I have made some references to ratings as an unreliable tool for selection or measuring fighting strength. Let me try to explain my reasoning here.
Lets start with the age groups first. Perhaps the truest rating we may have on how strong Malaysia is as a chess nation are those gotten from the U12's and below. This is simply because we are fairly successful until we go past that band. So our kids are measured against the best up to that level. So lets give that achievement an arbitrary number of 2100. However even this number is also not totally accurate for fighting strength as you will see when I explain on later.
From U14 onwards, the gap starts to widen. So when our kids start to compete at those age groups they may find their rating reducing even though they are continuing to improve. Why is this? This can be explained from the fact that the kids from other nations are just improving at a faster rate. Even as the kids compete among themselves, they will find that 2100 strength at U14 and above is not the same 2100 strength at U12. Fighting strength is not immediately reflected in ratings.
And so the gap continue to widen. Now you will find that the 2100 from U12 outclassed against the 2100 from the higher age groups. So I submit that all we can conclude from the ratings derived from age groups are their fighting strength within that narrow band. And that is all.
A further complication occur when say a boy/girl from an age group were to only compete in mainly age groups and certain "selected" tournaments and the other fight in strong open tournaments. The other boy/girl will have his/her fide rating dropping further since he/she is fighting a much stronger field. And so as you can now see, even at age groups the numbers are not totally reflective.
So the best way to determine who is stronger is still to fight it out in a tournament. The numbers are not totally reflective. It depends on whether you have been stage managed or not.
In Malaysia the best determinant for strongest Junior is National Juniors. Apart from that there are only age group Champions. Nothing more and nothing less.
Now if we were to extrapolate further, we will find the same anomaly with the seniors. They may have gotten a high rating at one point in history but it is again not relevant in today's chess. As the gap continue to widen the ratings lose further meaning. To get the truest rating these seniors now need to compete against their peers during their age group days ergo World level, not seniors or veterans. However this is no longer possible for obvious reasons.
A truer rating is gotten when they continue to compete in strong tournaments. Within Asean or Asia for instance. But these tournaments also need to be Open where all and sundry can come to compare skills. For example, Asean Masters.
Now you see there are many wriggle spaces for stage managing. I have said before that there is even a Country that easy ratings can be earned. Another way is to play in selected weak fields. Those ratings are false, manufactured and has no reflection on fighting strength in International Tournaments.
So I agree with anonymous. The Malaysian hero's are those that chose to fight in the Open at Datmo. They may have lost rating as a result of that testing. But I will back them anytime, in fair and healthy competition, over those that "cooked" their ratings.
As I said there are some players who have not fought in a local fide tournament in many many years. And they shout and deride our players from the sidelines. The quality of chess worldwide has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years.
So again I submit that if those nay sayers were to compete in an Open strong field, their rating will today be around 2100 or if we are truly optimistic, 2200. That is where we really are. The acid test is of course when we see them fighting among their peers again. I actually don't think they can even survive in todays higher age group challenges. But that is just my opinion again.
So using rating as the basis for any selection will not be true. Especially in Malaysia where there are those who only play to "manufacture" rating. If we ever use them based on ratings alone, they will be an embarrassment to the Country. Our best bet is to play in a selection and bring in new blood. It may be a shaky start but in the longer run, we will have strong players. Made under pressure and able and willing to fight. Able and willing to learn and improve. Real players made in Malaysia.
ps: What I am really saying is that the barrier now is mainly psychological. Objectively there is little to separate the chess skills at the senior level. Just a very very small gap that can be bridged with some confidence and faith in oneself. And correct training of course.