International Arbiter Ignatius Leong - the Chief Arbiter of the 5th FIDE Women Grand Prix - has shared his experience with guests of the tournament and has answered the questions of journalists.
Q: Mr. Leong, how many years have you been working as an arbiter?
Leong: I started to work as an arbiter at the age of 17. At that time, I was the youngest person ever to be nominated as an International Arbiter. I should say that world championships with their knock out format, and robin round plays like in this Grand Prix demand different approaches in terms of judging. In my experience, I participated in two world championship matches, several tournaments of Grand Prix and chess Olympics as Chief Arbiter. Each tournament is different. For example, chess Olympics have thousands of participants, while other tournaments have a few chosen elite. I also would like to say that I very like to work at youth tournaments.
Q: How do you evaluate the level of organization of this tournament?
Leong: As the first tournament of such a high level tournament organized under FIDE patronage in Mongolia, I am very impressed by the excellent organization and by support given by authorities of Mongolia. I could see that people in Mongolia love chess, and many leading politicians came to pay respect to this event.
Q: Now 5 rounds have been played. How would you evaluate the current tournament situation and how is it evolving?
Leong: Actually, I enjoy to judge at women’s tournaments. At this particular event, after 5 rounds, I have not countered any problems. I hope that the remaining 6 rounds will go smoothly as well. So far, the players, organizers and everyone involved are cooperative.
Q: Today you have received the highest award from the Mongolian Physical Culture and Sport Agency. What are your feelings about that?
Leong: I was very surprised and I am very grateful to the Government of Mongolia for this honor bestowed upon me. And I also hope to come here to share my experience and work together with my Mongolian colleagues. And, as the matter of fact, I will be present at the opening ceremony of the Mongolian Chess Academy.
Q: You have visited Mongolia for 3 times. What is your impression about chess culture in this country?
Leong: My first visit to Mongolia took place in 2002 as a technical advisor, and at that time I did not much know about chess development in Mongolia. However, upon arrival, I was surprised how Mongolian people, young and old, love chess. Also I have learned that chess in Mongolia developed from ancient times; I have visited 3 museums and all of them had chess pieces as artifacts. My second trip to Mongolia was last year as a participant of a chess arbiter seminar. At that time I was afraid that my work would have been delayed by difficult translations, but, surprisingly, there was no problem at all, since students knew chess language very well. Sometimes, I even felt not like a teacher, but as a student myself. To visit Mongolia at that time, I even changed my schedule, and I also would like to say that I saw very potent players under age of 17.
I do not know the reason, but in 1970-1990-ies Mongolians did not participate in major chess events, but now we have active Mongolian involvement. Also I would like to note that there are capable chess arbiters from Mongolia. As an arbiter myself, I would like to advise that chess arbiters gain experience only by participating in major tournaments. Even if they make mistakes it only adds to experience, and constant theoretical and practical work is necessary.