The event was the brainchild of Mr Don Chong Yoon Kong, a prominent Ipoh businessman and the then deputy president of the Chess Association of Perak (‘CAP’). Kelab Beperi organised the event (on behalf of CAP), with IGB sponsoring the prize fund and venue.
The opening ceremony was a grand affair with Dato’ Tan Chin Nam in attendance. I recall Dato’ introducing his eldest son Boon Seng, who had just returned to Malaysia after completing his studies in the UK and also the younger Boon Shih. Mr Florencio Campomanes, then the FIDE Deputy President, was also in attendance at the special invitation of Dato’ Tan. Mr Campomanes brought along Glenn Bordonada and Rafaelito Maninang, two 2300+ rated Filipino players to take part, as an effort to help develop Malaysian chess.
Prize-Winners and Malaysia Firsts
The two Filipinos, Glenn and Lito, finished joint first. (I think they won all their games except for a draw when they met each other). However as agreed beforehand, they would not be entitled to any of the prizes. Their participation was solely to give Malaysian players an opportunity to play against top players or see these players in action.
This event offered the first ever RM1,000 first prize in a Malaysian chess tournament. The original proposal was for a lower prize but when Dato’ Tan was informed of the proposed event, he wanted the event to stand out by sponsoring RM1,000 as the first prize.
Another first in Malaysian chess was that prize-money was not shared by players who finished with the same number of points. The prevailing practice in 1979 in major Malaysian chess tournaments was for players finishing with the same number of points to share the prize money. However the organising committee, after due consideration, decided not to follow. The idea was to encourage fighting chess and not see players agree to early draws to share prize money.
In the event, Christi Hon won the first prize of RM1,000 cash and Challenge Trophy, Jimmy Liew followed in 2nd, and from the photo below, it appears that Paul Foo was the 3rd (or 4th).
|From left: Larry Parr, Fong Choong Ee, JR Devadas, Collin Madhavan, Christi Hon, Yaakob Buyong, Jimmy Liew, Paul Foo, Phan Wei Liong.|
Personal Experience and Games
This was my first major chess competition featuring Malaysia’s top players. At that time, I had just started playing competitive chess less than two years earlier and had not played outside Perak (not even at the MSSM). So it was some sort of a surreal experience.
From the photo above, I faced and lost to Mohd Noor Yahaya from Negeri Sembilan, who was then the MSSM Chess Champion. I actually did not know who he was when I played him and ‘MSSM’ held no meaning for me until 6 months later when I played my first MSSM (in Kota Bharu).
I won against Wei Liong (see picture above) and also against a young boy Mark Kon Wei Syn (‘Mark Kon Junior’). I remember Mark as his father (Mark Kon Senior) had a dental clinic in Kampar and was my dentist (who pulled one big rotten molar from my mouth when I was thirteen. Certain things you don’t forget). However, it was only recently that I found out that Mark Junior has a chess pedigree being the grandson (by his mother) of Professor Lim Kok Ann, the ‘father of Singapore chess’.
I lost one game to Dato’s son, Boon Shih (now better known as Dato’ Arthur Tan), on the Black side of a Ruy Lopez. I believe I lost a central pawn early on and was overrun by a central pawn roller. Over the next few days, Boon Shih went around showing the game to all and sundry. A good win that he was justifiably proud of. I did not meet Boon Shih again until some 20 years later when I met him in the lift in IGB Plaza in the late 1990s. My then office was located one floor below the IGB headquarters (which was then located at IGB Plaza). I was surprised that he still recognised and remembered me, and we said our hellos.
I lost to Jimmy Liew on the Black side of a Giuoco Piano. I recall this game as lasting nearly four hours. (Yea, I made Malaysia’s top player think hard). Towards the end, I had a nervous breakdown in that my mind just went blank. This was my first classical chess event and that was the longest game I had ever played up to that time. In the last round, Christi offered an early draw which I, of course, grabbed with thanks. Christi, by then only needed a draw to secure his RM1,000 prize. With that, I won 2nd place (and I think RM300) in the special prizes for Best Perak Players.
|Best Perak Players From left, Fong Choong Ee (2nd), Collin Madhavan (1st), Yaakob Buyong (3rd) and Phan Wei Liong (4th)|