3rd Singapore Masters Blitz (Junior Edition)
The Singapore Masters Blitz series, a brainchild of Olimpiu Urcan, sets out to provide quality quickplay events for Singapore and locally based masters in terms of playing conditions and prize fund. The first edition had $1100 up for grabs and Filipino trainer Reggie Olay claimed the $600 first prize. The second iteration, beefed up by the $1850 prize fund, had IM Goh Wei Ming pipping GM Bong Villamayor on tiebreak for the $1000 first prize.
This year, Olimpiu injected a nice twist into the equation, focusing on the top Singaporean juniors instead of solely master-level players. The 18 strong field vied for the $1200 prize fund, inclusive of a $100 brilliancy prize. There was also greater autonomy for the players to decide on the format of the event which from a former schoolteacher's perspective, I think is important as I feel our youths' views should count, especially engaging in a mindsport they have invested so much time on.
Apart from our local top juniors, an invitation was extended to Indonesian youngster FM Azarya Jodi Setyaki. The 19 year old was expected to mount a challenge as he had just made his 2nd IM norm in Kuala Lumpur a couple of days back.
Initially, we planned a 10 round event but upon consultation with the players' representatives FM Lee Qing Aun and FM Ashvin Sivakumar, agreed to extend it to 14 rounds. The players actually wanted a full blooded 17 game round robin duke-out but time constraints simply did not allow that.
Another request by the players was to FIDE-rate the event, and SCF gave for their consent, sending FIDE Arbiter Jasmin Nisban to help run the event. We also had to thank him for swiftly resolving two potentially time consuming technical issues midway into the event.
The event started with a stir as top seeds IM Tin Jingyao and IM Liu Xiangyi went a point short. The former was ousted by Carwyn Yeo after he bizarrely spent way too much time (1 minute 25 seconds!) calculating an exchange sacrifice (he actually called 'flag' on himself!). The latter, on the other hand, was beaten by the traffic as he failed to reach the venue (The Anchorage Function Room) on time, gifting Cameron Goh the game. Jingyao was also held to a draw by Heng Zheng Kai in the following round, while Xiangyi went down to Setyaki and Ashvin in Rounds 3 and 4.
The IMs' tentative play allowed CM Lee Junwei to surge into the lead on the strength of 5 consecutive wins. His counter-punching style and good time usage gave him a clear one point lead over Ashvin at the end of the fifth round. An entertaining fight occurred between him and Setyaki in Round 3.
However, there is always room for comebacks, especially in a 14 rounder, and the litmus test proved to be the 6th round clash between Junwei and Jingyao.
By round 10. Jingyao had reeled off 8 consecutive wins utilizing 1 Nc3 and the good old 1 e4 e5 classical lines with Black. Junwei kept up the chase, one point behind at 7.5 points. The IM clash went Xiangyi's way as he demonstrated the superiority of his knight over Jingyao's bishop. Of course, nabbing one pawn early in the game helped his cause.
Junwei dropped off the pace, courtesy of a self inflicted back rank mate to William Woong's queen. After this debacle, Junwei was a spent force and could no longer mount a challenge to the 2 IMs.
The two IMs continued to reel off wins right to the end of the event. Despite Xiangyi's run of 9 consecutive wins from Round 5 onwards, he was still pipped by Jingyao for the title. Setyaki secured 3rd place with a strong finish in the second half. Rafflesians Ashvin and IM Cyrus Low claimed 4th and 5th place with Ashvin's win over Cyrus deciding the 60 dollars difference in prize money (and bragging rights in school ). Junwei's initial spurt was good enough to keep him on the prize list, taking the 6th position booty of $40.
One particularly interesting (at least to me) note was Ashvin's composure in his games against the primary school opponents. 8 year old CM Goh Zihan had played well to nab Ashvin's piece.
Zihan trying to covert the knight up game vs Ashvin
Ashvin did not panic but played a-tempo as Zihan went into increment mode and that was when Ashvin switched into attack mode to win. In the final round, Ashvin fell headlong into Ethan Poh's dangerous Canal Scotch Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Nc3!?) and his king was kept on the run for the whole game. oscillating on the 6th rank from the a to c file. Ethan was a piece up but was enticed by Ashvin's floating king. He chose to go after the king and soon found himself in in increment mode. He could not find a way to finish the game off and offered a draw. To his surprise, Ashvin refused! They split the point anyway after a flurry of repetitions. These episodes showed that experience plus coolness under pressure matters as much as strong play in blitz and our youngsters can learn about this aspect of the game from the senior youths.
Final top results:
1st - IM Tin Jingyao - $500
2nd - IM Liu Xiangyi - $300
3rd - FM FM Azarya Jodi Setyaki - $100
4th - FM Ashvin Sivakumar - $100
5th - IM Cyrus Low - $60
6th - CM Lee Junwei - $40
Videos of the top board games are available on Youtube.
Pictures of participants
Ng Sheng Feng - Nanyang Challenge Champion for the last past 3 years.
William Woong - Runner up, SG City Open 2016 and National B Division =2nd
Gavin Koh- Singapore Amateur Ch 2016 Runner up
Cameron Goh - National B Division =2nd
FM Ashvin Sivakumar = 3rd in Wroclaw Open 2017
IM Liu Xiangyi- =3rd in Filipino Zonal 3.3
Ethan Poh - National Senior Boys (Primary) champion
IM Tin Jingyao - Current National Standard, Rapid and Blitz Champion
FM Lee Qing Aun - Current National Standard Runner up
CM Lee Jun Wei - National B Division 2nd
Matthew Lau-Eastern Asian Youth Rapid 3rd
Carwyn Yeo -Singapore Amateur Ch 2016 3rd
IM Cyrus Low - 9th in Praha Open 2017 (TPR 2507)
FM Azarya Jodi Setyaki - IM norm results at DAT KL Open 2017 and Filipino Zonal 3.3
CM Goh Zi Han - National Lower Div Boys Champion
CM Cyrus Nisban - National Age Group U12 =3rd
Heng Zheng Kai - National Age Group U14 =2nd