Tue, 04 Sep 2001

KONI provides airfares for SEAG chess players

JAKARTA (JP): The cash-strapped Indonesian chess team has been relieved of some financial problems in its commitment to the upcoming SEA Games where chess will be played as an exhibition event, as the National Sports Council (KONI) will pay for its air fares.

The aid was unveiled here on Monday, just two days prior the team's departure to the event in Kuala Lumpur.

The announcement was a turnaround in KONI's stance regarding the Indonesian Chess Association (Percasi). KONI, which is set to send around 540 athletes in 29 events excluding the chess team, had formerly stated that there was no cash available for the chess team.

"We talked over the request by Percasi for financial support and we decided to help the team," KONI's deputy chairman Arie Sudewo said during his reception of the team at the office.

The visiting group was led by Percasi Chairman Machnan Kamaludin and Eka Putra Wirya, the organization's chief in charge of athlete development.

Arie called for the team to put up a serious fight in spite of the fact that chess will be played as an exhibition only.

"A win will not diminish in value only because it is an exhibition. It will surely be a source of pride to the nation," he said.

The eight players -- four men and four women -- will be accompanied by four officials.

The players are GM Edhi Handoko, IM Danny Juswanto, FM Irwanto Sadikin, Susanto Megaranto in the men's category, and Upi Damayanti Tamim, Ai Zakiah, Tutu Rahayu, Evi Lindiawati in the women's.

Team manager Eka Putra Wirya said that his squad would settle for a clutch of between one and two gold medals, hopefully from the men's individuals and team events.

In preparing for the competition the team participated in an eight-day training camp in the Puncak, a mountain resort in West Java, some 75 kilometers south of here. Two tryout sessions took place -- against BNI and Gunadarma chess clubs.

Only three categories will be played: men's individual, team and women's individual. The women's team has been dropped because there were insufficient players as required by the rules.

The countries to take part in the chess competition include Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Kuala Lumpur meet may serve as a warmup arena for the participants before they enter the real test when chess is officially included as a medal event in Vietnam in two years time. (01)