5th Dato’ Arthur Tan Open – Malaysia, truly Asia

by ChessBase
6/30/2008 – It’s almost July and in about a month and a half Mid Valley City in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will see the arrival of grandmasters, IMs, players, enthusiasts and fans from around the world for the 5th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open. With a $24,000 prize fund it will be the richest ever edition in the series. Participants can relax and sight-see in the beautiful country. Register now.

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Mid Valley City invites the World to the $24,000
5th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open

By Edwin Lam Choong Wai

Played with the time control of 90 minutes + 30 seconds increment, the FIDE-rated the 5th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open chess tournament will be the richest ever edition in the series, with a total prize money of US $24,000 (prizes for the top 20 finishers in the tournament, besides other special prizes for the top five Best Malaysian players as well as special prizes for the best female, junior and veteran).

Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur

Back in 2004, chess philanthropist Dato’ Tan Chin Nam had pledged his financial commitments to this annual tournament for at least five years. Even at the start the tournament’s total prize money made it the richest event in the region. The prize money had gone up each year and it had attracted players of considerable strength from around the world, thus making it the strongest editions of tournament ever held in Malaysia.

Last year witnessed the highest number of country representations since the first edition started in the year 2004. There were participants from 15 different nations – including eleven Asia-Pacific and three European nations. Come 17th August 2008, many of these chess gladiators will again return to Mid Valley City to battle it out to be the Champion of the 5th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open.

GM Ni Hua was the inaugural champion in 2004, while the untitled Wang Hao romped his way to victory in the following year. Vietnamese GM Dao Thien Hai fought his way to the top in 2006, but the Chinese empire struck back last year with a dominant performance that resulted in victory by Li Chao.

Li Chao, Champion of the 4th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open 2007, receiving his challenge trophy from the Organizing Chairman, Dato’ Tan Chin Nam

As the defending champion, GM Li Chao’s in for a rough road ahead. As some used to say, defending a title is even harder than winning it the first time. In the short history of the tournament there had never been any multiple-time champion. Going by this trend, will we see a new champion this year? Or, will GM Li Chao – who recently finished fourth on tie-break in the Dubai Open and won the 2nd Philippines International Open – break the trend to retain his title this year?

While the Chinese dragons and phoenixes have dominated this event in the past, one cannot assume that history will easily repeat itself, given the presence of the fighting Pinoys, the never-say-die Vietnamese, the talented Indians and, sometimes, unrated Indonesians. And there are also the Wallabies and Kiwis from Down Under.

Players may fight to the death in every round of the tournament. But, once they are away from the chessboard, new friendships are formed between the victors and the losers in the game. Each year, the IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open is the venue for chess friends to renew ties.

Kiwi, Paul Spiller

In fact, many participants have returned year after year to the tournament! One of the many alumnae is Paul Spiller from New Zealand. He first participated in the IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open two years ago. In that year he even managed to go squeeze in a visit to Batu Caves during the tournament’s rest day. “We climbed up the stairs and it was quite a lot of fun,” recalled Paul. Savoring his taste buds with the local delicacies, this is what he’s got to say, “I tried many varieties of Malaysian food up at the food halls of Mid Valley Megamall on the third floor.” He is planning to come back and is toying with the idea of staying a few extra days after the tournament to go on a trip to Penang.

13-year-old, Bryan T.H. Lee of Hong Kong

 Another familiar face in the tournament is Hong Kong’s Bryan T.H. Lee. Always accompanied by his mother, this 13-year-old boy picked up the game four or five years ago and found out about this tournament from the ChessBase website. Calling it a healthy game, Bryan’s mother is most supportive of the lad’s interest. Chess stuff aside, they have also done the tourism part of the trip by visiting all the interesting places around Kuala Lumpur in the past years.

For those serious chess players in this region, the opportunity to compete in a strong, international-level tournament can be a precious experience. “The opportunity for strong tournaments in Hong Kong is limited,” opined Stephen Masters when met at the 4th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open in 2007.

Just like many other chess parents, Stephen is always actively seeking out for competitions overseas for his son, Christopher. This tournament presented itself to be a well-organized tournament within the region. “The venue and hotel is a very good package, as a whole. Malaysia is also a nice holiday destination. It is friendly and safe when compared to other countries in this region,” added Stephen.

Another returning alumna is the Russian gentleman, Viacheslav Dotsenko. Dotsenko hails from Russia and he has made three previous trips here to Mid Valley City. He had stopped playing chess in 1991 during his fourth year of university, when the USSR collapsed and scholarships dried up. His old rating then was 2255. He made his comeback to chess competition in the IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open in 2005.

Viacheslav Dotsenko from Russia

What made him come back? “Well, I read the ChessBase report with the picture of the Petronas Twin Towers and I saw GM Barsov’s name in the first edition of the tournament. I checked on the FIDE website and found that my old rating was not valid anymore. As I had been inactive, they were happy to allow me to play as an unrated player and I was happy with that. So, I decided to come to Mid Valley City,” he recalled.

He has certainly caught the chess bug since then and is quite sure of returning this year. “Perfect organization! I like the tournament hall,” he exclaimed.

Just like Dotsenko, many of the returning participants are happy with the venue arrangements at Mid Valley City. With its convenient location at the intersection of two railway lines and five regional road systems, Mid Valley City offers guests a vibrant alternative to Kuala Lumpur’s city center. Covering an area of 50 acres are retail, hospitality, dining, leisure and entertainment outlets, all combined seamlessly in one location.

Chess players looking for accommodation options during the tournament need not look far, as there are three hotels within Mid Valley City – the Cititel Hotel, the Boulevard Hotel and the recently opened, 440-room five-star Gardens Hotel. Besides the hotels, there is another five-star all-suite Gardens Residence.

Guests and participants at the IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open are also not short on options should they need to take up some retail therapy in between rounds this August. There is the Mid Valley Megamall, which officially opened in November 1999, as well as the recently opened five-and-a-half level Gardens Mall.

The recently opened Gardens Mall in Mid Valley City

There are just so many good reasons to come and play in this tournament. We are a muhibbah nation that serves up a melting pot of culture, food and tradition. We’ve got warm and sunny weather all year round. We have so many tourists’ attractions in and around Kuala Lumpur – i.e. islands and beaches, historical monuments, nature’s reserves and many more.

Tranquil, tropical beaches in Malaysia

Malaysia is a perfect place to relax and unwind

Malaysia is a melting pot of culture and music

Mid Valley City would like to wish “selamat datang" to welcome the world to the 5th IGB Dato’ Arthur Tan Malaysia Open. The first 20 GMs to register for the tournament will be provided accommodations on a twin-sharing basis. Free entrances to the tournament are accorded to GMs, IMs, WGMs, WIMs and players rated above 2500 FIDE in the July 2008 Rating List. As for the other participants, tournament entry fees range between US $50 and US $200.

For more information and to register for the event, please contact IA Hamid Majid either via phone (603-4021-9576 / 6019-315-8098), fax (603-4024-4337) or email (aham@pc.jaring.my).

About the author

Working full-time as a Public Affairs Manager (Gillette - ASEAN, SK-II, Whisper and P&G Beauty) at Procter & Gamble, Edwin Lam is highly passionate about the game of chess. Having grown up with an artistic feel of life, he somehow went about doing a degree in Commerce at Monash University’s Clayton campus, Melbourne. As the only child in the family, he had to follow his heart, not his head, and returned home to Malaysia in 2003. Realizing something was missing in life, he started to look for employment opportunities in the advertising industry.

As a lifestyle author, his articles have been published in Plan B, KLUE and J-Trend. On chess, he has written for a list of international publications including Chess Asia, Chess Kids, Australasian Chess, Chess Mate magazine (India) as well as Black & White (India). One of his most well known articles is the nice profile he wrote about GM Yasser Seirawan that appeared in the US-based ChessCafe.com. He also contributes regularly to the world’s top chess news site, Chessbase.com. Besides being a chess columnist, he is also currently coaching the school team of his alma mater, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Secondary School, Klang. Aside from chess, he enjoys motor racing, photography and traveling.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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