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:

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

............ 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.