Thursday, August 5, 2010

Role of Team Captain plus plus

Jimmy talks about the role of Team captain here.

Earlier he questioned the line up for our representation in Olympiad. Read here. Let me add my two cents worth here.

I think our selection criteria should also make it a condition that only current active players in Fide rated tournaments should be part of selection process.

Furthermore the players representing the Country should also commit to playing certain National Tournaments in Malaysia. Many dedicated players do not have the opportunity for this exposure. So at the very least give them a chance to play our Malaysian contingent when they come back. Give those left behind a chance to learn something too. Then we are optimising our opportunities and making the investment count.


  1. "I think our selection criteria should also make it a condition that only current active players in Fide rated tournaments should be part of selection process.".

    I agree but have to define "current". Maybe in the current year or previous year as the tournament for example for this olympiad , must have played in 2009 or 2010.

    "Furthermore the players representing the Country should also commit to playing certain National Tournaments in Malaysia."

    Have to define what is the "certain National Tournaments". Besides the National Championship what else?

  2. Yes, there are details to be filled in. But lets agree on the general priciples first.

  3. The less conditions you put in place, the better. Haven't we learnt that bureaucracy and red-tape leads to the lack of transparency? The more discretion you give the "regulators" (aka MCF) on creating the conditions, the worse this selection process will become.

    I propose a fully competitive system. Only one principle is needed. Organize a grand slam if you have to. Designate 4 classical time control tournaments (e.g. Malaysia Open, KL Open, Selangor Open, Penang Open), and take the best five players on the sum of their total points.

    Organize a play-off in case of a tie. This way, only the most committed, most active, most "in-form" player for the year qualifies for the Olympiad. What is so wrong with that? If you are an IM, or NM with a whopping rating of 2400+, but if you have not played, you have not showed you can maintain that level of play, you do not deserve a place in the Malaysian team.

    Malaysia has always tried to assemble the "strongest" team but honestly, have we ended up in the top 5 before? What is the goal of this "strongest" team?

    In the words of the wise Adam Smith (paraphrased in some sense), let the invisible hand decide.

  4. Thank you for your comment chess ninja. Actually I had some further thoughts on this. It's true we wont be getting a medal from the olympiad nor can we look forward to one in the near future. So I think it is very important that the lessons from the Olympiad is passed on to the juniors. I propose that the ones that represent Malaysia also be pressed for some sort of National service by playing games with our Juniors. That way we are building something. Something for the future.

  5. The future will automatically come when you impose a merit-based system. This completely transparent and competitive system will totally revamp the way juniors are being trained. The fully competitive system takes into account the longest term.

    Let me explain. When junior players know that they get a chance to play for the Olympiad by performing well at these standard chess tournaments, what do they do? They will train hard (with a coach or otherwise). The benefits are two-pronged. First, the junior players now have every incentive to perform well, as compared with the past.

    What you are suggesting again creates further room for subjectivity. Who then gets to determine who these "Junior" players are? In the past, the MCF selected Mas. Why not Ooi Chern Ee, who tied for 2nd in the World Age Group?

    Now that Mas is not so junior anymore, who? Yeoh Li Tian? I am against all kinds of favouritism and loosely defined terms, such as "Junior" players. Who is to say that a non-junior player should not be given the same privilege as a junior player?

    I even remember a low-profiled Scheviningen tournament that was organized back in circa 1998-2000 (forgive my memory) where our "Junior" players like Deon Moh, Jonathan Chuah, Aaron Yee and so on and so forth were "invited" to participate so that they can get their FIDE rating. I believe our first IM Jimmy Liew was a part of that tournament as well. Maybe he can help me with the date?

    Can I ask, where are these 3 players at the moment? So I am strongly against your idea of identifying "Junior" players that can have special privileges with these so called "Olympiad Seniors". Who is to say the junior players can't give the seniors a run for their money, let alone beat them? You only need to look at Nicholas Chan and even Jonathan Chuah about 5-10 years ago. Jonathan won the National Closed at the age of 13!! These guys could have given Grandmasters a run for their money (perhaps exaggerated). What kind of support did they get? Maybe there is a good reason Jonathan no longer plays competitive chess. Nicholas is now on his way to become a great doctor, albeit still highly competitive in the local chess scene.

    Now, back to my second prong. With a strong incentive-based system, the whole chess coaching scene will be revamped. It will no longer be filled with half-baked chess players trying to reach out to as many primary schools as they can to maximise their income. Junior players will get smart. Only the "best" coaches will survive. Because the juniors will want the best training to qualify for the Olympiad, the chess coaches themselves have to get better to attract good students. The chess coaches have to keep up with the students. This is the spillover effect of a competitive system.

    My views are radical, but are of good nature. I thank you for highlighting and publishing them.

  6. I thank you for your well considered sharing. I find your views has much merit but I would like to reserve my judgement on the Juniors. But I absolutely think that the selection of the juniors cannot be random but must be based on some objective criteria.

    On your other subject of Scheviningen tournament, I'm not sure what the term means but I am not in favour of a "fixed" tournament just to get rating or norms as some has suggested. I think we should stand tall and believe we can do it in any field. Afterall our true rating will show and if we deserve that norm then we will get it.

    Also, I think we do need to grow the base via primary schools. But that should be the job of the Associations and MCF. The chess Academies should focus on excellence. If this structure is implimented I think we will have further traction. But first we need the right people in the Associations and their roles properly defined. Right now I think we have some trainers in Associations trying to limit the Academies and that is not healthy.

  7. I agree with you that it cannot be random. But I simply cannot agree with this term "objective criteria". Can you please define objective criteria? I hate to repeat myself lest I sound like a spoilt tape. Why is it so hard to accept a purely results base criteria? If you perform well in tournaments, you get it. If you do not, please try again. Isn't that how life works? I am pretty sure Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb in 1 try. So what if someone gets "lucky" in chess competitions? It is always hard to decide who is the most deserving.

    Just think of the following scenario. Let's say a student as a SPM Maths Exam, but falls sick on the eve of the exam. The student performs poorly, perhaps even failing the exam. Do we expect the Examination Board to pass the student just because he was sick? Of course the system can never be perfect. But we can strive to achieve the most efficient system possible.

    I may even go as far as saying that it is hard to distinguish "lucky" and being "in-form". That is why I suggested using 4 very strong tournaments, like the Malaysia Open, KL Open, Selangor Open and Penang Open.

    Just for your information, a Scheviningen event is an event where players are separated into two teams, A and B. Players from Team A are only paired with all the players from Team B, and vice versa. In this case, all the unrated players are paired against all the rated players. Unrated players do not play against each other, and rated players do not play against each other as well. This allows the unrated players to get enough games for a rating, while at the same time, the rated players can't lose any rating points at all.

    I will not go as far as saying that the tournament is fixed, nor am I suggesting that it is. Please do not misread my intentions. What I was trying to bring up was that "special" events were organized to help certain junior players but all this ended up being fruitless because most of these juniors are no longer playing. So, "identifying" strong junior players is a tough job. How do we know that these "juniors" based on your so--called objective criteria will continue to play chess 5-10 years from now? All I am striving so hard to convey is that, let the results speak for themselves. Letting results dictate the rewards will ensure sustainability. If juniors find that consistency and continued success is continuously rewarded, then they will keep on playing chess. This is just common sense.

  8. :) You keep dropping the ball. Criteria is for us to think up. It can be based on consitent performance. Actually there is no contradiction. Just try to add what I say to your own picture. Carry both or more balls and you will see. It's not either/or.

    Big picture thinking first.

  9. Sorry, I am not suggesting that it is either/or. I am trying not to be distracted by the nuances of what you are suggesting. I just want to prevent this notion of trying to make things too perfect.

    We try to add a bit of this and a bit of that, then everyone wants to add something to it. That's the beginning of the problem. I am looking for a simple and sustainable system that will work on its own.

    And nothing works better than the culture of meritocracy. Everything else will then come on its own. We do not have to artificially put them in place. Whatever the "right" policies may be, they will be automatically implemented if the system encourages the right person to be elected.

    I am not against you. I just don't want to be distracted by falling into the trap of micro-managing.

  10. I dont think you are against me. We are just having a discussion. Read my next post.

  11. This Scheviningen was known as the 1st Malaysian Masters played in late December 1999. The junior participants were Deon Moh, Jonathan Chuah, Aaron Yee and Wong Zi Jing