1st Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open

by Edwin Lam
9/11/2004 – After eleven grueling rounds in six days, China's Ni Hua took clear first place in the strongest chess tournament ever held in Malaysia. Players from all over the world came to this fascinating nation for a memorable event. Edwin Lam brings us a remarkable report with food, fun and photos.

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1st Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2004

Top finishers

1. GM Ni Hua (China) 8.5 points
2. GM Ian Rogers (Australia) 8.0 points
3. GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam) 8.0 points
4. GM Yu Shaoteng (China) 8.0 points
5. IM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia) 8.0 points
6. IM Dede Lioe (Indonesia) 8.0 points

Replay selected games

The victors and the…

August 26th, 2004. It’s almost 12.30 pm now and I had just won my final round game against WFM Ho Yin Ping (Hong Kong) to finish with 5 points. No one could explain how elated I was, but the happiness was all over me, as finally I had succeeded in getting my FIDE rating in this tournament! So, when the next FIDE Rating List comes out, my name will be there too!

Finally, after 11 grueling rounds, the 1st Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2004 had come to a close. By far, the strongest chess tournament ever held on Malaysian soil, for 6 days, the best players from throughout Asia and as far away as Oceania, Europe and the Middle East did battle in Mid Valley City. With participants ranging from less than twelve years of age all the way to the 77-year old Florencio Campomanes, this has indeed been a most memorable chess carnival!

Australia's Cathy and Ian Rogers

At the end of the tournament, China’s GM Ni Hua reigned supreme with 8.5 points. With six victories and five draws, GM Ni Hua emerged undefeated after 11 rounds to take clear first place. Here is GM Ni Hua’s victory over IM Denny Juswanto of Indonesia in the seventh round of the competition.

In a closely fought tournament, finishing half-a-point behind GM Ni Hua is a group of five players of GM Ian Rogers, GM Dao Thien Hai, GM Yu Shaoteng, IM Susanto Megaranto and IM Dede, Lioe. In fact, GM Shaoteng, playing with the Black pieces in the final round, had to endure an all-out attack by IM Nelson Mariano of the Philippines, before emerging triumphant.

IM Nelson Mariano made the top 10 in the final standings. IM Nelson played strongly throughout the tournament and it is only a matter of time, before this fine gentleman becomes a Grandmaster. IM Nelson, together with his compatriots, GM Rogelio Antonio and un-rated Rolando Yutuc, capped a good tournament by the Filipinos by finishing with a prize, each. GM Rogelio, definitely the best-dressed and most enigmatic person in the tournament, could have finished better had he not missed a win in his game against GM Yu Shaoteng in Round 10.

Going into the last round of the competition, Rolando Yutuc and another un-rated Filipino, Oliver Dimakilling, was battling it out for the prize of the Best Un-rated player in the tournament. Rolando, with a last round victory, clinched the title with 7.0 points. Perhaps, the Filipinos’ secret weapon of sitting on ‘double-decker’ chairs proved successful!

Rolando Yutuc receiving his prize from ex-FIDE President Florencio Campomanes.

Throughout the 11 rounds, Rolando won six times and drew twice. Interestingly, two of his three defeats were at the hands of Chinese beauties WGM Xu Yuanyuan and Zhang Jilin. The next game given here is Rolando’s Round 4 defeat at the hands of the charming Zhang Jilin. Rolando’s giant-killing ability didn’t seem to work here. Perhaps, he was simply mesmerized sitting in front of such a pretty lass?

Zhang Jilin (left) took the Best Female player prize with 7 points. Together with WGM Xu Yuhua’s success of finishing in eighth place in the competition, it was indeed a sweet success for the Chinese women.

Twice World Cup winner WGM Xu Yuhua (right) demonstrated a lot of patience and gradually ground down the Irish master Colm Daly. The late ex-World Champion Tigran Petrosian would have been extremely proud of WGM Xu.

Rounding up the list of prize-winners include IM Mas Hafizulhelmi, FM Nicholas Chan and FM Lim Yee Weng for finishing as the top 3 Malaysians. Le Quang Liem of Vietnam came out tops as the Best Under-16 player in the tournament while Fong Yip Siang of Malaysia finished as the Best Under-12 with 4.5 points.

Talented and matured, Fong Yip Siang

A Chess player’s Tour… with Atanu Lahiri!

At the conclusion of the tournament, IM Atanu – the 1998 Commonwealth Champion –was really excited about going around exploring Kuala Lumpur. Having just gone through a rather disappointing tournament, IM Atanu clearly wanted to find some peace away from the chessboard. Over the 6 days that he has been here in Malaysia, he has been hearing stories of all the interesting places around KL.

He asked me for a favor to be his tour guide for half-a-day, and of course, I duly obliged! He has just bought a map of KL from the bookstore and asked me how best it is to spend the evening in the city. To answer this, it hinges a lot on your interests and personality. If you are the ‘shopper-type’ (just like the Japanese and the Middle Eastern tourists), you can just shop, and shop, and shop till you drop.

High quality and great selection at affordable prices.

Japanese tourists love KL for being a shopping paradise…

…and, the Middle Eastern too comes to KL to shop!

If you are a food lover, then you will be spoilt for choice in KL. From roadside stalls in Jalan Alor and ‘mamak’ styled restaurants all the way to the fine dining European offerings at Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL has it all! Also, KL’s rich history of being a British colony in the past will whet the appetite of those culturally inspired tourists.

"Think Malaysia … think food paradise…"

'Mamak' styled cooking in an open-air setting.

Roadside stalls – serves the best food, in a most authentic way!

For the party animals, however, KL is bursting with nightlife. With offerings ranging from jazz bars to Irish pubs, Asian karaoke, nightclubs, discos, dance clubs, ‘underground’ rock performances, cafes as well as pool and snooker clubs, there are no shortage of watering holes around town.

Orange Club – along Jalan Kia Peng

I asked IM Atanu what sort of a ‘tour’ is he after. Does he want to shop? Or, would he want to go about a culinary exploration? Or, is he simply looking forward to sightseeing KL only? Well, you see, IM Atanu is a simple man. A man so simple – more at ease with nature and its people – that he is not too impressed with the glitz and glamour that life offers.

Therefore, drinking and partying his evening away is definitely the last thing on his mind. Also, being a moderate eater (and, a vegetarian, of course!), culinary discovery is also not on top of his list. So, Atanu decides to just use the evening available to him to go sightseeing around KL. We sat down for lunch and explored the map together and I earmarked the location of the various interesting must-sees in KL. He expressed his desire to go and see the tallest twin towers in the world.

Incidentally, IM Atanu had also heard of the Kinokuniya bookstore that offers the most extensive collection of chess books on sale in Kuala Lumpur, and he was really eager to go there and check the place out. At the same time, he also wants to visit the KL Tower and the Central Market. Sightseeing aside, IM Atanu also wants to do some shopping. He wants to bring back home souvenirs as well as some traditional Malaysian delicacies for his family and friends in India. This, I informed him, can be done at Central Market.

With the itinerary decided, we set out on the ‘A Chess player’s Tour’. Fashioned after Anthony Bourdain’s ‘A Cook’s Tour’, I aimed to give Atanu the best possible introduction to Malaysia. So, instead of going about the city of KL by car, we decided on utilizing the Putra Light Rail Transit systems. It is efficient, fast and most importantly, it is definitely the best way to get to know the Malaysian people and its wonderful culture.

Putra Light Rail Transit route map – first stop, KLCC station.

Joining us throughout the journey is former Malaysian national player, Choo Min Wang. Putting three crazy chess players together in a train only mean one thing – a hectic conversation on our beloved game. Sharing stories, anecdotes, experiences and opinions about his involvement in chess development in Nepal, IM Atanu glowed in joy.

IM Atanu, dwarfed by the height of the Petronas Twin Towers

Being not much of a fan of technology, IM Atanu opined that his ‘head-top’ (which is a term he used to describe his brain) is definitely far superior to the laptop and computer database! What a big statement from the diminutive IM Atanu. I bet Deep Blue must be angry to hear this!

Our first stop is the Kinokuniya bookstore in Suria KLCC, which boasts of having the best selection of chess, books in KL. IM Atanu found a book to his liking and bought the Batsford book entitled ‘Play 1. d4!’. After that, we toured the surroundings of the Petronas Twin Tower before heading to the office of Bangladesh Airways.

We headed back to the Putra Light Rail Transit and our next stop is the Central Market. We spent some time there going through the various outlets selling nice Malaysian handicraft and food items. It’s 4.00 pm now and I informed Atanu that I may have to head back soon to Mid Valley City to attend the closing ceremony of the 1st Dato Arthur Tan Malaysian Open 2004.

Before we parted ways, he insisted on buying me a drink. I asked him what would he want to drink and he immediately blurted out ‘cendol’. ‘Cendol’ is an authentic Malaysian dessert served cold in a bowl. Besides ‘cendol’, IM Atanu had also tried other delicacies such as ‘ais kacang’ and ‘pulut hitam’. What a surprise, I said! In just over 6 days and IM Atanu has already developed a sweet tooth for Malaysian dessert. We exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch, before I left to go back to Mid Valley City at around 4.40 pm.

Prize-giving and closing ceremony

The closing ceremony started sharp at 5.00 pm. Present at the closing ceremony, besides Dato’ Tan Chin Nam, ex-FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and Ignatius Leong, is GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili of Georgia. Also present at the closing ceremony were family members of Dato’ Tan as well as various VIPs of the local business community.

Sitting together in one row of chairs are the Chinese players. The Chinese entourage is by far, the most excited lot during the closing ceremony. Even before the ceremony proper began, one could sense the happiness deep down. Wearing a broad smile on their faces, they took lots of photos with their cameras and joked, laughed and giggled their hearts out. Far from being camera-shy, the Chinese lasses took turns to pose for photographs.

Third place finish: GM Dao Thien Hai of Vietnam

They were definitely in a most relaxed mood. A far cry, indeed, from the focused and determined looks on their faces throughout the tournament. Known for being a most disciplined lot, they were absolutely one hundred percent focused throughout the 6-day battle. Discipline certainly breeds success! Ladies, throughout the world, it’s time to learn from these Chinese women!

The ceremony proper began with the speech by Hamid Majid, who spoke at length about the late Dato’ Arthur Tan, whom he knew personally. A great builder who had been involved in such massive projects as the Como Hotel in Melbourne and the Sierramas gated community development here in Kuala Lumpur, the late Dato’ Arthur was also an avid chess player himself since his youth.

Next on the line to speak is Dato’ Tan Chin Nam. Dato’ Tan spoke at length about his commitment to this event for at least another four years. Underlying his aim to raise the standards of Malaysian chess players, he mentioned that the total prize money would increase in each edition, for the next four years. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it? Florencio Campomanes and Ignatius Leong spoke briefly after that, before the prize-giving ceremony began and the cameras started clicking.

Indonesian players: Denny Juswanto and Dede Lioe.

In a 111 player tournament, the final standings in the tournament (top 20 only):
  1. GM Ni Hua (China) 8.5 points
  2. GM Ian Rogers (Australia) 8.0 points
  3. GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam) 8.0 points
  4. GM Yu Shaoteng (China) 8.0 points
  5. IM Susanto Megaranto (Indonesia) 8.0 points
  6. IM Dede Lioe (Indonesia) 8.0 points
  7. GM Rogelio Antonio (Philippines) 7.5 points
  8. WGM Xu Yuhua (China) 7.5 points
  9. GM Alexei Barsov (Uzbekistan) 7.5 points
  10. IM Nelson Mariano (Philippines) 7.5 points
  11. FM Irwanto Sadikin (Indonesia) 7.5 points
  12. IM Mas Hafizulhelmi (Malaysia) 7.5 points
  13. Tirta Chandra Purnama (Indonesia) 7.5 points
  14. GM Nguyen Anh Dung (Vietnam) 7.0 points
  15. Zhang, Jilin (China) 7.0 points
  16. IM Gokhale Chandrashekhar (India) 7.0 points
  17. FM Nicholas Chan (Malaysia) 7.0 points
  18. FM Lim Yee Weng (Malaysia) 7.0 points
  19. WGM Wang Yu (China) 7.0 points
  20. Rolando Yutuc (Philippines) 7.0 points 


August 31st, 2004. Malaysia had just reached its 47th year of existence.

After 47 years of its independence, it is surprising to still hear about instances of people asking whether Malaysians still live on trees and caves. Even worse, I have also heard of instances of people mistaking Malaysia as being located in the African continent. It was because of this that I decide to take it upon my own hands to introduce Malaysia to the world. Armed with this determination, I approached Frederic Friedel with the idea of doing these three articles on the Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2004. I thank you, Frederic, for giving me this opportunity.

Ever since the first article about 3 weeks ago, positive responses have been flowing in. From Tomas Sifuentes in Mexico to Jamshid Begmatov in Uzbekistan and fellow Malaysians Chew Soon-Keong (who knew the late Dato’ Arthur personally) and Eric Foo, it is indeed pleasing to hear that readers of Chessbase are enjoying the coverage. I am more determined than ever to raise the bar and do an even better job next year. I thank Frederic and his team at Chessbase for making this possible! Till we meet again next year, adios!

<img data-cke-saved-src="/portals/4/files/images2/2004/edwinlam01.jpg" src="/portals/4/files/images2/2004/edwinlam01.jpg" style="float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 5px; width=" 150"="" height="180">The author - Edwin 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 Cafe (PDF).

His articles for ChessBase include Najdorf syndrome and the secret of the Filipinos and Malaysia - Truly Asia

Edwin Lam Choong Wai is a Malaysian chess player and author. He was previously attached to Procter & Gamble doing local, regional and global marketing roles, before joining Pfizer, Essilor and Yeo’s in both Malaysia and Singapore. He had also previously been attached to The Purpose Group, a creative and digital marketing agency in Ho Chi Minh City. He is now based in Malaysia having started an education venture known as My SKOLA+ (http://myskolaplus.com) since end-2017.


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