Lest We Forget


Compiled by Zainul Akmal Zaini

How to make chess big time in Brunei

JANUARY 20, 1979 – There is no future in Brunei for competitive chess unless it is organised properly, with a centre of its own and an international grandmaster to advise players and organisers.

Who says so? No less an authority than Stewart Wavell, the state champion who received his trophy last Sunday at the Youth Centre for winning the last national tournament.

“There is no great future if it’s treated merely as a game to be played once a week in the Youth Centre canteen. Which is a pity, as Brunei Malays have a tradition for fighting chess. They have the right temperament for chess – and there’s a lot of talent around,” he said this week.

Wavell, who is Head of Radio Brunei, said a training programme should be planned, an advisor-cum-organiser appointed, a chess centre built and a succession of tournaments organised, “otherwise we won’t get anywhere.”

He suggested the government appoint a grandmaster, such as Gligoric of Yugoslavia, Larsen of Denmark or Hartstone of England.

“I am sure one of them could be persuaded to come to Brunei for three years if he was paid enough and still be allowed to play occasionally in international tournaments.” Wavell said chess should continue to come under the control of the Brunei Chess Association, and should be regarded as a sport, receiving funds from the sports authorities.

Chess time at the Bandar Seri Begawan Youth Centre – a study in concentration

Matches against Singapore would help because the standard of play there is very high. But more importantly, if the education authorities agree, chess teachers should be appointed to give lectures to schools throughout the state.

Wavell believes banks and large firms could be persuaded to donate big cash prizes in return for publicity “and because they like to be seen helping in the development of the national culture.”

He feels strongly that chess centres should be established in every town and village, with a main centre in the capital with about 250 seats and a stage for nine tables.

“Above each table should be a large electronic demonstration board showing the moves. There should also be a tournament hall large enough to take 100 tables.”

Being more ambitious, Wavell went on: “At each side of the theatre there should be a lecture room for 30, with an electronic demonstration board wired to reflect the state of play of games in the main theatre.

“In these rooms, commentators would be able to comment on games in progress to students without being heard in the theatre itself. There must also be a room for the storage of 150 chess sets and 150 chess clocks. And, of course, a canteen and a chess lending library.”

Wavell feels detailed plans could be worked out and submitted to the government.

“Or, alternatively, such a proposal could be addressed to the Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan who has had a life-time interest in the development of chess,” said Wavell. “If the idea is put to him in a wise and practical way, he might very well give it his personal blessing.”

One heavyweight catch from rough water

JANUARY 13, 1979 – The sea was rough, but there were still fish to be caught off Brunei this week – as these two Kuala Belait fishermen proved with a heavyweight catch.

Awang Damit bin Haji Ibrahim (R) of Kampong Sungai Teraban, and his partner, pulled in the ray -or ikan pari paur – when fishing on Monday afternoon about seven miles off Belait.

It weighed more than 100 katis.

Awang Damit says rays are tasty, but he didn’t expect much of a market price for the catch.