Monday, March 17, 2014

No holds barred report on NC 2014.

After being briefed on the new selection criteria, I felt that there were vast improvements technically over last year's format. Top 3 from National Close, the current 8 players from the National Seniors Squad and the top player from the active list. So objectively there seems to have been some good thinking behind the criteria with a view of continuity, giving due recognition to the fighters from National Close and giving some recognition to those that went down the Fide rating path.

So all these players will meet at the Masters and we will eventually see the evidence of which is the better route from the results over a few years. So all that is good on paper.

Today I am going to argue that it is the unwritten rules that will upset all the good intentions of the selection criteria. I am going to say that the culture of irresponsibility is also going to undo the good intentions of the criteria.

Let me explain. Look at this again first. Here.

During the National Close there were a couple of incidences that happened that made me wonder about the efficacy of the criteria. One was the twice reported incident of suspicion of a top player possibly using a chess engine during play. The officials were informed. And for one game the player was told to report to the arbiter if he went out. He was to be escorted. However after that he repeated the same action the following day and the warning was not enforced then. At the top boards it is highly essential to monitor this as any undue advantage can affect the outcome of the selection.

As an observer this was my thinking. Once the incident is reported then the officials need to act. I believe that in those cases our culture works against us. In my mind I could sense the officials were hesitant to embarrass the player by searching him. This is a problem since the suspicions were not over one game but 3 that I know of although only 2 were reported.

The second incident was one where it looks like a player deliberately lost a game in order to forward another top player. Now of course this is very very difficult to prove since we cannot look into the players mind. But still I think we should look at this seriously since it affects the entire selection. Circumstantial evidence that can be considered is if a player of that experience and level can lose a simple end game like that. (Particularly if he is an end game expert and with a long history of questionable practices).

If we are unable to deal with controversial incidences like this then I am afraid that these things will make a mockery of the best intentions of the criteria.

And finally we come to a conversation I just had with an official who had been supplying me with information of the going ons in Council till he got a key post in Council. And this conversation is reflected with the other conversation I had with another official in the link above.

I called the official and made some suggestions. I believe that is the best I can do. And if he genuinely wants to see improvements then he will bring up my suggestion for discussion in Council. Or not.

I believe the results of the National Close is tainted and it is not too late to try and save the situation. It is my information that only 2 of the players from the previous National squad will play at the Masters. If we add the one player from the active list then we will have 3 players. I have also been informed that the best number for a round robin is 12. My suggestion is that if that is the case, then the other 9 players should come from the fighters in National Close.

Note: But this time there must be close monitoring. We are selecting for 5 players to play for Malaysia. We are not selecting for our 5 best friends. This needs to be done right.

The official I spoke to asked me to write in officially. I said I will write on my blog instead. What is my reasoning? Well dear official, it is this. If you have the intention of improving chess then you will use your position and authority to change things. I have given my opinion. You have the authority to act. Furthermore you have the same evidence as I have to make decisions on. The only question is whether you have the courage to state your opinion or not. It is that simple. I say this from my observation of 10 years and I also say it because the same official has confessed to me in the past that he is afraid of being shot down in Council.

To that I replied. If you seek leadership position then you must bring courage and the ability to think for yourself along with your candidacy for the post. Otherwise you do not belong in that post.

Similarly, if you want our chess players to play fighting chess according to the rules in International competitions then you have to be that testimony to them in Malaysia. If you have no courage, show no courage they will be just like you from your own example.

Am I making sense? Is that not the same question about leadership that the whole Country has been asking over the last one week. So begin with you, begin with chess. Lets show we can answer the hard questions. Lets show that we can think under pressure. Lets show we do not have to break the rules to win.

Lets show we do not need to have easy scapegoats before we dare to make decisions. Let the buck stop at the feet of the man/woman in charge at the time.

Then we will see our GM. Not this way. The GM will not come with this culture unless we buy one of course. And that is not a GM we can be proud of. Just like we are not proud of bought internet Phd's or leaders who cannot make tough and difficult decisions for the betterment of the chess community. That is simply not chess.


  1. Our culture is to cheat our way out, I guess..

  2. Or cheat our way in. I will write more on this tomorrow.