Monday, October 11, 2010

Laughing Stock

When you do a bad parody, the joke will be on you. Here is one example of a bad parody. And below is my reply to it.

I am sure your second class attempt at humor is appreciated by all. You have completely missed my sarcasm in pointing out that Hamid is a Grandmaster and that WE are playing blindfolded. When I said WE, I meant everyone in the chess community who has refused to see or ignored the facts.

An impersonation is good only when it accurately portrays the character that is being impersonated. While I have singled out Hamid, I have also talked about the culture of meritocracy and competitiveness that is crucial to chess development. The reason I singled out Hamid is because I have identified the root of the problem. Have you? You are just asking us to try this and that until we succeed.

I have provided the simplest and easily, the fairest solution of all. MERITOCRACY. I have talked about this again and again. Your ignorance and closed mind has shut out my main point. Why don't you ask Greg to implement a fully meritocratic solution, since you talk to him so much? Maybe you can help me pass along this message to him?

Is it REALLY so hard to reward your players based on their results? ALL OF YOU must be so stumped. If you select players for international tournaments through chess results, not only do you get all the strong players to participate in these tournaments, but you give everyone a chance to succeed. 2 things will be achieved from this.

1. You get a wider base of strong players because now, your culture has allowed "ANYONE and EVERYONE" the chance to succeed.

2. You get a larger incentive for the top-tier players to improve. Because now, they MUST stay ahead of the pack, lest they do not qualify to represent Malaysia.

This is a win-win scenario. But meritocracy is hampered by vested interests who hold key positions, i.e. people who call the shots. I find it disturbing that Greg has offered a 4th placed player from ONE single tournament a spot to represent Malaysia. Firstly, everyone knows that usually, the 4th placing is inaccurate as it is typically determined by tie-break, which is subject to luck quite often (via pairing, Bucholz etc). Secondly, the result of 4th placing was just from 1 tournament, despite it being the Nationals. So if a player is first in MSSM (which is arguably a much stronger tournament), consistently performing well in other local tournaments, but was pushed to 5th place by tie-break in the National Age-Group, he would have been excluded from a place to represent Malaysia. That is why, we need to fix a group of tournaments and make it public so that all potential players will have a fair go at it. The most consistent player should be selected to represent Malaysia. Why is this so hard?

People who perform well at many tournaments are not being selected to represent Malaysia. The selection criteria changes EVERY YEAR. Why don't you think about things carefully and FIX a criteria and PROMISE to use it for the next 3 years. Allow people to succeed within a proper system. I guarantee you, Malaysian chess will see success within 3-5 years.

The reason all the strong players have "failed" as you pointed out, is that they were not allowed to succeed. Most of them just moved on to greener pastures which frankly, makes more sense.

So Raymond, I would appreciate it if you can just change "Hamid" to "lack of meritocracy" as the culprit. If this ONE simple thing cannot be implemented, then there is no hope for Malaysian chess, regardless of how many millions in sponsorship you can acquire. Try this ONE thing. Please, I beg you. Let the chess results speak for themselves.


  1. "I find it disturbing that Greg has offered a 4th placed player from ONE single tournament a spot to represent Malaysia.". Who is this player and what tournament did he represent Malaysia?

  2. Raymond explained this himself. Mark Siew got 4th place in the National Age Group. Even though the top 3 players declined, it does not mean that Greg can offer the place to the 4th placed player.

    But Mark (and Raymond) declined the offer. So he did not actually play.

  3. It's really just a result of laziness. Why take the trouble to run another tournament or go through some other list of criteria when there's a name underneath the one who just said no?

    As for the parody, it's pathetic. It has the tone of a piece of propaganda from WWII and earlier.

  4. But on the bright side, he's not attacking any blogger. His post is concentrated onto Terminator (who isn't a blogger) and his (totally irrelevant and inapplicable) POV.

    Anyhow, to add on: tl;dr (pointlessly elaborate in short), and childish.

  5. "Even though the top 3 players declined, it does not mean that Greg can offer the place to the 4th placed player.".

    lets be fair here. if the first three decline, there is no reason why the fourth cannot be given the place. I presume that NAG is understood by all to be the "qualifier" for age group tournaments abroad. I do not see the point for another tournament even if there is time for that. That was what the NAG was for.

    However, there should be a limit e.g not to go down too low, extreme example tenth placing. what is the limit is arguable, to me fourth is still "okay".

  6. It is subjective of course, where the line should be drawn.

    I should think only the top 3 deserve the chance. After that, no one should be considered. Rather than put someone up with a lot of criticism, its better to just not send anyone, in the interests of fairness.

    There are the usual overseas tournaments out in the FIDE Calendar every year, so the selection criteria can be announced in advance to allow players to prepare and vie for the places. I believe what is important is to have it stated and not changed at the last minute. Players will only have themselves to blame if they do not know what they are preparing for and not plan ahead to go for their tournament in mind. In that case it is unfair to blame the officials for not trying to cater to their needs.

  7. The U 18 caterrgory is usually not well represented and some already dropping out of the scene.. Either they are siiting for SPM or getting into colledge. Notable absentees , Sumant, Justin Ong, Tariq Amru, Edward.

  8. The selection criteria already made known on the MCF (blog) site. If remember correctly, it says the National Age group will be used to select representatives to the various age group tournaments.

    It does not matter if the category is well represented or not. Those who do not play for whatever reason , no matter they are supposed to be stronger than those that played.

    The criteria was already plainly set out early this year. What is there to argue about?

  9. Jimmy is right. If you decide not to play, you forfeit your right to be selected, regardless of reason. Now, what happens if the first player declines to play? Will we always follow this rule to the letter? Should we also set a limit in advance? I am only asking for a clear criteria so that one knows what he is playing for. The goals have to be clear. How do we play football if people keep moving the goal post?

  10. Interesting comment, i have something to add . I think shud state clearly who suppost to play is top 3 decline. And I really wonder why do the top 3 players decline? Perhaps they need to pay?

  11. It is the U-18. Most of the 17 year-olds have SPM. That's why they declined. Agree with you that everything has to be stated clearly in the first place.

  12. May not always be possible to lay everything down la. It is not feasible to always organize qualifiers until everyone is satisfied.

    To me it is more important that those sitting in a selection committee know the players well, and select based on past track record or potential for future growth.

    Maybe we can ponder on this scenario: What if Yeoh Li Tian played in that event, finished 4th and Greg had offered him that spot?

  13. No one asked MCF to keep organizing tournaments. What I am proposing is to designate the tournaments. Publish a list of EXISTING tournaments that you are going to use. No need to organize more tournaments.

    What you say is of course true. Of course it is important that the selection committee knows the players. The question is, how do you make sure that happens? Your idea is only idealistically correct but almost impossible to implement. Who gets to decide what "potential for future growth" means? Does it mean that although this player is currently lousy, but he can become a GM in the future? How qualified is anyone to determine that? You want to employ our favorite mind coach to do that?

    What does past track record mean? How many years of past record do you use? What tournaments do you use? All these things have to be answered. This subjectivity and discretion is EXACTLY the current scenario.

    Your scenario does not mean anything. Yeoh Li Tian is a very talented chess player. Agreed. But even talented chess players have to show that they deserve their selection. I could not care less who is 4th. The issue here is not who, but what is the selection process. The fact that you brought up a name just shows that you have a bias towards a certain player. Maybe you can think about this scenario: Who knows that Yeoh Li Tian may or may not quit chess in 5-10 years time. Do you remember that Jonathan Chuah was and still is the youngest National Champion at 13 years-old. So what? Is he still playing competitive chess? NO! Does that mean we can simply call him up to represent Malaysia at any time?

  14. Subjectivity and discretion has worked for the most part, except on some occasions. The most glaring of which is of course the presence of "tourist" players to every Olympiad. To me, Greg had neither "past track record" nor "potential for growth".

    If Yee Weng was "arbitrarily" selected in place of Peter, and Li Tian in place of Greg, would that have changed your view of the process?

    You are advocating a system where selection is done purely on the basis of an algorithm. I cannot believe that any system can do better than human judgment, but it does allow us to wash our hands off and say that the process is at least fair (even if sub-optimal). We are still at a stage where guided meritocracy works better than total meritocracy in producing results.

    Having a view about someone does not imply bias. We are human beings with the ability to form opinions, we cannot simply delegate the job of thinking to an algorithm. Yes, Li Tian may quit chess in 5-10 years time. Who wouldn't? Does it make us any less successful that we have groomed players like Mas, Yee Weng, Nicholas, Zi Jing etc only to lose them to oil companies, law firms, hospitals and universities?

    Jonathan may not be actively playing, but he is probably still better than most of the current crop of junior players around. Has he failed us simply because he had found other priorities in life? Of course I would not pick him for the Olympiad on this basis, but if he had re-emerged recently and won some strong tournaments, I may consider him even if technically he had not qualified through your algorithm.

  15. Totally agree with everything you say if the main objective is to select the best team for the Olympiad. But is that the objective?

    As you can see, I am a strong advocate of sustainable success. Yes, in the short run, discretion can and will work, but it does not encourage other players to improve. As you pointed out, there are so many players, Zi Jing, Yee Weng, Nicholas, Mas, Mok, Jimmy, Li Tian, etc. What happens when all of them happen to want to play? Then what? Does your selection depend on who you call up first? Or who calls you up first?

    But that's not the point. The point of having a merit-based system is not to select the team, but to encourage "everyone else" to improve. The goal is, how do you bring the junior players like Edward, Sumant, Evan, Li Tian, etc. to the next level? How do you encourage them to become better? You have to offer carrots in strong tournaments. Make them work for their spots.

    Even if you were to select Li Tian, it is still controversial. I can ask, why not select Evan? He was the previous national champion. Does he not have potential? If you select Yee Weng, then I can still ask, why not Marcus Chan or Ronnie Lim? Granted Yee Weng is an IM, but he hasn't exactly been on form for the past year. Again, I have digressed.

    Bear in mind that we want to build a stronger and wider base of strong players. If you keep selecting Mas and Mok arbitrarily, regardless of whether they have been active or not, then what incentive do we have for the juniors to improve to the "senior" level? You can't just say, "Oh, they just have to win the National Closed." Even our IM-elect Ronnie Lim who recently got his first IM norm, took several tries before he managed to win the National Closed. He has never played in the Olympiad. 1 place from the National Closed is not enough.

    That said, there can be a compromise between pure algorithm and discretion. You can select 4-5 players based on tournament results, and maybe 1-2 based on choice. That way, you can still assemble a strong team, and encourage improvement. Meritocracy is a culture to promote competitiveness. It is not just an algorithm. Please don't mistake the two.