Well, so today sees the final round of the Kuala Lumpur open chess tournament at the Olympic Sports Hotel. There will be big match-ups on the top boards as the major prize moneys are up for grabs. Oooh, I can just feel the tension in the hall but unsurprisingly, there's none at all on the top board.
It's the game between Chinese lass Hou Yifan and Indonesian Susanto Megaranto. Yifan has won the tournament yesterday with a round to spare. An unassailable seven points from the previous eight games. The closest competitors are a full point behind her. So, she'll just need a draw from this final game. But wait, the chief arbiter has just reminded the competitors that there should be no draw before 30 moves are played.
Both players are in no mood to fight it out in this game. She needs the draw but she cannot offer one. Her opponent is also waiting for the draw offer but does not want to wait for 30 moves. Nevertheless, the draw came early, after only 15 moves. A three-fold repetition of position. A loop hole in the regulations, no doubt but how was the arbiter to prevent that? He had no choice but to accept that result.
In the meantime, the fight continues on all the remaining top boards. Oh, I just noticed. The eighth board is still empty. The White player is missing. Most probably still sleeping. He's late and in the meantime his clock is ticking away. Actually, it's a very common malaise among some chess players: the habit of turning up late for their games. They are doing themselves no great favour, actually, because they are losing time on their clocks. That game has finally begun. White turned up some 40 minutes late.
Ah, Nigel Short just waltzed into the room. He looks relaxed and ready to leave for the airport. He'll be expected in Bangkok later this afternoon. Aren't you concerned about the situation there, I asked. Just make sure you write a nice obituary for me if anything happens, he replied. Right, I said, I'll write one where you'll have no opportunity to reply or complain. Ha ha...our private joke, best left unexplained.
Mikheil Mchedlishvili is pacing the hall. He must be having a good game against Niaz Murshed in this round. Now, that's another one who seldom on time for his games. Although Mchedlishvili is the top seed in this tournament, he has been overshadowed by a lot of other grandmasters. But yesterday afternoon, he climbed back into contention for the top prizes after taking apart Malaysia's top performer in this event, Nicholas Chan. Nicholas seemed in great awe of him even before the game. Not good for his game but it's always a psychological problem when a lowly-rated player meets a highly-rated grandmaster.
Okay, so that's all for the time being. Maybe I'll write more as the round progresses but I have a lunch date with an ex-colleague coming up. Funny how she got to know that I'm here in KL. I suppose word does get around.....