It has been a long time since the last Chessmate column in The Malay Mail but Siraj feels my contribution is long overdue. And those who know Siraj know how “persuasive” he can be.
So here’s Chess Overboard!, a hard-hitting, without-fear-or-favour, and no more mr nice guy-type column placed under the DAT Chess Centre website.
Since it’s a blog where anything goes, it will stretch the boundaries of chess writing, taking the one step beyond to see how far we can go. We may not cross the line but we can go overboard to feature the good, the bad and downright ugly in chess.
This first column is dedicated to the late Foong Chee Leng, player, arbiter and former secretary of the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association who contributed a lot to chess when he was around.
“Chess players can play anywhere,” was one of his fond sayings. Those who complain about current tournament conditions should have experienced Foong’s famous no-frills tournaments, where a certain percentage of the fees collected went to the prize fund, a small amount for the association and the venue was wherever it could be found.
When Foong once invited me to play for his team at a tournament in Singapore, all six team players, including the big man himself, were cramped in a small hotel room. Yes, extravagance was not something connected to Foong who just loved to play.
True to his own words, he could play anywhere, anytime. And he was certainly a much better player than most expected him to be, ending up often among the prize winners in various strong events.
Foong never considered himself a chess visionary or intellectual, he was one of those prepared to roll up their sleeves, work hard and sweat a lot to promote chess. We can always do with many more like him in chess.
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