Monday, March 4, 2013

Representing the Country and the Fide handbook.

Note: The stories below are very slightly exaggerated to help demonstrate a point.

Say you are watching a selection to represent the Country and one of the players is already in front of the table and the other one is just outside the hall but within view. For ease of description let's call him Sifu Peter. Sifu Peter stops just outside and takes out a 6 inch nail and proceeds to bend it with his teeth. Then he smashes the 6 bricks he brought with him just by shouting before entering the hall and taking his place. The game starts and Sifu Peter wins his game. Has anything wrong been done?

Actually no. Look up your Fide handbook. It doesn't say anything about not bending 6 inch nails with your teeth etc. If you win on the chess board you win the selection to represent the Country. This is chess. It's a mind sport. If the other player was so awed by the demonstration that his mind crashed and he lost, then he is just not mentally strong enough to play for the Country yet. So Sifu Peter won fair and square. Maybe?

At the other selection game another thing happens outside the hall. Lets call this player Sifu Jimmy. At the entrance Sifu Jimmy demonstrates some Tai Chi and knocks 10 chess player spectators off their feet without ever touching them and then enters the hall and wins his game. Nothing wrong done right? Chess is a mind game. Check the Fide handbook. Nothing is said about Tai Chi.

So what is my point? My point is that this is about chess. Win or loss is only determined by the Fide handbook.

But the win must always be registered on the chess board by Fide rules. All else doesnt count. Those are just the preripheral mind tricks.

So you are allowed to do whatever you want without breaking the law of the land or the organiser's conditions and still win the selection. If nail bending or Tai Chi helps you win on the board then that was the correct strategy applied by the Sifu's.

My opinion is that it only has limited application. It probably won't work overseas against other Sifu's who plays real chess and is mentally strong from playing tough tournaments.

But you can promote anything you want for your chess school. You can do marketing exercises via fat numbers tournaments, promote certain select "demonstration" games, gangster looks, humble looks etc. Nothing wrong there. Those things are not covered in the Fide handbook. This is about chess. Win on the board and you win the selection. Yes?

So in the same way, you can promote mental strength, tough training and competitor analysis. Nothing wrong there too. It doesn't say on the Fide handbook that you cannot do that.

So the players can choose. Those who don't like bending nails with their teeth or Tai Chi can go to someone else. Some may not like tough training so they choose the gangster look training. Some get tired of practising staring in the mirror for long hours to get the perfect gangster look and choose competitor analysis. Some may even prefer the humble look and go to Chin Seng for classes. Nothing wrong there too. Humble looks or cute looks is not covered by the Fide handbook either. But if you win in chess then you win the selection, yes?

Now lets go back to the Olympiad selection. So they entered Li Tian amidst great fanfare. With the music blaring loud he enters the hall to play chess. His opponents know that he has been taught by many masters. He has fat numbers and he has the protection of the nail bending and tai chi masters. He has a heavy marketing machinery behind him and just completed his "demonstration" games where the picture presented is that he eats super GM's for breakfast. He also attended some humility classes taught by Chin Seng as an extra weapon just in case. And he is also cute.

Then he sits down and is "bungkused" by Roshan, Eng Chiam and Syazwan. Now this is chess. Your training shows on the board. The rest is not relevant.

We all know that representing the Country is more than just the honour. It is also about exposure and the lessons gained from playing tough opponents overseas.

Now my question is this. Has something wrong been done when it is Li Tian who represented the Country at the Olympiads and not Eng Chiam and Syazwan?  They won in chess against all the mind games hurled at them. They kept their minds strong and they did the business of playing chess. So who won the mind game contest and who won in chess? I think the answer is obvious. Those boys won both. And so they have now been robbed of both the honour AND the exposure of playing in the Olympiads.

Selection should only be based on chess. And I submit that the considerations of mental strength and good competitor analysis has much more basis to chess than the other offerings of tai chi and nail bending etc. That is my sincere opinion. The rest don't work overseas.

Something is seriously wrong when MCF send the marketers and gangster look people etc to represent Malaysia in chess.

What is really against the Fide handbook is match fixing, playing with the pairings, illegal bannings etc. And we need to be much more vigilant about this.

Something is seriously wrong when MCF does not want to look into this despite many genuine allegations.

We need to be clear on this before we get to the AGM or we will not be able to set out in the correct direction to bring Malaysian chess to the next level and get our own GM. Chess is chess. Our real chess players cannot continue to be knocked out this way.

If you think gangster look or Tai Chi is the way by all means go the Sifu Jimmy etc. Nobody is stopping you. And if it's a marketing contest, nail bending contest, humility contest etc, fine, you'll probably do well with those masters. Not all players can take tough training in chess. I will even recommend the services of Peter, Jimmy or Chin Seng if I think they provide the services that the players are looking for.

But Malaysia is not sending out marketing experts, tai chi experts, humility experts etc to represent the Country. Malaysia is entering the players in a chess tournament.

And so it should have been Eng Chiam and Syazwan and the other players who were at selection that should have qualified. If certain players feel that selection is not important, then they do not deserve to play for Malaysia. As we know, even one year away from tough competition will blunt your game.

So State Affiliates, you need to get the selection criteria clear at the AGM. It is in your interest to do so. Otherwise what will happen to the strong players from your State? Your strong chess player's places will be taken by people with only gangster looks, tai chi, is very humble or cute etc but not have strong chess.

Bring this up at the AGM and then you will be clear on who to vote for the President. See past the mind games, get to the meat of the issues and then Malaysian chess will be strong again. At the AGM it is about the constitution. For Malaysian chess to win, the win must come from the chess board of the AGM. 

So it is up to you now. You are the players in this game.

Thank you for your time.

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