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...


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