in twelve sections, from the Girls Under-8 to the Open Under-18. The ASEAN Age-Group Championships is one of the only international youth events to include an Under-8 section.


Poolside chess venue for the ASEAN Age-Group Championships


Beautiful Jomtien Beach…


And an even more marvelous sunset.


The official hotel, where all games were played


The main playing hall just after commencement of play


Battling it out in the Under-16 section: Ly Hong Nguyen (left) and Christer Jon Aplin. Ly is currently on scholarship in Singapore.


Another tough fight which concluded well after four hours. The time control was 90”+30s.


The Girls Under-8 Section


Some of the participants were as young as six

The standard events saw the Vietnamese dominate throughout most of the sections, although some other countries like Singapore picked a tough fight, especially in the U10 and U12 sections.

The blitz and rapid event saw many interesting results. Although the Vietnamese still brought back the majority of medals, this time there were also numerous stellar performances by players from other countries. In particular, speed king Julius Joseph de Ramos of the Philippines won the blitz U18 Section with 12 points out of 13.


Anxiously waiting for the next round to start

The Championships also included a social night, which was well received by all. Each delegation put up two performances, and the organizers themselves entertained the players. ASEAN Chess Confederation Chairman Ignatius Leong himself sang Titanic. Mr Leong is currently now also FIDE General Secretary. Everyone enjoyed themselves very well, with the night concluding quite dramatically when the Singaporeans threw one of their arbiters into the swimming pool.


Enjoying a sumptuous dinner

Every single person who attended the Championships brought back memories, myself included. I witnessed for ten days the meeting and blending of a hundred cultures in this region of half a billion people, which we call Southeast Asia.


“Aargh! I should have won!”

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