The biennial chess Olympiad is held in Baku, Azerbaijan this year, from 1st to 14th September. Chess-wise, the capital of Azerbaijan is perhaps best known for being the birthplace of former world champion Garry Kasparov. But the country has long had a very strong chess culture and tradition, and has one of the strongest chess teams in the world.
Singapore has sent both a men’s and a women’s team to the Olympiads. Here’s a photo of the Singapore contingent which I “lifted” off IM Goh Wei Ming’s Facebook page.
The men’s team is anchored by GM Zhang Zhong, an extremely strong and solid player who has played for Singapore since 2007. IM Goh Wei Ming on second board is currently our top local-born chess player – he has two GM norms and is striving mightily to be Singapore’s second local-born GM (after GM Wong Meng Kong who is now based in Hong Kong). I have played him several times in training matches and have been thrashed so badly that it takes a certain resolve to continue playing the game.
On third board is IM Tin Jingyao, who at the tender age of 16 is already a full IM with a GM norm. He has a solid positional style, and does not easily get fazed when he gets a bad position, making him very difficult to beat. He finished second in the National Chess Championships in 2015, behind Filipino IM Enrique Paciencia – one of Singapore’s national chess coaches. On fourth board is IM Ravindran Shanmugam. He did not finish well in the 2015 National Chess Championships – which was retroactively used as an Olympiad selection event – but got a berth when several who finished higher were unable to participate in this Baku Olympiad. The reserve is the young Benjamin Foo, who finished third in the 2015 national championship.
One of the stronger Singaporean men’s chess teams to compete at the Olympiads, although it could perhaps have been our strongest team ever if all our best players were available (but this has never happened during all the years when I played actively).
Our women’s team is also very strong, with an IM (Li Ruofan – Zhang Zhong’s wife) and a WIM (Gong Qianyun) holding the top two boards, while Tin Riqui, Emmanuelle Hng and Siew Kai Xin complete the team.
All the best for the Olympiads!