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ARKIB : 11/11/2003

Two SEA Games medals expected from chess

KUALA LUMPUR Nov 10 - The Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) is confident of clinching at least two medals, of any colour, in next month's Vietnam SEA Games where the event is making its debut.

The medals, from the men's and women's categories, would then serve as an eye-opener that chess can also contribute something to the country.

The SEA Games-bound chess team manager, Ibrahim Bakar, said the MCF was banking on Women's FIDE Master (WFM) Siti Zulaikha Mohd Fauzi for a silver in the Standard events and National Master (NM) Nicholas Chan and NM Jonathan Chuah for the bronze in the Rapid events.

"We did not target any gold medal as countries like hosts Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, have their own Grand Masters (GM) whose levels are much higher than ours.

"In fact, the MCF feels that Vietnam are favourites to grab most of the gold medals. As hosts, Vietnam have included a new event, Rapid (Round-Robin), which needs to be finished in 25 minutes compared to the normal event, Standard (Swiss) which needs to be finished in 90 minutes," he told Bernama here today.

Chess, which offers eight gold medals, will be played in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ibrahim said Malaysia would send 17 players to Vietnam, headed by International Master (IM) Mas Hafizulhelmi Agus Abdul Rahman.

Ten of the players are listed under Category A, who will be fully funded by the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM), while the other seven are under Category B, and will be funded by the association. If they win the bronze, the OCM will reimburse all their expenses.

"We need to send the seven players under Category B as they will take part in the new event (Rapid Round-Robin) introduced by the hosts. Who knows they might grab a medal," he added.

Ibrahim said the Malaysian team would take part in the Men's and Women's Rapid (Individual) and Men's and Women's Rapid (Team) events.

"If our team can produce a medal, we hope the OCM will send the chess team to the 2006 Asian Games in Doha," he said. - Bernama

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