Saturday, June 9, 2012

BACK IN 1985

It was pure serendipity that there was mention of a comment I read about Malaysia raising a new Junior Squad from the current bunch of promising juniors. Peter Long has already done it back in 1984-86, with the likes of  Gregory Vijendran, Chan Han Meng, Ng Ek Leong, Ng Ek Teong, Tan Hong Ghee,Adrian Wong and among the ladies, Audrey Wong and Seto Wai Leng. They were then known as the Kumpulan Remaja and did a blitzkrieg tour of Singapore, playing and beating some of the top Singapore juniors like Wong Foong Yin, Low Pe Yeow and so on.

My story is centred from the above report made by then IM Leslie Leow in his regular chess column in the New Nation. The Cairnhill Chess Team consists mainly of players associated with Michael Siong who was the Chairman of the Club then. They have travelled  to the KL Labour Day tournament which was then held at the Wisma Belia.It was a strong team event, where amateur teams were formed from friends and associates (no Filipino professionals had entered the scene then).

Leslie mentioned 3 4-0 wins by the Champions, which included 1 whitewash of the Kumpulan Remaja!

I was in KL then to see the tournament and the Cairnhill Team was paired against the Kumpulan Remaja the next morning. Based on my observations of the Malaysian players, what followed was my masterminded Pearl Habour-like plan of matching the right openings to play against each of the boards for maximum surprise effect. The plan was conceived in a old villa of Datuk Tan's in Jalan Stonor,.where the players were housed.

My strategy was as follows:

Board 1 :   Alvin Ong vs Gregory Vijendran - I predicted that  Greg will play the Dragon as Black and  2 c3 was chosen to counter this. Though the positions that arose were a little dull, it suited Alvin and frustrated Greg who was not given the opportunity to brandish his tactical play. 1-0 on time.

Board 2: Audrey Wong vs Tan Chin Hoe - I had noticed during the Singapore tour that Audrey's favourite weapon against the King's Indian was the 5 h3 system with a quick g4 and Kingside Attack. I advised Chin Hoe to go for an early f5 to blunt her intentions and lo and behold, everything appeared like clockwork and soon Chin Hoe was infiltrating Audrey's Kingside on route to a positional crush! 0-1

The game (thanks to Alvin's report on Singapore Chess Digest)

Board 3:  Sng Tong Yew vs Soon Chee Hung - A French defence by Black.. 1-0
Board 4: Seto Wai Leng vs Hoe Chiew Ming - Seto had a very narrow repertoire against the King's Indian which consisted then of 1 d4, 2 c4, 3 Nc3, 4 Bg5 and 5 Qd2. I told Chiew Ming that she would invariably play these moves. Chiew Ming cheekily wrote down the exact moves just before the game started (not an offence then) and a red-faced Seto had no choice but to play the exact moves because she didn't know any better! The game was probably psychologically lost from this point.

One of those rare moments where Sun Tzu's " Know thyself and thy enemy...." came to work just in time!

Special thanks to Alvin for recovering this clip from his archives.


  1. The correct spellings are Aik Leong - Ek Leong (same for Ek Teong. Sitoh is spelled Seto.

  2. interesting... those quote from Sun Tzu same with quote from Alekhine... Know Yourself, Know Your Enemy

  3. John,

    I see you run a good website.
    Should never let some bullying people think they big shot and you remove feed back.

    Shame on them.

    Wish you more good news reporting.


  4. Xavier,

    I believe the whole saga is just a misunderstanding. Anyway, no love lost in removing the comments. The author of the comment has indicated to me that the person referred is not JT.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hello John, I was encouraged by Xavier's message to write in to you again. I am Unknown Bobby, author and eye witness of the times when Lian Ann said that you are Singapore best first 20 moves player ..... Keep playing till 25 moves and starting winning (against John Wong). Keep up the brave work John and do try to win back your title but without LA's additional "praise". Good luck. Unknown Bobby

  6. Unknown Bobby..a name I have not heard for years,since the days of Singapore Chess Digest. I am assuming you are him, hence this post is allowed to stand.

    Though Lian Ann "bestowed" this title to me several years ago,admittedly sarcastically, it did wake me up to focus my chess study on other more important matters such as endgames.

    As for your last statement, I do not intend to do it as I am not longer competitive and am devoting my energies to raising the next generation of players. Hopefully, you will also join me in promoting peace and harmony in the chess scene, which is already riddled with politics causing its stagnation.

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