Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Acceleration- Rate of Change

In my last posting, I said that if there is no movement, no work was done. By movement I meant result, measurable result since perception is not reliable. Since we have no clear direction and no proper yardstick to measure results, I think it is fair to conclude that we are going in circles; that our chess community is engaged in a drama.

To break this drama, efforts must be made to set a direction and to set milestones.
Having a direction has another implication. Rate of change. It is not enough just to change, we need to set a rate of change ie acceleration that is greater than the nations we are in competition with. Or we simply wont catch up.

Without a direction we cannot have acceleration, as the efforts cannot be directed. That is the task before us. Set the direction and then the GM will come.

And so we need a discourse, a dialogue to set that direction. The challenge here is how to have this without it turning into a drama itself.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Change must come with discomfort. Please take a few moments to reflect on this.

Can you think of any change that does not come together with discomfort?

So you cannot say you want change and you want comfort too. In fact its arguable that the more discomfort you can bear, the further you'll go.

Lets take a chess example here. You are in a drawn position. Both opponents are now in a "comfortable" position. Havent lost yet. Crunch time. To go forward would be to invite turbulent emotions.

Scenario 1. Both of you are of about equal technical strength (assuming you have evaluated accurately). Now the one that is able to accept or even welcome the change in status quo, go into the turbulence with greater equanimity has the better chance of winning. That half point extra is where the champions are made.

Scenario 2. Same drawn position. One is a stronger technical player but with poor emotional control. The slightly weaker player with better emotional control and able to accept change has now even out the odds. In this fight the weaker technical player can triumph and steal the championship. I have seen this many times.

So taken outside the 64 squares, if we want chess to progress, the chess community need to embrace change, embrace discomfort. We are not setting a good example if we tell our players to accept change with equanimity and we ourselves resist change. We need to work together with our kids, our players, hand in glove. Then we have unity of purpose. We have synergy.

Correct effort and measurable results.

What is correct effort? It is effort that creates a result. It has a direction. It is the product of resultant force.

Lets use a simple physics example here. If all of us are pushing in all direction at an object and the forces are equally distributed, the net resultant force is zero. No movement and wasted effort.

Another example. If we place all our energy and push against a wall and the wall does not move, then no work was done.

If there is no direction, then we cannot achieve acceleration despite the effort.

O level physics.

So what is the direction so correct effort can be placed?

There are still many things we cannot agree on, the role of the Associations, the role of Academies etc. Without clarity on these issues we cannot have a structure that supports direction.

So we need a dialogue. We need to see clearly what is it that Associations can really do and under what conditions. We need some reality checks. We need to understand how organisations grow. We need to understand how to develop our human resources so we have skilled people doing the necessary work. And we need to understand how to reward them fairly.

Right now, saying Singapore etc. etc. does it better as a bludgeon to hammer MCF is not helpful. Bring the evidence, how are they doing things, how is their set up different from ours. Details and analysis are needed not accusations.

So step 1, for direction we need dialogue to build consensus.

I suggest one between MCF and all the Chess Academies, Training schools and functioning Associations. I limit it here because these are the workers, the people who do and so have deeper insights. So this discussion can be one that solves real problems not imagined ones. Once direction is set we know who is moving in the direction and who is not. Right now, we dont even know that. After all these years!!

After that we can look at step 2. Measurable results and feedback mechanisms. It is not about the personalities involved (although unsolicited recognition is motivating).

It's about milestones so we know that the effort is going somewhere. Then history can see the results. It is the results we are looking for. That is important.
eg: 20 FM's in 5 years. Then we know for sure we are not going in circles. Set the direction, then measure it.

To achieve this, it is best that positive forces are engaged. My experience shows there are negative forces that come not to help but to frustrate. Hopefully we can avoid the dramas which take us nowhere. :) Remember resultant force from above?

Monday, May 24, 2010

What happens when you DO?

One identifying feature of "human nature" or how our mind works, is we always think we know.

There is a simple process that works this way. Read first, then say it outloud, then write it down. All are steps towards clarifying your mind. After reading, you think you know. When you try to explain it you realise, you've missed many things. And when you try to write it down, then you'll see how poor your understanding really is.

Then comes the acid test, the reality check. You try to DO.

If you are right, and your thinking conforms with reality, the change you want will happen. So you need effective feedback. In practice this becomes a continuous loop. Think, do, rethink, do again. This is called "correct" effort. If the effort is misapplied, nothing happens. Easy to say here but very hard to do. We keep fooling ourselves. So the best guide is results.

This is the same process for chess development too. As a player, official etc. Think about it.

So its a process and it "begins" with reading (observation). Reading with comprehension, engaging the material, facts, before you without dropping parts you dont like and adding new parts from your imagination.

But only when you do does your thinking begin to conform with reality. You start with trying to get small results, then bigger and bigger ones. But if you cannot even do that, get one small result, you are that much out of touch with reality. So Do first, if no results, check your thinking, check your comprehension. Then try again. Ergo, do then start the process I mentioned above.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interesting post by Lim chong

Read here.

There is a story by Edward Debono in his introduction to Lateral Thinking. In it he talks about a guy who digs a hole looking for oil. After he has put in so much effort he continues to go deeper and deeper. But there is no oil there. The oil is 1000 meters from where he is digging. And so he labours fruitlessly.

There is another story of a dog that barks at a tree, and the owl that wants the moon.

It makes alot of sense to search somewhere else; to not want what is impossible just because you feel in your mind that things should be the way you want them to be. You want the World and MCF to change to suit you. A much more effective way is to change the way you look at the problem.

And it can be done without offence. What do you Lim Chong know about what is going on in the Asean initiative? Aren't the Asean players being trained by GM Ziaur enabled by our sponsor? What exactly is your beef? Muddled thinking based on imagined assumptions is not going to help.

Look deeper at the source of the problem. The answers are there but you have to open up your mind. Try not to use the same failed thinking that have crippled us for years. There is no solution there. It has been tried for years.

A suggestion, try to come up with one idea that makes a small difference towards improvement. Then take the initiative to go out there and implement that.

Do, dont just whine and criticize.

Then you'll understand more and be able to contribute something substantive.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grand ideas, Grandmasters

I've had a few conversations about grand ideas recently. Let me share my thoughts here. Somebody once said, if you can imagine it you can achieve it. To me grand ideas are better than no ideas or small ideas.

But of course the problem with grand ideas is that it comes together with hard work, determination, sacrifce. You also need to stay grounded to reality. Grand really doesnt mean your head is in the clouds.

So many reject grand ideas simply because they know they cannot pay the price. If you cant pay the price its better not to have grand ideas. That leads to bitterness, disappointment. Better to say I have no grand ideas because I cannot pay the price than to have grand ideas and not be willing to pay the price.

The Grandmaster is a grand idea. Is it not?

Same page, same page.

Observe this in a drama. Two people are talking or even reading the same topic. In the conversation, one party (or both) delete in their mind, the parts of the conversation they dont like and add parts not in the conversation. Usually the addition comes in the form of supposed hidden motives that may not be there. The subtraction comes from the part that challenges their conclusions or world view.

Now they appear to be in discourse but really they are acting out 2 scripts, having two conversations. The same can be found in the reading.

So the art of communication is not one that is easy to achieve. It cannot be achieved by pretending to hear the other, making clucking noises and then continuing with your agenda.

The main difficulty in communication comes from being open to past conclusions being challenged. For past conclusions have an emotional content. It is uncomfortable to have it challenged.

But if that cannot be done, all learning stops. You cannot learn because you are protecting a worn out script that doesnt work anymore. And so you become stuck. You cannot progress. All you can do is engage in a drama and go round and round. There is no results. You have stopped listening, stopped learning because you cannot get to the same page as reality.

Without getting to the same page, nothing can be resolved. Everyone is talking about different things. Ergo, the drama. A lot of noise going nowhere.

And therefore no GM. The question below is what happened to our kids after U12? Or what did not happen?

Thursday, May 20, 2010


At Selangor Open, a prominent chess figure spoke to me about Asean. I said we only have a team for U20. He said the U20 have no chance. In fact Malaysians do not do well after U12.

My thoughts. Yes, that appears to be the stats. Something happens after U12. So do we accept that stat or do we find out what the problem is and try to fix that?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can we do this?

Just saw this amazing video, courtesy of Fiery_Rook. What really stood out to me was when a kid there said, "we work together to crush our opponents". Can we do this?

Go here.

Thanks Sham.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pyrrhic Victory

A meaningless victory. In a drama the need is to win at all cost, for results the need is to understand the problem.

Why do we stay stuck?

Many people love to point the finger to explain why they are stuck. I am very often amazed at the ingenuity and creativity expended on giving excuses. The reality is they love their dramas. Read here.

The drama game is usually one of the lowest common denominator. If I can't do it and you do it, it'll make me look bad. And so.....

Without the drama they have to produce results. They have to face their feelings of inadequacy. Thay have to face their fears. So they take the path of least resistance.

Of course it is not easy to face ones fears but if it is not faced the GM won't come. Question. Is there such a thing as a fear ridden GM?

If a way could be found to transfer all that ingenuity and creativity to finding results, imagine where we'll be.

If you want to know more. Read here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Join this dot, why we struggle?, Addendum.

Read here.

The other point is that acceleration has a direction.

Why do we struggle?

Mark just had a short 2 hour private session with GM Ziaur yesterday. Our intention was to try and get a good roadmap. On the way back we talked again as usual. Heavy storm. I told him that like anything worthwhile in life, we have to struggle. We struggle to get to have that mountain top experience. I used to hike up mountains when I was in the UK. The exhilaration of reaching the summit after hours of pain made it all worthwhile.

But to get to the top you need a good roadmap. If you get lost along the way, its no fun. You'll go round and round and never get that payback. I think many can have that experience but that roadmap is important.

We found that session with Ziaur very helpful. He helped correct many misconceptions and showed us stuff we didnt consider. With this new roadmap we hope to make it to the mountain top now. Thank you Ziaur.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

How do you develop confidence?

Confidence is something you cannot fake. I see many books telling you about power dressing, power talking. Many people practising looking confident, talking confident, acting confident etc.

You see, you may be able to fool someone for a while but you cannot fool yourself.

Real confidence can only come when you have mastered yourself. When you set a goal and you achieve it. When it becomes self evident to yourself, when the evidence to yourself becomes irrefutable, that you can achieve results.

And until you know that; convice yourself that you can achieve results, your confidence will only be skin deep.

The biggest stumbling block is your feelings. Your feelings of laziness, of anger, of fear. The answer is not to deny your feelings, for you need feelings to navigate in this world. The answer is to do the right thing with courage despite your feelings. Think on this.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What is concentration?

This is generally thought of as the ability to focus on only the relevant. Another way to look at this is its the ability to reduce the chatter in the mind. Look closely at the chatter. It is imagined fears.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Denial and Imagined fears

Denial comes from imagined fears. Let me use an example here. Say 4 people are playing a team event. And the only way to win, is to cooperate. That is the reality. Yet if they can't then they lose. Then the excuses comes, the blame, the denial. That too is another reality. The reality of non cooperation.

Say, the only way to get the first GM is to pull our resources......If that is the reality.....

Like I said earlier, perspective counts. Is the cup half empty or half full? If we are going for GM, is the standard we are trying to achieve of global level? Can we get there faster if we cooperate? Can we get there if we don't? Is the perspective one of Malaysia setting a milestone?

Do we need an opponent in this game, ie the goal, or can we defeat ourselves without any outside help?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Musings

Had a chat with Mark this morning. Told him about the Ethiopian runners that first charged into the World scene running with no shoes. It's not about what we have. It's about what we do with what we have.

Don't wait until everything is perfect before you do anything. Make do with whatever you have and keep forging forward. It's about you.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

First GM, more about us.

I just wrote this to the Asean players. After that I realised it may be of interest to others too. Anyway, here it is.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The internal engine

The first thing I look out for as a Coach is the Coachees internal engine. What this mean is that the coachee has an internal drive to move forward. Without this the coaches job is doomed.

Here's why. In consultancy speak, called the force field analysis, it means that the forces of resistance is greater than the forces of change. So we can only get forward momentum by the constant application of effort that is greater than the internal resistance. That is impossible to achieve without breakdown at some point.

Lets see what physics has to say here. If you have constant velocity, then the application of an external force produces acceleration. If you have acceleration then the application of an external force produces a higher rate of acceleration. This is important.

Ergo, it means you must help yourself first before anyone can help you. If you have forward momentum then someone can help you move further, move faster. If not your internal resistance will grind you to a halt the moment the external effort is released. The Coach cannot be with you 24/7, 365 days a week.

You have to move by yourself too. This applies to players, partners in business etc.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Perspective and the old cup story.

The story goes, "Is the cup half full or half empty". Actually both are right, both answers conform to reality. It's not 3/4 full, 3/4 empty or any proportion in between. It's either half full or half empty.

And yet, the differing perspective changes many things. The one that sees it half full continues to have hope, he continues to persevere. He sees a win in every 2 games. He continues to fight when the cup is only 1% full because he sees 1 game won in a 100. And that is till a step forward. He only gives up when the cup is empty. Zero percent. For at anytime something can change before zero is reached. For instance, the ceiling can drop on the opponent and knock him out, :) or he can suddenly have an anxiety attack and give you his queen. 1% translates to 1 game in a 100.

On the other hand, if you see 99% lost, then crash, some crash at 60% lost etc. etc.

The perspective counts. It's important. It gives you the fighting spirit. There appears to be some changes in the Malaysian chess world today. Do you see it as half full or half empty? Do you see the progress or do you find the faults?

Every chess game has faults, even the World Championship. So, should we give up chess now because it is not perfect? Or do we strive to make small but significant improvements, in the direction of the GM. I hope we reflect on this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I saw Yeoh Li Tian play, again

At the Selangor Open, I saw Li Tian's game again. On 3 occasions, if memory serves, I saw him deep in thought and his clock was ticking away. His opponent had way more time than him. What was surprising was when I looked down, he was winning!

Amazing! Usually I see the players deep in thought when they are losing. This boy is not lazy to think. When he finds an advantage he looks for more. No complacency. A strong thinker and player. And he has mastered the illusion of time.

Last Call for Asean players

The final list will be forwarded to Air Asia on Wed. 5th May 2pm. Please ensure that your payment for the training and personal details ie. Name according to passport and passport number is with us. We cannot guarantee your place after that.

Thank you

Monday, May 3, 2010

Urgent Reminder for Asean players

As the contingent is travelling during the peak period on Air Asia, all players who are taking up the First GM offer need to confirm their participation by paying RM1000 into the First GM account by Tuesday, 4th May.

These are the steps.

1. Make payment to First GM Chess Academy, Maybank 508289109255. Amount RM1000

2. Fax payment confirmation to 05-549 5075

2. Email me the name and passport of the player and accompanying adult. My email is on the RHS of this blog. Also by Tuesday

This is to enable us to make the flight bookings in time.

Note: In view of this urgency, if you are applying to MCF still, please try and reach them by phone to confirm. If we receive the names late, we cannot guarantee the tickets. The tickets are only for the players taking the training and one accompanying adult.

PS: If you encounter any problems please contact me at 016 5117308

See training schedule here.

Thank you.


There has been some questions of training venue. I will confirm tomorrow the exact location but it will be in KL.

PS: The venue is Jax Tham's place. Excel chess. The link to them is on the side.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Latest on Asean training program.

Hi guys

Just got back from Selangor Open. Please go to the MCF blog here.

Basically it says that Asean is now open to players other then the top 4 at NAG. But you need to apply to MCF.

However there is also an urgent note. We need to confirm with Air Asia by Tuesday because the travel date is during the peak period. So we need confirmed numbers.

Please read the proposal that was given out during the meeting at Datcc here.