Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An article by Marina Mahathir

I find her point of view refreshing. Here.

Strong tournaments builds strong players.

When I look at IM Goh's journey, this is what I see. That kind of strength of character is not born in one day. It is slowly nurtured over many many tough tournaments. As I have said before the stresses of tournaments can build and it can also destroy.

Faulty evaluations, fixed tournaments and selection, loose tournament formats that allow self weakening strategies like "ducking", unreasonable expectations etc. are negative aspects that can lead to demotivation of players.

A good way to increase our pool of strong players ready to answer the National call is tough and fair tournaments on our own shores. It is expensive for the Country to send players overseas just for exposure. Look at China for instance; I am told that there are not many Fide events there but even local tournaments are tough. And when the chinese players go out, they can achieve GM norms in one go. There is a lesson here for us if we care to see.

European Individual 2011 with games

Here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quotation

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ― Ana├»s Nin

IM Goh makes first GM norm.

I hope this will awaken those who keep saying it cannot be done after 15yo. Here.

For your information IM Goh is 28yo. Please pay attention to the description of his struggle and compare and contrast his mental state with those of our players at National Close. Where and what is the gap? What needs to be done to close that gap?

How to use FGM Thematic Tournaments.

The purpose of the thematic tournaments is to learn so you can win at tournaments that count. Remember I said previously that I train Mark to use smaller tournaments to practice? So one tournament would be to practice sacks, another to test under development secondary weapons etc.

When you play all tournaments to win, you do not dare to experiment. That curbs your chess development. But there is a flaw even in that approach. Sometimes we cannot even test those weapons in normal tournaments because you need the cooperation of your opponents for that to happen.

And so I have brought thematic tournaments. The idea behind this is you get to practice the openings, the lines that you prepare in battle. So use the Ruy Lopez Tournament well. This is a training tournament. Test all the lines, the different ways to play Ruy Lopez.

I will circle different openings in other tournaments and so your lessons will be complete in time. Then use this knowledge to win the tournament that counts. Read up and I'll see you on the 23rd April.

All my best in your chess development.

Monday, March 28, 2011

NC2011- A postmortem

After giving this some thought, I believe these steps will lead to improved selection tournaments. So these are my suggestions.

The first thing would be to cap the minimum fide rating for participants in selection tournaments. If the field is essentially strong, it will discourage "ducking" as a tournament strategy.

The second is to implement a ban on walkouts in the next or subsequent selection tournaments as this affects the tiebreak of their opponents.

These changes will ensure that those who make it will be battle hardened and ready for National Representation.

A Challenger Cup on the side should satisfy the needs of all. Maybe we can add a clause to say that the winner of the previous Challenger can move into the main event the following year. This should encourage players to increase their ratings if they want to vie for National Honours.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Penang State team gets green light for Asian Cities.

Here.

Results from Lim Chong memorial Tournament.

Here.

Tournament in Terengganu. 6/7 May.

Here.

Quotation

"The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then - to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.... Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn."

The Once and Future King by TH White.

Reality Check

Why I enjoy watching American idol is seeing the competitors growing over the competition. You think you have seen the best of one contestant's talent and then they unblock more, dig deeper and jump another level. Amazing isnt it?

In chess you should be growing stronger and stronger with each tournament you play. You should be getting stronger with more knowledge. If not, you need a reality check.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Competitor analysis- Profiling

A while back I wrote that lines have no meaning unless we include competitor analysis and this brought out much derision from certain members of the chess community. Let me expand more on it here.

During the 2009 National Junior, I realised that Mark was still some distance away with his technical knowledge compared to the top National Juniors. So I tried to see what I can do with the knowledge I have gathered as a Councellor and Business Coach to help him while he tries to catch up technically. And so I began developing my profiling model.

Do note that Mark's only technical classroom training is the short session with GM Ziaur for Asean in June 2010.

And so I began to help him profile the players and to use the best possible tool from his then limited array of openings. And so with bated breathe we waited for the last National Junior in Dec. 2010 to see if the profiling is effective. As you saw he almost had a perfect run and came in second after a playoff.

We summarised the experience there and then tested it again at the recent NAG. Again he came in second for U18 with our improved profiles.

We continued to improve on that and we went into National Close where he stress tested the new lines we had developed. He lost to 3 strong players, two of which was by a hairline.

I am now confident that the profiling works and we have specific stress tested weapons. We also know what to improve and what new weapons we have to develop. We are now much closer to technical parity with the rest.

It is my belief that without the profiling model that I developed, Mark will still be a long way behind.

Note: The profiling model was first fully tested at the National Junior in December of 2010. It is now March 2011. And we have learned more from National Age Group and National Close.

I am now thinking of sharing this model at our Ruy Lopez Tournament on April 23rd for participants and their parents. Unfortunately this date also clashes with the SEA games playoff. There have been requests to change the date but at first glance I cannot see another suitable weekend.

I will keep you updated.

ps: During National Close, I shared with Sumant my profiling on Eng Chiam and he said to me that he now understands why he loses to Eng Chiam.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FGM Thematic Tournaments- Discussion

Theory, practice, theory. I have been in discussion with a couple of trainers and it seems that the normal way is to have an intensive training on Ruy Lopez in classes before you use it in Tournaments. But can you really use it if it hasnt been tested in battle?

I view things slightly differently. I consider the Ruy Lopez as a must know theory for anyone who wants to go further in chess. This idea was drummed into me by GM Ziaur and GM Wen Yang (in Singapore). They told us that you cannot avoid main lines if you want to be a strong player.

However main lines is tough work and the theory is ever evolving. Nonetheless learning it will increase your chess understanding. So the purpose of starting with Ruy Lopez is not that you will necessarily use it as part of your repertoire. Instead think of it as increasing your overall understanding of the game of chess.

This is the same method I use with Mark. Polish your main weapons but on the side, learn mainline systems and eventually your understanding will increase and maybe in the end there are no lines afterall. But this only happens when you know enough lines until they merge into a whole.

We are still working out the format and will keep you posted. You do not have to be a Ruy Lopez expert to play at our tournament but I do suggest that you start reading up now if you intend to play.

Start with some theory, play as many tough games as you can with strong players and you will see that at the next reading the theory will come more alive. And then we'll do it again.

All my best in your chess journey.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

FGM Thematic Tournaments.

Please mark down the dates. April 23rd and 24th at Excel Academy in KL.

Ref: Here.

FGM is starting a series of thematic tournaments starting with Ruy Lopez. I am hoping this will be a monthly affair and will be followed by Najdorf, Dragon etc.

The idea is that there will be a short talk on the various lines in Ruy Lopez, with notes and the players will have 10 rounds over the weekend to deepen their knowledge. Format is 10/20/30. ie 10 rounds of 20 mins with 30 sec increment.

Excel is a good place for this as interested players will be able to stay over and continue the discussion informally over the night. I will also be inviting the trainer to stay for the tournament and I encourage sharing throughout the 2 days.

What I found is that it is difficult to find games based on themes as you need the cooperation of your opponents thus leaving many lines and variations untested. Therefore, as part of our aim is to increase the array of stress tested weapons, I would like to limit the places to players with national rating of 1500 and over if possible.

It is my hope that these series of tournaments will fill a niche and be fully supported.

Thank you. More details to follow.

NC-2011 Mental strength

Stress testing the mind. Both Mark and Sumant almost crashed at NC. Mark got negative just before his game with Che Hassan and Sumant just before his game with Edward Lee. To their credit they both snapped out of it and did the necessary work.

Mental strength is the ability to stop negative thoughts.

I argued with them that further preparation will increase their confidence. Checking out is not an option until the fat lady sings. The last move of the last game. If you cannot keep your mind strong here you will not be able to do it far away from home and against more awesome opponents.

Note: A trainer teaches you your openings, tactics, end games etc. in a class room. The coach helps you to decide which weapons to use, how to fight and how to win in the battle field.

NC-2011 Competitor analysis

Ref: Here.

What did National Close do for us? Mark lost 3 games. To Khai Boon and Masrin Erowan as black and to Yeap Eng Chiam as white. Both his black games could have been won if he had been more familiar with his openings and the associated play. So I told him that those opening has been stress tested to around Elo 2000. So it should hold for rated players around that level in the future if he tightens his lines further.

As for the white game he lost against Eng Chiam's response; we were outfoxed and our preparation nullified. And we had no proper answer to Eng Chiam's reply. And so our response has to be studied again closer.

I also had this conversation with Sumant. I asked for his evaluation of his Najdorf strength. He told me he has beaten Elo 2300 with it. So a "safe" assumption is that it will probably hold against a 2200. But that is not all. Najdorf is played at even higher levels and so he must continue to improve that opening. Then that becomes his tested weapon.

You see when you play an opponent, he may be 2300 in one opening and a 2000 in another. This is competitor analysis at this level. To find the gaps in their knowledge. If you add psychological profiling ie the types of game he likes and doesnt like, his strengths and weaknesses, his charateristics etc, you get closer to choosing the right weapon to play each and every opponent.

Sometimes you play a game that you like. But if you meet an opponent that plays what you like better than you then you must consider playing a line that he dislikes more than you. So the corollary is that you must have an array of openings.

In order to make those judgement calls we need to stress test our openings and grade them. And the only way to do that is in an actual tournament.

Ducking at this level deprives you of that opportunity. NC provided the opportunity to do that. When your weapons are stress tested you can play with greater confidence in the International arena.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Raising Your Kids To Be Creative

February 7, 2011, UOPX Writer Network /University of Phoenix, College of Humanities

Creativity is emerging as the premier signifier of a successful career. It takes those key attributes of improvisation, lateral thinking, pattern recognition and innovation to navigate in a global job market that is constantly updating itself. In a world where any fact or idea can be instantly Googled, the leaders are those who can observe or assemble those facts in new ways.

Rigor and routine
Although there are definitely differences in our innate capacity for creativity, there are many ways that any creative spirit can be encouraged and nurtured. A home and school setting with clear routines and expectations is surprisingly important. A structured life might seem antithetical to creativity, but it is like the mental monkey bars (playground equipment for children to swing on) we need in order to swing and play. When a child can rely on eating, sleeping and having adult attention at regular and predictable intervals, their minds are free to wander and wonder. This structure should be the norm, but plenty of variation should also be present, and children must have the ability to negotiate changes to the way their lives are run.

Be alert, not authoritarian
Paying attention to children is not a new idea, but constantly telling them what to do and how to do it reduces their creative drive to try out their own ideas. Letting a child lead a conversation or direct imaginative play is crucial to finding clues about what will engage and inspire this particular individual. Every parent can relate to being surprised by what their child can do; the key is to reflect on the abilities and interests this child is showing. What is suggested by a love of, for example, taking the batteries out of the remote control at age 3? Introducing fine motor-skill-building toys like LEGOs® or taking day trips to military or industrial museums may help narrow down a domain of interest. This is particularly important when the child's area of skill differs drastically from that of a parent.

Embrace failure
Failure is an event, not a person, and having things turn out differently from expected can spark a whole new way of looking at a situation. Encouraging kids to take an experimental attitude to life will give them the chance to learn from mistakes without feeling shame or disappointment. A failure provides as much or more information than a success. Sometimes creativity emerges in an unexpected or shocking manner that does not at first glance appear to indicate creativity, but rather defiance or disobedience. Once any safety issues are handled, asking the child what he or she was trying to achieve and discussing what went wrong is the most helpful response. Adult interest and guidance helps build children's confidence and faith in their own judgment. Cause and effect is the best teacher.

Model and mirror
Kids learn from the adults in their lives, whether we want them to or not. Parents, teachers, relatives and friends provide role models, increasing children's ideas of what is possible in their own future. It is critical to model the attributes of a creative person, letting go of ideas about how things “have” to be or what “they” will say. We all benefit from learning to listen to our inner urgings, having faith in our own ideas and making a success from what looks like a failure. Similarly, we all need feedback when something is not working and praise when we have done well. Taking the time to make feedback specific and positive, while acknowledging any uncomfortable results, is a valuable investment in a child's creativity and self-concept.

Todays Contemplation.

TODAY'S CONTEMPLATION


Twenty years from now you will be more
disappointed by the things you didn't do than by
the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade
winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

-- Mark Twain

Selangor Open.

Mark the date. Here. We are going too so see you there.

NC 2011, the report.

Just got back from KL this afternoon after tying up some loose ends. Well the top 8 qualifiers for SEA games are known. I have been hearing complaints that some of them do not deserve to be in. So this is my observation.

This is the first selection tournament we have had for a prestigious tournament like SEA games in a long time. It is apparent that some of the higher seeded players are crashing towards the final rounds and the weaker players have managed to come up from below.

To me this simply show that the players are not sufficiently tournament seasoned yet and this will improve in time. Winning a game and winning a tournament are 2 different things. To win a tournament one must last and fight all 9 rounds. And to do that well one must be more practiced in competitors analysis.

Let me try to explain why. First there are the players who duck the earlier rounds in order to avoid meeting the strong players until the final rounds. No one can stop that and so conservation of energy is important. This can be achieved if we find the best opening and best lines to win against an opponent. Together with improved match temperament you are in better shape to stop a weaker but fresher player from below, from knocking you out.

I dont think ducking is a good strategy simply because even if you do make the final 8, you still wont have the game to win in SEA games. Crashing and learning here is better than doing it there.

What playing strong opponents do is to pressure test your openings, improve your judgement and stamina. So when you do represent the Country you can go with the confidence that you are as strong as the testing you have undergone. Duck and get to the top 8 and you still may not qualify as you will now be eliminated at the training stage.

So I feel the better way to go is to improve your chess, improve your competitors analysis. That way you can fight with more confidence in a strong International arena.

I understand the there will also be selection for the Olympiad and it may be held early next year. So guys and girls, there will be another chance. There always is, so play as many FIDE rated tournaments as you can. Selangor Open, Penang Open etc. etc.

Improve your competitors analysis, find the right weapons so you can win with greater ease, pressure test your openings, improve your chess and stamina. Work hard and it will come to you. Win the ducking way and you will stumble at the higher levels as there are no "weak" players there.

Our top 8 finishers are there simply because we are not yet accustomed to tough tournament selections yet. Another 2 or 3 selections like this and the duckers will not make it. We are where we are for now. We are simply paying the price for our past mistakes and things are as it should be. There are no free meals.

Note: I also hear that future selection tournaments may be limited to stronger players so ducking may not work in the future. Another point is that some strong players left the tournament when they were disappointed. This affects the tie break of their opponents. And this too affect results. A good future regulation is a walk out without genuine reasons can lead to a ban from future selection. This is a good beginning. It's a process of improvement.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Off to National Close.

Off to KL and then National Close. Sumant is staying with me and I went through competitors analysis with him. I believe that with both him and Mark working together we maybe able to beat the odds and both qualify for top 8.

Both the boys are tired out from NAG but I am keeping my fingers crossed that they have enough reserves for 9 more rounds.

Well we'll see. I used Jimmy as a test model for analysis as that will be neutral ground for the both of them. I hope one or both get to meet Jimmy. I'm sure he wont mind. He is trying to give back to Malaysian Chess.

Strange thing though. I asked Sumant if he was ever taught this by any of the coaches he has had and he said no. Hmmmmm......

Good luck to all the competitors. See you again after the 20th.

Teamwork

Teamwork is essential to get that GM. No one person has the total resource necessary. There are just too many components. You need the Associations, you need good leadership, good governance. You need good technical assistance and the right mindset. And you need good sponsors that do not try to subvert the agenda for their own selfish gains.

So let me start by telling you what teamwork is not. For that one year that I worked as an Optician, I was faced with this situation. A staff found out that the manager and other staff were involved with stealing from the company and he told me. In the organisation we have teamwork slogans posted on the walls and some corporate exercises on it.

I got cornered by the manager and asked to keep quiet on the pilferage. She and another staff were telling that I need to work as a team. Keep quiet. I reported them. This is not teamwork. This is collusion to enrich oneself at the expense of the company that hires you. This is theft.

Teamwork is something we do when we are building something. Building a future.

Collusion is when we are tearing down something. Lets fix this match so that our people get in, lets fleece this sponsor and charge him double the going rate, lets fix him before he gets too influential by bringing in good sponsors and working too hard. It makes us all look bad. etc. etc.

The net result of these actions is loss. We are then going round and round or even backwards. So be careful when someone asks you to play team. Learn to tell the difference. Teamwork and collusion is not the same thing.

Due credit

I remember a running conversation I had with fellow committee members in PICA during my time there. They were furious that I kept highlighting all our suspect tournaments since I was in charge of the PICA website then. I said this to them. Do something good and I will highlight it too. But I will not hide your misdeeds for you. If I do that I will become just like you. And that I do not wish for myself.

So PICA, do not try to take credit for the work of others. Do not take credit for Fadzil Nayan or Mark Siew. They got to where they are despite your attempts to bury them. Do not take credit for Sumant. He is from Pahang. You can take half credit for the Fongs. They came to you as Strong State players from Selangor. Take the half starting from the time they came to Perak.

Do not take credit for NAG, your contribution is from your VP Encik Yunus as a floor arbiter. 2 other floor arbiters came from Unit Sukan. Your major contribution is where you all arrived at the closing ceremony and you tried to sit at the front rows and stand at other strategic places for greatest visibility to show you are VIP's.

MCF and UTP did the work. Uztaz Rahman did the work. The arbiters Najib and Marcus did the work. The bloggers did the work. Give them the credit.

And your contribution to the State of Perak is shown on stage when the winners are announced. This you can take credit for.

The biggest unacknowledged people who really did the work are the players. I give to them full credit.

It is not too late PICA. National Junior is at the end of the year. Do something now. I hope to see a revitalised State of Perak then. Be proud of your achievements but work for it yourself. Dont try to steal others credit.

My word is my bond.

PICA's slogan is bringing Perak back to the National level. And yet when I saw many of the old faces, current and former state players and aspirants, they all told me that this was their first NAG.

Many old friends have started to open up as well and tell me of the many years and the many broken promises from MCF.

This is what I think. It takes a high level of maturity for people to see the measure of your actions. Most people judge you from the value of your word. Say something and then go back on your word, forget a promise made and most people will not see the contributions you have made, if any.

More than anything else in life is the value of your spoken word. If you remember this and one fine day you need to make a call and ask for assistance, many will come to your side.

Be very careful of what you promise.

Today's Contemplation

TODAY'S CONTEMPLATION


When you come to the edge of all the light you have, and must take a step into the darkness of the unknown believe that one of two things will happen. Either there will be something solid for you to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.

-- Patrick Overton

Monday, March 14, 2011

Where have all the flowers gone?

Just got back from NAG and I'm still feeling a little sad and angry. As I stood there at the prize giving ceremony all I could hear was Penang, Selangor and KL. I didnt hear Perak at all until U16G! And they were announcing all the top 10 winners for each age category starting from U8!!

I counted 3 Perakians out of 120 placings.

We have left Perak Chess for 2 years now and the rot is really beginning to stink. What has happened to all our players? I recall so many young and vibrant sparks from Mark's 5 years of playing for Perak and from my own time in PICA.

Now all I see now are smug, self important officials from PICA dressed in their finery and trying to rub shoulders with the VIP's.

Have they no shame? They look like they are celebrating their disgraceful state of affairs. I see they continue to only want to take credit for the work others have done.

Those people who are only using PICA for their own gain and have no love for chess should quit or be removed.

PICA's AGM is on the 27th March. I hope this time the members will speak out and change the committee before another generation of chess players meet this fate.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Announcement

There will be much reduced activity on this blog till after National Close which is on the 20th of March.

Tomorrow will be NAG and we hope for a good outing. We have learned a lot from our International exposure as well as the session with GM Ziaur Rahman. I hope that our preparation will be paid in spades. You can only move forward if you use all the knowledge that you have in your possession. In my experience, that is always enough.

Over the last 2 years we have moved forward in little strides. We have written selection for National Age group, National Junior and now SEA games. I hear it will also be selection for the next Olympiad. These are significant solid steps.

But is that enough? I dont think so. All of these gains can be reversed. How? First you must understand that MCF committee is elected from the Associations and so it is at the Association level that change must also occur. The changes now are driven top down. So once the leadership is changed everything can go back again to what it was.

Many of us have done a lot of work over these last 2 years with some gains and some reversals. There is very strong resistance to change in our chess community. There is also a lot of confusion caused by lies, misinformation etc.

We cry for sponsorship and we wonder where the sponsors have gone. They come, if they can get in, in the first place and then they run away as fast as they can.

FGM has a Vision, one that I am still hoping can come true.

I believe we can have full sponsorship, in time, for our players to play in International Tournaments. I also believe that we may even be able to secure Scholarships to Higher Institutes of Education for those who excel in Chess. Many things are possible if we continue to forge forward. We can have bigger tournaments with plenty of sponsors.

But first we have to fix our house. Our next step should be to bring into account errant officials and Associations. You all know that I have been sacked from PICA. I could be in the wrong but where are the charges? As a sacked State Official I have made an appeal to MCF for a hearing. It's now more than a year and still no action.

I hope I have demonstrated that there are some in our chess circle who is beyond reasoning. If we cannot reason then we need proper governance.

If this does not happen, new sponsors will not come in. Big sponsors need a plan, they need to see our house in order ie accountablity or they will not invest.

So is this final step within reach? All rests with MCF now isnt it? Some of you still tell me that you do not trust Greg. :)

But I say this. Forget about personalities, personal likes and dislikes. Look at the work. I think he has shown us work, shown us progress. So I continue to think he still deserves benefit of the doubt.

We have also shown that we can influence written selection when we use our combined voices focused on an issue. We can use this voice again.

Do think on this. See you at NAG and National Close.

All my best to the competitors. Fight well, fight hard and fight like officers and gentlemen/women.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

NAG Updated list and new regulations.

Updated list here.

New regulations here.

Evaluation skills.

I am very interested in evaluation systems. On the chess board certain positions are difficult to evaluate. Who is winning? A difficult position but one that one contender favours and is comfortable with.

And so enters competitors analysis. How do you get your competitor to play a game that you like or to play a game that he dislikes more than you? Where do you want to win? Opening, middle game or end game?

How do you evaluate someone when he/she is asked to play certain tournaments testing new ideas, testing new openings?

What opening do you use when fighting someone who has a higher rating, a lower rating and at different differentials?

Does proper preparation, consistent training count? Does good habits, self discipline, strong fighting spirit count?

Or can everything reduced to "technical evaluation"? NAG will be interesting to see how far technical evaluation can predict. I am talking about the U18 boys here as a test case. See you NAG. Ref: Here.

Contemplation.

TODAY'S CONTEMPLATION


Take your life in your own hands and what
happens? A terrible thing: no one is to blame.

-- Erica Jong

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A technical evaluation of title contenders.

I am of course especially interested in the evaluation for the U18 boys. My argument has always been about nurturing the fighting spirit vs strictly technical but killing the drive, putting down the players, playing favoritism and fixing matches.

See here for the evaluation. NAG will be a good test of ideas. I too am curious what the result will be but I find this evaluation insufficient. This is exciting.

The hungry factor.

Andrew has come into the debate. This is good. Read here

My views are of course different. I dont think we can compare with say China or another other Country. Our conditions are different and so we must tailor our solutions differently. Read here.

To do that we need to evaluate correctly what our problems are. (Bangladesh can get GM's; richer nations can get GM's.)

Personally I think selection was part of the solution. And if MCF can now act against errant Officials and/or Associations money will start pouring back into chess. And we too can have our own GMs. And not only one. The trust of people who can help is key. Good governance is key.

The best way to make your dreams come true.

I love this one from facebook.

the best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up....
Hayda Yasmine Hartmann

The NAG flame.

I am really looking forward to NAG this Sat. Meeting old friends and making new ones.

But I also see this whenever a large group of our juniors congregate to compete in chess; the game of ideas.

I see lots of little flames burning around the tournament hall. And each one has the potential to become the roaring flame that is needed to fuel our first GM.

Are we doing enough to stop the flames from being snuffed out, one by one?

Chess Trivia

Here.

Some Stats on NAG

Here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Collusion and Cooperation.

Is there a difference?

When we collude, is that when we want to fix results as we have no confidence as to outcome? Could this divert focus from fixing our weaknesses; increasing our skills sets etc.?

Do we not cooperate when we want results; to achieve outcomes? Cooperation is a joining of forces, looking at synergies. It's about building something.

It's about perspective isnt it? We collude when we see the cup half empty and cooperate when we see the cup the half full. You need confidence before you can cooperate.

NAG, players list.

Here. Or here.

Struggling to break free.

Ref: Here.

In my work on the inner child I defined a concept called the intelligent trap. Here. There I asked the question of what happens when we use our intelligence to defend a wrong conclusion instead of questioning assumptions and looking for solutions in the here and now.

The article, struggling for survival, raises more questions than it attempts to answer. Or maybe its just a lament. To me the overall complexion seems to be for a return of "the good old days" rather than looking at what we have now and moving forward.

The crux is, was the old days really that good? Did it produce the results that we need? Was our chess getting any better?

Maybe a patron of those days made it easier for certain people to survive without having to raise their skill sets and so there is a need for this emotional crutch. But our chess didnt improve. How many years has it been and how many more years do we need to see that the experiment failed?

The article is actually quite revealing if we care to look at the evidence presented through fresh eyes. The big question really is, "Why did so many people try to come into chess and then leave prematurely?". Think on this.

Something must have swayed them to enter and something else drove them away.

As you know I have been getting feedback from the ground on the campaign to get us written criteria. We were "successful" in the attempt but only after a really ugly war on the blogs. Can you imagine this? Even something so transparently obvious had such terrible resistance. What a waste of energy. So what more can we do?

The feedback I am getting is that there is very little trust in MCF. The feeling seems to be that MCF has brought in selection for an unknown motive. There is alot of energy for change and better results but the energy is stuck. And it will continue to be stuck so long as MCF is still struggling to break free of the old forces that want MCF to return to "good old days". The days when we had a patron and lots of other sponsors dip their foot into chess and then beat a very very hasty retreat.

What does recent experience show you? What does the FGM experience demonstrate? The key to change is decisive action by MCF. Will MCF break free?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tips from IM Goh

Some tips from IM Goh for your training. Here.

Training by IM Ivan

I'm sorry I missed this. Suhairi has been doing a lot to bring training to us. Jasur also works with him. Mark played with Jasur at Maverick and found Jasur very helpful in the post game analysis.

Give Suhairi a call to enquire about future classes. Here.

Techie tips from Andrew.

This is a very good start to improving your chess. We get all our tech stuff and support from Andrew. I got a call from Dr Paul last night asking the very same stuff. Here.

Ceteris parabus

In systems analysis and scientific enquiry you will often come across this term in the starting analysis. Systems are complex often with mutiple changing variables. So we often start by studying the change of one variable and fix the rest. Hence ceteris paribus ie all other things being equal. Definition here.

Now look at this faulty analysis. Here.

What is wrong with this analysis? Look carefully.

Answer: It analyses the past and rolls it forward to a conclusion of the present and future. But it missed the main point. The model does not analyse the changed variable. What will be the impact of the changed variable of written selection or even proper selection criteria in the system?

Faulty analysis leads to faulty conclusions and faulty solutions. With proper selection criteria we should expect better participation in future Fide tournaments in Malaysia.

Note: Remember this analytical tool. It will be used over and over again in competitors analysis later.

Interview with Nakamura

This is a good video on preparation and competitor analysis. Here.

Note: In the interview Nakamura talked about the importance of ideas. This applies to both ideas on the board and outside. What are the ideas for us to improve chess in Malaysia?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sumant wins at Insofar

Well done Sumant. See you at NAG. Here.

Does MCF have the authority to hear PICA case?

I believe a sacked State Official that is elected have the right of appeal to the Federation, after exhausting all avenues in the State Association, in any proper structure.

However does MCF have the authority to rule on it? My understanding is that PICA just got approved as an affiliate of MCF under COS regulations. In this new structure MCF has disciplinary powers it didnt have before.

A ruling here will lend confidence to the sponsors and other State Officials that they can do the right thing and not fear unconstitutional and arbitrary action. This will be good for chess.

PICA should push for a hearing with MCF.

I have been reading all kinds of accusations on Jimmy's shotbox from someone who appears to come from PICA. Isnt this rather undignified? PICA is a State Association. It has a responsibility to the State of Perak to clear its name under proper channels and protocol not anonymously in shout boxes.

I assert that my sacking not only have bearings to the DKLS sponsorship but also to the KLK sponsorship. At the time of the meeting in DKLS with Dato Tan, President, Treasurer of PICA and me, the KLK sponsorship was also under me. Dato Tan asked me to manage the sponsorship. So I had KLK and DKLS also wanted to sponsor. A few days later I was sacked.

I am visible. I do not hide. I call a spade a spade. My work in PICA is on public record. PICA, ask for the hearing and expose me for a fraud and someone who did not contribute to Perak. I spoke to Greg 2 days ago. Still no response from PICA on the MCF letter of enquiry after more than a year.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Le Quang Liam

Here.

Le used to be beaten by Malaysian Anas when they were juniors. Was there a scenario that Anas would have stayed in chess and be the winner of Aeroflot today? Was there anything we could have done better to support him?

Can we make a difference?

I think the answer lies in the nature of the organisation. In my opinion no amount of reasoning to improve could have moved PICA. Their agenda is different. They are not moved to improve chess.

But I found that it is different with the new MCF. There has been significant change in the last 2 years. So I continue to give MCF the benefit of the doubt.

There is also some confusion to the idea of influencing. I read a comment from an MCF official that he cannot be influenced.

Hmmmm, does that mean he cannot be influenced or intimidated to play favoritism or he cannot be influenced by reason at all?

I think that to be a good official one must always be open to suggestions to improve. But I agree that one should not be open to influence to sabotage, to destroy etc. But one must be open to influence to build. There is a difference isnt there?

Maybe we point fingers because we feel that we cannot change anything and so we attack anything that moves in our frustration. What does the evidence of written criteria show us? I think it showed us that we can make a difference with the right organisation if we present our solutions properly and in the right spirit.

The answer lies inside.

I am always captivated by American Idol. Week after the week the contestants are brought to the stage and asked to unblock. To dig deep inside to find the answers; to own the stage.

I believe the answer to that question of finding our own GM lies there too. For us to look at how we are self sabotaging ourselves.

Finger pointing is not going to get us anywhere. Do we want the same thing? That is the question isnt it? If so then the question becomes what is the best system to get us there? What is the best training and coaching methods? What has worked and what hasnt? What do we need to change?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Why I am supportive of our Juniors.

We have world class juniors. This is proven from our results in International tournaments. And yet we see that they are languishing years later whereas the boys and girls that they used to beat go on to become GM's and World class players.

It's a little like the best of the best are separated and sent to different universities. They are sent to universities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Phillippines and Malaysia.

If the students here, these cream of the world now dont do well, where do we look to for the answers? Here we say the students are not good enough. Could it be our system is not supportive enough? Our trainers and coaches are not skilled enough?

This is a question for the adults who set the system, for the coaches and trainers who guide the juniors to answer. Why shift the blame to the juniors? You all had the same world class material to start with.

The juniors are getting a bum deal. And someone needs to speak up for them. Any more volunteers?

Some Stats on GM's by Andrew.

Here.

Right and Wrong exists.

Right and wrong exists when we are agreed on a goal. Some decisions and attitudes lead us towards our goal and others lead us away.

What is the goal of the Malaysian Chess community?

A wrong assumption.

Is a very dangerous thing. I have seen 2 bloggers in the last few weeks saying that if you cannot be GM by 15yo, you can forget it. And they "quote" Anand.

Why is this a dangerous assumption? Well for one, it denies the evidence that there are many GM's being produced around the world now that is over 15yo.

It also shifts the responsibility away from the trainers, coaches and put unreasonable pressure on the juniors to achieve an impossible goal. Unreasonable because if you want them to get to become GM, you have to show them the way. The trainers and the coaches. The trainers and coaches have to figure out what is needed and then show the juniors the way. Not abandon them after 15yo and then say "you havent got it. See... thats what Anand says".

When GM Ziaur Rahman was here I spent some time with him and tried to get his feedback on this. In a nutshell this is what he told me. He said we are not playing chess for the love of the game. Learn enough and then the GM will come. It is about learning not quick fixes or unattainable and unsustainable results.

I always felt that Ziaur should have been teaching our seniors and our National Juniors. And even for the juniors only the ones who are more advanced. He was not good at teaching very young kids. We saw that at the Asean initiative. So I felt his talents were wasted when he was reduced to teaching ordinary classes. Wasted opportunity.

At the Asean initiative an offer was also made to the trainers to learn under Ziaur sponsored by FGM and only Jax Tham answered the call.

The role of the Associations is to facilitate the resources to allow for the development of our players. So there must be no misconception there too. The Associations cannot abandon the juniors after they have turned 15yo either as our history shows.

This is a very wrong assumption. Dont misquote Anand to run away from your responsibility, trainers, coaches and Associations. Dont shift the blame on to the juniors, the players, for your own lacking.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is this an issue?

Or a battle of the egos?

Lets look at this scenario. After a good clean fight, the players are selected. It doesnt matter whether it's juniors or seniors. We are sending our best team forward.

At this point we will face these issues. Do we expect the best possible result from one outing or will it take a little time? Will we see those who are committed to fight their best for Malaysia or will we see a lack of conviction?

Now what can we do for those we believe have it in them to go forward. Do we have a plan to develop them further? Build on their strengths and work on their weaknesses.

What about funding? Will they need funding for training? For overseas expenses?

What will be the next steps? FGM tried to look at this. So we brought in DKLS with RM2 million in sponsorship fund for development. We tried to bring in heavily subsidised training and free flights for parents, guardians and officials too.

All of these initiatives were blocked and attacked. I was even sacked as an official unconstitutionally and without charges.

We need a plan for development. Looking at one tournament at a time and then starting from square one again and again is self defeating. And what about the players who can play very good chess and cannot afford the costs of development and travel?

So is this an issue we need to look at or is it merely a battle of the egos? All these solutions have been brought to our door step and only MCF can open the door.

Chess is a competitive sport.

I read the shout boxes from time to time because it is actually very revealing.

Competitor analysis is part and parcel of the game and we cannot go far without it.

Urging the juniors to strive to be the best that they can be is part and parcel of trying to raise the standard of the game.

Getting the seniors to return to competition is part of the process to improve.

Tournaments are competitive. Players are playing for result.

And yet these ideas seem to threaten some people. Why is this?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Juniors, wait your turn!

I couldnt believe my eyes when I read this comment on Jimmy's shoutbox by his ardent supporter, Che Harun. He is telling the juniors to wait their turn. Dont try and beat IM Jimmy and make unnecessary enemies.

Where is this guy from?!!

This is competitive chess. If the juniors are strong enough they should win and we should celebrate that win. At the very least they must try their very best. Is Che Harun arguing that the juniors should only play good chess when Jimmy retires? What is this? Government service?

So wait for Jimmy to retire, and only then start your run to see if you can become GM. But dont you dare do it now or you will make enemies.

Is this really the culture we want? Is that how we are going to get that GM? Could this be why the juniors are attacked the way they have been? Is that also why I got sacked for bringing in RM2 million in sponsorship? Wait your turn. Forget about the people who need sponsorship right now to progress in chess. Wait your turn.

We are very near to changing this culture with written selection criteria and if we want further progress then Juniors do your very best to win. Dont give any mind to these dumb threats. To parents and players who have a chance to representation for Malaysia and those who just want to see that GM. Let your opinions be heard. Tell MCF they have to investigate the sacking and allow new sponsors to come in. One final step. Can we do it?

This negative culture must end or we will not progress.

Morning Musings

When you are poor, you say how to focus on chess when there is no food on the table, no shoes to wear etc etc etc.

When you are less poor, you say how to focus on chess? There is too much food on the table, too many distractions.

So when is the right time to play chess well?

Did you know that when the Ethiopians first ran in the Olympics and got gold, they ran with no shoes? Do you know that there are many Countries with more food on the table and wonder of wonders, also produce strong chess players.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

To the Juniors.

There are some unfair comments on the blogs from some mean spirited people about your loses to IM Mas in Maverick. What I want to say to you is this. Dont let them get you down and dont run away from the pressure of playing titled players.

Consider this. When Nichol David plays for Malaysia do you think she blanks her mind to the competition and wish for a win or do you think she looks hard at the competition. Do you think she studies their game, their strength and their weaknesses. Do you think she knows where her own strength and weaknesses are?

Do you think she evaluates her chances and then go for it?

This is the advice I give Mark. Study their games. Know this. If you are fighting a much stronger player and your odds are slim, then you must not choose a safe game. They are probably better than you all round. If you can find a weakness, maybe in opening then use it. If you cant and your odds are slim, then play a sharp game. You must put the fear of losing in them. If you play safe, they will find a way to beat you from sheer superior overall knowledge.

Sit down. Download the games of the opponents you fear. Look hard and find a way to get them. Sometimes better preparation down one particular line can yield better odds.

Let me also tell you about the advice I gave to another Junior in Maverick. He fought a more senior Junior and lost. The other Junior has vastly superior end game. What I told him was this. That Junior specialises in end games. If you try to beat him in end games it may work, but it may also take a long time. Instead try to beat him in middle game. Improve your tactics. Find lines that will not allow him to force you into an end game prematurely. This strategy worked for Mark in National Junior.

I have now asked Mark to begin looking at IM Jimmy's game. What is there to be afraid of? He is not going to punch you in the face or bring an extra queen to the game up his sleeve. Look hard and start thinking now how you can beat him under certain conditions. Try to create those conditions on the board and increase your odds.

You are less likely to win if you only hope. You must look hard and find the way. Dont be scared of pressure. It doesnt kill you.

I want to wish you all the very best in NAG and then on to National Close. I hope you will account for yourself well there and play like officers and gentlemen/gentlewomen. Now go and look at those games and find the game that will increase your odds. There is time to prepare still. Good luck.

ps: If you play it safe your odds are much lower; if you take the fight to him your odds will improve considerably.

Report from Maverick. Final Part.

Other conversations were with parents who again talked about the expense of playing for the Country as well as a conversation with an organiser who was exploring if I was willing to consider sponsoring some of his plans to develop chess.

As in all things in life, we need the essentials to get things going. Something like its no use building a car and then leaving out the spark plugs. So what do we have and what do we need?

We just saw selection criteria and the influx of strong players back into the system. We have good tournaments and the sponsors for them.

Lets go back again to see what FGM tried to do. DKLS asked for a 5 year plan with milestones for access to a RM2 million dollar sponsorship fund. Why is a 5 year plan important? To me this means that we have a long term plan. We have thought through what it takes to develop strong players and the fund is meant to fill in the gaps for what we dont have. It also means that our analysis has to be sound and not the type that writes to defend an arbitrary conclusion without any basis. It requires intellectual integrity. That is what the milestones are meant to accomplish. For the milestones will demand accountability.

In my mind it also means that there is the possibility of funding players that cannot afford the expense of International tournaments to play for Malaysia.

What else did FGM try to do? We brought in a training program for our players before going overseas for competition at a subsidised rate enabled by our sponsors. Was it perfect? Maybe not but it was a start just like selection is a start.

Are these two things not the missing gap in our programs? After selection, there can be access to funding and training?

And yet these 2 initiatives were met with attacks and sabotage. So what I told the parents and the organiser is this. I have brought the solutions. It is available to move us forward if we can now lobby MCF to investigate why the sacking happened and who are the people who attacked anonymously from the blogs.

Selection is good. It is necessary but insufficient. So you are now selected. What is the next step?

A parent told me that I am bullet proof. No I am not. It was painful for me to watch my son attacked, my partners, supporters and my sponsors attacked but I stuck it out because the issue was important.

You may also notice that there is little proper acknowledgement of the role of parents, bloggers, players and MCF for bringing in selection and opening the floodgates. A few people who were against selection is now attempting to head the celebration and trying to take credit for the work that we did.

Why do you think that is? I think its because they saw what our combined voices can do. If they acknowledge your work it may mean that you can do it again. And this time a new MCF is responsive to urgings from the ground; is responsive to us finding new solutions.

So I urge you, dont stop here. Complete the work. The new selected players will be just as stranded as the players from the past. We need a good plan, good training and new sponsors to enable that.

So we now need MCF to investigate the arbitrary sacking and the anonymous bloggers who slander. I was an official in an association under the MCF umbrella. It is MCF's duty to investigate how an official can be sacked unconstitutionally and without charges.

If this can be done, I believe we can sustain the gains we have made. The people who did the work need to be acknowledged, the people who helped build chess need to be defended by MCF.