Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First GM New Year Resolution

I was told about a meeting by a group of parents about their concerns not being heard by MCF, even talk about setting up an alternative. This is my take from my short exposure to Association politics in Perak.


Who are the stakeholders in chess? Chess Officials, organisers, coaches, bloggers, parents and lastly the players. Each has a role, without which the structure crumbles. In an ideal structure the stakeholder that puts in the most has a greater say. So what is the situation in chess? Arguably the largest stakeholder would be either the parents or the players. In terms of finance, time spent nurturing their child or the hours spent sweating it out in tournaments, training and preparation.

And who has the greatest say? The chess officials. They determine who gets to play, who runs the tournaments, which tournaments etc.

So is this correct? I say yes. But, but, but... I say yes because they volunteer their time to do all these things. NGO's are essentially non profit so the time they spent doing these things are unpaid for. Yes but with a caveat. Some officials double up as organisers, coaches etc. This is not a bad thing necessarily but it's a double-edged sword. To get the first GM, our organisers and coaches need to make money or they won't stay in the game. Money is needed to build resources and skills.

But it is a double-edged sword nonetheless, if these organisers and coaches are placed in a situation where there may be a conflict of interest in the NGO's.

So we come back to the issue at hand. We need our official bodies to make decisions without fear or favour. But how can this be achieved?

The main one is transparency of information. But how can this be achieved? Let us study the structure of MCF. MCF answers to its affiliates. (MCF just had their AGM, only State officials are allowed to attend and vote). So if you want a say, you must say it through the affilate associations. We need to deeply understand this.

So if we want change, change has to take place there. Stop baying at the moon. If you have a big stake and you want a say, go to the State Association and cast you vote. Stand for election if you have the time. If you can only vote, make sure you vote responsibly, vote for the people who love chess and not for the ones who love power without contribution. I have some interesting tidbits of my time in Perak. Maybe I'll share it here so you know for yourself the shenanigans that go on there and know what to watch out for.

Happy New Year and this is the resolution: I will make my vote and voice in my State Association count this year.

Note: I am not qualified to talk about MCF. From my limited perspective they are doing a lot more than where I come from. And I find Greg Lau (Secretary) of MCF more responsive than most officials. Also I believe that to change the whole, we need to first change the parts which count. That is where I come from. If all the parts work, the whole will work. And the first GM will come. :) The floor is open to those who have better knowledge of MCF and its workings. This is your space. Use it.

Raymond Siew

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Update on NAG plus plus

Just got an sms from Greg. The dates for NAG is now 14-16th March in Dewan Sri Pinang, Penang. Also the new MCF calender for 2010 will be out before the end of year. Check out MCF site on the right hand side for the calender before year end.

And since I'm here, can I ask if MCF will consider putting back the U18 for NAG, since MSSM is cancelled for next year. Also since chess is now in SEA games 2011, does MCF have a plan? I hear IM Mok Tze Meng has joined the MCF committee in the recent MCF AGM on the 24th Dec. Congratulations Mok. MCF also has a new VP from East Malaysia. Welcome. Here's to new ideas and fresh blood.



Important National Tournaments for Juniors.

Another reason why I started this blog is to try to get accurate information out. Surprisingly that is not so simple. As I said earlier, to do well in State competitions, you need to play in National Tournaments and to do well in National competitions you want International exposure. I'll try and give you information on Asean tournaments later, I am still researching.

I am told that chess has been taken out of MSSM for next year, so it is even more important that State level players take part in these tournaments. I understand that MCF is trying to put in a proposal to MOE for a National Scholastic Age Group tournament in liew of MSSM. I wish Greg the best of luck in his endeavour. But for now, this is what we have.

1. NAG - This is for the U8, U10, U12, U14 and U16 category.

"For Asean, Asian and World Age-Groups Events, the qualifications criteria comes only from the National Age Group event held yearly. Only the Top 4 placing from this event will be considered for International events officially."

"Next year the National Age Group 2010 will be held in Penang from 13-15 March 2010."

Quote: From Greg Lau, Secretary MCF.

2. National Juniors - This is for U20. This tournament is usually year end. Watch out for it.

"First of all, The coming National Juniors 2009 is only meant for qualification to World Junior, Asian Junior held in 2010. We have also include 1 slot (Champion only) for qualification into the Malaysian Masters 2010 event. (No dates confirm at the moment)"

"The National Junior Champion will definitely be recognised from the National Junior event and as i have mentioned earlier, the Champion will be invited for the World Junior and Asian Junior Championship. We might also use the results for future selection into possible event liked The Malaysian Junior Masters event (Not organised yet)."

"The National Juniors Championships is open to all Malaysian U-20 and below. Since the National Age-Group is played under the respective Age categories,the format does not allow for example, a 10 year old kid to compete against the older kids of 14 years of age even though he might be stronger in his chess playing ability. The National Junior event was created to allow any kids below U-20 to have the opportunity to compete with each other irrespective of their age differences and becomes the National Junior Champion.(NJM)"

"The format for the World and Asian Junior is the same which caters for all U-20 and below juniors. But they have restictions by competition rule which only allow a Federation country to send it's official 1 Boy Champion and 1 Girl Champion for the event. (Board and lodge are provided by the organizer for each federation for the 2 official representatives). Since both are FIDE official event ,only the National Federation of respectives country can register players for the event. The 2 events are catered for the world strongest Juniors (U-20) and MCF would like to have our best junior representatives to the World and Asian Juniors through the National Juniors Championship results."

Quote: Greg Lau, Secretary MCF.

Other important information.

"One may apply to participate for any competitions organised Officially under FIDE which requires the National Federation to endorse, please do write in, or email to the The Honorary Secretary ,CC to The Selection Committee, in view if there is no representatives for that particular event, we will be glad to assist in any way. For Open FIDE rated events, like Bangkok Open, KL Open, Australian Open, no endorsement is required for your child participation."

"MCF may need to organize a seminar with an open forum and discussions for all parents during next year NAG, to clarify,to explain and discuss certain issues like selections, players qualification for events, tournaments local and international, ratings and etc. This will help to foster established a better understanding between MCF policies and public views."

Quote: Greg Lau, Secretary MCF.

I hope that with this information, State officials will be able to plan for livelier competition at these tournaments. Also please note NAG starts at U8. So plans are needed for this age category. If we all take part, I am confident a GM will be coming soon. "If we build it, they will come."

Greg, thanks for the info.

Raymond Siew

Saturday, December 26, 2009

How important is your opening?

Plenty of thots this holiday. During the National Junior there were 2 games that Mark played that troubled me. Both times he was white and both times he played a player we evaluated (rightly or wrongly) as weaker than him. In both games he went into Najdorf. He lost one and drew the other. We have come to the understanding that it is important to play the correct opening with the correct opponent. So we prepared against the field that we assessed he needed to win or draw with to do well in the tournament. Sadly we didnt consider these 2 players. Our assumptions at the time was that he should be able to beat the lower ranked players in any opening. And so we are now still licking our wounds. :)

In this day and age, with computer analysis and a plethora of information, a stronger player can fall to anyone if you play into their line. And this was a painful reminder.

Got to chatting with Andrew (gilachess) on google today and lamenting to him. After singing "Thats what friends are for" twice!, he passed me these links.

I am going to share it with you now. Hope it will help you. And you wont need to sing to me either.




Good luck with your chess.

Raymond Siew

Holiday games

Hi guys

Saw this site some time back. The top seed is Fadzil Nayan from Perak. So this is the challenge for the rest of this hols. See if one of you can take over that place. Mark just tried it. Started at 1500 I think and then went down to 1400 before climbing back to 1500 again. See if you can do better. Good luck and happy chess during the hols. Over and out.

Here's the link: http://chess.emrald.net/ctsTacCountries.php?ISO=MY


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why aren't we using our IM's?

During one of my tea tarik sessions with Mr Yeap (father of current National Junior Master), Mr Low (father of Low Jun Jian/Jun Keat), Subramaniam (Sumant's father and number 2 at the National Juniors), this topic came up.

In our pursuit of the first GM, we seem to have overlooked one very important resource: The FM's and IM's in our country - Do they have any lessons for our Juniors? Why are we importing, or trying to import GM's? Why are we sending our kids overseas for training in China for instance?

To me, it seems a waste of resources and foreign exchange. I have no doubt that we will require expertise we don't have now to find our first GM, but it makes sense to me that our junior players will do better if they can learn from those who have forged ahead before. Use what we have first, before we spend on others.

Note: I am not saying that our current IM's won't make GM's. I believe some are still trying hard and kudos to them.

I also understand we have 5 IM's (4 of which are in the country now). I don't know exactly why they are under-utilised but let me hazard a guess here.

I have been told many times that chess is a cheap sport. Hmmmm, true but not true. Not true if you want to excel. Ask some of the parents. My experience tells me that if you want to do well at State level, you have to play and be exposed to the National level. If you want to play well at the National level, you need International exposure. Not cheap, but maybe I'll cover this more in a later article.

But if the understanding continues... that this is a cheap sport... then I think it follows that we need to pay our IM's cheaply. Never mind that they have spent a small fortune getting the knowledge, never mind that they have applied their minds to an endeavour that may surpass a PhD in difficulty.

But hey, this is a cheap sport. So let's undervalue them. Over to you. I am curious. What do you think?

Btw Merry Christmas.

Raymond Siew

How to use this blog

Hi guys

Do refrain from personal attacks, keep your comments constructive and on the issue.

I welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. Obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Thanks for taking part — and abiding by these simple rules.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Introduction to First GM

Hi Again

After stepping down as webmaster for the Perak Chess Association, I decided to focus on helping Mark in his attempt to get into the National squad. So for almost 10 weeks solid we were going from one tournament to another. During this time I met other bloggers like Mr Gilocatur who urged me not to quit blogging. I also met, amongst others, parents of chess players who have national aspirations. During the long hours we spent together during tournaments and the many many teh tarik sessions, there appeared to be a recurring theme: this question is "why can't Malaysia get her first GM?"

Another reason for this blog (and its name) is that I have been thinking of starting a chess school in Perak. The idea was formed during my tenure in the Perak Chess Association. (I have been informed that I have been sacked for some reason. As I see it, there are no grounds but I would like to present the case to the members at our next AGM for them to decide as provided for in our constitution).

Nevertheless, that is not the focus of this blog. I hope this blog will serve as a forum for players, parents and chess officials to discuss issues pertaining to this perplexing question. Please do not use this blog for personal attacks. I understand there are many grievances and perceived injustices, but for us to move forward I feel it is best we try to build on common ground here.

I have personally gained from the parents of Sumant, Yeap Eng Chiam, Low Jun Jian/Jun Keat, Nabil/Nabila/Najiha, Shakir and many other parents of our National Juniors who have shared from their experience.

Both Mark and I have also learned much from the National Juniors themselves who have been remarkably generous in imparting their knowledge to us. Deserving special mention is also Greg Lau of MCF, Jax Tham (chess coach) and Abdullah Che Hassan (chess coach and Senior National player) who have shared of their knowledge to help Mark become the strongest junior player to come out of Perak for a long time. He was close to getting a good placing in the National Juniors U20 but a series of bad decisions on my part means we will have to try again next year. However he did come in second for the U16 category.

But back to the blog. Many parents have said they will support this blog, I hope that players and chess officials will do the same. Also since I hail from Perak, I will also highlight events from the silver state.

Raymond Siew

PS: I am discussing starting a chess school with some sponsors. I will keep you informed of the progress.