MORE than 500 students from 61 schools made history by being part of the 35th Penang Schools Sports Council (MSSPP) Chess Championships 2006.
Recording the largest number of entrants, the six-day tournament saw 24 primary schools and 37 secondary schools competing in the annual competition held at the Penang Free School.
Themed ‘Chess is Science, Art and Sport’, the championships was a nail-biting battle of strategies and wits.
MSSSP chess technical chairman Khor Bean Hwa said the record participation was due to several factors, including more chess competitions for students and chess camps for teacher-advisors being organised in schools.
“Students are also showing more interest in the sport,” he said.
In the closing ceremony speech, Penang Chess Association (PCA) vice-president Wong Mun Hoe congratulated the organisers for attracting a record number of participants this year.
“Nonetheless, records are meant to be broken so hopefully next year we will see even more chess enthusiasts signing up.
“Chess is not considered a glamorous sport but it can be very exciting if you understand the game. In hockey or football, you see the action on the field but in chess the battle wages on in your mind,” Wong, who is also Pantai Jerejak assemblyman, said.
“Squash has Nicol David and golf has Tiger Woods. We need an icon and a champion that people can relate to and root for. To generate more interest among the public and sponsors we must promote the sport more aggressively,” he said, adding that India, Japan and Indonesia all have Grand Masters and it was not impossible for Malaysia to follow suit.
“When I mooted the idea for a chess league more than 15 years ago, many were sceptical whether it would have a following.
“Today, the Penang Chess League is the oldest in the country. The interest is there but parents must continue to encourage children to take up chess as an intellectual sport because it really can help them excel academically,” he added.
The MSSPP Excellent Chess School 2006 trophy went to Chung Ling High School.
The school also claimed honours through Lim Wei Yang and Fong Wei Chern, who took home the individual champion trophy for the boys’ under-18 and under-15 categories respectively.
PCA committee member and Chung Ling Chess Club teacher-advisor Hong Siong Ean said the school's chess club “is the biggest in the state.”
“The club was established more than 20 years ago and we currently have about 500 members. Our students do well in tournaments because they train very hard and are very supportive of each other,” she said, adding that the students were now looking forward to doing well in the upcoming Malaysian Schools Sports Council (MSSM) chess tournament in June.