KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — The country’s number one chess player, Yeoh Li Tian, is Malaysia’s top contender for the gold medal in the mind sport at the Philippines SEA Games scheduled from Nov 30 to Dec 11.
The 20-year-old, who is on track to make history by becoming Malaysia’s first Grandmaster, looks to have the talent required to bring home the gold in the men’s blitz event.
Yeoh, who has received two titles from the International Chess Federation so far, namely FIDE Master in 2015 and International Master in 2017, is nearing the highest rank in world chess.
He has completed two ‘norms’ and passed the 2,500 Elo-rating mark, with a rating of 2,530, and now only has to achieve another norm to realise his dream.
Squad manager, Muhammad Firdaus Ismail, said Yeoh, who studies at the London Imperial College, was currently undergoing training with the country’s chess team through an online platform.
He said sisters Nur Nabila and Nur Najiha Azman Hisham, as well as Tan Li Ting, were also medal prospects in the squad.
“We expect Nur Nabila to win the silver, while Nur Najiha and Tan should be able to win the bronze. Preparations are currently underway, with intensive training being carried out at the newly constructed training centre in the Diplomatic Precinct, in Putrajaya.
“To get familiarised with the format of the tournament in the Philippines, we will send our chess players to participate in several domestic and foreign tournaments,” he said.
Meanwhile, national coach S. Suman believes the squad can shine in the SEA Games with great preparations underway via an online platform.
“So far, since the names were chosen in July, we have conducted rigorous training for all the players. The game of chess is very mental in nature, through the means of online training, these players are able to individually improve their standards and play as a team,” he said.
Malaysia had won a bronze medal in the sport in the 2011 and 2013 editions of the Games, while it was not contested in the 2015 and 2017 editions.