Wednesday, 30 May 2012

14 Year Old (Not yet 15!) Roshan Ajeet Singh is Malaysia’s 2012 National Champion

Nationals R8 Standings

Roshan Ajeet Singh with 8/8 has won the National Closed Championship with one round to go. He will play second placed Muhd Syazwan Zulkifli in the last round but as his score is 1.5 points more the result does not matter.

Last year Roshan won the U-14 National Age Groups Championship and towards the end of the year had improved sufficiently to win the Bronze medal on reserve board for the Malaysian team playing in the World U-16 Olympiad. This year he moved up to win the U-16 National Age Group Championship and now, just two months later, he is has become our youngest ever National Champion!

In this period he has gained 200+ rating points fighting in every game and learning from every tournament.

Well done!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

The MCF Membership

Before anyone reads on, please be advised this is not about telling MCF what to do, or presume to recommend changes, much let alone registering my interest in direct participation in its affairs!

In fact it is quite the opposite as while I of course like everyone thinks that MCF could be better (and that is always going to be the case no matter how good it might be), I am also fully aware that it is so much earlier to talk than to do and I also have a great deal of sympathy as I have in the past also somewhat foolishly taken on all sorts of official roles in many capacities and at all levels and for sure none have been easy!

For sure I am writing as someone relatively uninformed as I really do not have the time to be an active part of the local chess scene and so stand corrected (and sincerely apologise) if any of my assumptions as follows are wrong but I would argue that MCF’s biggest challenge today is not money, organisation, or leadership but membership and by this what do I mean?

Well, to start with, when KLCA was set up it had to be registered under the Sports Commission and not the Registrar of Societies as would be the case in the past and that was where even the Malaysian Chess Federation was originally constituted (and I assume the rest of the state affiliates).

So all have been forced to be reregistered with the Sports Commission and the process has been going on for several years now but today it would seem that only MCF and KLCA are properly registered although several other state affiliates are very active and doing really well but are just simply unable to comply with the single and rather challenging requirement of having its members organised in clubs representing its districts (not so easy if you take a moment to think about it).

Actually KLCA is also struggling with this requirement but because it was set up from day one under the Sports Commission we do not have the strict compliance issues that is being imposed from those moving over but it is really a matter of time before it also becomes a challenge and I know that serious steps are being taken.

Recently KLCA for whom I am the Organising Secretary got a notice from MCF where very correctly I saw that as in the past all former National Champions had the right to play and as an affiliate we were given two slots for the Open and one slot for the Women Championship.

Now I don’t know how many affiliates MCF has and I don’t expect them to be as fortunate as KLCA in relation to the Sports Commission but I do agree they should be given similar privileges and I will even go further to state that in my opinion, active state affiliates meeting some agreed criteria developed by MCF such as number of active and.or rated members, comprehensiveness and frequency of activities/events, having a major open, co-organising MCF tournaments, etc. should perhaps be rewarded with even more places!

Which comes to players without state affiliates that they can join. I suppose in such a case, if they are not eligible to play for another state affiliate, there is nothing wrong for them to be allowed to have provisional (temporary?) direct MCF membership so they can be part of the local chess community but be encouraged to start their own state affiliate soonest.

The problem as I see are players who can be a member of a state affiliate but are not because it does not seem necessary.

MCF’s members are its affiliates and not individuals and it simply does not make sense that MCF supports players who can but refuse to be part of the system that its very existence and authority is based on.

I don’t believe for a moment that chess players deliberately do this because by their nature and also that of the game, they (we!) tend to be somewhat individualistic. Once thing is certain is that there are many unofficial clubs out there and independent organisers which often deal directly with MCF as needed. In most cases, none care about politics and just want to do their own thing and it is mostly about playing chess.

This I think provides a great opportunity for both MCF and the state affiliates. MCF can perhaps facilitate while respecting the rights of its members so that all these unofficial clubs and independent organisers can be brought in under the state affiliates and compromises found so it is a win win and that is really a matter of both parties being reasonable and agreeing roles.

Malaysian chess is too small to fight over nothing at all and because we are so few and all have limitations it is better to co-exist positively.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Doubleroo Chess Academy

It had been in the works for quite some time and many of his close friends never thought it would happen but yes, my very good friend International Master Alex Wohl has now got his chess academy up and running!


I am really happy that Alex finally decided to do it and walked the talk and I know it is not easy to get such a venture up practically by yourself (friends can only do so much)!

The former Australian Champion and many times (and current!) Munich Open Champion has also been selected to the Australian team for the World Chess Olympiad so it has been a good last month for him.

More importantly, the word is out, students are showing up and the Gold Coast is already benefiting from the quality chess training long missing from those parts.

Polgar Chess Asia is also honoured to become a sister academy with Doubleroo Chess Academy and I am looking forward to exciting and mutually beneficial student and trainer exchanges in the years to come!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Statement of Handjojo Limono


This is posted at the request of an old and good friend Handjojo Limono and I have no personal or professional interest in the matter, in 2009 having severed all ties with Ignatius Leong together with all associations with the bodies he holds position in.

I have long ago moved on but this clarification is necessary as many well wishers have called me after misunderstanding the intention as they wrongly assumed I am still bitter and am choosing to waste my time in some quarrel.

Let me assure my friends that there is no need to put one plus one together to reach three and so sorry to disappoint some others with my indifference but at this point in my life I have other priorities now and really everyone needs to look after themselves in their own way!

Limono's Statement 001Limono's Statement 002Limono's Statement 003

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Brunei Rule!


One of the rules introduced by FIDE that many chessplayers have big problems with is ‘Zero Start” where if a player is not present and seated at his place at the official start of the game, he or she is forfeited!

I saw the rationale for this develop at first hand during the superbly organised Asian Indoor Games in Macau 2007 as to why officials and organisers of sporting events would want such a rule. The reality is that most National Chess Federations are affiliated to their respective Sports Ministries which provide the key recognition for the game and often also the critical funding needed to keep the game alive. At that time FIDE was all about chess becoming an Olympic sport, a wonderful even if not at all realistic aspiration, and a lot of things was being done then to try get chess in line with ‘other sports’.

One of the horror stories repeated time and time again in Macau was for chess officials managing to get their national sports leaders (often big wigs from their National Olympic Council and/or Ministries) to come and watch chess and when they showed up, games would start with half the players not seated and often nowhere in sight!

We all know one of the problems with chess in mass market appeal is that it is not easily followed by the general public in the way that most sports lend itself so you can imagine the difficulty explaining what was going on to these sports officials.

At that point I was even proposing that FIDE might want to implement rules as regards toilet breaks because players making moves and then wondering around to watch other games was not exactly consistent with what one understands as sport, and certainly not when two combatants are engaged in battle.

But let me be clear. Common sense should also apply. Zero start should apply at those major events with massive international media coverage. Players are being paid big money and are representatives of the game to the world. But there should still be flexibility in that being a minute or two late to be seated should not become a basis for forfeit (there are too many examples we all know off where the arbiters and organisers have not shown much intelligence here although it must be said that often the players don’t help themselves).

When I organise tournaments, there is no zero start unless all the players are in the same hotel or there is official transport that will get the players to the venue at a reasonable time. Common sense!
Recently in Brunei, I was Chief Arbiter for both an Open and a Round Robin tournament and each demanded a different approach.

For the first, easy. No zero start and some players decided to commit suicide by constantly coming late and then running out of time in their games and so be it! Self regulation! Yet there was one day when all the players were asked to be on time because TV was going to be present and out of respect for the sponsor and organiser of course everyone showed up. A matter of all behaving as adults!

But for the second, a ten player, nine round robin title tournament, we could not have zero start simply because we needed to have all the games played!

We all know about the ‘Bilbao Rule’ (and its many variants) where a player cannot draw before making 30 moves which objective was to ensure that players made an effort before a paying or watching audience but in Brunei, the “Brunei Rule” which also meets these objectives was also introduced!

In the Brunei Rule, simply no result would be accepted until after one hour of play.