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25 April 2010

Chess champs

Subramanian and Nithyalakshmi holding up their certificates of recognition from the World Chess Federation with Lee (left) and Mohd Nawawi.

FOR most of us, playing several chess games at once is a challenge best left for experts and computers. But siblings S. Subramanian, 12, and S. Nithyalakshmi, 10, took the challenge in stride at Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) recent Pintar Chess Programme event, where they each played more than 20 games simultaneously, directly under a Boeing 777 plane.

The first event of its kind, the internationally recognised siblings were invited to pit their brains against 27 and 23 MAS employees and families respectively at the KLIA hangar. And they certainly demonstrated their extraordinary talent.

With 22 games won, 3 draws and 2 losses, Subramanian said: “I like playing chess because it really helps improve my Maths and Science performance in school.”

He added that the most he had played with was against 30 students in Sarawak, where he won all 30 games.

Asked what his ambition was, Subramanian said, “I would like to be a pilot because I would be able to see many countries, and share that experience with my family.”

Meanwhile, Nithyalakshmi, who won 18 out of the 23 games that day said that she liked the game because it improved her thinking skills.

“I can also understand what my teacher teaches in Maths class much quicker than my friends.”

Also taking traditional dance classes, the extrovert quickly added that playing chess had been an eye-opening cultural experience.

“When we play in chess competitions around the country and internationally, we will meet many people and I get to make many new friends.”

Their father Sivanesan Subramanian has also played a big role in promoting his children’s love for the game.

He said, “There is really no limit when it comes to chess. I take them to different tournaments every week, and the Internet has been a really good source. For example, when there are worldwide games played by international champions, I would download their moves, and analyse each step with my children at home.”

MAS senior general manager of external relations Datuk Captain Mohd Nawawi Awang said: “It is good to know that we have such young Malaysians playing at an international level. Subramanian and Nithyalakshmi are home-grown talents within the programme who now have peers following their footsteps.”

The siblings were trained by Lee Siew Fai, who is a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer.

“I used to play competitive chess when I was younger, but now I would like to pass on these skills to the younger generation,” he said.

Lee had volunteered his time and expertise and introduced his brand of children-teach-children chess training method to the programme, whereby more expert chess y the stronger players would help their peers improve.

The Pintar Chess Programme is a part of Project Pintar (Promoting Intelligence, Nurturing Talent and Advocating Responsibility), a commitment by Government-linked companies to help improve the academic standards of underprivileged children.

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