The long awaited event is almost here…. It seems only yesterday that we concluded the 6th edition of the Malaysian Chess Festival and before you know it, we are 3 weeks away from the start of the 7th edition, and this would be the grandest of all the Malaysia Chess Festivals since its inception in 2004.
Whilst the IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open series (fondly known as DATMO) will be (it has and will always be – should the event continue…) the anchor event during the festival, the accompanying events have varied slightly. Whilst the AmBank Chess Challenge event seems to go hand-in-hand with DATMO since it started, the inclusion of other events have been rather inconsistent. There was one year where the ASTRO Team Rapid Event was staged at a later date in a separate venue. There was also one year where we had the Women National Closed event being held at the same time with the Festival. In its first year, we had simul exhibition matches by the Vietnamese and Chinese GMs but in the subsequent years, the simul matches went missing from the festival calendar. There was also one year where we had the individual rapid event and again, it received the same fate as the simul – it was there for one year but erased from the schedule in the subsequent years. On the bright side, in 2007 the blitz championship was included as an ad hoc event and 3 years down the line, it became a permanent fixture for the festival.
What is different about this year Malaysia Chess Festival? This year, ALL the missing events are making a comeback into the schedule, making it a true gala for chess lovers and enthusiasts – locally and internationally. Not only that we will get the ASTRO Rapid individual and team events, not only that we will be able to see professionals slugging it out in the IGB Malaysia Open, or the not-so professional pitting out their wits in the AmBank Chess Challenge section, we will also be able to see for the first time, a section dedicated to the Veterans in the KLK Seniors Open. The simul exhibition matches are also making a comeback, again sponsored generously by ASTRO and a new sponsor joining the fray, Swensen – famous for its ice-cream, who will be sponsoring the National Age Group Chess event. Blitz is no longer an ad hoc event as it has become a permanent (and most awaited) fixture during the event and instead of a single blitz event; it has become two – as the finale for both the ASTRO Team Rapid and the IGB Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open.
Yours truly has again been given the task of running all the events as the Chief Arbiter, my fourth consecutive outings, an outing that I eagerly look forward to be a part of. Actually, my wife looks forward to it more than I do as it will give her reasons to shop and laze around Midvalley Megamall day in and day out… and there is nothing I can do to stop her from doing so. I have been a part of the festival since it started and the funny thing is that the only time I missed out on the Malaysia festival was in 2006 when the then DPM Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak came to officiate the opening of the festival. So in reality, ‘Najib’ was at all the events since the first edition – my first outing in 2004 was as the Bulletin Editor and my second outing in 2005 was as the Arbiter for the AmBank Chess Challenge section. In 2006, the “other” Najib came to be a part of the event, and I picked up the baton back in 2007
The 7th 2010 edition promises excitement and true festive environment with 9 mouth watering events for various chess categories, playing levels and age group, that can cater to both the individual spirit and teams camaraderie. There are also talks about GM Anatoly Karpov making a second visit to Malaysia during the event with his running mate for FIDE Deputy President, Richard Conn. To make it even more interesting, there is also a strong possibility that GM Garry Kasparov may make a surprise entrance to show his support for GM Karpov who is in the running for the FIDE Presidential post. As this is election year for FIDE, and with GM Karpov as a real and serious contender for the post, Malaysia Chess Festival has also become the unofficial platform to spread Karpov’s wing and garner support for him from around this part of the world. But wait…. Is it not that the Philippines will be organizing a Campo Memorial Event during the same period?
Someone said that if Campo were still alive, he would definitely not approve of such a move (a double question marks) – I am sure he is ‘rolling over’ in his grave knowing the atrocities of what his fellow countrymen has done, but since Philippines are strong supporters of the “other candidate” FIDE Presidential Candidate and incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the event is a clear and direct attempt to hijack Karpov’s momentum in the region. Albeit the fact that DATMO has been advertised long before the Campo event was penned in, the Philippines Chess Federation decided to continue its plan of going head to head against our festival. But surprisingly, whilst the Campo event may offer bigger prize money, the impact towards our Festival has been minimal with more and more players continue to register for the event. For those who have been here over the years, Malaysian hospitality is rather addicting and spoiling hence, chess players continue to flock our soil knowing how hospitable we are towards our guests, and how pampering the local folks can be.
Whatever it is, this is a Malaysia event and this has been etched in the minds of all chess players – Malaysians or otherwise, and it will always be an event that we, the Malaysian chess players, will be proud of. There is only one thing left to say – SEE YOU at Malaysia Chess Festival 2010!!!
Yours Truly (thanks Jimmy! .....)
Najib Abdul Wahab....
Najib Abdul Wahab....
Note: Please visit the Malaysian Chess Open/Malaysian Chess Festival blog or click here.