A month ago the organisers of the Telkom Open to be held in Bandung from 10-16 May 2009 asked if I could play. It seems they were looking to upgrade an already highly successful local FIDE rated event to become an international title tournament next year and so I agreed to check it out.
But obviously they are not ready because they postponed it at very short notice to 21 May.
Well, I could no longer play at Telkom or even visit Bandung due to other commitments but I had a ticket already purchased to Jakarta for the earlier dates and on Facebook, Noraysa Verdiana, a young participant whom I met at the Intchess Mixed in Singapore last year and who was also a successful FIDE Instructor candidate at the FIDE Seminar for Coaches held in Bali after the Dresden Olympiad invited me to her home in Banjarmasin to take a look at her chess school.
Earlier this year I had been to the much smaller town of Sampit nearby and also in South Kalimantan where my friend Joni Naik was a wonderful host and so already having experienced the hospitality of the people there I had to accept!
Two busy days with numerous interviews followed (including holding a one day workshop for local coaches and of course participating in the activities of a very fine chess school) and then it was time for a non chess highlight and that was a 4 a.m. wake up for a trip down the river to the market on the water!
Back in Jakarta, and probably some 10 kilos heavier (they like to eat there and I tried very possible local food), I met up with my good friend Bunawan for a nice dinner (food again!) and was also able to take a look at the Gunadarma University Chess School in action.
For sure a very impressive setup and like SCUAR in Surabaya that I visited earlier and Sekolah Catur Norasya Verdiana in Banjarmasin, lessons were free of charge. The main difference was that all the students there were all girls (!) and amongst them I saw several of their top women players and some very promising talent.
In my opinion, Indonesia wants for nothing except to be taught how to teach and have programs for the same (together with better access to technology and perhaps more fluency in international languages). They have strong players willing to be trainers and these have some ability to make materials. In this respect, the fee charging Sekolah Catur Utut Adianto, the brain child of FIDE Senior Trainer and Grandmaster Utut Adianto, is the undisputed leader.