Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Malaysian Open 2011 - Team Rapid

"Can we order two crispy ducks please?" "...(waitress starts giggling furiously, is smiling for the whole time we are there, and whispers to many of the other waiter/waitresses, leaving us feeling quite awkward)"

by Junta

Didn't the Malaysian Open finish at the end of August? Due to extraneous circumstances, some understandable and some which might be better represented by the words 'lazy contributor', the draft of this post lay untouched in the 'Edit Posts' section for a whole month. 

To wrap up the Malaysian Open Chess Festival, the 31st ASTRO Merdeka Rapid Open Team Championships was held on the last two days - a very popular event, more than 80 teams of 4 or 5 players (where there was one reserve) filled the spacious playing hall, causing the top five tables to be moved to a smaller but comfortable 'elite room', like at a recent Olympiad.

Our team, the Klang Valley Kangaroos, comprised of Gary Lane on Board 1, myself on Board 2, Fedja on Board 3 and Brian Jones on Board 4 for an average rating of around 2200, at 6th seed. Although this was rapidplay, it was my first teamplay event since the Singapore World U/16 Olympiad in 2007, and with the pressure of FIDE-rated games over, it was set to be an enjoyable 9 rounds.

Round 7, Table 3: Klang Valley Kangaroos vs. Dragon Two
Many of the 84 teams contained or were entirely made up of young juniors, and we encountered the wrath of youth from the very first round. Facing four players around four feet tall across the four boards, I honestly thought it would be an easy walkover, but I had to resort to converting a slightly better endgame in my opponent's time pressure. While Gary and Brian didn't struggle as much, Fedja was a slice of mangosteen away from humiliation in his game, as the talented little girl actually had forced mate in the final position, but her clock ran out before Fedja may have ran out of the room had he been mated.

As we later found out, these juniors possessed ratings of 1400 up to 1700.
Of course, we did underestimate them, but they played very strongly. As Brian quipped to us, "Are you guys feeling old now, up against these young players?" - surprised by our younger adversaries' talent, we indeed felt older.
We can understand now: how annoying it must have been for adults to play our generation when we were all so small and improving quickly!

To sum up our team's performance, Gary was incredible on Board 1, scoring 8/9 (+7 =2) against formidable opposition (performance: 2492), very unlucky to miss out on the board gold medal. Fedja started like a house on fire with 5/5 and then salvaged 1.5/4 (many points thanks to his 'flagging' skills) to be an impressive point-getter. Brian performed credibly on Board 4, scoring important points for the team. Sadly, I let the team down, losing to a 2000 in Round 3 and then finishing with triple castling (the first on this entire trip) in the all-important matches to finish with 4.5/9 and leave the team finishing only 10th.

Here are a couple of my games - I was quite happy with my Round 6 game, one of my best in Malaysia.

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

But one round later, against a player I had beaten in the blitz and lost to in the individual rapid, I made some big mistakes in the tense middlegame and lost.

(show chess board)(hide chess board)

Another of my exciting games, I found my opponent had annotated here.

Final standings of the event are here.
Due to higher-scoring teams receiving other prizes, we were moved up to 7th place

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