GM Czebe Attila wins First International Open in Melaka

by ChessBase
5/2/2012 – Prizes galore were given away at the multi-event chess festival in the quaint Malaysian city, a product of Islamic, Dutch, Portuguese and British influences through the ages. A look at the first emergence of international chess in a place that’s keen to put itself on the global chess map. Where it would be a colorful jewel of tropical beauty, as you can see in WGM Kruttika Nadig's big illustrated report.

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GM Czebe Attila wins First International Open in historical city of Melaka

By WGM Kruttika Nadig – pictures by Kruttika Nadig and Najib Abdul Wahab

The Historical Melaka Chess Festival took place at the Hang Tuah World Heritage Hotel in Melaka, Malaysia from 21-30 April, 2012. This was the first-ever international chess tournament held here and commemorated 750 years since the foundation of Melaka, better known to westerners as Malacca (sharing its name with the adjoining strait separating the country from Indonesia).

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Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site dripping with history, culture and gigantic malls, the city provided an interesting environment for players from different nationalities to come together and play chess. Malaysians know how to sparkle all right. One of the most energetic dance troupes I have seen carried the opening ceremony on its shoulders, giving, as it seemed, a message to the chess world: we are arriving on the scene with a bang! Here are some pictures from the colorful opening ceremony:

Above the VIP table with Dato Meor Hashimi, Ignatius Leong (Sec Gen Fide), Dati Seri Mohd Ali (Melaka Chief Minister), TYT Tun Mohd Khalil (Governor), Tan Sri Ramli (President MCF), Dato Gan (Festival Chairman), En Zainal Abu (Mayor Melaka City)

GMs Romero Holmes, Murtas Kazhgaleyev, Anton Filippov, Alexander Fominyh

FM Sokhib Djuraev, GMs Marat Dzhumaev, Saidali Iuldachev, Taher Vakhidov, IM Jahongir Vakhidov

Tournament director Najib Abdul Wahab with the son of the MCF President

The first part of the festival featured a nine-round rapid with an attractive winner’s booty of US $3,500 tempting certain grandmasters to travel from central Asia for just the two days. Najib Abdul Wahab, the tournament director, mentioned to me that he had expected more titled players to come here after playing in Bangkok, but perhaps the event was not advertised well enough?

Rapid event winner GM Richard Bitoon (PHI)

Among the two classical events, the International Open and Challenger, the former offered a first prize of approximately US $3,300 and was won by GM Czebe Attila of Hungary, who picked up the title with a round to spare and finished on 7.5/9, one and a half points ahead of the rest of the pack.

Winner GM Attila Czebe poses with his trophy and medal

Worth mentioning is the performance of 13-year-old Yeoh Li Tian (MAS), rated 2204,
who tied for second place with 6.0/9 and is a talent to watch

The tournament had double rounds on two days, a common flaw in Asian tournaments, but the convenient location of the venue and hotel made it easy to walk around and get a sense of the place.

I particularly enjoyed going up the revolving Taming Sari glass tower which affords diverse views of the city’s coastline, architecture and river, and is a nice place to zone out after a tiring game.

Pirates in the straits? Nope, just an enormous landborne ship crawling with tourists

The Holiday Inn hotel standing tall against the sea

Locals at one of the spacious courtyard cafes outside Dataran Pahlawan megamall

It’s the little details that give a place character!

Bedecked rickshaws offering joyrides at exorbitant prices… haggling is a must!

The Night Walk Market is another place to unwind and even pick up souvenirs.
These guys were making customised table art with metal wire and beads.

The organiser’s plans to arrange an “amphibian” bus sightseeing tour on the free day failed to materialise for unknown reasons, most likely due to the cost or for lack of required numbers. A suggested improvement would be to make this tour free as is done for many events around the world. Nevertheless I am intrigued by this amphibian concept of riding a bus into water and look forward to it for next year, as the Chief Minister of Melaka hinted that his office may finance a 2013 edition of the tournament as well.

To be honest, I went expecting a nondescript town smattered with a handful of museums but I received a pleasant surprise. Apart from the good playing conditions there were also ample medals and cash prizes reserved for age groups, local players and female players which left most people feeling happy. Melaka is definitely a place worth visiting for both chess and exposure, especially if you can combine the festival with other events happening in that part of the world.

Here in closing are some pictures of players who are not so well known on the chess news pages:

IM Oliver Dimakiling (PHI)

IM K. Rathnakaran (IND)

Aufa Nabila Jaffri (MAS)

IM Jahongir Vakhidov (UZB)

Yuranda Inawan (INA)

GMs Czebe Attila (left) and Adam Horvath (right) playing friendly games with local youngsters

Your reporter in Maleka in one of the beautiful rickshaws

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