Spotlight still on the Malaysian Chess Federation elections

OCTOBER 20 — There is so much going on in the world of chess as the year rushes to its end! There are so many events and tournaments going on.

But for those vested in the future of the game in Malaysia, the big news is that there are now actually dates for the long overdue and much postponed Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) Annual General Meeting and election — set for December 11 — exactly between the end of the Penang Open and the start of the Johor Open.

What's more, there will not only be a fight to remove the incumbents but likely also a battle between two other parties.

There was a big surprise at last week's MCF Council Meeting also: The reappointment of Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah as MCF Honorary Secretary.

After the last MCF election, Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah who was originally brought in by elected Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr Edmund Santhara to be Treasurer to help put the the federation's financials in order ended up as Honorary Secretary.

He went on to become deputy president when Edmund resigned after president Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib repeatedly did not honour his promise to step down.

In his short time in MCF, Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah certainly delivered by bringing on board corporate sponsorship as well as successfully raised the funds that made possible the visit of Garry Kasparov to Malaysia.

Yet he was then quickly sidelined and pushed out in rather humiliating circumstances after being seen by Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib to be a threat to his position.

So why has he agreed to return?

What I have learned is that he was invited by some in the MCF Council as well as others in the chess community to help with an MCF in severe crisis.

He agreed to do so for Malaysian chess but certainly not because of Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib with whom he is completely at odds when it comes to both style and substance of leadership.

But then why did MCF invite him back?

It is, of course, about the elections!

Chess Association of Selangor President Daniel Yong Chen-I — as the flag bearer for the group supported by Datuk Tan Chin Nam is now expected to take a secondary role with an even more prominent candidate apparently having emerged.

Some in MCF are likely feeling their positions may no longer be secure if Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib is replaced and so Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah is seen as maybe a saviour to help solve not only the federation's immediate financial problems but to also show that everything is well... so no fundamental changes will be needed!

Already the Malaysian Inter-State Team Championship will now be able to take place in Pahang from November 25-28.

Yet even with the current MCF line-up in the short run-up to the elections when Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah will also be standing for office, there will be challenges.

This is evident from the announcement on the MCF Treasurer's blog that the current controversial Honorary Secretary has been removed but which she later amended to read that he is now the Assistant Honorary Secretary.

So the political games continue...

But at least it seems quite unanimous now that, regardless, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib must go!

But back to the upcoming events: Nothing is bigger than the World Chess Championship Match between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and his Russian challenger Sergey Karjakin to be held in New York City from November 11-30, and for top-level chess there is the super strong Russian Championship which is now in progress and the London Chess Classic in December where many of the elite players will be playing.

For those aged 50 and above, there is the Asian Senior Chess Championship in Myanmar from October 26-November 5 while the World Senior Chess Championship will be in the Czech Republic from November 18-December 1.

The World Cadets Chess Championship U-8, U-10 and U-12 for Boys and Girls has also started in Batumi, Georgia where Malaysia is represented by Kong Ren En, Sim Jia Ru, Care Greene Lee and Agnes Chong Kai Ni.

Malaysia will also be fielding a team of some of our best talents in Wong Yinn Long, Lye Lik Zang, Tan Jun Ying and Ryan Chan at the inaugural Asian Nations Cup U-14 Team Championship in Jiaxing, China from November 5-12.

On the domestic front there is the Penang Open from December 5-10 followed two days later by the Johor Open from December 12-17 which will be most eagerly awaited.

And not just by Malaysians but also many young Singaporeans, Indonesians, and of course, the usual Filipino professionals although this year they will have to choose between coming or playing instead in the bigger money but much stronger Philippine International Chess Challenge from December 5-11 and the PSC/PureGold Challenge from December 13-18!

Malaysia's No. 1 Yeoh Li Tian, will, however, be at the Lidums Australian Young Masters in Adelaide from December 3-9 December where we all hope he will complete the requirements for the International Master title.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.