New Asian woman champion
- by Quah
Seng Sun -
(This article first appeared in The Star newspaper of 24 April
XU YUHUA, the 22-year-old
woman international master from Hangzhou, China, is the
new winner of the Asian Women's Individual Chess
She was undefeated
throughout the 11-round competition and finished the
clear winner with 8.5 points from 11 games. The
championship, which began on April 9, ended on Tuesday at
the Awana Genting Highlands Golf And Country Resort,
With this victory, Xu
gained possession of the Indira Gandhi challenge trophy
and bagged US$500 in the process. Xu, the 1996 Asian
junior girls' champion, also gained her third woman
grandmaster title norm in this event.
Lebanese woman grandmaster
Eva Repkova came in second. Repkova had been expected to
challenge Xu for the top prize and indeed, after the
ninth round had seemed set to do so, but an unexpected
loss to Vietnamese player Le Thi Phuong Lien in the 10th
round dashed her hopes.
In the final round last
Tuesday, Repkova showed none of the effects of this loss
to collect the full point from the Australian women's
champion, Ngan Phan-Kostnistsky.
Repkova ended the
tournament with eight points and with it, the second
prize of US$400. Her closest rival, Rena Mamedova from
Uzbekistan, lost to Vietnam's Nguyen Thoan Hua and stayed
third with seven points.
minutes into the start of the 10th round on Monday, the
head of the Vietnamese contingent to the championship,
Dang Tat Thang, mentioned casually to one of the arbiters
that Repkova would lose her game to Le. It became
apparent, as the game unfolded, that Repkova had walked
into a line prepared by the Vietnamese.
Le proceeded to show her
opponent the extent of her preparation, and Repkova,
unable to put up any resistance, soon conceded the game
to her when the checkmating threats could no longer be
Despite this loss, I found
Repkova to be the most elegant player in the event. In
most of her games, whenever she found herself with an
advantage on the chessboard, she played dynamically to
finish off her opponent in the most economical and
My observations about
Repkova should in no way distract us from the fact that
Xu is also a very accomplished player.
Xu played with an air of
calm and confidence. Her style is less tactical, but she
would be patiently collecting small advantages at all
stages of her game.
Nevertheless, being a less
dynamic player than Repkova meant that she was more
susceptible to drawing her games. In the tournament, she
made no less than four significantly drawn games.
The closest I ever saw her
come to a disadvantage in any of her games was in the
ninth round when spirited play from Mamedova forced her
to simplify into an end game where she was left with two
pawns against Mamedova's knight and pawn. But Xu had seen
to it that the position was still a draw.
Among all the players in
the field, the one person who gave me the impression of
being a very difficult opponent was Tamin Upi Darmayana.
Tamin Upi was the
defending champion. Her resistance collapsed towards the
end of the championship but she accounted for herself
very well in the middle rounds.
She was a very game
fighter, unwilling to concede much in her games, and she
often found the resources to win or to save a lost
The Malaysian Chess
Federation entered four local players in this tournament
and I was glad to see that our players did not disgrace
Nurul Huda Wahiduddin and
Samantha Lee gave good accounts of themselves, scoring
4.5 points each, and both Roslina Marmono and Lim Jeannie
were not too far behind with four points each.
The Asian Women's
Individual Chess Championship, like the Asian Cities Team
Chess Championship which ended a week earlier, was
organised by the Malaysian Chess Federation and fully
sponsored by Resorts World Bhd.