Chess Tales from Asia - The Great Singapore Swindles (Part 1)

  • CM juniortay
  • | Oct 30, 2013

 Greetings from Singapore!

Now, the island I come from isn't exactly well known for chess (prowess) but very often, when FIDE-rated expatriates show up (usually for post-grad studies) in our local tourneys for the first time, they tend to be stunned by the type of chess we dish out in our rapid chess events. The refined positional play of the Europeans will help them garner  big strategic advantages in the first half of the game. But more often than not, the local player (or the Pinoys based in Singapore) will throw out tactical spanners, bolts and nuts one after another in the dying seconds and hustle draws or wins. In short, our games are more often than not decided by swindles.  Most of the tourneys held in Singapore are blitz or rapid events and hence, the regular local chesser has adapted his/her play to suit the tempo of play. No Kramnikian krunching or Magnus manouvring for the likes of us. Just plain hacking and hustling to burn up time.

OK, just to give legitimacy to our style of play, I would like to quote from IM Ali Mortazavi's The Fine Art of Swindling (Cardogan 1996) - "Although you may well think that swindling an opponent requires some kind of below the belt tactic during a game, fιrst of all it is important to understand chess strategy. The reasons for this are simple. Α good swindle still re­quires the same patience, tenac­ity, positional understanding, etc., as a 'normal' game of chess".

I suppose, for the potential 'swindlee', it is important to keep calm and vigilant under time pressure and remain focused on the potential dirt the swindler will dish out. Easier said than done, of course.

OK. Enough chatter.

The following is an example of desperate swindling by a Singaporean from a Malaysian team event with precious seconds left on the clock.

Great Singapore Swindle Example 1

This sort of thing also happens at our premier rapid event, the National Rapid Championships, I kid you not.  But this time round, it's an unintentional swindle as the culprit was totally clueless...

 Great Singapore Swindle Example 2 (annotations by IM Goh Wei Ming)

I would like to end this article with a well timed swindle by the late FM Chia Chee Seng who passed away this year. He was most famous in Singapore chess lore as "the toughest guy I played as a growing chess player who is full of practical and creative resources to turn around lost games!" (IM Terry Toh) and "The most resourceful Singapore player in lost positions" (IM Hsu Li Yang).

 Great Singapore Swindle Example 3
I hope you have enjoyed part 1 of the series (of 3) and thanks for reading this article!



  • 22 months ago


    I lived in singapore

  • 24 months ago


    You've seemingly described the situation perfectly... in Thailand! It is also like this, where most of the tourneys are rapid and blitz and the games are indeed extremely dirty, too many a time I have lost whilst being up a gross amount of material...

  • 3 years ago

    CM juniortay

    Thank you for your kind comments!

  • 3 years ago


    good article, nice writing style, keep it up!

  • 3 years ago

    CM juniortay


  • 3 years ago


    Awesome article

  • 3 years ago

    CM juniortay

    Yes...there are many ways to win, as long as White can play Rg8+ and promote the pawn the next move. The key is whether he could find Rg8+ or not...

  • 3 years ago


    As far as I can understand the position, 9. Rg8+ wins immediatelly but is not the only winning move. With all the five possible moves with the king white still has a winning position  

    The half point went to black after the move  13. Kb4 ??

    After  13.....  Rc1!!  we have a draw

  • 3 years ago


    lol...still happening hahaha...

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago

    CM juniortay

    Yes...both sides missed Rg8!. The swindle was the draw offer Laughing

  • 3 years ago


    sorry I wasn't  saw this note :

    After the game, someone from the crowd shouted, "you could have just given a check!". It then dawned on us that both of us had missed the beginner's puzzle-like Rg8+! when my rook was on c7. I must say both of us were really embarrassed to miss such a simple move, and to think we were contesting to be the 2nd best local rapid chess player in Singapore! 

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