Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lim Chong (1954 - 2010)

Lim Chong was a quiet man - if the Malay saying is "tanya sepatah jawab sepatah" (ask a word and respond a word), for Lim Chong, you can ask him with a full sentence and he will still respond with only a single word - that is if you are lucky. Otherwise, it will be soft smile and a short chuckle, and that is all that you will hear from him. Mok Tze Meng sums it really well when he said "For a man who can write really well, it is rather strange that Lim Chong was not a man with many spoken words".

I have known Lim Chong since 1989, when I first started becoming involve with participating and organizing chess events. I (and many other chess players during that time) would look forward to every Friday when his Chessmate column would appear in the Malay Mail. I also remembered he penned an article about me when I tried my first venture into chess coaching, and like me, most of us would keep the paper cuttings as momentos of the good words that he had wrote about us.

Whilst Jan Lim (Lim Chong's wife) was rather talkative when we visited her earlier today, you can sense that she was keeping all her sadness inside. Nonetheless, she was happy that so many chess friends came to pay our last respect to a great friend, a chess supporter, columnist and a great writer. Although I was not close with Lim Chong (as compared to Hamid or Ibrahim) but, I know we are friends - it would be impossible for anyone to not like Lim Chong. We sat and talked about him, sharing our laughter of the good times that we had, provide comfort and support to one another over a sudden loss of a friend, a husband and a father. We celebrated his life, and Hamid shared many Lim Chong memorable moments going as far back as 20 years ago - Lim Chong the writer, a chess competitor and an avid table tennis player. Yes.... His other passion is table tennis a.k.a ping pong. At one point, Hamid even suggested that he should concentrate more on table tennis and had he taken up Hamid's poor advice, chess news would not be as huge as it is now.

I was told that he suffered a heart attack on board his flight from London to KL - his first attack but unfortunately, a fatal one. Only a day earlier, Hamid had called him to ask if he would be interested to play in a special DATCC event and he had said yes to the offer - a double round robin for 10 players which included Dato Tan, Hamid, Sirajudeen and myself as part of the players pool. Out of respect for him, we have decided to keep his name as a participant, and I have already asked Hamid that, for all the games that we are supposed to play against him, it would be great if all of us would give him a draw - a posthumous draw to a man who has contributed a lot to the chess movement in the country, a show of gratitude for all the good things that he has done for us, the Malaysian chess community.

Before Hamid, Ibrahim, Mun Fye, my wife and I are about to leave the house, Jan hugged Ibrahim and then turned to hug me, and I return the hug - the least I can do to comfort a person who had just lost a dear one. I know these are difficult times, but all these will pass and you will be OK Jan, my heart whispered

Just as I was driving off, I can see Jan hugging another person, a tight hug, pouring her heart out over the sudden departure of a loving husband. It moved me to tears.... If we, almost strangers to Lim Chong and yet we are sad over his death, what more a wife and partner who has spent almost half her lifetime with him...

Lim Chong will sadly be missed but I am sure, wherever he is going from here on, he would look forward to playing table tennis with Bobby Fischer, since he know, it will not be easy to beat Bobby at chess. Whatever it is Lim Chong... have a safe journey. You will be missed....

1 comment:

  1. He was one of the good guys who helped many without asking for anything. I heard that he was working on a book to help raise money for next year's Selangor Open. Many a time, his wife will see him working on the book in the wee hours of the morning. I was also told that Lim Chong was going to given the title of 'Datuk' next month by the Selangor Sultan. He will be one person whom many of us will miss. Goodbye my friend.
    Collin Madhavan



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