Chess champ against all odds


The top three winners from right are Tan, Wan Mohd Ali and Mahadzir Abd Ghani, 48.

THEY might be blind, deaf or physically challenged but their disabilities did not matter when it came to planning and strategy.

Sixty-two disabled persons showed their mental prowess while trying to outwit each other at the 1st Malaysia Lions International Chess Championship for the Disabled (Northern Zone).

After rounds of exciting and challenging matches, Penang-born Tan Yin Kuang, 19, defeated Wan Mohd Ali Wan Abu Bakar, 53, from Perak in the final round.

Tan, Wan Mohd Ali and eight other winners will represent the northern region in the grand finals on March 18 in Kuala Lumpur.

Tan, who is deaf, said playing chess had been one of his favourite pastimes since he was seven.

“I played chess a lot to sharpen my skills and I represented my school in chess competitions during my school days.

“My best achievement so far was representing our country in the 9th Asean Para Games last year in chess,” he said after the prize-giving ceremony at Lot 33, Prangin Mall in Penang on Sunday.

Although he failed to win medals in the Para Games, he said it was a good experience for him.

Maimunah (center) watching the final game between Tan (left) from Penang and Wan Mohd Ali from Perak during the 1st Malaysia Lions International Chess Championship for the Disabled (Northern Zone) at Lot 33 in Prangin Mall, Penang.
Maimunah (center) watching the final game between Tan (left) from Penang and Wan Mohd Ali from Perak during the 1st Malaysia Lions International Chess Championship for the Disabled (Northern Zone) at Lot 33 in Prangin Mall, Penang.  

In his closing speech, National Chess Association for the Disabled president Datuk Mah Hassan Omar used his life story to inspire the disabled community to work hard and be independent.

“I was born normal. I lost my sight when I was three. But I never gave up on myself.

“I put in a lot of effort in my studies and became the first visually impaired law graduate of Universiti Malaya. I was also the first disabled lawyer in the county.

“I cannot see but I can be a lawyer to serve people. Why can’t you?” Mah Hassan challenged the audience.

He added that helping disabled people be independent was crucial so that they would not be a burden to society.

“I hope the winners will excel and represent the country in chess,” he added.

Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said the inaugural championship received overwhelming response.

The contestants came from all the northern states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak.

She said the championship offered an opportunity for the public to appreciate the the disabled community’s special skills and characteristics.

The chess tournament was organised by Lions Club of George Town and Lions Club of Kuala Lumpur Central, supported by MBPP, National Chess Association for the Disabled and Penang White Cane Association.

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