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.