Saturday, October 29, 2011

The World Championship Cycle

Here is an interesting read on Seirawan's comeback into chess.
What does Yasser Seirawan think about World Championship cycle and matches?

I don’t like the FIDE cycle at all. I think it is foolish, without sense, which is negative for sponsors, the public and for the players.

Let us start with the obvious, chess does not have a “Premiere League,” a “Grand Prix” or a “World Cup.” We are without a ‘season’, which exists in most sports. What we do have is a “World Chess Championship.” In my view, this should be an annual event. Full stop! Once you think about this and reach the same conclusion, questions start popping into mind, such as “how would an annual cycle work?” As well as other questions.

So let us step back and think of how would we create an ‘annual cycle’ with the ‘tools’ that we have in hand today? First we come to the obvious question, “What would the final competition look like?” Should we have a traditional one-on-one match? Or should the final competition feature a tournament with a double round robin or quadruple round robin final? If you stop and choose one or the other, there will be complaints from one set of fans who prefer one type (strongly) over the other. Once that awareness seeps in, the answer is obvious, you have both.

Today, we have a strange cycle, to say the least. Let us be generous, and say that today’s cycle is a fixed two year cycle where we have ‘continental championships’ bringing ‘qualifiers’ who compete in a 128 player knockout event, the World Cup. The top three players qualify for a Candidates Tournament, alongside three highest rated players (other than the existing World Champion), the runner-up to the previous Championship match and a nominee ‘wildcard’ from the Candidate’s Tournament organizer. From the Candidate’s Tournament a ‘Challenger’ emerges and then a match is played. All of these events are staged in a two year cycle (or so). It is what it is, and these are the tools we have today. I think the cycle is stupid. Why?

First of all, let us think about the role of the World Champion. Let us presume that the World Champion is the strongest, most interesting chess player in the world. That the fans, the public, the media all love him/her and thrill to their every contest! How exciting! Well guess what, in this entire ‘two year’ cycle the World Champion does nothing! He/she does not play. Not in the National Championship, the Continentals, not in the Knockout, not in the Candidates. The World Champion waits. When a Challenger is ‘born’ at long last, the World Champion comes out of the cocoon to play a twelve-game match. Doesn’t that strike you as a silly system? It certainly does me!

Imagine, if Barcelona won the Premiere League in Spain and was declared so good, they wouldn’t have to play in the League anymore. No, the team would wait for a challenger, and Barcelona would play a ‘match’ against the challenger. That’s all. The public would be confused. It is with a similar confusion as this example that I, a professional player, look at the world of chess. We have a stupid system for determining the World Champion. If it makes no sense to me, then how can I sell the system to a sponsor? For chess it gets even worse!

Let us look at the World Chess Championship and the elite world of chess today. We all know and love Viswanathand Anand. We couldn’t ask for a better chess ambassador. Vishy is a prince and a deserved World Champion! No questions. But is he head and shoulders above his colleagues and nearest rivals? I don’t think that even Vishy would make such a claim. Rather the contrary, that he does feel that he is an elite player with a few very close rivals. Yet Vishy is separated out of this elite group and put on a pedestal and removed from playing.
My sentiments exactly. Go to Chessbase for more.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Disrespectfully Disagree

First, as a disclaimer, I hate politics and politicians. Almost as much as I hate liars, but they are not mutually exclusive. What I cannot stand is another potshot from the light (as opposed to the dark). Whether it is a potshot from the dark or a potshot from the light is still a potshot. Just like it doesn't matter if a cat is black or white. A cat that catches mice is a good cat.


When I first read about the UMNO blogger, it felt like they took a page from Raymond Siew's playbook. Why? Let me highlight the similarities:

1. Use of the strawman
They use fake pictures just like Raymond creates false images of people he want to attack and then attack it. Then claim that they have defeated the strawman.


2. Defiant and refusal to apologize
Despite being caught with their pants down for using fake pictures, they still claim victory. Raymond has been caught with his pants down lying about the supposed deal struck with Zhuo Ren. Yet, no apology from him. Not even an admission that he was wrong.

3. Using children (juniors) as tools
This is self-explanatory. Creating stories about Zhuo Ren and the non-existent attacks. (Molesting?)

4. Stories of deal-making
The blogger alleged that Guan Eng offered a deal to the principal to cover up the story. Just like Raymond Siew alleged that the IMs offered Zhuo Ren a deal.


5. Lies exposed
The principal has come out to deny the lie, just like Zhuo Ren has come out to deny the lie. Yet, the Fuhrer has pretended that nothing of this sort has happened. Not a single mention.


So, is this UMNO blogging ordeal more similar to Raymond Siew, or more similar to Jimmy and friends (whoever they are)? Anyone who can add any more similarities to the list is welcome to do it :) Feel free to disagree with me, and support Raymond Siew. You can also do it anonymously in the comments section. I am a strong advocate of free speech.


P/S: I most certainly hope that Raymond has tried to offer some apology in private of some sort. I can't speak for the chess community, but I think the public deserves the truth. As for me, I can safely assume that the truth is more or less out.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Let It Be Known


I think the person who reported back to Fuhrer has a lot to explain. This is a very easy way to escape any form of responsibility. Hide behind a ghost. Someone said this to me. I am just going to pass the word even though it was a lie. Doesn't this remind you of what someone said about Rationality. All Jimmy and I did was to pass along Rationality's blog post and Fuhrer here decides that Jimmy is in charge of the attack. Now, let me use the same logic that since Fuhrer used the information that a deal was offered, he is claiming it to be true. Let us also postulate that he must have done his homework and found all relevant evidence to support his claim that a deal was offered to Zhuo Ren.

If this was not true, then the above statement which I grabbed from FGM's blog is simply malicious. It was posted with an intent to lie and mislead and more importantly, to dishonour the IM's. For someone to lodge a complaint, one must have at least cause for concern. I cannot simply run around lodging frivolous complaints. Every one with a pea brain knows that. So the big elephant in the room is, what is the cause for complaint? Who is the "informer". I put it to you that there is no informer. It is just Raymond making up stories because we now have proof that there is no deal. Raymond has used an "informer" to escape responsibility of posting vicious lies.

What about this one:



He is accusing Jimmy (and friends) of selling shortcuts. Now, it has been proven that no such thing happened. So where is the answer now Fuhrer?


Now, Fuhrer says that he did not say that Jimmy attacked Zhuo Ren. Or did he? His complicity on the attack on Zhuo Ren? What did he do to attack Zhuo Ren? Zhuo Ren asked Jimmy to post an email as a favor, and Jimmy did it. According to Dictionary.com, the meaning of complicit is as follows:

choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity.
So, if Fuhrer is saying that Jimmy is complicit on his attack on Zhuo Ren, then it means that Jimmy has chosen to be involved in "attacking" Zhuo Ren, and especially with others. So actually, yes, Fuhrer has specifically said that Jimmy attacked Zhuo Ren. Unless we have to go back to, "throwing" a game is not actually throwing a game. We have all played that game before.

And now, the biggest bullshit of all:


OK, so he has not said Jimmy attacked Zhuo Ren. But the biggest question then is, "WHO DID?" Could it be FGM himself? Could it be that FGM attacked Zhuo Ren, but Jimmy was helping Zhuo Ren clear his name, and therefore he is now culpable for all the attacks on Zhuo Ren? To be honest, I am very curious... What is this attack that FGM always speaks of? What exactly is this attack? Was it the non-existent deal that was offered to Zhuo Ren? But if there was no deal, then there was no attack? FGM has a lot to explain.

Now, he also says that Jimmy was also culpable. Again, big words for a small man. Let us leave no room for gaps and go to Dictionary.com again.
deserving blame or censure; blameworthy.
So, if Jimmy did not attack Zhuo Ren, and there was no attack on Zhuo Ren, then he is to be blamed for what? Posting an email? Who is to say that if Jimmy did not post that email, Zhuo Ren would not start his own blog and post his email there? What would the difference be then? 

This is the kind of poor attitude and logical skills of the mind coach that Malaysia has for its chess team. It makes me worried about the state of Malaysian chess. Please call for a selection for mind coaches. We want a written selection for mind coaches. Or at least a transparent process on who the mind coach should be. After all, he is "endorsed" by the MCF. That means he is able to use that "endorsement" to actually acquire favors.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Logical Fallacy: Part 3,452

I kinda lost count on the number of times I have written on logical fallacies. For the uninitiated, let me first talk a little bit about how we think. Our little brain works with models and frameworks. In short, we take what we observe and then we generalize or simplify it into a model or framework to allow us to predict what will happen if something similar occurs again.

Take for example, we observe that every time someone pushes a door, it opens. This happens often enough that we generalize that every time a door is pushed, it will open. So we don't even think about it anymore. Can you imagine that one day, if you pushed the door and your hand goes right through it? That would be totally bizarre and even if you told someone else about it, no one would believe you. This is because we have internalized the concept that if a door is pushed, it will open. Past experience tells us so, therefore it must be so. Our minds have simplified it to that model.

Now, let us consider a certain madman who believes that Jimmy was leading the attack on some tournament that I don't even remember. One of the main reasons for this is because he sees all this "attack" going on in the chatbox in Jimmy's site. Therefore, the madman can only conclude that Jimmy must be behind these attacks. He cannot think of any other reason, therefore it must be the only reason. His brain has simplified the problem into his model and no matter what else happens, he can't accept it. Madman pushes the door, door must open. If the door does not open, he will never be able to explain or understand it because in his brain, there is only one dimension.

It is "easier" to believe that Jimmy is leading an attack and therefore it is easier to attack Jimmy. It is always harder to take a look at oneself and ask, "Am I the problem?".

Let me throw in some alternatives. What if, the madman is the one that is wrong? The main reason "everyone" is gathering at Jimmy's chatbox is that it is "the most convenient" place to express their dissatisfaction towards the resident loony. I urge all of you to consider what will happen if Jimmy closes his chatbox. I believe that all the chatboxers will move on to the next most convenient location and continue their discussion. If this is the case, would Jimmy then be "leading the attack"?

What will the madman then conclude? Perhaps he will think that Jimmy has put the wheel in motion, and now it can't be stopped? I think any person with half a brain would know that if Jimmy was that influential, he could takeover the country and become President for life. All Hail, Jimmy.

For someone who prides himself in being the master of the mind, his inability to process alternative explanations would just be too bizarre. It is just easier to believe that he is right. His brain is just unable to process any other evidence because he has already internalized his model. Even if Copernicus himself were to come along and present evidence that the Earth revolves around the Sun, he can't accept that he is not the center of the universe. Even if Ferdinand Megallen, who has sailed around the Earth were to tell him the Earth is round and not flat, he would still insist that we would fall off the edge of the earth if we sailed to the horizon.

Of course, our observations have created new models to help us process our experiences, but some madmen simply cannot process models that are beyond their own capabilities. Quite simply, he is just behind his time. He is still living in a world that is flat.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Good At Chess?

We do not need a self-proclaimed mind-coach cum idiot to tell us that chess skills can be applied elsewhere successfully. This is a long-standing, well-known fact known for centuries as many a successful chess player have transitioned from chess into successes elsewhere. As an example read here (Good at Chess? A Hedge Fund May Want to Hire You). Here are some excerpts:

Boaz Weinstein’s opening move on Wall Street came as a result of chess.
Mr. Weinstein, now a star hedge fund manager, was trying to get a summer job at Goldman Sachs in 1991, when he was just 18. After being told there was nothing available, he stopped in a bathroom on the way out and ran into David F. Delucia, then the head of corporate bond trading. 
Mr. Delucia, who is ranked as an expert by the United States Chess Federation, had played Mr. Weinstein, ranked as a master by the federation, many times. He arranged for a series of interviews until Mr. Weinstein got an internship on a Goldman trading desk.
Mr. Weinstein is not alone among Wall Streeters who have a chess connection. 
...
Chess helps in trading, Mr. Weinstein said. To become a good chess player, he learned to focus on how he made decisions because he could not calculate the results of all his possible moves. Learning to deal with that uncertainty or risk has been useful. When you make an investment, “you can have an 80 percent chance of being right. And then the 20 percent comes up,” he said. “But really it is the process that you used to make the decision.”
But being skilled at games is no guarantee of success. James E. Cayne, the former chief executive of Bear Stearns, which collapsed in March 2008, is a world-class bridge player who has won many international bridge tournaments.
...
Still, the idea that gaming skills may be adaptable to investing spurred a hiring program in the early 1990s at Bankers Trust. At the time, the bank had a successful trader named Norman Weinstein (no relation to Boaz Weinstein), who had earned the title of international master from the World Chess Federation. In an effort to replicate his success, the bank hired a small group of people who had little or no trading experience, but were world-class chess and bridge players.
David Norwood, a World Chess Federation grandmaster (the highest ranking a player can obtain), was one of the recruits. “I was studying history at Oxford,” Mr. Norwood said. “Right out of the blue, I got contacted by Bankers Trust who said, ‘You would really make a good trader.’ I had no idea what trading was.”
Mr. Norwood took the job and was soon put on a trading desk, but it was too sudden. “It was like being stuffed into a world-class chess match without knowing the moves,” Mr. Norwood said. He quit after only a few months.
Despite the setback, Mr. Norwood said the experience “kind of planted a seed in me.” After a year, he found a job at Duncan Lawrie, a British private bank, and began learning trading and investing. In 2008, at the age of 40, he retired a multimillionaire.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Credit Card Conundrum

It's been a really hectic period for me but I managed to squeeze out a few minutes to give some thoughts on Jimmy's posts about credit card debt here and here.

Jimmy said that:
If they dont have a CC then how can they over-spend? The problem is easy credit cards being made available to everyone, even those that might not be able to repay. Banks are at fault plus our Bank Negara and Finance Ministry (for not regulating the banks more carefully).
There are many other ways to get in debt. Even more severe than credit card debt is the personal loan. We can just refer to our resident banker, Ilhamuddin. There are tonnes of people who actually take out personal loans to pay off their credit card debt due to the lower interest rate (usually around 10%). However, this tends to be misused as well.

On top of that, there is this thing called the Civil Servants Salary Deduction Scheme. This is the ultimate killer. The salary deduction scheme is handled by MBSB, which is neither a bank nor a financial institution, and is thus not under the "purview" of Bank Negara. These loans are not for housing or car loans. They are personal loans and are given out freely like there is no tomorrow without any form of collateral. This is because the installments are deducted out of the salary of the borrower. Because of this, the loans are not recorded under the CCRIS, which means that it cannot be traced by the banks. So the banks will continue to lend money to these jokers despite the fact that they have already borrowed up to their necks. In some cases, MBSB allows borrowing up to 70% of their monthly income. This is extremely scary. How can anyone live on only 30% of their monthly income? On top of this, they need to pay for their housing and car loans, which leaves them with nothing.

So, eventually, since they cannot stop MBSB from deducting their salary, they default on their car loans, housing loans, and credit card bills. Much of these personal loans are used to buy silly luxury items like big-ass flat screen TVs, new refrigerators, new washing machines, new sofas, LV handbags, you name it.

This is a giant loophole in our banking system as Bank Negara is unable to monitor this. If you think the civil service is only a small part of the workforce, think again. Government servants account for more than 10% of Malaysia's labour force. That is by no means small. This is indeed very scary for Malaysia, not just for borrowers only. I'd hate to know what can happen if the banks fail.

If you think that banks won't fail, just ask yourself this: Did you think that the Lehman Brothers would go bust in September 2008? If suddenly, house prices plunge through the ground, believe me, no one is going to pay their housing loans and the banks will be left with no liquidity to operate. That's how banks fail.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Real Lesson On Reasoning

Aiyoyo... For someone who has so many reasoning flaws to teach us about reasoning. First, non-chess player trying to teach us chess. Now, non-logician trying to teach us logic. Here are SOME examples of poor logic to help you build up your reasoning power.

Refer to here (false analogies), here (more false analogies) here (beginning of the end), here (distortion of facts), here (false assumptions lead to false conclusions), here (the biggest idiot), here (strawman), here (nothing else better to do - deja vu) and here (nothing else better to do).

Wow, I am tired from all the linking. Aiya... go and learn some real logic, then we talk.

I blame this on the brain drain. Is there NO ONE ELSE in Malaysia smart enough to teach us anything useful these days?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Technical Display

Really neat play by Weiming. I don't mean neat in the conventional sense, but I like the way he forms subtle ideas and hunts down weaknesses as well as builds his advantage patiently. I must say, I found 17. ... Rc7 pretty cool too.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

This Is So Sad

I can't help but sympathize with Weiming and his Singaporean teammates. Can't imagine what is in the minds of the SNOC about what they have done.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mind Coaching

I feel like I need to start taking this selection for "Mind Coach" for MCF more seriously. After all, I am a self-proclaimed master of mind games. I am a self-proclaimed manipulator, qualified logician, educated scientist with a broad knowledge base, an analyst, a strategist, and most importantly, a real chess player. I think all this makes me more qualified to be a mind coach than certain other mind coaches in Malaysia. Perhaps MCF should have a written selection criteria for that.

In any case, just read this article in the Star today. Yeah, it is not about chess, but about badminton. Rexy Mainaky is one of the better mind coaches of the game if I ever saw one. His comments about the players very often refers to the mindsets and attitudes of the players rather than their playing styles. This is not to say he does not focus on the technical skills. All of us should know who Rexy Mainaky is. World Champion, Olympic gold medalist, All-England Champion, need I say more?

What caught my attention, or at least, what I hope caught your attention was the following comment that he made about Mohd Zakry and Thien How's lost at the World Championships yesterday:
"Yes, I was disappointed with the way we lost.

“There were mistakes which should not have happened. They just did not want it as much as the coach, I guess,” said Rexy.
Yeah, that's right. The first criteria of being a champion. How badly do you want it?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Does It Pay To Become A Chess Coach?

After reading the Stonemaster's comments here, I went and did some of my own calculations.

I did a 20-year projection on how much money a chess coach/organizer can make compared with a fresh graduate. Of course I had to make certain assumptions.

1. Based on the Stonemaster's figures, I assumed that 100% of his income comes from coaching. Because of that, a chess coach will find it hard to increase tuition fees in the near term. Hence, I allow a 10% upward revision in coaching fees every five years. It is hard to estimate the profits of an organizer because I do not have any data of the costs involved, and many times, organizers depend on sponsorship to obtain profits. In short, I can't calculate what I can't estimate.

2. I assume the Stonemaster does not pay taxes

3. I also assumed that the Stonemaster has already maxed out the number of hours that he is willing to spend on coaching and organizing. This means that he is unable to increase income simply by increasing the number of hours coached. Hence, the increase in income must only come out of the increase in coaching fees.

Table 1 below shows the income projection of the Stonemaster in the next 20 years.

Table 1
On the fresh graduate side, I had to make several assumptions as well. A quick check showed that a fresh graduate can easily get a banking job with a starting pay of RM3,000. Please correct me if I am wrong.

1. Based on this, I assumed that the fresh graduate will get a salary increment of 5% per year for the next 20 years. I think this is on the low side. But let's be conservative.

2. I assumed that the EPF contribution from the employer is 12% of his gross income.  This is standard. This should be handy during your retirement. If you are a chess coach, when are you going to retire?

3. I based the tax rate on the 2010 tax brackets. I used the full gross income as the taxable income. This means that I did not subtract all the deductibles. Once again, trying to be conservative. You can view the tax bracket here.

4. I assumed that the medical and other benefits begin at RM200 per year and will grow at 5% per annum. This could easily be more. Another thing I did not include is that if there is a serious medical condition, the coverage could be more. Even if you are hospitalized, you will still continue to receive income. If you were to be coaching chess, you do not get paid if you are hospitalized. What will you eat then?

5. I assume that no bonuses are paid throughout the 20 years. Again, this is to be conservative. Most banks pay about two months bonus annually. Again, correct me if I am wrong.

Table 2 shows the projection of the fresh graduate's total compensation.

Table 2
For your convenience, here is a chart to show you the rough difference in compensation:

Chart 1
So kids, this is why people do not become chess coaches/organizers. Stay in school and study hard. Unless you REALLY want to become a GM. For that, go to my previous post. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

How To Become A Grandmaster?

If you expected a list of steps here to become a GM, then clearly you will be disappointed. There is not and never has been a shortcut to becoming a GM.

Here is a reminder on what I wrote about the 1st step to being a GM.

You just need to ask yourself this:

1. Do I want to become a GM?
2. How badly do I want it?
We want many things in life. We want to have friends, we want to have fun, we want to watch TV, we want a good family, we want a nice car, we want a nice house, we want a comfortable job, we want we want.

But all we have is 24 hours a day. Everyone has that same amount of time per day. With so many things that we want, how do you expect to divide that 24 hours? What do you want to achieve in life? That is the fundamental question.

Deep down inside, if you know that you do not want to become a GM, then you should not even try because a half-hearted attempt will only waste your time.

Becoming world-class in anything requires a lot of hard work. No doubt you cannot do it alone, but if you want something badly enough, you can make it happen. Whatever it takes. You need to make sacrifices. Watch less TV. Spend less on the things you don't need. Channel more resources to your chess development. More time, more money etc. You may even have to take time off your occupation. I have talked about Praveen Thipsay before. More recently, even Goh Weiming is taking time off his work to focus on getting his GM. Being a married man, this kind of decision must surely have not come easy.

The main ingredient towards becoming a GM is most definitely desire. You will never achieve it if you do not want it badly enough. It is not going to fall on your lap. You can sit around and wait for your "coach" to teach you enough things to become a GM. You can sit around and wait for some company or other to sponsor your efforts. As we have seen, sponsors and coaches and money are not what makes a GM. Ask Mas to give you an honest answer. Why did he not become a GM? He had all the backing in the world. More than many of us have ever had.

Stop blaming the environment. Look at yourself. Do you really want to become a Grandmaster?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Beginning Of The End

My apologies to those of you who are getting sick of this strawman issue. I am going to settle this once and for all. Ever wonder where this assertion of everyone trying to attack FGM's ASEAN initiative comes from?
"They attack anything new. Even a training program for our Junior's before International Tournament."
Let us take a step back in time. It all began with Rationality's allegedly "slanderous" post:

Read here:


And then a few days later, Jimmy had a post that shared the link to Rationality's post:
I pretty much resolved that I will no longer respond to Mr Siew's postings - unless he starts to malign me again or attacking those things that I care about. One of this was when he said that there was a thrown game by one of the Malaysians in the last olympiad.

Rationality beat me to it
here. He pretty much said all I wanted to say - its uncanny how my thoughts and feelings match up with him. I do wondor if he is my Jekyll. Come to think of it, I did go to bed very early last night...
Read carefully. It says "pretty much", not "everything". So, first of all, Jimmy agrees with MOST of what Rationality had to say, but not ALL. So there is no real reference to the ASEAN initiative. Secondly, Jimmy made an initial reference to the "thrown game" in his first paragraph, which was what he was actually probably referencing to in Rationality's post:
It's so nice of you to only implicitly make a reference to me in your post with your attempt of (humourous? I hope not) irony attached to it, but anyway, the only thing I have to add is; it's not my fault that you used the wrong word. "Throwing a game" implies a deliberate action. The miscommunication caused is not due to an incorrect interpretation on my part, but by your use of such condemning phrases, ironically, "out of context". But fine. Let's forget this. Maybe it is my fault that you didn't know what it meant to "throw a game", since you obviously don't. So okay, maybe I'm sorry.
Now, then on the same day, I shared the post:
There are two things that are missing on Rationality's blog currently. First, there has to be a "Like" button on your blog. How else are readers going to "Like" it when you write something that makes sense?

Secondly, you should also enable sharing so that users can also "repost" and share your posts.

Since I am unable to do both of the above, I suppose the best I can do is to link it:

PLEASE READ
THIS !!!

P/S: You should probably allow comments as well.
Yeah, all I did was recommend a link. I did not even say if I agree or disagree with what he said. I did not even say that what he said was true or not. So where is the attack on the ASEAN initiative by Jimmy and me?

Now, for the BIG FINALE.

Check out this post. In case he deletes it, I am going to quote him here:

Good video by Jimmy
Here.

............ blablabla...... the rest you can read it from his link. Not important. So I won't waste your time with it.
Yes! He does the same type of recommendation. He even said "Good video by Jimmy". Then he gives you the link. So, by his standards, does he mean to say that EVERYTHING in the video is true? If you have not watched the video, then you really should. Because Raymond condones it, that means everything inside the video is true. It means he supports every single message in the video. Because that is exactly what he thinks when Jimmy and I recommended a link on our blogs.

Now, do you TRULY see where the "attack" BY JIMMY AND FRIENDS on the ASEAN Initiative and Air Asia and whoever the heck else is from? Who is the BIG FAT STRAWMAN here?

Oh by the way, in the first place, it is on the onus of the accuser to prove guilt. Never the onus of the defendent to prove innocence. So, stop calling for frivolous investigations unless you have even a single shred of evidence. Using coffee shop talk as a basis for investigation is time-wasting, inefficient, and plain STUPID.

If you hear "stories" from parents, it is your initiative to question the parent on WHERE DID THEY GET THEIR STORY FROM? Not cry to your daddy (MCF/Greg) every time someone says something is amiss. Oh by the way, the only person who is telling the MCF to do anything, is Raymond Siew:

"Investigate this, investigate that"

He doesn't think it is telling the MCF to do anything. It is only a request. A request is UNLIKE many of the suggestions that I make. Because suggestions are equivalent to asking MCF to do something.
"For some reason Jimmy and friends think that they own chess and they also own MCF. So they keep telling MCF what they should do or not do."
Show one instance that anyone has asked MCF to do anything. Also, if Jimmy and friends OWN MCF, they DON'T need to tell MCF what they SHOULD do. If I own something, I will just make it do what I want. I don't actually need to make suggestions. If I own my car, I will drive it wherever I please. If I own my house, I can rent it to whoever I want. So anyone with half a pea brain will know that Jimmy and friends do not own MCF and has never thought so. What is wrong with making a few suggestions? Is it so different from your requests? How about, think of those suggestions as "requests to try an idea". What does it sound like now?

Raymond Siew, go back and learn some humility and live by your own standards.

By the way, I don't care if you dignify this or not. I write this FOR YOUR BENEFIT. If you choose not to listen, it is simply your loss.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rating Inflation?

WARNING: Headache-inducing Math involved

For those of you who are ignoring the warning, read here.

Basically, it is a paper where two guys analyzed a large database of chess games move by move to determine chess players' "intrinsic rating" and see if the "strength of their moves" have improved compared to rating levels in the past. In simple terms, they are testing to see if a 2700 player today is playing the same quality moves as a 2700 player 20 years ago. If the move qualities are the same, it shows that there is no rating inflation.

So what did they find?
A smooth correspondence is shown between statistical results and the century points on the Elo scale, and ratings are shown to have stayed quite constant over time. That is, there has been little or no ‘rating inflation’.

........

In the 1970’s there were only two players with ratings over 2700, namely Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov, and there were years as late as 1981 when no one had a rating over 2700. In the past decade there have usually been thirty or more players with such ratings. Thus lack of inflation implies that those players are better than all but Fischer and Karpov were.
Note that they are using the strength of the moves of the chess players and not just results, which is probably a much more accurate measure of playing strength. I sincerely believe the study can be extended to using rating to predict playing strength. But as in all statistical studies, higher ratings will only increase the chances of winning. Playing strength is not absolute. As they say, "you win some, you lose some".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Distortion Of Facts

The Elo system is one of the most accurate systems for ranking players across any kind of sport in the world. However, what it is not good for, just like ANY other system, is in its usage only at one particular point in time. Looking at someone's rating today, and then forget the past or close our eyes to the future will never show us the true picture of one's playing strength. To accurately gauge someone's playing strength, one has to observe his rating changes through a considerable amount of games played.

This is just like trying to gauge a player's strength based on ONE tournament alone. Winning the National Junior does not make you the strongest junior. So, being number two in National Junior does not make you the 2nd strongest junior in Malaysia. This is precisely because it is only one tournament.

This is like saying Greece winning the Euro 2004 shows that Greece is the best team in Europe.

Imagine looking at the performance of a company. Let's say the company had declining profits for 2 consecutive years. Would you say that the company is lousy without doing proper research? What if the company's profits were declining for 2 consecutive years because it was investing more in R&D. This would then increase its expenses which would then lower its profits. The R&D could pay off handsomely in 5 years time. Without looking at the details but only at results shows that you are a coffee shop speculator rather than a real investor.

This is the same in chess. Just looking at results to judge playing strength is for "coffee shop speculators". When you don't know how to play chess, this is the best you can do. Any strong chess observer knows that while IM Mok may not be at his peak in the last two years, he still has one of the deepest understandings on the board in Malaysia. Jimmy may often criticize Mok for his opening choice, but I think he will agree with what I said. Mok's playing strength comes from his positional understanding.

But anyhow, let us just verify some of the "facts" that were presented:
In the SEA games selection we saw an IM fall to almost all if not all the juniors. So FIDE ratings don't mean much.
What do the results show?


Granted, Mok had one of the worst tournaments since he was 17 (maybe). But did he fall to almost all the juniors? He did lose to Yit San and Sumant. The other juniors who were playing were Zhuo Ren, Jun Feng, an Yit Ho. Well, Mok did not beat any of them, but he most certainly did not fall to MOST of them. Losing to two out of five is not MOST by any standards.

But this is not the point. The point is, one tournament does not show anything. Strong consistent performance across many major tournaments will show playing strength. In due time, it will be recognized in the form of FIDE rating. But that requires a time lag and sufficient number of games before a player reaches his "true rating". Imagine a player who can play at 2400-2500 strength but currently has a rating of 2100. It will probably take about one to two years before that player can achieve his "true rating". However, in the mean time, you can probably start seeing his rating performance showing 2400+ in most of the tournaments. That is why I say consistent results will reflect a "truer" picture of playing strength. But over the longer term, the rating performance will eventually translate into actual ratings. It's just something we should all bear in mind and not become like some "coffee shop uncle" speculating on the stock market chess players' strengths.

P/S: Nobody has said that ratings should be used for selection. At least not this time around. Not yet. Don't let anyone Jedi Ass-Trick you into thinking so.

PP/S: I believe Mark has not beaten me before as well. That is a game I would like to see.

Monday, August 1, 2011

False Assumptions Lead to False Conclusions

Sometimes, some of the stuff that comes out of "recognized" and "endorsed" mind coaches makes the logician in me cringe. Well, you can almost believe that he thinks he is God/Jesus because he can make something out of nothing. Or he thinks he can.

Here is an example:
Note: The Malaysian Open and private tournaments are not the best determinants. I think the best tournament to find the strongest junior is the National Junior since all the juniors will be fighting one another in that one tournament. 
The assumption made is that the Malaysian Open and private tournaments are not the best determinants of strength. The most glaring question is, on what basis is this true? Was there any justification at all? How strong are the justifications? How clueless does one have to be to believe that?

This is amazing because, when you make false assumptions, you will most likely end up with false conclusions. If the Malaysian Open is a poor determinant, and Li Tian performs well at the Malaysian Open, it just means nothing because you already assumed the tournament is a poor determinant in the first place.

That is equivalent to assuming:

1+1 = 3

Therefore, 2+2 = (1+1) + (1+1) = 3+3 =  6.Yes, 2+2 = 6.

Yup, that is how ridiculous it is.

And the next assumption is, the National Juniors is the best determinant. On what basis? It is because it is just juniors vs juniors? This is the typical Malaysian jaguh kampung mentality that I have been against since Day 1. The world is really bigger than you. This is like saying it does not matter that Lee Chong Wei is World No.1 in badminton. If he lost in the Malaysian Closed or whatever tournament it is among Malaysians, then Lee Chong Wei is not the best player in Malaysia. No, it doesn't matter if he is World No.1. He lost among juniors, so he is not the strongest junior. How thick does your skull have to be to make this kind of illogical argument?

Has it ever occured to you that Mark can ONLY do well against juniors? (This is a question) Has it ever occured that being "strong" requires one to play well not ONLY against juniors, but also against everyone else who knows how to play chess? So what if you are the strongest junior? If you keep living in that world of juniors, then you will always BE in that world of juniors. That is the jaguh kampung mentality. You keep praising yourself for being the champion of the village. Ignore the outside world.

Personally, I think I should request for the endorsement criteria of a mind coach. There is no written criteria for being a mind coach by the MCF. How does MCF select its mind coaches? Why the double standards? Why does MCF have selection criteria for chess players but no call for selection criteria for mind coaches? Maybe I want to throw my name into the hat for mind coach selection. Our mind coach does not seem to be capable of thinking logically. This is scary. Without logic, 2+2 can be 6.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Kasparov

Just saw this quote on Kasparov. Awesome.
I thought I was playing the World Champion - not some 27-eyed monster who sees everything.  -  (on losing May 1986 match 5-1/2 - 1/2)  -  Tony Miles

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More False Analogies - Simply Poor Logic

Najib has spoken.

In a particular paragraph, Najib asked:
Of course, the issue can be extended further - if the grudge is against the parents, why bar the children? If the the disagreement is against the tutor, why disallow the students?
I agree with the point in principle. However, the Romeo and Juliet example that Najib gave only weakened his argument: 
As the story goes, we all know that neither Romeo nor Juliet did anything wrong but because of the warring families, the children is branded the same as the family. And although Juliet father may have nothing against Romeo as a person, to him the family and Romeo are the same. So, if a parent saying that my child should not be banned because the issue is with me, then remember Romeo and Juliet....
Because of this poor example, it allowed You-Know-Who, who always has a ready "false analogy" in hand to counter back with his very own, well, false analogy:
However I disagree that the child should be punished for the parents "transgressions", perceived or otherwise. That goes against natural justice. In the good old days in China they used to kill off whole families and relatives. But eventually some sense of justice prevailed. Surely you wont agree to someone arresting your child for a crime you committed? I am talking about todays world of course.
First of all, the context in good old China is different. In the cultural context in good old China, killing the whole family is "okay". Maybe not in today's society, but it was an acceptable norm back then. So you are actually using two DIFFERENT "senses of justice". Even in today's world, "sense of justice" varies according to culture. Who gets to say who is right and who is wrong? If I want to stretch the example into insanely far-fetched analogies, I can ask: Do you know that in the US, you can make a right turn (because of left-hand drive) when the traffic light is red but if there are no cars around? But why can't you make a left turn (right-hand drive) when the traffic light is red in Malaysia? This is to show that laws are man-made and so is "sense of justice". Even in today's world, capital punishment is still a debated topic. So what you deem as "natural justice" may not be so natural to other people.

Secondly, we are not even talking about criminal offence. Likening a ban to a private event to a criminal offence should be blasphemy. Najib's party example has hit home this point. If it his party, he has the right to invite anyone he wants. Let us take another party example. Assume our Prime Minister Najib (what a coincidence) has an "OPEN" house. By "OPEN" it should mean that everyone is invited. However, it is the general understanding that known trouble-makers are not invited to the open house. Will you then argue with Najib (the PM) that he actually said "OPEN" house, and not "Invitational"?

And back to the Najib (the arbiter) example on Romeo and Juliet. I think no analogy is necessary. It is not only that birds of a feather flock together. But everyone knows a father has a very strong influence on his child and the child tends to inherit his ways of thinking. The "preventive measure" argument is sufficient.

As for the ban on the girl in Perak, if it is indeed true, then it is unfortunate. While the organizer does indeed have the right to ban any participant, the players also have a right to boycott the tournament and organizer. No need for further elaboration.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Doing All The Talking

“To do all the talking and not be willing to listen is a form of greed.”

Democritus of Abdera, 5th – 4th century BC

Monday, July 25, 2011

I Told You So

I was just going through some old posts and I saw this. It was my advice to Raymond to be a man. I can't help but seeing how things have transpired over the past six months, which is mainly from bad to worse and to worstester, I just need to say, "I told you so".

I did warn that if you continue targeting the personality of other people without commenting on substance, you will stand to lose out in the long run. Now don't you think that you are stuck in this quagmire of feeling that the whole world is out to get you? Don't you feel that you have to waste so much energy just to defend "your name" when all this could have been avoided if you did not start any name-calling in the first place?

P/S: You will probably think I am scared or some stupid thing like that, but let me assure you that you are imagining imagined fears. Apart from just saying "I told you so", I guess I may even feel pity towards you. Don't you feel like a dog chasing after your tail? (Yeah, this is a question)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Biggest Idiot

The biggest idiot is not the person who does not know he is wrong.

The biggest idiot is the person who knows he is wrong, and does what he is doing anyway.

Just a quick post before I go die of laughter after reading today's flurry of posts from both Jimmy and Raymond. These days, one can't even go out on Saturday night. Missed out on all those action.

Well, anyone with half a brain will know that I am not Jimmy Liew. What is the most obvious tell sign? For many times now, Jimmy has spelled "wonder" as "wondor". Not trying to point out his poor spelling abilities, but come on, clearly, that has got to tell you that we are two different people. This is also based on the assumption that only one person is maintaining the Chess Ninja blog. For all you know, I could have recruited several other people to maintain this site by now.

Remember the time when Raymond called me "young". Now he thinks that Jimmy and I are of the same age. I don't know if that is more insulting to Jimmy or to me. What I do know is, I have played more chess than Raymond and Mark combined. Yes, this is "moving the goal post" like Jimmy said. Actually, the amount of chess games played by Raymond and Mark in total just equates to the amount of chess games Mark alone has played. I WONDER why. I can even throw in a few more names of non-chess-playing people to make it sound like I have played chess for a REALLY long time, which incidentally, I have.

I am not an IM, and I would be very happy to get one, though it is not on my bucket list at the moment. This blog did not start out as an FGM hate site. Please refer to my first post on Fadli. I just wanted to show the frauds for who they are. In Jimmy's words, "unmask" them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Logical Fallacies - The Straw Man

Forgive me, Chin Seng. This is another non-chess-related post. Today, we get to discuss the Straw Man fallacy. This is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone misrepresents his opponent's position and attacks that without having to refute the original position.
"The straw man is one of the best-named fallacies, because it is memorable and vividly illustrates the nature of the fallacy. Imagine a fight in which one of the combatants sets up a man of straw, attacks it, then proclaims victory. All the while, the real opponent stands by untouched."
Let us take a look here:
I think we can see clearer now why he (Jimmy Liew) conducted the attacks on FGM's training for our National Juniors via anonymous bloggers. The first training of its kind for our Juniors.
First of all, just to point out a factual error. Definitely not the first training of its kind for our juniors. The straw man here is the "person" who allegedly conducted an attack on the FGM training. Now, that you know who the straw man is, let us pile on the attack on him:
This may also explain why there were attempts to boycott the Thematics despite its benefits to our stronger players.
The straw man is also responsible for the boycott of the thematics.
Does this also explain why Lim Zhuo Ren was attacked until he broke down and wrote that email when his only "offence" was to have a look see if the training we were providing is beneficial or not? And he made the fatal mistake of signing up with us.
This part is super tricky. First of all, there has never been proof of any attack on Zhuo Ren. Only "some people" said this and that. That's why the above statement is in the form of a question. This is really tricky. When you have no proof of something, just phrase the statement in the form of the question to mislead the reader. Insinuate the idea. Pile on the attack on the straw man. Remember, the straw man is the one who allegedly conducting all forms of attacks.
There was also the flurry of activity on his allied blogs to counter the attempts of us asking MCF to have written selection criteria. But MCF stood firm and acknowledged our requests.
I have not seen any blog that tried to counter any attempt for a written selection criteria. The MCF had a written selection criteria all along. Oh wait, someone made a request to the MCF. Does this mean that he is telling the MCF what to do? Hmm... is a request the same as a suggestion? I wonder...

So, when other people make suggestions to the MCF, it is telling the MCF what to do. But when people make requests to the MCF, it is not. The straw man is now also credited with having allies that have tried to counter any form of written selection criteria. Now the straw man has friends. Wow, now he is fighting against many straw men who are attacking him. I wonder who is the blogger who is against written selection criteria. Straw man, anyone?
And now again there is another very "strong" attempt to stop MCF from looking at the abuse of authority from certain organisers. They are again telling MCF what they should or should not do.
Is he talking about the comments here? The closest mention to MCF I see is this:
In no where in the handbook does it say that FIDE does not allow organizers to ban certain participants from taking part. I guess if the MCF does not have a specific rule that says players cannot be banned from certain tournaments, MCF is off the hook again. No need to do anything with Raymond's whining.
Forget that he misinterpreted the MCF constitution. Who is the one telling MCF what to do? The one calling the MCF to do something about an alleged "abuse"? Strange... I wonder how it feels to smack oneself in the face.
Isnt it getting clearer now? What does this signify if not tyranny? What is it that Jimmy and friends are so afraid of? So really, who are the trouble makers? Who is putting up the roadblocks to improvements.
Oooh... more questions. Let me have a go at answering them. Is it really getting clearer? I think it either signifies delusion, or an ultimate showdown with straw men. I don't know what Jimmy and his friends are afraid of. But they should definitely be afraid of the straw men, because they can sure do a lot of things for straw men. Oh wait... I think they should be afraid of the person who defeats the straw men. I think he is more powerful. Who is putting up the roadblocks? I think the straw men are. Otherwise, I can't think of anyone.

So, can one small attack on some training by the straw man can lead to such huge consequences? (Remember, this is a question). It's OK. Let us just attack the straw man anyway. But wait, let us name it Jimmy Liew. This should be fun.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

False Analogies - Poor Arguments

Today, we have the opportunity to learn another fallacy. Previously, I shared in a comment in Najib's blog about another fallacy called "Poisoning the well". It involves discrediting someone's character in hopes of discrediting that person's argument WITHOUT actually debating the argument itself. For example, if I tell you that "Every one has the right to be stupid", then you say, "The Chess Ninja is a liar and you should never believe anything he says". This is what poisoning the well is. You did not debate the argument about how every one has the right to be stupid or not. Basically, you just claim I am a liar and hence, everything I say must be untrue. Hence, you would be able to claim that NOT every one has the right to be stupid.

So today, we have another opportunity, as I said, to learn a new fallacy. It is called, "False Analogies". While it is not a formal logical fallacy, it is one that is very commonly made by many people, including myself. We often drag in unrelated examples to prove a point. For example, I can argue that "Engineers, researchers, lawyers, accountants are allowed to refer to manuals, researches, law statutes, and accounting standards in their work. Therefore students should be allowed to refer to their books during exams." This is a form of false analogy because the purpose of a student taking an exam is to measure the student's aptitude and the amount he/she has learnt. This is quite different from the objectives of what an engineer, researcher, lawyer or accountant does.

To examine another example, take this statement, "In Physics, work is measured by effort followed by movement. If there is no movement, no work was done."  Then we proceed to argue that we need milestones to show that there is effort and so on and so forth. Let us break it down in parts.

For starters, I am not disagreeing with the statement in any way. I am just trying to show how sometimes, we use fake examples to justify our statements. While they can appear related, they are actually distracting you to make an argument stronger than it actually is.

So the first sentence:

In Physics, work is measured by effort followed by movement.

This is easy enough. Every one knows work done ON an object is the NET FORCE (effort) applied on the object over a distance. Or for those of you who are more mathematically inclined, W = F x d (very simplified version, but it is actually the integral of F.d (since both force and displacement are both vectors)). But let us not complicate things. So the second sentence clearly follows:

If d=0, then W MUST = 0, i.e. if there is no movement, then there is no work done. Like I said, I am not trying to argue against the statement, but showing why this is a poor analogy.

But is the above relationship REALLY true?

WARNING: This part is for those of you who have some further training in Physics, as opposed to some people who try to use Physics without fully understanding it.

Now, you should have caught on that I used the term NET FORCE. The reason is this. If there are two equal forces pushing against each other, the net force is zero. When the net force is zero, it actually implies there is no acceleration. It does not mean that there is no movement. For example, an object moving at constant velocity (no acceleration), has no NET FORCE applied on it, but it is still moving. But because there is NO NET FORCE, i.e. F = 0, the work done is zero (W = F x d = 0 x d = 0).

So, if we use this analogy in "real life", we can claim that, if we are progressing on our own at constant velocity, and our own effort (FORCE), but moving against an equal but opposing resistance (opposing FORCE), NO WORK IS DONE!! This shows that even if we have milestones and meeting them, it is possible that no work is done. Yes, I have managed to twist this into something that is totally destructive, but I guess I can't help myself for having critical thinking. Perhaps next time, when you want to choose an example, use a real one. Or else, you will just sound stupid, but then again, you have the right to do so.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

1st Step to GM

By now, I am sure that everyone is tired of reading about how to become GM by mere rhetorics:

1. Chess is about decision-making (No kidding)
2. Chess is a mental sport, so we must free the mind (Wow, spoken like a true expert)
3. Chess requires analyzing opponents (And we didn't know that?)
4. Think on it
5. No, seriously, think on it
6. Think on it again

I could go on all day. As I said before in a previous post (Why First GM is Stupid), getting the whole country to want a GM is a stupid idea. It is a very Mahathirist frame of mind, where the success of one person can represent the success of everyone. It is like saying, America has Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, we should all be happy, because America Boleh (Or in Obama's words, Yes, We Can (although he was speaking in a totally different context)). In Malaysia, we always want things like the tallest buildings, sending people to space, climbing Mount Everest, and in the chess scene, a GM.

As I asked before, what use is a GM in Malaysia if the chess environment doesn't improve? In Singapore, for many years after Wong Meng Kong attained his GM title, chess in Singapore was relatively stagnant. It is only recently (last 10 years or so?) when they started opening up their borders to chess talents that the level of chess exploded from the doldrums.

Anyway, I digress. The main issue I want to talk about is simple. The first step to becoming a GM starts from yourself. If you start expecting the chess federation or whoever to support you in your efforts to become a GM, then it will remain a dream forever. The two REAL questions (as opposed to useless rhetorics) that you must ask yourself are:

1. Do I want to become a GM?
2. How badly do I want it?

I think if you ask yourself these two questions daily, and provide yourself with honest answers, you can accurately assesss how close you are to become a GM. The second question is probably the one that is the most important. How badly do you want it?

Of course, asking yourselves questions is never enough. The above questions are guiding principles. In fact, they apply to everything we do. Success is achieved through personal motivation. We don't expect our bosses to give us a high-paying job, but we work to deserve it, because we want it. And how hard we work depends on how badly we want it. Simple as that. For some of us, we want big cars, big houses, comfortable lives etc. We slog day and night for it. Why do we do that? Now, imagine yourself wanting to become a GM as much as you want a big house, or a big car. Are you willing to give all that up?

We don't expect our spouses or children to automatically love us. The same goes for chess. We should not expect anything from the MCF or whatever F there is.

The question is simply how badly do you want it?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Some Loosely Chess-related Post

As Ilhamuddin pointed out before, Kenneth Rogoff is a GM and an Economics professor at Harvard University. He was also a Chief Economist at the IMF.

I don't think he plays chess seriously anymore. His FIDE rating is at 2505 but his last game on record was in 1985. My guess is that he has decided to focus on his career in Economics. Here is his latest op-ed about Technology and Inequality. It is a good read for those of you who are more economically inclined, and he does bring in a chess example to illustrate his point.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why First GM is Stupid

I have been planning to write such an article for a while, but there was a serious lack of motivation on my part. For some strange reason, (actually, not so strange when you think about it), certain parties are obsessed about getting Malaysia's first GM by hook or by crook. What do we really get from a first GM?

1. Inspiration/Idol

Arguably, getting a GM in our country may inspire the younger generation to pursue the same dream. I even remember the days when the juniors aspire to be an IM like Jimmy Liew. With or without the crutches of the MCF, we did manage to get several IMs, but for the most part, it was through the personal efforts of the individual players.

Let us take a look at other sports. Many people say we need more "Nicol David"s or "Lee Chong Wei"s to inspire more juniors. Has that really happened? Other than Nicol, there are not many strong squash players around. I saw some potential in the Low sisters (Low Wee Wern and Low Wee Nee), who are also from Penang. But is this truly a product of inspiration from Nicol? Who else besides them? Don't you think that after being World No.1 for 3 years, it would already garner enough attention and publicity to create more champions?

What about badminton? Badminton is of a very different nature because even before the arrival of Lee Chong Wei, Malaysia was already a very prominent country in the sport. Those of you who are more senior will remember Eddy Choong, Tan Aik Huang, Ng Boon Bee, and the likes. The younger ones will remember the 1992 Thomas Cup win in Stadium Negara. All this happened before the arrival of Lee Chong Wei. You may ask, was Lee Chong Wei inspired by our past champions? Maybe. Look at China. They have player after player who are just as competitive.

But the real question is, why can't we be inspired by Champions of other countries? Yeah, they may not be Malaysians, but that does not mean they do not have qualities that we can emulate. In fact, some of them have to face much tougher obstacles than the ones in Malaysia.

So, I don't buy this hogwash about having an idol to inspire other Malaysians. We have idols all over the world and if you choose to close your minds to them, it is your own loss.

2. Something to be proud of

This is an even bigger bullshit than No.1. Many people preach the spirit of Malaysia Boleh when we see other Malaysians perform well in the international stage. I'd like to go back to the examples of Nicol and Chong Wei. If we take a hard and honest look at their achievements, we should be asking ourselves, is it really "Malaysia Boleh" or "Sendiri Boleh"? What has Malaysia done for those two in helping them achieve what they have today? The only thing Malaysia has given the both of them that is noteworthy is the biggest insult (my personal opinion), that is, by calling them Datuk. Why in the world would a decent young woman want to be called "Datuk" (Grandfather)? Lee Chong Wei is not even 30 years of age and he too, is being labelled a grandfather.

Another joke about this is that we as Malaysians, like to claim other people's success as our own. Nicol and Chong Wei's achievements are their own. We may have cheered them on in the stadium, or in front of our TV screens, but that is the extent of our achievements in squash and badminton. We have done NOTHING, and hence have NOTHING to be proud of. They are not products of the Malaysian system. They are the products of their very own hard work and dedication. This is the message that I hear Nicol David preach every morning on radio (Fly FM or Hitz FM or something).

Claiming to be proud of the success of one person is like claiming that Malaysia has the tallest twin towers in the world? What is the big deal? What good has it done for anyone? We want the biggest this, the longest that, the first this and that, all for the sake of ego-boosting. Look at Dubai. It boasts the tallest building in the world, but it almost went bankrupt trying to achieve that feat. Are we as individuals so devoid of personal achievements that we need to go out of our way to feel proud of someone else's achievements?

3. What is wrong with importing a GM?

Very often, we look over to our neighbour, Singapore, and mock them for importing GMs to fill their roster. Let me pose this question, can Malaysia even attract a GM to play for Malaysia if it wanted to? Why not? Are we too poor to pay for a GM? Maybe, maybe not. If we look at it deeper again, we will understand that Singapore (good or bad), has a system that attracts talent. This is not only in chess, but in all areas in Singapore (in sports, in the workplace etc). Why don't you ask, why do the GMs want to play for Singapore so willingly, that they are willing to foresake their own country? Is it purely because of money? Or is it because Singapore recognizes their talent?

Let us consider a hypothetical situation. In fact, this is as real as it gets. As we all know, Malaysia is suffering from severe brain drain. Our best minds are leaving us for greener pastures. It is not just the money, but the quality of life, the  recognition etc. Now, who is to say, if we do end up getting our first GM or super GM after years of struggle, that he/she won't just move to another country to play for that particular country? It happens everywhere, even to Super GMs. Sergey Karjakin now plays for Russia instead of his home country, Ukraine. Gata Kamsky plays for the US, Boris Gelfand plays for Israel. So there is nothing wrong if Zhang Zhong plays for Singapore. It happens. So what's going to stop Malaysia's first GM from NOT playing for Malaysia?

So, we come back to the point of attracting foreign GMs to play for Malaysia. If we have the culture and environment to attract foreign GMs, then only we have the capability to keep our very own GM, if he/she ever comes by. If not, who is to say that the GM won't leave Malaysia? Brain drain is a reality. Singapore has foreign GMs and those GMs have helped their locals to improve.

This is like the story of Proton. We insist on having our own national car (like having our own first GM), but at what cost? Just like we pushed so hard for Mas to become a GM, but he has failed, just like Proton has.

Look at our neighbour, Thailand. They do not have their own national car manufacturer. But Thailand is the 3rd largest car exporter in Asia (if I am not mistaken, only behind Japan and Korea). How many cars does Malaysia export? Thailand has a robust and resilient automobile manufacturing industry thanks to its liberal economy. Conversely, Malaysians are all suffering because we have to pay huge import and excise duties for purchasing foreign cars to subsidize Proton. Otherwise, you have to buy the low quality Proton cars. Thank god for Perodua (which intelligently collaborated with Daihatsu). Do we not see this similarity in the chess scene in Malaysia? Are we going to keep focusing on subsidizing one or two people (with potential) to become a GM at the cost of everyone else?

Whether it is Yeap Eng Chiam, or Yeoh Li Tian, or Teh De Zen, or Tan Li Ting or whoever the next top junior is, the goal should not be to focus on individuals. The goal should be to focus on creating a culture that promotes excellence, and recognizes achievement. That is of utmost importance. If talents and achievements are duely recognized without bias, I can assure you that the GM will come automatically. We don't have to subsidize them.

In short, this goal of striving so hard to get a first GM is utterly stupid. We need the right environment to grow a GM and so far, I have not seen anything close. Hopefully, I will be proven wrong someday.

P/S: The strong language and provocative tone in this post is intentional. You Malaysians need to wake up and smell the coffee. I am open for debate on this subject and feel free to post in the comments section. As always, only vulgarities will not be tolerated.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

There Is More to Chess Training

After scouring the Malaysian chess blogosphere, it is hard to ignore the fact that the only consistent "source" for chess training tips comes from someone who does not play chess. Unfortunately, THIS does not count as chess training tips (Sorry Jimmy). But thankfully, the internet is a vast resource, and that is why I am able to share the following articles by IM Goh Weiming here:

1. This article mostly contains analyses of Weiming's own games and his thought processes during the tournament. The more subtle pointers included the weight that Weiming places on opening preparation. I am afraid I am not qualified to assess the strength of Weiming's play, but I think it is clear that he puts in a great deal of effort in opening preparation, not just prior to the tournament, but as a whole.

2. The second article, although classified as a book review, shows that training and preparation goes far beyond opening preparation. Many of us revel in the fact that we keep ourselves up to date with the latest novelties, but how many of us truly understand chess openings? A strong player would be able to play any opening based on understanding alone (Mok is one such example) but this is by no means discarding the importance of opening preparation. My point is that openings are not everything, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. One of the most foresaken part of training among players (based on anecdotal evidence) is in analysis. The main reason for this is that Malaysia has way too many rapid tournaments. To be "successful" in Malaysian chess simply does not require strong analytical skills. If I may be so bold, I would say it requires strong cheapo skills, and a lot of experience in time management (among other things).

So, the above articles are for those of you who are more serious in improving your chess. Be warned that it is unlikely to improve your results in rapid chess significantly, but it could help you in tournaments like the Malaysian Open or the KL Open. Of course, the key takeaway is not just in the contents of the articles, but in the methods of training.

P/S: It took me quite a while to go through the two articles in their entirety and even then, I still don't think I have fully benefitted from them. But then again, it could be due to my weak chess skills.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Way Forward

More stuff by Weiwen.

P/S: I am not receiving any compensation in any form whatsoever for this sharing. Nor am I doing this out of any request by any party.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Explaining Chess Success

To what extent can the population or GDP of a country explain its chess success? (pdf)

by Leung Weiwen

Just thought I'd share this interesting study by Weiwen, who is an undergraduate from our neighboring country, Singapore. Below is the abstract:

A country’s population and income can be invoked logically as factors linked to its chess success – measured by number of titled players or average chess ratings of its top ten players. But exactly how much do they contribute to its chess success? This study analyses World Chess Federation and economic data of chess playing countries. I find that depending on how “chess success” is defined, between 17% and 40% of a country’s chess success can be explained in terms of its population and GDP (adjusted for cost of living). Further, there are some countries that are much more successful than would be expected based on their population or GDP. Their training pipeline, national federation policies, and other aspects of their chess culture deserve some study.

Though I think that the study contains great breadth, it can probably be done a bit deeper. This was a cross-sectional study, which means that it was compared for one time period. To go deeper, perhaps the comparison can be done across time. The GDP data is easily available. Not sure if the data for ratings are that easily available, but I can't imagine that previous rating lists would be too difficult to find.

Also, another major concern that I have is that, the study compares the current GDP level with that of the current strengths of the playing nations. When in fact, I would imagine that the playing strengths could lag the GDP, meaning, in order to study the effects of wealth on chess, it would probably be better to take the GDP data from 3-10 years ago, because that could typically be how long it takes for chess talent to develop.

Another further study could also compare the relationship between improvement in the top players in the country with that country's growth in GDP, instead of the level of GDP. That is to study the CHANGE in the average rating of the top 10 players with the change in GDP over say, a 10-20 year period.

If anyone is ever interested in conducting a joint study like that with me, do let me know. If Weiwen ever reads this, it would be awesome if you wish to pursue this study further. I would be happy to contribute.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

It Happens Everywhere?

Who is Tyler Cowen?
When Tyler Cowen was 15, he became the New Jersey Open Chess Champion, at the time the youngest ever. At around the same age, he began reading seriously in the social sciences; he preferred philosophy. By 16 he had reached a chess rating of 2350, which today would put him close to the top 100 in the U.S. Shortly thereafter he gave up chess and philosophy for the same reason: little stability and poor benefits.
He’d been reading economics, though. He figured that economists were supposed to publish, and by age 19 he had placed two papers in respected journals. As a PhD candidate at Harvard, he published in the “Journal of Political Economy” and the “American Economic Review.”
They were weird, strange pieces,” he says, “but still in good journals, top journals. That cemented my view that I could, you know, somehow fit in somewhere.” I ask him what he was like, what made him doubt he could fit in.
I was like I am now.”
You’ve always been like that?”
Always. Age 3. Whatever.”
What did you do at age 3?”
Read a lot of books.”
Who is Tyler Cowen? Well, the point of this  post is not to share with you who Tyler Cowen really is, but just to point out that quitting chess not only happens in Malaysia, but also in the US due to the same reasons, as given by Tyler:
Shortly thereafter he gave up chess and philosophy for the same reason: little stability and poor benefits.
For the full story, read here. Oh, by the way, if you are still wondering who Tyler Cowen is, he is an economist by profession and shares the blog known as Marginal Revolution, the blog that directed about 3,000 visitors to Ilhamuddin's post on Dominic Strauss-Kahn.

P/S: In case all of you have not noticed, I am trying to get you all to quit chess as soon as possible in my two recent posts so that I will stand a chance in local events.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Quit Chess, Play Poker

WGM and IM Almira Skripchenko
All this bickering about sponsors and what not makes me dizzy. If you want to play a lucrative mindsport, try poker. Low entry fee, high prize money, unlimited sponsors.

Here is proof that chess players do fare well in poker consistently.

"If there is a group of people more prepared for success at the 2011 World Series of Poker than chess players, PokerListings hasn’t found it."

Full article here.

P/S: If you have no sense of humor, please do not come back to visit this site.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Tourists

Nothing really to add apart from what has already been said everywhere, except this:


P/S: This is not an attempt to humiliate. But I guess it is a good opportunity to see who had the chance to go visit Jakarta. I heard it's nice this time of the year.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Right...

So this is the MCF's "reply" to my previous post.

I suppose no one can really fault them. I suppose it really is in accordance to the selection criteria. Let's see:

1.2 Selection for the National Squad will be based on the following criteria:

Performance in the Malaysian Master Championships (Current)
Performance in the National Closed Championships (Current)
FIDE rating (Top 10) (Current list)
Performance in National Open / State Affiliate Open Fide Events (Current)
any other factors which the SC may determine from time to time

SC reserves the right to exercise final discretion in the selection of players for the National Squad.

I suppose that is the criteria they were using. Back to square one?

And the next section?

Selection for

• The Chess Olympiad

• Asian Team Championship

The Criteria 1) Top 4 from Malaysian Masters Men and Women Championship. (Current list)

2) One (1) choice to be at the discretion of the President

3) In the event when one player decides to pull out from participation after selection, SC reserves the right to exercise final discretion in the replacement.
EDIT (28 March 2011):
Selection for
• Asian Cities Team Championship
The Criteria 1) The Champion Team of Malaysia’s Inter-State held (current)

Apologies as I missed out this paragraph earlier. I guess this begs the question, what is Malaysia's Inter-State tournament? When did Penang win it? Even if they did win it, does the exact same team get selected, or is the PCA allowed to select whoever it chooses to represent Penang (not necessarily the same team that won the Inter-State)?

OK, I suppose I was wrong. There really is a selection criteria. I guess I should clarify that we hope for a TRANSPARENT selection criteria.

SC = Selection Committee

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Forgotten Tournament

While all the focus was on the National Closed as a pseudo-selection to represent Malaysia in the SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia, there is one other international tournament in Indonesia that seems to have received no coverage at all in Malaysia.

The tournament is the Asian Cities Chess Championships, which is to be held from 21-29 April 2011 in Jakarta. By virtue of encompassing a larger region, the Asian Cities is arguably a more prestigious event, with the first prize being USD10,000. More details here. But to highlight, only one team is provided free lodging, while additional teams have to pay for their own lodging.

From several sources, I was informed that Malaysia is indeed sending a team to the Asian Cities. Typically, in these events, Malaysia will send several teams that are represented by several states. Since free lodging is only provided for one team, there must be some kind of a selection criteria for this. I was searching high and low for this tournament in the MCF blog and found nothing. Not a word is mentioned about this event, except in the MCF Chess Calendar 2011, where they show you the date of the tournament. So clearly, the MCF is aware of such a tournament, way in advance, considering the calendar was posted on 3 Jan 2011.

So where is the selection for this tournament? Some comments and clarification from the MCF officials are welcome. Even so, this is not really just about the selection. The lack of any action to publicize this event is irresponsible. Is this the attitude of the so-called reformed MCF?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Get Paid to Play?

Jimmy said something about how some senior players should be paid appearance fees to play. There may be some merit to that, but I must say that I can't agree with such additional broad-based preferential treatment. There is already the incentive where FIDE rated players are given free entry, and also how the top 8 players being eligible to represent the country. On top of that, there is also the prize money offered. Granted, it is not much, but since when do chess players in Malaysia feel like they are entitled to high prize monies?

Jimmy is right to say that there is too much to lose, and too little to gain. Nonetheless, being a strong believer of the incentive-based system, I also doubt that urging seniors to do some "national service" will do the trick.

However, I think paying appearance fees for the IMs to play would not be a bad idea. I must say that I am utterly disappointed that both Mas and Mok were given automatic spots to play. It is not that I feel they are not qualified to play for Malaysia, but "forcing" them to play for their spot would certainly encourage a more competitive culture in Malaysian chess. In fact, any of the IMs that we have are welcome.

I just don't think that NMs should be paid, despite the fact that some of them are actually hard-earned. Perhaps the defending champion can be paid an appearance fee, but most certainly not all the past NMs. Please rethink the incentive system so that all players would know what behavior is rewarded and what behavior is "punished". Incentives should be exclusive and be performance-based.