AUGUST 27 ― This coming Merdeka Day weekend, the Kuala Lumpur Chess Association will be holding the KL Open Chess Championship 2015. From August 30-31, some 100 local and foreign chess players will be at Cititel Hotel Ballroom in Mid Valley Megamall.
The KL Open had grown to become a fixture on the regional international open circuit with a prestigious list of winners.
Besides opportunities to gain or increase ratings, numerous players have also gained Grandmaster and International Master norms and titles and its champions which include Hou Yifan, Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, Anton Filipov, and three-time winner Sergei Tiviakov are all big names in the game.
This time the KL Open will be held as a Rapid tournament and if officials of the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) can be believed, still FIDE rated.
In a previous column, this issue was highlighted as an example of how the MCF operates a rent seeking business for some in office.
This resulted in some outrage and then a much-needed climb down. KLCA officials informed me that MCF had quickly approached them asking for new emails or letters to be sent so they can approve the event as FIDE rated because many organisers had complained about being cheated by MCF over both fees and not being told of the opportunity to also be able to get international ratings.
I understand that KLCA stood by its original communications.
Clearly with the 2015 edition, the KL Open is no longer a big international title open but will instead become a big money international rapid tournament.
It has the biggest prize fund ever for a two-day event with over RM12,000 in prizes and given where Malaysia stands today in world chess and more importantly who are our chessplayers, I would even argue that it is exactly right for us.
Malaysian chess is not like that of its Asean neighbours like the Philippines, Vietnam or Indonesia with professionals. Perhaps not even like Myanmar.
We are logically lumped together with Singapore, also Thailand now, and Brunei too. Of course Cambodia and Laos do not figure in any equation.
At the end of the day, all should ask who are they organising for and what for?
The fact is that local chess is just some 50 diehards playing most events and the total is probably another 150 to 200 if one takes into account all major cities. There is, of course, also a pool of students that get into and leave the game each year and they double this number.
With this KL Open, KLCA is organising for the amateurs who are the vast majority of local chess players, not the few professionals or foreigners make a living from chess.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.