HELPING A FRIEND – Herosifu Chess Online Tournament (2nd Edition)

I am practically amazed at how Ezmi – fondly known as Herosifu, managed to attract all these good players to his tournament. And for the second edition, Malaysia’s top two players in the country – our numero uno IM Yeoh Li Tian and FM Wong Yinn Loong, decided to jump into the tournament. And with the top two heavyweights in the event, it also attracted FM Lye Lik Zang (#4) and FM Lim Zhuo Ren (#6). And a few more outside the top 10 like Evan Timothy Capel (#12), CM Tan Jun Ying (#15) and Poh Yu Tian (#25) who is also the top ranked U12 in the country. It was definitely a tournament to be in, and it was fun!

While the U12 may not attract strong players to join the fun, it managed to garner more than 140 players to participate in the weekend event with another 70 players playing in the U18 event. Many top Junior players like Poh Yu Tian and Tan Jun Ying – although they are able to play in their respective age group, decided to go for the more challenging and attractive Open section.

After the smoke cleared, IM Yeoh Li Tian scored a point clear from all his contenders – drawing with Lik Zang and Zhuo Ren but securing full points on the other 7 opponents, to snatch the RM600 first prize. Evan Capel came in second followed by Eng Jia Qian, Wong Yinn Loong and Lim Zhuo Ren. The top Veteran prize went to Taulani Tukiran with Sim Jia Ru bagging the Best Lady. Best Para player went to Adrian Syah Muming of Sabah

Ravind Kumar secured the top U12 performer followed by Wong Rui Yang and Shen Ree Herng with Wan Zayn Zara securing the best HCA Student for U12. In the U18 section, Nik Omar Heykal Amir Azhar snatched the RM300 first prize followed by Faris Wajdi and Muhd Hafizuddin in 3rd. Best HCA student for U18 went to Airell Ikhwan Adnan. Full report for the events can be found at http://chess-results.com/fed.aspx?lan=1&fed=MAS

Open Category
U12
U18

As part of the organizing committee and crew that manages the Herosifu Online Chess Tournament 2021 2nd Edition (and the first edition), we would like to thank En Ezmi for the trust and confidence in allowing our team to manage the event. And of course, to all the players, parents and followers that have been playing, supporting and promoting the event – either directly or otherwise. Thank you thank you thank you!

#staysafe #stayhome #kitajagakita

HEROSIFU CHESS TOURNAMENT 2021 – Helping a Friend…..

I have known Ezmi Mahmood (dubbed Herosifu) circa 2009, when I was an active organizer and part of the management team at DATCC – the Dato Arthur Tan Chess Center, in Wilayah Complex. Then in 2013, I joined the same company as Ezmi ‘s and after a few transfers between department, we ended up working in the same department and at one time, even on the same floor. Throughout the years, we have had our differences but, we managed to put that aside for chess (and work – since we are in the same office) and continue to foster good friendship. And as funny as it may seem, Ezmi decided to quite his job in 2019 and a few months later, I also did the same thing. And we both quit our work for the one thing that we are passionate about – and that passion is CHESS…

While Ezmi took the path of opening up his own Herosifu Chess Academy, I ended up in the Federation. But many of our views about chess in Malaysia are similar – we wanted a more organized chess structure in Malaysia, quality over quantity, proper over haphazard, and of course, our dream of having a beautiful chess establishment that will be a one stop chess center. But of course, that would need money to run and as of now, it remains only as a dream.

When Ezmi called me to help run his event, I am more than happy to oblige and with that, I am calling upon friends and the chess community to support this inaugural online event that he is embarking on. For this event, the main objective is to foster camaraderie and friendship, and while the prizes are lucrative, we should also take note that chess is also about having fun, a few laughter between friends, and not getting worked up just because we are not able to play well. Its not about losing but its about learning to improve.

The Herosifu Chess Academy Online Chess Tournament 2021 is set to be held on Saturday, 26th June 2021 and will cover 9 rounds of play using 10 minutes + 2 seconds time control. More than RM2k is up for grabs with the winner setting to earn a cool RM500 for his/her effort. Entry fees are more than reasonable and prizes are a plenty. Come and join the event!

Click on the following to go to the registration page : https://forms.gle/yL9Ru6vQ2fjVHi6P8

Yeoh Chin Seng vs Najib Wahab (Labour Day 2010)

Playing a game with my friend Yeoh Chin Seng is not something that I can have the luxury of doing on a regular basis. We usually meet during the Malaysian Chess Festival and will start sparring over a few blitz game and the main theme of the meet would usually be King’s Gambit – a very tactical, exciting and nerve wrecking system. While Mr Yeoh would like to think that he is the better King’s Gambit player than I am, I sincerely feel that I have outplayed him more in our numerous encounters but for the sake of friendship, I have no issue to have him feeling like he was the better gambiteer.

While I was cleaning up my drawers recently, I came across a game which I had played with Chin Seng during a small tournament that was organized at DATCC – a tournament made possible by the effort of En Abdul Aziz Abdul Shukor and En Razali Hamzah. For the life of me, I am unable to recall such an encounter but when I saw the scoresheet and that I had beaten our former 1993 National Champion, I thought that it would be fun to share it on my blog. In the same tournament, a young 10 year old Yeoh Li Tian – Chin Seng’s son, also took part but for that one, I remembered that I lost to him. But somehow, I could not find the recordings of the game.

Anyways, this is all for fun and I hope Mr Yeoh does not take it the wrong way because at the end of the day, while he maybe our former National Champion and that his son may soon become our first Grandmaster, on 1st May 2010 – just slightly more than 10 years and 10 days ago, I was definitely the better player.

Catur Online di era COVID19: Bahagian II

Sejak PKP dikuatkuasakan dan perintah penjarakkan sosial di perkenalkan, banyak kejohanan sukan catur yang terpaksa di tunda, dibatalkan atau disusun semula bagi mematuhi syarat-syarat tersebut. Ini adalah kerana sukan catur secara amnya memerlukan kesemua pemain, pegawai dan penganjurnya untuk berkumpul didalam satu ruang tertutup – seperti dewan, yang secara langsung menjejaskan keberkesananan penjarakkan sosial yang perlu dipatuhi. Dengan tiadanya aktiviti catur pada ketika PKP dikuatkuasakan, ramai pemain mula memberikan fokus kepada permainan catur secara “atas-talian” atau online bagi menggantikan cara  permainan “atas-meja” sebagaiman yang biasa dilakukan. Dan susulan perkembangan ini, pertandingan catur di beberapa laman sesawang – samada ianya menawarkan hadiah atau pun tidak, mula dikunjungi dan semakin diminati ramai.

Catur di era penjarakkan sosial. Video diperolehi dari sumber internet dan bertujuan untuk hiasan semata-mata (Tuanpunya/pencipta video ini tidak dapat dipastikan). 

Dengan situasi di mana kehidupan normal tidak mungkin kembali didalam sekelip mata, dan ramai pemain telah mula membiasakan diri dengan permainan catur online, adakah ini akan menjadi norma baru untuk pemain-pemain catur menikmati permainan kesayangan mereka? Atau adakah kita akan kembali kepada cara permainan tradisional yang menemukan dua pemain berhadapanan diatas meja didalam dewan?

Sebagai satu permainan yang telah lama wujud, tidak mengejutkan sekiranya catur adalah antara beberapa permainan pertama yang  dimainkan secara online namun begitu, popularitinya agak hambar dan tidak sehebat permainan online yang lainnya seperti FIFA atau DOTA, yang dimainkan secara kompetitif serta mampu menawarkan hadiah menarik dan lumayan walaupun ianya baru wujud sejak beberapa dekad lalu. Walhal, populariti catur sepatutnya dapat dipertingkatkan kerana cara, kaedah, nilai dan undang-undang permainan catur – samada dimainkan secara “atas-papan” atau “atas-talian”/online, tidak banyak berbeza dan tidak memerlukan penyesuaian yang drastik. Dengan populariti catur online meningkat ekoran pendemik COVID19 ini, adakah catur akan mula menyaingi populariti permainan online yang lainnya?

Antara kekangan utama untuk memajukan catur secara online ialah wujudnya perisian catur yang berupaya membantu pemain menghasilkan pergerakkan tepat yang mampu menghasilkan kemenangan. Perisian catur kini boleh didapati dengan mudah dan murah, dan kekuatan permainan yang dihasilkan oleh perisian catur seperti Stockfish, berkebolehan mencapai kekuatan FIDE rating melampui 3000 mata. Jurang ini amatlah ketara kerana juara dunia GM Magnus Carlssen dari Norway, hanya mempunyai FIDE rating terbaik setakat 2882 mata (untuk kawalan masa klassikal) dan 2986 mata (untuk kawalan masa blitz). Dengan erti kata lain, sekiranya seseorang pemain biasa berjaya mendapatkan bantuan perisian Stockfish untuk menentang juara dunia GM Carlssen, pemain tersebut secara teorinya mampu mengalahkannya dengan agak mudah. Dan ini adalah antara cabaran utama didalam penganjuran pertandingan catur dimana ramai pemain sanggup mengambil risiko untuk menipu dengan menggunakan perisian catur bagi memenangi sesuatu kejohanan atau untuk memperbaiki rating atau ranking FIDEnya. Walaupun ada yang pernah ditangkap, dibuktikan kesalahannya dan digantung dari bermain, ada juga pemain yang terlepas dari tuduhan dan terus bermain (dan menipu) didalam pertandingan-pertandingan yang seterusnya. Kesimpulannya, mengambil kira masih ada pemain yang sanggup menipu ketika menyertai pertandingan yang berlangsung di dewan permainan yang dipantau oleh para Arbiter yang bertugas, bagaimanakah caranya pula untuk menghalang pemain yang bermain secara online – yang tidak dapat dilihat secara zahir serta tiada pantauan yang boleh dibuat, untuk mempastikan bahawa pemain tersebut akan bermain dengan jujur? Bagi permainan yang bersifat “suka-suka”, mungkin ramai yang tidak ambil pusing sekiranya lawan mereka mendapatkan bantuan perisian atau tidak, tetapi bagi perlawanan yang menawarkan hadiah atau yang bersifat menaikkan ranking pemain, ianya tidak mungkin dapat di terima ramai atau tidak seharusnya berlaku.

Didalam usaha mengekang penipuan didalam sesuatu pertandingan online, penganjuran pertandingan blitz atau bullet adalah lebih digemari kerana secara logiknya, tempoh permainan yang pendek menjadikannya sukar untuk pemain mendapatkan bantuan perisian catur. Namun begitu, masih ada pemain yang mengaku berjaya berbuat demikian meskipun tempoh masa bermain adalah pantas dan terhad. Dari segi logiknya, ia mungkin juga boleh berlaku kerana didalam permainan catur terutamanya didalam displin blitz atau bullet, kelebihan membuat hanya satu pergerakkan yang tepat sudah cukup untuk membantu pemain memenangi sesuatu perlawanan. Sekiranya penipuan masih boleh dilakukan didalam masa yang begitu pantas, apatah lagi sekiranya perlawanan dijalankan menggunakan masa kawalan klassikal yang lebih panjang. Mungkin catur secara online hanya boleh digunakan untuk kawalan masa yang pendek, jadi adakah pertandingan disiplin klassikal akan lupus atau menjadi kurang popular disebabkan perubahan sebegini? Tidak menghairankan sekiranya permainan catur menggunakan masa klassikal akan tetap menjadi pilihan ramai kerana ianya merupakan kaedah utama untuk mengukur  kebolehan dan kualiti permainan seseorang pemain.

Banyak juga laman sesawang catur membuat tuntutan bahawa sistem permainan mereka mampu mengesan setiap penipuan yang dilakukan, namun ini juga tidak menghalang pemain dari percubaan untuk menipu. Walaupun ada pemain yang tertangkap, namun terdapat juga pemain yang berbangga kerana berjaya menggodam sistem pantauan yang digunakan. Bagaimanakah sebenarnya sesuatu sistem permainan itu dapat mengesan sesuatu penipuan sedang dilakukan? Dalam hal ini, apa yang berlaku ialah laman sesawang tersebut juga menggunakan perisiannya tersendiri untuk menganalisa setiap permainan yang dimainkan. Dan sekiranya perisian anti-penipuan tersebut mengesan bahawa pemain yang sedang bermain berjaya membuat beberapa siri pergerakkan yang terlalu tepat dan jitu – yang di anggap sebagai pergerakkan yang “tidak mungkin mampu difikir manusia”, maka sistem anti-penipuan tersebut akan menganggap bahawa pemain tersebut telah menggunakan bantuan perisian bagi memenangi permainannya. Bagi pemain yang benar benar menipu dan ditangkap oleh sistem anti-penipuan tersebut, ianya bukanlah sesuatu hukuman yang perlu dirisaukan kerana pemain tersebut masih boleh berdaftar menggunakan nama samaran yang baru dan terus bermain secara online kerana tiada pengesahan secara fizikal yang diperlukan. Identiti samaran yang lain juga – seperti menggunakan nama isteri atau kawan, masih boleh digunakan bagi mengelak pemain itu dari di kesan sebagai pemain yang kerap menipu.

Jadi bagaimanakah caranya untuk mengelakkan penipuan online? Salah satu cara yang boleh diterima fikiran ialah untuk pemain yang bertanding menyediakan kamera web bagi membuktikan tiadanya peralatan lain yang diletakkan berhampiran komputernya, ataupun tiada perisian catur yang dimuat turun kedalam komputer peribadinya. Namun begitu, pemain perlu mengadakan sekurang-kurangnya 4-6 kamera web yang diletakkan di pelbagai sudut bilik bagi membantu pihak lawan memantau keadaan kawasan permainannya. Bagaimana pula sekiranya pemain berhasrat untuk ke bilik air, atau bergerak keluar dari kawasan permainannya dengan alasan untuk meregangkan badan atau mengambil minuman? Sehingga satu cara yang lebih efektif dapat diperkenalkan, populariti catur secara online tidak mungkin dapat dipertingkatkan dimasa yang terdekat ini dan pastinya akan kembali kepada cara permainan tradisional sebaik sahaja PKP berakhir.

Kalau difikirkan, kebanyakkan pertandingan online juga seperti FIFA, masih menemukan para pemain didalam satu dewan permainan cuma sesuatu perlawanan itu dijalankan secara online kerana sifat permainan itu sendiri yang memerlukan ianya di jana oleh komputer. Kenapa catur tidak dibuat sedemikian? Sekiranya catur online dimainkan mengikut cara permainan online yang lainnya dan tetap dibuat didalam dewan, bukankah lebih baik ianya terus dilakukan secara tradisional – dua pemain berhadapan di atas papan catur, kerana cara sebegini adalah lebih efektif dan berkesan.

Walaupun terdapat cara untuk catur online mengatasi segala isu penipuan dan memantau pemain supaya bermain dengan jujur, adakah ianya akan diterima oleh komuniti catur sebagai cara baru catur dipertandingkan?

Perkara ini juga tidak mungkin akan berlaku kerana populariti catur hanya bergantung kepada mereka-mereka yang memahami cara catur dimainkan. Samada ianya dimainkan secara fizikal atau secara maya menerusi online, catur bukanlah sejenis sukan yang penuh dengan aksi ataupun mudah dipelajari dengan sekali lalu. Sebagai contoh – permainan snooker juga memerlukan sedikit kefahaman untuk penonton menghargainya seperti mengetahui bahawa bola merah perlu dimasukkan terlebih dahulu sebelum bola berwarna lain boleh di masukkan untuk mendapat mata permainan. Dan diakhir permainan, bola juga perlu dimasukkan mengikut turutan warna yang tertentu. Namun demikian, walaupun tidak memahami undang undang permainan ini secara terperinci, aksi pemain mengawal dan memukul bola dengan tepat sudah cukup untuk membuat penonton merasa teruja dan kagum. Tambahan pula, secara amnya, konsep permainan dan perundangan permainan snooker agak mudah dan logik – pukul bola putih untuk memasukkan bola berwarna kedalam lubang. Hanya dengan sekali duduk dan memerhatikan sesuatu perlawanan snooker, sudah memadai untuk seseorang penonton memahami secara dasarnya objektif permainan, cara permainan dan undang-undang permainan. Bagi catur, tiada pergerakkan yang akan berlaku diatas papan sehinggalah seseorang pemain menggerakkannya, setiap buah catur pula mempunyai pergerakkan yang berbeza, dan walaupun objektif permainan ialah menawan buah King pihak lawan – mereka yang kurang faham mungkin akan bertanya kenapa seseorang pemain itu menyerah kalah sedangkan masih terdapat banyak buah catur di atas meja? Permainan online yang lainnya seperti FIFA atau DOTA, mempunyai ciri-ciri permainan snooker – iaitu ianya mempunyai aksi yang memukau penonton, ditambah lagi dengan ciri-ciri grafik yang menarik serta berwarna warni. Permainan online juga mampu membawa kita mengelamun ke alam fantasi bertemakan filem popular seperti Games of Thrones, Lord of The Rings ataupun Marvel Avengers. Dan perisian permainan online sentiasa diperbaiki dan diolah dengan penambahan ciri-ciri permainan yang baru, berserta karektor atau avatar pemain yang boleh diubahsuai mengikut kehendak seseorang pemain. Dan sekiranya ini semua dibandingkan dengan catur, yang mana ianya tetap permainan yang dimainkan diatas petak 8×8 – cuma warnanya sahaja yang boleh ditukar, tetap menggunakan 32 buah catur yang sama – cuma rekaan buahnya sahaja yang boleh diubah suai, dan masih kompleks untuk difahami oleh mereka mereka yang tidak bermain catur, bagaimanakah populariti itu boleh dipertingkatkan?

Jangan pula disalah anggap – catur tetap mempunyai pengikutnya yang tersendiri dan ianya tetap diminati dan popular, cuma dikalangan mereka-mereka yang boleh bermain catur. Keseronokkan permainan catur banyak terletak pada pertemuan fizikal antara dua pemain dimana kedua pemain ini – sebaik sahaja permainan tamat, mampu untuk berbincang tentang bagaimana permainan mereka telah dimainkan. Keseronokkannya juga terletak kepada aksi pemain lawan apabila dia cuba menipu dengan menepuk dahi dan bersungut “silap dah” walhal dia sebenarnya cuba memerangkan pihak lawan untuk mengambil umpan yang disajikan. Keseronokkan pertandingan catur ialah apabila pemain itu berjaya mendapat hadiah dan ianya di raikan diatas pentas dan diperhati ramai – “akulah yang hebat!” dan banyak lagi keseronokkan lain yang tidak mungkin dirasai dengan bermain secara online.

Catur secara fizikal juga adalah lebih mencabar kerana ia menjerumus seseorang pemain untuk menilai pemain lawan dari segi rupa dan gayanya – pemain lelaki secara amnya akan berasa lebih yakin bila bermain dengan pemain wanita, dan pemain yang lebih dewasa secara amnya berasa dia lebih hebat dari pemain cilik yang dihadapinya. Pemain juga boleh menggunakan perang psikologi dengan membuat gerak mula pertama yang pelik – sambil menunjuk riak muka yang bersahaja, seperti gerakkan 1. g4 atau 1. a3 yang mampu membuat pihak lawan berasa cuak, curiga dan tertanya-tanya “dia ni pandai main catur atau tidak?”. Terdapat dua cerita menarik berdasarkan perang psikologi permainan catur ini; Pertamanya, kisah dimana GM Korchnoi menghulurkan tangan untuk berjabat dengan GM Karpov dan Karpov, hanya memerhatikan Korchnoi dan membuat pergerakkan diatas papan tanpa menyambut salaman Korchnoi. GM Korchnoi tewas didalam permainan tersebut dan meninggalkan meja permainan dengan kasar. Keduanya, kisah dimana Bobby Fischer membuat gerakmula 1. c4 ketika melawan Boris Spassky dan Spassky menghabiskan masa hampir 30 min untuk memikirkan gerak balas yang terbaik. Ini adalah kerana Fischer terkenal dengan gerak mula pertamanya yang biasa iaitu 1. e4 dan Spassky bertungkus lumus membuat persiapan untuk mencantas Fischer namun akhirnya dikejutkan dengan gerak mula pertama yang berbeza dari biasa.

Walaupun catur tidak mungkin dapat membuat transisi sepenuhnya sebagai satu permainan “atas-talian” yang popular, tidak dapat dinafikan bahawa situasi PKP yang kita alami sekarang ini telah dapat membantu meningkatkan penerimaannya sebagai satu permainan online yang boleh diterima pakai. Setidak-tidaknya, ia memberikan ruang dan pilihan untuk pemain mengisi masa lapang dan memperbaiki cara permainan seseorang pemain dengan kaedah yang lebih mudah, murah dan menjimatkan masa.

Dari satu segi lain pula, catur online mungkin lebih berpotensi digunakan sebagai saluran pembelajaran dan pembaikan teknik permainan kerana pemain boleh berguru dengan pelbagai GM catur – dari seluruh pelusuk dunia, yang menyediakan kelas catur secara online. Laman sesawang pula boleh dijadikan sebagai pentas untuk latihan atau untuk mempraktikkan teori permainan, disamping mencari idea-idea baru yang mungkin boleh diguna pakai apabila bertanding didalam kejohanan yang lebih serius.

Sebagai seseorang yang telah lama bermain catur, saya juga menggemari permainan secara online namun bagi saya, ianya agak tidak bersesuaian untuk tujuan pertandingan yang bersifat lebih kompetitif dan serius. Pun begitu, agak menarik juga sekiranya terdapat cara yang efektif untuk mengawal penipuan online kerana penipuan amat mudah dilakukan dan mampu merosakkan semangat dan minat pemain yang mahu bermain secara jujur. Sehingga cara itu di temui, permainan catur “atas-papan” akan tetap menjadi pilihan utama cara catur dimainkan sekurang-kurangnya untuk beberapa tahun lagi.

Adakah anda bersetuju dengan saya?

#staysafe #playchess

Catur Online di era COVID 19 – Bahagian I

Ekoran pandemik COVID19 yang melanda dunia sejak Februari lalu, hampir kesemua aktiviti dan progam sukan yang telah diatur perlu di tunda, disusun semula atau terpaksa dibatalkan sama sekali oleh pihak penganjur atau badan sukan yang mengendalinya. Walaupun ramai pakar perubatan menjangkakan keadaan mungkin mampu untuk kembali seperti sediakala mulai Jun atau Julai tahun ini, ramai yang tidak mahu mengambil risiko tersebut. Tambahan pula, persediaan untuk menganjurkan sesuatu kejohanan besar memerlukan tempoh persiapan yang memakan masa sekurang-kurangnya sebulan atau dua sebelum ianya diadakan.

Mengambil pendekatan yang sedemikian, tidaklah mengejutkan apabila badan catur dunia FIDE telah mengambil keputusan untuk menunda tarikh Olimpiad Berpasukan Dunia ke tahun hadapan walaupun secara amnya sukan tersebut hanya  dijadualkan berlangsung pada bulan Ogos iaitu selepas tarikh dimana pandemik COVID19 dijangkakan akan berakhir.  Antara kejohanan besar lainnya yang ditangguh oleh FIDE termasuklah Kejohanan Candidates yang bermula bulan Februari lalu di Moscow yang dihentikan dipertengahan jalan ekoran COVID19 yang semakin menular ketika itu serta tekanan dari pelbagai pihak untuk ianya ditangguhkan. Bagi komuniti catur di Malaysia pula, pelbagai kejohanan dan pertandingan catur telah dibatalkan termasuklah beberapa Kejohanan bertaraf FIDE yang telah dirancang oleh beberapa penganjur tanahair.

Dengan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakkan (MCO) di  kuatkuasakan, dan penjarakkan sosial di perketatkan, bukan acara catur atau acara sukan sahaja yang terkena bahananya. Malahan semua aktiviti perkumpulan seperti mesyuarat dan seminar, program keagamaan dimesjid , gereja atau kuil, aktiviti-aktiviti senaman serta program kekeluargaan seperti majlis perkahwinan, kenduri kendara dan sebagainya, terpaksa dibatalkan buat sementara waktu. Bagi sukan atau aktiviti yang memerlukan kehadiran dan penglibatan seseorang secara fizikal, memang tiada cara lain melainkan dilupakan sahaja perancangan tersebut. Bagi mesyuarat atau sessi perbincangan, ianya masih boleh diteruskan menerusi perantara internet seperti zoom atau skype, atau setidaknya melalui persidangan telefon atau teleconference. Sesi pembelajaran juga masih boleh diteruskan dengan menggunakan kemudahan internet bagi mendapatkan pelbagai bahan rujukan untuk di muat turun – samada secara percuma atau berbayar. Secara langsung, pelbagai aktiviti kini mula  memaksimakan keupayaan internet untuk kembali meneruskan program-program yang telah dirancang – sebaik dan senormal yang mungkin.

Walaupun terdapat kelemahan didalam sistem perantara ZOOM, ianya masih lagi popular dikalangan ramai pengguna

Persidangan menggunakan Skype juga antara pilihan kegemaran yang selalu digunapakai

Ramai yang masih boleh meneruskan pembelajaran melalui kemudahan internet

Sistem pesanan menerusi internet juga kini menjadi norma yang baru untuk ramai orang, dan kaedah penghantaran menggunakan Grab atau FoodPanda, adalah model perniaagaan yang dipilih ramai. Dan semua ini – secara langsung menjadikan internet sebagai keperluan utama yang diperlukan oleh hampir semua orang untuk meneruskan gaya hidup sehampir normal yang mungkin didalam era pandemik COVID19.

Penghantaran makanan dan pembelian menggunakan Grab Food semakin diminati ramai

Bagaimana pula catur dan internet? Adakah ramai pemain, penganjur dan entiti catur telah (atau akan) memanafaatkan catur menggunakan internet? Adakah anda – sebagai seorang yang berminat dengan catur, telah membuat perpindahan daripada seorang pemain “atas-papan” kepada seorang pemain “atas-talian”? Adakah catur “atas-talian” akan menjadi norma baru bagaimana permainan dan kejohanan catur dipertandingkan dimasa-masa akan datang? Bagaimanakan atau adakah pemain atau penganjur, atau persatuan, atau pegawai seperti Arbiter, atau pelatih dan pengajar catur, akan mendapat keuntungan daripada perpindahan ini? Atau adakah ianya akan lebih merugikan atau adakah catur akan kembali kepada cara permainan yang menemukan lawan yang bertentangan diatas meja?

Apa pendapat anda?
Pendapat saya – di coretan yang akan datang.

CONCLUSION – MALAYSIAN JUNIOR in ASEAN

THE OVERALL OUTLOOK

Improvement needs to be holistic and it cannot stop at just the U12 or the Junior population only. Of course, it is also unrealistic to ensure that the entire population progresses hence, a more strategic way is to have a structured growth to ensure that we have a healthy chess population – not just for the sake of economic scale.

Reiterating the fact that Malaysia has the highest FIDE chess population in ASEAN (and 16th the world), we should reflect on the fact that in terms of strength, we are 9th in ASEAN with Laos as the only country behind us in 10th position. If we were to take the progression of our playing strength beyond our U20 population, we will realize that even Brunei can turn around its performance to beat us in the power game. Except for Singapore and Vietnam – the only two ASEAN countries with a reduced rating strength going into the Open category, they are still relatively better than Malaysia.

Malaysia drops further down the power ranking list to 9th place against its ASEAN neighbours

Conclusion

While Malaysia may boast of having (and will continue to have) the highest population boom within the ASEAN region and the World, we need to start looking at how to improve our power game. Malaysia needs to understand how countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar continue to improve at a much higher rate as their players progresses through the age groups. We are progressing as well but, at a lower trending hence the power gap between Malaysia and these countries continue to widen as the age group progresses. My opinion – is that we should focus more effort on improving our quality/power game and reduce the need to increase the quantity.

I sincerely believe that one of the more logical explanation on the increasing gap is the lack of support to provide the necessary training and development program as the players jump from one age group to the next. As most players rely on their own resources to make the progress and improvement, only a minority group – the affordable and dedicated few, that can climb the ladder ranking and continue to progress. And those who do not, continue to play without putting in much effort – merely passing time and happy to be a part of the community. But, even if a development or training program is put in place, would the majority sign up for it?

Perhaps the better way to curb the growth of FIDE registered population in order to promote a better development structure, is to reintroduce the local rating system. Therefore, players can gauge their strength before registering with FIDE instead of the current practice of allowing everyone and anyone jumping onto the rating bandwagon. In short, Malaysia should adopt a mechanism that controls whether a player should proceed to having a FIDE rating or otherwise. With the local rating abolished, signing up as a FIDE player seems to be the only way for those who are interested to play chess competitively without knowing if they are prepared for it or not.

And when many organizers do organize a FIDE rated event, most Malaysians if not all, are cautious of the many Indonesians and Filipinos (without FIDE rating) who participated, knowing that they have the potential to cruise and runaway with our prize money. So, why are they – even without rating, are a better lot than our locals?

My theory is simple – these players are prepared for it. They may have played in the local circuit and understand where they stand against the more established players. And with that, they also know where and when they can strike most effectively, and only then they will participate to play in FIDE events. And unfortunately, Malaysia is their preferred ground because based on the rating distribution, we do not have that much depth in our players line up and our prize fund are relatively handsome. Further, I find it strange that powerhouse chess nations like Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam (or even Myanmar) do not have huge FIDE population whereas they have been in the “chess map” even longer than us, and still able to maintain a relatively better strength

From my understanding – Philippines (not sure about Indonesia) have their own rating system, as such, if they can do well in their local circuits – against their own FIDE rated population, only then they know that the timing is right for them to explore their capability. For us Malaysians, many resorted to having FIDE rating because they have no choice as the local system no longer exist. For kids, there is a good chance that it’s the parents who are eager to get a FIDE rating for their children in order to help the child to gain valuable extracurricular points, or simply to boast of their child’s “achievement” against other parents. Whether the child performs or whether the child is really into chess or not, that may be secondary. For organizers, it is about survival hence, getting players to be FIDE registered – because it is a requirement, is something that they need to do in order to maximize the income for their event.

Proper governance and management are also key ingredients to manage our chess population and strength. When a player really shows an interest to pursue chess as a sport of choice, they should be allowed to play in FIDE rated event and in return, the chess body should provide them the necessary support to go further. But if a player is into it simply because they want to “try” or because they “have to”, then perhaps we should caution them and request them to participate in local events to prove their worth. Noted that the income derived from having players registering for FIDE ID will help the governing body to raise the necessary fund to conduct its activities and programs but, I am sure there are other ways and means to make money. After all, money earned via FIDE ID is only a “one time earning” when it should be more consistent, sustained and grow. Personally, I feel we should not sacrifice quality in order to make money hence, a better way need to be found in order to raise the necessary fund to provide the support structure to help improve the community. And on that thought, the local rating system can also do the job – of getting the income, albeit it may not be as handsome, but it should be able to grow in the longer run.  As the saying goes, we can always find money – if there is a will, there will always be a way. Balancing everything is the best approach but, many of us are not jugglers and in the real world, money still makes the world goes around.

A healthy population growth is also needed but, if we were to become a chess nation, we need to have the proper program and activities to reach that goal. We are proud of having IM Yeoh Li Tian – our most promising player in the last 40 years, but I will be prouder if I can have 20 more players who are like Li Tian. Agreed – when Tian becomes a GM, chess will flourish but what is our plan to keep that fire alive? Our soon to be GM Tian will just be a lone hero trying to wrestle everyone else. Just like Avengers – having one Iron Man is not enough, we need Captain America, Hulk, Thor and the rest of the team. And you also need a Nick Fury to govern and hold everything together.

Quantity is good but we also need good quality and that is where we should focus next.

Note: This is a personal opinion expressed by the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of that of the Malaysian Chess Federation, its committee members or affiliation. Feel free to comment below. Thank you.

Part II: MALAYSIAN JUNIOR in ASEAN – U20

Does our U20 fare better than our U16 and U10 in the ASEAN Region? Which country progresses well as the Junior population reach its peak?

U20

With Malaysia leading the population race for U12 and U16, it comes as no surprise that we also lead the population race for the U20 FIDE registered players population, leading the ASEAN countries with 2,189 players followed by Singapore and Philippines in 2nd and 3rd placing with 797 and 782 players.  In 2010, we were 3rd behind Singapore and Vietnam with only 34 FIDE registered players. Again, similar with the U12 and U16 age group, we grew by more than 210 players per year as compared to our nearest rival Singapore and Philippine who did just over 70 players per year.

Malaysia continue to win the population race against our ASEAN neighbours

In terms of the rating race, Indonesia continue its dominance at the top leading the ASEAN countries with an average FIDE rating points of 1807.1 followed by Vietnam with 1711.7 points. For 2020, Philippines suffered the most points reduction with 666 points to end at 1650 points compare to their impressive 2315.8 points average in 2010. Malaysia also exceeded the amateur mark in 2010 averaging 2013.9 FIDE rating points but lost more than 620 points in the last decade to end at 6th place in 2020 with 1403.1. As point of reference, Malaysia was ranked 5th in 2010 hence in terms of strength ranking, not much has changed but the power points have reduced dramatically.

For U20, the gap between the top country and the lowest rated country widens even further separating almost 600 points between top ranked Indonesia against 9th place Laos. Even for Malaysia, our gap with the top ranked country is higher at more than 400 points for U20 compare to 380 points for U16 and only 160 points for the U12 indicating further deterioration compared to our ASEAN neighbours as we review the last Junior age group.

Indonesia and Vietnam have been able to maintain their performance as the top countries within ASEAN

For U20 rated population, Malaysia’s is ranked 7th in the ASEAN region with 15% which is similar to our U16 population as well. Myanmar has the highest rated population at 35% followed by Indonesia – also at 35%. But of course, as we have the largest U20 population, we also have the highest number of FIDE rated players in the age category albeit our low distribution rate of only 15%. Only Singapore and Brunei have a lower FIDE rated population percentage than us.

Malaysia is ranked 7th in the percentage of U20 players with FIDE rating

Comparing the performances of all the major age groups – U12, U16 and U20, it can be concluded that we are better off at the U12 age group which may indicate that we have a large pool of naturally talented players. And, we may also have a better support structure to grow our U12 player population as a lot of chess trainers and coaches seem to have set a firm foothold at certain schools around the country. Further, most parents and teachers are accommodative in providing support to the younger children to develop their interest – whatever interest it may be. Whatever it is, we can pat ourselves on the back as we have managed to instil the interest of our youngsters to pick up chess as one of the preferred sports – as indicated by our population growth. A note of thanks must be given to the Ministry of Education (including to the Ministry of Higher Learning) for including chess as a sporting event at sports meet and national level events such as MASUM, SUKIPT and MSSM, and hopefully SUKMA. These programs – without a doubt, have contributed to the growth of chess in Malaysia at the Junior level.

However, while we have an excellent mechanism and support function from the educational institutions and the statutory bodies to help grow the population, at the end of the day, the onus to develop the sport still falls onto individual effort and the efforts of the chess community and organizations that exist within the country. The minority that can afford or those that are focused, will continue to invest in improving their chess prowess but those that are not, will remain as is if not worse.

Our improvement progress as we leap from one age group to the next is relatively minimal

The above chart provides a good indication of how Malaysia’s population is progressing from one age group to the next. Except for Brunei as the only country going on a downward trend, all the other countries are progressing upwards rather steadily as the population moves from one age group to the next. However, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Philippines seem to be improving at a better FIDE average point rate as the age group goes higher. Interesting enough, Singapore exhibits a significant power jump from its U16 age group going into the U20 age group. For Malaysia, the progress looks very slow and we have the lowest improvement average between the age groups with Indonesia having the best improvement rate going into their U20 population followed closely by Singapore – contributed by the significant improvement from U16 to U20 age group population

Excluding Brunei due to its negative growth, Malaysia has the lowest improvement average within ASEAN

Based on the numbers that we have saw, we can conclude that Malaysia is well behind our ASEAN neighbours in the chess race within the region. We may have the quantity but the quality part of it is significantly behind. The worse part is that while other countries continue to progress upwards with their Junior programs, our progress has been minimal

Next to look out for – How do we progress beyond the Junior population?

Part II: MALAYSIAN JUNIOR in ASEAN – U16

Let us review how our U16 population sizes up to our neighboring countries in ASEAN, Are we improving the scale as we continue to the higher age group within the region? Is our U16 players better than our U12 population?

U16

Similar trend can be seen for the U16 population with Malaysia again leading the pack in ASEAN with the highest number of FIDE registered players at 2809. And again, Philippines and Singapore came in 2nd and 3rd placing with 877 players and 689 players respectively. In 2010, Malaysia only had 21 FIDE registered players who were U16 years of age and in the last 10 years – similar with our U12 population trending, we grew by more than 275 players per annum to be where we are now. In 2010, Singapore had the highest U16 population with 88 players followed by Vietnam with 49 players.

Malaysia’s U16 population is way above its nearest rival.

And again, although we have the highest number of U16 players within the region, the same cannot be said of our playing strength. We seem to fare even worse in the U16 category by taking the lowest spot against our ASEAN neighbours – less Cambodia and Laos as both countries do not have any U16 with FIDE rating.

Malaysia suffered the most point reduction among all ASEAN countries going from 1893.3 points in 2010 to 1285.5 in 2020 whilst Indonesia had the least change losing only 218 points during the same time span. In contrast to the U12 rating performance, the gap in 2010 between the top country Philippines and the lowest country Singapore was only 171 points but in 2020, the gap increased to 381 points between top ranked Indonesia and bottom of the table Malaysia – a significant gap between the opposite end of the tape.

Malaysia is at the bottom of the pile among all ASEAN countries as of May 2020

In terms of rating distribution, we fare slightly higher in the U16 category with 15% of our player population having a FIDE rating. While this may be higher than our U12 pool, in terms of regional ranking, we are at 7th spot with Indonesia leading the pack at 32% of its U16 population who are rated. Again, Indonesia is able to balance its small population of 271 players with a high average and with a good percentage of rated players.

Malaysia is 7th in the percentage race although it has the highest number of rated players

While we can consider ourselves as contenders for the U12 FIDE rating race, the same cannot be said for our U16 players as we are drifting further apart from the leading pack. But we also need to remember that the age group is not a stagnant lot. In the next 3-4 years, most of the players in the current U12 segment will gradually fill up the U16 population with additional new players filling up the numbers. If the correction is made at the younger age group, the older age group should benefit in the long run as players climb up the age rank. While the game plan for the U12 population is to develop their fundamentals and basic understanding of chess playing to keep them competitive, sustainability and keeping the interest afloat is perhaps the better way to develop and improve the U16 population. At that age group, a lot of things are happenings in the life of a teenager – other physical sports, new habit and hobbies, peer pressure and opposite attracts will be the common interest (or distraction) that needs to be monitored.

Next segment – Looking at our U20 group of players.

Part II: MALAYSIAN JUNIOR in ASEAN

THE JUNIOR SEGMENT

Let us look at the Junior population of U12, U16 and U20 which will eventually add up towards our overall quantity and performance. If we do better in the Junior population, in the years to come, we will probably improve our overall achievement

U12

For the U12 population, we have the highest population of U12 FIDE Rated players amongst all ASEAN countries. Malaysia’s U12 population is so high that the combine population from all the other 9 ASEAN countries is still unable to beat our numbers. As of May 2020, we have a total of 2,504 U12 FIDE registered players in Malaysia leaving Philippines at a distant second with only 708 registered players and Singapore at 685 players. In 2010, we only have 12 registered players and by 2020, we have grown at a rate of almost 250 players per year or more than 20 players per month.

Malaysia’s U12 FIDE registered population is way above the rest of the ASEAN countries

However, in terms of average player’s strength, we are ranked 5th with an average ELO rating of 1241.2 points with Indonesia leading the pack at an ELO rating of 1402.4 points. Only Thailand and Singapore are lower than us at 1191.9 and 1171.1 ELO points respectively with Laos, Brunei and Cambodia not having any U12 players who are rated. In 2010, Malaysia was 3rd with an average FIDE rating of 1829.5 points

Comparing the average rating performance between 2010 and 2020, Malaysia dropped almost 600 points during the 10-year period. Philippines suffered the most reduction losing more than 700 points going from 2058 in 2010 to 1311.5 in 2020. Back in 2010, Philippines was the top U12 country in ASEAN but is now ranked 4th behind Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Looking at the overall picture for U12 in 2010, the good news is that the gap between the top country – Philippines, and the lowest – Singapore, was more than 330 points but as of May 2020, the gap has shrunk to 230 points between top ranked Indonesia against last place Singapore.

Malaysia has dropped almost 600 FIDE rating points since 2010

With regards to the number of players who are FIDE rated, Malaysia is also ranked 5th with 9% of its population having a FIDE rating. Interesting to note that this percentage is slightly lower than the total ASEAN countries rated population which is calculated at 11%. Vietnam and Indonesia are both at the top making it two of the better countries within ASEAN that can keep a reasonably high number of rated players with a higher strength FIDE average within the region. At 229 players in the U12 category who are rated, Malaysia should be able to maintain its FIDE population growth, but it needs to focus more on developing players strength in order to climb up the power ranking.

Malaysia is ranked 5th within ASEAN in percentage of U12 players who has FIDE rating

Understandably, with many organizers focusing to cash in on children’s activities – especially under the auspices of the Ministry of Education in getting events to be recognized as National and International level, a lot of young players may end up unwillingly as a FIDE registered player. While it may create challenges in our effort to increase our FIDE rating strength, we should also take into consideration that we are only 160 points adrift from Indonesia and the figure is still realistically within our reach to equal or surpass their ranking. With a well prepared and structured development and training program coupled with a well-developed selection program – with an excellent administrative arm, we should be able to make a significant impact towards improvement.

While stopping players from becoming a FIDE registered player may not be the best method to curb our decline in rating points, having a more structured learning and development program is perhaps the better way to counter the downward trend. Based on observation, we have a lot of naturally talented young players who – with a little bit of training and guidance, can provide us the quick nudge that we need to climb the regional ladder.

Next Up – Is our U16 better than U12 in ASEAN?

MALAYSIA CHESS in ASEAN

Many people that I have met have different views with regards to the FIDE population boom in Malaysia. One person told me that, if we get more and more people to be involved in playing chess, we will eventually find one who will be above everyone else i.e. the volume game. In other words, if we continue to collect huge amounts of stones, someway (and somehow) along the way, we will eventually find a gold nugget. While I can agree that volume will inadvertently produce a one in a million local chess prodigy, I find the method a bit crude as it is not time bound and without any specific direction. In short, we are “hoping” that somewhere along the way, somehow and sometime, someone will emerge. When? Nobody knows. This is almost pure luck and without any tangible nor solid approach.

Another view is that, quantity can also be considered as growth albeit the lack of (or absence of) quality. At least, it is still something for us to boast and brag about but eventually, we may end up as the average guy around the block or at best, the “jaguh kampung”. But for the capitalist – the many chess organizers and entities out there in the open who thrives on getting hundreds and thousands of players to play in weekend events, it attracts good income and wealth. In short, if money is the endgame, then the more people play chess, the better it is for the economy. So, if I can survive and earn good income from the population, why should I care about the quality? I can agree to that as well. A lot more chess organizers can survive better now compare to when it was 10-15 years ago. While many may take up chess as a part time job to earn some side income, more and more people are jumping into a full time venture as it has the potential to generate a steady (and sometimes handsome) earnings every now and then. Aside from organizing events, the huge chess population also opens opportunities for chess trainers, chess officials and chess academies to strive (and survive) in the market. To each their own….

My personal believe is that – both quantity and quality need to go hand in hand. Too much focus on quantity and you will forego the quality, and too much focus on the quality, you may not be able to grow at all. And in understanding our local chess population, we may be able to understand how we can balance the two together. But of course, in order to pave our community to a better future, there is a serious need for good quality coaches, world class organizers, experienced officials, excellent support system and well-structured enforcement and management entity in order to bind everything together.

We have seen how we stack up against the global population. Of course, it will be tough for us to chase the global chess superpowers like India or Russia, or the many European countries who are traditionally well-known in chess such as Germany, Spain and Hungary. So, instead of trying to race and beat those who are leaps and bounds above us, let us reduce our scope to within our region and evaluate our situation. Perhaps from then on, we can understand our strength and weakness, and identify the areas that we can focus on for improvement and development. And as we slowly grow to conquer our region, we can appreciate and understand how and what it takes to bring it to the global level.

For the purpose of this study, the 10 ASEAN countries that we will use as comparisons are:

  • Malaysia – of course!
  • Singapore
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Brunei
  • Laos
  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar

Looking at the list, we can still find certain countries within our region that can be considered as chess powerhouses such as Philippines (with Asia’s first GM Eugenio Torre and SEA Asia first ever Olympiad host), Vietnam (GM Le Queng Lim is ranked 31st highest rated player in the world) and Indonesia (GM Utut Adianto was one of the few Asian Chess player surpassing the 2600 ELO rating). In short, the ASEAN region itself is already a challenging platform for us to make our own mark.

 POPULATION

As the 16th country with most populated FIDE registered players in the world, it is not surprising that we are the number one country within our region with 11,863 players, followed by Philippines at a distant second with 6,111 players. Singapore came in 3rd with 3,267 players and thereafter, Vietnam with 2,685 players. Interesting to note that in May 2010, Philippines was the leading country with 871 players and Malaysia was in 2nd place with 764 players.

Malaysia is way above its nearest competitor in the race to increase the FIDE population

With Malaysia having the highest number of FIDE rated players in the region, it is also not surprising that we are also the country that has the most players with a Standard FIDE ELO rating at 1,949 players followed by Philippines with 1,293 players. But, if we were to gauge the population based on percentages, we are ranked 9th within the region with only 16% of our players having a Standard FIDE ELO rating with Myanmar topping the chart at 48% and Indonesia with 36%. Laos is the only country within the region that has a lower percentage of players than Malaysia at 14%. Do take note that in 2010, Laos had no FIDE rated players at all.

Malaysia is way above its nearest competitor in the race to increase the FIDE population

Although we have the highest FIDE registered players, only a small portion of our players are rated.

Comparing the countries based on the average strength of all its chess players, Malaysia is currently ranked 9th with an ELO Rating of 1477.7. Comparatively, our average strength in 2010 was 2001.0 – dropping more than 500 points in 10 years. The good news is that all countries in the world dropped their average rating including those within our ASEAN region. In 2010, most if not all the ASEAN countries has an average FIDE rating of 2000+ with Thailand being the exception with an average rating of 1983.7 points. In 2010, the 8 ASEAN countries – less Cambodia and Laos, had only 197.4 points separating between the top country which was Indonesia at 2181.1 points  against bottom table Thailand. As of 2020, using the same 8 countries as baseline, the points separating the 8 countries has increased by more than double to 414.0 points with Indonesia still maintaining its top position with 1891.7 points but sadly this time around, its Malaysia who is at the bottom end with only 1477.7 points. While all countries did reflect a decline in performance, Malaysia was impacted the most losing more than 500 points during that 10-year span – at an average rate of more than 50 points a year.


From 2010 to 2020, each country average FIDE rating has dropped by at least 190 points

Malaysia experienced the most points reduction in a decade

So, we had a good run of increasing our chess population from 2010 to 2020 to emerge as the busiest chess nation in ASEAN but from the quality and performance perspective, we lost the most. Perhaps the sudden increase in our chess population has impacted and flattened our national average – which is not surprising. Looking at the numbers, it is quite satisfying to know that we have a lot of players who are enthusiastic about playing chess but, are they prepared and ready to venture into the “real competitive world”? Perhaps, abolishing the National Rating created the ripple effect – with nowhere to go, willingly or not, players ended up playing in FIDE rated events. And with the cost to run a classical event can run in the thousands, many prefer to take part in one (or two) day rapid events which do not generate impactful results or contribution to our overall performance. To add salt to the wound, those who venture into FIDE events because they had “little or no choice”, ended up not pursuing further their chess ambitions thus further creating a downward spiral of our overall performance. Maybe I am wrong but, then again, I could be right.

Next up – What about our Junior population?