While writing the previous post about Prof Lim Kok Ann, I wondered about other local doctors who are/were also good chess players. There is no association between the two of course – skills needed for chess are not necessarily useful for a physician’s work, and vice versa. Still, there are a number of doctors who at some point of their lives (mostly prior to becoming a doctor!) had played chess well enough to represent Singapore in regional or international tournaments. Other than Prof Lim and myself, the rest (thanks to Junior Tay for filling the gaps) are:
- Dr Goh Cheng Hong – he is a successful general practitioner, and had achieved the title of FIDE Master (a step below International Master, which is a step below Grandmaster – chess retains its archaic titles unlike other sports/games!) in his youth. I have never had the opportunity to play against him.
- Dr Wong Meng Kong – he is now (if his Facebook page is up to date) a senior psychiatrist at the United Christian Hospital in New Kowloon, Hong Kong. He is the most accomplished chess player among us, winning the Asian Junior Championship at the age of 15 (immediately qualifying as an International Master, a Singapore age record that still stands), and finally qualifying for the title of Grandmaster – the only native-born Singaporean to have done so. His style is unusual and difficult to prepare against, and in his prime, he was capable of beating top grandmasters in the world. I have had rather too many resounding losses against Dr Wong.
- Dr Wong Meng Leong – Meng Kong’s brother, and a strong chess player in his own right, although he never quite achieved the heights of his younger brother. He had a distinct positional style of play, and his English opening was much feared in its time.
- Dr Jeevarajah Nithiananthan – or Nithia for short, is a locum doctor specialising in psychiatry. A strong amateur chess player, he represented Singapore in the 1999 Asian Team Championships in Shenyang, China. He is also an accomplished pianist – one of his performances can be found on Youtube here. In his own words, relative to chess, he is grandmaster at piano!
- Dr Derrick Heng – he is currently a high ranking MOH officer, specifically Group Director of Public Health. He was national chess champion in 1987 and has an attacking style of play.
- Dr Jeremy Lim – he is currently Partner and Head of Health and Life Sciences, Asia Pacific, at Oliver Wyman. My contemporary, he is perhaps the most talented of my generation of chess players, playing with a natural style and understanding, reaching the title of FIDE Master at a young age. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for Jeremy), he had other interests and stopped playing competitive chess relatively early.