A Gift From Heinz Brunthaler

Today Thomas Luther had a bye so after the round started he invited me for a coffee. And he handed me a gift from a mutual friend Heinz Brunthaler.

A couple of years ago I was supposed to collaborate with Heinz on some chess books but it never happened because I simply could never find the time and now it seems that Thomas will try to do what I so miserably failed at.

No, Heinz did not give me his book with Quality Chess but that and the something else he did give me got me thinking again of parents in chess and especially now that I am in the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF) as both FIDE Delegate and Chairman of the Technical Committee (I am lucky as our Secretary here, Lim Tse Pin, actually does all the heavy lifting) especially of those who are parents, whether successful or not at seeking office, of young chessplayers with really quite varying abilities.

If you are in chess, especially now with numerous national and international youth events together with a supporting ecosystem in place, you can't avoid them as every young chessplayer must have a parent (or at least a guardian)!

But there are two categories of chess parents whom I find a little alarming sometimes but who can blame anyone over their little darlings?

1. Failed or incomplete chessplayers
2. Those non chessplayers seeking office/position to influence or advance their child's prospects

Of course they don't know (or at least can't allow themselves to know) but I have in the last two years witnessed at first hand some simply unimaginable behaviour and I think for me the line is drawn when the actions are at the detriment of others, be it a rival, a team mate, or even as they call it, resulting in collateral damage.

The Malaysian chess community is small and often bad behaviour is rewarded by default as it is tough for those who are in fact chessplayers and holding office/position in MCF or even a state affiliate to act because they are also often doing some form of chess for a living (having invested in this as a career or in for the long haul) and so don't really want to make an enemy of this transient but possibly vindictive someone (especially if rich or a fellow office bearer).

So let me quickly end this dangerously developing train of thought with the need to do right by the child because at the end of the day all parties, parent from hell included, will claim they have his or her interests at heart and I will quote the exact but sad words of a respected trainer: "Parents are our greatest help, and our greatest hindrance (as a famous American swimming coach once said)".

But I should still add the uniquely Malaysian twist to that by saying that here it is all too obvious that: "Everyone is an expert". Because it seems that we really really really like ourselves.

And now I have to wait to see how many that I never even thought of will think I am talking about them (ego, guilty conscience?). Perhaps the recent National Closed Championship or the ASEAN+ Age Group Championships, possibly even the coming Malaysian Masters will be a sore point with them? Who knows?


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