THE organisers did not have to book a venue nor set up chess boards, tables and chairs when the first National Inter-state Open Online 2020 Chess Championship was held recently.
It was a totally new experience of playing chess for many of the 132 participants via Zoom as well as those who witnessed the event from the comfort of their homes.
Third-seeded Penang ‘A’ created Malaysian chess history when it won the championship, ahead of top-seeded KL Warriors and unseeded Penang SLCC U-18.
Penang ‘A’, comprising Loo Xin Hao, FM Wong Yinn Long, Poh Yu Tian and IM Ooi Zhi Yang, won RM1,500 for their victory while KL Warriors, who were made up of FM Chan Kim Yew, FM Rohan Navaratnam, FM Lye Lik Zhang and FM Wong Jianwen, bagged RM1,000 as the runner-up.
Penang SLCC U-18 were rewarded with RM900.
In all, 33 teams from nine states took part in the championship. The participants included Malaysian players from as far as Pennsylvania (USA), New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Melaka fielded four teams, one of which was its Para Team, while Perak also fielded a Para Team as its sole representative.
Penang entered the most teams at 12 while Selangor and Kuala Lumpur entered four teams each just like Melaka.
Besides the top three winners, cash prizes were also given to the other categories, including RM50 for each of the best board player.
The tournament offered a total prize money of RM7,850, the biggest thus far for an online competition locally.
Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) president Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi commended the Penang Chess Association (PCA) for co-organising the event and all who took part to make the event a success.
“The Interstate Tournament is part of the chess community in Malaysia’s efforts to adapt positively to the new normal presented to us by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah, son of former Kedah minister besar and agriculture minister Tan Sri Sanusi Junid.
“It is part of an on-going drive by local chess tournament organisers, both personally or under the auspices of the various chess clubs and groupings, to accelerate the online game, in line with similar efforts globally.
‘MCF has taken the lead for this tournament essentially as a pathfinder for future events of greater scale and ambition.
“The event together with smaller international online tournaments is helping to align the practice of online chess tournaments worldwide, especially with longer time-control, as global chess community gears up for participation in the first International Online Chess Olympiad!
“Whilst we miss the over-the-table game which will see a slow recovery still this year, we continue to encourage growth of the online game so chess may remain accessible to all its enthusiasts regardless of whatever crisis we are living through!”
MCF vice-president See Swee Sie, who is also the PCA president, said she was delighted to know that the disabled community was happy with their efforts to make the game available to them during this difficult period.
She thanked the Education Ministry, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, state Youth and Sports Committee chairman Soon Lip Chee and the Penang State Sports Council for their support in promoting the development of chess.
“I like to thank them all for their support of all our efforts in digitalisation and online tournaments in moving towards the new norm,” See said.
With the support of the state government, See added that PCA would be taking part in an online four-city friendly with other Singapore, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan and holding the Penang International Online Chess Festival in December.
Story by K.H.Ong