Monday, August 18, 2014

Lessons from Tromso.


Ref: Here.

We have achieved one of the best results in recent years. Allow me to give my perspective as well as a little history. It may not be apparent but I believe this is the fruit of implementing written selection criteria for the first time in 2009. The very first actually appeared on this blog after I was privately passed it via a parent. My reason for publishing it then was that selection criteria should not only be known by a few privileged people but available to all that will be participating in the competition. Too often the goal posts  have been moved in the past because it was inside information only. Matters snow balled from there.

So Tromso, is the first Olympiad where there is some semblance of a written selection. The previous teams were available only to the back door boys. And the culture then was a play in perception for qualification to the senior Malaysian team. Methods used were threats against players who dared to compete, playing select tournaments to give perception of strength. Claiming to be a "Master" although afraid to play in tough tournaments etc etc etc.

But today's games are different. We can see in real time and analyse how our players are doing. So there is nowhere to hide. So we see that a few players who applied the methods mentioned above are no longer playing in our national team.

And so we have progressed a little for the first time in many many years.

However I hope this is just the beginning of our resurgence and not just a temporary glitch and we go back to the old days of the back doors. We need to continue to tighten our selection criteria even further. This year there was the suspicion of chess engine usage raised. I hope that next year MCF will cut off that loophole as well. There is also another matter of point passing on the top tables. This is very serious but not easy to solve. If MCF can find ways of identifying those that practices this and then levying penalties then our future will be much brighter.

Chess is a competitive mind sport. If our players cannot perform here without cheating then they will not do well overseas. If they try cheating overseas then they will be a national embarrassment if they get caught.

Still I want to give acknowledgment to the committee members within MCF who have heard our complaints and have taken action to improve. We have improved. No doubt about that. A lot of the deadwood who cannot play competitive chess anymore but still want to play for Malaysia are gone.

It has been a hard struggle to improve given the resistance of the people who wanted the back doors retained but I think it has been worth it.

So kudos to those committee members within MCF who has fought the good fight. My deepest appreciation and heartiest congratulations.

And my congratulations also to the players of the senior Malaysian squad who earned their place in clean competition. You know who you are.

We have the talent and we have the resources to become a great chess nation. But only if we keep going forward.

Malaysia Truly Boleh. But we must also believe that deeply in ourselves.

All my best.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Reply to Wai Leong and Kim Yaw.


Ref: Here.

Wai Leong,

Thank you for your honest comment. I believe you have come to the correct decision in abstaining from match fixing but allow me to tell you here my own thought processes and approach to it. The first thing is that match fixing stops your development. Why? Read below first.

Here.

Let's be honest. Very few if any has the drive and ambition or resources to become a GM. But almost anyone can benefit from the lessons of chess. And that benefit as explained in the link above comes when we learn to compete without cheating. Can you see that? And that is not an easy lesson to learn. Take for example Mark's own journey in the one time he "cheated". He broke under the intense pressure of the NJ Championship in 2010 where he almost became Champion. To cut a long story short he accepted a point he did not deserve but chose to come clean when confronted. So enough pressure can break anyone. But once that becomes a habit then you stop learning. The real benefit comes from analyzing how the pressure got to you and to find ways to become stronger next time without cheating. Clearer?

We have encountered match fixing almost every year since 2005 when Mark became Perak U12 Champion. This year we suspected the use of chess engine during National Close. Our approach is to now find a way to beat the use of chess engine usage in tournaments without cheating ourselves. So we need to learn even more. That is my approach. It is always about learning. And you don't learn if you cheat.

So my approach to chess is different from the approach taken before. I focus on competitor analysis and strategy and not merely the technical aspect of the game.

Let me also correct a misconception on your part. Mark was already a 1900 in 2009 when he got his first Fide rating. 1500 is around MSSM level. What we learnt from Norlito, Paulo's father, were refinements in our technical knowledge to enable us to breach the Master level. But Mark's playing strength was already above 2000 by then. Another point which may have escaped your attention is that we do not play most tournaments to win or for ratings but to learn. This is so that we can apply what we have learnt in the tournaments that count.

Now if you go back to that link again, you will also see that I wrote about setting realistic goals. What does this mean? Well in our case it means that we need to modify our goals according to realistic conditions. Mark has just entered University and so he must now adjust his priorities. Chess has to take a lower priority for the moment. It doesn't mean we have stopped. It just means that priorities have changed till conditions also change.

We are still moving but at a slower pace. We do not want to drop the ball.

I am still writing and talking more on my FB so you are welcome to join my page. I accept most chess players.

Kim Yaw,

We do a beginners package that can bring players to the 1500 level but Mark is in charge of that. So do ask him if you get the chance. I only come in as a Coach at the higher competitive levels where deeper strategies are needed.

However I am still continuing to see if I can bring up my Academy again. One of the conditions I have set myself is my ability to protect my players against threats. My inability to stop that is the main reason why I don't take any more students.

You see, the responsibility to stop match fixing and threats to players that want to play clean chess and learn from the game lies with the Associations and MCF. My responsibility is to train my players to be the best players they can be according to their own set goals.

I see some improvements in the selection this year but still some hanky panky. But at least some of the back doors have been shut. And the day MCF realises that almost all the back door players will self destruct will be the day I will play a more active role again. But I will continue to do what I can and improve my own knowledge in the meantime albeit in a smaller way.

Thank you for writing in. I hope I have answered your questions and given you some ideas on how to move forward.

In a nutshell I define competition as improving our skills and not in cheating in all it's many ways. Learning to improve ourselves will take all the energy we have and so there is none to spare in learning how to match fix, which is also very time consuming.

Ergo, you cannot learn all the things I said you can learn from chess and learn to cheat at the same time. And I believe my way takes you much further. All in due time. There is no rush.

All my best in your learning.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Goal Setting-The lessons from Chess.

I always start my chess lessons by saying that Chess as a game has 4 major components that determines strategy and affect results. Those 4 components are the time frame of the game, your opponents skills and weaknesses, your skills and weaknesses and what is happening in front of you ie the board.

But today let us talk about this from the perspective of goal setting. Can you see that goal setting has a direct relationship to the time frame available?

If you can then I think you will understand why I spend a lot of time to make sure that the goals are realistic within the time frame available.

Lets say you have infinite time to execute a strategy. Under those circumstances does it matter if you get lost again and again? Wandering for 40 years in search of the promise land.

But lets say now that you have a limited time frame or the opportunity may be lost. And lets say that we have decided together that you have a time frame of 5 years to achieve the stated goal measurable in milestones.

Now to achieve that goal in that time frame, do you not have to measure the gap between you and your opponent? Competitive analysis or comparative studies. Take your pick.

Since the agreed goal is now 5 years, does that not dictate the speed that you have to learn to have a fighting chance in 5 years? What percentage chance would you like to have? 50%, 70%?

And are those percentages also not affected by what is going on right in front of you. On the board. The question here is if you continue to make the right decisions would you increase your percentage chance? Before you leave this earth, before the game is over. And if you make the wrong decision, move by move, as you are overwhelmed by your fears, what happens?

I hope you can now see what a double edged sword goal setting is today. Get it right and you achieve your goal. If you are also willing to pay the realistic price that is.

Now do you also see why very very few are willing to set realistic goals? They would rather wallow in the self delusion that they have infinite time rather than strive daily to make the right decisions to get there. Yes? No?

You still have doubts about what I am saying? Lets look at our Vision 2020. What is happening there. Why all that deflection, all that raising of new invented issues that take us away from that goal? Was Vision 2020 realistic? Did we measure the gap and then set our measurable milestones to achieve it? Are we willing to pay the price of success?

Do we believe in ourselves?

Chess is but a tool to learning. It doesn't have all the answers but it is a good start to learning how to think. But only if used properly.

Note: What do you learn when you fix the games? What would that tell you about the state of our chess today? Why has that happened?

Has the model above shown us where we may be going wrong? So what is the goal? And what do we have to factor in to achieve results. Do you have a goal? Do you have infinite time?

Thank you for your time today. Have a good weekend.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

1st Johor International Chess Open 2014 in December.


Ref: Here.

I have a basic policy in life.

Sometimes you have to fight for what is right in defense of the people you care about or under your protection. But most times it is better not to bother with them and place your support on those that are doing the right thing instead.

By placing our support on Associations and organizers that are for clean competition, selection etc I think we will get much further in changing Malaysian chess for the better.

So this was my experience when we played in Johor in December last year. The organizers took great pains to ensure that the competition was fair and clean. I truly appreciated that.

They are doing an International Competition for the first time this year. So I will do my best to support them. Please check out the post above k. And if you can do sign up and support the event.

If we all do this, then eventually the Associations and organizers will get the correct message of what we want from them.

All my best for Malaysian chess.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My contribution to this deflective conversation started by Jimmy.


Here.

I wonder if the people taking part in this discussion really know what Jimmy is up to? Study his standard modus operandi and you won't be so easily fooled in the future.

Let me give you a clue here. Why do you think there are so many theories surrounding the missing MAS 370? Spin enough stories and some people will get confused. Spin more and people will just give up trying to understand.

So allow me to add my 2cents to try to make some sense out of this.

The most transparent reason why Jimmy is crying wolf is to deflect from the bypass of Nicholas Chan by Yeoh Li Tian. Some people say that Li Tian is strong. But look at his history from 2010. He has never won a selection but he has represented Malaysia on the senior team. Look at his games. He cannot even win against even the 1900's. The fact is that he would not have qualified any other way. He doesn't have what it takes. He has many drawing weapons that he is only now trying to move away from. Right now he can only win in select tournaments after he has been specially prepared by his backers inside/outside MCF with the latest games by his opponents from NC. Those will not be the conditions he will have at Tromso.

So it is really Li Tian who has taken away many opportunities from the other strong players via the back door in order to develop himself.

Isn't that the fact but look at what you are arguing about?

This is why I think MCF has reversed the decision on the Masters. 

I suspect that they are under legal advice not to address the complain of search engine usage during National Close. Why? For if they do then the affected players will have legal claim to ask for redress. And this includes Mark. So find out more about that accusation if you really want to understand the decision.

That is why a clean selection is important. Now MCF is twisting and turning to justify what to me is the best outcome barring a clean decision on NC itself.

It's that simple. This is what Jimmy does. Don't you know this by now? How much evidence do you need before you can see that he is a fraud? Him and his accomplices.

You think he is fighting for you. But really he is putting the spot light on you so that the person he is really helping gets clean away. He knows that MCF won't reverse that decision so it is only you who will be damaged further from this. I tried to warn you in 2010 but you didn't listen.

Look and see what he has done to you. Look and see what you have become. And you still think you are so smart?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Some of my past experience that may be beneficial to MCF now.


It does look like there may be a glimmer of hope that there are still a few decent people left in MCF with the Fadzil Nayan decision. So I write this for their benefit. My point has always been that we must take action before the nasi jadi bubur. So learn from the history and learn to recognize those that pretend to be angels but are actually the devil incarnate.

So a very short synopsis here. This may be new to those who just joined the chess circuit but these are the historical facts.

In 2009, when I was elected into the Perak Chess Association, I made the bold move to bring in written selection criteria. At that time MCF itself had no written selection and Greg was the new Secretary after Hamid.

But let me give more details surrounding the Perak Chess Association AGM for the first time today before I continue this story. During that time Dr Yee was the President and he was very unpopular since all players were hand picked by him. Allow me to recount our experience. Mark was the newly minted U12 State Champion and there was a "selection" for the Perak Junior Team. We were invited by the Vice President to attend but when we arrived Mark was chased out of the tournament hall by Dr Yee and friends. So that was how it was.

I had a lot of support from the members so what Dr Yee as the President then did was to hold the AGM on the same day that the Perak Team was leaving for MSSM and so many of my supporters who were teachers could not come to the AGM as they had to accompany the students. The other thing Dr Yee did was to accost all the members with voting rights as they came in the door. I could even see him pulling people and shouting at them. And that was the condition at that time.

But when it came to the vote I only lost by one vote to be the new President. And that was also because Dr Yee did not stand but put Chan up instead to stand against me. And Chan was seen as a sort of neutral person at that time.

Now to the point. The election brought in a new team from my camp as well as members of the old team. Mixture of new and old. Encik Kamaruddin, the Secretary of Perak Chess Association now and also the current Chairman of the Selection Committee MCF came in under my ticket. He was an unknown then.

The ticket that I stood on was to bring in change and one of the changes was a fair selection criteria for all. During the AGM, I was offered the VP post which I declined. And that was taken up by Encik Kumar, also from my ticket and also an unknown then. I only wanted to remain an ordinary committee member but in charge of selection.

One other thing. When we got as many seats as we did from the AGM, my team was jubilant. But I cautioned them that it is not over. We came in on a ticket and we must fulfill our promise at the AGM. But they wanted to kiss and make up with Dr Yee. So when I pushed for the selection criteria there was a lot of resistance from Dr Yee and he brought in Eddy Fong for a spell to try to sabotage that effort. One day Kamaruddin and Kumar invited me to their office where they confronted me. They asked me why I was in the Committee and I answered that it was to ensure fair play in selection and for the good of chess. And they both told me that they were there for business reasons.

Shortly after I was sacked without grounds.

What I am trying to say here is that the introduction of proper selection will not be easy. The culture of the back doors are very very well established and these people will do anything to preserve that power to do so.

Now lets carry on with the story. I told all this to the new MCF Secretary, Greg when we met. And I explained why written selection is important to the growth of chess in Malaysia. I related where the pitfalls were and the type of resistance he will meet hoping he can learn from my mistakes. And shortly after Greg introduced the first ever written criteria for NAG. And the rest came after. For Juniors and then the Seniors. So that is the perspective from historical facts.

And this is the current resistance from the back door boys. Here.

I only ask two questions.


Here.

In the Malaysian experience, who runs the least transparent tournaments with extremely suspect requirements for entry? And why do you think he is so supportive of Ignatius?

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lessons from playing chess in Malaysia.


This Friday my son Mark will leave the house and go to University in KL. This will also mark a big change in my life. For over 10 years I have traveled with him to each and every chess tournament as his Coach. I have seen him grow from the Perak U12 State Champion to the No.2 U20 National Junior to No.8 at our National Closed this year. And I have traveled overseas with him to represent Malaysia and for his training camps. And all of this was paid through my own pocket.

But much more than that, I have stood by his side when he was attacked by people in the chess fraternity who felt that winning can only come if you belong to the right camp. That playing strong chess and winning on the table in healthy competition is to be frowned upon.

And so I had to watch him struggle when he saw less talented players win by cheating and fixing the tournaments with the aid of chess officials. I saw him stumble once when he too accepted a point in 2010 that he did not deserve.

In all those years, I showed him time and time again that when you cheat your game stalls. So many of the top players that went down that road disappeared from the chess circuit. And so we played on knowing that they will cheat and use all sorts of devices to win. This year there is strong suspicion that they have even brought in chess engines to analyse. And that is an even more drastic form of cheating.

Over the years we have seen officials come and go. Before they come in they are full of fire to change things. After they are in they join the system. And so there has been no change apart from even further deterioration.

And so my son has been witness to all those shady people who come in the guise of angels. But now he knows who they are. And he also knows he does not need to cheat and deprive anyone of what is rightfully theirs simply by raising his own game.

To be happy with his results by being clean and to allow them to cheat if they must. We got what we got without cheating and we are content with the results.

I think he has benefited more from this experience. I think all of this experience has helped mold him into a man worthy of respect. I started out defending a frightened boy of 12 being bullied by adults of suspect character.

But I think this Friday, I will be watching a man of character and substance leave the house to face a whole new world. I wish him luck.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fadzil Nayan makes the Olympiad squad.


I read on Facebook that Fadzil has made the Team. If that is true then I would like to congratulate him. This is important for Malaysian chess. Why? Because Fadzil fought his way into the Team without outside support. Purely on merit. And this is deserving of the highest respect. His victory is a victory for chess.

There are still other issues that MCF has not tackled and I hope that it will be looked into as well.

1. Why was Nicholas Chan bypassed and Li Tian put in?

2. There was also the issue of chess engine usage during National Close. Will this be investigated to prevent future abuse of selection?

3. What about tag team playing where players pass each other points? Is there a way to stop this?

4. Will the people responsible for the abuse be held accountable? Players and Officials.

If those things are looked into as well, then Malaysian chess will soar and we will hammer the rest of Asean. For we have the talent and we have the resources.

But first we must deal with the people who do not dare to compete and rely on the back doors. For in reality they are not real chess players and we will lose nothing by losing them.

ps: If you want to read more about this from the king of fixing himself then go here for his twisting and turning.