Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.

"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Saturday, January 03, 2009

4:7 FIDE West Asian Zone Championship

The Federation Internationale des Echecs (FIDE), or the World Chess Federation, held its annual congress at the same venue as the Olympiads and I attended the congress when not required to play for our team. One great problem facing FIDE then and which concerned Asian countries was the championship of the West Asian Zone that included both Mongolia and Israel. These two were by far the strongest teams in the Zone. Mongolia had won the event when it was held in Mongolia and Israel had won the event when it was held in Israel. It was now Mongolia’s turn to host the event, the other countries in the Zone not having shown any desire of doing so. When the FIDE General Assembly discussed the venue, however, the Israeli delegate said that if the event was held in Mongolia, Israel would abstain. There was nothing wrong with the organization of the competition, he said, but getting to Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and then getting home, had been so difficult for the Israelis the last time they were in Ulan Bator, that they did not want to suffer the same way again. The said difficulties, we were told in asides, were caused by having to pass through the Soviet Union which did not recognize the State of Israel.

The Mongolian players would have easily won the Zone Championship in the absence of the Israelis and qualified for the next stage in the World Championship, but the Mongolian delegate felt most uncomfortable about this. In a state of euphoria, I got up when Campo nudged me. “In 1969,” I said, “we shall be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Singapore. As part of the celebrations we offer to host the championship of the West Asian Zone, if no one else will host it.” To this the Mongolian delegate agreed with some relief.

Came 1969, the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Singapore by Stamford Raffles, for which celebrations I bad given some thought. Our Zonal Championship was the star event, for which the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, Inche Eusoff Ishak was the Patron. Each participant was presented by Inche Eusoff with a S150 gold coin as a souvenir. The Champion was Renato Naranja of the Philippines, and the runner-up was Walter Browne, then representing Australia. This result had an interest sequel, for Browne thereby became an International Chess Master, and on returning shortly afterwards to his native New York, was invited to play in Cuba, replacing Bobby Fischer who had pulled out of an international tournament at the last minute. Browne’s result in the Cuban tournament gave him a Grandmaster result and he was awarded the full title very shortly afterwards.

Late in the year, we hosted the West Zone Championship which was won by Ujtamen of Mongolia with Simon Peres of Israel the runner-up. I did not know till then that to get to Singapore, the Mongolians had first to travel to Moscow, and the distance of their round trip was more than once round the world. Not long afterwards, the Israeli team was transferred to the West European Zone and did not have such great travel problems. The Mongolians played in the West Asian Zone at great disadvantage until the break-up of the Soviet Union., when they were joined to a new Central Asian Zone.


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