SGChess Blog #5 – Commonwealth Chess Championship 2023-2024

March 04, 2024

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In a recently concluded Commonwealth Chess Championship, that took place in a historical Malacca (Malaysia), Singapore was represented by a huge contingent of 37 players. With all the parents, coaches and irreplaceable Carleton, the delegation was way more than 50 people!

My name is GM Andrey Kvon. And let me share what I’ve witnessed:

Boys before being scolded by fierce coaches.

Part I: Heartbreaking

One of the most efficient ways to learn is from our own mistakes. The price of efficiency is pain and heartbreak. Is it worth it? The most common reason for such terrible mistakes is a loss of concentration, followed by hastiness. In quite a few games our players played brilliantly! And then just ONE mistake… and a great game goes to waste. Let me illustrate it with a few examples.

Of course, after such a loss it is nearly impossible to recover. It happened in round 1, and Jayden started 0/3… Such a painful lesson.

Rigel is writing: “I will not blunder ever again!”

Rigel Ng was facing a strong opponent from Sri Lanka. Let’s see what happened in the game.

One mistake. ONE. In a well played game. Heartbreaking.

Our youngest player, Lucas Wee, was playing well throughout the tournament. He could have won his game against the gold medalist. After losing that game he was in clear 2nd place.

He could have won this game and secured a Silver! Experience is invaluable. And all we can think of is “He could have won both games, where he lost. And then it could have been Gold!”

Scolding in action!

Jayden Wong was having a good situation before the last rounds. And then this game happened.

Seeing such games is always hard. I can see that by chess skills, these players deserve more points. But bad playing habits (blitzing the moves, losing concentration, looking at the opponent’s rating and title etc.) are stopping players from scoring points.

Parents on duty! (Audelle already finished her game. I hope she won!)

Part II: Hopeful

The Commonwealth Championship is always dominated by players from India. India is one of the strongest chess nations in the world, or maybe even in the universe. Facing the best players is always a challenge. And seeing how bravely our players (or as IG account @sgchessfed called them – “munchkins”) were fighting against the top seeds and much higher-rated opponents was a real treat to the eyes! A New Hope.

Peck Jia Rui is always lively and in a playful mood before and after the game. Once the game starts – she is a cold-blooded fighter.

Daris Du is already a strong player. Hastiness cost him many points. Let’s see how he managed to beat a much higher-rated opponent in the next nice game.

In the U12G group, Liew Tze Yu finished 4th. This girl has a spirit. In the game below she was playing against the leader. Many others would be frightened, but Tze Yu wanted to win, to prove to everyone and herself that she was on the same level!

With more international experience and a solid opening repertoire, she is definitely a future “medal earner” for Singapore.

Besties! Alesa and Tze Yu.

Kapoor Satvik had many good chances in his games against a higher-rated opposition. Overall he could be slightly disappointed with a final performance. In the next game, he managed to draw against FM from Australia.

In the game below, Eden was playing against FM and after interesting battle it ended as a draw.

Alexx was fighting hard, and had great chances in the games that he lost. I feel, his current playing style is not exactly matching his strong points. Let’s see his nice bishop ending.

Alexx is showing his masterpiece to coach Enrique and Javier, while Rebekah is growing a plant.

Example of a nice endgame technique with pair of Bishops from Liew “Capablanca” Tze Chi.

For many players it was a 1st international tournament. Alesa in the next game shown to us that she knows her Bishops well.

Alesa and Audelle thinking about changing from chess to agriculture.

Part III: Struggling
When there is a real fight, mistakes are happening all over the place. Alongside bold and creative decisions! It is important to always be ready to bring it on. Regardless of whom you are facing! Strong willpower and stamina have won countless number of games! And as LKY once said “Whoever plays chess [governs Singapore] must have that iron in him/her. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards.”

Brothers. Dhanesh and Haresh. Missing on the photo is Vinesh.

Some of our players had high hopes before the tournament and could be disappointed with the final standings. One such player is Haresh. He finished 4th, just one step behind the medalists. Below you can see the game with his annotations. Personally, I think Haresh needs to find a balance between creativity and solid play. Because often his plans are way too risky.

In the next game Tanush was facing the top seed of the U14 category. Despite being heavily outrated, this was a fight of equals.

Strong opponents always put pressure. At such moments it is especially needed to stand your ground and not flee from the fight. Be ready to take risks!

Even the best players are still humans after all. I would like to show you the next game, that was played in the last round in the U10G group.

Draw. Black secured the 1st place with this result. As we saw in the game, there was no(if any) huge gap between players! Well done Monali!

Playing till the end. Searching for chances. Being resourceful. Never give up. And stay in high spirits. All of that is needed to win a formidable opponent.

Releasing stress by playing football

Tobias Lim had many good positions in the Open section. But somewhere closer to the end of the game he let opponents slip away. Maybe he needs to work on his stamina.

Part IV: Victorious
Closer to the end we had our medal hopes high! The final tally – 4 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze in standard, plus 1 Silver in blitz was quite a fair result. Let’s take a look at some games of our winners!

Our Medalists!

Ladies first! Gong Qianyun once again proved her strength and casually won the gold in an international competition. Uncompromising playing style – 6W 3L NO DRAWS! It is a treat for the viewers and spectators. Below are 2 wins in KIA, annotated by her. Opponents knew she was going after the king. And yet, could not save it.

In the Senior group, veteran Chan Peng Kong finished 3rd. Playing together with all the other players in the open tournament is no joke. Double rounds were rough. Nevertheless, experience helped him to navigate right to the pedestal. It was also a pleasure to see how he was educating younger generations about Singapore’s chess history. Here is a game with his annotations.

Jayden Wong got Silver. It could have been better, but also could be worse. The boy needs more confidence, he doesn’t know how strong he already is. Let’s take a look at his battle with Tin Jingyao.

Tin Jingyao was fighting for a gold medal in the open section, after the next nice win over GM Sethuraman. Annotated by Jingyao.

But a bad finish – 0.5/2 left him out of the medal zone. In the blitz event, he was crushing everyone, but lost the final round and only got silver. Still a decent result!

In the U8 category, Lucas Wee won the bronze medal. Yet, he could be disappointed by that result, since he was winning in the game against a winner. He is still small, not even 8, and has room for improvement! Slow down, Lucas! And then you will have many gold medals!

In the U12 group, the gold medal was seized by Aaradhya. The boy captured attention last year mostly because of his tactical skills. And in this tournament, he added much-needed maturity to his play. The next opposite colour Bishop ending is my favourite.

Very nice technique! And well deserved gold medal!

In the U20G category, we had a pleasant surprise. Don’t get me wrong, I was sure that Eden would do well, but her final result – 32nd place in the open, being the 89th seed! It is quite remarkable. She explained her success as “I was lucky”.

Bravely sacrificing a knight, and then outplaying opponent strategically. Still just a stroke of pure luck? Okay, boomer.

The path of Gladys

I hope the other winners won’t be too jealous, but my magnifying glass is on Gladys this time. The start of the tournament was quite emotional, in the first 2 games with some luck she managed to score 2/2. But then this happened… Annotated by Gladys Koh.

After such a terrible loss it is very hard to recover. You are in the knockdown and double rounds give you no time to have a breather. It was time to show the true colours. Annotations by Gladys Koh.

During the tournament Gladys also had a birthday! Time for double celebrations!

She definitely has “iron” in her! This convincing win over the top seed left no doubts about “Who is the boss” in the U18G category.

Our coaching team is especially proud of Eden and Gladys. Through tough training, despite some rough results, they continued to work hard. And were rewarded! If you need more proof that hard work pays off – here you go!

For the dessert: this incredible game by Klaus. I am not so familiar with Singapore’s chess history, but could this be the Singapore Immortal? Game annotated by Klaus.

Klaus in red. Power of Friendship! Great game! Resembling the famous Ivanchuk-Jussupow game.

Fitness is important!

Bye-bye, Malacca!

You can download all the games from the article as a PGN here.