Indian Ocean Tsunami, Brunei Open

by ChessBase
1/8/2005 – On December 26 a very strong earthquake occurred, 100 miles west of Sumatra. It spawned a Tsunami, a tidal wave, which hit the coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, taking the lives of at least 175,000 people. Here's a letter from the organisers of the Brunei Open and our special Tsunami report.

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Before we come to the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster we would like to pass on a letter we received from the Brunei Chess Federation:

Dear Chess Friends,

The human tragedy and economic and environmental devastation brought about by Sunday 26th December's earthquake and the ensuing Tsunamis affecting our beloved South East Asian Nations are noted with the deepest regret. Our sympathies go to the grieving families of the victims, and our thoughts and prayers go to the families whose homes and livelihoods have been affected by this disaster.

Brunei Darussalam, a tiny nation in the North Eastern part of Borneo in South East Asia, has been blessed and not been affected by the tragedy.

This email is written to reassure all prospective chess players who intended to visit Brunei Darussalam that the Brunei Open chess tournament will proceed as planned on the 14th Jan 2005.

Further information and registration on the Brunei Open can be obtained from our website (below).

With Best Regards
Leong Voon Choon
Secretary General of Brunei Chess Federation

BRUNEI OPEN Chess Championship 2005

  • Confirmed players: GM Antonio Rogelio (Philippines), GM Nelson Mariano (Philippines), GM Dao Thien Hai (Vietnam), Nguyen Anh Dung (Vietnam), IM Nasib Ginting (Indonesia), GM Fominyh Alexander (Russia), WGM Anya S. Corke (Hong Kong), GM Nguyen Anh Dung (Vietnam).

  • Venue: Orchid Garden Hotel, Bandar Seri Begawan, Address: Lot 31954, Kg Anggerek Desa. BSB, BB3713 Negara Brunei Darussalam. Tel: +6732335544 Fax: +6732335444 Email:

  • Official web site (info and registration)


In the 15-17th centuries the influence of the Sultanate of Brunei extended over the coastal areas of northwest Borneo and the southern Philippines. In 1888, Brunei became a British protectorate; independence was achieved in 1984. Brunei benefits from extensive petroleum and natural gas fields, the source of one of the highest per capita GDPs in the developing world.

The Boxing Day Tsunami did not affect Brunei, which was shielded from its effects by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia [BBC flash animation here].

The Indian Ocean Tsunami

Daniel Wihlborg of Helsingborg, Sweden wrote us: "I'm wondering why ChessBase hasn't published a single article about the terrible Tsunami disaster in the Southeast Asian region, where 150,000 lives were wiped out. Companies (and nations) all over the world, no matter what business they are involved in, have donated money and expressed their grief. But you guys continue to write chess stuff during this tragedy. This is a disaster, the worst in 100 years, and many of your readers have relatives or friends that know people that were there. I think you should reconsider and show some compassion despite the fact that it's not 'Chess news'."

We do follow these activities closely, and have contacted many friends in the devastated region. Vishy Anand, for instance, hails from Chennai (formerly Madras) and was in fact on a holiday in his hometown at the time the Tsunami struck the southeast coast of India. He told us that he was asleep at the time, and that, living on higher grounds, there had been no water directly outside his house. "I was woken by people running," he said, "but initially did not notice anything else."

This was what the beach there looked like at the time – strong waves, but lots of fun.

This brought back poignant memories of a holiday we spent in the seaside resort of Mahabalipuram, south of Madras, in the early 90s. Vishy had put us up in Fisherman's Cove, one of the loveliest beachside resorts.

Fisherman's Cove took a relatively light hit – with three known casualties. Elsewhere the devastation was apocalyptic. It was caused by an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale, the fourth largest recorded since 1900. The others also spawned mega-tsunamis, but none were as devastating as the Indian Ocean Tsunami of December 26, 2004.

Click to view full animation

The hypocentre was some 160 km west of Sumatra, on the extreme western end of the "Ring of Fire", an earthquake belt that accounts for 81% of the world's largest earthquakes. It occurred at a depth of 30 km below sea level and was felt in Bangladesh, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and the Maldives. The earthquake triggered massive tsunamis that struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean, the deadliest tsunamis by far in all of recorded history. The total energy of the tsunami waves was about five megatons of TNT (20 petajoules).

The main tsunami consisted of two wavefronts spaced 500 to 800 kilometres apart. They reached a maximum height of 50 centimetres in the open ocean, only achieving their full devastating height when entering the shallow waters of the coast. By comparison, wind-driven waves typically reach 10 metres. However, these waves only involve water close to the ocean surface. Tsunami waves reach a depth of 4000 metres or more, and although they barely ripple the surface, they speed through the water as fast as jet airliners.

A village near the coast of Sumatra after the Tsunami. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Philip A. McDaniel

The death toll from the earthquake, the tsunamis and the resultant floods totals over 175,000 people, with tens of thousands reported missing, and over a million left homeless. Indonesia was hit hardest, with 100,000 confirmed deaths, followed by Sri Lanka (46,000), India (10,000) and Thailand (5000).

The only thing one can do at the moment to alleviate the suffering of the affected people is to donate money to the relief efforts. The governments of different nations have pledged large sums, with the leaders being Australia ($815 million), Germany ($680m), Japan ($500m), USA ($350m), Norway ($182m). The total sum pledged is over five billion, although past experience has shown that not all of this will actually be paid out.


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