Tue, 29 Jul 2003

GM Utut Adianto likely to miss SEA Games in Vietnam

Musthofid, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Grand Master (GM) Utut Adianto is expected to miss the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in December, which would put a dent in Indonesia's hopes for chess gold at the event.

The SEA Games, a biennial multievent sporting showcase for the 10 nations in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations, will run from Dec. 5 to Dec. 13 in Vietnam.

The event will clash with the World Chess Championship, in which Utut secured a berth during qualifying matches in Dubai in April.

The nearly month-long world chess competition, which will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is scheduled to begin on Dec. 3, according to the Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi).

"That date is one option given to the world's chess governing body FIDE by the organizers," Hendry Jamals, the secretary- general of Percasi, told The Jakarta Post here on Monday.

"If FIDE approves the date Utut will certainly be heading to Amsterdam instead of Vietnam," he said.

Regarded as the country's top chess player, Utut, who is currently competing in the Biel Chess Festival in Switzerland, was given an automatic berth on Indonesia's six-strong men's team for the SEA Games.

A few other top players in the region also will be taking part in the World Chess Championship.

Vietnam's Dao Thian Hai will be playing in the world competition, having also earned a berth in Dubai. Ronald Dableo and Mark Paragua of the Philippines secured berths in the event during a June qualifying tournament in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

However, Indonesia might suffer the most if it loses its top player for the SEA Games, as Utut is the country's best hope in its bid to win three of the eight gold medals on offer.

"With Utut, we would be looking to win three golds," Hendry said, mentioning the individual and team categories in men's rapid chess, and the team category in men's classical chess.

Besides Utut, the men's SEA Games team includes Cerdas Barus, Irwanto Sadikin, Dede Liu, Susanto Megaranto and Hamdani Rudin. Cerdas was also an automatic inclusion, while the others played their way onto the team during a qualifying tournament last week.

The women's team comprises Upi Darmayana Tamim, Evie Lindyawati, Lusi Lumongdong, Ai Zakiah, Irene Kharisma and Sulung Wahyuningsih.

The players will begin training under local coaches on Friday. That will last a month until Russian GM Evgeny Sveshnikov takes over the training heading into the SEA Games.