Juniors on the rise: The 15th Penang Heritage City International Chess Open 2023

by ChessBase
2/6/2024 – In the 15th Penang Heritage City International Chess Open 2023 that concluded on the 22nd of December 2023, the rise of teens of South East Asia was truly apparent. Besides local favourite FM Poh Yu Tian, the other regional juniors that shone during the event included 17-year-old Indonesian IM Arfan Aditya Bagus, 14-year-olds Ivan Travis Cu and Sidabutar Uriel Noah Oloan besides Uzair Shahar of Malaysia. Edwin Lam Choong Wai reports. | Photos: Penang Chess Association’s Facebook page

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Text: Edwin Lam Choong Wai

See Swee Sie, President of the Penang Chess Association (left), with the top 5 winners of the Penang International Chess Open 2023

Olè, olè… Oleg!

Before delving further about the teens, let us congratulate the Champion; IM Oleg Badmatsyrenov, for winning the event on tie-break after being tied at 7.5 out of 9 points with FM Poh Yu Tian and GM Novendra Priasmoro.

IM Oleg Badmatsyrenov, the Champion

GM Novendra, who was leading the pack after round 8, was paired with IM Aditya Bagus, in the last round. The GM, with the White pieces, essayed the solid but unambitious Caro-Kann Exchange variation with Bd3 Carlsbard structure. Black, after sacrificing a pawn, gained a lot of activity along the b-file with good central control. GM Novendra offered to trade Queens on move 14, which was accepted by Black and the game ended drawn.

GM Novendra of Indonesia

Teen IM Aditya Bagus of Indonesia

Trailing GM Novendra by 0.5 points, IM Oleg had to win his last round game in order to catch up with the GM. IM Oleg was unfortunately having Black against IM Pavel Shkapenko. IM Oleg essayed the sharp Tiger’s Modern against his ‘regular’ tournament compatriot here in the Malaysian tournament chess circuit. IM Pavel chose the line with Bishop to d5, in order to force Black to push pawn to c6. White even pushed pawn e4 to e5, to force a trade with the transfer of Knight f3 to e5.

IM Oleg first went about solving his spatial and development problems; he also resolved the headache of where to develop his d8 Queen by trading it off with her White counterpart. Black then pushed pawn to c5 and this seemed to have given White a slight material edge of a pawn – but the White c5 pawn ain’t going anywhere and it was just a matter of time before Black re-captured it. Black’s ‘modern’ Bishop’s pressure along the a1-h8 diagonal bore fruit by the capture of the White b2 pawn – which led to Black having an extra pawn. IM Oleg’s extra pawn proved decisive in picking up the full point and the Champion’s title.

The rise of the teens!

IM Oleg’s bid for the title was almost derailed in round 8 when he lost to teen, FM Poh Yu Tian. It was a Rossolimo set-up against the Sicilian by IM Oleg against the most talented Malaysian junior player but the sustained pressure applied by the teen on the queenside (half-opened b-file) against White’s backward b-pawn led to the loss of a White pawn on move 32.

Malaysia’s most promising junior, FM Poh Yu Tian

Black’s a-pawn pushed its way forward thereafter leading to panic amongst the White pieces and while IM Oleg managed to restore material equality by move 41, the teen’s Queen infiltrated White’s position with devastating effect leading to a two-pawn advantage by move 47. White resigned on move 60.

In the last round, FM Poh Yu Tian was paired with White against the experienced Bangladeshi GM Ziaur Rahman. The GM chose to essay the Pirc Defence against the teen, with White responding with the sharpest of lines in the form of the Austrian Attack. Play soon became really sharp with materials being given up for the initiative.

Experienced Bangladeshi GM, Ziaur Rahman, still managed a top 10 finish despite the last round loss

With a strong hold along the h-file as well as the strong position of his Queen in the centre, teen Poh Yu Tian held the trumps almost throughout the game – except for the one blip on move 49. Qxb7, which might have disastrously handed the game to Black – with the decisive difference being White’s material edge that propelled White to the victory in the end!

Despite the win in the last round, teen FM Poh Yu Tian and home ground favourite got edged out by IM Oleg merely on tie-break. Finishing second, this still represented a significant achievement for the 14-year-old and it would just be a matter of time before he wins this championship in the future!

FM Poh Yu Tian led the way in the overall strong performance by teens from across South-East Asia in this contest! Two rungs below on 4th place is the teen Indonesian IM Arfan Aditya Bagus while the untitled Filipino Ivan Travis Cu (also, a 14-year-old) was ranked 5th! Rounding up the top finishers’ list were teens Sidabutar Uriel of Indonesia and Uzair Shahar of Malaysia, at places 11th and 14th respectively.

Teen, Ivan Travis Cu, of the Philippines

Other promising teens such as Sidabutar Uriel and Uzair Shahar, rounding up the top places in the final standings

#RIP Daniel Yong, a key architect of teen chess development in Malaysia

Midway through the Penang Open, news came through of the sudden demise of 52-year-old Daniel Yong. Twenty years ago, Daniel was involved with his uncle, the late Dato’ Tan Chin Nam, in organising the first Malaysian Chess Festival. Dato’ Tan led the way with Daniel deputising in the earlier editions before Daniel took the helm in subsequent years.

The late Daniel back in 2014 presenting the winner’s trophy to GM Zhang Zhong at the 11th Malaysian Chess Festival | Photo: https://bcwmcf.blogspot.com/

Back at the first few editions of the chess fest, the number of teens and kids were outnumbered by adult competitors. Within a few years, the scenario changed dramatically as the young ones began filling up the annual chess fest in droves!

This was thanks in large parts to the vision outlined by Dato’ Tan and the efforts of Daniel to ensure that the chess fest was publicised to the wider public with placements of gigantic chess pieces and announcement boards throughout Mid Valley City’s malls. Such efforts helped popularise the game, while also giving significant exposure to kids and teens during the school holiday timing – which was usually the chosen period for the chess fest.

Daniel was a law graduate of University of Bristol in England and had joined the pre-opening team of Mid Valley City prior to the opening of its first mall, Mid Valley Megamall. Daniel had served as Executive Director and also CEO of Mid Valley City.

Daniel with Malaysian player, FM Sumant Subramaniam | Photo: https://bcwmcf.blogspot.com/

Around about ten years ago, Daniel was also actively involved in chess administration, having served as the President of the Chess Association of Selangor. His contributions to the game of chess throughout the past two decades had in a way helped popularise the game in Malaysia and enabled the rise of teens such as Poh Yu Tian and many others here.

Final standings after 9 rounds

Rk. Snr Name Country Elo Pts.  Tb1   Tb2   Tb3 
1 6
IM Badmatsyrenov, Oleg FID 2399 7,5 0 56 44,75
2 4
FM Poh, Yu Tian MAS 2405 7,5 0 52,5 43,50
3 1
GM Priasmoro, Novendra INA 2499 7,5 0 50 40,00
4 5
IM Arfan, Aditya Bagus INA 2404 7 0 52 37,75
5 33
Cu, Ivan Travis PHI 1909 7 0 45 32,00
6 13
FM Lye, Lik Zang MAS 2279 6,5 0 51,5 35,00
7 14
IM Gunawan, Ronny INA 2234 6,5 0 43,5 30,25
8 2
GM Rahman, Ziaur BAN 2436 6 0 55,5 33,75
9 3
IM Shkapenko, Pavel FID 2415 6 0 49 30,75
10 10
FM Zia, Tahsin Tajwar BAN 2303 6 0 47 29,75
11 26
Sidabutar, Uriel Noah Oloan INA 2008 6 0 46,5 27,50
12 39
AIM Rajasa, Muhammad Andi INA 1849 6 0 45,5 30,00
13 30
Setiawan, David INA 1942 6 0 45 25,75
14 31
Shahar, Uzair MAS 1917 6 0 45 25,50
15 18
FM Tobing, Daniel Hermawan Lumban INA 2148 6 0 44 28,00
16 9
IM Novita, Anjas INA 2371 6 0 43,5 26,75
17 12
FM Chan, Kim Yew MAS 2283 5,5 0 54 30,25
18 20
IM Andyka, Pitra INA 2121 5,5 0 50 29,00
19 55
Tan, Yi Xun MAS 1714 5,5 0 45,5 24,50
20 21
FM Villanueva, Nelson PHI 2119 5,5 0 45 25,50
21 76
Yong, Je Pin Ian MAS 1464 5,5 0 44 26,25
22 15
IM Li, Bo CHN 2216 5,5 0 42,5 23,50
23 24
Loo, Pin Xie MAS 2043 5,5 0 42,5 22,75
24 37
Simanihuruk, Nathanael Dieudonne B INA 1880 5,5 0 41,5 23,00
25 29
Yang, Zilong CHN 1943 5,5 0 41 22,25
26 25
Aris, T.L.S. INA 2036 5,5 0 40 24,00
27 48
Shen, Ree Herng MAS 1755 5,5 0 36,5 18,75
28 22
FM Soo, Kai Jie AUS 2074 5 0 50,5 24,75

... 61 players (Source: chess-results)


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