The ASTRO Rapid Team Chess Championship is quickly picking up pace with a few more entries received in the last few days. As of late yesterday afternoon, the number of teams registering for the event has increased to 61 teams (the event had 66 teams for last year's edition) and the organizers are confident that this year's number will continue to increase as the date for the event draws nearer and will eventually exceed last year's figure.
Out of the 61 teams that have registered, 50 are pure local Malaysian Teams with 5 International Teams, and the balance 6 are a combination of Malaysian and non-Malaysian chess players . 29 teams that have registered for the event are made up of junior teams (teams where all its members are 16 years of age or younger) including one team from Singapore, and out of that 29 teams, 11 teams are from bona fide schools. Penang is participating in this event by the bus loads with 15 teams registering for the event which includes its state team, junior teams and school teams.
Whilst most teams have given out the full listing of their team roster, some teams are still in search of good players to fill in the gaps. One thing interesting about the Rapid Team Event is that each team is only allowed to field a team with no more than 2250 FIDE rating average as such, whilst some teams may have strong and highly rated players on the top boards such as a GM or an IM, the lower boards may create opportunity for their opponents to score points. So, tactical positioning of the players are important and critical.
Whilst there are some teams and familiar faces returning for the event, there are also "regular" teams that have not yet registered such as the Johor, Selangor, KL, Kedah, Kelantan, Perak, Terengganu and Pahang State Teams. The state teams that have registered for the events are Penang led by the newly crown NM Tan Khai Boon, Sabah and Sarawak. Some of the more notable Universities such as USM, UiTM, UTM, UM, UPM, UKM and UIA are also missing from the event considering that they are one of the more active universities in participating or organizing chess events. Other notable organizations missing from the event are Government agencies such as IRS, Customs, Bank Negara (only the Sg Buloh Prison Team is participating for the Government Sector), Royal Selangor Club and Petronas. Perhaps, with the inclusions of these teams (they are probably waiting to see who their contenders are or will be), the number of teams for the Rapid Event will definitely hit a new high.
With the CAMPO Memorial Event being held in Manila at the same time, it was rather obvious that the Philippines Team (and to a certain extent - the Indonesian team as well) are skipping this year's Festival but fret not, the numbers are encouragingly high that it this year's event will continue to offer the usual dramas, good fight and healthy competition between the participants.
The interim listing of teams for the Rapid Event (by current ranking based on registered players) are as follows: