Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lessons from Asean training

These lessons are distilled from my observation at the Asean camp, the players performance at Subic Bay and later at National Close.

There are 2 glaring weaknesses that showed up.

1. Insufficient thought had been given to teaching the U10 and below. Apart from Amier Hamzah who is quite unique, we struggled to get the other players to grasp chess concepts. Both Ziaur and Jax did not seem to be able to reach the kids and I could see their eyes glaze over. So in desperation I tried using Mark. I think in a small way that helped a bit. I believe that a special skill is needed. You can have knowledge but how to transfer it to young minds requires special methods.

So while I have no solution myself, I did observe Khairulnissa at National Close teaching a few youngsters. She seems to have a gift for reaching young minds.

Note to Najib: Do take note of this and what I write below. I wish your chess development camp every success.

2. Ziaur Rahmans sessions with the older kids gave better results to those that had little technical training before. Notably Mark and Lim Winsen. Lim is currently playing at Penang Close. With the other more established players there may have been some technical improvement but that was over shadowed by other non technical reasons.

Eg. In Subic Bay, I told the boys to rest well as even a day without sufficient sleep will have a knock on effect for the rest of the tournament. But there were entrenched habits of working the lines the night before the game. Burning the midnight oil. From the feedback I received this caused a few losses that might have been avoided had the players been fresher.

These non technical reasons seem to be the more telling cause for loss for the technically stronger players as it was often reported that the player was better before a bungle. However I feel it is very difficult to change these habits for the older kids. They may listen to the reasoning but under pressure they revert back to old habits.

In other words, they may be looking at the wrong place to improve results. In the event of a loss, they need to evaluate the cause of the loss, be it anxiety, fear etc. and deal with it. Rechecking the lines does not help in those situations.

Good habits need to be ingrained when they are young and the children taught how to manage stress etc. Or they can be scarred. Tournaments can take a heavy toll on young minds if we are not careful.

Do I have any regrets?

Yes I do. I have one. That Adzlin and her family got embroiled in this mess. In all my business life, I have never seen such gutter politics. And so I extend my apologies to her and her family.

So where to now FGM?

When we are looking for team mates for a team event, we look for players that can hold their own. If even one player acts selfishly or does not perform, the team goal will be lost. FGM was in a unique situation of being sponsor, program manager for the training and mind coach for Asean. So we got deep insights.

There was a goal. Our goal was simply to see if the team can act in unison to bring back the best possible result so that we can write a report card back to our supporters and say chess is something to consider sponsoring in the longer term.

What we saw was a MCF who on one hand said they supported and then told Adzlin's husband that FGM was making MCF look bad directly after the meet the parents, called parents behind our backs to tell them not to go to Asean, a supplier who gave suspect quotes for services not rendered and who even had the audacity to say he expected Tony Fernandes to be at the flag ceremony and told me he wanted to confront Adzlin on this etc. etc.

Team members who just sat down and shirked their responsibilty and expected FGM to carry them all. In my conversation with that dad of our National Junior, I also said this. Dato Tan is a very rare commodity and someone like him may only make an appearance once a century if you are "lucky". No one else will spend 10 million and expect no results.

I remember telling Adzlin at the onset of this venture. I said there is a slim chance of success. And that chance can only come if the new Secretary of MCF can act with courage. I saw him surrounded and isolated. Very hard to perform under those circumstances. So I said, lets give him a hand. If he can show results, it will strengthen his hand for change. But he failed.

So is all hope lost? No. In my own story, I hope I have shown that it is never too late to turn things around. But you must find back your fighting spirit. Then and only then are you a fit leader for a mental fighting sport like chess.

So what to do now? What is the next step? If at all possible, MCF and all the other party's involved can acknowledge their failings, give an apology to FGM and attempt to make restitution. That would be a strong move.

If they can't find the strength to do that, maybe it's not the time yet, then I suggest they still reflect on what has happened and treat the next potential sponsor with some respect and carry their own load.

FGM will now take a step back and see if a winning team and a winning formula will come into existence. If not we will not engage. FGM can help but it is beyond our ability to carry the whole lot of them. For that you need a Dato Tan. We are aware of our limitations.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A personal story

When Mark won the MSSPK as U12 champion for Perak in 2005, I was in a bad place. With one business failure after another I found myself in employment as an Optician. This was a fall from Corporate project director of a multi national company in 1997.

At that time our only business left was eMasters, an internet based business providing marketing websites and it was doing badly. So I needed employment to buy time.

Mark's success in Chess was the only sign of success our family experienced in a long time and came at a time when I was close to putting up my boxing glove and giving up.

And then Dr Yee and partners came in to "help". They attacked my son. And nothing makes my blood boil as much as when I see a whole bunch of adults lined up to attack a helpless kid of 12. And so I have much to thank PICA for. They gave me a reason not to give up.

From that time I vowed to stop whinning, take stock of what I still had and fight back. I accompanied Mark to every chess tournament from that time onwards sometimes barely scrapping the entrance fees together.

In 2007, I turned eMasters around. I only managed to do that because of what I learned from the fighting spirit of our kids, from my son. In tournament after tournament I saw them fight and it lifted my spirit.

But I saw something else, I saw the kids spirit dimming over the years. For me now that seems wrong, we should be seeing them gain confidence as they gain in knowledge. Somehow the reverse was happening. I reflected back to my own struggle and how I almost gave up myself and thought, if the opportunity ever arose, I'll try to give something back to the game that gave me back my life. To the players that taught me so much.

In early 2009, I had paid back my debts and passed the helm fully over to my wife who now heads eMasters, a company that employs people in Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the US and with a clientele almost solely American.

In other words I became a chess bum. In 2010 I saw an opportunity to give back to the chess world. I then formed First GM. But First GM is not a charity. Why? Because a champion cannot be one who sits down and whine. He has to learn to fight. To get results. But still First GM did not come as a hero, First GM was formed to repay a debt owed to the mental fighters in chess.

Analysis from Asean

I hope I have shown that there has been two major perspective going into Asean. One came from the perspective of getting results. Results need not only be measured in monetary terms. It can also be measured by cohesiveness, the ability to work towards a goal etc.

Since this is football season, I will try to use a football analogy. The sponsors will be looking to see if there is a team that can produce results so they can get mileage from their sponsorship.

The other perspective came from control, control FGM, ensure that they do not get the numbers to make the venture a success. Put them in their place. And much energy was put into that. We even see the participation of parents, trainers etc.

From this experience, a penny dropped. I am now seeing clearer why MCF acted to support the COS structure. That is a structure that can allow the officials to have a post for life. Read here.

To me all the above actions represent a circling of the wagons. A defence of status quo. These actions, dramas, are more understandable if we can see the psychology behind it. The thinking behind the conscious and unconscious actions.

Consider this. If FGM had succeeded, the entire chess community may have benefited. A long term sponsor and all the other benefits of working together to achieve a goal. Some have speculated that its a few selfish people that are keeping Malaysian chess backward. Maybe that is true. But I think there is another reason.

Reread here what I said about Yeoh Li Tian.

What I see is behind all the strutting, posturing and pretence of confidence is FEAR. Malaysian chess has lost hope. We have lost our fighting spirit. The chess leaders do not believe they can produce results. And they are scrambling to protect their position because of this. Their desperate need for control comes from this deep seated fear.

Control what? If we do not change, we will never be stronger than our neighbours. I described to a Singapore Coach that mental resistance is the resistance towards change. And since Chess is a constantly changing game, the less resistance in the players mind the better player he becomes.

So we now have this resistance entrenched at the very pinnacle of Malaysian chess and the infection has spread downwards. Many are caught up in it, even parents and trainers.

There was a chance for a win. But in their fear they played a passive move. Or maybe they had already lost before they even came to the table. Have you seen this? Have you seen our chess players prepare their excuses for a loss before they even sit on the table? Is there a parallel in this to MCF's actions?

If they had fighting spirit, would they not be applying themselves for results, a win?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sponsoring Asean training 3

Right up to the point we got to Subic Bay, we took the good with the bad. Just before we left, we were informed that CS Solutions is charging us double of what they charge others. I am sure there is a good explantion but we have not been able to meet with them to clarify since a meeting which we had confirmed during the National Close was cancelled at the last minute. This is after we had SMSed to confirm a couple of hours earlier. Apparently another meeting came up but we were not informed. But that's another story. Another meeting is being arranged.

Subic Bay was by and large a good experience. On the whole everyone cooperated and we got a good team spirit going although we were outclassed. But we had something good for awhile. A promise of a better tomorrow. Till then, I was also fairly confident we could engage MCF and get an undertaking from them to carry their own load in future undertakings after Subic Bay.


2 senior MCF officials arrived towards the end of the tournament and everything changed. It started with the Head of delegation getting certification for the delegates. Somehow a parent and Adzlin's husband, Zuhri, were issued the certificates as delegates. I immediately said this was wrong and Zuhri agreed. The Head of delegation said that she had been "instructed" to do it this way. After a fuss and the denial by the senior MCF officials things were rectified. And certificates were issued to Adzlin and I.

We then found an opportunity to talk to the 2 senior officials when we saw them sitting in the Hotel foyer. The conversation with them was the turning point.

This is what was said. One of them told me point blank that I was not "allowed" to talk to Ignatius Leong as First GM was their supplier. Now supplier means MCF is paying us. Doesnt make sense. As far as I know, we have been paying for them. We even carried their work load. Consider this. First GM is a private commercial entity and can engage in any business opportunity it sees fit and secondly we sponsored this event. How did they manage to twist this in their minds?

But the crunch was when we were told by the other official that MCF does not have to listen to anyone or consult anyone in its decision making. Now this attitude is very very damaging. Consider this. What was MCF meet the parents at NAG all about? Why cry for sponsorship if you do not need anyone? Does MCF think it can go it alone?

Now this couple of statements put a whole new complexion on the whole issue of partnering. I am beginning to see. They cry for help. They then sit down and do nothing to help themselves. They then try to squeeze every cent they can out of the sponsors. The sponsors leave. And then MCF do it all again. Cry for another sponsor. Is that about right? That is their winning formula! So all that talk about transparency, accountabilty is just meant to deceive.

And they are still looking for future sponsors. Hmmmmmmm. No transparency, no accountability, not even a modicum of respect for the sponsors. In fact the opposite, they act to ensure the sponsor cannot achieve its goal.

MCF, you need to have a good and long hard look at yourself. You are an organisation that is very close to failing. You have no results and no sponsor will touch you given your inability to deliver. Currently as I see it, your only hope is that Dato Tan has put aside a large amount of money for you to spend as you wish for another 30 to 40 years.

So wake up MCF. Fulfil your responsibility to the parents and players that have supported you for all these years. Do something that can make all of us proud. Stop being the parasite. To the new Secretary of MCF. Show some back bone. You now have the helm. Stop listening to those that are trying to frighten you. Be the example you want our players to be.

Reality check. You are responsible and accountable to First GM for the sponsorship. You have things upside down. And you cant run on your head. A good start is an apology for the sabotage and insults. Better still is an attempt to make restitution. They say, only the strong can change. So be strong. Over to you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sponsoring Asean Training 2

First GM sponsored the Asean training. So we are looking at it through the eyes of sponsors. What are the potential pitfalls of sponsoring chess?

What we were looking for is a "chess" team event. Is there a winning team? We are only as strong as our weakest link. And so the "team" with MCF, suppliers etc. was assembled and the goal carefully articulated, via this blog and face to face.

So lets see.

As we approached the training, our coordinator with MCF went MIA (missing in Action). So First GM was landed with the task of coordinating with parents, players etc. for the trip. This was essentially the head of delegation job (MCF coordinator) but we took on the extra role without a fuss since we were already talking to Air Asia. Please note: We only signed up to sponsor the training and nothing else.

In the course of putting this together, we engaged Ziaur Rahman under CS solutions. We intitially conceptualised that it would be good for Ziaur to pass on his experience to our trainers and IMs. Up to that time, I have heard from an IM that a GM would be able to guide them to greater heights. So we made the offer for free. An opportunity I thought. But strangely no one took up the offer except Jax. There have been much speculation as to why, some derogatory, but I wont presume to be able to read their minds. But this maybe be something for the IM's and trainers to reflect upon.

Anyway, the train the trainers got scrapped and we finally got to the training proper with 8 players including Mark and Amier. You do the maths. All in all it took about 2 months to set up, with trips to KL for meetings, phone calls etc. etc.

Then came the flag ceremony. We expected MCF to provide with the bare essentials. After all these players are to represent the Country. And MCF did collect RM200 from each parent and child. On top of that we also sponsored the return ticket for the MCF official. But no, MCF said they had no money and First GM would also have to foot the bill.

Now from the small amount we collected, we have to pay CS solutions (another story; waiting for meeting with them), pay Jax for time and premises and pay for the flag ceremony. Of course we could have done away with the flag ceremony, but we didnt have the heart to dissapoint the kids and parents.

And after Subic Bay, we were informed that the same MCF official that "helped" us put this together was also calling the parents behind our backs not to go to Asean. There was also a further complication. We were also informed that a parent of a Malaysian player was also doing the same.

And so began the "partnership" of First GM, trainers, MCF, service providers and parents, with First GM as the sponsor. This was the Malaysian team for Asean, aside from the players of course. The Malaysian support team.

And after the apparent "success" of Asean according to one MCF official, we are asked to consider sponsoring the next Asean and other events.

But lets not be hasty, there is even more to tell about what went on at Subic. Next posting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Patronage vs merit based proposals

I recently had a conversation with the dad of one of our top National junior. It went like this. He said we needed to find another Dato Tan or Malaysian chess will not progress. I said its that thinking that got us into trouble in the first place.

We need to plan our structure and system without the need for patronage.
And then if patronage comes along, it's a bonus.

That is also why I did not participate in the discussion to replace Tan Sri Ramli. In my mind the man has not been given a fair shake. Get Malaysian chess on it's feet. Let us have a real product and then if he fails to promote chess, then maybe I will be open to such a discussion. Right now even Donald Trump will not be able to help. In the first place, how are you going to convince him to even spare a second's thought given our abysmal track record? Try Tony Fernandes? Hmmmmm.

From Patronage flows alot of ills. It's favour buying and favour debts to be paid. From this system good proposals get thrown out of the window and it gives rise to anonymous professionals. People who hide in the dark because their hands are dirty. People who will promote suspect methods, suspect programs that benefit no one except themselves and their patrons. I have seen this over and over again in construction and why I want no part of it anymore.

Part of what I will reveal is that there is money in tournaments, in chess. Yes, that what I have been informed in Subic Bay and also from our own Asean iniative. Just think of this. Why are so many in chess for so long? They constantly lament that they are doing this for the love of chess. If there is so much love then the first GM will already be here. It's a Jedi mind trick. Dont be fooled. The lies have gone on too long. And we have a whole line of victims to show for it. Open your eyes. More in later postings.

So who is First GM? We first entered the fray when we saw that maybe there is some hope for Malaysian chess with the new but inexperienced secretary. But the jury is still out.

We bring marketing expertise that is lacking in the current scene. We dabbled at starting an Academy but found that it requires alot of knowledge to set up good programs. And so we decided to partner people already in the game to short cut our learning curve. But with one caveat. They need to bring value. And so the Asean initiative. We acted transparently because we wanted to be judged solely on the value we provide. On merit. So we did not suck up to anyone.

But patronage is well grounded in Malaysian chess. The need to control is great, the fear is great.... No results. And in doing so, they make ego based decisions, the more drama the better, the better to confuse, to hide the facts. And what is the consequence? Now they will try to bring in the medals from Asian youth. And with enough medals another sponsor will start to get interested. Or is there a plan?

What would it be like if all that energy was focussed on getting results instead? What would it be like if we can stop the self sabotage?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ego based vs result based decision making

You are probably wondering if I am going down the MCF bashing route. A popular sport in Malaysian chess. Actually I am not. Towards the end of my report I hope to demonstrate that there are a complex set of reasons why MCF does not function well and the problem does not lie solely at their feet.

But to see where the problem is we need to deeply understand what the issues are. So my approach must not come from vindictiveness or narrow mindedness. When I was sponsored to write my work on the inner child, read here, I more fully realised that our ego functions to defend our imagined fears. And so I try hard not to come from ego when I am trying to understand something.

Ego and pride of achivement are two very distinct animals. Pride of achievement come from results and ego is the defence against admitting failure.

Sponsoring Asean Training

There is a principle in presentation and negotiations; when all the facts and arguments have been presented and clarified and the response is askewed, then there is something else going on beneath the surface.

We were keen to sponsor the Asean training as it would have been a good step forward to preparation before international tournament and filled a gap in the system then.

And so First GM wrote to MCF to see if they would welcome such a move. That started a series of correspondence. We informed MCF that we would like to work in a partnering manner and outlined our plans transparently.

In a nutshell it was this, our supporter Air Asia has made an initial expression of interest. If we are able to present a united front and deliver some results we may be able to persuade them in the longer period. This was agreed on and so we embarked on this journey.

At that time, we were aware that there were many negative forces that wanted the status quo to remain for some reason or another and many rumours flying around as to the character of the many different chess leaders. But I like to find things out for myself. Let practice unfold. After all if we are to put significant effort and investment into First GM, we need to know the character of the players. So this was a test case.

The first Alarm bell rang when after agreeing to support the Asean initiative, MCF promoted the Asian games agressively. We immediately contacted MCF and said this was an act of sabotage and then demanded a series of action to correct this. And so a meet the parents with MCF was arranged to explain the proposal as well as a opening up of eligible participants beyond the top 4 of NAG. This was on the surface. I have since been informed that a MCF official was at the same privately calling the parents who agreed to go to Asean to go to Asian instead. But I did not know that at the time. Strike one.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sponsors and how it works.

Malaysian chess need funding and we have no results. Catch 22. That limits our options. But the business world may be more forgiving if they see that we have our act together. That we have a plan.

But here's a glimpse on how our chess leaders think. I had my first alarm bell when Dr Yee of PICA met with my potential sponsor during the meeting with Dato Tan in Ipoh. After Dato had left Dr Yee told my sponsor that they had to write a proposal to PICA.

Prior to that the sponsors had told me they were willing to consider a budget of RM2 million over a 10 year period and wanted us to show them a plan. They wanted to partner PICA, work together and ensure that their money was well spent. After that one meeting they backed out. Lucky for them and an embarassment for me.

Consider this fact, this reality. The person who finances is King. Not a very pleasant situation but you have to live with that if you have no results. So it appears to me that PICA writes the proposal, not the sponsor if you get my drift. After all isnt it supposed to be PICA who knows about chess? And arent they the ones that need the money?

Eventually, if results are gotten and you now have a whole host of sponsors knocking at your door, lining the streets because they all want to be associated with a winner and they want to ride on your success. Then and only then you call the shots. And even then it is advisable to still be respectful and grateful for their help.

So what is the situation with MCF? Let me tell you what our experience was when we sponsored the Asean training in my next post. Right from the horses mouth.

The nature of classical, rapid and blitz

I have been asked many times, why certain players can play rapid but not classical etc. This is what I see. Superficially, it's a function of knowledge. It is difficult for anyone without the requisite knowledge pool to play classical simply because they run out of knowledge to apply. Blitz is merely pattern recognition but can be a useful tool to test openings.

But there is more beneath the surface. Even with the correct knowledge, their natures are different. The nature of classical is that there is a lot of space in between moves, in between thoughts. And nature abhors a vacuum. So if your strategy is not pat, if your fears and doubts are not dealt with, there is plenty of room for it to surface. And so you'll find some strong technical players crash in the classical games. Their problem is not technical. Something I saw alot of in Subic and the recent National Close.

But my purpose today is to extrapolate that lesson to the "strategy" applied by MCF. Have you ever tried to get someone there to articulate a clear path? A clear path to results and to sponsorship. My attempts were fruitless.

Why? I think MCF plays blitz or at the most rapid. You see in blitz and rapid, you do not have to confront your fears. I have seen this many times in real life too. Many people keep themselves very busy in order to avoid thinking about the things that are going wrong in their lifes. The extreme cases cannot bear silence, and so they have the TV, music etc on all the time. The purpose is to avoid thinking, to avoid facing up to the things going wrong.

Another way to look at this is; when you have results, you do not need the drama. When you do not have results, you need as much drama as possible to hide the fact you cannot produce results.

After Asean, I heard much talk about the incompetence of MCF, talk ranging from replacing the President to working with MSSM etc. To me, this approach is another blitz attempt. To solve our dilemma, we need to look deeply at our problem. More knee jerk and band aid solutions will only create more drama. We need a classical approach.

First GM's first attempt at sponsoring has left a bad taste in our mouths. An attempt at post mortem has only found entrenched defence of the things that obviously have not worked. We experienced sabotage, insults. In my next posting I will talk more about the thinking behind such actions.

It is amazing that a thinking sport like chess is helmed by people who are afraid to think. Here I qualify. There is a lot of thinking on how to create illusions and dramas. But not to create results. And that is the crux.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The importance of Asean

We are always crying about the lack of sponsors and the sponsors are looking at the lack of results to justify sponsorship. First GM set out to find the answers to this dilemma. So we sponsored the Asean training. Yes, you read correctly. The basic business principle is Air Asia is one of First GM's supporters and First GM was the sponsor for the training.

And so we sponsored Asean. Why? Simply because Asean offered the best hope of medals. Our reasoning went like this. If we cannot do well at Asean, we have slimmer chances at Asian and at World.

I was informed by Ignatius Leong that Singapore also follows this strategy, the players that do well at Asean are given the opportunity to play at Asian. The ones that stand out at Asian are then exposed to World. Makes sense to me and in a way validates our reasoning.

If you also think this makes sense, you may want to follow what we discovered when we sponsored the Asean training in my next few postings.

Cikgu Fuad

During the recent National Close, we had an incident with a chess parent. I often see Cikgu Fuad at tournaments and have been very impressed by his daughter's chess. He is a quiet man and always smiling.

Malaysian Chess would have collapsed a long time ago but for the contribution of parents. First GM would like to offer him and his family our good wishes and we hope he has a fast recovery.

I am glad that a contribution box was passed around at the tournament. That shows that the community spirit is chess is still very much alive.

Read here for more info.

Asean and the nature of opportunity

In chess we understand the nature opportunity. Opportunity comes in windows. And the windows open and close within a finite period. To win you have to recognise the opportunity and then seize it.

So in Asean an opportunity was presented.

Imagine this scenario and see if this was achievable. MCF, the service providers and parents cooperated to make this a succesful venture. We come back with a credible number of medals. First GM now approaches their sponsors and say, "hey look, we have got our act together. We are a viable and serious sport able to get results and deserving of support. And here is our proposal to get further mileage."

But what happened? The Asean opportunity is now for all intent and purpose closed.

I think there is a big lesson here in what not to do. And so we are now left with another opportunity. The opportunity to learn from our mistakes. If we do not, we will continue with the lament, the finger pointing and the drama that is now Malaysian Chess.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The search for results

I spent a good part of yesterday thinking about all the strong junior players I have had the pleasure to get to know during my 6 plus years in chess. Each of them have a special gifting. They played differently, had different styles and skills. An amazing array of approaches and methods. But they all had one thing, they had strong fighting spirit.

And I remember the ones that had that fighting spirit slowly dimmed. Over the years they begin to drop out, give up.

Today, in Malaysia our records show that after 12, we start to slip in International Ranking. The kids who do well at a young age do not do well later. So I must conclude that something is not well.

I have always wondered what would be the story today if that fighting spirit was nurtured, if a way could be found.

And so, I took the opportunity to talk to parents, coaches, officials from the other Countries at Asean. And I got some pretty amazing feedback. I am still reflecting on many comments on their structure, methods and views. I'll give you more feedback after National Close. See you there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What is mind coaching?

I prefer mind or mental coaching to teaching psychological tricks. So what is the difference?

Let me give you a few of examples.

1. A player is distracted by his opponent and he loses the game. Psychological trick to unbalance. It works.

2. A player offers a draw when he is losing on the board because his opponent is emotionally unbalanced. It works.

3. A player purposely angers his opponent and causes him to act rashly and lose. It works.

Psychological tricks do work so why not teach them? My answer is because it is not chess and it only works at the lower levels. Arguably up to IM level.

Ergo, psycho tricks (Jedi Mind tricks) works against the weak minded. The answer is not there.

Above that its about mental strength, about understanding. When the player learns to control his mind, find a way to control his emotions, to maintain discipline and focus, the psychological tricks do not work anymore. And interestingly psycho tricks works backwards against the exponent when it doesnt work. Have you ever witnessed that? Has anyone ever witnessed a cheap pycho trick winning against a GM in a serious tournament?

Mind coaching is about finding the way to understand deeply what the game of chess is really all about. I think its a path that goes further.

Chitter Chatter

I have been asked several times since I started writing this blog, why I bother responding to the negative comments. My response has always been this. This blog is to offer an alternative way at looking at things. So I do not write in reaction, I write in response. I write to the other readers who read this blog.

Many times even the writer himself is not aware that they are negative. However that negativity infects. If it is not challenged it eventually takes over the environment. It's a little like a virus.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back from Subic Bay

I learned alot of things at Subic Bay, talking with foreign coaches, officials, parents etc. It has given me a wider perspective. I will write more on it most probably after National Close. I think a good way to evaluate the training, the exposure at Asean is to play a Malaysian event again and see if there was movement, improvement.

After all, we need to place a value on the investment made in time and money.

I understand that Lim Chong has replied me when I was at Subic Bay. I managed to find the article. Will look at it properly after National Close but didnt see much at first glance other than an attempt at some "factual" reporting. Maybe the nuggets of wisdom is buried somewhere harder to find.

Here's the post.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

There is only one compelling reason to cooperate, to form teams etc. And that is when the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When that happens, 4 people can do the work of 10 or more. Now when a drama occurs, when everyone works only for his selfish end, the reverse happens. Now even 10 people cannot do the work of one dedicated person.

That is what we have to be careful of. Who we partner is important.

I am writing this because I hope my readers will reflect on this during my time in Subic. I will be away for 10 days so no articles during this time.

At the Asean training, Jax said this to me. No one man can bring Malaysian Chess up. We need a team. But a team can either work as a whole, or it can reduce into a drama as described above.

To see the big picture we need to join the dots. Please take the time to reflect on all I have written on this blog.

Consider this also, can a Kasparov (GM etc) emerge in the current Malaysian scene? What happens when all knowledge is locked in silos? What happens when we are a house against itself?

Tip: Try imagining the sort of environment that will produce a GM. And then we work towards that.

The answer really is smart partnerships. Partnerships to head in a direction. And we need to avoid dramas, we need to avoid those that only want to sabotage. With the direction set, we will see much clearer who these people are. They will move in the opposite direction.

Defence against the dark arts.

There are two ways you can go about developing your chess. Observe the 2 methods. One go the way of developing psychological tricks ie the dark arts and the other go the way of substance. The later spends his energy studying the actual game of chess and has a deep understanding.

Lets see how the former fare in actual competition. The practioner of the dark arts can win against the weaker opponents. They get into their opponents minds and switch off their ability to play chess, to think. But when they meet someone who really knows how to play chess and has learnt the defence against the dark arts, they lose. Why? Because actually they cant play chess.

I have found this true when I competed in Bridge and in Business. This is the argument of substance vs form, of value vs mere packaging, of skill vs bluff. Think on this. Which will go further? Which way do you want to go?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Know thyself

I have previously said that to master chess there are 4 components you need to focus on. These are understanding yourself, your opponent, the clock and the board.

All these components are important to development of critical judgement and evaluation skills.

And the very first step is understanding yourself. You see, it is your judgement and evaluation that is needed to win on the board. If you cannot see your own biaseness in evaluating then you are that far from seeing accurately, from seeing reality.

The biggest problem is imagined fears. Your body cannot tell the difference from imagined or real fears. And if you cannot tell them apart you will not be able to respond appropriately.

So the first step in understanding yourself is to open your mind to another view point. Try to understand one more person apart from yourself. In that journey you will see how your own mind works. Where your biaseness come from. If you succeed you will be one step closer to reality and one step closer to understanding what is going on around you. One step closer to accurate evaluation and critical judgement.

Ergo, to beat your opponent you need to see their thinking process clearly and to do that you first need to clear your own mind.

The above is a synopsis of what was shared at the Asean training camp during my session.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Report from Asean training

I remember around 2000, I asked a Director of Genting about some decisions of the policy makers in Star Cruises. I viewed the project I was undertaking as one of national Interest. His explantion to me was this "Raymond, you see things from the national perspective, that is a wide perspective but the policy makers are viewing things from an International perspective which is wider still. That is why you can't see the rationale of their decisions.

And that is what I found from GM Ziaur Rahman's training. We also spoke about the importance of psychology in this mental sport and I noticed he was listening intensely during my session in the camp.

For me, to get our own GM, we need to see from a wider perspective. Outside the confines of just the 64 squares. A GM sees from a wider perspective.

Ziaur did well, he teaches from the love of the game and it shows. Most of the participants benefited greatly. However there were some shortcomings. We were not suitably prepared for the very youngest. That is something First GM will look into for future training.

So we are off to Subic Bay with training thanks to Air Asia and I am the appointed Mind Coach for the contingent.