Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The disappearing chess archive

Just the other day, I happened to see a very familiar picture on Jimmy Liew's blog. He was revelling in some old memories and had reproduced a picture of an old newspaper clipping which had appeared long ago on this blog, which in turn I had copied over from the old Penang Chess Association website which was my original brainchild. (What I'm hinting at is that the picture came from me.)

But never mind about all that. What I want to say here is that, that Jimmy has a crafty way of trying to lure me to comment on his blog. First, he casually dropped my name and then in the same breath, went on to add "...if they are reading this..." Of course, I was reading your reminiscence, Jimmy. I'm always reading your informative blog but doing it quietly. I don't want to get myself drawn into needless hours of arguments and counter-arguments about the state of local chess, especially with people who choose to hide under pseudonyms. I shall leave that to you, man, to sort out the truth from the lies! I have little patience interacting with unknown bloggers. 

But never mind about that too. What I actually want to say now is that he had about half the information there correct. I'm not going to dispute that the person playing in the middle was indeed Jimmy Liew. He should know best whether that's him or not and besides, I also can't recognise a Jimmy Liew that was only 17 years old then.

But of the other persons in the picture.... Wait, maybe I should reproduce that old grainy picture here first:

I had been staring at it for quite a while. I still can't say who the player sitting on his right was. Maybe Jimmy's correct in speculating that it's Ooi Gim Ewe but maybe it's not too. Very difficult to make it out from that old newspaper picture. However, the ones standing up are not the persons whom he mentioned. There was no Gong Wooi Mau or Tan Kai Ming in the picture. I'm very certain, though, that the one at the far end was Koo Hock Song and next to him was Tan Beng Theam. The other bloke with folded arms is unknown to me.

Then we come to the other three persons in the picture. The two boys are brothers and that's their father stooping low over the one playing. He was a medical doctor, I was given to understand at that time. And that was the first and last time that they ever turned up at a PCA activity. Unfortunately, that's all I know about them. I don't even know the father's surname and I don't even know whether those boys subsequently got more interested in chess. (Come to think about it, since this was the PCA in the 1970s, I would surely know if they did but since they did not register in my mind at all, I'm sure they didn't.)

The other essential point of this story is that I should also add here that way back in the late 1990s, I had already prepared a website for the Penang Chess Association. It was hosted on Geocities. Anybody remember that name: Geocities? It was among one of the first web-hosting sites on the Internet; among the pioneers. Among the information I kept on the PCA website there was a little chess archive section that chronicled significant activities involving chess in Penang right up till 1978 or so.

From 2000 onwards when a new committee took over the PCA and started operating from Bayan Baru, they were offered a new website parked under the domain name. On my urging, they agreed to retain the chess archive on their new website as it was of historical value not only to the PCA but the Malaysian chess community at large.

After the 2008 General Elections when the then ruling Barisan Nasional political party lost their trousers in Penang, the domain name also packed up. Maybe we can put two-and-two together. Luckily there was a back-up of the old files and the Penang Chess Association then recreated their present website on At first, I still could see the chess archive there but of late, the link to the archive has gone missing.

This is a great pity. Personally, I don't give a hoot whether or not the archive was started by me. What I am disappointed with is that the present PCA committee just doesn't give a damn about their own illustrious beginnings. The information's all lost, you see, and that is the biggest pity.

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