Saturday, August 31, 2013

Registration details for Thematics.


The form is a word document so you can type directly on it and email back to me. Just attach your payment details for the package you want.

Related posts.
Purpose of thematics. Here.
Starting position.  Here.


Selamat Hari Merdeka.

Selamat Hari Merdeka everyone. May we grow in body, mind and spirit as one people.

Friday, August 30, 2013

What do you think? I think this is something we should think about seriously.

Ref: Here.

For Malaysian chess to progress, we will need the following conditions:

1. We need to increase our internal competition by ensuring that there are no more shortcuts/fixing. Stop the gajuh kampong mentality. For that to happen we need the support of parents/players to accept the results of the written selection criteria. Consider this. How are we to compete with our neighbours if we cannot even compete in a healthy and rule based manner at home?

So the focus must be on improving those selection criteria.

2. We need the sponsors to support MCF by not trying to influence selection and paying the money direct into MCF.

For that to happen, we need strict management of the finances so that money is not filtered out unnecesarily into unauthorised accounts. That will build confidence for investment.

3. We also need the traditional sponsors of chess to stop their people from sabotaging efforts by others so that chess becomes a magnet for more and more support and funding.

4. We need private academies, coaches and trainers to understand that the way forward is by selection and not by fattening of Fide rating to bypass competition.

5. We need to foster a climate of learning and experimentation simply because chess is a mind sport and developing the mind and reasoning are the corner stones to progress.

6. We need to be result oriented so that our players are given goals and targets to achieve and not just go to overseas tournaments aimlessly and already mentally defeated.

For that to happen, we need to develop our understanding of competitor analysis.

For all of the above to happen, we will need an MCF/State Affiliates that will govern the chess community fairly and allow the expressions of private enterprise to flourish and not to allow their authority to be misused.

Ergo we need unity of purpose and the proper understanding of the roles of each within the chess community.

Starting position for Thematic and general comments.

Please have a look at the starting position for our Thematic. Here.

As I have said earlier, main line French Defence is one of the best ways to learn and understand about the control of squares. In fact if you look at how our first IM Jimmy Liew play at tournaments you will see that a strong signature of his games is how he controls the squares surrounding his points of attack. So this is an important part of the learning process to becoming a strong player.

Having said that I have had some comments from parents that learning the french will confuse their kids. I beg to differ. I see the mind as an extremely powerful tool, a super computer unless you tell the mind that it cannot. Look at it this way. Our kids learn many subjects in school. Are they not able to digest all the different subjects if their confidence remains intact?

So there are almost no limitation to our minds except those that we self impose or if it is controlled by fear instead of reason. Besides the thematic is not meant to replace your opening repertoire. It is meant to continue your education in chess, in training events, to improve your ability to bring more to your competitive tournaments.

You may or you may not choose French as your final array of weaponry for your competitive battles. But you would be hard pressed to win without the understanding that French can teach you. These are all essential parts to becoming the complete mental warrior.

When you have the parts, then all you need is the right strategies and the winning mindset. When that happens, our GM will come. There are no shortcuts. The journey to becoming a strong player has little to do with ranking. Do you know that Lin Dan is ranked over 200 plus? And yet he can win against the top ranked players in the World. How do you think that is achieved?

All my best for Malaysian chess.

Register for Thematic here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Announcement, FGM Thematics-with details for registration.

Purpose of Thematics. Here.  The first few opening moves will appear here shortly. Here.

Dear all,

It's finally confirmed. Please note the following. The dates have been changed to the 5th and 6th Oct so as not to clash with another Perak chess event. FGM will always try to work together with other organisers and Associations whenever possible for the benefit of the chess community.

Also note that we have booked 2 rooms for our National squad players. One for the girls and one for the guys. However they will have to pay for the registration. I hope you guys and girls don't mind sharing. So National squad players, write in and I will arrange the sharing, subject to availability.

As for the parents, I have also negotiated special rates for rooms for you. You have to send me your names early as it is on a first come first serve basis. So there is no guarantee for a room at that special price if you book late. After your names have been registered, please pay to the hotel when you check in.

Please also note that I only have places for 60 players. So do register early so as to avoid any possible disappointment.

There is also a short talk followed by Q&A on the Thematics for parents at 10am on the first day ie 5th Oct with coffee and light refreshments served.

All my best for Malaysian chess.

Details and registration form here.

NB: For those who are below 1600 National rating and do not have material on French Defence, I recommend you take the package with the material so you can read up and practice before the training tournament. Do this early so you can get maximum benefit from the training tournament.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

FAQ's on Thematics.

I was asked many questions by parents and players this morning concerning the Thematics. So let me try to answer them here as well for the benefit of others.

Please realise that FGM is a private entity with our own small group of like minded sponsors. I made the decision to head in that direction partly because I had found it very hard to get effective cohesion when I was in a State Affiliate with many differing and sometimes even polar opposite opinions there.

Also note that in the past FGM events were met with a lot of resistance. For instance when we brought in the GM to train our Juniors going to Asean, we were told by MCF that there would be approximately 40 players going. And in the end only 13 went. I was informed then that there was a member of Council who told parents to go to another event. On top of that FGM was double charged for normal services rendered. And so our costings were way out and we ended up in financial deficit.

Our past Thematic events were also met with threats to arbiters and bloggers for them not to support our events.

So I hope you realise that there is a lot more than meets the eye to organising these events. There are also venues to secure, arbiters to get and chess sets and clocks to obtain.

And then there are the new sponsors that needs to be convinced and the old ones reassured again. I secured one old sponsor a couple of months ago and am now waiting for the other sponsor to come back to me. I am informed that this will be on Wed/Thurs this coming week.

But whatever happens the event will go on, even if I end up funding the Thematics again, so I need to also plan for contingencies. So in short, those are the dates I can secure for now. I hope for your understanding and support.

Yes, the Thematics are important. This much we know. Even the Filipino trainer I am working with now finds it hard to understand why we have so much resistance to something so important to our progress. But that is our chess culture to date isn't it? Even our sponsors were publicly attacked on the blogs.

Hopefully with the new Council in MCF we will see some changes with the beginnings of a more winning culture and I am counting on that to happen even as I organise again.

So please be patient and the announcement and prospectus will come out later this week k.

All my best and this time Malaysia truly boleh.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The purpose of the Thematics.

When I first came into the chess scene, I saw something in our chess culture that I felt could be improved on. Let me give you an example to show what I mean. At the recent Malaysian Open, Greg asked me why I didn't send Mark to HD and Bangkok Open this year. What I told him was that I felt Mark wasn't ready at that time for that level of competition yet. So what we did was to go through our new repertoire and played at local tournaments to beta test it here first.

My thinking goes like this. Why spend so much money going overseas when we have not properly tested out our strategies and trained at home yet? Why go out to get bad results at the higher age group categories or Open tournaments?

That was why I formed FGM. To provide the training that we will need before we send our boys and girls out to compete. And so I offered the training by a GM for our National Juniors before Asean in the past and I started on the Thematics. Ref: Here.

Another word for the Thematics is a training tournament. You play the tournament not to win the prize money but to learn. By taking away the prize money except for the Champion, it is my hope that the players will use the tournament to learn and to experiment with new ideas. Then we go to competitive tournaments to win. Make sense?

I realise that this is a little anti-culture for us but I hope this spirit of learning and experimentation will take root in our chess culture. And after we have trained, we go out to win. Yes?

So this coming Thematics will be on mainline French. This opening is very instructive to learning the control of squares. Please note that I can only take 60 players and they will be split into 2 categories. Approximately below 1600 National rating and above 1600. Basically they will be split based on playing strength. This is so that the players will have a good work out.

The Thematics are meant for the competitive players and the serious amateurs. I will also be putting out a basic package on the French defence so that all the players will come with a good knowledge of French Defence before we play the training games.

By playing 10 rounds of the same opening as white and black, we will have a grounding that will be difficult to achieve via just a trainer/student scenario and so will speed up your development much faster than other methods. This is simply because different players will play the French differently. After the 10 rounds I suspect you would have learnt more then 2 years of playing in normal tournaments. All over a weekend.

If this tournament receives good response and the idea of proper training before competitive tournaments takes root, then FGM will endeavour to bring more of these types of training tournaments to you.

I do not know what the response will be now that we have a better chess climate but I have had good feedback from parents recently when I spoke to them about this. So if you are concerned about missing out, you can write in to me earlier before the prospectus is out.

All my best for Malaysian chess. May we go out in the future and kick butts.

Friday, August 23, 2013

FGM Thematics on the 28th/29th September.

We are now working hard to bring the Thematics to you for the 28th/29th September sponsored by Pappamia and the Malaysian Intellect Development Foundation and it will be held in Ipoh. Stay tuned for further announcements but keep those dates in mind.

See here for our past events. Here.

All my best for Malaysian Chess.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Indonesia Open in Oct, thinking out loud.

I was informed at the Malaysian Open that MCF is applying for our National squad to play at the Indonesian Open. They have a ceiling bar of 2200 and so many of our National squad won't qualify without the intervention of MCF. Now that is a good thing.

But I was thinking it may even be better if MCF also opens this out to other strong players who may be contenders for next years National Close. So why would I say that and on what grounds? I think that a good way to get our own GM is to increase the level of competition amongst Malaysians. So why not?

Consider this. The other strong players cannot ask for sponsorship because they are not in the National squad. Agreed. That is fair. But if they can finance themselves, where is the harm? After all, to organise for say 10 to go would not be much more difficult than for say 15 or 20 to go. So long as they find their own financing right?

What do you think? Wouldn't that be even better? Just thinking out loud.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Latest on EGM, taking sides and a little about sucking sweets.

I spent a lot of time during the Malaysian Open talking to all that would talk to me from all sides of the divide to get a clearer picture of the issues. Some of the conversations were cordial and constructive and some were outright hostile. Directly after having a meeting with the Deputy President of MCF, I heard that some people were running around and saying that I have changed sides.

So lets tackle this topic first before I give you the updates. I am on no side except for the issues. Let me show you the evidence. Look at my blog from 2009, 2010, 2011. Then 2012 and 2013. How many years has that been? And I have been talking about the same thing haven't I? For your further information, the first contest as far as I know in a State Affiliate was when I challenged for the post of President in PICA in early 2009 and I lost by one vote. I then took on the post as the Chairman of the selection committee in PICA.

After I was sacked without any grounds, I shared my experiences with Greg, who was then the new Secretary of MCF, on the problems surrounding putting in a selection criteria and then the first written criteria for National selection for NAG and National Juniors came out. Go back to my postings in 2009. That posting came out even before the official announcement. Why? Because that posting created an uproar with certain parties within the MCF at that time, who still wanted the authority to award back door entries.

It was also from my experience in contesting in 2009 that I adviced the candidates at the recent AGM. Go and look at all my postings just before the AGM addressing the issues.

So there are no sides as far as I am concerned. There are only the issues that I have raised. I belong to no gang. I started talking about those issues long before there were contestants for the AGM. So maybe it is those people that have used the issues raised by FGM to launch a contest that have lost their way. So let us remind ourselves what those issues are.

All must follow due process without exception. You cannot sack an official without grounds. You cannot ban a player without any legitimate reason. You cannot attack the players who freely choose to train with another Coach/Trainer. And you cannot represent the State or Country without a proper selection. MCF and the State Affiliates do not belong to you. It belongs to all within the chess community.

You cannot attack the training of the National Juniors by a GM by attacking the organiser and the sponsors by coming up with numerous vile anonymous blogs all sprouting from Jimmy Liew's site with impunity. You cannot sabotage a training tournament meant to help our top players with impunity. All of those things happened because MCF did not take action to protect private initiatives. In fact there were strong circumstantial evidence that the attacks took place with the collusion of certain MCF officials.

So those were the issues that caused the ground swell and were used by the contestants as the mantle for contest at the AGM. And all those issues were those raised by FGM. So how could I have changed sides? Lets see.

We now have selection for the Juniors and the Seniors. We now have due process for conflict resolution. See here. Are these not the issues raised by FGM? So what sides are they talking about? Gang 18 immortals?

So we have progress on the issues. That was the goal. And it was hard earned. So where is the problem now? Why have the EGM? So let me risk a little by talking about sucking sweets. More than one official have talked to me and urged me to write and attack certain people. What I told them was why didn't they raise the issue in Council? One told me that he didn't want to get shot down and the other said that he didn't want to be shot down and not to teach him how to suck sweets. And that is the problem isn't it? They have the authority but they want to use my blog. So how is that any different from those using anonymous blogs to attack all and sundry coming out from Jimmy's site?

Read this again. Here. Doesn't point a) sound very much like what they said about FGM until they wanted to use the issues raised by FGM to contest? So who have failed in their duties to the chess community?

This is how it works. The way is not to whisper and talk to bloggers. Follow due process as there is one now. The way is to put down a motion for debate in the Council by writing in to the Secretary. So lets take the example used in the petition. The treasurer puts in a motion. He goes to the Council with his evidence and then convinces the Council that he has a case. All of this must be documented. Then he waits for the minutes to determine that the minutes reflects accurately the decision of the Council. And if he is a good official he not only goes to the meeting with the problems but he also goes with a few good suggestions for solutions.

But they are scared of speaking up at meetings but they want the office. So they learn to write poison letters and put it up on unscrupulous blogs. So where is the problem when these people do not use due process? Do they not suspiciously sound like the same people who attacked FGM and then tried to use the issues raised by FGM with modifications to run in the AGM?

So I say no, the problem is not with the entire new Council. There have been improvements and we should support that. And there are still a lot of things left to be done. I am informed that some of the signatories of that petition who are on the Council have not even had a single meeting of their committee. That is the problem.

They only know how to tear down and not how to build.

Consider this. In order to build we need new ideas to replace the non functioning ones. Otherwise what are we going to replace the bad ideas with? So if they do not have meetings to generate new ideas, put it to Council for debate and then make decisions, how are we to progress further?

What are the architects of the the petition putting forward? Don't they know that merely using character assasination, slander and lies speaks more about them and who they really are?

So I urge those people who have been misguided into supporting the petition to withdraw their names. There are no grounds. Ask those Council members behind the petition to go back to the table and engage the full Council and to learn how to work as a team.

In one of my conversations at Malaysian Open, I was asked if I am for an EGM. My answer was yes. But only if there are real and substantive grounds. But I will not lend my name and support to this blaming of others for their own shortcomings.

If they have done all that I said above and they have documentary proof that their requests to put substantive topics up for discussion have been unreasonably rejected, if the minutes have been manipulated and changed; if the decisions have been sabotaged, then produce all that evidence to the State Affiliates and then ask for an EGM, I will surely lend my support to that cause. But not this way, not via the Jimmy method. That way only knows how to tear down.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Deja vu at the Malaysian Open.

Ref: Here.

The intense pressure of the Malaysian Open is usually very instructive as to the character of the chess players. But funnily enough it also reveals the character of the other players; the players of the EGM. No later than the first day of the tournament I witnessed this event. I will relate the event and you can draw your own conclusions.

I saw a commotion in the distance and walked over to find out what it was about. My interest was piqued since it involved a "blogger" who is backing the call for the EGM. When I got over I was informed that the issue was that this blogger had taken a room alloted to our National players. And I was informed after he walked away that he refused to vacate the room and demanded that MCF write him a letter of explanation as to why he should vacate the room given to National players.

I am glad to inform you that MCF did not take this lying down and the issue was resolved and I did not see that person again for the rest of the tournament. So this is an improvement as far as I can see. Perhaps next year there can be another step forward where the room keys are not given to him in the first place.

Why do I say that? It is quite simple. This man is known within MCF for this type of behaviour. Let me account my own experience with that same man in 2009 (which is also known to the MCF officials present at the Malaysian Open). At that time I was the State official for Perak. Perak sponsored 2 rooms in Cititel for our players. At the time when we left for the event we only had a 4 member junior team and we were still unsure if it was possible to send a senior team for whom I was still trying to look for sponsors.

And so I split the boys up into 2 rooms of 2 each while I stayed outside. However I saw later that a senior team of sorts managed to go. I say of sorts because one of the players may not have been strictly Perakian. But 3 confirmed senior team Perakians were enough for me to make a decision. I spoke to the boys and they agreed to move into one room and allow the senior players the other room.

I was not going to allow my State players to sleep and rest in the corridors. But this blogger refused to allow this. He wanted the room for himself. Yes, he moved in while the State official slept outside and the Perak senior team slept outside and in the corridors between games.

However the President of PICA did not support my decision. This blogger threatened to pull out his children if his demands were not met. Yes, he had 2 children on the junior team. So he got clean away with his demands on the State Affiliate. So he was emboldened. And now he is trying to do the same at the National level.

I think there is a problem when we reward bad behaviour. That person now just further escalates that type of behaviour.

This same blogger had also gone around casting aspersions on my integrity after my sacking without any grounds from PICA as the Chair of the selection committee then. Now my readers, how do we tell whether this man speaks the truth or not?

Go to the team event in Merdeka Team now. Do you see a Perak Team there? Yes, there was no selection at all. He just put his children in without a contest. Can you now see why he was so keen for my removal?

So now do you know who this man really is and what he is really about? Why do you think he is supporting the EGM? What do you think his intentions are? Now when I write, I state my position clearly. Ref: Here. I now ask you to go back on this blog and see if there are any inconsistencies in my stand on issues from when I started writing to now. And then go back and read X-pose and see how that man makes his "stands". Compare and decide for yourself what this EGM really stands for. In Malay the word is what is the "niat" of this EGM?

Tomorrow's post: What I found out about the issues behind the EGM during Malaysian Open.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A few words before Malaysian Open.

In a few hours time we will be travelling to the Malaysian Open. And if our traditions hold true there will be another chess game on the sides even as the true fighters of Malaysian chess will be slugging it out on the tables. So there will probably be a lot of meetings, side meetings etc that may decide our future as a chess community.

So I hope you will allow me to say this now. I know of 2 types of people generally. One type can see positive developments amidst the unresolved issues and work harder to achieve more results AND the other type can see the faults and only the faults. So which type do you think is capable of building something good and which type can only tear down?

Yes, I was angry when I read the petition and maybe that is why it was kept away from me and given to Mr Quah instead. Maybe it is because I can see from the signatories the ones that supported the entry of the undesirable when I argued about the dangers of his inclusion. And now they want to put that blame on someone else.

Maybe it is because I can see from the signatories the one who told me not to teach him how to suck sweets when I suggested that he exercised his authority as a Council member but now I see he is learning how to write poison letters.

So yes I can see that you are angry but I wonder if you can remember any possible reason why I should be angry or even if I have any right to feel angry. So I would like to jolt your memory a little if I may just so that when you deliberate you may also want to add this little fact in.

Who's idea was it to bring a contest to the AGM? And who first suggested the candidates? Who was the one who made the introductions to the official of a key State that swung the vote count? etc etc etc.

Did I ever ask for office or a favour in return for my work? What was all this about originally? Was it not for the end of banning without legitimate grounds? Was it not for the building up of Malaysian chess rather than painfully watching it slowly slide into oblivion? Was it not to preserve the efforts of the States and the private organisers/coaches/trainers from being washed down the drain by people who uses the authority vested in MCF to frustrate their good work?

So what has the contest that started at the AGM now become? I am informed that the undesirable has now left MCF and there is now due process for conflict resolution. So what more do you want? The letter to COS has been sent and if there is merit the case will be heard. So is there any need to now add your strange and insincere demands for an EGM? Shouldn't that call be made on honest grounds? Do you remember the original aims at all or is this now about something else?

Kedah's suspension has now been lifted. The undesirable has left. You say you are the majority in the Council. So do it the proper way. Argue your case in Council and follow the Constitution.

Learn how to work as a team. Advice the new people who are in the Council. Don't give bad advice like suspending Kedah. Look at yourself. Very honestly, if you cannot see the contributions I have made to the contest in the AGM then you will also not be able to see the contributions of your fellow officers in Council.

Simply put, this petition is now part of the problem if what you are seeking is to build. COS has been engaged. The "undesirable" that you yourself wanted in originally has now left. There are no more legitimate grounds under proper due process to continue this fight unless your intention now is to tear down by fabricating "issues" through poison letters, innuendos and character assasination.

And Mr Quah is also wrong on this point. Ref: Here.

The AGM is not so much about old team members trying to get themselves re-elected as much as the Petition for the EGM is about old team members trying to get themselves back in after being removed during the AGM. (by exploiting some mistakes made by the new Council)

Furthermore who are the so called "senior committee members" who's advice has been ignored? There are only elected members and appointed members. Which one of you call yourself senior? And on what grounds?

So as you deliberate in your meetings over Malaysian Open, you probably won't remember my contributions but that is ok. I never did this for the recognition or for a reward in the first place. All I am hoping for is that you remember that you all originally undertook to do all this to build up MCF. And not to tear it down. So I hope you remember that at least. Where are the player's interests in all your machinations?

That petition is wrong and has no grounds. What is really needed is for all of you to go back to the table in Council and trash this thing out for the benefit of Malaysian chess. Put aside your egos and self interest. There has been some progress so far. So lend your shoulder to that effort so there is more progress rather than shooting each other down. I hope you will remember what I have said this morning as you watch me walking up and down during the Malaysian Open.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

More on the petition and general comments on the Interview.

First my apologies for the length of the just concluded interview. However I think if you read through it carefully you will see that there is a lot there. There is now due process for conflict resolution if you have issues with MCF officials or State Affliates etc. So I urge you to use the process. Personally I am not totally convinced that the show cause letter on Kedah is not selective prosecution but we can only see this in better context when we see which other issues are brought up for discipline over time. But at least there is due process in place. Which now brings me to the petition.

Ref: Here.

This post was referred to me after the interview. So lets take a very good look. Encik Muammar highlighted that the COS letter by Kedah and this petition are 2 separate matters and I agree. This petition is about a totally different subject and I am not even sure it has any basis. Mr Quah mentioned that it is about the "abuse" of Federation funds and yet in the petition it seems to imply that the Council expects the money to come out of thin air or from the pockets of the President and/or Deputy President. Is there something wrong with that expectation?

FGM blog has made many suggestions in the past on how MCF can get additional revenue by running National events differently; instead of sub letting it out to private entities. Let private entities organize private tournaments and MCF organise National Tournaments. What is so difficult about that? This helps in 2 ways. Certain private organisers cannot use MCF and National events to profit just because they are in the committee or have cables to the committee and MCF can charge a levy for services rendered when there is request for Fide or National rating by private organisers on a sliding scale of services provided. So there is a good source of revenue already isn't there. So were there deliberations to find other solutions to the shortage of funds? Or did some of the Council members just sit down, cry and then put out their hands for money? Or I call for an EGM.

My next question. If there are seemingly so many Council members in opposition why can't they use due process to change decisions? Why can't they put in a motion and get a vote on it? They claim to be superior in numbers do they not? How can there not be any votes on issues unless they did not speak up during the Council meetings? And that is my main point. The Council members must know the Constitution and the powers vested in them.

You do not speak up, the motion is passed and the decision made. What is absolutely not correct is to then write poison letters and then send it out to bloggers to tarnish the reputation and character of their fellow officers because they did not have the courage to speak up during Council meetings.

This is all wrong. Do it properly. Get an agenda before meetings, know what the issues are, think about it seriously before you get to the meeting and then make good decisions when you get there. Debate if you have to, argue it out. There are more ways of looking at things then just your own preferences. That is why you are a Council of officers. To get the best possible decision from a pool of different experiences.

So very honestly, this petition is about the failings of the entire Council and then wanting to put the blame on the 2 perceived Santa Clauses in their midst. If there are Council members in MCF who feel they cannot contribute then they should resign with some dignity. Ask yourself this question, have you exercised your responsibility that you undertook to carry out when you took up office?

I also have another problem with this petition. Not all problems can be solved at once. You need to prioritise and then tackle them one at a time. You need to find acceptable solutions to the majority backed up with good reasons and not be the source of more problems. Are those people in the petition expecting perfection all in one go? And without any effort?

So while I still think there is merit in the letter by Kedah to COS and I hope that matter can be quickly and amicably resolved (and as far as I can see due process is being followed), I cannot see the merit of this petition at all.

So I urge all the Council members who are party to this petition, think what you can do for MCF and not what MCF can do for you. Then we will progress.

Thank you for your time and Selamat Hari Raya.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interview with Encik Muammar of MCF.

Preamble. Here.

FGM: Thank you Mr Muammar for taking part in this interview. Before I ask you my main question I would like to affirm that the opinions expressed here are in your capacity as the Chair of the Ethics and Compliance Committee and not the offical position of the Council of MCF. Is that correct? I am also informed that it is from your chair that the suspension order for Kedah originated.

Directly after the AGM, many of us in the chess community were hopeful that we would see a more professional MCF after many years of dissatisfaction. We saw small improvements although news of new transgressions were being filtered through the social media as well as the grapevines. But all in all we saw satisfactory solutions to many complain cases. So it was a shock to the entire chess community when we heard that Kedah was "banned". Can you tell us what were the events that lead to such a drastic action?

Encik Muammar: I can give my views in my capacity as the Chairman of the Ethics and Compliance committee.
As per Percak's temporary suspension, the MCF letter sent was self explanatory in that until they give their reply to the 'Show Cause' letter, Kedah will be temporarily suspended. Hence, since Percak has replied accordingly, the temporary suspension has been lifted and this matter has been discussed in the recent MCF meeting.

The temporary suspension was not meant to prejudice any party but serves as a tool for strict compliance. The rule is simple, you reply within a day, then the temporary suspension is merely good for a day. But if you opt not to reply, then the temporary suspension will stay until a reply is received. It is one of the ways to ensure MCF's authority is respected by the members who have initially agreed to abide by MCF's rules and regulations.
In other words, there is no question of breach of natural justice since a full and fair hearing will be conducted in the event the reply to the show cause letter is not satisfactory. During the full hearing, Percak will be given the opportunity to defend themselves against charges framed against them. Thereafter, the committee will decide based on justice and fairness.

FGM: Thank you for the reply. I have not viewed the show cause letter itself but it was explained to me by a current MCF Council member. What was explained to me was that the show cause letter was given as a result of a letter sent by Kedah to COS to protest the way the AGM was conducted. So to the vast members of the chess community the perception of the suspension seemed more like intimidation and selective prosecution rather than compliance.

For strict compliance MCF needs to have proper written and transparent guidelines for conflict resolution. Moreover in this case the conflict is with the AGM itself and it would seem correct that in the interest of natural justice the correct authority is the COS. Surely it cannot be correct for the winners of the AGM to rule on whether they had won fairly or not?

Compliance guidelines should also be stated for resolution of conflict in subordinate organisations when MCF is the higher authority; for instance, the guidelines for Chess Clubs showing them the proper way to appeal to MCF, in the event of them not getting satisfaction with the State Affiliates etc.

So the logic flows that in the event that COS does not give satisfaction to questions raised from the AGM then the next step would be an appeal to the Sports Minister. Is that not the process of appeals recognised by the Council of MCF?

I also understand from the same MCF Council member that if the Ethics and Compliance Committee is not satisfied with the replies from Kedah then this matter will be brought to the full Council. Can I understand from your reply that the Ethics and Compliance Committee now recognises that Kedah was indeed compliant with due process and that Kedah has nothing more to answer for and is now a fully reinstated Affiliate with full rights restored?

Encik Muammar: I have to make one thing clear first. Temporary suspension was lifted due to Kedah's compliance in replying the show cause letter. However, as stated before, in the event the Ethics Committee views the reply letter as not satisfactory, a full hearing will be conducted and Kedah will need to present their case. I have stated in the last MCF meeting that I will not chair the MCF hearing to ensure fairness to both sides.

Generally, there is no problem with Kedah lodging it's complaint to COS on the AGM and I have no issue with the procedures you mentioned earlier. However, the complaint must be with a valid reason and merit. There is need to have a controlling mechanism to discourage anyone not satisfied with the AGM to simply lodge a complaint without any valid grounds. Otherwise, in the future, MCF's new management team will end up addressing the same issue and problem at the expense of proper chess development. I agree that MCF needs to have subsidiary rules and regulations to complement the general provisions in the MCF Constitution.

With regards to the perception of the chess community, personally, I have to restrain myself from answering in detail as it could be subjudice to any pending proceedings between MCF and Kedah. We are trying our level best to minimise any unnecessary controversial issues.

On the other note, may I presume that you have viewed Kedah's letter to COS? If the answer is in the affirmative then I will ask you one question as a member of chess community. This question is not asked in my capacity as Chairman of the Ethics and Compliance Committee.

My question is this: If there is something wrong with the AGM election process, who should be blamed?!

A. The Chairman of the AGM Election process.

B. The previous President and Main Committee.

C. The Delegates who gave their views.

FGM: So it appears that Kedah is not out of the woods yet although the temporary suspension has been lifted. Surely a case of this magnitude must be brought before the full elected Council at the very least for further deliberation and perhaps there are even grounds for an EGM or for the case to be brought to the next AGM for the full authority to execute the ban of an entire State.

I am encouraged by your support of subsidiary rules and regulations to complement the general provisions of the Constitution. Would you envisage such rules to also govern the conduct of MCF officials in respect of their dealings with private entities like FGM? I presume you are aware of the complaints issued by FGM and other private organisers.

Returning to the subject of the AGM, your presumption that I have viewed the letter to COS is correct. Allow me to offer you my perspective. It seems to me that Encik Yahya of Kedah wrote-in his protest as the "Chairman of the Election Process". The dispute is that he was unable to excercise his authority in that capacity during the AGM. 

My views as an interested party are that there should have been an earlier exercise, pre AGM to establish the rules of contest; a sort of case management meeting. However given my understanding of the elevated emotions leading to the AGM this was perhaps not possible which has now lead to the current impasse. 

So rather than lay blame on anybody at this late time, I would view that this factor alone is proper basis to call for an EGM today. The rules of engagement were unclear and this has now lead to a fragmented chess community. Would it not be better to have that EGM to at least clear the air? However this time the rules of engagement should be properly thrashed out before the EGM. I believe that as well as pre-agreeing on the permissible motions allowed may lead to a better outcome. 

Wouldn't that be better than going to an appeal to COS which paints a rather immature picture of our chess community? I for one would like to think that we can self regulate ourselves and not let this matter go out of hand.

Encik Muammar: Since the questions are quite lengthy and more than one at a time, I believe I shall address them categorically and respectively.

1. I cannot not answer that question since I won't be involved in the hearing committee should the committee view the need to go for full hearing based on the reply to the show cause letter by Kedah. My name has been quoted in the complain letter to COS. Hence, to be fair to all parties I will need to recuse myself from being part of it to avoid any conflict of interest.

The disciplinary committee have the right to hear and decide in line with the spirit of the constitution. The aggrieved party may then appeal to the MCF main committee against any decision by the disciplinary committee.

2. Precisely, no one is above the rules. Even the President or the Chairman of the Disciplinary committee would be subject any disciplinary action should there be a valid ground for complaint by any member.

I am sorry to inform that I have no idea what has been the complaints in the past since I am a newcomer in MCF. Furthermore, I can only address any official complaints which is lodged through proper channels. I can't simply pluck any complaint from a blog or FB and act on them. Lodging an official complaint indicates responsible and professional gesture of the complainant.

3. On the AGM issue, again I have to avoid answering in detail for the same reason given before. Personally, maybe there is a need to address the vocabulary and phrase like 'unable to exercise his authority' during the AGM. I am not sure if you have read the reply letter by MCF to COS regarding the same complaint lodged. The only thing I can say is that if I were given the trust to be the Chairman of the Election Process, I would conduct the election without any fear or favour. And if there are conflicting version of definitions by the delegates, I will follow the majority view or a view that is convincingly correct because at the end of the day, if there is anything wrong with the election process, I shall take the blame solely as the Chairman.

4. Agree that there should have been a pre-case management meeting prior to AGM. But I cannot comment on that matter since I was not in the main committee then. However, you have to appreciate the actual fact that the two signatories of the complaint lodged with COS were the MCF Deputy President and Exco then and who was at the same time the Presidential Candidate and the Chairman of Election Process respectively during the AGM. Thus, res ipsa loquitor (the thing speaks for itself). As an observer, how do you perceive the matter?!

5. On your personal view, with due respect I beg to differ by reason of the following grounds (these are my personal views and nothing to do with MCF's official stand):-

a) that the complaint lodged by Kedah alone on the AGM dissatisfaction is not a good ground to warrant an EGM;

b) that the EGM may not solve any problem but will only create further disunity among the chess lovers. Unless, you can guarantee it won't happen;

c) that the chess community will end up spending more time dealing with MCF politics. Unless, you can guarantee that the EGM will settle the problem once and for all i.e. no one is going to lodge complaint to COS post EGM;

d) that EGM will involve costs. And if EGM doesn't solve the existing problem once and for all, that will cause MCF and other members to spend unnecessarily. (Just imagine the cost to fly 3 delegates from sabah for EGM) worth it?!

P/s: I can go on and on with other reasons...but since my wife is complaining about why I am spending so much time on my blackberry while doing shopping for the kids, I guess those reasons will have to suffice.

By the way, I stand to be corrected.

FGM: If Kedah was the only signatory then you have a very valid and strong point. However I am informed that 7 States have lent their voice requesting for the EGM together with other signatories in their private capacity. I believe this puts a different complexion on the severity of the matter.

With regards to point 5 generally, I suppose you are correct as in there are no guarantees for a final solution. However it is my belief and also my reading of the sentiments of the vast majority on the ground that we are all tired of the intense politiking and we would like to see order in the running of MCF to enable us to progress and catch up with our neighbours. With some goodwill on all parties I am sure we can affect a culture change and have an EGM that can handle the issues professionally and lead to change for the better rather then allowing this ill will to continue to fester.

Encik Muammar: On the last 3 paragraphs, you mentioned about 7 other states that signed for the EGM petition...however, since our focus was on the complaint relating to AGM and Percak's suspension, I wish to put on record that only Percak has lodged the complaint to COS and not the other states.

The matters must be addressed in two folds:

1. Complaints lodged by Percak to COS regarding the AGM; and

2. The so called EGM petition signed by other members.
The 2 things must be dealt with differently since both matters are not similar and have different content and context, different reasons and grounds. Presuming you have viewed the contents of the EGM petition, you appreciate the differences between the 2 matters.

Thus, on record, the complaint about the AGM to COS was done by Percak alone and was not supported by the other states.

FGM: Thank you for that clarification. I was extremely surprised that you viewed the 2 matters separately. I was of the opinion that the 2 issues were connected as I was not party to post AGM events. Upon hearing that from you I went back to my various sources to check and found that my assumptions could be based on false premises. I believe the vast majority of the chess community also believes the 2 issues are connected. I am now informed that the petition is lead by outside parties not involved with the dispute on the AGM. So this makes it 2 very separate issues. I believe this misconception is based on the article written by Eddy Fong  ref: Here so I thank you for pointing this out to us.

Personally I am extremely heartened that you have stepped forward and laid out your cards on the table. And may I add, in a professional manner. This is definitely a first for MCF for as long as I have dealt with them. I suspect that this new spirit of engagement will be seen by the community as the beginnings of a law abiding MCF and will encourage the contending parties to also take a step forward in finding solutions to any future conflict that may arise from the normal course of business.

All my best for Malaysian chess and thank you for taking out the time to spend with us during Raya.

FGM wishes all our muslim readers a Selamat Hari Raya.

FGM wishes all our muslim readers a Selamat Hari Raya.

Do travel safely and enjoy your time with friends and family.

Update on the coming interview with Encik Muammar of MCF.

I was hoping to complete the interview before I leave for Malaysian Open on Friday since I do not like to be distracted during a tournament. And last night I thought that could be accomplished as I worked with Encik Muammar till past midnight. However Encik Muammar raised some very challenging questions towards the end of a very long interview and I felt I needed to pause and verify the new information given. After checking with various sources a new picture is starting to emerge.

I can also see from the responses of my normal sources this morning that there is some confusion as to why FGM is conducting this interview so I think I better clarify further.

Directly after the AGM, I did not involve myself in the politics of MCF any further. I felt that my contribution towards getting a challenge at the AGM was all the time I was prepared to give and returned to focus on developing Mark's chess. However after seeing some encouraging signs coming from the new Council I decided that this may be a good time to reactivate my Chess Academy which I closed down after having a lot of problems with sabotage seemingly coming from within the previous MCF. So I have begun looking for new sponsors as well as talking to potential investors for the venture.

I only decided to take an active look again into what is going on in the politics when I heard about the "banning" of Kedah. If things are going to turn bad again where my sponsors and FGM's players can be publicly attacked with lies and innuendos without avenues for redress like before then I would need to abort this venture as it would not be fair to my new and old sponsors as well as my potential investors.

So let me declare again the position of FGM so there will be no misunderstanding. FGM is for the orderly development of MCF towards a rule abiding governing body so that all members of the chess community including FGM will have a level playing field. Towards that aim FGM will work with any party who shares the same values. And if the EGM is the way to go after careful consideration of all pertinent facts then FGM will also support that.

However I also do not want to inadvertantly end up as a pawn in any hidden power game that seeks to subvert that agenda. It is my philosophy that we always try to make a big problem smaller and a small problem go away and not the other way around.

So I will need to verify all new information and re-evaluate my position given the new facts in order to present a fair and balanced picture so that in the end we can decide on which is the right side of the issues and not be manipulated into bringing us back into the dark ages again.

This means that although I am non partisan it does not mean I am impartial. I am on the side of improvement and not regression.

Having said that I will still endeavour to bring the interview out in time if it is humanly possible.

All my best for Malaysian chess. This time Malaysia truly boleh!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

FGM wishes Faridzul Asraf a speedy recovery.

I just read on facebook that Faridzul Asraf, a chess player, has been involved in an accident while travelling home for Raya. Wishing him a speedy recovery from the entire chess community.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Players List for Malaysian Open.

Ref: Here.

Looking forward to this event. One of Malaysia's showcase event with good local and International participation. The other event that we are proud of is the Penang Open. Registration is now open for Penang Open so do sign up early. Here.

It takes a lot of effort and dedication to bring up events like this so let us show our support to the organisers.

Update with news from MCF.

Ref: Here.

It does look like we are heading for another confrontation. So let us recap what this is all about. Chess is not a cheap sport if our aim is to achieve International standards and so this call for an EGM will be pertinent to all trainers/coaches/organisers/players and parents who are going for the sky.

So why is this such an important event? In the past when there has been sabotage/abuse of power we found that we were unable to appeal to the higher authorities without being punished further. If we appeal to MCF then we may find that MCF itself is used to attack us instead of getting justice. So there was no redress and often the victims are later seen huddling in the numerous corridors of tournament venues and whispering in dark corners afraid of being overheard by certain MCF officials or their cronies.

And usually the victims are stakeholders who have contributed the most to Malaysian chess. So this had to stop or we will not be able to progress. We can only thrive if we become a rule based community and all stakeholders can achieve fair play and justice.

So if the call for the EGM is rule and issue based then this will be a new milestone for MCF. This appeal is necessary if MCF itself is found not following the rules. And the next higher authority is the COS. If this precedent is achieved then we will have formulated a proper process for dispute resolution.

So here is the update. I have been referred to Encik Muammar who is the ethics and compliance officer of MCF, who is a lawyer by profession, to conduct an interview so that we can hear both sides of the story. Ref: Here. This interview is conducted on the premise that Encik Zuhri will have right of reply.

Note: This being Hari Raya season as well as the coming Malaysian Open, the interviews may take some time to finish as it is conducted by email and all of us are busy.

FGM's position and interest in this matter.

FGM is an affected party to the extent that our previous attempts to coach and organise chess events have been met with attacks and sabotage seemingly arising from within the previous administration of MCF. So our interest is in seeing a rule based MCF so that we may continue our business within clear guidelines. In that capacity we hope to facilitate informed decisions by conducting the interviews for a better environment for the entire chess community in Malaysia. We are however non partisan and have no interest in seeking positions within MCF. In that contest we are strictly neutral and will work with any party towards the stated aims.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The secret to unlocking the Malaysian GM.

Ref: Here.

In my conversations with Council members, one of them mentioned that the struggle within MCF is about power and the preservation of power. I have no doubt that this is true. However I hope the contestants in this power struggle can pause a little to reflect on this. If in this struggle the players are sacrificed to the altar of their ego's then this will be a pyrrhic and hollow victory.

If the players are given short cuts they will never be strong. If you attack and bring down the players developed by others through foul means instead of improving your own chess in order to win, you will never be strong.

If at the end of the struggle and you do win and control MCF and the States are sacrificed, MCF will never be strong for you cannot do it alone with just your cronies. Strong people develop strong organisations and cronies develop weak organisations.

Following this logic strong States lead to strong MCF, you think?

If you want MCF for your branding then the best possible branding is when our players go up on the podium by winning against a strong International field without any "fixing". Then you can look on with pride filled eyes and know that you have helped our players achieve this. Otherwise you will just be organising events to see foreigners come and take away our money, our prizes and our pride.

To me that is the way to build up Malaysian chess and paving the road to that GM.

And I also believe that it is the lack of this understanding that is the main reason why the previous administrations of MCF could not progress. If they had done it right we would be seeing strong players developed by MCF today instead of the very sorry story we are now telling.

So how this story will end now rests on those in the struggle for power or to maintain power today. It is now for you to write the rest of that story. So I hope you can take a little time to reflect on what you are trying to achieve. Besides just getting more power I mean.

For your consideration. Why don't we stop the poison letters and character assasinations? Why don't we stop the sabotage and sit down and talk as officers and gentlemen or else allow the arbiter to rule on this? Why don't each of us accept our own responsibility and stop blaming the other for our own failings? Why don't we try reasoning this out for a change?

All my best for Malaysian chess.