Monday, 30 July 2018
Chess is today a business, largely thanks to the kids and their parents.
Here of course we are not talking about the special talent but the large numbers of kids the game attracts - and for all sorts of reasons - including that of their parents.
For example, here in Malaysia, there are the schools championships organised by the Ministry of Education and there is the national youth championships (national age-groups and national juniors) organised by the Malaysian Chess Federation.
These already require quite some commitment by the participants and especially so if they are leading players which means they also will play the Malaysian Chess Festival and at least one of its many events, and probably one of the Selangor, Penang and Johor Opens to name but just the more established, and almost certainly some of the many rapids held every weekend.
Now there are also many FIDE Rating tournaments to choose from.
But what was I saying about international youth events? Let's then start by listing them and realise too that all kids in Malaysia can play provided they can pay to go and the Malaysian Chess Federation will submit their entry.
1. World Junior Championships
2. World Youth Championships
3. World Schools Championships
4. Asian Junior Championships
5. Asian Youth Championships
6. Asian Schools Championships
7. ASEAN Age-Group Championships
8. Commonwealth Championships
9. World Youth U-16 Olympiad
10. East Asian Junior Championships
11. East Asian Youth Championships
12. Asian Nations Cup U-14 Teams
Now, that is a tournament a month although to be fair, the World Youth U-16 Olympiad and the Asian Nations Cup U-14 are team events with just one age-group category.
The selling point is probably the often soft direct titles and title norms available and the medals in rapid and blitz, and of course even if the kid has no real chance to win, can still be considered to be a national player as the hundreds if not thousands have already added to their resumes and in some cases even cashed in for grants and scholarships.
A proven business model with everyone getting what they want but now I think it has reached the point where it has simply become too much for most.
Tuesday, 24 July 2018
Interestingly this can also be food for thought as regards the membership of the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF), their rights and obligations as state affiliates
Checks and balances!
And then of course then what the role of the legitimate state affiliates can be in ensuring how MCF is constituted and run.
This is shaping up to an election that is being played out in a rather nasty fashion on social media with the current leadership and its supporters responding to allegations by their challengers in a way that does no credit to them, FIDE or chess.
FIDE has at least made its position clear although it might be challenged. I do however think that all three sides (or at least two) benefit from this ruling should it remain as it is stated currently.
I might be reading this wrong but it does seem that in fact there can be exclusions!
Two well known and prominent FIDE officials are delegates of two of these National Chess Federations, both who do not seem to have any rated players and which do not seem to have any participation in international competition.
Sunday, 22 July 2018
Once again, no Malaysian team. In a different MCF the Olympiad team could have gone as a training or a team of young players could have been sent for exposure or it could even have been a chance for others who had not have a chance to take part.
Thursday, 19 July 2018
The 10 year old Indonesian chess prodigy Samantha Edithso is well known to Malaysians, having had the performance of her life at the Selangor Open Challengers in 2017.
I met Samantha for the first time (although I had seen her playing on several occasions over the years when visiting Indonesia) at the Asian Youth Chess Championships held in Chiang Mai, Thailand from 1-10 April 2018, where she won two Golds.
These were in Rapid and Blitz in her age-group. In Standard chess, Samantha moved up one category and interestingly was never in contention.
While at this event I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with this young talent thanks to my long friendship with Indonesian Head of Delegation Kristianus Liem who brought just three players but who were all serious medal contenders.
This deepened with the arrival of Indonesian chess patron Eka Wirya Putra who brought with him a journalist, and at their urging, I started having direct chess contact with Samantha.
What one immediately notices about this young girl is her absolute self-belief and the way she projects this confidence... and how articulate Samantha is in both her native Indonesian language as well as in English.
I do not for a moment mean arrogance but clearly Samantha is used to being the centre of attention and she handles it very easily and quite maturely.
Recently Kristianus Liem brought Samantha together with WIM Chelsie Monica Shite as her second to the World Cadets Rapid & Blitz Championships in Belarus and with everything going her way, it was mission accomplished, winning Gold and the title of World U-10 Girls Rapid Chess Champion.
How good then is Samantha? Obviously very talented and motivated and she has the backing of PERCASI (All Indonesian Chess Federation) and various sponsors.
But we have seen so many young talents burn out or somehow, for some reason or another, never reach their early potential and while she should get all the support needed, the proofs are when 1) her Standard chess results become as good as her Rapid chess results, 2) she is ranked among the top with her peers, and 3) in four or five years time, she is able to successfully compete with the best junior girls in the world.