The Future Is With Our Tried And Tested Young!
Been back to the realities of work for over a month now so I unfortunately could not make it to the World Youth U-16 Olympiad let alone put any time into this Blog!
Like most Malaysian chess enthusiasts I tried to follow the games late at night and at the end of it all I think all members of the team did as well as could be expected, the performance was good and the result perhaps fair all things considered.
Some observations (and proposals) that will no doubt annoy some who insist on reading my Blog!
1. For sure this was as good and as representative a team of young players that we could have out together for such an event and they should be allowed to form the nucleus of future national teams. Yes, of course there are other young talents and next year at least two others will be able to join Elgin, Roshan and Li Tian for another shot at glory. But my argument goes further in that as early as two Singapore-Malaysia matches ago, it was clear that the current 18+ years generation have largely exhausted their potential and the very real demands of college and a good career after that makes future investment in them a difficult proposition.
2. The five players who represented us with so much courage and effort are to be commended and they all have their own stories which I cannot pretend to know but my understanding is that Eng Chiam is very experienced but under trained, Elgin is where he is due to the massive private investment by his parents in international tournaments and grandmaster level training (and he is not alone in having this!), everything is still possible for Li Tian, of course Jianwen lacks international experience and also had the burden of top board, and that Roshan has only had serious help in the last nine months or so. But interestingly enough, none of the five have actually taken advantage(?) of the services being offered by our many self proclaimed expert local coaches.
3. So I call upon the Malaysian Chess Federation to include this event as an important part of its official international tournament calendar including a clear and early selection process and proper training for the team (nice also if sponsorship can be found) - in other words to prepare and treat these young players to be an integral part of our national team at senior level representation e.g. Olympiad, Asian Teams, SEA Games, etc. While Mas may have a new lease of life as a newly declared professional, we cannot count on Mok and Jimmy forever being available. It is only by playing in the top events and having the best possible competition that will allow our best talent to flourish.