By Philip Chan. Contributed by Jovan Petronic.

With barely 6 days to go before the 1st round of the Festival is played, the organizers have already received a record number of 420 entries from 19 other countries besides host nation, Singapore. This is an all-time high for both entries and participating countries in the history of the annual year end Chess Festival. Besides, our other Asean neighbours, entries have been received from far flung countries such as Kenya, Canada, China, Russia and Kazakhstan.

The highlight of this year’s festival shall be the inaugural Asean Championships for Men and Women. Practically the cream of Vietnam’s top players, both men and women will soon be landing on the shores of Singapore. The organizers half suspect that the Vietnamese officials may well be using this Asean Championship as one of their selection qualifiers for next year’s SEA Games scheduled for Palembang, Indonesia in November 2011.

We will see the might of the Vietnamese team in GM Le Quang Liem, GM Nguyen Ngoc Troung Son and the evergreen and very experienced GM Dao Thein Hai. They will not have it easy against the tough competition from both Indonesia and the Philippines.
The Vietnamese ladies comprising WGM Nguyen Thi Thanh An and WGM Hoang Thi Bao Tram will not have it easy against the likes of Indonesian Chess Princess, WGM Irine Kharishma Sukandar. The petite WIM Nguyen Thi Mai Hung from Vietnam who spent one
year (2008) training in Singapore with the Asean Chess Academy will be back to renew old ties and you can expect her to win each and every one of them.

There is the perennial Singapore Open Tournament which will feature GM Wen Yang from China, GM Laxman from India and GM Villamayor Buenaventura from the Philippines. Then there is also IM Romanov Alexei, all the way from Russia.

Taking place for the first time shall be the Singapore International Youth Chess Championships (Under 8, Under 11, Under 14 and Under 17). The individual category winners for both Open and Girls in this Youth Championships will walk away with cash prizes
of $ 1,500.00 each for the respective section winners.

Wrapping up a very hectic 2010 chess calendar shall be the 21st annual Singapore – Malaysia Chess Challenge 2011 to be held on 31 December 2010 – 1 January 2011 at the Stansfield Residence 1. The last match held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2010 was won by Singapore – by a mere single point.

In the midst of the competition, the Singapore Chess Federation will also be organizing the FIDE Trainers’ and Arbiters’ Seminars.