The Kejohanan Catur Terbuka Antarabangsa Langkawi 2019 (International Chess Open Langkawi) was officially held on the 27th and 28th of April 2019 at the Myangkasa Academy and Resort Langkawi. This FIDE rated international competition was a co-joint effort between Myangkasa Academy and Resort Langkawi and the Chess Association of the state of Kedah. We checked out the event to find out the future of chess in Langkawi.
Truth be told, we were all very surprised when I was told there was going to be a international competition of chess in Langkawi. But it was a good type of surprise, which is why I knew that I had to go see it for myself. Armed with an elementary knowledge of chess, I made my way down to witness the International Chess Open Langkawi.
I was a little baffled with the terminologies of the sport at first, especially with the name FIDE being thrown around quite a bit. But as I found out quickly when speaking to the President of the Chess Association of Kedah (and FIDE certified trainer) Mr. Syed Iskandar Shah, “FIDE is the main international governing body of chess,” he said as he noticed the still perplexed look on my face. “It’s like how FIFA is to football,” he said with pure conviction that I would be able to relate with the comparison. “So with a FIDE rated competition it means that the points you garner or lose in this competition will have bearings on your international standing points.”
Mastering The Game
In chess, like most solo sports, you tend to collect points that will reflect your win and loss record at an international stage. The more points you accumulate, the higher the ranking you will find yourself in. For beginners like myself, I would still have to work my way up from a ‘D’ player (1200-1399 points) to an Expert (2000-2199 points) and if my stars are aligned, possibly, just possibly, a Master (2200-2399 points).
For international players, only 2 types of ranking really matters; the International Master (2400-2499 points) and the Grandmaster (2500+ points). So what’s the difference between both? All you need to know is that an International Master is an extremely experienced chess player who still has much to prove on an international stage. Grandmasters on the other hand are the type of players who would chew and spit out Master players while beating International Masters players blindfolded. Nothing short of a chess genius who would expect to win every game.
This year’s International Chess Open Langkawi managed to attract 2 renowned Grandmasters; Vasquez Schroeder Rodrigo of Chile and Alexei Barsov of Uzbekistan. The Langkawi Open also drew in International Masters like 27 year old Irine Kharisma Sukandar who is the first woman in Indonesia to achieve both the Woman Grandmaster and International Masters title. Her compatriot, Diajeng Theresa Singgih is already a Woman FIDE Master at the tender age of 15 and also took part in the competition.
Few participants from the Philippines also attended the Langkawi Open, such as FIDE Master, Nelson Villanueva. Local Malaysians and Langkawians also weighed in on this year’s chess competition in Langkawi with at least 20 participants including International Master Hafizulhelmi Mas. Langkawian Dr. Ahmad Afiq (resident doctor of Global Doctors Clinic Langkawi) took part for the first time in this year’s International Chess Open Langkawi. “I used to play chess back in the day during my university time in Ireland. It was so strange really because I was just searching for chess competitions around the region and I was pleasantly surprised to stumble on the International Chess Open Langkawi,” exclaimed Dr. Ahmad.
Future Of Chess In Langkawi
He further pointed out that he was amazed to see the buzz that the competition gained amongst the locals, particularly the younger crowd. I asked him how he foresees the popularity of chess in Langkawi. “It is a good sign to see such a local turnout for this event. I hope soon we can create a chess association here in Langkawi where we can play weekly and encourage more Langkawians to take up this sport,” says Dr Ahmad. The need to promote chess was also reflected by Mr. Syed Iskandar Shah: “I want to see chess in Langkawi grow and am willing to come to the island to train and teach people how to play chess. I think finding potential future Masters and Grandmasters from a small town cannot be ruled out.”
Playing chess might not appeal to the vast majority but if you take the time to understand and play the game, you will grow to appreciate its simplicity and the certain candour that comes with it. For chess in Langkawi, I don’t think we are even close in saying “check mate” just yet as the game is only beginning.
For those interested in starting up a chess community in Langkawi or maybe just learning how to play the game, you can get in touch with the Kedah Chess Association.
Text by Mo