Kudos to our players for turning in their best.
The Malaysian women’s team comprising (from left) Nurul Huda Wahiduddin, Nur Nabila Azman Hashim, Alia Anin Bakri, Fong Mi Yen and Roslina Marmono.
IN the last week or so since the end of the Chess Olympiad, I have witnessed heated debates in the local chess scene about the selection process and the performance of our men’s team in Khanty Mansiysk.
The post-mortem was lively but personally, I believe that while everyone has a right to say whatever he wants about chess in this country, the debates do not matter anymore. It’s moot; the Chess Olympiad’s over.
It’s important to me, however, that we look on the positive side. At the Olympiad, what struck me was that our players tried their best. Each and every one of them, in their own way, gave their best to the Malaysian team. Collectively, it was a team effort from start to finish.
So allow me to acknowledge the contributions of our players, both the men’s and women’s teams.
For Mas Hafizulhelmi, playing on the first board on the men’s team was never going to be easy. The final round was very unfortunate for him (refer to last week’s column to know what happened) but to his credit, he scored 5½ points from 10 games. That’s a 55% score.
Neither was it supposed to be easy for Alia Anin Bakri who played on the first board of the women’s team. However, she turned in the most memorable result for the Malaysian contingent. Seven points from 11 games for a 63.6% score. It’s uncertain whether her results would merit her the title of woman international master (WIM) but at the very least, it should be good enough for a WIM norm.
I’m crossing my fingers that FIDE, the World Chess Federation, will award her the title.
In the men’s team, Mok Tze Meng’s uncompromising style on the second board netted him six points from 11 games (a 54.4% result). Peter Long was a very steady player on the fourth board and he turned in 5½ points from 11 games (a 50% score). Both Mok and Long were the only players in the men’s team to play every round of the Olympiad.
Current national champion Tan Khai Boon was probably overwhelmed by his first international duty but he still contributed three points from nine games (a 33.3% result). I believe the tension got to him towards the end of the event and he was replaced by Gregory Lau. Despite playing only three games (winning two of them with a 66.7% result), Lau will be best remembered for delivering that vital final point for the Malaysian men’s team.
On the second board in the women’s team was Nur Nabila Azman Hisham. Like Alia, Nabila played in all 11 rounds and she scored five points for a 45.4% result. Although Nurul Huda Wahiduddin brought in only one point from six games on the third board, she achieved an important draw against a Dutch woman international master in the ninth round.
Roslina Marmono had a 50% result as our fourth board player, collecting 3½ points from seven games while our debutant reserve board player, Fong Mi Yen, who is also the current national women’s champion, had the tournament of her life with 5½ points from nine games (a 61.1% result).
I’m still waiting for word from the Malaysian Chess Federation whether this would warrant Fong a woman candidate master title from FIDE.
Finally, the games this week feature some of the best moves from our women players: White: Alia Anin Bakri (Malaysia) Black: IM Baquero Martha Fierro (Ecuador) 1. d4 g6 2. Nf3 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. Be3 Ng4 9. Bg5 f6 10. Bd2 c6 11. Ne1 Nh6 12. d5 f5 13. dxc6 bxc6 14. Bxh6 Bxh6 15. Qxd6 Rf6 16. Qd1 Qe7 17. Qc2 Nc5 18. Rd1 a5 19. Bf3 Ne6 20. Ne2 Ng5 21. Ng3 f4 22. Ne2 Nxf3+ 23. Nxf3 g5 24. Qd3 Bg4 25. h3 Bh5 26. Qd7 Re8 27. Qxe7 Rxe7 28. Rd8+ Bf8 29. Ra8 g4 30. hxg4 Bxg4 31. Rd1 Rg7 32. Kf1 Rh6 33. Neg1 Bxf3 34. Nxf3 Rh1+ 35. Ke2 Rxd1 36. Kxd1 Rxg2 37. Ke2 Kg7 38. Rxa5 Kf6 39. Rxe5 Bd6 40. Rf5+ Ke7 41. Rh5 Rg7 42. Nd4 Kd7 43. Kf3 Re7 44. Ne2 Ke8 45. Nxf4 Rf7 46. Rf5 Ra7 47. a3 Ra4 48. c5 Bxf4 49. Kxf4 Rc4 50. f3 Rc2 51. b4 Rc3 52. Rh5 1-0 White: Damaris Abarca Gonzalez (Chile) Black: Alia Anin Bakri (Malaysia) 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. g3 Bc5 5. Bg2 dxe4 6. dxe4 e5 7. Ngf3 Nc6 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. c3 a6 11. b4 Bd6 12. a4 Be6 13. Nc4 Rfd8 14. Bg5 h6 15. Bxf6 Qxf6 16. Ne3 Ne7 17. Rab1 c6 18. c4 b6 19. Qc2 Bc7 20. Rfd1 Ng6 21. b5 cxb5 22. axb5 axb5 23. Nd5 Bxd5 24. cxd5 Bd6 25. Rxb5 Bc5 26. Qe2 Ra7 27. h4 Rda8 28. Rdb1 Qd6 29. h5 Ne7 30. R5b2 Qf6 31. Qd3 Ra3 32. Rb3 Ra2 33. R1b2 Ra1+ 34. Bf1 R8a3 35. Rxa3 Rxa3 36. Rb3 Ra2 37. Be2 Nc8 38. Rc3 Nd6 39. Rc2 Ra4 40. Qb3 Ra1+ 41. Kg2 Nxe4 42. Qb2 Ra8 43. Qxe5 Qxe5 44. Nxe5 Rd8 45. f4 Nf6 46. Bc4 Bd6 47. Rb2 Bxe5 48. fxe5 Nxd5 49. Kf3 Nc7 50. Rxb6 Re8