I am chess blogger

By GilaChess - May 12, 2024

Chess has been a part of my life from the age of six, when I learned it from my father. The spark didn't completely burn until I was ten years old, on the long dining tables of Rest House Teluk Intan, a Mas employee who frequented the Rest House, through defeat after defeat, taught me the beauty of techniques like forks and discovered attacks. 

Rest House Teluk Intan

My site, GilaChess.com, began as a digital extension of a childhood scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings on Malaysia's chess scene. Sources were from Quah Seng Sun's column in The Star, Peter Long's column in News Straits Times, and Lim Chong's column from Malay Mail. It became a personal repository, a place to keep records of tournament results, pictures and interesting happenings in the local chess scene. It had the added benefit of being shared to others who were interested in the same thing.

Financial restrictions endangered the blog's survival in the early 2000s, which put my willpower to the test. In between jobs, my website had to close down because I could not pay the webhosting fees. Nonetheless, the chess community rallied, and their contributions kept the digital lights on. I am touched that people who I only met briefly at chess tournaments offered help. Even Susan Polgar, a legend in her own way, offered a helpful hand, which humbled me greatly.

Organizers understood the value of GilaChess.com and made it the leading source for Malaysian chess news, so content was never scarce. However, recognition brought obstacles, particularly in the form of constant cyber attacks, which eventually forced a shutdown. I also blame choosing a poor local webhost who didn't value network security like Exabytes Malaysia. If I could go back in time, I'd warn my 2000 self to cancel my webhosting with Exabytes and just go with any other webhost!

I continued to attend tournaments, recording events with my camera and sharing them with readers. The 'Big Three'—the Selangor Open, Malaysia Open, and Penang Open—remain annual pilgrimages, providing opportunity to reconnect with chess friends.

One of my fondest recollections is of photographing a 14-year old, then-unknown Wang Hao at the Malaysian Open, where his outstanding performance earned him a spot in "New in Chess" magazine—my first international publication with a "photo by"-line. And thanks to another chess friend whom I asked to buy me a copy of that edition.

As time passed, the enthusiasm of covering every local tournament gave way to a more selective approach, with a concentration on only the Malaysian Open and Penang Open. Occasionally the Selangor Open if I had the opportunity. 

And now, as the globe shifts to video, this blogger must embrace that rather alien medium.

This blog post encapsulates my journey and the evolution of my passion for chess. 

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