9th Penang International Open: Lu a-bui register?

by Edwin Lam
10/21/2017 – Lu is the Penang Hokkien slang for “You”, and A-bui is the equivalent for the English phrase “have not yet”. Hence, the headline above stands for: “Have you not registered yet?” If you haven't, here is your chance to play in the forthcoming Penang Heritage City International Chess Open 2017 that will take place in December at the World Heritage site in Malaysia.

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Largest chess event in a World Heritage site

A total prize money worth MYR 36,000 is up for grabs in both the Open and Challenger sections of this tournament. The time control in this event is 90 minutes plus 30 seconds of increment per move for each player.

Additionally, there are prizes to be won in two adjacent tournaments. There is the Penang Chess Festival Blitz 2017 event happening on the 7th of December with MYR 4,150 of total prize money up for grabs. On the 9th and 10th of December, the 2017 Wah Seong Penang Chess League Team Tournament is scheduled to take place. Sponsored by Wah Seong Corporation Berhad, this team tournament is to be played over 8 rounds using the time control of 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move for each player. It boasts a total prize money of MYR 10,500 as well as category medal prizes.

All three events will take place in the week-long Penang Chess Festival 2017, scheduled December 4th-10th.

The FIDE-rated Penang Heritage City International Chess Open 2017 in the island-state is back for the 9th time this year. It is organized by the Penang Chess Association (PCA). Held annually since the year 2008, this event has been the initiative of the immediate past President of PCA, Mr. Lee Ewe Ghee. Mr. Lee served as the President of the PCA from the year 2008 to 2017.

Mr. Lee Ewe Gee, the immediate past President of Penang Chess Association | Photo: Penang Chess Association

Just like last year, this tournament will be held at the Red Rock Hotel, right at the heart of the state capital of Penang, Georgetown. Georgetown is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its old streets’ charm, historical buildings, “clan jetties”, age-old cultural performances as well as its eclectic array of street food. The confluence of Malay, Chinese, Indian and Acehnese cultures are here in Georgetown as you visit the Penang Islamic Museum, Khoo Kongsi, Water Villages and Little India.

The delightful mix of sweets are quite a sight at Little India | Photo: Edwin Lam

Kapitan Keling Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in George Town, built in 1801

Given the size and stature of this tournament, with its total participants numbering around 250 players annually coming from at least 10 different countries in the past years, it can indeed lay claim to be the largest, international FIDE-rated chess event on a UNESCO World Heritage site!

Penang’s world-famous street food. Cheap and cheerful eats! | Photo: Edwin Lam

If you have not visited Penang before, this might be the time for you to finally take the ideal “chess vacation”. Come and explore a new city, while at the same time play some chess throughout all 3 events of the chess festival.

Click here for details of the tournament, including the prize list for the Top 20 players in the Open and Top 12 players in the Challenger sections. Special prizes will also go to the best female and veteran players. Kids in the Challengers’ section will be getting medals.


GM Villamayor Buenaventur | Photo: Penang Chess Association

GM Gerhard Schebler | Photo: Penang Chess Association

As of the 15th of October, 198 players from 19 different countries (i.e. Australia, China, England, Germany, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, USA, Uzbekistan and Vietnam) have registered for both the Open and Challengers’ sections of the Penang Heritage City International Chess Open 2017. Sign-ups include GMs Villamayor Buenaventura, Vahidov Tair and Gerhard Schebler.

In the 2016 edition, 7 GMs, 9 IMs and a handful of FMs participated in the Open section of the tournament. The tournament afforded excellent opportunities for up-and-coming chess players to cross swords with the participating GMs and IMs. And, possibly gain ELO points, as Malaysian junior Dawson Tan Soon Wei would testify after his draw against GM Amirreza Pourramezanali from last year’s tournament:

[Event "8th Penang Heritage City International "] [Site "Red Rock Hotel, Penang, Malay"] [Date "2016.12.05"] [Round "1.42"] [White "Pourramezanali, Amirreza"] [Black "Tan, Soon Wei Dawson"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B22"] [WhiteElo "2525"] [BlackElo "1889"] [PlyCount "166"] [EventDate "2016.12.05"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "MAS"] 1. e4 c5 2. c3 d5 3. exd5 Qxd5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Na3 e6 6. Nf3 a6 7. Nc4 Nbd7 8. Be2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Nfe5 Nxe5 11. dxe5 Qxd1 12. Rxd1 Nd5 13. Bf3 Rd8 14. Bxd5 exd5 15. Nb6 Rb8 16. Nxd5 Kf8 17. Be3 b6 18. a4 a5 19. Rd2 Be6 20. c4 f5 21. Rad1 Kf7 22. b3 h6 23. f4 Rd7 24. Kf2 Rg8 25. Rd3 Bd8 26. Nc3 Rxd3 27. Rxd3 Be7 28. Nd5 Bd8 29. Nc3 Be7 30. Nb5 Rd8 31. Rxd8 Bxd8 32. Kf3 Bd7 33. Nc3 g5 34. h3 Ke6 35. g3 Be8 36. Bd2 Bh5+ 37. Ke3 g4 38. hxg4 Bxg4 39. Be1 h5 40. Bf2 Kd7 41. Kd2 Ke6 42. Nd5 Bf3 43. Ne3 Bg4 44. Kc3 Bf3 45. Be1 Bg4 46. Kb2 Bf3 47. Bc3 Be4 48. Kc1 Bf3 49. Nc2 Be7 50. Ne1 Be4 51. Kd2 Bd8 52. Nd3 Bxd3 53. Kxd3 Be7 54. Be1 Bd8 55. Bf2 Be7 56. Be3 Bf8 57. Bg1 Be7 58. Bf2 Bf8 59. Kc2 Be7 60. Be3 Bf8 61. b4 axb4 62. Kb3 Kd7 63. a5 bxa5 64. Ka4 Kc6 65. Kxa5 Be7 66. Bc1 Bd8+ 67. Ka6 Bb6 68. Bb2 Bc7 69. Ka7 Bd8 70. Ka6 h4 71. gxh4 Bxh4 72. e6 Kd6 73. Kb5 Bf2 74. Be5+ Kxe6 75. Ka4 Kf7 76. Kb3 Kg6 77. Kc2 Kh5 78. Bb8 Kg4 79. Bd6 Kf3 80. Kb3 Bd4 81. Kc2 Be3 82. Kb3 Bxf4 83. Bxc5 Bd2 1/2-1/2

Sicilian Defense with 2.c3 - Alapin Variation

Sergei Tiviakov started playing the line 1.e4 c5 2.c3 in the Sicilian Defence as White in 1988. Since then, he has employed it in more than 100 games, including a yearlong period when he I managed to win twelve 2.c3-games in a row. White tries to occupy the centre with a second pawn, and Black must know his stuff very well in order to be able to equalize. And this is only possible with 2...Nf6 – all other lines give the first player a small edge everywhere. Especially against stronger opponents, 2.c3 is an excellent weapon.

Last call, before the ship sails!

The deadline to register for the tournament is drawing near. As the calendar approaches 20th November, there will likely be a surge of sign-ups and you might not want to wait till the last minute to do so because you might just miss the boat as the organizer has set a limit of only accepting the first 350 participants across both its Open and Challengers’ sections. To sign up now click here.

Come to Penang for a relaxed “chess vacation” this December! | Photo: Edwin Lam


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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