Cambodian chess players did not disappoint, dominating their regional rivals to win the top spot in the recently-concluded Southeast Asia Ouk Chaktrang Championship.
The inaugural international tournament for Ouk Chaktrang, which is also referred to as Khmer chess, was held at the Royal University of Phnom Penh from January 7 to 13.
Cambodia was the overall champion with eight medals to boot, including three golds, two silvers and three bronzes.
Vietnam followed close behind with a total haul of seven medals, which consist of two golds, three silvers and three bronzes. Surprisingly, violence-wracked Myanmar came in third with a single gold and two bronzes. Thailand was relegated to number four with one silver and two bronzes.
Laos did not win a single medal, finishing last among the five nations that were represented in the tournament, which was principally organised by the Cambodia Chess Federation (CCF).
The tournament was held as a trial run for the Ouk Chaktrang event of the 2023 Cambodia SEA Games. Ouk Chaktrang was among the 38 sports selected for the next SEA Games.
“This is the first time we have organised and held such event. I am glad that almost everything went well according to our plans,” CCF President Kuch Kimlong said.
It was also intended to help other countries familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations of a game, which is still largely unknown in many parts of the region. Ouk Chaktrang already has a moderately large following in Cambodia, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has admitted as such that he is an avid player.
National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun also said earlier that there is a need to share Cambodia’s Ouk Chaktrang knowledge by sending coaches to other countries in the region to brief them on the rules of the game.
“Most countries understand how to play chess. We know that Thailand, Myanmar and Laos have similar games, but the rules are slightly different. But when it comes to strategy and style of play, we do not see much difference,” he pointed out.
The result of the tournament indicates that Cambodia is on its way to success, with Ouk Chaktrang medals for the picking by the time the SEA Games comes around in the middle of this year.
In addition to the five countries that were represented in the SEA Ouk Chaktrang Championship, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are also expected to bring in their chess squads for the Games.
To Read About Ouk Chaktrang or Khmer chess competition.
Chamroeun: Cambodia is ready to host major Ouk Chaktrang competitions
Chamroeun, who is also the CEO of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee, said that Cambodia is now more than ready to host major Ouk Chaktrang competitions, especially during the next SEA Games, in light of the way it organised the SEA Ouk Chaktrang Championship.
“I want to extend my appreciation to the superb organising, for everyone who contributed to this effort,” he said. “From what we have seen, I am optimistic that we will also have successful Ouk Chaktrang competitions in the SEA Games.”
This will be the first appearance for Ouk Chaktrang in the SEA Games, whose previous appearances were limited to local and national competitions.