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.


  1. I read a book on "Q & A in Chess". it's a nice book on all the questions and answer in our daily chess life. Maybe it will help you as well. :) I am just a hobbyist.

  2. In U10 level,the chief contributing factor to winning games is TACTCICS and BOARD VISION. Very often pieces are left hanging, placed in awkward squares such that they will be lost through pins,forks and skewers.

    Doing Chess Mazes (found in and following Michael De LaMaza's Chess Improvement advice on the concentric square will do wonders for improving the child's ability to see and give threats. Not forcing them to study opening lines hoping to get an advantage.

    Encourage them to play gambits and enjoy the freedom of pieces rather than worry about endgame wins. When the interest in chess is built, they will learn the dry and boring bits later.

  3. Thank you very much John. That makes sense to me.

  4. The training is too short to have any meaning

  5. Jimmy, are you saying what I gathered from the 3 events is irrelevant? I wonder what is the basis of your conclusion? Would you care to elaborate? Do read carefully before you reach a conclusion.

  6. How many training sessions and how long were the sessions?

  7. I guess what Jimmy trying to say is the 24-hr training is too short to have any meaning.

    For that duration, you can only called it a Booster Camp, Boot Camp and the like. However, such camp has a pre-requisite req. where students already know their basics and trainers know each student strengths and weaknesses well.

    The problem lies with the students are not self-qualified themselves esp. U-10 group except Amier who has different trainer training him on a daily basis.

    Next problem, the GM trainer didn't have enough time to get to know them in person prior to the training session. It doesn't help when the person who is in charge of the sylabus is also new in the training business. This lead to useless syllabus been formulated that ended up nowhere.

    U too r learning the curve, else u would know whether the syllabus can be used or not prior to the training day. No need to find out on that day. Next time, try to get advise from the exclusive few know-how (established trainer with track record) who actually has the know how that suit the trainees level of chess.

  8. Interesting comments from both. Did you actually read the posting or are you trying to promote something here. Try to be specific and also to read with comprehension. It helps. The posting after this could also be interesting to you both.

  9. What part don u understand? A coach needs time to understand his students and formulate a training plan. what could those participants benefit from such short training? And what conclusion could you draw from their performance in relation to said training?

  10. The training is too short for your analysis of performance to have any meaning

  11. Try reading the post Jimmy. Be specific to the topic discussed. John's comment is a good example. Stay relevant. Dont shoot off at an angle. When your topic is raised we can talk about it.

  12. The topic is "Lessons from Asean training". My take is that you cannot really draw any meaningful conclusions or lessons from a three day training prior to a major tournament. I believe I am on topic.

  13. The 2 points raised are that insufficient thought is given to U10 development. And the other is that we should open our eyes to the other aspects of non performance.

    The first point was observed when I saw that the young ones could not follow the module despite intervention from Ziaur, Jax, Mark and I even tried to include some of the older boys and also even Amier in desperation. I believe that observation is valid.

    As for the second point, do you not agree that there are many non technical reasons for not performing to par. And this has been my observation for many years but since I was the appointed mind coach for Asean, I used the 3 events to confirm my observation.

    Those are the points. So which one do you object to? And can you suggest a solution? Your points while valid is better left to a technical discussion. We are looking at the bigger picture here.