After much speculation, the 8th edition of the Malaysia Chess Festival is back on the calendar. Albeit missing the generous sponsorship from Dato Tan Chin Nam, the traditional sponsors such as ASTRO, CitiTel and IGN including last year's first time sponsor Swensen and KLK Berhad have come to the fore to make the annual event a reality. According to organizer Hamid Majid, it is important to have the momentum going to make sure that the event stays in the calendar. The Malaysia Chess Festival is a unique chess event that offers a variety of event format ranging from classical time control to rapid and blitz events, and for various playing level and ages from the young and the young at heart.
This year's event will feature the usual anchor event, the Dato Arthur Tan Malaysia Open with the Tan Sri Lee Loy Seng International Seniors Open as the side event for the senior players and the Malaysia Open Chess Challenge for the amateurs. These are FIDE rated events with 90 minutes playing time plus 30 seconds increment per move played over 9 rounds. With more than RM70,000 in total prize money for these three events, it remains as the most lucrative event for the local chess calendar. These events are scheduled to start on 17th August with players registration and Round 1 to start on 18th August. The final Round 9 is scheduled on 25th August followed by the closing ceremony and the Malaysia Open Blitz event. There will be 2 rest days in between the scheduled 9 rounds - after Round 5 on Sunday, 21st August and before Round 9 on Wednesday, 24th August.
During the first rest day on Sunday, the organizer will be holding the Age Group Chess Championship and for the second rest day on Wednesday, exhibition and simul matches will be conducted by various grandmasters against our aspiring juniors. Both events are open to junior players of all ages and playing strength
This year's event exhibit a slight change from the norm with the classical event being conducted prior to the rapid whereas in the previous editions, the organizers would run the rapid events first including the team event before settling on the more serious tournaments. The individual rapid and team events are conducted after the major events to take advantage of the school break which starts on the 25th and 26th of August thereby allowing some time for outstation team to take part before their Hari Raya going home exodus. After all, with most holiday goers filling up the major highways over the weekend, it is only sensible to take part in this year’s festival and delay the travelling dates to a more less stressful journey - on Sunday after the event concludes.
The individual rapid event shall be conducted on the 26th August over 7 rounds starting at 8:00am with registration and Round 1 to start at 9:00am. A total prize fund of RM2,500 has been set aside for the event with the eventual winner to bag RM700 for his/her effort. The traditional ASTRO Merdeka Team event will start the following day to be played over 9 rounds with Round 1 to Round 6 to scheduled on Saturday and the remaining 3 rounds on Sunday. The event is scheduled to complete by 2:00pm to allow players to return home and reach their destination just before break fasting time with a one day rest on Monday before the Hari Raya celebration on Tuesday.