Several Variants of Chess at the 27th SEA Games

Several Variants of Chess at the 27th SEA Games

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

At the 27th SEA Games, 11-22 December in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar several known and lesser known variants of chess were seen: Traditional (=‘Myanmar chess’!), ‘Asean Chess’, Chess960, ‘Transfer Chess’ (=Bughouse) and - phew - also ‘normal’ chess. In the latter section, Vietnames GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son clinched the gold medal in both the rapid and the blitz sections.

The 27th SEA (Southeast Asian) Games were held 11-22 December in Nay Pyi Taw, the new capital of Myanmar. This is a biennial multisport games event hosted normally by rotation among the 11 nations of the ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations. A total of about 10,000 athletes and officials forms the participation list. 

The Games are held under the umbrella of the SEA Games Federation and the sport disciplines are decided by the SEAGF and the local organiser. Chess was included for the fourth time; previously in 2003 (Vietnam), 2005 (Philippines) and 2011 (Indonesia). 8 of the 11 ASEAN countries registered for Chess.

Some of the participants at the Overall Opening Ceremony
The laser display and fireworks after the announcement of the official declaration

In the 27th edition the organisers introduced Myanmar Traditional Chess, Chess 960 and Transfer Chess. Together with regular chess and ASEAN Chess, a total of 18 events were be contested. 

When Garry Kasparov visited Southeast Asia for his FIDE Presidential campaign last month, one thing he learnt was that in Asia were many variants of chess that he had never heard of! One of these variants is Myanmar Chess, although in Myanmar the game is logically called Traditional Chess! 

Kasparov learning Myanmar Chess in November | Photo courtesy of

We came across the website where the rules of Myanmar Chess are explained. A few special features of this game:

The pawns, called nè, are set up well advanced on the board. Each player starts with pawns at his left on the 3rd row, and pawns at his right on the 4th row. The players then proceed to set up the rest of the pieces in their own chosen arrangement. 

Image: Wikipedia

The back row (first rank) on each side of the board is reserved for the rooks, called yahhta, They are placed anywhere on that row. The remaining pieces are set up wherever the player wishes, on the second and third rows, behind the row of pawns. These pieces, called min-gyi, myin, sit-ke and sin, may not be placed on the first row. If you're interested, you can read more here!

Another variant played at the SEA Games was ASEAN Chess, which was introduced only two years ago. It is played with the same board and pieces as chess as we know it. However, the starting position is different:

Two of the pieces go differently too (and are consequenty less strong than in regular chess):

  • the queen may move to an adjoining diagonal square (so just one square away, diagonally);
  • the bishop may move to any adjoining diagonal squares and front square (so just one square away, diagonally or in front of it);

You can read more about the many Asian chess variants and how they are played, here. Two other variants don't really need an introduction here. Chess960 (also known as Fischerrandom) is the same as regular chess except that the pieces on the first rank can be used differently, so that 960 theoretical starting positions arise. Transfer Chess is the same as Bughouse where teams of two players (one with white and one with black) play each other on two boards and a captured pieces is given to the team mate, who can place it on his board when he is to move.

You can find all results of the chess variants that were played in Nay Pyi Taw here at Chess-Results (the link gives the final standings of the rapid event but at the top you'll find links to the other sections).

An elephant dance at the soft opening for the Chess Discipline
Welcome Address by Mr Maung Maung Lwin, President of the Myanmar Chess Federation
Speech by Mr Ignatius Leong, President of ASEAN Chess Confederation

Looking at the Chess960 games I realized that I've really been missing Hans-Walter Schmitt's annual tournament in Mainz, where Chess960 was always played. We shouldn't forget about Bobby Fischer's wonderful invention because it can be so refreshing to play without opening theory sometimes!

Here's the game between Susanto Megaranto and Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, two of the strongest participants when it comes down to regular chess. The Vietnames player won the blitz and rapid gold medals but in this discipline the Indonesian GM won, with 6.0/7. The starting move attacks a pawn, but Nguyen copied it anyway.

Susanto, Megaranto-Nguyen, Ngoc Truong Son
SEA Games (Chess960), Nay Pyi Taw

1.f4 f5 2.Bxa7 Bxa2 3.Bxb8 Qxb8 4.Nb3 Bxb1 5.Qxb1 Qa7

6.g3 g6 7.Nd3 Nd6 8.e3 Nb6 9.0–0 Nbc4

10.Qa1 Qxa1 11.Rxa1 e6 12.c3 b6 13.Kf1 Ke7 14.Ke2 Ne4 15.Ra2 h6

16.Ne1 Nf6 17.d3 Nd6 18.Nf3 Nfe8 19.Ra8 Rg8 20.Nbd2 g5 21.Ne5 h5 22.d4 g4 23.e4 and here White problably won on time as the score gives 1-0.

One of the participants was the legendary Eugene Torre of the Philippines. He lost to Nguyen in an interesting game:

Nguyen, Ngoc Truong Son-Torre, Eugene
SEA Games (Chess960), Nay Pyi Taw

1. c4 Ng6 2. e3 b5 3. cxb5 Qxb5+ 4. Be2 Qb6 5. d4 c5 6. dxc5 Qxc5 7. Nd3 Qg5

8. Ng3 Bc7 9. b3 O-O 10. Qc1 Bd6 11. f4 Qh6 12. O-O Nh4 13. Rf2 Nb6 14. e4 Rc8 15. Qd2 f6

and we're more or less back to normal chess. Here's the rest of the game:

From the same starting position, this was a nice one too:

1. Ng3 e5 2. c4 Ng6 3. b3 b6 4. e3 c5 5. Nce2 d5

6. cxd5 Bxd5 7. Nc3 Bc6 8. Bc2 Nce7 9. f3 Bc7 10. O-O O-O

And after both sides have castled, we get to this position:

Let's finish with a quick win by Torre:

SEA Games (Chess960), Nay Pyi Taw

1. e4 Nf6 2. f3 d6 3. d4 Ng6 4. c4 Bd7 5. Bc3 e5

6. d5 Qe7 7. Ne2 a6 8. Bd3 Ba7 9. g4 O-O

You can download the full PGN of the Chess960 games here.

27th SEA Games 2013 | Chess sections

Event Gold Silver Bronze
International Rapid Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Nguyen Duc Hoa John Paul Gomez
Vietnam (VIE) Vietnam (VIE) Philippines (PHI)
International Blitz Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son Nguyen Van Huy Rogelio Antonio Jr.
Vietnam (VIE) Vietnam (VIE) Philippines (PHI)
960 Rapid Susanto Megaranto John Paul Gomez Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son
Indonesia (INA) Philippines (PHI) Vietnam (VIE)
ASEAN Standard Uaychai Kongsee Boonsueb Sae Heng Kyaw Tun Nay Oo
Thailand (THA) Thailand (THA) Myanmar (MYA)
ASEAN Rapid Uaychai Kongsee Boonsueb Sae Heng Dede Lioe
Thailand (THA) Thailand (THA) Indonesia (INA)
ASEAN Rapid team Thailand (THA) Philippines (PHI) Myanmar (MYA)
Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit Darwin Laylo Win Tun
Uaychai Kongsee Eugene Torre Nay Oo Kyaw Tun
Danuphop Sangsuwan Rogelio Antonio Jr Myint Han
Boonsueb Sae Heng John Paul Gomez Aung Myo Hlaing
ASEAN Blitz Warot Kananub Uaychai Kongsee Taufik Halay
Thailand (THA) Thailand (THA) Indonesia (INA)
Traditional Standard Nakorn Trisa Ard Mohammad Ervan Pairoj Suwan
Thailand (THA) Indonesia (INA) Thailand (THA)
Traditional Rapid Win Zaw Htun Pairoj Suwan Worathep Timsri
Myanmar (MYA) Thailand (THA) Thailand (THA)
Traditional Rapid team Thailand (THA) Myanmar (MYA) Malaysia (MAS)
Pairoj Suwan Win Zaw Htun Kugan Ravindran
Nut Sutthithamwasi Nyein Chan Genkeswaran Muniyan
Chatuporn Lakarnchua Myint Han Mok Tze Meng
Worathep Timsri Maung Maung Latt Mok Khye Zen
Traditional Blitz Win Zaw Htun Worathep Timsri Taufik Halay
Myanmar (MYA) Thailand (THA) Indonesia (INA)
Traditional Blitz team Thailand (THA) Indonesia (INA) Myanmar (MYA)
Supat Lekcham Ervan Mohamad Zaw Win
Nut Sutthithamwasi Taufik Halay Win Zaw Htun
Arch Boonruamboon Lioe Dede Nay Oo Kyaw Tun
Worathep Timsri Maung Maung Latt
Pair Transfer Blitz Indonesia (INA) Vietnam (VIE) Indonesia (INA)
Muhammad Lutfi Ali Dao Thien Hai Farid Firman Syah
Susanto Megaranto Nguyen Van Huy Masruri Rahman

Source: Wikipedia

Thanks to Ignatius Leong, who informed us that the next edition of the SEA Games will be in Singapore in 2015.

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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