Monday, August 29, 2011

Are we going back to handpicked players?

"Juniors wait your turn or you will make enemies." Those were the words on Jimmy's shoutbox when we were pushing for selection for SEA games. I have been speculating with a few friends about the implication of those words. We saw the attack on Lim Zhuo Ren and now the attack on Sumant. I was made aware of the non chess playing related pressures put on Sumant during Datmo. It was brought up to me and I did what I could to help him.

So what is it about? I said that certain people are upset about the selection process. They want a return to being handpicked. And the basis of being handpicked? Fide rating.

So lets examine how ratings can be earned. One way is from age group tournaments where the gap is not too large, usually around the U12 category. Another way is of course not to play in strong tournaments but play in, say the veterans or just a weak field. And yet another way still is to play in a certain country where the ratings are inflated. So there are many ways to increase rating without improving your chess.

My opinion is that that way will not produce the type of players that can make our Country proud. Those are not fighters. They are the short cutters and they will be decimated in a strong field. Strong players are like diamonds, they are made under pressure in healthy competition. Make no mistake about this.

At Datmo, I saw a "new" player coming up. I am talking about Nicholas Cheah. He made a good run and with more high pressure exposure he may yet make it all the way to the top.

So this is what I said at Datmo. If we want selection to stay, if we think that is the best way, then we have no choice but to withstand the attacks from Jimmy and his friends since there seems to be no way to stop them. Otherwise our gains will be reversed.

This is how they work to get you to comply. Belligerence, haranguing, lies and slander and other underhanded gangster type methods. Not by reasoning or improving their chess to ensure their place.

They have kept to their promise as I knew they would. Juniors wait your turn or you will make enemies. And if you go to Jimmy's site you will see many not so intelligent arguments as to why high rating is the basis of strong players. From there it is but a small step to bringing back players who do not have the nerve to play in strong tournaments.

It will be a sad day for Malaysian chess if that is to happen.

ps: So Sumant, its ok about what you said on the shoutbox. It is very hard to withstand those kind of venomous attacks. You need a very strong support system in order to do that. You made it through the SEA games selection with our support and guidance, so congratulations for that achievment.

I am sorry they attacked you but then again it was to be expected. You saw Zhuo Ren attacked and then Mark being "banned" from KL Open. It's all the same attack. The juniors have been warned beforehand but you had the courage then to fight for your rightful place. You now need to find that same courage again for SEA games. Focus on that now. My best wishes go with you.

My concerns now are for those who come after you. Strong chess players who have paid the price of learning, strong fighters who deserve a chance. What will happen to them if we return to "manufactured" fide rating for selection? Will they ever get a shot? Will this be good for Malaysian Chess? If handpicked players are to return, who will they be? Take a guess.

So I hope the chess community will either take a stand on selection now or all the complaints will stop when we lose it. This is your chance to make a difference so dont blow it. Make your opinion heard.

Chess does not belong to Jimmy and friends. It belongs to all of us. If Jimmy and his very few friends want their place then let them fight for it in healthy competition just like all the rest of us.

Note: There are no objections to age group selection. It's the senior squad that is the problem. They have no concerns about the Juniors since after they have passed U20 and no longer Juniors, they will still be a long way from being able to represent the Country since their Fide rating probably wont have the required number. And so they will just disappear in time since there is no selection for them to make a come back.

It is getting harder and harder out there. Everyone is improving. Question. Where will Jimmy be in the Open? What is his true fide rating in todays chess?

Presumably new openings for the senior squad will be when the senior squad gracefully retire with their arthritis and pension; long after their due date and long after they are still able or willing to fight for the Country.

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