Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday quote

Yes, there is Nirvana; it is in leading your sheep to a
green pasture, and in putting your child to sleep, and in writing the last line of your poem.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Holiday reading

Excerpts from Happiness Is a Focused Mind, By Jenifer Goodwin,
EXECUTIVE HEALTH November 11, 2010
If you want to be happy, try to stay focused

New research shows that when people's minds drifted from the task or activity at hand, they reported being less happy than when they were fully engaged in whatever they were doing.

The human mind is uniquely capable of wandering -- that is, to ponder things that have happened, to anticipate things that will happen, and to plan for things that might happen, explained study author Matthew Killingsworth, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Harvard University. The ability is one of the traits that makes human beings human.

Yet, cognitive wandering comes at a cost, which is that when people are thinking about something other than what they're doing, they feel less happy.

"Human beings seem to have this unique capacity to focus on the non-present. They have the ability to reflect on the past, plan for the future and imagine things that might never occur," Killingsworth said. "But at the same time, human beings are clumsy users of this capacity and it tends to decrease, rather than increase, happiness."

In the study, 2,250 participants were prompted at random times throughout the day using an iPhone Web application. They were asked how they were feeling, what they were doing, if they were thinking about something other than what they were doing and whether whatever they were contemplating was pleasant, unpleasant or neutral in nature.

According to the study, participants spent nearly 47 percent of their waking hours with their mind in a wandering state. "This study shows that our mental lives are pervaded, to a remarkable degree, by the non-present," Killingsworth said.

In some ways, the research provides scientific evidence of what many self-help books and some religious traditions espouse, which is that being in the "here and now" is critical for happiness,

Participants were from 83 counties, a wide range of occupations and ranged in age from 18 to 88.

Barbara Becker Holstein, a psychologist, said the findings speak to the importance of doing things that provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Such activities make it easier to stay focused. …long before the research, psychologists and many educators recognized that in order to feel a sense of well-being, you need to feel you have purpose and meaning in life. That means you are containing the mind around certain projects and activities, and are forcing the mind not to be all over the place all day long."

If you feel your mind starting to head down a "dark tunnel" of worry and anxiety, try to snap yourself out of it by bringing your thoughts back to the present, she said. "It's such a natural tendency to go over bad news or things that haven't worked out, to dramatize the drama we are already experiencing," she said. "But (when) we can distract ourselves by getting involved doing something, we get some distance from whatever we were ruminating on and it's better for us."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bon Voyage

First I would like to extend our thanks to all our well wishers who SMSed, rang, left messages on facebook and on this blog on Mark's performance in the National Junior. We appreciate the encouragement.

We will be leaving for KL tomorrow afternoon to catch the train at 9am from KL Sentral on the 25th.

This will be our first Malaysia/Singapore match and we are looking forward to it. Lots of other things to get ready. Havent even got my Sing. dollars yet. We are also playing in the Singapore Open and we hope to improve Mark's rating there.

So once again Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all and I hope we will have lots of good stories to tell on our return on the 1st or 2nd Jan 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2011 Calender for DATCC


Reminder with addendum


More on healthy competition

Healthy competition is about ideas. It's about confidence from preparation. It is not personal and does not need to hide in the dark. When you run out of ideas, lose your confidence, you'll then need dirty tricks to keep you afloat. And that is a sad road to nowhere.

Let us find more ideas and develop our confidence instead; its a livelier and more exciting road. It is also healthier.

My thoughts for today

First nurture the fighting spirit, then improve the technical. For without the fighting spirit all the technical would be useless to you.

As we are preparing for Singapore, I wish to remind our players and officials to remember to pack their fighting spirit. Dont reach Singapore without it. :)

Healthy competition.
Malaysia Boleh

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After dinner musings of Malaysia/Singapore match.

We have transferred to the Singapore Open instead of the age group and Mark has been invited to be an official player for the Malaysia/Singapore match based on his performance at the National Juniors.

So we have about 2 and a half days to do some emergency repairs before travelling again. This is my musing now. We know Singapore has a Coach to collect database of our games. This is a good thing. Preparation is key. They at least have current data of our players from Asean, Penang Open and our National Juniors which we have placed in

Now what do we have? We have a very strong sense of team spirit from the recent National Junior. Lets hope that is enough.

Or maybe MCF can come up with some ideas to help the players out. My suggestion is to dedicate someone to compilation of some database and get it to the players asap to give them a little more edge.

The thinking process of a Master


One of Mark's games.


National Junior Champion list


Arbitering a National Event

A National or International event is not like a normal local event. The stakes are higher. We are choosing a National Champion or displaying to the world our prowess at organising. There should not be a mis-step.

I have been getting calls from parents asking about the last minute inclusion of Sumant and siblings. As far as I know it is all above board but the negative perception is troubling.

To me the main point is that the Chief Arbiter was not present at the opening of the event to ensure that the Tournament is set off well. In fact he only came in on the third day. And he left before the play off. And there were controversies there too as to the rules of the play off. And it surfaced in the middle of the play off. This should not occur anymore given our experience in organisation.

MCF needs to be more mindful of the players and the parents by making sure that the results of the event is beyond dispute. I hope this type of mistakes will soon be a thing of the past and MCF moves to continually improve. A postmortem without fear or favour will be helpful towards this end.


Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

-- Kahlil Gibran

Monday, December 20, 2010

Our National Junior experience

Armed with a few work in progress "theories", we went to the National Junior in search of the coveted National Junior Master trophy and title but came back to Perak with something much more valuable.

Round after round we found that our working assumptions were correct and strategies were working and then in the final round we met an invigorated and fighting Syakir. It was an honour to go down to him. He fought like a true Champion.

Going into the play off we knew our percentage chance were reducing as we have never experienced a play off before and had no idea how it would work. But Mark continued fighting to the end and finally Zhuo Ren's superior experience and stamina won the day.

All in all I believe we have found the right overall Champion in Lim Zhuo Ren for 2010 although in my eyes all the players in the play off were Champions in their own right. Sumant, Jianwen, Syakir, Zhuo Ren and Mark.

What was to be our most valuable prize was to experience the sportsmanship and generosity of spirit displayed by all the players and parents present in the play off; together with the learning gained. FGM salutes our fighting players and if we can keep this up we can bring the fight to Singapore. Guys, it has been an honour. We are proud of you all.

Malaysia Boleh.

ps: To our well wishers, Mark is ranked first but is officially second after the play off. We are happy with the results and want to congratulate the Champion, Zhuo Ren. Well done and well deserved win. All my best.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Will be leaving for KL to take part in the National Juniors in a couple of hours time so activity on this blog will be greatly reduced till after the New Year. We will also be at the Singapore Age group event.

So I want to take this opportunity to wish my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope to have more to share after these tournaments.

The principal contradiction

This seems to me to be the knot that ties all other knots. The fact that MCF officials are not paid. For the full time posts there needs to be fair compensation. Chess cannot be seen as a hobby if we are demanding medals from International Competitions. For medals we need a professional team.

The real issue I think is value for money. That means we must know the level of service we are paying for and at what price.

A good way forward is a proposal from MCF to the chess community for us to examine the cost structures involved. This proposal must be transparent so that we know where all the money is. The cost of organising all the International Tournaments. For instance, Malaysia/Singapore etc.

And in return for supporting this proposal we must ask for independent audit and transparency in decision making. We would also want a commitment to a process to weed out the dead wood.

If we can get to this, we can have a new beginning. That to me is a fair and realistic solution. Otherwise this dance of hide and seek will continue in perpetuity. And we will never be world class. All we will have is the same old drama. Screaming and shouting at one another for the next 30 years will not solve anything.

After all, if you think about it, parents and players are already paying for the officials whether you like it or not. But it is all hidden because our perception is that they should not be paid and theirs is they should. Read this on opportunity again. Here.

National Junior- List of players


Monday, December 13, 2010

An inspirational tale

By IM Jimmy Liew. Here.


Perceptions are interesting. Once an impression is formed, it takes a lot of energy to change the perception. And MCF is a victim fairly or unfairly of negative perception. A historical legacy?

Take the case of FGM. When we sponsored the Asean Team, it was a simple and transparent case. Everything was reported openly on this blog. In a nutshell, MCF offered to parents a fee of RM1,500 for Air fares alone. FGM counter offered a fare of RM1,000 which included training by Ziaur. On top of that FGM got MCF to reimburse the parents for the difference in exchange rate which amounted to over RM300 in many cases. Therefore the offer by FGM actually became RM700 give or take with training instead of RM1,500 without training.

And yet FGM became tarred by the same brush as MCF. The many imagined versions of this offer was posted over the blogs.

And MCF did not even offer an explanation to clarify. But even if they had it may have made the problem worse because of their lack of credibility. So any engagement with MCF now becomes negative branding. A good way to lose our reputation by association. This is a problem for chess in Malaysia. I cannot imagine any good genuine sponsors willing to take that kind of risk with their reputation and good name.

Rebranding Chess

Branding is about the intangible products. Trust and credibility. If the products of chess are leaders who can produce results, understand risks, are gracious, can withstand pressure in healthy competition, understand competitor analysis and comparative advantage then we have what business is crying for.

Teamwork, balanced positive individuals is sought by businesses.

Then we are in synergy with business where the big sponsors are. An enquiring mind that does not shy away from challenges. A knowledgeable mind.

Chess can produce these type of people. And chess can also damage. We cannot reach good sponsors if the best we can show is the product of the parents ie up to U12.

The big question sponsors will ask is what are the Associations doing? Where is the team that will produce the results where I can brand my business with, by supporting chess?

If I am to align my business, my reputation, to chess today what will it say about my business, about my product and about me? What will people see?

Malaysian Champion in Asian Schools

Here and here

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The value of results

I have been following the spat for the use of the Lotus name. Chess can draw in a lot of sponsorship if we can produce the results. Branding, that is the game. Are we up to it? It takes more than just our performance till U12. We need to show a plan and we need to show a team that can deliver those results. And by team, I dont just mean the players.

Role models

I find our National Juniors an amazing bunch of kids. They share knowledge freely among themselves. Even during SPM they are online helping one another do better in their exams.

This positive attitude speaks well of them and in my opnion its also why they are the National Juniors in the first place. If we use them as role models then we will go far.

Penang Open- Final Results


And here.

Challenger Penang Open

The results here. I remember seeing Jun Hao play at Jax's. A real fighter. Well done and congrats Jun Hao.

Sunday musings with coke.

Having a cold coke and looking forward to the National Juniors to test out new ideas. Ziaur was a real blessing in helping us fill in the blanks. I hear Jasur is also great with the kids. Hope they sort out his stay. Firey is doing a fantastic job keeping us informed of latest games around the globe and there are plenty of quality tournaments in Malaysia.

Now all we need is some quality leadership from MCF and we will go far. This looks like a start. Here.

ps: Hmmmm I dont understand the selection criteria again. Is there any and if so where is it?

Some recommended books by John Wong



Learn to express, not impress.

-- Jim Rohn

Learning to see the truth about ourselves is better than learning to hide the lies.

-- Raymond Siew

Saturday, December 11, 2010

9th Round Penang Open


Our kids in Colombo


Round 8 Penang Open


Challenger, Penang Open

Good to see Zikri back in action. His brother Syamil was a Perak champ too. Here.

Brain teaser


For more. Here.

Stilling the mind

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” -Carl Jung

Interesting training ideas from Singapore IM

Read here.

Here's the link to the general site. Here. Some good articles there.

The plan and credibility

In any chess game, the player needs a plan. Not only plan A, but plan B, plan C etc. Similarly MCF needs a plan, our chess community needs a plan. We cannot hope to accidentally stumble to a win. So where is our plan?

But for a plan to work, you need people to believe in it or you will not have energy to back it. Here we have another problem. The lack of confidence. FGM's own experience makes us very very cautious in engaging MCF again. In fact nobody I have spoken to has confidence in MCF. There is a big credibility issue here. This is something MCF officials has to think seriously about. It is not because nobody wants to support, there is no money for chess or there are no long term sponsors. It is because nobody dares to stick their neck out for MCF. Nobody wants to risk their energy, money and good name once MCF is involved.

This is the crux. The plan can be formed but nobody will believe in it. This issue has to be addressed. I hope MCF takes positive action to restore their good name.

For without a good name the best deals will only be arms length, minimum contact and ad hoc. And plans need to be long term.

Anand is champ at London Classic

Read here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Round 7 pairing, Penang Open


Penang Open

Read here. What would it take to write a different story?

It's all a function of confidence.

Let me try to see if there is another reason why our players dont do well after U12.

Lets say they start training early. Lets say they are given the task of analysing their potential opponents game early. Lets say that they are given possible plans to try out so they can test it out in training. Lets say they start to understand their own game and their own strengths and weaknesses and they have worked to improve both.

Lets also say that they have confidence in their team mates and know that all will fight. All will give their best. Would they be more confident? Would we get better results after 12? Afterall that is what their competitors have.

But still they fight with one hand and one leg tied. Last minute preparation if at all. The organisers dont even ensure that they have good accommodation and proper rest. Even the food is left to chance. But still they fight. And then when they dont come back with the medals, we say they have no fighting spirit. Actually who doesnt have the fighting spirit?

If we give them the same facilities and resources and they dont perform, then it is fair to blame them. But not before.

Coffee break musings

I have been told by many many officials that its because our boys and girls are not hungry for victory that causes us to do badly in the International Arena after 12yo.

My coffee is telling me that may not be the full or correct picture. Go to Penang Open. Do you see our juniors there?

In Vietnam for instance, they were in training 6 months before Asean. Singapore has training all year round. The Association has a full time coach that collects database of competitors.

Before 12 we have the talent. After 12 its about the preparation. I have said that the type of preparation we need, to do well after 12, is beyond the resources of parents. Think on it. Can the parents pay for a coach to collect database? Can they organise a National Squad for constant training?

So question. Is it the kids that are not hungry or the officials? If you are in Penang have a good look. If not take a look at your next tournament where the juniors are present. What does the evidence say? Is it fair to put the blame on the kids?

London Classic with game.


Penang Open

Here. Our juniors are still there fighting. What can we do to give them a helping hand up that steep ladder? Click on the top of the pairing to open up the box to see full results.

Asian Schools

Our kids are really doing well in Sri Langka. Here and Here

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Asian Schools

Our kids are doing well. Here. and here.

On preparing for competition.

I notice some readers still accessing this article. I hope this is helpful to you.

London classic with games

Read here.

Asian School Chess Championship.

2 more of our kids playing for the Country. Here.

I wish them strong fighting spirit.

I dont know much about this event. Anyway, welcome back Marcus.

Chess results and pairing in Penang Open

And so it begins again. Here.

And here.

The chicken or the egg?

Negotiators tend to leave out a member of their team if they are perceived to be angry or negative about outcomes. The reason is this. If there is anger in the room can you be sure that it hasnt come from you? If there is a possible positive outcome, can you see it if you are negative?

This problem is further compounded if you do not even know if you are angry or negative? Watch out for it and it will improve your chess and life in general.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Last paper in SPM today. Just paid and signed up for National Junior. So its back to the tournaments. There is something very special about chess competitions which is so hard to explain to people who havent experienced it. That special sense of dignity and integrity that comes from healthy competition.

In this environment I see the possible full potential of what Malaysia can be. It shows what we can do when we apply ourselves to a problem. The seed is there if we can appreciate and nurture it. Look carefully. There are many many positives.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tournament for the old timers and young kids on the 19th.


Kings indian attack

Besides keeping one eye on the WYCC, Firey has also brought this to you. Here. He also has some games up on his site as well. Do visit. This is real focus. :)

NLP, Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Somebody brought this up on this site. So lets have a quick look at it.

The idea behind NLP is that we can wipe out our negative programming by overlaying it with positive experiences. When the idea was still new I was a big fan too. Why not? A positive outlook without having to revisit our traumas and fears. It was and still is I think a big thing on the WWW.

However over the years I see that the proponents have directed the skills learned from NLP to jedi mind tricking others. I know many of them. It simply doesnt work the way it is supposed to. Traumas are too well ingrained like a deep groove in a record.

When I was in construction, our major focus was in securing contracts but not in the execution of the work. Jedi mind trick. When I was in PICA the focus was not to see what you can do in the position to improve chess but what the position can do for you. Jedi mind trick. Form not substance.

So I hope you can see that Jedi mind tricks has limited use. You get the contract and then you mess up the job thus ensuring you have more difficulty getting the next one. You get the post but you dont get strong players because you havent put in the time to think of development. So you ensure you have a tough and miserable time in that chair as you are constantly criticized.

Jedi mind tricks(NLP) do work. Of course it does. That is why it is so successful. But up to a point. When you meet that GM who does not fall for Jedi mind tricks anymore, the question now becomes can you play chess? So why dont we focus on that a little more. We need to develop substance too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dear Syazrin

In reply to your post. Here.

I wish your tournament every success. Let me first say that I think there is nothing wrong with a Malay, Chinese or Indian tournament if it is all in fun and in healthy competition. Iron sharpen iron and we need more healthy competition to be strong so that we can all stand tall in the International arena.

But let me tell you a story so you can understand my concern. Last year during MSSPK I witnessed this event. In the girls category there was a young chinese girl who badly wanted to be champ as she felt that year would be her last chance. After winning a round she was surrounded by her malay teachers and forced to take a draw. I suspect that they wanted a particular malay girl to be champ. I know all of them for many years. The teachers as well as the young malay and chinese girl both of whom I have seen growing up.

I remember to this day the young chinese girl's tears when she told me about the forced draw. I dont think there were any really bad people here but the need to produce a malay champion seemed to have overtaken better judgement.

My concern is for both the young chinese girl as well as the malay girl who eventually became champ. I fear the young chinese girl would be damaged for a long time and will not play strong chess again. And the really decent malay girl who would have to carry this guilt of having taken something she did not deserve from a friend and fellow competitor. The decision was not in their hands. The young girls did not decide this. In fact my belief is that if they had been given the choice they would have chosen to fight fairly.

I also want to say that I have never witnessed anything like this anywhere else. So I think that in our chess community we still believe in fair and healthy competition. And these cases are still the exception. I am not very political. My concerns are that we give the kids a good culture in chess. So they can learn to believe in themselves and win the right way.

Visions, goals and tasks.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this topic. A major contribution to this confusion is the idea of SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).

Let us take the goal of the First Malaysian GM as an example. Now to reach this goal we have to contend with 2 factors. The known unknowns which is the things we know we do not know. One of which is how to teach our kids creatively, to make chess interesting enough so that they can pursue this on their own steam later without spoon feeding or hand holding etc etc.

The second factor is the unknown unknowns. That is what we do not know that we do not know. For instance, we cannot forsee the changing forces in chess, we cannot accurately see the exact attributes that our GM must have to take the pressure cauldron of International competition and we cannot predict whether that competition will increase or decrease over time.

We will of course be better at all these after our First GM but not before. Right now we only have a few clues and are still guessing at best.

So we cannot use SMART goals as a tool. This is the better tool. Here. Understanding this will take us further.

So SMART goals should be renamed as SMART tasks. For only tasks can be SMART because all is known.

As for Vision, I have found that Vision is best expressed as intangibles. Meaning that we should state qualities that will bring forth a strong player. Qualities like integrity, confidence, an enquiring mind, a still mind, a balanced individual etc.

The Vision acts as a guide for the goal so we can correct course if we veer. By placing tangibles we can short circuit our goals. Why? Because the unknown unknowns may create a conflict with tangibles simply because we dont know yet.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A good cause

Campaign to stop child abuse. This is something I feel very strongly about. Do lend your support if you can. I have. Here.

Sunday musings- It only takes one success story

Our story so far is that we do well till U12. But that doesnt have to be the end of the story. That can be our beginning of a climb up to the very top. Why not? We may seem stuck but all it takes may be one concerted attempt to change this story. That attempt can look like this. MCF takes leadership and prepares properly for Asean. One little step at a time. Success there will release new energy and begin a brand new story for Malaysian chess. Focus on one goal.

Sunday reading for male chess players



I am informed that the all malay chess tournament is not cancelled but maybe postponed probably due to low sign ups so far. The question in my mind is whether this tournament is helpful to developing strong Malaysian players in the International Arena or a distraction? Does it help to unite or divide? Does it make us stronger or weaker?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Our most dangerous decisions.

Is the ones we make unconsciously. Observe carefully. Self sabotage is not usually a conscious decision. We think we are fighting but we will then place obstacles in our own path to success unconsciously.

Live games in Turkey WWCC


Quick checks on openings.

Sham has eyes on openings and women chess. Here. If you join the dots.....

Also see what is an opening? Here.

Some games from ITA Seina

Courtesy of Firey Rook. Here.

Firey Rook follows the women.


Amazing finish

How can we get our players to fight like this after 12? Here. Have you ever seen our juniors play? What happens later and why?

A real story

After I graduated in Optics, my first job was with a fast growing Optical chain that eventually became the first Optical chain to achieve public listing in the UK. The boss then sold his shares and retired to a big house with a heated indoor swimming pool. I was told that this was also his first success in business. All his other attempts had failed. He was nearly 50yo by then.

I remember my first week there. Some of the Opticians and other staff were sacked on the first day, some after 20 minutes. He paid the highest wages in the industry and he only wanted the best.

One day I was working at a branch and there was an underground strike for 4 days. The business was down in that branch and the manager was called up and given a shelling. I thought that was unfair then but now I understand better. The point was not the strike. The point was the manager did nothing to try and improve the situation. He could have picked up the phone and call the customers. Anything to compensate for what he could not change.

This is the lesson our kids can learn from chess. The world is not "fair". But dont get bitter. It only hurts you. There are many things you can do within the rules to change things. If you continue to try, to learn, to improve, you cannot be stopped. But dont sit down and whine.

Then we will have global Malaysians.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tournaments galore

Read here. I dont see the all malay tournament, so I think its cancelled. This speaks well for us as a community. Wishing the 1Malaysia tournament every success.

Friday Reflections

Read here. I like this one.


Read here.

Beyond negative thinking

If you really join all the dots on this topic, you will start to see why so many continue to stay in the rut despite so many opportunities to change their condition. Me included.

The consequence of having our hopes and dreams denied can have ramifications that are lifelong. We start off by feeling bad about ourselves but eventually find a way to put the blame onto others in order to avoid those bad feelings.

That is the beginning of our self delusions. We start to explain away all our failings.

If we had continued learning and developing our judgement and taking opportunities as we travelled in our life, we would have rediscovered and accomplished our dreams.

Why take personal responsibility when you can so easily blame someone else? Blame the situation. And so we instead spend our creativity on self delusions. I think chess is a very good tool that shows us this. Move by move, game by game and tournament by tournament. If we can learn this from the game we have so much passion about, our future will be bright.

I know this will be very hard to stomach so I hope you wont just reject this outright. Take some time. Reflect on this and then observe the many who will sit down and whine when the answers are in front of them. Good luck.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Further on negative thinking

It is not "obvious" but the basis of negative thinking is the self. And the genesis is the non fulfilment of our hopes and dreams. This is a serious whammy. So I'm going to leave you to reflect on it for a while. The implications are enormous, if I am right of course.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Further negative thinking

The first thing to notice is that negative thinking is an emotive term. Negative thinking is accompanied by negative emotions. So any attempt at defining this term must necessarily include emotions.

But not just any emotions. It must accompany emotions of the conscience. Why? Because the conscience knows. Not easy to prove.

Lets look some people around you. I have met many people who have a terrible fear of being alone, of being quiet. Have you wondered why? Could it be that the moment that they stay still they will be assaulted by the things they have done, things they didnt do, how things could have been? etc etc.

Could we say that they are in a state of negativity? If that is true, then can we say that it is negative thinking that lead them there?

More next posting. At the end of this, I hope to show why you cannot see you are negative if you have negative thinking.

Perak Close

The results here. Do notice the lack of cross tables. No intent to improve.