Goh Weiming: Ready for war over the board

8/14/2004 – Some people think that chess players in the Internet are just statistics, nicknames, fluctuating rating, chatters. Well, we have news for you! They do have their lives and their formidable experiences. Here's the story of "KGWM", a Playchess.com member who plays for Singapore and trains in the jungles of Brunei.

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Ready for War over the Board!

By Olimpiu Urcan

For the first time I saw Goh Weiming Kevin, a.k.a. “KGWM” on Playchess.com, last year in a training room, where GM Viktor Varavin was showing him a spectacular game he played with lots of tactical fireworks. I observed the smile with which Weiming was accompanying every little tactical motif. Suddenly the Russian GM asked the audience to find the correct continuation. Weiming’s smile disappeared, but reappeared a couple of minutes later, even more openly once he had discovered the outstanding move.

Goh Weiming (right) to a life and death struggle against GM B. Villamajor at SEA Games 2003 in Vietnam

Later I saw Goh Weiming playing over the board. Explosive style of relishing tactics all over the place, and a mammoth power of concentration. Finally, we played some blitz games together, and I got into serious trouble, not the least due to his remarkable speed. Here they are – depth of calculation, 100% focus into the game and swiftness – Weiming’s chess qualities at a first glance. They are the qualities of any serious chess player of the 21st century. FM Goh Weiming is well adapted to the new type of chess players which aroused at horizon: well connected to flows of chess information, Internet active player as a constant work out, realistic, rapid and spontaneous. He is a real danger on Playchess.com, trading bullet blows with GMs. The next thing they ask him “Who are you?!”

Let’s see who FM Goh Weiming, a.k.a. “KGWM”, is when he logs on to playchess.com. Briefly put, National Champion of Singapore at rapid chess (2001), winner of ASEAN age groups, National Blitz Champion and SEA Games Bronze medalist with 3,5 out of 4 games on the last board (2003), Co-National Champion of Singapore (2004) after the breath-taking sudden-death finish. FM Goh Weiming, aged 21, stays on the regional scene with clear prospects for a shiny chess career.

Q & A with “KGWM”

Olimpiu Urcan: How did it happen that you picked up chess as a habit?

Goh Weiming: I picked up the game in Primary 4. I remembered I came across chess purely by chance. I was at a friend’s place playing computer games and suddenly he brought out a chess set and demanded a game with me. I did not know the game then, but I told him that yes, I can play this game, just that I forgot how to move the pieces! Before long I ended up at my school’s chess club and I went to school in the morning to play as my classes were in the afternoon.

O. U.: There was this absurd parental fear: if you get too much into chess you'll start to forget about Physics, Geometry, English language or History. Thus, many parents chose to cut off any serious chess habit. [My own mother threw away my valuable books written by Kotov...]. Did your parents support you in adopting chess?

Weiming: Well, my results were pretty good from primary school, so they were all right with it. But in secondary 1 and 2 my results went downhill at an alarming rate and they started nagging me about playing too much. But they understood my passion for chess, and not once did they forbid me to join any particular competition. I guess my parents felt that playing chess can keep me occupied from stuff they didn’t approve. They also have the impression that all chess players are decent enough to be friends with, and to a certain extent I guess it’s true. So to put it shortly, they are always in full support be it whether my results are good or not because I somehow made them believe that everything will turn out fine in the end!

A chess master on army training in the jungles of Brunei

O.U.: In the past two years, you have been in the National Service. How do your colleagues view your chess activities? Do they join in? I have a chess playing friend in an anonymous tank military unit. In two weeks after his arrival, a chess frenzy broke out all throughout the unit base.

Weiming: I was certainly very famous in my camp, or should I say infamous, because of the three months off I got due to the SEA games training period. My fellow colleagues gave me a hard time because of the number of outfield trainings I missed and the number of duties I avoided. It’s a wonder we are still friends now! But of course they also respect me as a National player and they gave me a nice welcome when I reported back to duties after the SEA Games. Well, all I can say is I’m just putting all my chances to good impact. After all, one has to squeeze what little they can get from the tiniest of advantages, be it in chess or in life.

Camouflaging your intentions is a principle of chess and war

O.U.: During the army camps did you had any access to playchess.com? I mean not going there for a month must be a pain. Obviously you cannot just take out your laptop in the middle of the jungle and play chess while a cobra snake is sneaking over the connection cables.

Weiming: Before March 2004 I had no internet access! Just before clearing my leave I managed to solve the problem!

The only real opponent: a dangerous Pulau Tekong wild boar

Breakfast in army training camp in the jungles

Learning to negotiate some dangerous terrain

Crossing a stream – and watching out for crocodiles

O.U.: What do you think about the future of chess? How would you assess the impact of the Internet and computers on today's chess player?

Weiming: Internet Chess certainly has a great future, and I’m confident that it can take the game to a higher level and gain even more publicity. I witnessed the recently concluded Association of Chess Professionals Internet Blitz tournaments and it was very spectacular to say the very least. With such good events, it is not hard to see future Super GM tournaments played via the Internet a few years down the road. As predicted by Polgar in one of her interviews, there can be ten players from ten different cities in a tournament with ten times the publicity. The chess world is still wondering whether the reunification plan by Seirawan is going to take place. Currently there are two World Champions and it is confusing for everyone, chess players or not. I however feel that chess at top level will not be dead as proclaimed by many (though it’s certainly harder to distinguish the best from the good). For players at lower levels, chess will certainly continue to be an enjoyable sport as we unravel the mysteries and beauty of the game.

O.U.: Thanks and wish you all the best in your chess activities!

Annotated games

The following two games have been annotated by Goh Weiming. You can replay the moves on our JavaScript board, or download the games in PGN or CBV (ChessBase and Fritz format). The latter has the advantage of displaying the graphic commentary that Weiming has used in his annotations. On this page we have used diagrams in jungle camouflage style.

The Singapore national coach, IM Jovan Petronic, said about the first game: “Goh Weiming was one of the Singapore Chess Federation team's jewels at the SEA games 2003. Having him in the rapid team gave security to all. It was unfortunate that his surprisingly, I must say, excellent playing form came only in Vietnam, not earlier, as I would have certainly nominated him for the other two competitions (individual rapid & standard) as well. His crushing victory over one of Philippine’s top GMs, Bong Villamayor, was one of the most inspiring games of the team rapid tournament, very stressful to watch!

Unfortunately, this match, offering Singapore a chance to enter the finals and fight for the gold, was lost too soon, within 10 minutes after the start of the four individual encounters. Our juniors had temporarily collapsed, after many brilliant games played and much energy lost in the previous battles. I remember, at one moment the lights in the playing hall went out, but even this brief break for GM Bong did not help against Weiming's continuous furious attack. Weiming can certainly aspire to be a future standard member of the SCF teams, both standard and rapid. His love for the game of chess is unique and guarantees his stay on the growing Singapore chess scene for many years to come”

Goh Weiming (2303) – Buenaventura (Bong) Villamayor [B06]
23rd Sea Games Team Rapid Ch (4), 08.12.2003 [Annotations by Goh Weiming and Junior Tay]

This is the Semi-Finals match of the team Rapid tournament of the 23rd Sea Games and we face possibly the strongest team in the tournament, the Philippines. They boast a first-team lineup of GM Eugenio Torre, GM Rogelio Antonio Jr, GM Buenaventura Villamayor (fondly known as Bong by those who know him) and rapid monster IM Mark Paragua. As many will know by now, we lost by a score of 3-1. Well, I certainly think we were not overawed by our formidable opponents and I reckon we will give them a run for their money again in two year's time.

1.e4 d6!? In my database of over three million games, only once had GM Bong ever played the Pirc/Modern hybrid and he wasted over an hour of my French Defence preparation! Well, at least I'm sure he is also in uncharted territory. 2.d4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.Be3 c6 5.Qd2 Nd7 6.f3 b5 7.g4 Bb7 [Mestel's 7...Rb8 or Graf's (Nenashev's) 7...Nb6 are sensible alternatives.] 8.h4 h5 9.g5 e5? Over here, Bong mixes the lines up. 9...a6 is a necessary preparatory move. For example, 10.Bh3 e6 11.Nge2 Ne7 Cobb,J-Seirawan,Y/Columbus 1977

10.d5! b4?! 10...Qb8!? 11.dxc6 (11.Bh3!?) 11...Bxc6 12.0-0-0 b4 13.Nd5 a5² but not easy to breach Black's defences. 11.dxc6 bxc3 12.Qxc3+–

12...Ne7. Bong took over 20 minutes for this move! Now I have a great time advantage of 19 minutes. I was very confident at this stage and wished I knew what was going on in the other games. Of course 12...Ne7 is lost for Black but nothing seems to work so Bong decides to give his whole house. 12...Rc8 13.cxd7+ Qxd7 14.Bh3+–

13.cxb7 Rb8 14.Ba6 0-0 15.Bxa7+– Nc5 16.Bxb8?! 16.Bxc5! dxc5 17.Qxc5 would had been a safe way to convert the point, but I was thinking, how can I not win this position? Just look what happened to me in 5 to 6 moves.

16...Qxb8 17.Bc4 Qxb7 18.0-0-0?! Risky play. 18.Ne2+–

18...Rb8 19.a3? with the idea of a future b2-b4. 19...Na4 20.Qb3 Qa7 21.Bb5 Nc5 22.Qc4 d5!

Outstanding idea! With this audacious move, Black attempts to seize the initiative by freeing up f5 for the knight. This is why Bong is a GM!

23.exd5? 23.Qe2! Ne6 24.a4 Nd4 25.Qe3! Sacrificing a piece to activate the Queenside pawns 25...Rc8 (25...Nc8 26.Ne2 Nd6 (26...Rxb5 27.axb5 Nd6 28.Kb1+–) 27.Nxd4 exd4 28.Qd3 dxe4 [28...Be5 29.exd5 Nxb5 30.axb5 Qa2 (30...Bf4+ 31.Kb1 Ra8 32.Qa3 Qb7 33.Qc5) 31.Kd2 Qxd5 32.Ke2 Rxb5 33.Kf2 Rxb2 34.Rb1+–] 29.fxe4 Nxb5 30.axb5 Be5 31.Rhf1+-; 26.Rh2 dxe4 27.fxe4 Nxb5 28.Qxa7 Nxa7 29.Rd7 Nac6 30.b4±; 23.Rxd5 Nxd5 24.exd5 Qa5 25.Qb4 Qxb5 26.Qxb5 Rxb5 27.b4 e4 (27...Nd7 28.c4 with a scary pawn mass) 28.bxc5 e3 29.Ne2 Bb2+ 30.Kd1 Rxc5 31.Nf4 Be5 32.Nd3 Rxd5 33.Ke2±

23...Nf5 with counterplay. What a transformation! GM Bong made a total mess of the position and I see threats all over the place. I was contemplating offering a draw but was afraid of my captain's (IM Petronic) reaction. My time is running down to 5 mins and Bong incredibly did not use up any time since the last diagram. Suddenly the lights went out, giving me some time to cool down and also to think about the position. OK, I was lucky here. At this point i realized we are already two goals down, so I can't take the easy way out.

24.a4! Ne3 25.Qb4! Bf8 26.Qc3 Nxd1 27.Kxd1 Nxa4 28.Bxa4 Qxa4 29.b3 Qa2? [ 29...Qa8! with multiple threats. This is a difficult move to find as Bong had very little time left at this stage.

30.Ke2 Qb1 31.Kf2 Bb4 32.Qc4! Qe1+ 33.Kg2 Qe3?! [33...Qd2+ 34.Ne2 Rd8 35.Ra1 Rxd5 with counterplay] 34.Nh3! Bc5?! [34...Be1! Cutting off the rook's access with mating ideas! 35.Rd1.

Now White is in the driver's seat! 35...Bd6 36.Qd3 Qc5 37.Nf2 Rc8 38.c4+– Ra8 39.Ne4 Ra2+ 40.Kg3 Qb4 41.Qc3 Qb6? [41...Qxc3 42.Nxc3 e4+ 43.f4+–] 42.c5 Qa6 43.Qd3! 1-0.

Click here to replay and download the game

Goh Weiming (2264) - Julio Catalino Sadorra [C18]
Hari Raya Haji Rapid Open, 02.2003 [Goh Weiming]

Julio Catalino Sadorra is an ex-Filipino Junior Champion now based in Singapore. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qc7 7.Qg4 Ne7 8.Qxg7 Rg8 9.Qxh7 cxd4 10.Kd1!? An interesting sideline that I studied a few weeks before this game. I think IM Karaklajic is the first person to play it. Of course, the main line with 10.Ne2 is good and should still lead to an advantage. 10...dxc3 11.Nf3 Nbc6 12.Ng5 Qxe5!? [12...Nxe5 13.Bf4 Qb6 14.Bxe5 Rxg5 15.Qh4 Rg8 16.Qd4 Qxd4+ 17.Bxd4 leads to a slightly better endgame for White. The text is more interesting and gives more prospects for both sides] 13.Qxf7+ Kd7 [13...Kd8? 14.Qxg8+! Nxg8 15.Nf7+ is a funny trap].

14.f4!? Actually I had forgotten my lines here. 14.f4 is a logical move to exert control over e5, always a typical motif in many lines of the French. Objectively, White should not be able to get an advantage here but it's not easy for Black to react in a rapid game. 14...Qd4+ 15.Bd3 Nd8?! Later on in another tournament, Sadorra improved with 15...Kc7! and thumped me properly. Now Sadorra goes on a mistaken strategy to win my h2 pawn. 16.Qh5 Rh8 17.Qe2 Rxh2? [17...Kc7!] 18.Re1! Again overprotecting e5. 18...Qg7 19.f5! e5. 19...Nxf5? 20.Bxf5 exf5 21.Qe8++-;
19...exf5 20.Bf4±.

20.f6! My concern is not about pawns here but rather on getting all my pieces out to exploit Black's vulnerable king position 20...Qxf6 21.Nf3! Rh8 [ 21...e4 22.Nxh2 exd3 23.Qxd3±] 22.Bg5!+– Now there is no defence. Black loses at least a piece. 22...Qg7 23.Qxe5 Rg8 24.Qxe7+ Qxe7 25.Rxe7+ Kd6 26.Re2 Ne6 27.Bf6 Bd7 28.Rb1 b6 29.Bxc3 Raf8 30.Rb4!!

Sneaky idea behind this, holding the g4 square so that the Rg8 will get trapped after Bh7. 30...Kc7 31.Bh7! Now it dawned on Sadorra why the g4 square has to be held! 31...Rxg2 32.Rxg2 Rxf3 and White won in the blitz finish. 1-0.

After the SEA Games were over, Goh Weiming returned to the military unit to complete his service. Back to jungle training again. A few months later he was provided with an internet connection in the utmost wild surroundings of Thailand mangroves and training camps. And there he was: back again on the front line on playchess.com carrying out his own war. A war against our temptations, our mistakes and sloppiness over the board, a struggle to become a better chess player day by day.

Gunpowder, intensive heat, exhaustion and fed up with military missions.
Quite a change from cozy seat in front of your computer and logging in to playchess.com in an air-conditioned room.

Since then, Weiming had mastered the art of the ‘premove’ ("no wonder I’ve been losing so many bullet games!"). Lately, on Playchess.com, he had won an Alekhine’s Defence Thematic Tournament as well as finished second to the World No 1 Bullet player GM Roland Schmaltz in a Tuesday Bullet event, ahead of GMs and IMs.

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