Monday, August 27, 2012



I had 8 students playing in this tournament, as I believe that they can practice their thinking and vision skills better in a 1 hr per side game. All except 1 won trophies, which was a good result for any trainer. Here I want to give some comments on their performance:

Mitchell, being the oldest in terms of age but relative young (in terms of tutelage) in my group, once again topped the list of my students' performance with a solid 5.5/7 score. His game against Alfred ,although blemished at the end to a draw, was well-conducted in accordance to his style. What I was impressed about him was the determination he set out to play each game to fully utilise his time and made generally good decisions. I am sure this will translate into another 30 rating pts thereabouts.
 Adrian as usual, missed the chance to end up in the top 10 finishers not because of lack of playing strength but lack of determination. His last round game against Lew Zhi Hong started not well but he managed to turn it round to get a clear advantage, but in the ensuing pawn race, poor calculation skills and lack of focus on the end position led him to drop a simple drawn game. Mental toughness sadly cannot be corrected from external help, but it often must come from the player himself. The mark of champions not only rests on the supremacy of technique, but also the forged steely nerves and will that will surpass all limitations. Only thus can one scale the heights of chess mastery.

Nicholas has grown a little since the last tournament and managed himself well though he played against 3 adult players. He lost 1 near the end of time control and bravely forced a draw in the last game. I am proud of him in this tournament as he has curbed his fears about playing older players without mentally psychling himself to lose. Looks like the Malacca trip did the kids a lot of good.

All my students did not join the rest in fidgeting between rounds, dabbling in transfer chess and all that rubbish. They dutifully checked their opening notes to prepare themselves for each game. I am happy that they realise that victory can come only with good preparation. As in the game Adrian vs Tan Jun Hao, we researched the line and knew what to do when it resurfaced and the 1 point was only a matter of time. 

I had the last but the most to say about Royce. We had spent a lot of time lately to convince him of the importance of preparation.Belief in your coaches' teachings is often the key to change and he is now playing more calmly, focused for each game and able to convert his winning advantages with help from his determination to win. I can sense that he finally accepted my words and ideas and believed in it to work. Now he starts his ascent and I am most gratified for that.  

I Shiang being the youngest of the group started well but of course could not manage the adults and due to the pairings, met 3 and lost them all. The game he should not have lost was due to insufficient care on his part to see the opponent's simple pawn fork. For that he was cautioned and he managed to win his games after that. So he did learn from his mistakes and will do better the next time. 

For my 2 other students who did not stay to collect their prizes, I am glad that they took the time to take part in the tournament as they have hectic schedules and tests to take in the following week. Yes, some games were lost but in general they behaved well and tried to play each game spending their time. Both had the temperament but lack tournament experience which will have to be gained painstakingly by clocking it through more games in the future. I hope they persevere because they too will join their seniors in garnering more honours if they would put in the time to consistently play online.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


For students playing in the Queenstown Open,  please observe the following advice:

1  No more online games from now till Saturday

2  Revise all your opening notes. Bring them to the tournament.

3  Sleep early on Friday night.

4  You can skip Friday chess sessions at Thomson to rest


1   Starting time is 2pm. Have a good lunch. Avoid having rice for your meals, especially chicken rice. It will make you sleepy.

2   Once seated, concentrate on your own game. DO NOT LOOK WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING.

3   Try to get up from your chair once in 15-20 minutes only, not every move.

4   Record your games properly

5   Bring sandwiches on Saturday as you will need them before Round 3 starts at 630.

Take your time on the clock and use it wisely! PLAY FAST, LOSE FAST. Guess your opponent's move when he's thinking. Ask when he's thinking who is better , where can your pieces go? If he moves before you finish, remember to continue when its your turn. Only then starting thinking about your moves.


The starting list is out. You can click here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Again, your comments on this.

Should we as organisers organise more rapid events or perhaps we should organise more 1 hour events but limit that to no more than 7 a year (ie 14 weekends a year)?

Out of the 16 weekends, can an average family spend about 6-8 weekends to play 3 1 hr per side tournaments that will make 21 games a year?

Generally my feel is that with longer time controls, we can inject some seriousness in the play and that would make studying chess more relevant to improve upon our moves. Perhaps then, the Schools CCA Branch may take chess more seriously and add it into their Calendar of Events.

What say you, parents and enthusiasts??

Monday, August 13, 2012


Often we keep ourselves busy playing tournament after tournament after tournament, never stopping to ask if there's progress made in between them.

Often we do not see the games played as an oracle of our next performance. A close examination of games often reveal the very problem of our weaknesses - it gives us the direction of which areas in our game to work on.

3 of my students took part in the recently concluded ASEAN Youth International held at Nanyang Primary School. 1 scored 5.5pts in the U8 Section, while in the Girls U11 she scored 5pts. The weakest finished 4.5pts. As usual, the score means little to me while the games themselves reveal more.

The chief issue seems to be clock management. This is partly due to the many rapid chess games they have played over the year. To make 40 moves in 2 hours, it takes discipline and maturity to understand that the average of 3 minutes a move should be fully utilised into searching for good moves. When a good move appears, one should look further for better moves. This is usually not possible in rapid chess and often one relies on instinct or tactics to solve intricate strategic problems. Hence conditioning for classical chess is different from rapid chess indeed. Slow games are very useful in developing calculation skills if one chooses to use the time to search the board for best moves, both for oneself as well as the opponents' strongest threats. This will develop analysis skills further and improves one's playing strength in turn. The trend I noted in my students is that often the first idea that enters into their heads will most likely be the move selected, rather than searching for the next 2 candidate moves. When the games are dissected, often the fortune of one's game can swing wildly from winning to losing within a few moves.I suspect that amongst the students, they have probably not seen enough game plans made by the masters in their respective openings to decide which direction their game should go. Playing over master games should cure this weakness.

I am not sure what exactly the Federation has in its objectives of organising classical chess contests such as the AYIC while filling the year round calendar with rapid chess tournaments which in my opinion can undo good thinking habits. To spend hours of preparation a week on theoretical openings can at best save some thinking time in rapid chess, but it cannot replace the pensive steps taken to sieve through and evaluate each move for its effectiveness.

For those who wish to derive the benefits of playing chess, it is important to remind oneself that whatever the time control, one must try to make use of all the time given to play the best 40 moves within the time given. For 25 minutes, assuming one takes about 20% or 5 minutes for the first 12 moves, that averages 25 seconds a move. In a 2 hour game, the first 12 moves can go as slow as 36 minutes. The time can be used in developing one's board vision of the pieces and their relationship to squares on the board and the opponent's pieces. It will be good practice to quickly scan the board and determine which piece attacks what square, which piece cannot move to what square while the opponent is thinking. It will reduce the number of errors in calculation for sure.

So hopefully my students will take to this advice and work towards using their time better to find better moves.