Sunday, 2 December 2012

Obituary: Fang Ewe Churh

It is with deep regret that I announce the demise of Mr Fang Ewe Churh this morning at 3.45a.m. Fang, who was the country's first International Arbiter but had long been out from the chess scene for possibly around 25 years already, had been ill for quite some time. About two years ago, he underwent surgery for a malignant growth on his scalp and was thought to be recovering.

For those who are unaware of Fang's contributions to chess in Malaysia, let me say briefly that we consider him to be the Father of Chess in Penang. It would not be too far-fetched to suggest that he had played a significant contributory role to the development of chess in Malaysia as well.

In March 1972, he set in motion the founding of the Penang Chess Association at the Penang Library and became the association's founding president. Under his watch as the PCA president, the following chess activities were initiated:

  • In June or July 1972, the first Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Pulau Pinang (MSSPP) Chess Tournament was organised at the Han Chiang Primary School where he was the headmaster;
  • In October 1972, he captained the first Malaysian chess team that played in a Chess Olympiad in Skopje, Yugoslavia;
  • In December 1972, he organised the first Majlis Sukan Sekolah-Sekolah Malaysia (MSSM) Team Chess Championship at the Dewan Sri Pinang, George Town, Penang;
  • In 1974, he organised the first Penang Chess Open Tournament;
  • In 1974, together with other chess enthusiasts nationwide, he helped establish the Malaysian Chess Federation. At the inaugural meeting, he was elected as one of the vice-presidents;
  • In December 1974, he was a key organiser of the first Asian Team Chess Championship which was held at the Dewan Sri Pinang n George Town, Penang;
  • In 1975, he organised the first Malaysian team chess championship at Recsam in Glugor, Penang;
  • In 1978, he brought the Penang team to participate in the first Asian Cities Team Chess Championship in Hong Kong. The Penang Chess Association was to participate in three or four more similar events there.
There were several other significant chess activities held in Penang under his tenure as the PCA president until 1989, but I shall not list them further. Suffice for me to say that the Penang Chess Association owes its successes in its formative years to this man. He remained a good friend to me until his final days. My thoughts are with his family.

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