Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Stonemaster's Secret

Fadli "Stonemaster" Zakaria claims that his big secret to his 5th placing in the Ambank Chess Challenge 2010 is from training with his Super GM level Pocket Fritz. Let us simply examine if his wins warrant his boast and claim about how much he has improved through his Pocket Fritz. Out of the 9 opponents that he played, only Jax was rated higher than him. This is further reflected by his performance rating of 1925, more than 100 points below his actual rating!

What this implies is that he was paired with weaker opponents, and not only that, he performed below his rating level. If you truly want to know his secret, simply look at the players that he lost to. Tan Ken Wei is a rising national junior champion, so I suppose it's OK if Stonemaster loses to him. But the Stonemaster's true secret is his lost to WFM Nur Najiha in round 5!! This allowed the Stonemaster to float down and play 2 players who were rated 600 points below him consecutively.

So the real secret was that the Stonemaster had, planned or otherwise, played against weaker opponents and managed to secure the right amount of points with some come-from-behind victories plus his free Queen that Jax Tham gave him, managed to achieve his brilliant 5th placing. If you go to, you can see the first tie-break, which is presumably the sum of his opponents' scores, he scored a grand total of 46, by far the lowest of the top 9 players in the tournament.

No matter how you see this, the Stonemaster was clearly gifted his 5th placing. There is no magic in his Pocket Fritz. Or is there?