Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lack of Hunger

This is in reply to John's comment. I find the message important enough to warrant a new post.

Totally agree that we lack the hunger. This lack of hunger in Malaysia is born out of 2 reasons. As you correctly pointed out, the first, is through complacency. That is pretty self-explanatory. On top of this complacency, Malaysians are also good at denying that they have fallen behind. All thanks to this spirit of Malaysia Boleh.

The second cause of this lack of hunger, is a more deeply rooted problem. This problem lies beyond the realm of chess, unfortunately. But to stick within the topic, I would like to point out that the lack of hunger is simply due to the complete absence of meritocracy. This socio-political issue has been going on for about 40 years and it has rooted itself in chess.

So much so that the powers that be have begun to believe that they can get away with anything. This is witnessed by the selection for Malaysia's Olympiad team. How dare the MCF select Gregory Lau to represent Malaysia in broad daylight. This is like rubbing mud in the chess players' faces and telling them that the MCF can select whoever they want, and there is nothing you can do about it.

You can play the best chess in the world, but I won't select you because I have my interests to take care of. So why should any of the chess players try, because their efforts may or may not be rewarded. Their fates are subject to the mercy of these almighty chess officials.

Let me recount a personal example. In my younger days, I had the great fortune of playing against a Vietnamese junior player and skipping all the details, we ended up in a position of opposite colored bishops with 5 pawns each. In any other case, it would have been a dead draw. I was really curious why he had refused the draw offer, and the game continued for another two and a half hours. Finally, I had succumbed to fatigue and overlooked a simple King penetration that led to my loss. Full credit to that guy's determination.

I was really curious as to why he had tried so hard for the win. Later, I found out that the Vietnamese government had promised USD1,000 to any player for a 3rd place finish, which could have only been achieved if he had won that game. I will always remember the hunger that was shown to me that day. I only wish that I had half the hunger in anything I do in my life.

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