Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Teamwork Cultivation

Replying to Anonymous.

You have pretty much hit it spot on. No doubt about it. The competitive spirit was what kept Penang chess strong. However, it was lost when the MSSM was taken away. The rivalry between CLHS and PFS lost a bit of meaning then, added on with the possible conflict of interest arising from Jonathan Chuah being in PFS while his father was the teacher adviser for CLHS.

When I say lack of structure, what it really means is that, although there was a strong culture of senior-junior mentorship, it was not a formal program as it basically relied on the seniors' prerogative to train the juniors. This culture was great back in the early 1990s when the seniors took the initiative to pass on their "knowledge" so to speak, but at some point, this competitive spirit moved to the individual level. PFS players stopped sharing with other PFS players, CLHS players stopped working together for fear of losing out to their own teammates. That was why there were no real strong chess players after Jonathan Chuah, until much later when Victor Hong and Evan Capel came along. Even then, these are just lone players who were not products of the mentorship culture, so they could not pass that along.

This was a unique culture in Penang but its lack of organization led to its demise. It is one thing to reminisce about the good old days, but we must also be open to why Penang is being overtaken by the Klang Valley. I, for one, do not agree that it is the amount of chess coaches or GMs that the KL people can pull in. You are most certainly right that the teamwork can create the synergy needed to achieve more as a group, be it among peers or rivals. But how do we achieve that once again?


  1. well, it did result in some pretty some pretty strong players being raised, did it not? those countries with strong chess tradition have some kind of collaborative approach as well. i would suggest a better approach would be to look at any success stories we may have and see how we may replicate that. Rather than focus on shortcomings, perceived or real. At least we already know what worked before.

  2. I would hardly consider it to be working if it failed to sustain itself. I am a huge fan of the culture, don't get me wrong. There's just not enough team collaboration these days.

    The focus has been too much on chess and chess results. So most of what they care about is beating each other. They have ignored and sometimes forgotten the camaraderie that can be gained from organizing tournaments such as the PFS Open. Some even see it as a burden. I know that it used to be the pride of the PFS students. There is a lack of cohesiveness in the Penang players these days.