Saturday, October 30, 2010

Confidence-A quiet knowing

A quality that we all want and need to succeed. To play at a high level in chess this is one quality we cannot do without.

Consider this. Can you be confident if you cannot get results? Say you are presented with a problem and time and time again you cannot come to a solution, would that ebb your confidence? So how would you arrive at results? A quiet knowing. Can we say that since knowing is a part of confidence that confidence itself is a subset, a byproduct, of learning?

How does learning work?

It starts when we have identified ALL the variables that affect outcome. But this is not as simple as it looks. Next posting.

Confidence-What is it and how to find it?

Confidence is an elusive quality. We saw that in Tiger Woods and perhaps we saw that in Magnus Carlsen recently. Yet on the whole we can say there are confident and not confident people. So how do we recognise confidence? What does it look like? How do we attain it and how can we lose it? I will write on this in my next few postings. Do join me.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Sigmund Freud once said that the road to happiness lies in the ability to let go. And when someone asked him how does one do that, he said "by remembering".

Chess is a game of immense beauty

And the beauty comes from its paradoxical nature. From the very fact that it has few variables it can display the tremendous creativity of its exponents. Some breath taking games are breath taking simply because of the ingenious solutions within those constraints.

Chess is also a game of change because it very clearly demonstrates that the decision you make in the moment can have an astounding impact on the end result.

So the essence of the game itself refutes the arguments of the people who argues on the wrong side of nature vs nurture. The proponents of nature is blind to change.

The beauty of chess is revealed when you can understand paradox; when you understand that its true nature is that it reveals who you are. There is not much technical and so the immense battle for the higher levels is the battle for the control of your mind.

And so the real battle for excellence is the struggle not to be trumatised by the struggle itself. And so the need for clean competitions. And so the need for correct preparation.

The people who can only understand contradictions cannot see that. They cannot accept change and so they will deny the evidence even when it is presented directly in front of their eyes. And in doing so they will condemn themselves to staying stagnant and playing a low level of the game.

This is self evident. This is demonstrated by chess. Look with a still mind and you will see.

Read this also.

And this.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Our kids in Greece. Read here.

Chess is not quantum physics

At the macro level, chess does not display the complexities of many subjects. Think on it. It is a problem confined to 64 squares with limited variables.

But it is very instructive on how the mind works. How the mind can sabotage itself. It is instructive on how illusions are formed and how delusions are perpetuated. It shows how emotions can deceive and how we can contort the mind to defend indefensible positions. It demonstrates the insanity of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

It can teach decision making, planning, how things work, goal setting, risk taking, struggle and sacrifice. It can even teach teamwork and partnership if looked at in the correct perspective. In short it can teach you how to learn.

If we can show our kids that, they will master their minds and then go on to bigger and better, more complex things. And some will become GM's and others World beaters in the endeavour of their choosing.

That is in my mind what the lesson is. What are we teaching them now? What are we showing them?

The solution

Solutions are possible once you see the big picture, once you dare to look at all the evidence and not only the ones that are convenient. Looking at the forces against change is just another form of competitors analysis. Now do you see that the voices against change are weak? They only have power because we give it to them. They are incapable of learning so how strong can they be? A very small minority making a lot of senseless noise. Dont listen to them. They are not relevant. They are keeping us in the same spot.


Stick to issues not personalities. In the case of MCF, I have shown that there are both positive and negative actions. Support the positive ones to empower it further and withdraw support from the negative ones. Understand that Greg and Hamid is just like you and me. They will only change when they have to. Do not be hypocritical.
So further awareness in the community is essential for change. Awareness not blindly attack. Correct action.

Understand also that the same cannot be applied to PICA. There are no positive actions there. Even the kampar leg's results have not been put up. No cross tables. There is nothing there to support. The spirit is dead.


There has been damage. We acknowledge that. Too many years of frustration without success. We have the wrong model. If you can get past that you can contribute to change. Help the young ones. See that your role is but a part of the whole picture. Do not act from your anger and bitterness. You are only perpetuating our failure. Use the model I suggested or a variation of it.


Learn to see which ones failed and why? The COS model needs a relook. You cannot keep the deadwood. They are a liability. They drain our resources and contribute nothing in return. In fact I'll go one step further, they do more harm than good.


Understand that if you do it properly, you can get continuous genuine sponsorship based on partnership. Win-win. Come up with a 5 year plan. Then you dont have to run like a chicken without a head...always looking for a new sponsor for the next event. Get this done properly and you will have time to undertake your management role, administrative role. Do it right. Stop trying for another Patron. We have done this for 30 years and it has not worked. Do it the proper way. You will regain your dignity and be strong.

This is the system. Change one variable and it will have systemic effect. All have a role. If we can stick to our role, change will come.

Do all this in support of our players. They are the ones that matter. They are the ones that need the praise. They are the fighters we send out to represent us. We are the supporters. So support.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Read here.

How do we see the truth?

That is the million dollar question isnt it? We have in contention what people say is "human nature". The ability of the mind to trick itself. And so the science of psychoanalysis was born to to explore this phenomenon.

I did an exercise once. I asked someone to write a list of the pros and cons of starting their own business vs staying in employment. The point of the exercise is that you cannot make a decision unless you know who you are. And the answer to that question must come from the spirit.

So the first step to confusing you is kill off that spirit. And the second step is to disconnect you from your feelings. For your feelings give clues to the actuality of the situation. So they will always tell you how you should feel in any given situation.

Without both you will be totally open to manipulation and lies. You cannot tell the truth. One argument looks like the next. And then they will tell you what you should think.

And so you cannot learn as you are in doubt all the time. Understand this and you will have a chance to break out and see clearly.

This is a prerequisite for a mental warrior. When you are all alone in front of the chess board, you need to trust your judgement, you need to see the truth as it unfolds before your eyes. Or you will be outplayed.

Go back to the site I posted below. Can you see better now how the lies work? But dont stay there too long. It is enough to just recognise them for now. That type of "thinking" is why we have stayed stuck for 30 years. They will still be at the same spot 30 years from now so no need to hurry.

Consider carefully ALL the variables and forces

Read this. and then this.

In trying to resolve a problem we need to see all the variables. We cannot bury our heads in the sand. We need to consider deeply because then and only then can we defend our conclusions.

That is the first thing I teach. Think well first then only think well fast. If we do not do that we will face insurmountable doubts as we move along. We will not be able to hold fast to our strategy.

The forces against change both outside and inside our minds will challenge our conclusions. Yes inside our minds too. Have you seen the hesitations on the boards? The change of plan not because of evidence but because of doubt. When the noise gets so loud you cannot think anymore?

So look hard and then decide for yourself. The only one you need to convince, to prove to, is yourself. That is the beginning of confidence. When you can trust yourself and your own conclusions, you can play real chess. Then you are playing against the opponent and not fighting yourself and your doubts. The still mind.

Watch out for the half truths, the misdirections. See if they can join the dots. Look carefully to see if they have acknowledged the evidence; if carefully considered or just reacting.

Then form your own conclusions. As I said before we need to get out of the counselling stage to the coaching stage. In the coaching stage, learning is fast, we can do capacity building etc. etc.

In the counselling stage we go round and round. Most of the comments I deleted are in the first link above. See how they think. You need to recognise the forces against change, against progress.

Good luck.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The whammy-Part 2

Part 1 here.

We can see that the world has changed. Information that was once difficult to access is now freely available. The evidence show that our players do not do well after 12. We seem to hit a ceiling of IM and then we get bounced back. The next step we are trying for is that GM.

Begin with the end in sight.

So what do we need to change? What is holding us back?

Lets say talent is by and large fixed and information is now freely available. This suggests that if our kids can get access and learn from the internet they will have the necessary technical tools. So if we change our methods from spoon feeding to enabling, we will be able to more fully use that resource. And this should start as soon as possible. From the moment they enter the system, they are given more and more tools to help themselves.

Say by 12, they now have chess base and all the other tools. What is the challenge then? How do they become world class and reach that GM status and more?

Now we come to the crux. Todays world is about change. Chess is about change. You set a problem and the other party set you one. At some point one will give way and the other win. As the level rises the problems set become more and more complex. The pressure gets higher and higher.

What are the variables that are in your control? I say it is ending internal resistance to change, ending the chatter in the mind, stilling the mind and learning how to learn and how to learn fast. Learning to join the dots.

That is the difference in todays world. The internet has levelled the information divide. It is now speed of processing, speed of change. Take a serious look around you. To stay at current level we need to change as fast as our competitors, to catch up we have to change faster.

For that to happen we need trainers till about 12, and then we need coaches to accompany the players to the tournaments. We need to understand where they are breaking down, what is happening in their minds and see if it needs a technical fix or otherwise. The otherwise being the bigger component.

If we can do that, we will have a competitive fighting system that will bring us to that GM. That is the harsh reality. Painful to see but see we must if really we want out of this rut.

Competitors analysis-The whammy-Part 1

This is going to be tough to read. I hope you will take your time to consider its merits. What I have said so far is pretty self evident. But this is not.

Just before the Asean training we had a short private session with Ziaur. In this session he showed us how to use chess base properly. The idea is that we can only use any opening according to our understanding. That basically means we cannot copy blindly what a GM uses for any opening. Chess base allows us to do that. To slowly build our own individual version of any opening. Be it Ruy Lopez, Sicillian, whatever.

I thought this was a good tool to pass on and so I requested it for the training of the trainers during Asean. This did not materialise simply because no trainers took up the free training we were going to provide except for Jax Tham. So it had to be scrapped. That was a big puzzle for me then. But now I am seeing clearer. (Go back to my postings on Asean.)

Below I mentioned the need for the correct training program. Now given the known facts what would this program look like?

Let us start off with how our players are being trained now. Each trainer is a specialist in a particular opening. So you go to one for dragon and another for something else. A little like the old kung fu movies. And the kung fu masters have a secret weapon that they do not teach anyone else.

But what is todays reality? Today we have internet. Today we have jalur lebar. We have web sites for latest games, we have instructional videos from stronger kung fu masters. We have chess base and we have chess engines for analysis. We have programs that train tactics. We can get tons of eBooks on chess. And we can play with players from all around the world online.

So how does this change things? Remember I said we have to understand the nature of a problem before we can solve it?

It seems clear to me that in todays world, information is not the challenge anymore. Technical information abounds. So where is todays challenge? What do we need to change to keep abreast? What do we need to change to get ahead?

I agree that with the younger kids, maybe till around 12 depending on maturity, we still need the old way. But after 12? When we start to lose our edge....

I will suggest a training program that makes sense to me in part 2. See you then.

The tools

Achievable goals, competitors analysis and accurate postmortems are the basic tools of any training program. Together with the correct training program (next posting) we can produce Champions. We have the raw material, the talent and yet we cannot get this together.

Good achievable goals that continuously stretch our players motivates them and gives them confidence. For every goal achieved there is a sense of well being. Goal setting is partially art and partially science. The goal cannot be too small or too big. Too small and they will get bored, too big and they will puncture.

Competitors analysis will help them measure the gap, teach them strategy and more importantly know who they are. What is their gifting, in which area. And how this compare with their opponent.

Accurate postmortems. Not the excuses that I hear. Identify the problem and we have a shot at fixing it. Allow the excuses to continue and we end up working on the wrong things.

All these tools are basic and yet after so many years and so many millions we still dont have them. I have yet to see one good postmortem in my 7 years in Malaysian chess. All I hear is mediocre people praising other even more mediocre people. They need to do that for otherwise they will not get any praise from anyone.

And the players are left languishing. They are the ones that need the praise. They are the fighters that we send out. What do we need the praise for? We are merely playing a supporting role. But where is the support? You do not send our players out till they are prepared for the risk of damage is high. You do not send a young prize fighter to meet Mike Tyson.

And what is the MCF slogan?.....Raising Malaysian chess from mediocrity.... Walk the talk. It is not that difficult. This is simple and basic. It is difficult for you simply because of your ego and simply because you are too scared to even really try. You want to live in your delusions. Wake up. You are damaging our players.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Read this. And this. Remember them. The warriors we send to fight without preparation.

The trajectory of our players

They are coming into the system at a younger and younger age. Say they start off at the age of 7. They come in all bright eyed and full of fight. They go out and compete and Internationally some show the promise of world class. This promise start to diminish from the age of 12. They begin to exit the system around 17/18. By this time they are more aware of how tough the journey can be and some would have made other choices.

It is my argument that should they exit, they would bring something positive with them. Some lesson from chess that would serve them a lifetime. When they exit, they should know how to set goals, understand sacrifice and be the stronger from their experience.

What is the evidence showing us? What happens to the players who enter our system? The very people that the chess community exist for and those that owe their job description benefit from?

The intense competition that comes from chess can bring forth two types of people. One who become the stronger from the competition and the other become disillusioned, beaten down, bitter and angry. Or worse...broken.

What is the end result of coming through our current system? Does it need changing? Who would be responsible for making the changes?

Tomorrow I will begin an analysis of where we can improve. Do join me. In the meantime, I will put up a post of our players in WYCC next. Have a good look at our young kids. Where will they be in a few years time? Remember them. Are they the sacrificial lambs to our egos and fears?

First the big picture, then after that the details

In chess, on the board, we learn to see the big picture first, first determine the strategy then we look at the details for/on execution.

Similarly, but on a larger canvass, to get us to the next level at chess we also need to see the big picture first. See what are the forces at play. Then and only then we will know where to place our efforts.

To see the big picture, we have to join new dots. The variables cannot only be technical. It is only a small part of the considerations. Otherwise we cannot see the forest for the trees. Otherwise we will always be fire fighting. Otherwise we will go round and round in the same spot while others are moving on.

System analysis. We are looking at a different system. Change one variable and it will have systemic implications. To move the game of chess forward, we need to see its a different system, different variables of which technical is only a partial player.

So continue to join the dots. Think on it. I will give new information in my new postings. When we see the big picture, we will know how we can change things.

Competitors analysis-what is an opening?

Why and how do we analyse our competitors? Has this any bearing to openings? So many names, Ruy Lopez, Sicillian.....etc.etc.etc. What does it all mean? Read here. Actually an opening has no meaning until we see all 4 components of chess.

Our opening repertoire is but an expression of who we are. What we like and dont like. For we are all gifted differently. And without competitors analysis that also has no meaning for in competition it is all relative. We may think we are good tactical players but our competitor may be better. But on the other hand we may not be strong positional players but our competitor may be weaker relative to us etc. So detailed evaluation of our strength vs the competitors strength and our weaknesses compared to our competitor improves our understanding of who we are relative to who they are.

Note: I am assuming here that we are giving our best in every game of course. Because unless we are, the measurement is not accurate.

And this can change depending on time control. Not all openings are the right ones for the different time controls.

So when I see that even our senior players are sometimes one opening type players, I wonder how deep our understanding of chess really is? Can we build a house with just one hammer? I also wonder why we send our players to all these International competitions blind. They just do not know who they are fighting. What is the measure of our gap? Are we so afraid of our competitors that we dont even dare to measure them? Lest we have to awaken from our sleep?

Every detailed analysis of our competitor improves our understanding of chess; tells us what else we need to work on; who we are, who they are, relative to us and the time control. Openings have no meaning unless seen in that context. Unless of course we are playing kindergarden chess.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reminder at UPSI

Had a nice reminder at UPSI. From my observations, if there is one unique distinction between the National Juniors and other chess players, it is this... they know how to compete intensely and they know how to befriend. On the table they fight hard with their minds and off the table they are good friends that can connect with each other from their shared passion. In my mind this culture alone makes chess worth defending from those that want to make it an ugly sport.

Friday, October 22, 2010

World Youth

If you guys want to follow what is happening there, go here.

Real power is in your ability to stop.

Right at the beginning I saw a lot of coaches revving up their players before a chess game. But this is not rugby. For us to see clearly the phases of the game as it unfolds before us on the board, we need to still the mind.

This is not a game where we charge like a bull. If you can still your mind in the midst of battle, you have true power. Think on this. The last time I brought this up it provoked a little storm of protests. Is this fact becoming more apparent now?

I screwed up

I have completed the basic force field analysis. Before I move on to "competitors analysis" which defines what we are up against, there are a few more matters to round up.

In my previous postings on Counselling vs Coaching and in my inner child work, there is one defining turning point. And that happens when we say the words..."I screwed up". That sentence is the beginning of taking personal responsibility. And until that happens we will be using all our intelligence towards making excuses, blaming others. (Hence the inability to learn.)

And until that happens, we will still remain in the counselling stage, the drama stage. This stage is no fun. A lot of energy poured into going nowhere. If we look at our chess community today, is that what we see? A lot of noise signifying nothing.

All our energy goes towards defending an indefensible position. The outside community is but a reflection of what is going on inside us. I know this is hard to accept. So I suggest you prove it to yourself first. Look inside yourself when you next play chess. See the noise inside that is preventing you from seeing the board clearly. Remember, almost all of your loses is due to imagined fears and not technical. See what you were thinking at the moment, before the moment, you lost concentration. Were the thoughts relevant to the winning of the game? It is these thoughts you need to examine for it is these thoughts that lead to the loss. Clearer now?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anyone can ask a question but not everyone has the right to speak.

Read this.

Anyone can ask a question to an official of an NGO or about any organisation that participates in any activity with them. And you should be clearly answered. That has always been our stand.

But not everyone has the right to speak. In a court of law, expert opinions are given weightage. That means that the person has done extensive research on the topic or has extensive experience in the subject matter. However the person's credentials and track record is first displayed and verified. However in our Chess blog culture today we have many people hiding under the guise of pseudonyms or are simply anonymous. And under these guises they purport to be experts or have inside knowledge and then they cast aspersions on other peoples dignity and reputation.

There is no law against stupidity, laziness to think or inability to read or reason. There is no law against psychological abuse although we are now much more aware of physical abuse. The only remedy currently available for psychological abuse is by raising the awareness of its ill effects and using the moral authority thus gained to prevent its further occurrence. Prophylaxis.

But there is a law against slander. And it is a well established law.

I have just come back from KL where this is the very topic of discussion. Rationality, Terminator, and you know that you can be tracked down? It requires no special effort. So I hope your sources will back your slander. Terminator, I hope your people in PICA and MCF will continue to back you here. My opinion was sought at the meeting and I encourage the initiative to track down the slanderers.

Chess is supposed to make our players smart, or at least that is what we advertise. What happened to you guys? Have you such low regard for your own name and dignity that you think others are like you? Has so many years of intimidation of helpless people blinded you to the fact that this time you are playing with people who can fight back? Open your eyes. These people you have taken on are not without resources and are not helpless kids or frightened parents. Welcome to the real world.

I am not the initiator of this discussion but I really hope action will be followed through. I think its about time this nonsense stops. All the lies, half truths and innuendos shot from the dark.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Force field-Sponsors

The first requirement of Patronage is obedience.

This is my conclusion after meeting Dato Tan. The realisation didnt come at once but rather in bits and pieces. As I reflected back to my time in PICA; in subsequent meetings with him and DKLS together; in observing the officials in MCF closer...

I come from the private sector where every negotiation is hard fought. Point by tedious point. We do not respect titles. We only respect what is on the table. No vague promises and no waffles. That is how I was trained by my mentors.

So I was a little surprised when I was offered a deal by Dato Tan that obviously did not work. He did not seem interested in results.

These are what I believe are the symptoms of the ills from patronage:

The people with the skills are sidelined and the people who are obedient are supported. The net result is that mediocrity is celebrated. I am beginning to understand why at our postmortems everyone praises everyone else despite a sham result.

Genuine sponsors with legitimate requests are turned down. They are not needed. Why work for the money when you can just be a yes man and the money will come anyway. The sense of helplessness pervades the air because we dont understand how decisions are bewilderment over why Asean was deliberately sabotaged. Made no sense at the time. Makes much more sense when you understand how patronage works and see how that culture permeates down the line.

I now wonder if this has not affected even our players. In this climate where all are busy making excuses, is it too far a stretch to say that the players can rationalise a draw even when they are winning on the board? Does this show a loss of confidence? But its Adam....forget what is on the table....we must respect the title....

The net result of our experimentation with patronage has shown no tangible and real result. We lament year after year. Can we say that this type of sponsorship is a failure?

If we can get our act together; we can meet the corporates as equals on the field. Give them what they are looking for ie. mainly publicity and get what we want in return, will we feel genuine pride? The type of pride that can only come from achievement.

Doesnt chess show us that when we win in a clean healthy competition we get that rush of well being; that sense of confidence. Could the fact that fixed competitions flourished for as long as it has also come from the culture of patronage?

Could this also be why we have no GM? If one can be bought here, will we have done it? Just for an empty title.

We can get genuine sponsors, of course we can. We just need to get out of this helpless mindset. We have many very talented parents with many skills. We need to utilise all that we have. We cannot just sit down and cry out to one man to continually save us again and again. When we grow up, the GM will come. Come on... The word means GRAND MASTER.

We need to wake up from our delusions and meet the real world on its own terms. Get rid of our imagined fears and take the bull by its horns. All of us. Not just MCF. Each has a role. Stop asking First GM, MCF, Ah Kow, Ah Beng, Ahmad, Ali or Muthu. We can each do something. In a chess game you are all alone. You have to make your own decisions. What is your next move?

So maybe its a good thing that Dato Tan is finally letting us grow up. See what we are really made of.

Congrats Najiha

Read here. A really nice young lady and a heck of a fighter (together with her sister, Nabila and brother Nabil). Strong chess family. Well done.

Force field-Associations

Any community or body of people needs a head. Its the conductor of activity and ideas. In Malaysian chess we have MCF and its affiliates. I will constrain my analysis to MCF and PICA (State Affiliate) as I have insights into both bodies. The health of PICA is in some ways tied to the leadership in MCF.


To this very day I hear incessant criticism and many attempts to bypass this organisation. The body seems to want to try any contortion to rid itself of a head that it believes does not serve them.

This is what I see.

Judging from the anger and bitterness prevailing I believe this opinion has some truth. Looking at the current state of Malaysian chess there is basis. But wearing the Counsellors lens, I believe that many current opinions are unprocessed. We are still looking from past traumas. So much so we can not clearly see current reality.

Allow me to account from my own personal experience. I first got involved with the Associations when I heard about Greg. He was then the new Secretary. I heard that when he was in Malacca during the MSSM, he invited the Perak players there to play in the Malaysian close as Perak was not sending a team that year. This was the first initiative I had seen in Chess till that point and I was heartened by it. As a result of this example I became more active in PICA.

Let me list other events that I see as positive action. (not complete or in any strict chronological order)

1. During my term in PICA, we had our first JV with MCF and we trained over 20 arbiters in swiss manager in Perak.

2. The first MCF/Parent dialogue in Penang.

3. The first written selection criteria.

4. The first letter to an affiliate asking for an explanation for an unconstitutional sacking.

5. The first space given an Academy for a National training event. (Asean)

6. The first National rapid event conducted at UTP.

7. The first MSSM/MCF and Academy event in the form of Masterskill Scholastic event also in Perak.

8. Greg also has the Vision to recognise that technical is not enough. Hence the appointment of a mind coach in Asean.

9. Etc. etc.

I see a pathfinder and a man of courage in this efforts. Remember I said all evaluation needs to be balanced and fair. So this work needs to be balanced against the shortcomings.

We need to let go of past traumas, of which I believe there were many or it would not account for todays anger. Leave the past in the past or it will infect the present. If we can instead see how we can aid the forward movement then that will be a good step to take.


Aiding forward movement does not mean that we whitewash present weaknesses. Those weaknesses have to be addressed. Higher awareness in the community is the best check and balance. The present leadership is not strong or consistent enough and they still do not have the necessary knowledge to bring Malaysian chess forward fast enough to compete.

But there has been movement and we need to acknowledge that. We need to learn to seperate past abuses from present initiatives. For a good example look at PICA, it has almost no new ideas. It hangs on to the old regime with a death grip. Perhaps that is why UTP was not managed by them.

If the leadership in MCF resembles the leadership in PICA, I would suggest we end the blogs and outside initiatives till we find a way to bypass MCF. Because then all efforts to raise this community would be wasted. But I dont think this is the case so far. It appears to me that the old and the new are still locked in a struggle. And that is what is causing some of the reverses. So we need to identify which is which and decide where to place our effort. But correct effort. With correct effort there is change in a direction. Otherwise we are just spinning our wheels.

That is why First GM will not sponsor till the shortcoming in Asean is addressed. Accountability. That is why I suggest that the players put forward a proposal for proper training before National representation. There needs to be accountabilty on all sides. Otherwise we will see a continuation of what is happening. The players will come back and blame MCF and MCF will blame the players. This needs to stop. This is so obviously flawed and yet we cannot come to a decision to change this. To reach that decision we have to work collectively. We need to break out of the yoke of divide and rule. We are a community. The head cannot move alone and the legs cannot do without a head.

If we can quieten down the noise and come from reason, we can have that change.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last reminder

Please stay on topic. Questions or reasoned suggestions for the improvement of chess are welcome. But please no unsolicited advice or childish attempts at guilt trips. They will be deleted in the future.

Force field-technical community

I have seperated the technical community from the rest because they deserve special mention. They have made tremendous personal sacrifce and are a very powerful instrument for change if they know how to use their true power.

Allow me to ask a question here. It is rhetorical so you do not really have to answer. In fact I prefer if you just think on it.

You guys know that you cannot play at a high level if there is insufficient preparation. That it is bad for you not to have team mates that you can rely on and no reserves etc.

One well prepared team and we will all have cause for celebration. One goal achieved and we can break the jinx and yet you continue to support the self sabotage. And continue the damage to yourself.

As a non technical person, I ask you. Is it impossible to prepare a team now for the next olympiad? For the next Asean? Maybe you need some degree of flexibility in case someone drop out for reasons unforeseen. Or some new Star blossom in the interim. But by and large, we are working with known variables.

Yes, I know you say that the decision is not yours. It belongs to MCF. But think again. Does it really? Is the argument that MCF puts undue pressure on the players if they do not have sufficient preparation reasonable? Do you think you may have some support from the rest of the chess community if you put forward this argument?

I think I can speak from the perspective of the sponsors, from the corporates. I have sat on that side of the table. If the sponsors can see a real plan, a serious attempt, the money is not all that difficult to find. When I sat down with my potential sponsors at DKLS, they did not even want the publicity. They just wanted to know that their money would not be wasted. They just wanted to quietly do their part. There are many different types of sponsors driven by different motivation.

So it is possible to get the money. We may have lost one sponsor because of the inaptitude of one official in Perak but the war is not lost. In fact DKLS said that if it was not possible to sponsor in Perak because of the road blocks they were willing to consider National at that time. But because they are a public listed company they have to steer clear of controversy. That was why I brought my case to MCF. I told them that we have possible access to 2 million if we can have a hearing to clear my name. And I am still waiting for that answer. But I moved on. I did not wait for MCF to do their work on that. I started the Asean initiative. And when that only partially worked, I started writing more on this blog. I am also still looking for the right partners to get the Academy going. Dont give up so easily.

Why do you support something that is so obviously bad for you? And then only complain later. Can MCF play for the Country? Only you can. You just need to see the bigger picture. Do something or else stop whinning. Stop burying your head in the sand. You are contributing to your own defeat. Learn to help yourself before others can help you.

Do you know that if you can speak with one voice, you can set conditions to MCF? Reasonable ones of course.

Force field-the community

History has shown us that the community is not usually the agent for change but it is the only force that can sustain change. The overall awareness and complexion of the community determines the quality of the institutions and leadership.

I hope I have made you aware of a small but vocal force in chess that is extremely resistant to learning and they are doggedly against any change. There has been some speculation as to who they are. Some have said that they are the beneficiaries of the abuses but I choose not to speculate. I dont think it is helpful.

However as in any business we know that these forces cannot be ignored or they can bring down an enterprise. It is the same in a community but slightly different in the sense we cannot sack them but they are equally destructive here all the same. I have brought them to your awareness, you have seen how they think. That is enough. Let me try to explain why.

What can we tell about them from their dialogue so far? I think it is safe to assume that they do not have much courage. If they did they would recognise courage. They are also not builders for then they would recognise efforts to build. We can see the anger and bitterness in them and they cannot show themselves. That is what makes them so dangerous. In the open they will try to appear reasonable but they will whisper in the corridors or huddle in corners; they will try to get positions of authority for they do not like being ignored.

As Salleh mentioned, Malaysians do not like conflict, confrontation. So what can we do if we want change? In my experience as a Counsellor, confrontation is not always a good thing. It is usually better to quietly tell them that what they are doing is wrong. And the best way is by example. Remember they are unaware. Many do not know that they are destructive. Some think they are heros when they attack a child, some think they are right when they fix a match for their kids, some think that all they need to do to get respect is to aim for a high post and then do nothing. Realise what they are looking for and dont give it to them that way.

Remember I went to the office of the PICA official? Do it in private. Give them a chance to change. Do not sit in judgement. Remember that once we didnt know ourselves. I didnt appreciate the lessons my mentors tried to impart to me at that time. I had not gone through enough struggle yet myself. It takes time and its a process.

But you must say something, do something or change wont come. We deal with imagined fears in the mind and real fears by action. We cannot think away real fears.

If you look at the example of PICA, it only takes a small handful to subvert a whole State. Look hard at the evidence. How many Perakians have come out in the last 10 years. Perak is a strong chess State with a lot of talent but it is in sharp decline. Almost all their talent are now imports.

The real secret to change is dont try to force them to change. Just change yourself. Speak up when you see another child abused, tell the officials that we expect them to do their job. Do it respectfully but truthfully. Do not support fixed tournaments. Do not sponsor unless they do their part too. Vote with your action. Use the Gandhi Gambit.

Shut down the noise in your own head. They are using your fears against you. Your ego against you. Listen to your own quiet voice of reason. Change yourself. When enough of you can do that, change will come. The complexion of the community will change. When enough of you are aware that we need a positive and nurturing environment for that GM, we will get him/her.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Force field analysis

As in anything in life we can only find solutions to a problem when we understand its true nature. There is a concept used in consultancy called the force field analysis that I will attempt to employ here; where the forces are analysed. The forces or potential forces for change and the forces against. I have found this a useful tool for myself before I make any decisions as to where I am to place my efforts, if at all.

My conscious attempts at this analysis began from the time I joined PICA. Prior to that I played the role as an observer from the outside and I saw much was wrong. If I had not engaged PICA or MCF, I would not feel justified to bring this analysis to you and you can also justifiably ask me what had I done to change things. I believe my attempts are now on public record for those that want to see them.

The forces in our chess community are:

1. The community itself ie the players and parents

2. The Associations

3. The sponsors

These are outwardly the stakeholders.

A significant force that act within the community are a few but very vocal minority that exert pressure against change. This force employs the denial of evidence, distortions and lies to subvert. Another force lies in the technical which refuses to see that the way forward is to employ the other 3 components of chess. To balance that we have the forces that want change, the players that want to excel, the parents that want the best for their children.

Within the Associations we have MCF and organisations like PICA. I differentiate the 2 because their nature may be different. Anyway I will tell you what I see and you can decide for yourself.

As for the sponsors, currently we have the ones that are based on patronage. There is yet a proper sponsorship system where all parties receive benefit. This is a powerful force but have yet to really come into play.

Over the next few days I will role out my analysis and in the end I will present a strategy for change. At this point I would like to remind you that we are a community and sink or swim we are in this together.

ps: I wont role out the analysis too quickly so you have time to go backwards on this blog to refresh your memory of what I have said previously and to examine the evidence.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Right man for the right place

This is another self evident statement. But it may be more instructive if we look at the converse and its implications. What happens to the man if he is in the wrong place? When he doesnt have the skill sets for the position. When he doesnt have the experience for the position. When he doesnt have the talent for the position. When he doesnt have the drive for the position and when he doesnt have the training for the position.

I think we can quickly see that the position now becomes a curse no matter how elevated. It is only a gift when you are the right man. If we become more aware of this fact, if the person seeking the position becomes more aware of this fact, then we will be a significant step closer to forward movement for our chess community.

Then we will not have leaders that do not know how to lead. Leaders that are fear ridden because they fear exposure of their lack of knowledge. We have cursed them to a permanent state of fear and they have cursed themselves to having to hide, to lie and to defend their positions with unsavoury methods simply because they cannot produce results.

Read here. This is a case where the official does not understand that in the real world nobody gives 2 million without conditions. The company is a public listed construction company. Their surplus 2 million is earned from sweat and tears; off the backs of many people. It is reasonable for them to ask for a 5 year plan. It is reasonable for them to ask for measureable yardsticks. It is reasonable for them to ask that a member of their company sit on the committee to disburse the money. It is also reasonable for them to ask PICA for the plan and a proposal since PICA is supposed to be the experts in chess. It is not reasonable for PICA to ask them for a proposal. We are asking for the 2 million.

Can you begin to see the problem? We have no money and so we are running around with a begging bowl and that hurts our dignity which is bad for our psyche. And so we come with false pride, big ego and much fear. They do not even know who they are talking to. The people they are talking to can produce surplus. They can create money. They do not need to impress us. They do not need us. And yet we strut like we know something. Behind the strut is failure. If we have the people who know how to work with the corporates, we will have the money. We will then taste success and we will become stronger and stronger.

How have we gotten to this state? Could it be that we have been spoiled? We are no longer living in the real world. We have no results and yet we can demand a major sponsor and a Industry Captain to come and see us off for Asean. Have we become delusional? Look around you. Can you see other examples?

Get the right man for the right place and things will change.

Friday, October 15, 2010


This is another tournament in Perak I recommend. We will be going too. Just registered today. Last day for registration is the 20th. Do come along for a fun day of chess. It's in Tanjung Malim, at the border of Selangor. More details here.

Balanced evaluation

Read this.

Maybe this is for public consumption but my hair always stand on its ends when we completely whitewash the shortcomings. When I was in PICA, it was the same. One would think that since its an internal evaluation we would be best served by some honesty at least. Where our shortcomings are, how we can improve for the next event etc. But this was never done.

So we whitewash to the public and we whitewash even to ourselves. Where would that take us say 30 years from now?

How would you have written the article?

How to find your fighting spirit

I said in the comments below that stubbornness and willfulness comes from fear and the fighting spirit is something else. It is very easy to confuse the both. One comes from the ego and the other is the spirit.

Observe that the ego cannot learn. Read here. And the ego does not like the spirit. And without the fighting spirit you cannot change course. The ego denies evidence.

The Japanese martial artists learned this, my three mentors knew this. The fighting spirit in our chess community is weak. And until we strengthen it we will not have that GM. Why do I say that? I was looking around for signs of strength in the blogs when First GM's Asean initiative was attacked. Many people know the true story and many people benefited from it. But no one spoke up. When Adzlin was attacked, no one spoke up and yet I know a few people that have benefited directly from the money given by her husband. So where will you find the fighting strength to defend one helpless child?...... Our next GM.

I do not need to defend our position. You see, this is about you...with every act of courage you perform you strengthen your spirit and with every act of cowardice you strengthen the ego. And only when the fighting spirit of this whole community is strong, will our GM come. For right now he is still a kid and he is learning from us.

The ego sometimes need a battering to wake us up. But in our blindness we are instead killing the spirit. Use the spirit, it can learn and it can learn fast. Keep the ego and we will still be here in 30 years.

The spirit can learn and grow. The spirit cannot be stopped. It will keep learning till the GM comes. The strength of your spirit will determine the speed of when it will come. Am I making sense or do you know this already?

The new MCF

The new MCF is populated by people who are aware that the GM will come from someone with not only all the necessary knowledge but also with a strong fighting spirit.

They will also be constituted by people with the correct skill sets to talk to the corporates.

The new MCF will be a learning organisation as befitting the head of a mental sport.

Now the question is how to get there. Next.

ps: I like the new quiet on this blog. Helps us to think.

The new way forward

In my evaluation progress will only come when this comes. When technical gives ground and when more people who can see the bigger picture expresses themselves. Both must happen.

And this will happen when both become aware that one cannot do without the other. We can only move to the next level by combining strengths. The other awareness is the one with the bigger picture must navigate the ship. That is the correct order of things and the way things work. We cannot run with our head nor can we can think with our feet.

This order of things will be good for Malaysian chess.

The new Assumptions

We want to move forward so lets see if these new assumptions has validity. Chess is a sophisticated game and so we need sophisticated players and sophisticated thinking. I said that technical is only a partial story.

Lets examine this closer. Last night Mark brought my attention to a strong IM. The comments in the book about his game was that he was unable to stop and re-strategise in the midst of a battle. He was unable to see when the battle has turned and so he remains an IM despite his strength.

When I say technical is not enough this is what I mean. Lets say we have 2 engineers. One works hard to earn his place to his cubicle. He has reached the highest level he can reach technically and the other starts to learn more about the nature of his business. He begins to learn about how to synergise with the other departments; finance, HR, corporate etc. Eventually when he has joined enough dots he becomes the CEO of the company.

Now these 2 also plays chess and they meet in battle. One will remain as IM and the other will become GM. I am sure I do not have to tell you who will become GM.

So this is a self apparent truth. Now ask yourself, why is this so difficult for our strong chess players to see? How do they manage to shield themselves from this apparent truth? Why the stoic defence of the pretence that a GM can come from just the technical?

The new assumption is we will not have a GM until we learn to recognise the other 3 components of chess. And the biggest component is self awareness. The GM sees the bigger picture.

Now I ask you which goal do you want for yourself or your child. To earn the place to that cubicle or to learn to see the bigger picture so that you or your child will now have the tools to be the best that you/they can be. If you are trained that way chess will now allow you to be a GM if that is what you want or be the best businessman or anything else you set your mind to. That can only be done if you take the other route. Not just the technical. Then you are learning all that you can learn from chess.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Turning the ship around

We now know of a lot of things that went wrong and are still going wrong. Tomorrow I would like to turn the page and start looking for solutions. I hope you'll join me then. I have begun deleting the minor irritants from this blog so you will not be exposed to their small minded attacks. I want this space to be safe for you to express yourself. You can use your name or a pseudonym, it doesnt matter. However do try and engage the information and stay on topic. I also want to encourage more questions.

The killing of the spirit

The way to get out of our rut is pretty apparent. We need to ask more questions. We need more reasonable people to speak out. We need to explore new ideas that can give us results. We do not need another "champion" to save chess in Malaysia. We need our kids to think, and the parents and players to stand up. So in the meantime, let me continue my stories. It may be entertaining, it may even be instructional. I will continue to use my own examples as I can defend those.

I first started staying in tournaments after this incident. It was a tournament in Kellie's castle. We were new in chess and I dropped Mark off and was heading back home to get some work done. Somehow I decided to turn back. I'm not even sure why now. When I got back to the tournament I saw a man holding Mark's hand and leading him to the bushes. Mark was struggling. I confronted the man and he let Mark go. Of course I stayed for the rest of the day. Later that evening I called Dr Yee and told him about the incident. He was then the President of PICA. He told me that the man is a strong player from Singapore and he brushed off the complaint. From that day onwards I was in every tournament Mark went to.

After Mark won his U12 championship in Perak, we were at a tournament in Syuen college. Mark went missing for a while. When he returned, I asked him where he went. He told me a man had taken him aside and told him that if he wanted to continue playing chess in Perak, Mark had to listen to him. I confronted this man and told him that if he had anything to say then say it to me. I asked him why he was threatening Mark? I then asked around at Unit Sukan and other places and found out that this man wanted to be a coach but he had no official position or authority then. This man is now the Secretary of PICA.

Before we can even get to the stage where we can do the things that I mentioned above, we have to stop this. We need to change the culture. My own name has now been smeared. I have brought the case to MCF. I would like a hearing to clear my name. It has been a long time now and I am still waiting for a response.

The Coach

When I first joined the chess world, I was told by many people that I had to learn to play chess before I could teach Mark. When I was trained as a Coach by UNDP I was informed that I need not know the subject matter before I can be a Coach.

Which is true?

Lets examine the arguments of both. I am a businessman. I studied Optics and I was the Group project director of a multinational company. I had 5 construction subsidiaries directly under me that was capitalised at around RM40 million. I am not a technical person. But I had many technical people who answered to me. So how did I get there? I learned to ask questions. I learned how to join the dots. I learned how to cross reference and I learned about people and how they think. I dont think I need to go further into this. This is self apparent.

Why am I saying this? I know many parents who defer to the technical people and get blinded by the jargon. Many seek to disempower the parents by blinding them to the fact they do not need to know chess in order to guide their kids.

So how do I coach Mark? I get him to read the technical and then explain it to me. This works on many levels. The first is it now becomes his knowledge, not mine. I do not waste my time trying to learn a new subject. (Can you imagine me trying to learn quantity surveying, architecture, engineering etc. before I can question my subordinates?) If it is done this way I can then add my knowledge to his. I see the bigger picture, I understand the structure of arguments. I can see when his conclusions are valid and when they are not. I question him, see if he has considered all the variables. And I know when he is giving excuses. I challenge him to defend his arguments. (The same thing I did when I was in construction.)

There is some truth to understanding the technical. To drive a car you need to know how a car works, but you do not need to know how to design the engine. You just need to know enough to send it to a good mechanic and get advice.

Look in the real world. The technical people are part players. They do not know enough.

Chess is similar. It is a good subject to see how thinking works. The game is in the open. They cannot hide their thinking if you know how to read it. The thinking that goes on behind the moves. If we are not careful we begin to accept their reasons for the loss. The ego is very inventive. They try to give you technical reasons for the loss but really, many times it is not. More often its lack of trying, lack of preparation, lack of understanding, failure in courage.

Their excuses will not stand in the real world and so they have created a bubble. And in doing so they have stopped progress. I have been told many times that chess people are weird. I have also written about it on this blog. In a way that is true. The reason is that the part players who cannot join the dots are on top. And the people who can see the bigger picture is suppressed.

Nevertheless, it is an instructional game. It is instructional if you remember this. You can learn from the negative example too. But if we really want to be the best we can be, we need to turn this around and put the head at the head. The technical will need to be relegated to where they belong. This is apparent. Get real.

PS: Of course this argument begs the question, how come Dato Tan didnt bring us to the top? I will leave that question unanswered. There is enough information on this blog to answer that. So think about it. Btw the assertion that he spent millions is in his book. In his book he says he spent 10 million.

PPS: This also depends on what you want to get out of chess. To be the best technical person you can be or you just want to be the best that you can be, period.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


It is time for the noise on this blog to end. This will hopefully make room for more constructive discussion on how to move Malaysian chess forward.

I had chosen to engage those voices for a few reasons.

1. Because they exist. I felt that our chess community at large needed to acknowledge their existence and to raise it to our collective consciousness of their destructive bent.

2. As a live demonstration that they are beyond reasoning. It would have been very hard to describe otherwise.

3. So that we can learn to recognise them for they are there before us in plain sight. And they come in many disguises.

I want to apologise for any offence they may have caused the readers here. My special apology to Adzlin. I am sometimes guilty of egging them on so that they reveal themselves. Sorry.

From now on this blog will not entertain offensive postings. They will be deleted. I will also not allow linking from this blog to any other without permission.

I will leave the previous hate postings for no other reason than to serve as a reminder for us to be watchful.

A reminder

Read here.

In the work mentioned below by Scott Peck, he was actually examining the nature of evil. When people actually cross the line between just performing unaware harmful acts to actually turning evil. I got interested in the subject when someone on this blog said that PICA was evil. So when a friend was in London I asked if they could get me the book. To this day I am still pondering it. If evil does exist, it may give the issues raised a different complexion.

So in the main, I have talked about self awareness and the need for us to express reasoning. This is essential for us to move Malaysian chess to where it belongs. Chess has been hijacked. Pointing the finger at this person or that person is not going to change anything. We need to stay focussed on issues. That is the only way we can turn this around. We need more people who can reason to express themselves. That is how our change will come about. If everyone participates, then change can come very fast. All you have to do is to say something when an abuse is being committed, dont go to fixed tournaments. Vote with your action.

Dont get angry if you can. It only clouds the issue. Use the gandhi gambit. It works. Here.

Reply to Abdooss

Dear Abdooss,

In your questions to me in "The need to express", there is a work that you can refer to. The book is written by M Scott Peck called "People of the lie". There he documents a few clinical studies of how the lies work by the use of half truths, self denial etc. You may find it instructive. Applied to chess and also the writings on the blogs, you can see its use in misdirection, the use of psychological attacks to confuse etc.

I have not answered your questions directly because I believe you will learn much more if you come to your own conclusions. See my philosophy here.

The learning mind

Lets pause here. Let us see what has been happening so far. Lets join the dots. How long do you think we have been talking about imagined fears, the other 3 components to chess etc? Has this blog demonstrated anything?

Have you noticed that almost every objection has been given an explanation and followed by a corresponding lesson? Do you remember the contrarian mind for instance? Here.

We have been talking about fairly obvious observations and yet we appear stuck. A few people seem to have hijacked the subject. Very few questions have been asked. See here.

We have over a hundred readers daily and a very few try to dominate the subject with a lot of noise.

Now imagine if the subject matter was... lets come up with a 5 year plan for chess or an action plan for Asean next year. Imagine also that the people who have commented on this blog were also present at this discussion and you are chairing the meeting. As you try to explain the objective what do you think will happen? Is anyone really following? Will the agenda be hijacked? Has the lunatics taken over the asylum?

Now imagine Greg trying to conduct the same meeting. Can you see the problem? We have been talking in circles for over a month on something that is pretty apparent. And the noise level has gone higher and higher.

The psychoses in chess has responded and the voice of reason silent. For the mind to learn the voice of reason must be heard and expressed.

We may say that the noise comes from outside of us. From unreasonable people. They have nothing to do with us. But is that really true? Are you silent because of the own noise in your head drowning out your reasoning? Why cant you express the reasoning part of your mind? Is it fear, lack of confidence? Your child is at stake, your hopes and dreams. You have made sacrifices. You have a right to be heard.

Can you see now that learning has little to do with IQ? Lets say, this subject matter should have taken one day to explain. This should now be quickly followed by how do we incorporate this new information to what we are doing now in order to progress. In a learning mind this process becomes faster and faster. We start to cut down from one day to half a day. From one month to 2 weeks for instance.

Can you see why we dont have a 5 year plan after all these years? Why we do not even have a proper selection criteria?

This noise must stop. Dont try to stop others, change others. It doesnt work. We must stop the noise inside our own heads. Then we will see clearly. Then we can exercise our reasoning and express ourselves. When we see an injustice, we will say something. When we are in a meeting, we have to arrest our own contrarian mind. We will ask questions and we will offer solutions. We will deal with our fears. When enough of you can do that, we will have change. That is the process. Remember this.

Look inside your own mind when you next play chess. Are the commentators inside your head too? So much noise that you cannot see what is happening on the board. Shut out that noise, deal with it, express yourself, your reasoning mind and you will progress. Then do it faster next time.

If you say you love chess, this is the way to improve your game. Dont let the noise win. When you have a chance to take part in a meeting for the future of chess, do the same. Dont let the noise win. Be constructive. Or we will be in the same place for the next 30 years. MCF and all the associations belong to you. It is an essential part to your progress. You have to express your reasoning or change wont come. It is all connected. Join the dots. I rest my case.

Good luck in your chess and in your journey through life.

Note: The "commentators" represent the sick part of our chess psyche. They are not aware. They think they are heros when they attack a child, when they attack an innocent woman and her family, when they fix results, when they smear the good name of someone. And they will continue not to know unless you tell them. Look around. You will see them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The need to express

At UTP, Salleh from gilocatur posed me a question. He asked if I wanted our kids to answer back to us. He said that we Malaysians are not used to questioning Authorities.

Ok, let me try to answer that here. But before I do that let me rewind the tape a little. Do you remember the group session at the center? When I got the boys to talk, there was a lot of anger in the beginning and they had no place to express it. Remember the caveat? No violence, no destruction of private property. The end result was a reduction in tension.

I can see Salleh's concern. I'm sure its in the minds of many other people too. If you go to the chess blogs today, you will see many angry words. To me that is not necessarily a bad thing. Years of frustration is being expressed. Some like Jimmy, Peter, Ilham and me put our names to our statements. Some dare not but that is OK too.

And you know what? We are still here. To me that shows a new maturity in MCF. You can see it too if you can let go of your anger and fear.

Try to see it this way. Do you think it is easy for Hamid and Greg to stomach all these attacks? Valid or not. Do you see that the Greg we now have is stronger than the Greg we had 2 years ago? Did you see how he played at the Olympiad? Do you know why he is stronger now?

First GM will continue not to sponsor. Do you understand why? The mistakes have to be corrected or we cannot move on. But this is a chance for change. Maybe Greg is strong enough now to admit the mistakes. I dont know. But the chance is presented anyway.

The noise on the blogs is also good. We can see where the anger lies from what is said and what is avoided. Jimmy and Rationality know what I say is true. Just like the PICA official mentioned below know what I say is true. But they will not admit it. It is hard to admit it. They will not be angry if there is no truth to my arguments. Can you see that?

If they dont face their fears they will not grow. I am hoping that their passion for chess will give them that courage. If they can face their fears they will improve. Their minds will clear. Their chess will improve and they will offer solutions instead of just complaining.

But it is not easy for the adults. That is why I "admire" Ninja. He is still arguing. That means he is still trying. In counselling these people are the ones with the better chance. When they stop talking, the case is more serious. The spirit has died and there is almost no way to reach them now. I hope you can see that.

Now back to Salleh. It is much tougher for the adults. But with the children it can be different. With the kids it can be done this way.... If you have a question and if you have tried your best to answer those question with the known information, then you can come to me. With the kids you can say, your questions must be framed respectfully. I think that is what we all want. Respectful questions. The purpose of which is to learn. But we need to teach them this at a young age. To ask questions and to ask questions respectfully. So answering back and asking questions are 2 different things.

For the adults, there is too much anger; too much fear and frustration. So they do the only thing they know. Attack. But give them time. Soon the anger will abate, after enough venting. They are not yet used to expressing themselves. Most are still hiding in the dark. Dont be quick to condemn them. We normally hate what we see in ourselves. Give this some time. I believe we have the maturity in our chess community to weather this. After all we are in a mind sport and we are only raising our subconscious fears.

Thank you for the question Salleh. I hope I have answered you.

Our chess community

Chess Ninja is right when he says that we must raise awareness. But the awareness we must raise is not the abuses only. The awareness that also need to be raised is that we are a community.

When I was the coach in Asean, I paired every senior player with a junior. I told them that the success of this outing is also dependent on the weakest amongst us. The kids saw that and I feel proud that they all did their part.

Our struggle to get our community on its feet must not degenerate into character assasination. It needs to be based on issues. That means if Hamid does something right we must defend him. If Greg does something right we must also do the same. This was also my message to PICA. If they want the bad publicity to stop, then do the right thing. Stop the abuses.

But we have a distance yet to travel. Let me tell you a real story. When Mark was still U12, there was another boy who was one year older and at that time a stronger chess player. In many open tournaments they competed. This boy was also the son of a high ranking PICA official who himself is a strong chess player. When Mark was abused by the officials this boy will protect Mark. And they became close friends. But Mark was catching up with the boy. Match fixing was never proven but I remember the boy going up to Mark and telling him that Mark was really the stronger player despite him winning the tournaments. We understood what he meant. The pairings and results seem off too many times. Over the years this boy dropped off from chess and I heard he since became highly unpopular with the kids. I often wonder what happened to that gentle boy I knew who became a bully. In my personal estimation they were about equally gifted but this boy was not allowed to win his own battles. Every win in his mind was not his and he lost his self confidence.

There are many elements to this story. I went to his fathers office when I was in PICA. I tried to tell him that it was the fixed tournaments that killed off his son's interest in chess. Now, I have no doubt that this man loves his son but he was not aware of the consequence of his actions. He was not aware of his responsibility as an official and he was not aware that chess can give his son the gift of confidence.

Can you imagine how he would feel if he came to that awareness after supporting the abuse for so many years? If he begins to realise that he was partly responsible for how his son turned out? Do you think he will resist any attempt to stop the abuses? Is he a "bad" person? What do you think will happen if he is continuously made aware when he sees other parents bringing up strong kids from healthy competition? Does this explain why PICA officials and many Perak players almost never leave Perak to go to tournaments? How can we help them if we truly care about the chess players in Perak? In fact how can we help these type of officials who are not necessarily "bad" but more misguided? We can only be as strong as our weakest link.

So it is not just the love of the game and of our children that can bind us. It is also our awareness of our individual role that will make this community work.

I see the very same people who cry abuse from the officials then go to fixed tournaments, the same people who complain about MCF continue to sponsor them. So it is about our own self awareness. Stop pointing the finger as though it is not our responsibility as well. Stop writing wish lists. Do something. However small. It is our collective consciousness, an individual at a time, that will change things.

If you vote not to go to a fixed tournament you are doing something to make change happen. If you vote not to sponsor an event unless the other partys carry their responsiblity too you are also doing something to make change happen. If you stand up for one abused kid, support one abused official that tries to do something right, change will come.

But if you just sit down and hope they will change, nothing will happen. When we become more aware that we are a community and that what happens to one of us can happen to all we will have the leadership we deserve. Right now we have the leaders we deserve. We have empowered them. So stop complaining and just do something. Be aware of how a community works. Each of us has a role. And the GM will come.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Adzlin's dad is in hospital and he is very ill. Adzlin, our thoughts are with you and your family. We wish your father a speedy recovery.

My conversation with Greg

Ninja seems to get the idea that just because I spoke to Greg at UTP I have some kind of special leverage. In case anyone else here thinks the same, let me say this. This struggle is not about personalities. I have nothing personal against Hamid, Najib or Greg. Personally I like them. Heck, even Jimmy is sort of OKish. They have qualities I admire. But we do not share the same ideas. So I argue my case just like anyone else. It is not personal.

Greg told me that he is still looking for a sponsor for National Junior. I didnt get to reply him there. So let me say it here. First GM will not sponsor another MCF event until Asean is properly explained to us and the short coming addressed. First GM do not need behind the scene cables. All we ask is that we are treated fairly. And we expect the same for any other Academies, parents or players.

I like the man. He can be funny and I like his jokes. But it changes nothing on where First GM stands. We cannot stop anyone nor will we try to if someone wants to sponsor MCF, PICA or fixed tournaments. That is not what we are about. We are about making informed personal choices.

A parody of the blogs

First GM: Hey guys, I have an idea, I think I know why we are still in the same spot after 30 years. I think we have damaged our spirit. I think that may be a clue to why we dont do well after U12. It's about imagined fears. It's about the inner child. It's about us neglecting the other 3 parts of the components of chess.

Jimmy: We have covered this over 10 years ago.

First GM: Really? Sheesh, I only finished this work a few years ago. Even the American war veterans Association wrote in to learn more about it. Wah! you really advanced man. Sorry about that. But can I still write about it so others can also learn? They may not have the same resources as you have.

Jimmy: Stick to what you know. This is Malaysian chess. Here we only look at technical.

First GM: But hey, NJ just said maybe even all of his loses not due to technical.

Rationality: Let me demonstrate how we strong chess players think. Let me analyse Mas's, draw.

First GM: Great! But what about Qe3?......(Confusion, some back peddling).

Chess Ninja: Hey guys, you are missing the point. It's about Hamid. He is a grandmaster you know. I know even though I am blind folded....(In case you missed that, that means I can play blind folded chess).

First GM: Did anyone of you even read before you threw out what I am saying?

Jimmy, Rationality and chess ninja: Cannot read lah. Read means must acknowledge you are on to something.

Jimmy: Dubai our best Olympiad.

First GM: We have nothing to lose. Any of you guys got a suggestion? None of you are engaging the information.

Jimmy, Rationality: No. Dont want to listen. We are closing our ears. We like complaining. Who wants solutions? Besides if anyone listens to you, we wont look "terror" anymore.

Jimmy: Damn it! Did anyone check out Dubai?

First GM: What is the point? That is in the past. We are looking for solutions in the here and now.

Terminator: Raymond Siew is a liar. Listen to me. I know even though I am hiding behind a pseudonym. Please believe me. I may be a crook, a criminal but ignore that. I am working with someone in MCF and PICA. See, I can say these things. So I must be in the know.

First GM: Hey man. Show yourself. I am sure you are a credible source of information. It is tough on this blog. Even when the evidence is shown people are still slow to engage. These are chess people. They are thinkers. So show yourself. Present your credentials and the evidence. I wish you luck. Do a good job. Then you will be the best terminator you can be.

Jimmy and Rationality: We have had enough. We are going to strike you off our blog roll.

Chess Ninja: I'm telling you guys its Hamid. Blame it on Hamid.

Terminator: Lets attack the women and children guys. We know that Raymond gets upset when we attack the children. We saw it in Perak. That is his weak chink. His Achilles heel. Why dont you guys do that and I'll take it to the next level. I'll attack the women. Trust me guys. This will work. We need to shut him up. He is making us look bad.

Ilham: We are the champions, my friend. And we'll keep on fighting to the end.....

First GM: Sheesh, and all I said was examine the evidence. You have tried technical only and you have not got far. In fact you are still in the same spot. Hasnt anyone noticed that?

The unknown: Hey guys try NLP. They are the experts not this Raymond Siew guy. I dont know how to read. This is the "penultimate" opinion. But believe me. I too need to hide because otherwise you will know that I dont know anything.

First GM: The noise level going up. Now someone who can just about identify the letters NLP has joined the fray.

Chess Ninja: It's Hamid I tell you. He is a grandmaster, he can do funny things. I saw that through my blind fold.

First GM: Hey this is starting to sound like what went on inside my mind while I was writing my inner child work. Why my mind resisted me and tried to prevent me from growing up. Thanks guys, you are the best. Thank you for helping me see this. So if you are right, this work can also be applied to the chess community. All this noise is because you guys dont want to grow up. Hmmmmmm

Ninja, look at the tricks applied over these years, if it was Hamid that is. There are no new ideas. It is the same trick over and over again. No accounts, use your fears against you, smear their good name etc. If Hamid was all that smart, he would have brought us to the next level. Stop fighting this demon. Let it go. A GM has many many ideas. So go out and find some more ideas. Stop this stuck tape. He is no grandmaster. We have been stupid. And there is a world of difference between the 2 conclusions.

Think about it. If we can be fooled by the same tricks again and again by a not so clever guy, then where are we really?

Jimmy: Hey check out Dubai please....I'll give you a clue. See who was on the team.

Ilham: We will we will rock you.........

First GM: Chess is a mind sport. Check out the mind. If you make a dumb mistake because of the chatter, technical wont help. If you stop fighting because of a failure in courage, technical wont help. Look at the evidence. Our strongest chess minds are even afraid to engage in new information. That is where we have gone wrong. The mind is often called the last frontier. Some even argue it holds more complexity than outer space. It is much much much much bigger than the 64 square puzzle. Still the mind and those puzzles will reveal itself. Stop running away. Focus on the problem.

UTP- no arranged draws

UTP was a good tournament. Got to see many old friends and made new ones. Also met Greg and had a short chat with him. He seems fully charged and ready to lead change for Malaysian chess. I wish him every success in this endeavour.

I noted one very good change so far. There was not even one arranged draw that I know of. This is a welcome change of culture. Arranged draws for prize money is not a good thing if you are still looking to improve. Apart from skewing the results it stops your development.

Let me explain why. The biggest component in chess development is knowing yourself. And to do that you have to give your best in every battle. This is because you can start to see your true strength and begin the measurement of your weaknesses when you have done your best. Dont look at every tournament as a must win. Look at many tournaments as a must learn. Find out where you went wrong despite giving your best. Measure it. Measure the gap between you and your opponent. Then figure out how to close that gap. If you have not done your best you cannot do that.

Do your best and then you will begin to learn about yourself. Who you really are. There are no short cuts if you are out to be the best that you can be.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The inner child

Please read this. If you go to the post below, you will see a series of comments. Some would be enquiring and others challenging. But note also the vicious attacks. This will come from a traumatised mind.

One of the reasons why it is so hard to be a Counsellor is that the patient will fight back and sometimes fight back viciously depending on the severity of the case. It's the sick inner child resisting growing up. The application of that work is not only to ourselves and our inner demons. I was mildly surprised to find that the work also closely resembles our relationships and conversation with the outside world after completing it.

It affects communities and society at large too. And if it can be resolved, the mind stills and the drama lessens. And progress is then possible. I just want to warn the readers that this is a common phenomenon. It is a good thing that the sick side of chess has shown its face. Dont be alarmed.

Remember, the fears have to be raised from the subconscious before it can be resolved.

Note: One of the factors that drive group dynamics is not the spoken topic but the unspoken ones. The one in everybody's mind but left unsaid. The group's behaviour is often determined by that.

So much for my day off. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another level

I am going to take a break till after UTP. This is a tough blog to read and I want to thank you all for taking the time to contribute or just to read. Harsh words were sometimes exchanged but this is to be expected by people who care with such passion. I have always maintained my faith in our chess community. I believe the love that we all share for this game will eventually pull us through.

Allow me share again what I see. Despite our laggard performance, we still have people who care enough to give of their time. See below. Despite all the criticisms I have levied on MCF and CS solutions, I can say that I met both Hamid and Najib at the Merdeka Rapid and both of them behaved like gentlemen. Despite me calling Greg weak, he still offered Mark a place for World Youth which we turned down because of SPM.

To me this marks another level of maturity. A sophistication in thinking that we will need if we are to move to the next level.

Note: I am not advocating unfounded attacks on MCF. I am saying that pettiness and narrow mindedness wont take us far.

You can see this too if you flip the coin, change your lenses.

We need to learn to compete as well as learn to partner. There is knowledge in both.

Chess Ninja, you have a point. The vast majority of people in our chess world do not know what is going on but that is OK. We have over 100 people reading this blog daily and spending time here. That is enough. These people care, you care.

So if you still hear someone saying something negative about this community, I hope you'll point them in the direction of our National Juniors. Point them to Nabil and Shakir, Lim Zhuo Ren, Sumant, Tariq, Edward, Mark, Kaushal,.....and so many others.

They know how to compete and they know how to befriend. Take heart in this. We are the guardians of very special boys and girls. They will be our future. So lets take a page from them and learn too.

Lets take care of this environment so they and the ones after them can flourish. The GM will come. We the adults, just need to look after the present.

See what is right and change what is wrong

Read this again. We have many things going right. Hamid is in the right place now. He is our best tournament director. Greg is in the right place. He is starting to put in systems. Not well thought through but better than what we had before. He is new and he gets frightened easily. Maybe this blog can do him some good. Too many imagined fears. But we saw some steel in the Olympiad. So there is hope yet.

We have Jimmy and Rationality giving of their technical expertise. That is also good. So they are bitter and negative. Thats OK. We dont expect them to be our next GM. So there is good there too if we look for it.

We have good blogs giving information about bad tournaments and reporting on International events. All these things are good.

But we have a bad culture; we seek to tear each other down. We are sabotaging ourselves. Read this again.

We want our way or the highway. Either/Or. We are scared to examine where we have gone wrong. Dato Tan has left the stage, so we all sit down and cry. Thinking if we cry long enough another saviour will come. This is self destructive. See and appreciate what we have and change what is wrong.

In fact if you dare, see where Dato's millions have lead us to.

Use every available resource. Use Ziaur when he is here. Learn to talk to sponsors. When they ask for postmortems dont run and play hide and seek. Answer their questions and seek to improve. Change the things that are wrong and we will see improvement. But dont throw out the things that are working. Do this for the next generation if its too late for you.

Let go of the past, the anger. That is why you cannot see the present. That is the cause of your self sabotage. Doesnt chess teach you that?

Malaysia Boleh. Of course we can.

All you have is the present

An unprocessed past is called baggage. It manifests itself in the present as chatter. So assuming your loss in a tournament is not caused by "a lack of technical" knowledge but a failure in courage or too much chatter, then you have to examine the cause of that.

So you examine all the evidence that lead to that problem and not go to "technical" when the problem isnt there. You evaluate and then you synthesize. You now have an interim conclusion. A working hypothesis.

You then test that in the present. The present is all you have to change things. If you were diligent and your conclusions valid, then change will happen. The chatter, the noise will stop. If not you re-examine again.

The future has not happened yet. The future is unveiled by what you do in the present. Ergo, you have to do in the present or change wont come. You have to make your next move.

Examine what I have said in your next chess game, your next tournament.

The Gandhi gambit- passive resistance

Almost everyone I talk to complain about the bad culture in MCF. Maybe even everyone. Heck, even one part of MCF complain about the other part. But they all seem to resign themselves to just that, complaining. A sense of helplessness pervades the air.

So today I wish to remind you of a great man. One man who showed that passive resistance can humble even the most powerful Nation of the time. By refusing to cooperate he freed his Country from colonialism.

Dont go to fixed tournaments, dont sponsor them unless they can change their ways, say something do something when you see a child being abused. These things can do more than just confronting; trying to change them from the inside etc etc. All the well tested ways thats been proven not to work.

So can we try the Gandhi gambit? A small sacrifice for some initiative.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Development-You can do something.

I hear that Malaysians wont pay for good training. And yet I know of a parent who spent US2,000 for a week of training by a GM for his 2 children. And this was excluding food and board. Let me ask a question here. Has anyone actually sat down and thought through what real value training is in Malaysia? Or has it been only the cari makan variety?

Read here. Consider this. We have almost everything except proper development and good sponsors. The both are linked. We are a good car without the spark plugs. So lets find those missing plugs.

Now I have talked alot about Asean and so I am not going to repeat myself here. Questions were raised there that can turn us around. Let me bring up the salient points. We do have a GM brought here by MCF. Yes MCF provided the paperwork to enable Ziaur's Visa. Since MCF was used, does the chess community have a say in his use?

No, say MCF.

I brought this up with Greg when Najib overcharged First GM. When we were charged for work not done. Greg's argument was willing buyer willing seller. Actually that does not hold true. Even if that was the case charging for work not done is still wrong but there is more to this story. First GM did their National service. CS solution overcharged First GM and MCF left us with the bills for the flag ceremony. So what is going on?

Do they still expect further sponsorship? Why was CS solution allowed to get away with using an MCF resource and not do National service? Why did MCF not do National service? Does this smell like a "conspiracy" to bleed the sponsors? Ask MCF this question point blank and ask them how they plan to use Ziaur?

That is a step in the right direction. We deserve an answer. And if we can get it we will have more working parts than we have now. Otherwise all of the others working so hard will not get results. The spark plug is missing. The car wont move. Talking about it on the blogs wont change this. This requires action. So demand an answer from MCF. We have all contributed. Big or small. We are all stakeholders here.

So lets focus here. You can do something here. Of course all this is pointless if Dato Tan is still subsidising them somewhere. If that is the case you will meet a stonewall. But if he is not then it's worth a shot because they will soon need new sponsors and they wont get it unless they rectify this. At least not from us and I hope not from you too.

Excellent, you must read this.

Go here.

Jimmy's review

Jimmy's negative review. Read here. Never is a long time. Have you given up? Not only for yourself but everyone else too? What are you trying to contribute?

Analysis from Olympiad

Read here. Seems to me Singapore is doing something right.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Final reply to NJ

Please visit the post below for the rest of the series.

Dear NJ

I want to thank you for your expression of concern. Read here. And here.

Final lesson.

Joining the dots. Lets join a few dots here. Remember that this site was started to disseminate an alternative idea. Anchor that in your mind. That is the primary purpose of this blog.

Now try to remember what I said on imagined fears. You are now holding 2 sets of ideas in your mind. I know you can do that because I know your style of play in chess. You can see complex ideas on the board. Your problem is holding them together when the pressure goes up. And the cause of that lie outside the board. So try this exercise. Extend that gift to what I am saying here. Are you trying to do that? You are now joining the dots from what you have learned in chess to dots outside the board but hold on, I am now going to ask more from you.

Now ponder this. Chess is a game where your thoughts are challenged on each move. We are asked to defend our ideas and to refute the opponents move by move. And to do that successfully our ideas need to become more and more sophisticated. Remember this also. You now have a direction.

But it is getting harder to hold them all. Joining the dots require energy and the consideration of new ideas. So you need to synthesise before you join another dot. So do it slowly. (And before a tournament)

Now try to apply what you have learned so far to why I need to answer the nastier comments on this blog. My ideas are being challenged. But note this also. My answers are not necessarily directed to the writer of the comments. I have other readers too who may be confused by all that noise.

Now go back to what I said in the top links. I hope that it demonstrates that not all arguments are bad. In what Dato said to me there were important lessons there. But I couldnt understand it then. However the lessons were implanted in my mind all the same. Angry words were exchanged then. But the truth was said. The intention was never to tear down but to build. But the truth is almost always hard to hear. But sometimes it needs to be said. Many dots now right? But try to hold them all. Dont drop one or you will miss the picture.

Can you now see that in order to fulfil the rationale of this blog, sometimes it will piss some people off? But more importantly is that the less sophisticated readers will learn to see for themselves the type of arguments that is non beneficial. Read here.

My arguments were not refuted. It was sidestepped.

The big picture will slowly form if you can keep all the dots joined. The idea is to keep stretching, finding new ideas. If you shrink back and start to defend useless ideas that have been proven not to work then you are not growing in the right direction.

Can you now see that some arguments are initiated to build and some are to tear down? Learn to tell the difference. This is important. So I encourage you to keep questioning. Chess is a mind sport. To ask and to find answers is the nature of the game. Build not destroy. That is the right direction.

Now back to imagined fears. Consider this. If my freedom to express my ideas are curbed, then what example am I showing to Mark? See the example of Mr Yan. He was a tailor and see what he achieved. If you can be intimidated into silence then you not only wont become a GM but you will never be anyone of substance. That is the real fear. If your spirit is intact you cannot be stopped. If not GM then a successful businessman or anyone else of substance. Can you see that? Remember this. Keep this dot joined as you journey in life.

In fact if you see this, then its the same challenge on the chess board. If you can be intimidated then you wont make GM. Can you see that too?

Go back to my earlier postings. Try and slowly join more dots there.

I thank you again for writing. It has encouraged me. If even one person has learned something from my sharing then the mission of this blog is fulfilled.