Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Eagle has Landed?

The Eagle has Landed is the title of a Jack Higgins book, a fictional war story. A group of German commandos land in World World II England to capture Prime Minister Winston Churchill and bring him back to Germany. I read it when I was a teenager and it was really captivating and written in a vintage Jack Higgins style. It was also made into a successful movie starring the great Michael Caine (think of the butler in The Dark Knight) I recommend both book and movie.

GilaChess uses a similar title to announce the arrival of GM Ziaur Rahman. Ziaur was brought to Malaysia by Dato' Tan Chin Nam. The stated objective is to assist the DAT Chess Centre boost its activities and promote chess learning and teaching.

It cannot be cheap to host a grandmaster here (purported for a whole year). There is his fee, two way air tickets and also board and lodgings to be paid. Also how about the cost for someone to ferry him around?

A day after touchdown at KLIA he was whisked off to Ipoh to compete in the Perak Grand Prix which he won (naturally) with full seven points.

Now I've been scratching my head for the past few days upon reading this news. How does dropping a 2500+ Elo rated grandmaster into a local chess tournament help promote chess? On the contrary it is detrimental as local players are now deprived of a prize (well I presume Ziaur will win the first prize in any local tournament). If the aim is to allow locals a chance, maybe once in a lifetime, to compete against a grandmaster (seven "lucky" players got the opportunity to lose to him), it is better to get him to play simultaneous. This way more can play against him.

I also noticed his name has been entered for the 2010 KL Open. This makes even less sense to me, paying a grandmaster to come and play in a major open in Malaysia. Anybody care to explain the logic here?


Bad Bishop said...

:) scratching my head too.. what a rewarding year for GM... get paid to get more payment.. hehheheh

John Wong said...

I shall try.

Having a GM in the midst of others gives inspiration to those who can beat him (maybe 1 in 100 games)on a good day. That inspiration may trigger someone to believe that it is possible to break through and reach greater heights in chess.

Many of the aspiring young GMs today must have in their youth conquered a GM and got inspired to do more in chess. For example, Short beat Korchnoi back in 1977 when he was 12, though in a simul.Botvinnik beat Capablanca in a simul when he was 15.

To win a game against a GM in 25 min chess is possible.This factor should spur many to study chess even more seriously rather than aiming for just a few hundred ringgit in a Swiss.

Generally we notice that the cari-makan chess players never go quite as far as compared to those with higher ideals. With today's technology in terms of ChessBase and Rybka, one needs strong nerves, a elephant-sized memory and great determination to attain mastership in chess. Chess today I'd say that it is more about conquering one's limits, as in golf and bowling, rather than testing the opponent's. The abundance of chess knowledge on the Net merely suggests that it is up to the chess-player to dig in and absorb it all, practice it to perfection by playing the computer till one gets a decent score against it.

It is good for a GM to start beating everybody on the scene to show the lack of technical knowledge on the part of the locals. The local pros will then have to buck up and study the game seriously and up the ante if they want to cari-makan, or else give up. This is a weeding process. The young ones hopefully will understand this and pay more attention to improving their game rather playing it for fun most of the time.

With this change, I am sure we will see progress slowly, but surely.

What's painful is that we have got Zhang Zhong to bear the Singapore flag but he has yet to play in a local tournament to help our aspirinng players in their respect.


John Wong

Jimmy Liew said...

John, it is always a pleasure to read intelligent comments. But I beg to differ on that part about GM beating everyone up to show the weaknesses. Our IMs and top players are already doing that.
Again I think a simul is more appropriate. It is no less achievement beating a GM in a simul than a 25 minute game. Remember that kid who beat Shirov recently?

Anonymous said...

The Eagle wins all local tourney will be the headline in the future. Maximizing publicity and a very good selling point to lure students into DAT Chess Centre. It's not cheap to get Eagle to land in M'sia, besides all the supporting characters have to be paid a salary too.

Anonymous said...

Well Jimmy, general public (I beg to differ) may have the perception that GM can play better and show the locals on the weaknesses over the board than local top players or IMs (no offence). Learning from a GM must be the recipe to success, this will be the talk in town (near future).

Jimmy Liew said...

Eloman, for the average player (and from the Ipoh tournament they are average and below), will learn nothing from the GM. Here's an analogy. its like expecting a primary school student to learn quantum physics from Stephen Hawking.

Anonymous said...

I agreed but you can try telling this to public (parents of national juniors with Nat rtg probably between 1500 and 1750, as in your definition they are just average player) and see what they say. You may be surprise with their logic.

Jimmy Liew said...

You seem very familiar with the ground :) Again it tickles me to try to guess your real identity.

John Wong said...

Well, beating a GM in a simul may not be as satisfying as beating him 1 to 1.

True, the young ones may not know how they would lose, but the FMs and those rated 2000 would.

What I meant is that in order for those aspiring to be GMs,they will have to cross swords with the GM till they are comfortable to take him on comfortably.

The same goes for Anand when he decided to leave India for Europe to battle the super-GMs and that's where the metamorphosis started.

So in essence, the local pool of top players must grow in strength with better sparring partners.This in turn will raise the playing standard overall.Younger players may not appreciate what it takes to beat a GM - they would have to win in all 3 phases of the game in order to score the point. This means more serious study is required for everyone wanting to reach the GM title - not just playing tournament after tournament and perfecting bad concepts and misconceived ideas about chess.

So hopefully GM Rahman can spar and give constructive advice to GM aspirants in correcting general weaknesses of Malaysian players, which is not a bad thing altogether.

Of course, there are other approaches to getting Malaysia's 1st GM.

France paid heavy for GM Polugaevsky to train Lautier full-time till he became a GM, then Dorfman with Bacrot. France has now moved forward chesswise. Spain too with the help of Salov. Can GM Rahman do the same for Li Tian,or should MCF fund someone with the depth like either Dvoretsky or Spassky?? This coach must have no aspirations of anything and be prepared to give everything to the cause.

Anonymous said...

John, I too like to read your posting. Hopefully this GM can produce some results, not just strong marketing like a regional academy that landed in Msia some years ago which produce chess players from beginners level / no chess basics to the level able to play for country. Also, unable to improve the strength for already national junior rep to a higher level with all the promises made to the parents on how good there are at the point of enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Oops, typo error. "which produce chess players" should be rephrased to "which hardly produce".

John Wong said...


Not sure who you are talking about. Gufeld?

There are not many good coaches to begin with from the ranks of the top-class GMs.

However, the key word I'd like to emphasise is INSPIRE. Inspire the players to want more out of chess by putting in time and energy to study the game. I seem to think that Malaysian chess-players play too much without looking seriously at their games to find out how they can do better. Even GMs sit through post-mortems and go through the game thoroughly after the game is over to learn about the mistakes they've made.

I will not count on a GM who's still actively playing to pass off everything he knows because he can't. There will always be secrets that he must keep. A GM that's no longer competing will not have this fear and can give every bit of what he knows, simply because he does not need it. Look at Kasparov and what he's done for Carlsen. It is clear that Kasparov will never play competitively again, so he passes his knowledge to Carlsen and now Carlsen is his medium. The world will see how Kasparov plays through the hands of Magnus Carlsen.

MCF needs to find such a person to help groom the chess scene.

abdooss said...

Dear All,
please excuse me for butting in. Not until John Wong mentioned Gufeld that I recalled (in 1991) playing White against Mok in a King's Indian game, with Gufeld watching. When Mok sacrificed his rook for my knight, a trembling me immediately resigned (Mok's reputation preceded him)! Gufeld who was watching, exclaimed ,"But you are winning!!" Mok chuckled and I just shook my head, walking away. It was an Allegro tournament at Taman Pertanian Bukit Cahaya, Shah Alam. Ok my point - that encounter with Gufeld (though he was kibitzing) had encouraged me to study KID more in depth. I might not be an IM or even NM, but Gufeld left a profound effect on me.

Anonymous said...

Gufeld is a great coach too, minusing his sarcastic remark on players at times. I too got inspiration to improve my chess from Gufeld. He was proud to annouce that he's 31st GM in the world, and his centre pawn equals 1 ringgit theory but not the flank pawn. How much I missed his lecture, hmmm.....

evision said...


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