Thursday, October 31, 2013

Report from Batangas, Philippines.

We have been here a few days now and Mark is training hard under Norlito's guidance and playing chess morning, afternoon and night with strong sparring partners. Note: Norlito's son is FM Paulo Bersamina, Mark's regular sparring partner.

Amazingly open sharing with fresh new insights into the game and we have also been discussing a good format for FGM to conduct future training for Malaysians who want to make their mark in International circuits. I think we really have something good here and our skill sets are very complementary.

Will let you guys know more when I get back.

ps: FM Paulo is 15 years old.

All my best for Malaysian chess.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Off to UPSI.

Off to UPSI then Manila till November 4th. Blog will resume around Nov 7th. Taking a break from the politics of chess. Remove or at least contain the politics and we will see Malaysian chess soar. We have the talent and the resources.

What is the market price for an arbiter in a local event?

I asked a similar question when I organised the first training for our National Juniors by a GM before an International outing in 2010. As a new organiser then I was puzzled why I was charged double the GM's normal rate for events. This question was posed to the MCF of that time as they brought in the GM but I was "forced" to pay the extortionate amount since they "could not" see my argument.

Allow me to reiterate the argument here. I will willingly pay fair market rate that commensurates with the event. Charging me anything more tantamounts to cheating.

So what is the fair market price for an arbiter in a local event?

But there is more to this isn't there? What would happen to new organisers over time if they are "forced" to pay extortionate fees? What would happen to Malaysian chess?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Special announcement for National Junior in Johore.

Ref: Here.

In case you are wondering why we are going to Manila then the answer is that we want to be better prepared for National Junior in December and then to be fully prepared for National Close by next year.

The National Juniors is a special event for the Juniors because anyone U20 can try to win this event. Basically you can be U12, U8, etc but if you are strong and you can win this tournament then you can claim to be the undisputed strongest Junior for the year.

(If you win the National Close, it is still not clear if you can claim to be the strongest player in Malaysia for that year since we have a system that is biased towards those that have high ratings but questionable chess for national squad selection. So it is my opinion that we need to strengthen this event to encourage strong fighting chess on the senior level in Malaysia).

So this is a special event. The Juniors are still untainted as far as fighting chess is concerned and you can use it as an accurate gauge of where you stand among your peers in chess. So see you guys there.

ps: I hear there are some concerns regarding the chief arbiter for this year's event so I hope measures will be taken so that this event will remain a premium event in Malaysian chess and won't be drawn into any untoward controversy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Off to UPSI this weekend and then Manila.

Ref: Here.

We will be going to UPSI this weekend to test what we have been able to learn in Malaysia before we go to Manila to fine tune. UPSI is usually a good tournament for testing. See you guys there.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A good question is asked in this article.


I have to admit that I thought nothing of it at that time. But boy is it haunting us now! But maybe, just maybe we can do something about MCF. After all we do need some place away from politics, to take a break from it all. And sports has traditionally been that place.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Selection? It's about horse trading.

I was just asked this question and I have been asked this question many times before so let me try to answer this question here. I started speculating on the answer back in 2009 when I was the Chair of the selection committee in PICA and I tried to introduce written selection criteria. The terrible backlash which culminated in my unconstitutional sacking without any grounds speak on how key this issue is.

So this is my reasoning. There are 2 ways to get into the squad, State or National. Now if you are confident of your skills as a Coach or a player, you will choose proper selection.

But if you are not then you need to horse trade. A favour for a favour.

When that happens it isn't anymore about chess. It's about what deal you can offer for that spot.

I think that is why it is so so so difficult to get a proper selection criteria in. And even if you do manage to after much sacrifice, the very strong tendency of inadequate trainers will be to offer places to their inadequate players who may not qualify to justify for their existence. Inadequate players simply because their trainers who seek position in Associations are just not trying to improve their skills. So they go in to be able to horse trade.

You see the problem? There will only be 2 solutions to entry into the squad if they manage to reverse selection totally.

Note: There is still some semblance of selection left from the work done in 2010 and since but we are quickly losing it.

So if we lose written selection altogether instead of strengthening it at our next National Close, ref here, then to get to play for the National squad you'd better forget about chess and learn how to horse trade instead and you better have something good to trade with OR you can go and join Aron in China.

And since most of us won't be able to get to China or want to go there......

Ergo, control the selection chair and you control MCF and the chess community. Now all will have to play to your tune. You have the barter beads. You are the boss. "Kowtow here and then we will send you to compete with people who don't understand that word".

Now if this was true, that will be a good explanation as to why we are going backwards and everyone else is going forward.

But this is only just pure speculation of course. It can never happen here.

Follow the Asian Cities.


The final insanity.

Isn't it the final insanity when we send out players to compete Internationally when they do not dare to compete here?

Isn't it the final insanity when we send out players to compete Internationally to bring back glory to our Country when all they do is to find ways and means to fatten their Fide ratings but will avoid local tournaments and selection because they are afraid to be found out as frauds as some have been found out in recent years?

All we have for evidence of their chess prowess is because they say they are strong or someone else says that they are strong. And then a couple of games are put up from some suspect tournament overseas.

On the other hand, do we not have plenty of evidence that those guys will use all sorts of foul means to knock out their potential competitors without the indignity of having to try to win in a tournament, a selection.

And some still say they want to remain neutral on this matter. So what are they actually saying? Boggles the mind huh?

Just wondering on this cool Sunday morning.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What is the criteria?

SEA games. Here.

Asian Cities. Here.

Do you not find it confusing? Selangor but have Perak and Penang. Selangor and National squad but have non national squad player from another State. SEA games but have players who haven't even played recently in any local, International or selection tournaments. So what is the mysterious criteria?

I have always thought that politics and sports don't mix. Just like politics and education. Then I have heard some friends say that they want to remain neutral.

Actually when I hear that I wonder what they mean by that statement. Surely it is obvious that this is not about taking sides. The point is about whether good written selection criteria will take us forward or whether cronyism will take us forward.

I wonder if you can see the ramifications of this erosion of selection criteria. Has it been so long ago when we didn't even have any selection at all (written selection came in 2010) that we can't remember what it was like before that?

And is no one trying to guard the very small gains that was gotten by a lot of sacrifice over those years since? So is this the beginning of a slippery slide right back to where we were before 2010?

Having said that I think we will have the MCF we deserve.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NM Aron Teh has a fine run in Indonesia Open


Only one loss to a GM on the first round so far up to R9. I have a question here. But let me give you some background information first. We first played Aron in National Junior 2011. Then he was around the level of our other Juniors. But what impressed me was the way he was trained in China as described to me by his mum. Ref: Here.

I later learnt this. Here.  Strategy first.

So these are all training methods we can also try to adapt to our local environment but it has not been possible so far because we are resistant to change and improvement. Let me give an example. In 2010, I arranged for GM Ziaur Rahman to train our Juniors. That was met with a strange attitude by the MCF then. Some officials said that I was making MCF look bad. And some of you know what happened after.

But that was not all. In fact I offered our trainers here an opportunity to advance their training methods with a sponsored session with Ziaur. No one took up the offer.

So that was training.

Now the question.

Would Aron Teh be where he is today if he had been playing in Malaysia? Those who have played with him the last couple of years already know the answer. He was not better than any of our other Juniors back then. It was the training in China that have lead to his spectacular rise.

Now, this is my speculation. If he was brought up in our culture he would have been attacked if he won in Malaysia. He would have been told to wait his turn. If he had beaten certain local IM's he would have been threatened and intimidated. He would have been banned from the tournaments of certain local organisers. Is that not what happens here? I have been getting streams of information that Peter is trying to harass our training partner in Indonesia. So it still goes on. But maybe not as openly as before since now those actions are being highlighted.

I think improving our training methods is not too difficult. In fact we will be travelling to Manila later this month to learn more advanced training methods.

But we need to protect our players from people like Peter no? Or will the training not be in vain if we cannot protect them? I hear the Filipino's rallied around our training partner in Indonesia. And calls were even made to Ignatius Leong of Fide to protest the bullying. However in our case we sometimes see that it is our own officials in MCF that are the perpetrators of attacking/sabotaging our own players.

Here is a mild example. Here. I can tell you some real horror stories.

Let me say this another way. Look at this article. There is something there. Here.

So this is again my speculation from 8 years plus of observation from competing here. There is an industry for getting a player in via the back door. And it is related to the manufacturing of Fide rating by certain organisers. There is also a side promotion of suspect games. Notice the usual promoters are absent from Aron's fantastic run? Could it be because they did not benefit? And if they do not benefit, they attack you. The big problem is that they have nothing to offer as trainers apart from the back doors. So it is lose/lose if you use them.

We need to stop this side industry if we are to progress. It is destroying our chess. A good step forward is to make our National Close all about fighting chess like they do everywhere else. And I guarantee you we will have strong Malaysian players emerging too. Just like Aron. I have made my recommendation. Top 15 from National Close versus the top 10 from the "active" Fide list.

Do that and our Malaysian GM will not be far behind.

Games from FGM French Thematic


Monday, October 14, 2013

Indonesia Open, Aron Teh and Paulo Bersamina neck and neck.

Results here.

So here we have a Malaysian player trained in China and we have our training partner from the Philippines. And they are both doing relatively well in this crazily tough field. So this is my question. Where do you think the Malaysian players trained locally would be in that tournament?

If you think they may not fare so well then would it not beg the question why not? Could it be our training methods alone as opined in the comment here?  I agree with that comment but I also think there is much more. Our chess climate is very toxic. We actually have a system in place that not only does not reward gaining real knowledge in chess and chess ability but instead sabotage those players that want to learn how to compete by promoting back doors, manufactured numbers, askewed selection criteria etc etc etc.

So how can we still want our own GM when we cannot deal with those issues? You know our history. You even know the people involved in taking us to timbaktu. Actually we know what the problem is. The big question is do we want to fix it. Yes?

Ref: Here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Khairy, finally a win for the progressives.


Khairy, our Sports Minister stays as Umno Youth Chief. Boy, was I rooting for him.

Lets hope this will augur well for our Sports overall too. Maybe the days of the chess gangsters will finally be put behind us and we will all have a better future. I think he will have a tough job ahead having to deal with the regressives embedded deep in our sports (chess) culture and I think we all need to give him a hand too? U think? Or can he do it alone and we all just sit down and wait for him to solve all our problems for us?

ps: I hear Peter is up to his old tricks in Indonesia.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Our competition is ourselves.

Ref: Here.

I couldn't agree more with Tony's statement with regard to Malaysian chess. The only problem Malaysian chess has is ourselves. We have more than enough talent and the resources to get our own GM but we do not have the will to deal with the issues stopping our backward slide. We need to remove the brakes. U think?

See this again. Here. Is it a problem?

Indonesia Open R4.

Indonesia Open. Here.

Live games from Indonesia Open.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The million dollar question. Who is responsible in MCF?

Here we have an opinion from MACC. Here.

But just who is responsible in MCF? Surely they cannot have a bigger problem then what MACC has right? And chess players are our touted thinkers. Are we not supposed to be helping to develop the next generation of Malaysian thinkers? So if they are lead by people who cannot find solutions to little problems within a very small community like ours then what are we teaching our players by example, I wonder?

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

We need the cooperation of MCF before Malaysian chess can progress.

See here for the list of participants of Indonesian Open. Here.

Do you see any Malaysian participation below 2200?

This is the story. During Malaysian Open, I asked an MCF official if our players will be playing at the Indonesian Open. I was informed that the bar was set at 2200 and that we would need the intervention of MCF to request for a waiver for our players. I was then informed that MCF was writing in for our National squad. So I wrote in to MCF to request that they include Mark's name and that I would not need any sponsorship and will pay for our own way.

I did not expect any financial assistance since Mark is not in the senior National squad this year and Malaysia does not lose out in any way if we funded ourselves to go for the exposure. I was later informed that the Indonesian Federation did not give MCF any reply. Presumably they were not willing to compromise on the standards set. Fair enough.

(However I do contrast the attitude of MCF versus the attitude of the Philippines Federation. Their Federation worked hard to send their players to Indonesia Open with sponsorships etc.)

Ok. That is them. But here it seems that even if we were to pay for ourselves we get no support.

Now the big question is, how come one of our 1900 plus player (player no.108) get to play there when our Federation cannot even get us in officially? Isn't there something terribly wrong here? I hope MCF will conduct an investigation into what went so wrong that our players have missed the chance for the exposure at this event.

How, oh how, are we then going to get our own GM when our officials are sleeping in the drivers seat? You see the problem? Is it our National aspiration just to be jaguh kampung?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Indonesia Open- Live link.

I heard our current NM Aron Teh will be playing at this event. So we will be following it. But we will also be following the event because our training partner FM Paulo Bersamina is also playing. We will be meeting him in Manila later this month. Good luck Aron and Good luck Paulo. May the force be with the both of you.

So enjoy the games. Here is the link. Here.

Evan Capel makes FM!!

NM Evan Capel makes FM ie French Master (exchange variation) for the FGM Thematic. :)

It was a good event and feedback from the players and parents were very positive. So we hope to do more in the future with the support of our sponsors. I will do a small write up later as well as post photos as soon as I have cleared up some pending work. We will also post some games from the event as soon as the players have sent it to me so watch out for it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Reminder on the Thematic starting tomorrow.


I am still hopeful that a small number of current French players will join up today. The dates have clashed with a few other major events like exams and other tournaments. But I think it's a good restart. One small step at a time yes? So long as we are moving forward.

The difference between premeditation and ignorance.

Some friends have asked me why I have singled out certain individuals to comment on. And I have debated this in an online forum for chess players before. In law there is also a distinction between premeditation and ignorance in terms of gravity of action.

Note: What I normally do is to use their own postings to comment on. I justify this as fair comment on posted and public material.

So this is my position. Sometimes some may accidentally do something that harms our players and our Nation. This is probably inevitable as we seek to find a way out of our malaise. We are looking for the road forward and sometimes we are misguided by our own ignorance of how things truly are, how things work and what is the gap we need to close. So I view this situation as normal and I think the solution here is just better communication to achieve understanding.

But there are a few individuals who deliberately sabotage in a premeditated manner. They do not care who or what they hurt or who they destroy so long as they get what they want. They are totally selfish and beyond reason. And they sabotage in a deliberate and premeditated manner with full knowledge of the consequences of their actions even if they take the entire chess community backwards.

Do you think we need to make that distinction? Am I wrong in my ignorance to make that distinction? Is it more helpful or less helpful to make that distinction?

Chess is essentially about decision making and developing judgement. So lets apply what we have learnt from the game to this situation. Will making a decision on this impact on whether we will be able to move forward or not?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The malign of Malaysian chess.

Ref: Here.

I have been asked this question so many times before that I have lost count. Why is Malaysian chess in such decline? As if it is somehow that our chess is different from what is happening all around us. As if it is only our chess that is in decline and everything else is rosy. I don't think so. I think our Nation has lost much ground in terms of competitiveness all round. I think we tend to look for the shortcuts and not prepared to put in what it takes to compete in a globalised world.

And the evidence is everywhere. But still a few people with vested interest continue to resist change by trying to distort the true picture. I have argued right from the very beginning that in chess we have a subculture where we have a better understanding than most in our society that healthy competition is the way to develop ourselves. It promotes experimentation to find new ideas in order to develop further.

I read a study sometime back about why the chinese from China were so selfish and seemingly void of any values. The study postulated that the reason was because they perceive that there are no rules from the State that protects them. So it's a dog eat dog world. And that is why they behave as they do. Maybe we can take a page from that study.

I postulate that why we have such ingrained funny "going ons" in Malaysian chess is that there are no proper rules to protect the players who really want to learn competitive chess. The "rules" seem inclined to protect those that have access to the back doors. We may even have an industry or developing one that facilitate back door entries. Do you think there is any truth there?

My opinion developed from observing for many years in our chess arena is that we have many strong players without high ratings for many interesting reasons. And so I have suggested that we do an experiment. Stop giving easy passage for those players who have gone for ratings in their various ways and make them compete. After all when they represent our Country what would we want? Would our goal be that they come back with higher rating or would we want them to fight for our Country with pride and dignity. Which would you prefer? Which do you think is better? What happens in a team event when all our players fight to protect rating? Are you seeing the picture?

Read this again. Here.

We can use what we can learn from chess to contribute back to our Nation. So let us not follow the general malaise but instead be an example for our Country to make a fight back to reasoning and progress.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Question: Who is the stronger badminton player, Lin Dan or Chong Wei?

I see both Peter Long and Eddy Fong keeps bringing up ratings as the basis of measuring playing strength. Maybe they are right and maybe I don't know what I am talking about. Lets give them the benefit of the doubt. Ref: Here and here.

Lin Dan is rated 200 plus and Chong Wei is World number one in terms of rating. In Badminton many think Lin Dan is the stronger.

What about chess? So why don't we do an experiment? For the next National Close, lets have the top 15 from the National Close (Mens) play the top 10 from the Fide active list. And then we chose 8 from the top for the National squad. A clean fight and not the convoluted way we are selecting now.

How about it? And I won't even bring up how our neighbouring Countries select. Surely they cannot object since they are so sure that Fide rating shows playing strength. This will also give them the perfect opportunity to put egg on my face and teach me how to suck sweets. And then this debate will end yes? We will be there and so I will back my opinion by our participation. Agreed guys?

Equality of arms principle. A fair trial and a fair tournament.

Ref: Here. Is there a parallel between this legal principle and a fair tournament?

As I go around the Country, I see there is still a buzz around the idea of getting Malaysia's first GM. But I wonder if there have been deeper ponderings of this principle. Let me try to explain. Without a fair tournament for selection of our top players where would the energy come from for our players to learn and train in chess? What would be the purpose of improving your chess if you don't get a fair shake at selection?

Question, do we have ambushes in our tournaments where certain people have unfair access to games of other players etc? Do we have a selection process where the strongest players get selected or are our selection criteria biased towards those with higher ratings?

Which risk profile would get us that GM? The "investor" mentality where a return of x percentage would suffice or the mentality of the entrepreneur, the CEO, who takes on a higher risk profile and innovate to take on the market?

Look at this another way. Which type of mentality, strategy will get us that GM title. The one who tries to go for the win whenever possible or the one who plays to preserve his rating? Ergo, the investor versus the businessman.

For this answer I would encourage you to study what a GM run looks like. And then we model our methods with that end in mind. Isn't that the way?