Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday quote

Yes, there is Nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a
green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Holiday reading

Excerpts from Happiness Is a Focused Mind, By Jenifer Goodwin,
EXECUTIVE HEALTH November 11, 2010
If you want to be happy, try to stay focused

New research shows that when people's minds drifted from the task or activity at hand, they reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in whatever they were doing.

The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering -- that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen, explained study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human.

Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they're doing, they feel less happy.

"Human beings seem to have this unique capacity to focus on the non-present. They have the ability to reflect on the past, plan for the future and imagine things that might never occur," Killingsworth said. "But at the same time, human beings are clumsy users of this capacity and it tends to decrease, rather than increase, happiness."

In the study, 2,250 participants were prompted at random times throughout the day using an iPhone Web application. They were asked how they were feeling, what they were doing, if they were thinking about something other than what they were doing and whether whatever they were contemplating was pleasant, unpleasant or neutral in nature.

According to the study, participants spent nearly 47 percent of their waking hours with their mind in a wandering state. "This study shows that our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present," Killingsworth said.

In some ways, the research provides scientific evidence of what many self-help books and some religious traditions espouse, which is that being in the "here and now" is critical for happiness,

Participants were from 83 counties, a wide range of occupations and ranged in age from 18 to 88.

Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist, said the findings speak to the importance of doing things that provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Such activities make it easier to stay focused. …long before the research, psychologists and many educators recognized that in order to feel a sense of well-being, you need to feel you have purpose and meaning in life. That means you are containing the mind around certain projects and activities, and are forcing the mind not to be all over the place all day long."

If you feel your mind starting to head down a "dark tunnel" of worry and anxiety, try to snap yourself out of it by bringing your thoughts back to the present, she said. "It's such a natural tendency to go over bad news or things that haven't worked out, to dramatize the drama we are already experiencing," she said. "But (when) we can distract ourselves by getting involved doing something, we get some distance from whatever we were ruminating on and it's better for us."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bon Voyage

First I would like to extend our thanks to all our well wishers who SMSed, rang, left messages on facebook and on this blog on Mark's performance in the National Junior. We appreciate the encouragement.

We will be leaving for KL tomorrow afternoon to catch the train at 9am from KL Sentral on the 25th.

This will be our first Malaysia/Singapore match and we are looking forward to it. Lots of other things to get ready. Havent even got my Sing. dollars yet. We are also playing in the Singapore Open and we hope to improve Mark's rating there.

So once again Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and I hope we will have lots of good stories to tell on our return on the 1st or 2nd Jan 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Calender for DATCC


Reminder with addendum


More on healthy competition

Healthy competition is about ideas. It's about confidence from preparation. It is not personal and does not need to hide in the dark. When you run out of ideas, lose your confidence, you'll then need dirty tricks to keep you afloat. And that is a sad road to nowhere.

Let us find more ideas and develop our confidence instead; its a livelier and more exciting road. It is also healthier.

My thoughts for today

First nurture the fighting spirit, then improve the technical. For without the fighting spirit all the technical would be useless to you.

As we are preparing for Singapore, I wish to remind our players and officials to remember to pack their fighting spirit. Dont reach Singapore without it. :)

Healthy competition.
Malaysia Boleh

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After dinner musings of Malaysia/Singapore match.

We have transferred to the Singapore Open instead of the age group and Mark has been invited to be an official player for the Malaysia/Singapore match based on his performance at the National Juniors.

So we have about 2 and a half days to do some emergency repairs before travelling again. This is my musing now. We know Singapore has a Coach to collect database of our games. This is a good thing. Preparation is key. They at least have current data of our players from Asean, Penang Open and our National Juniors which we have placed in

Now what do we have? We have a very strong sense of team spirit from the recent National Junior. Lets hope that is enough.

Or maybe MCF can come up with some ideas to help the players out. My suggestion is to dedicate someone to compilation of some database and get it to the players asap to give them a little more edge.

The thinking process of a Master


One of Mark's games.


National Junior Champion list


Arbitering a National Event

A National or International event is not like a normal local event. The stakes are higher. We are choosing a National Champion or displaying to the world our prowess at organising. There should not be a mis-step.

I have been getting calls from parents asking about the last minute inclusion of Sumant and siblings. As far as I know it is all above board but the negative perception is troubling.

To me the main point is that the Chief Arbiter was not present at the opening of the event to ensure that the Tournament is set off well. In fact he only came in on the third day. And he left before the play off. And there were controversies there too as to the rules of the play off. And it surfaced in the middle of the play off. This should not occur anymore given our experience in organisation.

MCF needs to be more mindful of the players and the parents by making sure that the results of the event is beyond dispute. I hope this type of mistakes will soon be a thing of the past and MCF moves to continually improve. A postmortem without fear or favour will be helpful towards this end.


Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our National Junior experience

Armed with a few work in progress "theories", we went to the National Junior in search of the coveted National Junior Master trophy and title but came back to Perak with something much more valuable.

Round after round we found that our working assumptions were correct and strategies were working and then in the final round we met an invigorated and fighting Syakir. It was an honour to go down to him. He fought like a true Champion.

Going into the play off we knew our percentage chance were reducing as we have never experienced a play off before and had no idea how it would work. But Mark continued fighting to the end and finally Zhuo Ren's superior experience and stamina won the day.

All in all I believe we have found the right overall Champion in Lim Zhuo Ren for 2010 although in my eyes all the players in the play off were Champions in their own right. Sumant, Jianwen, Syakir, Zhuo Ren and Mark.

What was to be our most valuable prize was to experience the sportsmanship and generosity of spirit displayed by all the players and parents present in the play off; together with the learning gained. FGM salutes our fighting players and if we can keep this up we can bring the fight to Singapore. Guys, it has been an honour. We are proud of you all.

Malaysia Boleh.

ps: To our well wishers, Mark is ranked first but is officially second after the play off. We are happy with the results and want to congratulate the Champion, Zhuo Ren. Well done and well deserved win. All my best.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Will be leaving for KL to take part in the National Juniors in a couple of hours time so activity on this blog will be greatly reduced till after the New Year. We will also be at the Singapore Age group event.

So I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope to have more to share after these tournaments.

The principal contradiction

This seems to me to be the knot that ties all other knots. The fact that MCF officials are not paid. For the full time posts there needs to be fair compensation. Chess cannot be seen as a hobby if we are demanding medals from International Competitions. For medals we need a professional team.

The real issue I think is value for money. That means we must know the level of service we are paying for and at what price.

A good way forward is a proposal from MCF to the chess community for us to examine the cost structures involved. This proposal must be transparent so that we know where all the money is. The cost of organising all the International Tournaments. For instance, Malaysia/Singapore etc.

And in return for supporting this proposal we must ask for independent audit and transparency in decision making. We would also want a commitment to a process to weed out the dead wood.

If we can get to this, we can have a new beginning. That to me is a fair and realistic solution. Otherwise this dance of hide and seek will continue in perpetuity. And we will never be world class. All we will have is the same old drama. Screaming and shouting at one another for the next 30 years will not solve anything.

After all, if you think about it, parents and players are already paying for the officials whether you like it or not. But it is all hidden because our perception is that they should not be paid and theirs is they should. Read this on opportunity again. Here.

National Junior- List of players


Monday, December 13, 2010

An inspirational tale

By IM Jimmy Liew. Here.


Perceptions are interesting. Once an impression is formed, it takes a lot of energy to change the perception. And MCF is a victim fairly or unfairly of negative perception. A historical legacy?

Take the case of FGM. When we sponsored the Asean Team, it was a simple and transparent case. Everything was reported openly on this blog. In a nutshell, MCF offered to parents a fee of RM1,500 for Air fares alone. FGM counter offered a fare of RM1,000 which included training by Ziaur. On top of that FGM got MCF to reimburse the parents for the difference in exchange rate which amounted to over RM300 in many cases. Therefore the offer by FGM actually became RM700 give or take with training instead of RM1,500 without training.

And yet FGM became tarred by the same brush as MCF. The many imagined versions of this offer was posted over the blogs.

And MCF did not even offer an explanation to clarify. But even if they had it may have made the problem worse because of their lack of credibility. So any engagement with MCF now becomes negative branding. A good way to lose our reputation by association. This is a problem for chess in Malaysia. I cannot imagine any good genuine sponsors willing to take that kind of risk with their reputation and good name.

Rebranding Chess

Branding is about the intangible products. Trust and credibility. If the products of chess are leaders who can produce results, understand risks, are gracious, can withstand pressure in healthy competition, understand competitor analysis and comparative advantage then we have what business is crying for.

Teamwork, balanced positive individuals is sought by businesses.

Then we are in synergy with business where the big sponsors are. An enquiring mind that does not shy away from challenges. A knowledgeable mind.

Chess can produce these type of people. And chess can also damage. We cannot reach good sponsors if the best we can show is the product of the parents ie up to U12.

The big question sponsors will ask is what are the Associations doing? Where is the team that will produce the results where I can brand my business with, by supporting chess?

If I am to align my business, my reputation, to chess today what will it say about my business, about my product and about me? What will people see?

Malaysian Champion in Asian Schools

Here and here

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The value of results

I have been following the spat for the use of the Lotus name. Chess can draw in a lot of sponsorship if we can produce the results. Branding, that is the game. Are we up to it? It takes more than just our performance till U12. We need to show a plan and we need to show a team that can deliver those results. And by team, I dont just mean the players.

Role models

I find our National Juniors an amazing bunch of kids. They share knowledge freely among themselves. Even during SPM they are online helping one another do better in their exams.

This positive attitude speaks well of them and in my opnion its also why they are the National Juniors in the first place. If we use them as role models then we will go far.

Penang Open- Final Results


And here.

Challenger Penang Open

The results here. I remember seeing Jun Hao play at Jax's. A real fighter. Well done and congrats Jun Hao.

Sunday musings with coke.

Having a cold coke and looking forward to the National Juniors to test out new ideas. Ziaur was a real blessing in helping us fill in the blanks. I hear Jasur is also great with the kids. Hope they sort out his stay. Firey is doing a fantastic job keeping us informed of latest games around the globe and there are plenty of quality tournaments in Malaysia.

Now all we need is some quality leadership from MCF and we will go far. This looks like a start. Here.

ps: Hmmmm I dont understand the selection criteria again. Is there any and if so where is it?

Some recommended books by John Wong



Learn to express, not impress.

-- Jim Rohn

Learning to see the truth about ourselves is better than learning to hide the lies.

-- Raymond Siew

Saturday, December 11, 2010

9th Round Penang Open


Our kids in Colombo


Round 8 Penang Open


Challenger, Penang Open

Good to see Zikri back in action. His brother Syamil was a Perak champ too. Here.

Brain teaser


For more. Here.

Stilling the mind

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” -Carl Jung

Interesting training ideas from Singapore IM

Read here.

Here's the link to the general site. Here. Some good articles there.

The plan and credibility

In any chess game, the player needs a plan. Not only plan A, but plan B, plan C etc. Similarly MCF needs a plan, our chess community needs a plan. We cannot hope to accidentally stumble to a win. So where is our plan?

But for a plan to work, you need people to believe in it or you will not have energy to back it. Here we have another problem. The lack of confidence. FGM's own experience makes us very very cautious in engaging MCF again. In fact nobody I have spoken to has confidence in MCF. There is a big credibility issue here. This is something MCF officials has to think seriously about. It is not because nobody wants to support, there is no money for chess or there are no long term sponsors. It is because nobody dares to stick their neck out for MCF. Nobody wants to risk their energy, money and good name once MCF is involved.

This is the crux. The plan can be formed but nobody will believe in it. This issue has to be addressed. I hope MCF takes positive action to restore their good name.

For without a good name the best deals will only be arms length, minimum contact and ad hoc. And plans need to be long term.

Anand is champ at London Classic

Read here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Round 7 pairing, Penang Open


Penang Open

Read here. What would it take to write a different story?

It's all a function of confidence.

Let me try to see if there is another reason why our players dont do well after U12.

Lets say they start training early. Lets say they are given the task of analysing their potential opponents game early. Lets say that they are given possible plans to try out so they can test it out in training. Lets say they start to understand their own game and their own strengths and weaknesses and they have worked to improve both.

Lets also say that they have confidence in their team mates and know that all will fight. All will give their best. Would they be more confident? Would we get better results after 12? Afterall that is what their competitors have.

But still they fight with one hand and one leg tied. Last minute preparation if at all. The organisers dont even ensure that they have good accommodation and proper rest. Even the food is left to chance. But still they fight. And then when they dont come back with the medals, we say they have no fighting spirit. Actually who doesnt have the fighting spirit?

If we give them the same facilities and resources and they dont perform, then it is fair to blame them. But not before.

Coffee break musings

I have been told by many many officials that its because our boys and girls are not hungry for victory that causes us to do badly in the International Arena after 12yo.

My coffee is telling me that may not be the full or correct picture. Go to Penang Open. Do you see our juniors there?

In Vietnam for instance, they were in training 6 months before Asean. Singapore has training all year round. The Association has a full time coach that collects database of competitors.

Before 12 we have the talent. After 12 its about the preparation. I have said that the type of preparation we need, to do well after 12, is beyond the resources of parents. Think on it. Can the parents pay for a coach to collect database? Can they organise a National Squad for constant training?

So question. Is it the kids that are not hungry or the officials? If you are in Penang have a good look. If not take a look at your next tournament where the juniors are present. What does the evidence say? Is it fair to put the blame on the kids?

London Classic with game.


Penang Open

Here. Our juniors are still there fighting. What can we do to give them a helping hand up that steep ladder? Click on the top of the pairing to open up the box to see full results.

Asian Schools

Our kids are really doing well in Sri Langka. Here and Here

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Asian Schools

Our kids are doing well. Here. and here.

On preparing for competition.

I notice some readers still accessing this article. I hope this is helpful to you.

London classic with games

Read here.

Asian School Chess Championship.

2 more of our kids playing for the Country. Here.

I wish them strong fighting spirit.

I dont know much about this event. Anyway, welcome back Marcus.

Chess results and pairing in Penang Open

And so it begins again. Here.

And here.

The chicken or the egg?

Negotiators tend to leave out a member of their team if they are perceived to be angry or negative about outcomes. The reason is this. If there is anger in the room can you be sure that it hasnt come from you? If there is a possible positive outcome, can you see it if you are negative?

This problem is further compounded if you do not even know if you are angry or negative? Watch out for it and it will improve your chess and life in general.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Last paper in SPM today. Just paid and signed up for National Junior. So its back to the tournaments. There is something very special about chess competitions which is so hard to explain to people who havent experienced it. That special sense of dignity and integrity that comes from healthy competition.

In this environment I see the possible full potential of what Malaysia can be. It shows what we can do when we apply ourselves to a problem. The seed is there if we can appreciate and nurture it. Look carefully. There are many many positives.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tournament for the old timers and young kids on the 19th.


Kings indian attack

Besides keeping one eye on the WYCC, Firey has also brought this to you. Here. He also has some games up on his site as well. Do visit. This is real focus. :)

NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Somebody brought this up on this site. So lets have a quick look at it.

The idea behind NLP is that we can wipe out our negative programming by overlaying it with positive experiences. When the idea was still new I was a big fan too. Why not? A positive outlook without having to revisit our traumas and fears. It was and still is I think a big thing on the WWW.

However over the years I see that the proponents have directed the skills learned from NLP to jedi mind tricking others. I know many of them. It simply doesnt work the way it is supposed to. Traumas are too well ingrained like a deep groove in a record.

When I was in construction, our major focus was in securing contracts but not in the execution of the work. Jedi mind trick. When I was in PICA the focus was not to see what you can do in the position to improve chess but what the position can do for you. Jedi mind trick. Form not substance.

So I hope you can see that Jedi mind tricks has limited use. You get the contract and then you mess up the job thus ensuring you have more difficulty getting the next one. You get the post but you dont get strong players because you havent put in the time to think of development. So you ensure you have a tough and miserable time in that chair as you are constantly criticized.

Jedi mind tricks(NLP) do work. Of course it does. That is why it is so successful. But up to a point. When you meet that GM who does not fall for Jedi mind tricks anymore, the question now becomes can you play chess? So why dont we focus on that a little more. We need to develop substance too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dear Syazrin

In reply to your post. Here.

I wish your tournament every success. Let me first say that I think there is nothing wrong with a Malay, Chinese or Indian tournament if it is all in fun and in healthy competition. Iron sharpen iron and we need more healthy competition to be strong so that we can all stand tall in the International arena.

But let me tell you a story so you can understand my concern. Last year during MSSPK I witnessed this event. In the girls category there was a young chinese girl who badly wanted to be champ as she felt that year would be her last chance. After winning a round she was surrounded by her malay teachers and forced to take a draw. I suspect that they wanted a particular malay girl to be champ. I know all of them for many years. The teachers as well as the young malay and chinese girl both of whom I have seen growing up.

I remember to this day the young chinese girl's tears when she told me about the forced draw. I dont think there were any really bad people here but the need to produce a malay champion seemed to have overtaken better judgement.

My concern is for both the young chinese girl as well as the malay girl who eventually became champ. I fear the young chinese girl would be damaged for a long time and will not play strong chess again. And the really decent malay girl who would have to carry this guilt of having taken something she did not deserve from a friend and fellow competitor. The decision was not in their hands. The young girls did not decide this. In fact my belief is that if they had been given the choice they would have chosen to fight fairly.

I also want to say that I have never witnessed anything like this anywhere else. So I think that in our chess community we still believe in fair and healthy competition. And these cases are still the exception. I am not very political. My concerns are that we give the kids a good culture in chess. So they can learn to believe in themselves and win the right way.

Visions, goals and tasks.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. A major contribution to this confusion is the idea of SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).

Let us take the goal of the First Malaysian GM as an example. Now to reach this goal we have to contend with 2 factors. The known unknowns which is the things we know we do not know. One of which is how to teach our kids creatively, to make chess interesting enough so that they can pursue this on their own steam later without spoon feeding or hand holding etc etc.

The second factor is the unknown unknowns. That is what we do not know that we do not know. For instance, we cannot forsee the changing forces in chess, we cannot accurately see the exact attributes that our GM must have to take the pressure cauldron of International competition and we cannot predict whether that competition will increase or decrease over time.

We will of course be better at all these after our First GM but not before. Right now we only have a few clues and are still guessing at best.

So we cannot use SMART goals as a tool. This is the better tool. Here. Understanding this will take us further.

So SMART goals should be renamed as SMART tasks. For only tasks can be SMART because all is known.

As for Vision, I have found that Vision is best expressed as intangibles. Meaning that we should state qualities that will bring forth a strong player. Qualities like integrity, confidence, an enquiring mind, a still mind, a balanced individual etc.

The Vision acts as a guide for the goal so we can correct course if we veer. By placing tangibles we can short circuit our goals. Why? Because the unknown unknowns may create a conflict with tangibles simply because we dont know yet.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A good cause

Campaign to stop child abuse. This is something I feel very strongly about. Do lend your support if you can. I have. Here.

Sunday musings- It only takes one success story

Our story so far is that we do well till U12. But that doesnt have to be the end of the story. That can be our beginning of a climb up to the very top. Why not? We may seem stuck but all it takes may be one concerted attempt to change this story. That attempt can look like this. MCF takes leadership and prepares properly for Asean. One little step at a time. Success there will release new energy and begin a brand new story for Malaysian chess. Focus on one goal.

Sunday reading for male chess players



I am informed that the all malay chess tournament is not cancelled but maybe postponed probably due to low sign ups so far. The question in my mind is whether this tournament is helpful to developing strong Malaysian players in the International Arena or a distraction? Does it help to unite or divide? Does it make us stronger or weaker?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Our most dangerous decisions.

Is the ones we make unconsciously. Observe carefully. Self sabotage is not usually a conscious decision. We think we are fighting but we will then place obstacles in our own path to success unconsciously.

Live games in Turkey WWCC


Quick checks on openings.

Sham has eyes on openings and women chess. Here. If you join the dots.....

Also see what is an opening? Here.

Some games from ITA Seina

Courtesy of Firey Rook. Here.

Firey Rook follows the women.


Amazing finish

How can we get our players to fight like this after 12? Here. Have you ever seen our juniors play? What happens later and why?

A real story

After I graduated in Optics, my first job was with a fast growing Optical chain that eventually became the first Optical chain to achieve public listing in the UK. The boss then sold his shares and retired to a big house with a heated indoor swimming pool. I was told that this was also his first success in business. All his other attempts had failed. He was nearly 50yo by then.

I remember my first week there. Some of the Opticians and other staff were sacked on the first day, some after 20 minutes. He paid the highest wages in the industry and he only wanted the best.

One day I was working at a branch and there was an underground strike for 4 days. The business was down in that branch and the manager was called up and given a shelling. I thought that was unfair then but now I understand better. The point was not the strike. The point was the manager did nothing to try and improve the situation. He could have picked up the phone and call the customers. Anything to compensate for what he could not change.

This is the lesson our kids can learn from chess. The world is not "fair". But dont get bitter. It only hurts you. There are many things you can do within the rules to change things. If you continue to try, to learn, to improve, you cannot be stopped. But dont sit down and whine.

Then we will have global Malaysians.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tournaments galore

Read here. I dont see the all malay tournament, so I think its cancelled. This speaks well for us as a community. Wishing the 1Malaysia tournament every success.

Friday Reflections

Read here. I like this one.


Read here.

Beyond negative thinking

If you really join all the dots on this topic, you will start to see why so many continue to stay in the rut despite so many opportunities to change their condition. Me included.

The consequence of having our hopes and dreams denied can have ramifications that are lifelong. We start off by feeling bad about ourselves but eventually find a way to put the blame onto others in order to avoid those bad feelings.

That is the beginning of our self delusions. We start to explain away all our failings.

If we had continued learning and developing our judgement and taking opportunities as we travelled in our life, we would have rediscovered and accomplished our dreams.

Why take personal responsibility when you can so easily blame someone else? Blame the situation. And so we instead spend our creativity on self delusions. I think chess is a very good tool that shows us this. Move by move, game by game and tournament by tournament. If we can learn this from the game we have so much passion about, our future will be bright.

I know this will be very hard to stomach so I hope you wont just reject this outright. Take some time. Reflect on this and then observe the many who will sit down and whine when the answers are in front of them. Good luck.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Further on negative thinking

It is not "obvious" but the basis of negative thinking is the self. And the genesis is the non fulfilment of our hopes and dreams. This is a serious whammy. So I'm going to leave you to reflect on it for a while. The implications are enormous, if I am right of course.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Further negative thinking

The first thing to notice is that negative thinking is an emotive term. Negative thinking is accompanied by negative emotions. So any attempt at defining this term must necessarily include emotions.

But not just any emotions. It must accompany emotions of the conscience. Why? Because the conscience knows. Not easy to prove.

Lets look some people around you. I have met many people who have a terrible fear of being alone, of being quiet. Have you wondered why? Could it be that the moment that they stay still they will be assaulted by the things they have done, things they didnt do, how things could have been? etc etc.

Could we say that they are in a state of negativity? If that is true, then can we say that it is negative thinking that lead them there?

More next posting. At the end of this, I hope to show why you cannot see you are negative if you have negative thinking.

Perak Close

The results here. Do notice the lack of cross tables. No intent to improve.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Negative thinking

What exactly is negative thinking? Have you heard negative people calling other people negative? This is a conundrum isnt it. When you are negative, you cannot see possibilities. You see a world that is negative. Even when I show you the positives, you will find something negative to say about it. You are in a world of your own creation.

So how would you know if it is you who is negative or the other person. I will try to define it in my next postings. For a clue go back to Li Tians game.

Benefit of the doubt

Read here.

I have also been asked why give MCF the benefit of the doubt and not PICA? I suppose the answer is the underlying intention. The motives. I see an attempt at least in MCF to improve and I would like to encourage that. For any change, any improvement, there must first be intent. Otherwise we are wasting our time.

The dreaded postmortem

It is apparent that if we do not learn from our past mistakes we cannot progress. And yet we are unable to do a proper postmortem. We have a pathological fear of it. Let me try to examine why. When we do a postmortem we focus on where we need to improve. Another way to look at this is where we went wrong.

Now considering we have not had any success apart from the U12 for a long time now and we have experienced defeat after defeat, this is a big box to open. But if we dont open this box we cannot explore for solutions.

Looking at the experience of this blog and some private conversations, I also see we do not have the skills for constructive criticism. Any failing is blamed on somebody else and the attacks are relentless. Even to the point of fabricating lies to justify the attacks.

I have been asked, why do I bring up the negatives. My answer is this. To improve we need to look at what we are not doing right. We will not get anywhere if we keep talking about what we are doing right. The evidence is conclusive. We are stuck or maybe even going backwards relative to everyone else. So the need is to see why we are stuck.

Perhaps the difference is the motive. I ask these questions so we may improve and not to tear down. We need to create the space for this self analysis, for this postmortem. And we need to do this constructively. Then we can see improvement. But we also need this space to be safe for participation. Let us look at how we can improve rather than pointing our fingers at this person or that as if we are blameless ourselves. If the intent is to improve then it makes sense to sit down together. But if it is to tear down, then a postmortem will not achieve anything.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Asian games

Here. How does Philippines do it?

The future MCF

When we meet a MCF official we feel proud of their achievements. We go up and slap their backs and say hey job well done. When we see them across the road, we point to them and whisper to our kids, "see that uncle/auntie over there? They are responsible for this and that"

We feel proud as a community because of our collective achievements. A little like squash maybe.

Can this come true? Do we want that? How do we get there?

2 Essential posts for MCF

It is my opinion that MCF would be the stronger if these 2 posts are created. One is VP for development and the other is VP for sponsorship. The VP for development would be responsible for thinking through the role for MCF in aiding development of our players.

And the role of VP sponsorship would be responsible for coordinating sponsorships for MCF. If we want to progress we need to move away from ad hoc responses. We need specialists who know what they are doing. Maybe we do not have the right person now with the required knowledge but if we can find the person with the right attitude at least, the rest can be learned on the job.

Efficient vs Effective thinking

Efficiency is the methodical application of a process or procedure. You can efficiently take the road to nowhere. Effective thinking is that type of efficient thinking that leads to results. When you think effectively something changes.

To think effectively, you have to see where the blockages are. You have to examine your fears. You have to join the dots.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lim Chong passes away

Lim Chong, the author of "without fear or favour" at the Datcc site has passed away. First GM would like to offer our condolences to family and friends.

Here and here and here and here.

The winning strategy

The winning strategy comes from objective analysis. It comes from understanding. If you get that right you win. So the issue now comes from accurate implementation.

But what frequently happens is we change the strategy to compensate for our imagined fears. The winning strategy is the winning strategy. The other kind is the losing strategy. So to win we need to change the only thing we can change. And that is ourselves and not the winning strategy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

I like this idea to remember and be grateful for all the things going right in our lives. I am thankful for the chess community. We may not agree on a number of things but at least we are a vibrant community. I honestly believe that the passion we all share for the game will take us somewhere good.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The truth about MCF's pledge

Dont you think it sounds a little more responsible than that empty boast we made about bringing back a medal from Asian and made us all a laughing stock? We need to learn to walk first before we beat our chest and say we can fly?

We havent even got it together yet to do proper competitors analysis for International Tournaments. We cant even do a proper postmortem or all the funny going ons will come out in the open.

The fact that we do well until 12 is simply because the parents carry the burden of the training. The parents even pay for Coaches to accompany the juniors to tournaments. I think that is the limit of what parents can do. To do well after, to get the resources for Coaches to prepare competitors data etc. is beyond the resources of parents. From there the Federation must take over. Look at Singapore's model for an example. Or use it to compare with other models to get the best for us.

We are strong till they reach 12 and then they go downhill because MCF is not playing its part. The baton is passed at 12. From there on it requires team effort. The pledge below is something we would welcome from MCF. That would be a good start.

3rd National Junior-15th-19th Dec.

Please go here for details.

MCF's Thanksgiving pledge

In a sudden turnaround a MCF official announced a pledge that they will bring back medals from every category within the next 3 Asean games out of respect for the American Thanksgiving day and Hillary Clinton's recent visit. Not only that but they will send full teams with a proper Coach and undertake a comprehensive competitors analysis. To optimise our chances of medals MCF will begin the training of the players asap breaking a long held tradition of last minute preparations in this Thanksgiving pledge.

The official explained that this turnaround came as a result of the officials coming to the sudden realisation that they should do this as a way of showing gratitude for all the benefits that they have enjoyed in their posts for so long. This is to honour the players, parents and sponsors, past and present, who have sacrificed so much for the game.

"It's about time we give something concrete back too" said the official. "If we fail to deliver we have all pledged to resign enblock".

Sounds fair to me.

This announcement was posted anonymously.

There is no strategy

Until you have the right team. Until the pieces are able to coordinate in attack or defence. Do you find that our teams start to attack each other the moment they are formed? Look around you.

Dr Strange

Did you see the marvel movie on TV8 last night? On the way to learning magic Dr Strange was asked to tear down a wall. After finishing the job he always finds a bigger wall in its place. The master finally tells him that the wall was created in his mind. And when he can see this he can perform magic. But its just a story.

Asian games

Here. Looking at China vs Kazakhstan I wonder if the team strategy is to draw all and win on 3rd board to prevent upset?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to resolve issues?

I was once told by a fellow Counsellor that the trick is to make big issues into smaller ones and to make the small ones disappear. Those words of wisdom has helped me many times in the past. From where I stand I think sometimes we make small issues into bigger and bigger ones. And when the really big issues come....we pretend it doesnt exist.

Wed. after lunch musings

I have been told by various chess personalities about their prowess in understanding the strategies culled from Romance of the 3 kingdoms, Sun Tsu Art of War etc.

I quietly wonder who they are applying those skills to. Is it to their team members, their partners or to the "enemy"?

When you are trying to build a team or find synergy with partners, what skills would you need?

Is it possible that we are misapplying the lessons? Are those skills that build or are they skills to destroy? What do we need now?

Asian games

When can our players play like this? Read here.

Does it take team spirit? Would that help?

When can you apply strategy?

It may not be totally apparent but you cannot really apply strategy until you learn to manage your emotions. Anger, anxiety cannot be succesfully managed by white knuckling or force of will. And patience cannot be sustained without understanding. Think of it. There are enough examples around. The underlying issues are imagined fears which is protected by the ego. The intense pressure from tournament chess quickly reveals our flaws.

And this too has a systemic effect. If this is not true, then why havent we got a plan yet for our chess development?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Success in chess

Is just like success in life or in business. It happens if you do more right things than wrong ones. It doesnt come by magic. You keep figuring out how to reach your goal. You postmortem and keep learning new things you need to know to get there. And you keep unlearning all the things that are blocking you. And then you try to do it faster.

Isnt it better?

I've been following the debate on having a Malay, Chinese and Indian champion. I dont see anything wrong per se with the idea so long as its done in the spirit of healthy competition. But is this the right time for such an idea? Besides what is the motive?

Is it so we can give ourselves something when we do dismally in the International Arena? Sort of a consolation price. Isnt it better to focus on producing the Malaysian champion that can stand tall outside of Malaysia? Figuring out what we are not doing right. Isnt that what 1Malaysia is about?


What has Phillippines got that we dont have? Here.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Has Post traumatic stress syndrome any relevance to chess?

Have you seen a child playing chess that is literally shaking with fear? What happens when he is subjected again and again to these stressors? What happens when he is insufficiently prepared or trained and sent to fight Goliath? What happens to a community that experiences failure after failure with no respite and no solution in sight?

Here. Is there any relevance? What do you think?

If it is true, can chess be used to develop strong thinkers instead? What would that look like?

What are the right questions?

It doesnt look like we are coming back with medals from Asian despite our boast that Malaysian players can take on International champions. So we feel embarassed and let down. The game that we all love is made a laughing stock yet again. As a community we have spent many years in defeat after defeat. What would it take to see Malaysia as a front runner in an International competition? We have the talent. Our kids have shown us this.

It doesnt have to be this way. I am sure our officials in MCF would like to bring back the medals for us. I am sure we would all want to celebrate a Malaysian victory of note. In this desire we have unity of purpose.

A good start in my opinion is to leave behind our past baggage. Stop pointing the finger and look hard at what we have now. And plan from there.

We need to consider that our officials need to survive too and so we need a model where they can be fairly compensated for their efforts.

We need to aim for one goal that is achievable and we need to start early.

We need to pull together our resources and work as a team.

What else do you think we need? What do you think are the right questions? I will open this post for contructive comments. Please do not use this as an opportunity to attack someone. Lets try this again. We are looking for solutions not more drama. Offensive, out of point comments will be deleted.

Asian games-Team

Here. I cant find Malaysia. Sham has in the past always shown us our position. Wonder what is happening.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The nature of opportunity

Chess shows us that opportunity has a unique nature. It operates in windows. It's creation has something to do with conflict management and to seize it has to do with change management. Opportunities can be created but when it presents itself you must first recognise that the window is open and then you must have the courage to step through it.

This is the same for all of life's endeavours and in business. Seize the opportunity before the window closes.

In chess there is a concept called sensing the tempo or recognising the critical phases of the game. This concept is synergistic with the idea of being in the moment. Your best chance of recognising opportunity is when you are in the moment. The enemy of the moment is the chatter, the noise in your head. Your imagined fears operate in the past or in the future from projections. It prevents you from being in the moment, the present. Read this again if you havent already. Here.

All my best in your chess development.

New trainer in town

First GM wishes this venture every success. Here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A good habit

Early on in my career negotiating contracts I made a decision. I decided that my word would be my bond. I then found that there were many things I had to learn to enforce that decision. I had to learn not to make hasty decisions. I had to learn to set boundaries. When to say yes and when to say no and mean it. I had to learn to slowly consider, to do my research and due diligence before I made a commitment to anything or anyone. I had to learn to do small test models, build hypothesis. And I had to learn to judge people and situations.

To train myself I would fulfil my part eventhough I had made a mistake in judgement and got the shorter end of the stick. Even if I entered into a contract that lost me money. I redoubled my efforts to see where I had made the mistakes and continued to change myself.

I believe it is this habit that lead my mentors to me. With this habit I could build trust and credibility.

When I discovered chess, I found that it is the same skill set that was needed to play good chess. In chess you cannot take back your move. The challenge is to find the right thinking before the mistake.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Space for change

We need space to change. The Vision is articulated, the objectives set and the way to get there agreed by consensus.

Change cannot come from continuous personal attacks or destructive criticisms. That only causes more reaction and a further continuation of the drama. It is better that you deal with your own anger and bitterness yourself and be constructive in your outside interactions. Give suggestions for improvement. And then give it the space it needs for change to happen. Be patient. Things will happen in its own timing.

Carlsen withdraws from candidates matches

What does Carlsen mean by motivation? What are his considerations? Do player and spectator have different perspectives? Dont look for right and wrong. It's enough to just try and see it from his angle.


A bad habit

Lets look at bad habits and see its systemic effect.

Have you seen someone who seem to be able to do a lot and doesnt get flustered when things change and additional tasks are added? And someone else who always seem to be running like a chicken without a head and constantly one straw short from total breakdown?

These habits are formed at a young age. What are the skill sets involved? One is taught planning, understanding shifting priorities and setting goals. Learning to do a little everyday, learning to avoid procrastination, delaying gratification. At the end of this training he seems to be able to handle much more and has deeper confidence because he can accomplish more with good results. So he is able to handle change with greater equanimity.

The other does things last minute. He becomes anxiety prone and makes many mistakes. Over time his confidence ebbs and he begins to resist any change because he is not equiped to handle it.

Which person would make the better chess player? Are the skill sets similar to the ones you need on the board? What about the officials? What skill sets would they need?

These are habits which have systemic effects throughout life. It is better to start young acquiring it but it still can be learned at an older age. Not so easy later but with effort there can be notable improvement. A small step at a time. Look for improvement not perfection.

Why do we resist change?

Sometimes it looks like we would rather fight lions than look at ourselves. We would rather take on the whole world than fight with our own inner demons.

In my years in chess, I have said the team has lost its morale and we look at technical; I have said the player is sick and more technical; I have said that loss has to do with a lack of concentration, bad habits and yet more technical....

We have come from defeat to defeat from lack of preparation and training and we will not do a proper postmortem. We keep hitting that ceiling and bouncing back and we refuse to look the other aspects of chess besides technical.

Why is that?

Actually change is not easy. There are a lot of things we must know to effect change successfully. Change management is a science.

And it must start with us saying, we have a problem. Then we look at how do we change, what needs changing? For until then we will keep doing the same things and hoping for a different result.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unhealthy competition

In a nutshell healthy competition is constructive. It builds because in the system we are not trying to "win" against the other. We are trying to be the best we can be. Ergo its a win win system and not a zero sum game.

On the other hand unhealthy competition is zero sum. I win and you lose. From this system, we do whatever we can to "kill" off the other. We have seen its ugly face in Malaysian chess. Match fixing, sabotage etc. Unhealthy competition disempowers us. Its a system that blames the other for our failures or conversely we look for excuses to explain it. It destroys. From here we can understand the culture of finger pointing since it is not about self improvement. It is not a system of deserved win by becoming better and better. Ergo it is not a system that can build genuine confidence.

In Malaysian chess there are signs that we are more aware of this now. If we can keep this up and build on it we will begin to move forward. By combining strengths that GM will come. All we need now is unity of purpose. Everything else we already have.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is healthy competition?

I was talking to a friend in Taiwan when I realised that maybe I need to explain why I feel healthy competition is the way forward. Why so many including Obama talk about it. So I'm going to juxtaposition healthy and unhealthy competition to see what the difference is.

To me healthy competition is about being the best we can be. By and large we have a relatively level playing field with the advent of the internet. Todays world is not so much about exclusive information. We can see games played around the world in real time. There are eBooks and articles on all aspects of chess available freely online. Today the challenge is being able to use the information. It's about being able to learn and learn fast. It's about change.

Healthy competition is inclusive and has room for cooperation. In healthy competition it is good to have a strong field. It is good to help one another improve. Iron sharpen iron. Then we are headed in the right direction to that GM. It is good that we have strong players in neighboring Countries. Then we do not have to travel far for the competition we need to improve. We can see that we need to pool our resources to form good teams for that is the way to maximise our chances.

Our success is not dependent on others. Our success is dependent only on ourselves. Whether we use all our advantages or we dont.

Look carefully. This is what our National Juniors have now. They share and learn together. That is their strength and why they do well. But also observe that they are under increasing pressure as they grow older not to share and the learning slows down and eventually stop. In my mind that is another reason why we start to fall back after 12. Do you think I have a point? There is a maxim in training that you learn most from your peers. Think on it. If you agree with me, how can we change things so we can succeed too?

Next posting is on unhealthy competition.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asian rapid-result


Thanks for the updates Sham. Great job.

Selamat Hari Raya Haji

Wishing our readers a Selamat Hari Raya Haji.

May the force be with you and your chess go from strength to strength.

The mentalist

Have you ever wondered how the mentalist do what he does? He appears to have absolute confidence in his observations and belief in his conclusions. He also appears not to have the chatter in his mind like most normal people. Ergo he has little resistance to change.

In the counselling phase, we are usually trying to get the person to accept the mounting evidence and not to blank out or selectively see the evidence. We are trying to get them to join the dots, to reduce the chatter. We are trying to give them the confidence to see that change is possible; that they can get out of the rut they are in. Ergo we are trying to teach them how to think well first.

In the coaching phase, we are training them to learn faster and faster, change faster....the mentalist to be.. Here.

Which phase would you want to be in? Which phase are our players in? Where would our GM come from?



Monday, November 15, 2010

How can chess damage you?

When you are not in healthy competition and someone else can steal your result from you because of match fixing. Or conversely when you claim a win you know you do not deserve. This is a strange one. Think on it. Observe around you, inside yourself. This can really twist your mind.

When you are not doing it for yourself but to please someone else or to compensate for their inadequacies.

When you are not set realistic goals; when you are insufficiently prepared or properly trained and supported and you are sent to bring back medals.

When you have a lousy trainer or coach who do not show you how to find the right answers but instead make you feel more stupid with every lesson that they teach you.

The net result of enough of the above is a killing of the fighting spirit. The players start to look for excuses rather than continue searching for the right answers. The disappointments with no possible resolution eventually lead to deep anger and bitterness and a siege mentality occurs that stop further learning and growth.

That is how to turn chess from a gift into a curse. But it doesnt have to be that way.

A Champion to be made.

Read here. When she achieves her goal, who would deserve the accolade, besides herself of course? And in what proportion? And who would rush to claim this National treasure as their own.

Review of Obama's visit.

Whether its the US, India, China, Indonesia...., we need our own thinkers. Where are we producing those? Read here.

What if Obama had changed his move order of places to visit? And he is talking of them them upping their game. Hmmmmm, what does he mean? Are we upping ours?


There is a natural synergy between Chess and Business. We have what business need and yet we cannot get genuine long term sponsors. Why?

Look at the type of people business cry out for daily. Strong thinkers, creative thinkers, team players, decision makers etc. etc.

Now look at the type of players that our chess is producing. They come in full of promise and then after 12 they start to fade. I have heard all the "reasons" given to explain why. Asians focus on studies etc. etc. Is this really true? Dont look to one or two examples. Look at the general trend. Have they become stronger thinkers as a result of having played chess? What did they learn from chess? Any positive life lessons that they can take with them?

Business is not going to align themselves with us. They are in the real world where they have to compete and win. We have to find our alignment with business to synergise. We have to show them how the lessons from chess can help them. They have the money. But what would Business see now when they look at Malaysian chess?



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Update on Asian


If you cant do one thing right...

You cannot do many things well. This is self evident. That is why I suggest we put all our resources and skills towards one goal first. Get a working model of what is needed to do well Internationally. Try Asean first. Get that model with the right team and then do a good postmortem and improve on it. One step at a time. Whats the hurry? We have spent 30 years going round and round the same spot. Do it well and do it right. And start preparations now, not at the last minute. It can be done if you think about it.

Entrepreneurial skills

Malaysian businesses are crying for thinkers. I have not found anything that teaches that better than chess. What are the necessary skill sets in healthy competition? The ability to think creatively within the rules. Like it or not those will be the bywords in our increasingly globalised world.

If properly taught, chess teaches us decision making. It teaches us how to make the right decisions before the right execution. It teaches us how to find the right strategy, the correct perspective. It teaches us how to appraise realistically.

The tools are competitors analysis which gives us our comparative advantage. It teaches us the value of right preparation and training. It can also teach us the value of partnership and team building.

In short it teaches us how to think well first and then how to think well fast.

But there is one huge advantage chess has. In business one wrong decision can cost the company or you a lot of money. In business the price of wrong decisions can be very high.

In chess you get to train your thinking move by move, game by game and tournament by tournament until you get it right.

But if you get it wrong, there is the danger of permanent damage. The loss of motivation. The inability to set high goals. If we get it wrong we start to close down the mind. What does the evidence show us?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We can gain if we have the brains.


Is chess an answer to this problem?


On medals

During the counselling phase, we know we want the medal but the player do not. To tell them would be to put pressure that they cannot bear. Then we sit down to hope and pray shouting Malaysia Boleh on the sidelines.

In the coaching phase, we test them to their limits in training to see what they can or cannot handle and then we give them the support and the tools they need to get the job done. And then we tell them what colour that medal should be after due competitors analysis.

Then we can sit down in the quiet confidence that we have done our job well. The results will do the shouting for us. Or we can shout Malaysia Boleh too, if we want, but this time with a different ring to it.

Which model do you think is used in squash and badminton? Can we do the same?

What is a leader?

A true leader is a pathfinder. A person who stands up and say this is the way. And the followers follow the way to the promise land. A leader understands that if results are not in sight for too long and from false promises then the followers will get disillusioned and demotivated.

Lets look closer. From all the variables that lead to results and resolution, the leader will have considered more, understood more, see more. I have said that all current decisions are at best a guesstimate. So he needs more insights.

So we see the Visonary and the leader have this is common. They have more relevant dots joined. Only that the Visionary sees more.

What is strategy? Do you agree that with correct strategy we can out think our opponent? Does it follow that superior strategy consider more variables? Correct ones I mean.

These are the same skill set for the strong chess player? For our GM? When he sits in front of the board, he is required to think like a leader; sometimes even a Visonary? He is required to become the pathfinder

Friday, November 12, 2010

Asian games

If you want to follow our fortunes at the Asian games, Firey is covering the event. Go here.

You know my views. Focus on Asean, do a proper job. Start now and include competitors analysis. But hopefully Haji Ibrahim has some deeper insights. Lets do a postmortem after and measure the reality gap.

A commitment by MCF

This is a good step forward. Here.


Lets get some perspective. I watched a documentary once about a man who wanted to prove a small part of Einstein's theory. And he got a grant. He estimated that he would be able to prove it in a few months. After all it was only a small smidgen.

The program showed him still trying to do it a couple of years later and it ended with him in his 60's still trying and believing he was closer. He started out as a fresh graduate. Some say there are only 4 or 5 people in the world who truly understand what Einstein postulated.

Look at chess. It just doesnt have that type of depth. Dont let them distort the facts and tell you differently. Dont let them mystify technical. The mystery is in the mind.

What chess can really do for you and your kids is to develop thinking and understanding of how the mind works so you do not self sabotage. If this can be done, we too will have a shot at getting world beaters, world level thinkers. But only if we use it correctly. Along this same path we will also find our GM.

What makes a National Junior?

Over the last 7 years, I've met and interacted with a lot of chess players and the counsellor and coach in me can't help but make comparisons between the National Juniors and the rest.

My observations lead me to the conclusion that its not a difference in IQ or even technical disparity. It is something else. Maybe that is best described by the word fighting spirit. And yet that is not enough. Their attitudes are different. There is an aliveness about them. Although they are not "angels" there is an openness about them. They are willing to share and to learn.

Have you been around people who drain you? 5 minutes with them and you are trying to get away? A negativity pervades their entire being.

Spend time with the National Juniors. They do just the opposite. They recharge you, reinvigorate you. There is this energy around them, in them. This is a gift; a gift to the Nation. We owe them a duty of care.

Do not let this crop of juniors become what has happened to the seniors. We cannot do anything about the past now. But we can prevent our current crop from becoming beaten down.

Next posting. What does leadership, pathfinder, visionary and strategy have in common? How does this relate to chess?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Begin with the end in mind

Covey said that. I sometimes use the analogy of my former mentor and boss, Mr Yan. Lets say the needle and threads (he started out as a tailor and educated to primary 6) are your starting point and each of you are given the same start up representing your technical training. And the end is a multi million dollar business empire. What would it take to reach there? What would you have to learn? What must you not lose on the way?

In chess, it may not be possible for all of you to have the same technical backup at the starting line. Some will have a head start if they have strong technical assistance from the get go. But at some point this evens out. There isnt that much technical. It's not quantum physics. When the technical evens out, that is really the beginning of your journey, not the end, as some will tell you.

That last 100 points to that GM can be like climbing Everest. If we can get some honest evaluation from our IM's, we will have a clue of what it will really take, more specifically, on a personal level.

From MCF's perspective, they will need to assess what kind of support the players really need to make that climb. And then they have to get that type of support. I suggest they initiate proper postmortems as a starting point. Dont be afraid of constructive criticism. Instead, be afraid that you are irrelevant or worse, an impediment to our players who fight so hard. Be afraid that you may kill off their fighting spirit because they have been sent to fight again and again without proper preparation, training or support.

It really does take a team, a good team to achieve all these. So stop looking only to yourself and your individual inadequacies. Start looking for your role in the scheme of things and play that role.

And stop pointing the finger, whinning and complaining because you need someone to blame for your failure. Look to yourself and do something. Try learning instead of making excuses. Or else keep quiet. Do no harm.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

APSSO-Latest update

Looks like our kids did way better. A big BIG Congratulations to all our winners. Thanks Sham for the update. Go here.

More here.

Congratulations Li Tian

Yeoh Li Tian has brought a Gold for Malaysia at the APSSO (Asean Primary School Sport Olympiad) competition in Indonesia. APSSO is represented by 10 Countries. Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. Well done Champ. Keep it up.

Reviewing Technical evaluation-Final part

Chess is a game for the training of Commanders, of Generals, of decision makers. So I have used the GM as the arbitrary line to illustrate the limits of just technical.

Nevertheless, technical is an important anchor in chess. Reliable technical evaluation. And here we have another stumbling block. Reminder from "question to technical analysts". Here.

The experience of this blog exposes our so called "technical" analysts, that cannot examine evidence with objectivity. This is a major flaw. Without objective technical input, we cannot plan our development. And without that we cannot get long term sponsors.

This fact gives rise to the speculation that somehow our chess environment can damage healthy questioning National Juniors, here, to damaged adults that are able to contort their minds to an amazing degree in the defence of indefensible and ludicrous positions. So our Juniors are deprived of their experience despite the "heavy investment" the chess community has put in the seniors.

I place a caveat here. There are some loud objections from whom I suspect are low level players who have never competed at high levels and so I can comprehend their lack of understanding. But quite honestly I expected more from our IM's.

I have given my evaluation as honestly as I can because I feel that in order for us to turn things around instead of more whinning or finger pointing, we need to face our reality. We have many things right but we also have critical flaws. These must be addressed for resolution. I also sincerely do not have any personal axes to grind. I have moved past that now. I hope my evaluations to date will be helpful in getting us our own GM.

Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reviewing Technical evaluation-Part 3

What Debono demonstrated is that all current decisions is at best a guesstimate. And the person with the best relevant big picture, ergo the best "joined dots" has the better perspective for resolution. This is where the difficulty lies for all decision makers. So we have the ancient chinese story of the General who went fishing in the middle of a war. And this is a huge topic.

At best, technical evaluation tells you why the building collapsed after the fact; how the war was lost. The major struggle is to see why you did not consider certain variables at the point of decision making. The major struggle is to find the correct thinking before the mistake is made.

That is really the game of chess, the lesson of chess. I see some blogs are saying that I am trying to put down technical. That is not the case if you read my writings. What I am saying is that our current understanding of chess in Malaysia is askewed. Somehow we have elevated technical to a status it does not deserve and is in fact wrong. Unless we rebalance the picture and get the proper perspective, we are not going to solve our current connundrum.

Look at the game of "go". There it maybe clearer that its a mind game. Technical chess just has a few more variables but not much more in the bigger scheme of things.

So I reiterate again. Once the player has been given the tools to evaluate, possibly around 12, then technical begins to recede in importance. To solve a problem we have to ask the right questions. The question should not be why has the building collapsed? The question should be how do I think so that I will put a building up that will not collapse. The question should be how do I think at the critical point of decision making so I do not lose in the game of chess or lose the war? And I have brought up imagined fears for consideration. The other question of course is why would such a request be so frightening to some?

Chess can provide the training to more and more complex thinking if we can train the players to understand their imagined fears. For once they can do that, they can free the mind for more complex matters without self sabotage.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reviewing Technical evaluation-Part 2

There was a revealing demonstration by Edward Debono that throws some light to this issue. In this demonstration he shows that only in hindsight is vision 20/20. The way he demonstrated it was by cutting up a square into 4 parts. Then he gave the audience 2 or 3 parts and asked them to guess the structure. Only when all 4 parts are given can the structure be seen.

Now when we do technical evaluation we are also doing the same. We are demonstrating the solution after all the visible evidence is known. Now stop here. There is something wrong with the picture. How is the game of chess played?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Reviewing Technical evaluation-Part 1

As in all arguments we have to review the underlying assumptions that forms a conclusion. So the first part of this argument will be to revisit emotions.

Do you know anyone who keeps changing their minds about a situation depending on the mood they are in? One of the criteria in determining clinical depression is wild mood swings. Yes, depressives are not depressed all the time. They also exhibit episodes of extreme elation. They are divorced from reality.

In chess we can see evidence of this. When you are negative, you cannot see possibilities. When you are exuberant you underestimate the possible fight back. So if we examine the evidence we will see that our best chances can only come when the mind is still. That we need the tools of developed judgement, understanding and advanced thinking skills. For that is the true test of chess. And that is how chess can aid you in your life skills too.

Emotions are illusive and can lead us astray, so the major struggle in the game of chess is to still the mind. Is that the way you are going? Go back and look for the bloggers who understand this. If even this cannot be understood despite all the evidence, what do you think is the real level of their understanding? They will soon hit a ceiling, if they have not already, that they cannot cross. In my next few postings I will also show that they do not even realise the limits of technical evaluation.

Reviewing Technical postmortems

I gave you an exercise a while back. Here. So lets do an evaluation here. Lets find out together just how effective is the technical evaluation that you do and are taught to do. And then you judge for yourself. But first I will need to give you some additional information. Next.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First GM Chess Academy -Proposal

Engaging MCF currently looks and sounds like this. Here. Decisions are changed without rhyme or reason, goal posts are moved, sabotage from the dark. In short a lot of drama and noise going nowhere. I said there are positive changes and that should be supported but there is still doubt in my mind if some of it is just window dressing or a genuine attempt for results and success.

Nevertheless I think the best way forward for First GM is to disengage from that noise. If not it will drain us of our resources and energy and we will not have any traction. We need to work with people who can work, can learn and improve. Look at our vision and philosophy which I stated at the formation of First GM. Here. We have not changed or deviated from that. We made our decision from the onset. And we mean what we say.

Any enterprise need the right team with the right skill sets. And so this initial proposal is to see if that team can be formed. If all the ingredients are there, we will move forward again. I have always said the team does not need to be large but it needs to be right; I often use Yahoo as an example, 4 people working in synergy from a garage. A wrong partner can irreversibly set the enterprise back.

So we are looking for investors, sponsors and technical support. Please write to me in confidence and we will make the decision to move forward once the right team is assembled.

Chess is too important at this juncture of our history to just leave it to chance that something will happen. We cannot afford to just continue to sit down and hope another "savior" will come. We need to take action.

Hopefully by producing results we will strengthen the positive forces in MCF and embolden them to push forward for significant change. Till then, arms length is the better approach. I believe this is the best solution we have for now.

To facilitate this, I will be available as a speaker to those who have more questions on mind coaching etc. Write me here expressing your interests. All correspondence will be kept in strictest confidence.

Thank you for your time.

PS: Please forward this post to anyone you think maybe the right person for this venture. Thanks again.

Deepavali Greetings

Happy Deepavali to our Indian readers and players.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A definition of optimism

When we are confident that things cannot get any worse. Is that your definition? If we are not careful, it could easily be.

Some progress

Heartening to see some progress. Here.

First GM Chess Academy-Announcement

After doing our due diligence and analysis of forces we have come to this conclusion. We recognise that MCF has a leadership role for the development of Malaysian chess. We do see some positive changes but we also recognise that there is a powerful negative force within MCF that acts against change. Energy spent towards engaging MCF in its current form will show little return in terms of result. They have no plan and they will unlikely come up with one in the near foreseeable future. The forces for change in MCF is just too weak. So there may be more spinning of wheels but no traction.

They are unable to work together with serious sponsors and cannot improve. This is borne out from our Asean experience. By refusing to undertake a postmortem they have condemned themselves to repeating past mistakes. There also does not seem to be a philosophy of win-win. Their attitude of treating sponsors money as their private piggy bank will drive away any serious long term sponsors.

We also recognise that there are limited genuine sponsors who would be willing to support chess and they cannot be frittered away in this manner. First GM have potentially lost DKLS and Air Asia as serious sponsors and we are unwilling to risk our reputation and good name by entering into another fiasco of this nature.

However we continue to recognise a strong need in our society for good critical thinkers. Those that become stronger with training and is competitive in a global environment. There are daily clamours in our newspapers for quality education and exposes of the weak students we produce.

We believe that by using chess training correctly we can produce those thinkers. But it cannot be done in its current form. Look at the products of our current system.

We also continue to believe that if there is sufficient recognition of this fact and sufficient support then we have a way forward. I will put out a proposal after this posting and we will go from there.

For your consideration

I would like to cover 2 more points before my announcement as I feel we still have some confusion surrounding both. The first point is do we consider chess a hobby or a professional sport?

It seems to me that it is unfair to expect medals from our players if we still consider chess as a hobby. Look at our competition. What resources do they have? What are we up against? There was some clamor when we launched the Asean initiative with accusations of us making money. As it happened we didnt but would it have been bad if we did? Think on this. What will we need if we are to give our players the same sort of support as our competitors? Will we need to be professionals too?

Competition. What does it mean? Can we look at competition as a challenge of ideas? If we do what will it look like? And look at what we have now.

Would it be an exaggeration if I say that in Malaysian chess we have horned one skill set well? We are near mastery (around IM level) in subterfuge, misdirection, back stabbing, lying, sabotage etc. Where has this skill brought us? And who are we using this skill against? Look at the trajectory of our players to see the result of the application of these skills. What happens as they get older? Do we see them getting stronger as they mature or do we see them getting beaten down? Do they becomes more angry and bitter? Do they reach the stage where they cannot even learn anymore? Look at the blogs with the pseudonyms. They say they are senior players. Look at them, they are so scared they dont even dare to use their names. They attack from the dark. Would you be surprised if it is revealed that they dont even know how to play good chess? You can say anything when you dont reveal yourself. If I was to tell you, play chess in Malaysia and you will end up just like them, would you still stay in the game? Would you want to grow up to be just like them?

Ilham and Abdooss brought up a point. Win-win. Can we have win-win in competition? What happens if we do and what will it look like? We are only out to get better ideas. And so the needed skill sets are planning, development, synergy and nurturing. We have healthy competition so our best have the right support. With right support they have success and they come back not beaten down but with energy. They grow and then they return the support to the next generation. The sponsors are happy and we are creating, adding value as we move along.

Why do you think we have only developed one set of skills and have none in the other? Is the other skill set important too? Have we got it all wrong? What does 30 years of evidence show us?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Congratulations Puteri

For top 10 performance in WYCC. Here. Puteri is the sister of Shakir and Munajjah. Members of the Azhar family clan of chess proteges.


Many people cannot make decisions and many people cannot hold them once it is made. We must not mistake knee jerks as decisions. The inability to make clear and firm decisions inevitably lead to a loss confidence. You cannot lie to yourself.

The key to making good decisions lie in considering all the variables including your imagined fears. Chess is a mind game and so it is to the mind we must search for the answer. Very often we are incapacitated by our imagined fears and they loom large in our unconscious. This is the noise in our brain when we compete. The noises outside have power when they resonate with the voices inside our minds. And under increasing pressure they get louder and louder until they overwhelm your thinking.

As you learn to think and confront your fears, you will see that the noise lessens. As you stare down your fears you find that your thinking becomes clearer and clearer. You will make decisions confident you have thought through everything and the noise will eventually abate. And in the end they will disappear. The noise is just that. Noise. They frustrate your plans and they have no bearing to outcome or results except to subvert. Recognise them and they will disappear. Dont and they will steal your hopes and dreams. They have no power except the ones you give them.

Now look at the noises outside again. Here.

Now look inside your mind. They prey on your doubts. Realise also that they do not even have the courage to reveal themselves. They are cowards. What would that make you if cowards can steal your dreams? Dont let them. Think things through. Look at your fears and you will be strong. Even if you do not make or want to be a GM, you will have something to take with you for the rest of your life.

Go back and look at my mentors. They were men that did not allow noises and little men to stop them. Lim Goh Tong found his courage on the way up Genting. Can you think of one great man that that did not face down their fears? That is why their decisions are solid. They do not change their minds in the absence of solid evidence. They stick to the plan. Do this and you will have confidence.

Chess is a beautiful game. It can teach you a lot if you use it properly. It's a game where you can learn about your imagined fears move by move, game by game and tournament by tournament. And you can have fun while learning an essential life lesson. Dont let this game be hijacked.

Deal with imagined fears in your mind and real fears with action.

Note: I will be making an announcement for First GM Chess Academy after this posting.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Criminal minds

Heard it on Criminal minds but can't remember by whom. "A weak man cannot make a decision because of his doubts and a strong man has his doubts after reaching a decision".


I read on Sunday that Koh Tsu Koon said that his mistake was being too humble.

Hmmmm, can anyone be humble when they cannot get results? When they keep making the same mistakes over and over again?

Dont you think humility can only come from confidence? When you have nothing to prove anymore? Until then, you may have a template of what you think humility is but that is all. You may try to fake it but deep down inside you know its just a pretence. You are not confident of yourself and your thinking. You are too easily confused. So how to be humble against the huge forces of self doubt, particularly if it lies in the unconcious?

The greatest insult

Do you know that the greatest insult you can give someone is to tell them what to think? What is the underlying assumption? Why dont you just give them the facts and let them decide for themselves? Why do you need half truths, lies, rejection, innuendos etc? What does that say about you?

Confidence-Fighting spirit

On the surface fighting spirit looks like stubbornness. That is the illusion. But look carefully. When you have fighting spirit, you are always looking for the way to win, for results. Look at what I said about Li Tian.

Stubbornness is non thinking. It is the insanity of doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. This is characterised by an inability to learn, to consider things that make them feel uncomfortable. The offshoot of stubbornness is excuses, finger pointing, self sabotage etc. For examples, please look at the Malaysian chess scene. This is the result of no progress. And so we send them unprepared, we cannot consider new ideas. Why? Otherwise we have no excuse for the failure; otherwise we have no one to blame.

Stubbornness comes from fear, it comes from ego. Fighting spirit is not the same. It may look like its the same but it is actually the diametrical opposite. It's the opposite side of the coin. That is the illusion. Can you see that? You cannot separate confidence from fighting spirit. They are inextricably bound together.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Confidence-A quiet knowing

A quality that we all want and need to succeed. To play at a high level in chess this is one quality we cannot do without.

Consider this. Can you be confident if you cannot get results? Say you are presented with a problem and time and time again you cannot come to a solution, would that ebb your confidence? So how would you arrive at results? A quiet knowing. Can we say that since knowing is a part of confidence that confidence itself is a subset, a byproduct, of learning?

How does learning work?

It starts when we have identified ALL the variables that affect outcome. But this is not as simple as it looks. Next posting.

Confidence-What is it and how to find it?

Confidence is an elusive quality. We saw that in Tiger Woods and perhaps we saw that in Magnus Carlsen recently. Yet on the whole we can say there are confident and not confident people. So how do we recognise confidence? What does it look like? How do we attain it and how can we lose it? I will write on this in my next few postings. Do join me.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Sigmund Freud once said that the road to happiness lies in the ability to let go. And when someone asked him how does one do that, he said "by remembering".

Chess is a game of immense beauty

And the beauty comes from its paradoxical nature. From the very fact that it has few variables it can display the tremendous creativity of its exponents. Some breath taking games are breath taking simply because of the ingenious solutions within those constraints.

Chess is also a game of change because it very clearly demonstrates that the decision you make in the moment can have an astounding impact on the end result.

So the essence of the game itself refutes the arguments of the people who argues on the wrong side of nature vs nurture. The proponents of nature is blind to change.

The beauty of chess is revealed when you can understand paradox; when you understand that its true nature is that it reveals who you are. There is not much technical and so the immense battle for the higher levels is the battle for the control of your mind.

And so the real battle for excellence is the struggle not to be trumatised by the struggle itself. And so the need for clean competitions. And so the need for correct preparation.

The people who can only understand contradictions cannot see that. They cannot accept change and so they will deny the evidence even when it is presented directly in front of their eyes. And in doing so they will condemn themselves to staying stagnant and playing a low level of the game.

This is self evident. This is demonstrated by chess. Look with a still mind and you will see.

Read this also.

And this.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Our kids in Greece. Read here.

Chess is not quantum physics

At the macro level, chess does not display the complexities of many subjects. Think on it. It is a problem confined to 64 squares with limited variables.

But it is very instructive on how the mind works. How the mind can sabotage itself. It is instructive on how illusions are formed and how delusions are perpetuated. It shows how emotions can deceive and how we can contort the mind to defend indefensible positions. It demonstrates the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

It can teach decision making, planning, how things work, goal setting, risk taking, struggle and sacrifice. It can even teach teamwork and partnership if looked at in the correct perspective. In short it can teach you how to learn.

If we can show our kids that, they will master their minds and then go on to bigger and better, more complex things. And some will become GM's and others World beaters in the endeavour of their choosing.

That is in my mind what the lesson is. What are we teaching them now? What are we showing them?

The solution

Solutions are possible once you see the big picture, once you dare to look at all the evidence and not only the ones that are convenient. Looking at the forces against change is just another form of competitors analysis. Now do you see that the voices against change are weak? They only have power because we give it to them. They are incapable of learning so how strong can they be? A very small minority making a lot of senseless noise. Dont listen to them. They are not relevant. They are keeping us in the same spot.


Stick to issues not personalities. In the case of MCF, I have shown that there are both positive and negative actions. Support the positive ones to empower it further and withdraw support from the negative ones. Understand that Greg and Hamid is just like you and me. They will only change when they have to. Do not be hypocritical.
So further awareness in the community is essential for change. Awareness not blindly attack. Correct action.

Understand also that the same cannot be applied to PICA. There are no positive actions there. Even the kampar leg's results have not been put up. No cross tables. There is nothing there to support. The spirit is dead.


There has been damage. We acknowledge that. Too many years of frustration without success. We have the wrong model. If you can get past that you can contribute to change. Help the young ones. See that your role is but a part of the whole picture. Do not act from your anger and bitterness. You are only perpetuating our failure. Use the model I suggested or a variation of it.


Learn to see which ones failed and why? The COS model needs a relook. You cannot keep the deadwood. They are a liability. They drain our resources and contribute nothing in return. In fact I'll go one step further, they do more harm than good.


Understand that if you do it properly, you can get continuous genuine sponsorship based on partnership. Win-win. Come up with a 5 year plan. Then you dont have to run like a chicken without a head...always looking for a new sponsor for the next event. Get this done properly and you will have time to undertake your management role, administrative role. Do it right. Stop trying for another Patron. We have done this for 30 years and it has not worked. Do it the proper way. You will regain your dignity and be strong.

This is the system. Change one variable and it will have systemic effect. All have a role. If we can stick to our role, change will come.

Do all this in support of our players. They are the ones that matter. They are the ones that need the praise. They are the fighters we send out to represent us. We are the supporters. So support.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Read here.

How do we see the truth?

That is the million dollar question isnt it? We have in contention what people say is "human nature". The ability of the mind to trick itself. And so the science of psychoanalysis was born to to explore this phenomenon.

I did an exercise once. I asked someone to write a list of the pros and cons of starting their own business vs staying in employment. The point of the exercise is that you cannot make a decision unless you know who you are. And the answer to that question must come from the spirit.

So the first step to confusing you is kill off that spirit. And the second step is to disconnect you from your feelings. For your feelings give clues to the actuality of the situation. So they will always tell you how you should feel in any given situation.

Without both you will be totally open to manipulation and lies. You cannot tell the truth. One argument looks like the next. And then they will tell you what you should think.

And so you cannot learn as you are in doubt all the time. Understand this and you will have a chance to break out and see clearly.

This is a prerequisite for a mental warrior. When you are all alone in front of the chess board, you need to trust your judgement, you need to see the truth as it unfolds before your eyes. Or you will be outplayed.

Go back to the site I posted below. Can you see better now how the lies work? But dont stay there too long. It is enough to just recognise them for now. That type of "thinking" is why we have stayed stuck for 30 years. They will still be at the same spot 30 years from now so no need to hurry.