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.