Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chatting with IM Mas

A group of us had the opportunity to chat with International Master Mas Hafizul over drinks on the last day of the DYTM Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah Invitational Masters which ended recently.

Some of the subjects we talked about.

On quitting Petronas

He did confirm that he has resigned from his Petronas job. He will be concentrating on chess fully (meaning professionally?). This is quite a shock to me as Mas already started a small family. Chess definitely does not pay as well as a regular job as an chemical engineer. This is a very bold step to take although I am sure Mas has given the matter his thorough analysis :)

I did say before that I did not think Mas will be able to gain the grandmaster title. One needs full concentration and continuous training and playing to attain this level. This is not possible with a full-time career outside of chess. I never dreamed Mas will give up a well paying job to achieve his ambition of becoming our first grandmaster. Now I believe that with this bold decision, he will be our first grandmaster in the next few years. I wish him all the best.

On juniors

He did not see any potential world beaters amongst our current batch of juniors. He mentioned Yeoh Li Tian at last year's K.L Open. Note: Li Tian was undefeated even playing strong international masters, until near the end of the tournament when his run ended. But his results after that were not so great. A real talent should be dominating the local tournaments. Essentially his point was that if you cannot beat your own country-men then how would you fare when you compete outside of the country.

Personally I also felt that Li Tian has not make enough progress after the KL Open. However I understood the situation better. There was a lot of uncertainty whether he should put his energies into chess or concentrate more on studies. Matter of fact, he sits for the UPSR exam today. Even today, there is still no firm decision which direction the boy will go.

On criticism

While Mas lamented the criticism he received online, he personally is not that easily affected. One must understand that he is competing against professionals who does nothing but train, study and play chess, while he has a full-time job. That is a tremendous handicap. This may be one of the reasons he decided to quit his job. This way he can concentrate on chess and compete on more level terms.

By the way, Mas mentioned he will be playing two tournaments next This will be his first tournament after turning "pro" so to speak. Maybe we cannot expect too much so soon, but definitely this will be a step towards that elusive grandmaster title.

On ratings

He lost some twenty points (at least) in the tournament and most probably will fall below 2400 on the next rating list. Juniors today at too easily distracted by ratings. Everyone wants a rating even if it is just 1800. It is difficult to climb  up the ratings once you start off with a low rating. Unfortunately this is FIDE's fault for devaluing the ratings. He mentioned that his first time rating was already well above 2200.


Yeoh said...

1. Shock but glad to hear Mas has made such a difficult, big & brave decision.

2. Wish Mas will achieve very high in his chess career.

3. Hope Mas will lead Malaysia chess to new era.

4. All the very best, dear IM Mas.


Post a Comment