A step closer to being chess grandmaster

Mr Kevin Goh Wei Ming (left, seen here with international master Liu Xiangyi), a seven-time Singapore national champion and three-time SEA Games bronze medallist, is now ranked 2,494 and must reach 2,500 in the Elo ranking to be grandmaster.
Mr Kevin Goh Wei Ming (left, seen here with international master Liu Xiangyi), a seven-time Singapore national champion and three-time SEA Games bronze medallist, is now ranked 2,494 and must reach 2,500 in the Elo ranking to be grandmaster.PHOTO: COURTESY OF PEARL GAN

With the draw he secured during the final round of an international chess competition held in Singapore yesterday, international master Kevin Goh Wei Ming, 35, is now one tournament away from becoming Singapore's second chess grandmaster.

The first Singaporean to achieve that is Dr Wong Meng Kong, in 1999. Dr Wong, 55, is now a psychiatrist in Hong Kong and has stopped playing chess competitively.

Attaining the status of grandmaster "is a lifelong ambition of every chess player, especially for a player like me, who does not do this full-time", said Mr Goh, who finished second in the QCD-Professor Lim Kok Ann Grandmasters tournament.

The tournament, which began on June 7, was won by a Mongolian champion, grandmaster Tsegmed Batchuluun.

To be a grandmaster, a chess player must attain a high performance ranking at three events with at least three grandmaster opponents from the chess federations of three different countries. Finally, he must reach 2,500 in the Elo ranking - the chess ranking system.

Mr Goh is now ranked 2,494.

READY TO COMPETE

There are many professional players in our neighbouring countries, whereas in Singapore, we are busy juggling other facets of life... We are not limited by size. We have the brainpower and some of the biggest academic successes.

INTERNATIONAL MASTER KEVIN GOH WEI MING, who hopes more Singaporean chess players will train for competitions.

He started playing chess at 10 years old and took part in his first SEA Games when he was 20 in 2003, while he was doing national service. The seven-time Singapore national champion and three-time SEA Games bronze medallist is the chief financial officer of an international molecular diagnostics company, Lucence Diagnostics.

The QCD-Professor Lim Kok Ann Grandmasters tournament, organised in remembrance of Singapore chess patriarch Lim Kok Ann, who died in 2003, was the first grandmaster-level chess competition held in Singapore in 21 years. It was sponsored by Prof Lim's children and the firm QCD Technology, among others.

The Singapore Chess Federation assisted in running the event. The tournament featured 10 chess players from countries like the United States, Vietnam and Mongolia.

The event provided local and overseas chess enthusiasts with an opportunity to achieve international master and grandmaster titles in Singapore.

Mr Goh said his longest game was six hours, and he trained his stamina by going for long runs, completing a marathon earlier this year.

He will be competing at Singapore's National Chess Championships this December.

He said: "There are many professional players in our neighbouring countries, whereas in Singapore, we are busy juggling other facets of life."

But it can be done, Mr Goh added. "We are not limited by size. We have the brain power and some of the biggest academic successes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline 'A step closer to being chess grandmaster'. Print Edition | Subscribe