Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Poisoned Pawn

Once upon a time when FGM first appeared on the blog scene, the writer appeared to have good intentions to advance Malaysian chess. At one time, he came under some attack from bloggers and readers. It appeared to be just personal and I defended Mr. Siew - it just seemed the decent thing to do at the time. He was very approving of me then.

Once he had set his foot in the chess blog scene and maybe thinking he had some support, FGM changed like a chameleon. He started to pose as an authority on chess and quick to silence his critics. I started to distance myself from him.

Today, I am being mentioned on his blog as "promoting slanderous blogs","hiding behind his IM title" and choice expressions are used to describe me such as "poisonous snake".

Lets see what he has to write in his post Which is worse

On the other hand Jimmy uses his IM title to promote and protect what they say. He doesnt say anything slanderous himself. He starts the ball rolling by first distorting a statement and then the rabid hate blogs take over. The anonymous shouts happen in the shout boxes. So we all start shadow boxing.

But hey, there is one in the forefront. He is not scared. He relies on that IM title to protect him.

Which is worse? The one who hides in the dark from fear or the one who is in the open protecting an illusory right of the elite players to continue playing for the Country long after they have ceased to be competitive.

If I am the problem it is because of posts like this which FGM uses to drag me into his paranoia world. There is no end to this "war". FGM will only give up when his son leaves chess and he has no more personal interest in it. We are not improving the chess scene contrary to what FGM thinks. Instead we are slowly destroying it.

After long thought I decided enough is enough. Read this series of comments we had in one of his posts.

[Jimmy] Stop mentioning my name or referencing me on your blog. Your attacks on my name are getting more bolder and bolder. You may overstep the line eventually.

[FGM] You make many personal attacks on me and I am merely asking my readers to understand why you are doing it. Does that answer your question?

[Jimmy] Point out where I made personal attacks on you. I dont remember posting anything like that. Parody was a humor post , if you consider that an attack?

I had actually checked all my postings for any such personal attacks. There is none as he himself had acknowledged in his post which I highlighted in italics.

[FGM] Lets just say we are on different sides to issues Jimmy and leave it at that. Read my last post. I will continue expressing my opinions. Thank you for dropping by. Have a good day.

[Jimmy] Ok, status quo maintained.

[FGM] Yes Jimmy, I will continue to lend my voice for improvements.

And now FGM sets a cunning trap for me.

[FGM] Are you asking for a truce Jimmy? If you are then use your wide experience to help us improve and I will support that.

I thought we can finally settle our differences. I let my guard down forgetting he is a master of mind manipulation. I took the poisoned pawn.

[[Jimmy] Yes, a truce. I do not have the time or energy to fight an unwinnable war. You stop making insinuations against me and my name, preferably not mention me at all in your blog. In return I will not comment any more on you either. We leave each other alone. How's that?

I must say I never expected and was truly shocked by his reply. There is simply no sincerity in him.

:) You promote another slanderous blog and then you offer a truce. Somehow I dont think the spirit is right. But thank you for the offer anyway. I reserve my right to voice my opinion and to take appropriate action when necessary.

Note that I never asked him to stop voicing his opinion. All I wanted was for him not drag me into his crazy distorted world. There was nothing left to say. It was a poisoned pawn and I took it.

[[Jimmy] As u wish

We already have our first grandmaster. Unfortunately not in chess but in mind games.

I am a fast learner and I will not fall into this trap again. Now let me go and promote some slanderous blogs somewhere.

Carlsen beats Kramnik, Tata Steel

Kramnik playing white appeared to have created a dangerous passed a-pawn. Carlsen coolly exchanges into a N v B with an extra pawn. Then proceeded to demonstrate the power of the knight over the bishop

Friday, January 28, 2011

Let the truth be known - "thrown game" fiasco

I really did not want to mention FGM blog anymore but Mr Siew have been relentless in his assault on me. And I have to defend myself.

He says that I hide behind my IM title. This is really a low blow coming even from Mr. Siew. I thought he might still have some decency in his soul. Degrading a title that is not held just by me but other Malaysians and thousands throughout the world.

Yes I do hide but not behind any title. I hide behind three shields let me introduce to FGM what they are - Truth, Decency and Common Sense.

FGM promotes many lies and misdirection, it will take too long to list them here. Today let's just look at the matter of the "thrown game" in his post Paying to represent the country where he writes "Stories, true or not, of them wanting to sell books and not wanting to play. Stories of them wanting to lobby amongst the delegates for business deals and not wanting to play. Stories of handphone ringing and throwing a game."

That last sentence really irked me. Someone threw a game in an olympiad?? That got me mad. Does this guy have some inside info or just trying to stir something up? After all he was not there. I posted in the comments.

[Jimmy] Please tell us all who was the one throwing the game. Otherwise retract your statements.

I'm trying to be polite.

[FGM] I am quite curious about the way you (and certain other seniors) use belligerence instead of reasoning to try to get your way. Is that how they broke you?

He goes off on a tangent and even throws in a slur on me in the last sentence. The term "broke" has a very negative connotation. In the old West in America, wild horses were tamed using various methods. When the horse has given up and accepted that it has a master, it is said to be broken. When someone says you are "broken" it means you are no longer your own man, you obey and take orders from some else.

This got me a little mad.

[Jimmy]Just answer the question, stop diverting the issue

I cannot answer a non question. Go and re-read. I am sorry I cannot indulge your imagined slights or respond to your fervid bitterness. You have to do that work yourself. If you find it so difficult to look in the mirror I suggest you go to the sites that do not bring up the real and genuine issues of concern to the chess community.

I realize he has no idea what himself has written.

The question is who you are referring to that threw a game in an olympiad. Ok, let me reproduce the sentence here since you have problems locating it "Stories of handphone ringing and throwing a game.". Which of the ten players threw a game? I think the other nine have a right to have their name cleared.

I am sorry you cannot read or understand context. So I will indulge you this one time. The only mention of a thrown game was the handphone ringing. Stop your nonsense and stupidity. Try to do something productive. You have started on a series. Go and continue that. Think deeply and offer solutions. No one has forgotten your contributions. You do not need to remind us by childish outbursts. I will delete all future inane and nonsensical postings from you. Do not waste your time and mine.

Any chess player knows that the term "throwing a game" means except Mr. Siew. The correct term to use would be "forfeited". When I realized he had made a mistake (after all he knows little about chess) I left it at that. The were many comments after that from anonymous readers not from me. All of them were upset with the fact that he had sullied Mas reputation.

The arrogance of this man is that despite knowing the mistake was from him, yet till today he has not retracted his post nor offered any apology to anyone. In his mind, he has done nothing wrong. It's everyone else that is wrong. Instead he complains that his statements are twisted to put him in bad light. We are supposed to read his mind and interpret what is in there, not what he writes.

So that is the story of my participation in the "thrown game" issue. Yet FGM is constantly using this episode as proof that I am a liar. There are other incidents maybe I might or might not write about it.

Beyond 64 blog

Another chess blog spawned in response to FGM blog. Read here. This is the third after Rationality and Chess Ninja.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

10 techniques to become an expert (in almost anything)

I learned these ten techniques from careful study and reading. Now I am an expert in almost anything. Let me see, how about the game of bridge?. I can teach those old codgers a thing or two. I don't think there is any such blog yet so it is to my advantage. I can present myself as a "messiah" or "saviour" to the game of bridge. After all there are no world class Malaysian bridge players - I think. I will show what great insights I have, to bring backgammon  I mean , bridge to the next level. It does not matter that I know nothing about bridge. Wait, I know it is played with cards and there are fifty-two cards in a deck. Besides I  am pretty good in chess so I can apply that to bridge. Right?

So without further ado, let me present here the ten techniques. Once you have mastered these ten techniques, you too can be an expert on anything. First create a new blog and give it a fanciful name. Blogs are the in thing nowadays.

Use lots of cliché in your posting. They dont mean anything anyway and it makes others feel you are superior to them. Some good examples -  dont drop the ball, join the dots, shut out the noise.

As much as possible, write everything with a question mark. That way you hide your ignorance. I cannot emphasize enough on how powerful this technique is. Especially when you formulate it in such a way that there are no correct answers. It makes your readers think you know something. Try writing a complete paragraph using questions only.

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody saw it , does it make a sound? Did the tree even fall? Was there a tree in the first place? See how I combine this technique and #6  #1?

Ignore what others say, especially if it is logical and makes sense. Logic will shatter the messiah image you are trying to portray. Also ignore anything that contradicts you.

If #3 don't work, then deflect attention from the issue. You can use #2 and #5 to do this or preferably combine them together. If you can do this, it means you have truly mastered the art of being an expert.

You will find there are two groups of people - those who agree with you and those who disagree.  Call the latter group naysayers and use as negative a description you can think of and smear them with it whenever you have the opportunity. Some suggestions that can be used - poisonous snakes, broken men, bitter , demoralised , cowards, belligerent. You get the idea.

Never admit you are wrong. Even when you know you are. It is a sign of weakness and will affect your image as an expert negatively. If this does not work then claim that the naysayers are deliberately pointing out your mistakes. By mixing truth and lies you confuse your audience and they might even forget you made a mistake.

After every three posts, make some wild and unsubstantiated claims to get some reaction. If other people are not talking about you , you are history. Every public relations guy knows this. There is no such thing as bad publicity. You just need thicker skin.

Create the impression that the naysayers are critising/attacking another group. This deflects from the fact that they are actually only critizing you. An added advantage is that you can gain sympathy by pretending you are defending this group. Some examples - "women and children", "juniors". Use your imagination.

Everything is connected. Apply whatever knowledge you have from other fields to the situation in hand. For example, castling is always important in chess so tell the bridge players to protect their king ,for example  "keep the kings low". If it actually makes some sort of weird sense to them, then that is an added bonus.

The last one but the most important.

"Never let the truth get in the way"

Updated DATCC Q1 Activities - as of 25th January 2011

Bloggers and Friends

Foremost, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to you for the recent publicity and write up that you have provided in your blog to assist us in advertising events, activities and programs that will be conducted in DATCC. Your assistance have indeed helped to further promote DATCC as the leading chess center in the country. Thank you again!

Since I last sent you the DATCC Calendar for Quarter 1, there were some changes made and information/events added  to the calendar, which also incorporates some other events including MCF events that has been made known to me. Again, I hope that you can share this calendar with your readers and blog followers or alternatively, direct them to our blog site to help promote our events, and other chess events around the country.

Some of the changes made, additions added are as follows. At the same time, I would also like to get your feedback on certain events/programs that we would like to conduct at DATCC, to weigh whether it is a worthwhile event to run – timing and feasibility wise. Again, appreciate your time to help and assist.
1)    The FIDE Rated event which was planned to start in February (1 game per week) has been cancelled. The period is too long and I doubt I can get players to commit for 9 weeks to complete a FIDE Rated Event. I believe 3 weeks stretch (with alternate weekends) maybe a more acceptable option. I welcome suggestions from you guys.
2)    If there is an Individual FIDE Rated Event, it will probably start sometime in April, just before the CAS Selangor Open scheduled during the Labor Day weekend
3)    The Team FIDE Rated Event – 4th KL Chess League, is scheduled to start in June/July
4)    Lim Chong Memorial Event is scheduled for 27th March 2011. The event is to honor and remember Lim Chong, chess journalist/player who has been a part of the chess community for more than 20 years. The guest of honor for the event shall be Jan Lim, Lim Chong’s wife and is expected to be attended by Lim Chong’s former colleagues from NST and BERNAMA.
5)    The venue for National Closed has yet to be determined but DATCC has offered its playing hall for MCF to host the event.

Please do not hesitate to contact me as per my contact details below should you have questions, inquiries, clarifications, suggestions, feedback, etc. You can also go to our blog site to check out the events that we have – we have added more pages to the blog site! 

Thank you and Warm Regards
Najib Abdul Wahab
DATCC Logo Email
Program Manager/Coordinator
Tel: +6016 338 2542

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Carlsen shows his win over Nakamura

Here are the videos in two parts

I was rather surprised that Carlsen opening preparation is not deeper especially in a Sicilian.

The board he is using is not magnetic. There is just a thin strip of wood on which the pieces stand which is why they keep dropping off :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

French Cheating Scandal

The big news is that the French Chess Federation has accused its own player , Sébastien Feller,  of cheating at the Khanty-Mansyik Olympiad. The accusations are posted on the Federation's web page but no details of the form of cheating given. This is very bold because if the accusations cannot be proved they are in for a spot of libel.

Feller has published a statement refuting the charges which are translated below -

I completely deny the accusations of cheating from the French Chess Federation.
This disciplinary procedure is in fact related to the fact that I supported during the Olympics,
the current president of FIDE in opposition to the leadership of the
French Chess Federation. The president of FIDE is in fact defamed on the blog of Jean-Claude Moingt, which claims that it has received proxies fictitious. In addition, I have reported at private conversations, which were repeated, for accounting irregularities of the French Federation (details will be given later), which have angered the president. I asked my lawyer, Charles Morel, to initiate legal action for damages against the French Federation for having unjustifiably mentioned my name in a statement included on all French and foreign sites, as well as in the international press.

Best regards,
Sébastien Feller

Chess is a cruel game

I learnt long ago that chess can be a most cruel game. One wrong move can mean the difference between a first and second prize, a title norm or a near miss at a norm.

if you do not believe, look no further than  the on-going Tata Steel tournament in Wijk aan Zee. In the "A" group, a very strong field amongst which are Anand, Carlsen , Aronian , Kramnik etc. Any up and coming player will give anything to be in such company. Anish Giri is such a one. He is doing well with 4/8 even beating Carlsen !.

In the "B" group, Filipino star Wesley So is leading with 6/8 score. He will have a chance at next year's "A" group if he wins the "B" group this year. But I cannot help but think that he and Giri should have been in the reverse situation.

At last year's "B" group, Wesley had a winning position against Giri who continued playing (so much for those who keep insisting that a gentleman should resign lost games). Giri set a desperate trap which Wesley fell into and got himself mated. Here is the game.

A win for Wesley would mean he would have topped the "B" and receive the rare invitation to play in this year's "A" group. Instead Giri has taken his place. All because of one move (36. Ne2).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Walk the Talk

So far no one has dared to take up the challenge.

I don't expect FGM to take the dare. He knows when to shut up when things will not go in his favor. Generalisation, statements and claims that cannot be disproved are his forte. Polls are too methodical and unforgiving for his liking. I think he will be silent or dismiss it totally. As of writing he has already received 87% of the votes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Ultimate Poll


My promise is to close my blog if my vote is the highest. Does First GM, Rationality and Chess Ninja dare declare to do the same? Over to you guys.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interesting Poll

Appreciate the humor here.  Go and vote if you have not done so.


First GM has accused me, Rationality and Chess Ninja of slander. He does not know the difference between slander and libel, but that's ok. He wants an apology or else he threatens a police report against the three of us.

Mr. Siew (yes I know you will read this) , can you please point out how you were slandered? Precise and to the point please, I tire of having to wade through your blubbering.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rationality respond to FGM

I pretty much resolved that I will no longer respond to Mr Siew's postings - unless he starts to malign me again or attacking those things that I care about. One of this was when he said that there was a thrown game by one of the Malaysians in the last olympiad.

Rationality beat me to it here. He pretty much said all I wanted to say - its uncanny how my thoughts and feelings match up with him. I do wondor if he is my Jekyll. Come to think of it, I did go to bed very early last night...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

RIP Greg Hjorth

I woke up early this morning and was shocked to learn of Australian IM Greg Hjorth passing from The Closet Grandmaster blog at the age of 47.

Greg was a strong junior when I first met him in 1981. We were playing in a masters tournament in Hong Kong and I was told he was one of the Australian talented juniors. I had difficulty pronouncing his name and finally he told me to just call him "Horth".

He left Australia for the US in 1990's or thereabouts. He was not very active while in the US.

In recent years he had returned to Australia and attempted to compete in some tournaments there.

Greg is one of those talented players who decided very early that a career in chess is not the sort of life for him.

My condolences to his family.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Stories from beyond the board - Game throwing is cheating

The year was 1984 after I achieved my first IM norm (read about it here). I was playing a Swiss tournament in Singapore.  I had already collected a number of points and in the running for first place as well as picking up a final norm. When the final round pairings were published , everyone knew that I just required half a point in the last round. My final round opponent, Singapore's IM Tan Lian Ann , offered a draw perhaps thinking both sides had chances in the position. It was perfectly reasonable for him to expect a peaceful end to the game.

In the tournament were a number of Filipino players. From observations I determined that they were playing as a group. Basically they were fixing the games in favour of the one with the best chance of winning the highest prize. One of them was racing with me for the first prize.

If I drew it was a certainty that one of the Filipino would take clear first prize. I considered a safe draw to secure the IM title. But I felt victimized by the Filipino game throwing tactics. It was incredibly frustrating. I had to struggle every round (I played six Filipinos) while they could plan to draw or lose their games.

I refused the draw offer which kind of shocked my opponent. Instead I took a big risk. I sacrificed the exchange eventually  winning the game and tied for first with the Filipino and completed my title requirements.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Some changes to Renegade Rapid Weekender

After the previous post, at least one person have seen the light. I find Najib is quite a reasonable person if you present the facts accurately , unlike some other people around.

Najib has announced changes to the  Renegade Rapid Weekender due to be held on 30th January. The changes are:-

1)    An Unrated prize has been added for players who are unrated.

2)    Tie Break for the event is also advertised to avoid controversies.

Go here to read the full details. The announced tie-breaks are
1. Bucholz with variable [37]- For Best and Weakest game dropped are counted as "0",
- For not played games (forfeit, bye, etc) is "compute with real points"
- For adding own points is "No"
- For dropped players is counted as "No points (for all rounds)"
2. SB with variable [52]
- variables are the same as above
3. Bucholz with variable [37]

- variables are the same except - For not played games (forfeit, bye, etc) is "compute as draw against the player himself"

Here is an explanation of what the tie-breaks actually mean. The first tie-breaker is the normal Buchholz that we all know. Under this tiebreak the 17th Rapid placing would be Fadzil, Ian, Abdullah.

The second tie-break is normal Sonneborn-Berger.  Under this tiebreak the 17th Rapid placing would be Fadzil and Ian tie followed by Abdullah.

The third tie-break is the one actually used in 17th Rapid and the result will be Abdullah, Fadzil then Ian according to me but chess-results give Abdullah, Ian , Fadzil.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Idiosyncrasies of Swiss Manager program

I saw some comments regarding the recently concluded 17th Chess Club Rapid. Three players tied for the first three places. Some wondored how Abdullah could have been awarded the first prize on tie-breaks. If you look at his opponents you will see that he actually has the worst Buchholz tie-break amongst the three players.

The majority of tournaments are run using a software called Swiss Manager. This piece of software works out the round by round pairings making the tournament director job much simpler and allows pairings to be posted much quicker. The software also works out the final standings and tie-breaks if needed (as well as a lot of other functions which I do not need to go into here).

Description of common tie-break systems
The TD chooses the tie-break systems that he/she wants to use when creating the tournament. There are many tie-break systems available. The most commonly used are the Buchholz (SK) and Sonneborn-Berger (SB) and the Progress or Cumulative . The Buchholz computes a score using the sum of the score of each of the opponents of a player. The Sonneborn-Berger is similar to Buchholz but uses a weighting, a win takes the full score of the opponent, a draw half of that and a loss is zero. The Progressive system takes the players current score at the end of each round and sums it.

There are weaknesses in the Buchholz and SB systems. If you are paired (usually in the first round) with an opponent who subsequently drops out or worse, never started the tournament, your tie-break will be negatively affected. You will be unfairly penalized through no fault of your own. There are attempts to address this by modifying the method of calculating the tie-break score in cases of unplayed games such as forfeits or walk-over. This variations are selected in Swiss Manager at the beginning of the tournament. They are refered to as Buchholz Tie-Breaks (variabel with parameter) and Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break variable.

These variables describe how unplayed games are computed for tie-break purpose. There are three variations -

a) using opponents actual points (this is the original Buchholz)
b) the game is treated as a draw for tie-break purpose but still using the opponent's points
c) the game is treated as a draw against the player himself (please note the italics because this will really surprise you later.

Analysis of 17th Chess Club top three players tie-break

TB1 is first tie break and TB2 is the second tie break. The tie breaks taken from chess results  (not shown in the picture but they are at the bottom of the web page) are -
Tie Break1: Buchholz Tie-Breaks (variabel with parameter)
Tie Break2: Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break variable

There is no way to tell which variable that the TD selected based on the posted results. We can deduce it with a little analysis on how Abdullah got his tie-break score since he had a walk-over in the first round.

The results of top three by round
Abdullah Che Hassan
 Rd Opponent  Opp Score Result
 1  Muhd Taufik Azman  0 1 (walkover)
 2  Razali Hamzah 4  1
 3  Muhd Syazwan Zulkifli  5 1
 4  Norizzudin Afendi Norazman  4 1
 5  Ahmad Fadzil Nayan  6 0
 6  Nor Ilhamuddin Shaikh Ali  4 1
 7  Mohd Saprin Sabri  5 1
Ian Udani
 Rd Opponent  Opp Score Result
 1  Nge Jia Xuan 4  1
 2  Saharuddin Mappa  4 1
 3  Nor Ilhamuddin Shaikh Ali  4 1
 4   Nik Ahmad Farouqi Nik Abdul Aziz 4  1
 5  Mohd Saprin Sabri  5 0
 6  Kamaluddin Yusof  5 1
 7  Ahmad Fadzil Nayan  6 1
Ahmad Fadzil Nayan
 Rd Opponent  Opp Score Result
 1  Kabir Singh 2  1
 2  Izuddin Ahayat 4  1
 3  Abdul Aziz Abdul Shukor  5 1
 4  Ismail Ahmad 5  1
 5  Abdullah Che Hassan  6 1
 6  Mohd Saprin Sabri  5 1
 7  Ian Udani 6  0

The tie-breaks works out like this -

 Player SK  SB SK (variable)  SB(variable)
 Abdullah Che Hassan 28   22  33.5  27.5 
 Ian Udani 32  27   32  27 
 Ahmad Fadzil Nayan 33   27  32  26 

SK and SB is worked out by me while the SK (variable) and SB(variable) are taken from the chess-results as in the link I given above. Note that Fadzil opponent's results must be wrongly reported. because there is a one point difference between my computations and the published one.

For Abdullah the difference between the normal and variable SK are a massive 5.5 points. This can tell us what the TD selected as the variable which I worked out to be (c) above. Here is my analysis. His first round game is treated as a draw (irrelevant in Buchholz) against himself. So his first round Buchholz score is 6-0.5 which is 5.5. Total Buchholz (5.5+4+5++4+6+4+5) giving the total 33.5 which is consistent with the score published in chess results.

This is outrageous. Not only did he not have to exert himself in the first round to get the full point, he benefitted tremendously in the tie-breaks. If his opponent had turned up to play, Abdullah would have been third in the tie-breaks by the rules. I for one, find that extremely ironic.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Richard Feynman on rules of chess

Richard Feynman is an American physicist who won the Nobel prize for Physics in 1965. He has a gift of explaining very complex ideas in a simple and interesting way. Here he uses chess rules as an analogy to how scientific methods are used to understand nature laws.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts on chess development - Part Two

In order to develop the advanced group , the trainer might have to spend four times the effort he required on the normal group. In business world we come across the term ROI (return on investment). The is the amount of remuneration or profit in relation to the amount of work or risk that we put in. For our chess trainer, the ROI is just not worth it with reference to the advanced group,

But most crucial of all, the problem is that our local trainers just do not have the ability to produce star students. For normal students, let us assume a beginner. The trainer starts with the the pieces movement and value, castling etc etc. Then move on to basic openings and the principles. Then simple tactics and evolve into advanced tactics. Somewhere in between the trainer introduces basic endings - pawn endings and rook endings and the like. Very simple stuff, he probably already have all the material in his library.

After a year, his students may already progressing well, most have reached the limits of their potential. Week after week the trainer gives lessons with variations on the same theme. New tactical positions, slightly different type of endings. His more promising students are unable to make any more breakthroughs. This is due to the limitations of  their trainer. The trainer just  cannot give what he does not possess. Some of the students might have the initiative to start working on their chess alone. Some might seek new coaches. But without proper guidance , planning and strategising, it is a hit and miss affair.

Is it any wondor that our juniors do not seem to progress after a certain age or level? Why do you think that our players cannot keep up with other countries (and I am just talking about the Asian region) after a certain point?

We do not have the knowledge to take a strong junior to the IM level let alone produce a Le Quang Liem or Wesley So. Vietnam's success today is because years ago they started importing Russian trainers.

As for us our chess federation officials are still sleeping. After all they have achieved their own KPI which is to get re-elected.And now we even beat Singapore. Wow! What an achievement!.

Truly we reap what we sow.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thoughts on chess development - Part One

I have a secret dream but it will not be secret anymore after this. My dream is that Malaysia will produce a chess player of the quality of Vietnam's Le Quang Liem , China's Wang Yue and Wang Hao or Philippines Wesley So.

Forget about our IMs Mas , Mok and Yee Weng. They can only be strong IMs and I doubt any of them is capable of GM level. I said before we have to look at our juniors for a future grandmaster.

In 2010, those juniors that impressed me most are Yeoh Li Tian, Mohd Nabil , Sumant Subramaniam, Tan Jun Feng , Low Jun Jian and Fong Yit San. And I almost forgot Mark Siew who nearly won the National Junior that year. These kids have great love and enthusiasm for the game. I wondor who if any will be our Le or So?. Will we even get some IMs or GMs from any of them?

There are some observations that our young chess talents show great promise until the age of twelve - or thirteen or fourteen , it's just a number. So the question is why this happens and I think I can offer a explanation.

I think a lot depends on the coach that we have. Now there will be some confusion because locally we have  chess teacher, coach and trainer. Some might call themselves trainers when in reality they are merely teachers. It seems the terms can be used interchangeably although I believe there is difference between the last two. Anyway for this blog post purpose I assume both fulfils the same role so I will make reference to just trainer.

I'll discuss this subject over several posts to make it easier to read and digest.

Firstly I will talk about our local chess trainers. Now a trainer (or teacher) makes a living from teaching chess , the more students he/she have the more the income. The majority of these students will be average players , I refer to these group a normal. A small percentage will have some potential and maybe one will be a future star.  Let's refer to this as the advanced group.

The average chess trainer makes his livelihood from the average students. You see, it is the numbers that count. The trainer might be able to charge a little more from the advanced but the group that pays him collectively the most will not come from this small group. And the effort and time needed is not proportional to the returns. A trainer can prepare a lesson for a group of say twenty normal students in a few hours. He spends two hours a week.  If he charges RM80 per student he is collecting RM1600 for sixteen hours (including preparatory work) of work a month. If he has several of such classes he is already doing much better than most salaried office workers.

To be continued...

DATCC Activities 1st Quarter 2011

DATCC under new management of Najib Wahab appears to have lots of activies lined up for the next three months. Below is the calendar provided by Najib

Monday, January 3, 2011

Test online game

I found that the way I show online games on my blog causes some problems with browsers specifically Internet Explorer.

Currently I am testing out various ways to display an online board for playing through games. You might experience some problems during this phase.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Improve your chess

How does one train to improve our chess? Thirty years ago, knowledge was scarce and chess books hard to come by and anyway I could not afford them. I had to make up my own training methods.

Many years ago I used to keep a journal of all my tournament games. This was way before the appearance of chess databases like ChessBase. I meticulously wrote down by hand my thoughts and analysis over the board, which I then combined with post game analysis. This method helped me to improve my calculation abilities. Later I read Kotov's book "Think Like a Grandmaster" where he also suggests the same method.

I still have some seven or eight notebooks of my games and analysis with games dating from 1975 to 1990. Browsing through these notebooks can bring back a lot of memories.
Below is one such game with my notes written right after the tournament. Guy West is a fierce competitor who plays every game to win. He later attained the IM title and disappeared from the chess scene in favour of a more stable profession. Lately he is making a comeback, winning the 2009 Melbourne Chess Club championship by a point.

Future Indonesian top grandmaster Utut Adianto appeared for the first time in this tournament. We drew an interesting ending. Incidently, this was the tournament where I met my wife but that is another story :).

[Event "Laoag City Zonal"]
[Site "Laoag City Zonal"]
[Date "1985.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "West, Guy"]
[Black "Liew, J."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C11"]

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Nc3

This is a pet variation of the Australian master. If black now pushes 3...d4 white can start pressuring the d4 pawn after 4 Ne2 c5 5 c3

3...Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.d4 c5 6.dxc5 Nc6 7.Bf4

White has transposed to a position more commonly reached via the
move order: 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 e5 Nfd7 5 Nf3 c5 6 dxc5 Bxc5
7 Bd3. White is aiming for rapid king-side development and he is
willing to relinquish his centre for this.

7...Bxc5 8.Bd3 f6 9.exf6 Qxf6 10.Bg5 Qf7 11.Bh4

Temporarily preventing black from castling (11...0-0?? 12
Bxh7 +-). However the move has the drawback of handing over the e5
square to black. Neither is 11 Qe2 satisfactory as black has the
advantage after 11... Nd4 12 Nxd4 Bxd4

11...Nde5 12.Nxe5 Nxe5 13.Be2 O-O 14.O-O Bd7 15.Bg3 Ng6 16.Bd3

White could have made things more difficult for black with the move 16 Bh5 pinning the knight and threatening 17 Bxg6 Qxg6 18 Nxd5 winning a pawn

16...Nf4 17.Qd2 Bc6 18.Rae1 Rae8 19.a3 a6 20.b4 Bb6 21.a4 Bd7 22.a5 Bc7 23.Ne2 Nxd3 24.cxd3 e5 25.d4 Bb5 26.dxe5 Bxe5 27.Bxe5 Rxe5 28.Nd4

White has cleverly emerged with a good knight versus bad bishop ending. Black has to defend very carefully.

28...Rxe1 29.Rxe1 Re8 30.Rxe8+

White declines to double black's queen-side pawns with 30 Nxb5. Perhaps he
figured his chances were better if he kept the knight

30...Qxe8 31.f3 Bc4 32.Kf2 h6 33.Qe3


Black must avoid at all cost a queen exchange as any N v B ending would be hopeless for him


Not 34 Qe7 Qd1 35 Ne6 Qe2 36 Kg3 Qe5 37 Kg4 Bd3 when the white king is in

34...Qa2+ 35.Kg3 Qb2

Now white cannot defend both d4 and b4 so he is forced into an offensive against the black king

36.Qe8+ Kh7 37.Nf5 Qxb4 38.Ne7 d4 39.Qg6+ Kh8 40.Qe8+ Kh7 41.Qg6+ Kh8 42.Nf5

Declining a draw by perpetual check. However the exchange of pawns has freed the black bishop and black's chances in this position is as good as white's if not better

42...Qf8 43.Nxd4 Qb8+ 44.f4 Qd8 45.Nf5 Qd3+ 46.Kh4 Qd8+ 47.Kh3 Qd7 48.g4 Bd3 49.Qd6 Bxf5 50.Qf8+ Kh7

It appears that 51 Qxf5 would lose to 51. .Qxf5 52 gxf5 Kg8 53 Kg4 Kf7
54 Kf3 Ke7 55 Ke4 Kd6 since black can create an outside passed pawn,
but White missed an excellent opportunity to force a draw here, 54 Kh5! Kf6 55 h4 Kxf5 draws by stalemate

51.gxf5 Qd3+ 52.Kh4 Qd2 53.Kg3 Qxa5 54.Qf7 Qc3+ 55.Kg4 Qc6 56.f6 Qg2+ 57.Kf5 Qc2+ 58.Ke5

Or 58 Kg4 Qg6+ forces the exchange of queens

58...Qc3+ 59.Ke6 Qxf6+ 60.Qxf6 gxf6 61.Kxf6 b5 62.f5 b4 63.Ke6 b3 64.f6 b2 65.f7 b1=Q 66.f8=Q Qg6+

If black had queened the a-pawn instead this check would not be available and the endinq is most likely drawn. Now whatever square the white king goes, black can exchange queens for a winning pawn ending


This is the best chance, forcing the black king further away and moving to capture the a-pawn. Still it fails by a single move.

Qg8+ 68.Qxg8+ Kxg8 69.Kc5 Kf7 70.Kb6 Kf6 71.Kxa6 Kf5 72.Kb5 Kg4 73.Kc4 Kh3 74.Kd3 Kxh2 75.Ke2 Kg2 0-1