Sunday, February 28, 2010

Victim mentality

I had a discussion with Greg this afternoon over lunch and a penny dropped. From some of the opinions I read on this blog and others, this is my take. I think the word "should" causes alot of problems. I hear, he should do this, they should do that. If anything is true in life, it's that they will not do what you think they should do.

I hear strong chess players saying if only I had support, I would be GM today. If only Dato Tan were to give me money etc. etc.

With the girl who probably lost the MSSPK championship beacuse of victimisation, I spoke to her mother. Her mum said, thank you, Raymond for what you are trying to do, but if we protest they will victimise my girl even more.

Sigh! The girl is already a victim from the inaction. This is what she will remember through her life. Don't they ever learn? People like this do not stop when you do not protest. I know. I've tried all sorts. Persuasion, explaining what they are doing is not helping chess, bringing the subject up in committees etc. So what can we do? I do not think we are helpless. I think we have a vote that we can use come AGM. We can write in to the organisers and ask, are you publishing the cross tables? And if they don't give you a satisfactory answer, we can stop going to suspect tournaments. There are many properly run tournaments now. We can publicise abuses. That, in my opinion, is the only way to stop abuses. Stop telling them what they "should" do or not do. It's a big waste of time and energy.

We need to take action, not whine and complain in blogs :),by the sides of tournament halls and over coffee or stronger beverages.

For those that want to excel in chess, keep going forward with whatever you have. Don't wait for Dato Tan to put money in your mouth. Eventually you will be noticed by the people that matter and if not you will have learned not to be a victim in life. And to me that is a gift worth as much as a GM title.

More on abuses

Train the trainers in Perak.

Just spent the morning at the train the trainers course conducted by MCF's Greg Lau and First GM Academy's chief trainer Uztaz Rahman. Event was organised by PICA. Quite a few new trainers for Perak now. Thanks Greg and Uztaz. A few of our Academy's trainers also got broken in there.

Announcement for those going to NAG

Just got back from Jax's 10/20/30. Jax has agreed to change his First Saturday's format to 60+30, following the NAG format. This is a great chance to practice before the big event. Go to Excel Chess blog.

There were so many strong players for the 10/20/30 and every round was gruelling. That is fantastic practice. Another great thing about Jax's is the culture there. The kids were all helping each other out and trying new lines and sharing into the night after the tournament.

I expect another strong showing for First Saturday. Last chance to get your practice in. 60 minutes is not the same as 90 minutes. Get a feel of what it's like before the main event.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A fantastic discussion on the women's masters.

I am so glad that Jimmy, Najib and Greg are in a healthy discussion to find a better way to select the women's masters. Somehow I think this is the way it should be. It should never be personal, just a search for better ideas. Very honestly I don't know much about the topic and so I hope to just read and learn. Do follow the discussion on DATCC blog as well as IM Jimmy Liew's. Will be at Jax's for the 10/20/30 so see you guys Monday.

Article on chess

A reader left this link. It's a great article. Read it here.

Thank you reader.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Announcement- First GM Chess Academy

If there is one thing I've learned from life, its that you cannot change anyone. They must want to change themselves. So if anything is important to do, organise it yourself. The First GM Chess Academy is just that. A few friends that share a vision to make a difference. Here's the link

Please call Simon 019 5725925 if you have any further enquiries. I am also arranging for you to meet IM Lim Yee Weng on the 21st March. Finalising details with him. Watch out for the announcement. Thinking of a Simul with him.

More on Abuses- The Perak experience

1. A player has been decimated on the board against a strong opponent. He is being hammered again and again. He looks to his coach, I look to his coach, but the coach tells me that his players are never allowed to resign. I wonder what is happening to the player's self esteem?

2. A player wins her game but she is surrounded by 5 of her school teachers and forced to accept a draw. The teachers are backing a different horse. This player had a good chance to be State Champ that year and had set her heart on it. Will she ever set another goal in her life with conviction? Isn't it proven to her that no matter how hard she tries her dreams can be taken away by another?

3. A player is sent off in the midst of a crucial game to change his trousers causing him to lose 40 mins and the game.

4. A player wins his age group category and his name is missed out when announcing the winner.

5. A player wins 6 rounds and loses his 7th in a 7 round tournament and drops out of prize contention. And there is no cross tables.

6. A State player gets ejected from a tournament because she had a disagreement with the officials daughter in school.

7. A young boy fresh to his first National tournament and loses his first game is forced to suffer the humiliation of staying at his table till the tournament ends.

8. 2 State players are sick with high fever and throwing up. I ask them to go to a room to rest before the next game and an official calls them down to do post mortem and sit downstairs for 2 hours before the next game.

And then we tell them to fight their hearts out. We ask, why no GM? We wonder where have the good players gone? Why are they not playing chess any more? Or if they do, why no more oomph?

These are true cases.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Further insights into MCF

Here are further insights into the running of MCF and its Affiliates by IM Jimmy Liew. Click here

More on children

I just got this email today. I'll copy below.

Dear Mr Raymond,

Hi !!! My name is Ramone and I am currently residing in Kampar,Perak. I am looking for a personal chess coach that is willing to come over to my place in Kampar say 2-3 times a week.I have no idea where to search but realised probably the Perak Chess Association can lend me a helping hand. Is there anyone whom you can recommend? Thanks. I have high hopes and determination in improving my game,hopefully to be a National Master one day for a start.

Best regards,
ramone mikgail kok.

I love this kid's spirit. NM for a start!! Big hopes and dreams. Is he realistic? Maybe not. But how do we know? We don't. He could be our next GM for all we know. I feel our job is to guide this kid. Help him clarify his goals. Send him to tournaments so that he understands the reality of that goal. What it takes. The sacrifices and the sweat. But the most important thing is to protect that spirit. Even if he doesn't become an NM for a start and then an FM, IM and GM, he will be somebody of worth. He may become our Bill Gates. That is an awesome responsibility.

See my other article, The Benefits of Chess.
Another article: Is Chess Just Chess?

Traumas to our children

Some of you may wonder why I harp so much on the way we treat children in our tournaments. I was sponsored to write a piece a few years back called the inner child which reveals some of the problems that may befall our children if we are not careful. It's a few years old and I've learned so much more since. But I think the gist is still there. Here's the link if you are interested. Click here

At that time I worked as a business coach to Internet Marketers, primarily Americans.

So we cannot ignore abusive trainers, coaches or chess officials. Tournaments can bring life or it can destroy a child. So this is not a matter to take lightly if we are serious about developing our first GM.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Comments from IM Jimmy Liew

Here are some comments from our other IM, Jimmy Liew. Check out what he has to say here. My comment to his is that it could possibly be better to pass the mantle of developing Malaysia's GM on to the chess academies. We, me included, have been looking to MCF and State Associations for too long and my conclusion is that we may have been barking up the wrong tree. It is so difficult to find unity of purpose in the Associations and so alot of the energy is frittered away.

UTP results

The UTP results are out. Please go to the Perak chess Associations website on the right hand side for the results.

Chess camp in KL

Wah Greg, dont give chance to old man ah? The clock started aledy meh? So guys don't miss this chess camp. Our secretary of MCF has come out to play and bringing his big guns! A GM to boot. Our new consultant Lim Yee Weng is also on board. This is great! Maybe next one in Perak eh guys? But let me get our academy up first lah.

All my best. Here's the link for details.

ps: Not forgetting Najib. Thanks for bringing the GM in.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tournaments- the gift of life

Just got back from UTP after 2 months away from tournaments. I am always invigorated after a good tournament. There is nothing like pressure to reveal the flaws in our character, our thinking system. And that is OK. That just means we have something to improve. I think that is the way things are supposed to be. And it always renews my faith to see people striving to better themselves through healthy competition. I am totally sold on chess as a tool for Nation building.

ps: Met Ainaa and a few other former Perak players at UTP. I asked her if she was going to play at NAG since there is U-18 now. She said, "Uncle, I am 21 years old now at USM". How time flies. I knew her when she was in form 3 (15 yrs old) and I still remember vividly the day I saw her crying after she was rejected from a PICA tournament. I wrote about her in, Sign of life from PICA, in the archive. I have always known Ainaa as a very kind girl who took Mark under her wing and looked after him when I was not there. I am glad she still plays chess.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sign of life from PICA

Just got a note from Hamid that PICA is doing a grand prix for Perak. Congratulations to PICA. This is a welcome addition to the effort to bring Perak back to the National arena. But there are a few questions I would like to address here.

1. Have the PICA rating been finally abolished? It says on the form MCF/FIDE rating. The PICA rating has been used controversially in the past and created confused pairings. This happened in last years Clearwater event for instance.

2. Will cross tables of the events be published? The lack of cross tables has lead to questions of the legitimacy of the current Perak Champion as another example.

3. PICA has stated that they reserve the right to reject entries. Will conditions for rejection be based on personal issues as for instance, in the case of Ainaa (official's daughter had a problem with Ainaa in school), which was brought up in the last AGM or will it be based on objective reasons?

I ask this questions for the dignity of Perakians. Now that you have a good sponsor again PICA, I hope you will not mire the State of Perak in these controversies again.

But I hold up some hope as this is jointly organised by Datcc, an organisation that has to date been professionally run. If the 3 questions I asked are satisfactorily answered then this is a true blessing to Perak. Welcome PICA back to the chess fraternity.

So I move in faith and post up the entry forms here. I hope I wont regret this decision. Click here for particulars

The run up to NAG

There are 2 tournaments I think will be most useful to players who are serious about the NAG. And both of them are conducted by Jax Tham of Excel Chess. The first is his 10/20/30 on the 26 Feb. Details here

The 10/20/30 is 10 rounds of 20mins with 30sec increments. This will give you plenty of practice in handling the 30sec increment.

The other tournament is his First Saturday on March 6th. My suggestion to Jax is to change the time control to 60+30 to follow the NAG format. Then you will have 2 practice sessions before the big fight to represent the country. So Jax, this is my request for entry for Mark. See you then.

We will also be going to UTP this Sunday. UTP is a Perak event and we need to remove some of the rust. :)

Good luck to all in the coming tournaments.

Malaysia/Singapore match review

I love the questions raised by Najib here. In our meetings to launch our First GM Chess Academy, we have discussed the need for healthy competition to generate the hard questions. In a discussion with Greg Lau, I argued that it is healthy for us to have many chess academies.

Say if the players from First Gm were to meet players from another academy and our players lost badly, the first thing I would do is call a meeting with our Consultant IM Lim Yee Weng and the rest of our trainers and ask, what happened? Where are we deficient, what else can we do so next time our players will do better? I will scour our syllabus, our methods and processes to make sure we become better.

My argument with Greg is that the Associations have let us down. With all the in-fighting and politicking, they have managed to keep us going backwards for many many years. So I see the role of MCF as the arbiter. Let the academies fight it out. They are lean "fighting machines", specialising only in coming out with better players. In the process a GM will be born. I reiterate, the struggle is for better ideas. Healthy competition is not about back stabbing or personalities. It's "chess players" meeting as gentlemen and coming up with better ideas through competition. Only the board is our system of training, coaching. If we understand this, I am sure the GM is just around the corner. For the GM is the result of this chess match.

On the other hand, in my opinion, some Associations are about ego, protecting positions and nothing about results. There I've said it. Caveat: Most of my experience comes from the Perak Chess Association so in that I am limited. I know that there are a few Associations that are doing well but I have no knowledge of their inner workings.

Of course I hope our Associations will wake up and do something useful. I hear some stories that PICA is trying to do just that. I wish them luck but all the same I will continue to report the inner goings-on. They make facinating reading and I hope it will be educational. It's coming out soon once I have cleared my current workload.

But for now, I hope more questions are asked. And more solutions coming. This is good for Malaysian chess.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reality is Reality

Had a very interesting conversation with a friend over CNY. She said one mustn't talk about negative things. So here is my take. What do we mean when we say we mustn't be negative?

If we choose reality as the median, and if what is before us is not well, its just that; its just the current reality. Nothing negative about that. It doesnt mean it cannot be changed.

So what is negativity?

Negativity is when you accept defeat before all is lost. When you are mentally vanquished before the game has started or ended. When you take the pessimistic view before all the evidence is in. When you stop fighting while there is still a realistic chance.

The other side of the median is just as bad. Euphoria. You become careless before the fat lady sings. You deny the evidence before you that all is not won yet. A fantasy based on denial.

But when all the evidence is properly examined and the analysis is that all is not well, it is not negativity, its just reality.

Happy Chinese New Year. May this year of the tiger find you grounded in reality. And if you do something about it, I believe you will gain higher ground. My best wishes to all my readers and to all Malaysian chess players.

Malaysia/Singapore Friendly

Hey, no rest for CNY. Our boys and girls sharpening up for the new year. Click here for more details.

Friday, February 12, 2010


The year of the Tiger is coming. We need tigers in chess to mount the challenges of becoming first GM. Happy Holiday to all my readers, those who agree with what I say and those who do not. I appreciate all the views expressed here. I will take a few days off to recharge the old batteries. See you all again soon.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hello again

It's been a very productive few days. Still alot of things swirling in my head so will take a little time to digest and keep you informed. Anyway heard from Greg that NAG has U18 this year and so we are going to make it there. See you in Penang. Still not sure about going to MSSM now that it's back again. Last year took nearly 2 months with selections over and over again and Mark can't miss that much school this year.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another new blog in town!

Wow! Check this out. Click here


Hi guys

Will be offline for a few days to focus on getting the chess academy up as well as arranging for our first tournament. There have been a few invites for Mark to play but he needs to catch up with his school work before he can continue with his chess. I miss going to tournaments too as this was such a big part of last years timetable and I love the atmosphere of healthy competition.

So see you in a few days time. You can keep abreast with events from the other bloggers.

All my best.

Monday, February 1, 2010

There's a new blog in town

Hey, check out this blog. The good thing about it is that events are organised under States. So if you just want to know about events in Selangor for instance, just click on Selangor. Fantastic! Congratulations to the blog master. Click here

Change and what does it mean?

Almost the very first thing I address as a Coach is about change. Change to improve. For change always comes with discomfort. In the beginning it is hard for the players to tell the difference between discomfort and hostility. The moment they feel discomfort they feel they are under attack. So I will normally say observe the intention, the motive. If the intention is to help you improve and the motive is to build then it is mere discomfort. If the intention is to stop your progress and the motive is to destroy then it is hostility. But in the beginning it feels the same and sometimes sound the same. For change starts with asking the hard questions.

But with careful observation we can learn to tell the difference.

In fact sometimes sweet words are meant to destroy. Do you have any experience of that?