For me, the results of our representatives at the World Youth Chess Championship that just concluded in Al Ain is confirmation once again that we are a amateur chess nation and that we should be happy with this and perhaps for the Malaysian Chess Federation to accept it as reality and perhaps to start to plan accordingly.
I (and many others) have for several years now provided an analysis which showed how as our kids grow up they become less and less competitive on the world stage and that is fair enough given that all kids are bright with unlimited potential at an early age and over time various environmental factors begin to kick in (especially school demands not to mention growing up distractions such as computer games and social media).
And I am not going to talk about the need for systematic coaching with the right trainer.
Our current national champion and co-winner of the Malaysian Masters is Aron Teh and if hype would have it, great things would be expected at the World Youth Chess Championships. But luckily sanity prevailed (at least in his family) and this young 15 year old work in progress opted to push up and play in the U-18 open where IM norm chances would have been greatest. In the end, with 2272 starting ranked 53 and finishing 44th with 6/11 was not bad at all (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119502.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=53).
We had one other representative playing U-18, but in the girls section, and rated 1694 and ranked 72 she finished 73 with 4.5/11 and I congratulate this young lady for keeping up her interest in chess at her age while at the same time also wondering about her level of competitiveness.
Only one player, rated 1580 and ranked 146 in the U-16 Open, 3.5/11 resulted in 151st place.
U-14 & U-12
At U-14 level, for me always the benchmark if a young player would have matured and show his or her potential, we had one boy and two girls, one of which has in the last year been on the fringes of senior national team selection but always falling short. Nithya's score was 6/11, placing her in 46th place, a big improvement from her initial ranking of 63 based on a 1705 rating (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119453.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=63). The other girl probably had no business being there at 1164 and ranked 109, her final score of 3.5/11 giving her 112th position.
The boy on 1803 was seeded 107 and finished with 5.5/11, enough for 91st place.
Equally one must pay careful attention to our U-12 representatives, usually where the results of our young talents who shown earlier begin to decline (even if the sometimes have their last hurrahs), two well known, almost veteran(!) players from Penang who have had extensive exposure and so always been amongst the top locally in their respective age groups took part and their results showed that both with 6/11 to finish, respectively Yinn Long 67th in open when ranked 77 on 1824 (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119508.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=77) and De Zen 54th in girls section when ranked 60 on 1621 (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119454.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=60).
U-10 & U-8
Now to the U-10s and U-8s where almost all our excitement (and hopes) over the years have come from and we have a mix of very serious young talents and wannabes, many who have been and are extremely well supported in their chess by either well heeled and/or fanatical parents (of course nothing is wrong with that)!
Very young players cannot be criticised - we don't know their ultimate motivations in chess are and all should be encouraged to continue to enjoy the game even if the World Youth Chess Championship is a serious competition.
In U-10 open, our best two young players took part, the older Jun Ying at 1710 ranked 43 with 7/11 finishing 33rd (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119506.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=43) and the younger Lik Zang on 1609 ranked 65 with 5.5/11 finishing 91st (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119506.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=65). One other also played, supported by his father-player-coach and at 1587 ranked 70 ended up 106th.
U-10 girls section also saw the very active Jia-Tien on 1453 ranked 48 score 5.5/11 to finish 64th (see http://chess-results.com/tnr119456.aspx?lan=0&art=9&fedb=MAS&fed=MAS&flag=30&wi=821&snr=48) while the daughter of the same father-player-coach and her friend, with 4.5/11, ended up 107th and 108th.
Finally we had three representatives in U-8 open, all bright sparks and two with 5/11 were 100th and 110th respectively while the youngest at just 6 years of age got 4/11 and placed 147th.
So in conclusion, no one in top 30, most thereabout their ratings and rankings (especially those with lots of exposure), and a few who were perhaps not ready. And a little worryingly, no heros yet in the lower age categories that have in past years provided Malaysian chess with buzz.