Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015


The faces tell it all..prizes or none, on the students who took part in the Kickoff Tournament organised by SCF at the Toa Payoh Sports Centre on Sunday 11 January. 7 prize winners in the respective categories !

I want to congratulate Naython Tan on his superb performance today in the Cat 4G section, 2nd with 5.5 pts, as well as Soh Rui Yang though he finished on 5th by tiebreak. Good job boys! Andre and Ethan Chiam started their first tournament and I'm so proud of them after they watched Sue Lyn in action and learnt so much about taking their time to record their games and think. Ethan managed to record till move 35 and he was unexpectedly not crying over his loss. They have grown to learn how to deal with losses and I'm sure they will look forward to playing their next tournament. I Shiuo scored 4 pts while Jasper managed 2.5 pts.

I Shiuan and Sue Lyn are in Cat 2 and clearly the strength of the participants meant extra effort to win every game. Both lost against the Champion but scored 5 and 4.5 pts to finish 4th and 6th. Clearly Sue Lyn needs to be more focused on her games if she wants to progress further as watching other boards during the game is a definite no-no.

Jaryl in Cat 4F finished on 8th place with 3.5 while Qi Xuan could only get 3 pts and ended on 12th place.

Zhong Kai had a good run starting 3/3 but fell back in the second half and managed only 1 more point after. Good win against Arlan Cabe but this meant being paired against Tin Jingyao and FM Terekhov later and the strength told in the end. Qing Aun was the top scorer from VS with 5.5pts on 3rd.

A satisfying end to a day well spent!

Friday, January 2, 2015


Many may find this book archaic in presenting the study of pawn structure with its quirky terms like leucopenia, telestop, ram etc. But if you take that away and understand its content, Pawn Power is a classic book on pawn structures that no budding chess-player can avoid studying.

Evidently this came about when we were discussing a game between Cyrus Nisban and Lee Jun Wei. Someone opined that the position was wrongly played by Black having a Benoni pawn structure, where White broke through the centre with the advance e5. The pawn advance is thematic (at least to those who read the book). When discussing the position further, it seemed that Lee did not realise that his c8 bishop was a hindrance and his battle plan should involve the exchange of that bishop. Again, such understanding can only be attained if one were to read books like Pawn Power in Chess. 

The study of pawns pervades not only in the opening but also into the middlegame and endgame. Of course, computer analysis may do a lot to negate the weaknesses created by pawns in odd squares by counterbalancing it with piece pressure. However, as humans do not possess such visualising power when compared to the silicon monsters, what makes sense still will be the exploitation of pawn weaknesses as performed by the masters in their collection of best games. 

I recommend that the juniors take a serious look at this wonderful classic (until someone revises it by taking away the clinical terms).

Monday, December 29, 2014


This year passed really fast, with the pace of competitions increasingly punishing as well. With more on my plate, it is necessary to monitor all students closely and with 2015 looming, a heavier schedule means less time for personal recreation.

Those who have put in conscious effort had better results especially Sue Lyn, Malcolm, Gavin and Bryan. Gavin trained till May before he stopped for PSLE and resumed right after. Sue Lyn managed to overcome her 2 nemeses this year and I am very proud of her. We look forward to bigger successes next year at the coming AAG in June, by then she should be ready.

Those who did not do well in the National competitions this year ought to reflect on how they spent their time. I believe most of the students in this category did not take their lessons to heart and made effort to remember what was covered. Upon going through their games, many mistakes especially in counting and calculation were spotted. Opening variations were not well executed, often the critical moves in the variations were forgotten. These were attributed to either not having enough time or other preoccupations like computer games or TV.

In chess, success can only be expected after much disciplined and consistent practice and study. Even if it takes 30 minutes a day, regular chess work developed into a routine will ensure that knowledge will be assimilated through the playing of online games and dutifully following the thought process taught.

With 4 schools and 32 students in total, I am beginning to see the need to monitor the output of my students' homework even more closely. My leniency in not checking all their work has resulted in some slacking.

Less emphasis will be made in introducing newer material next year but more exercises will be planned. In addition, I will  make sure that they can record their moves with confidence and know their squares on the chessboard whether from White's or Black's perspective. This is the cornerstone of chess strength as it aids visualising of pieces on the squares.

Overall, I wish that more could have garnered better results at the NAG but then, what's past is past. We move on, know what needs to be done and improve.


Finally managed to fill my 2015 schedule. Thanks to all parents who co-operated and accommodated to make this happen.

However, there are some sacrifices and I say goodbye to Shannon, Natalie, Joshua, Julius, Zach,Jaryl and Aidan with a heavy heart. All the best to you for 2015.

Welcome aboard Sherwin, Darwin,Tian En, Ryan, Lucas, Alyssa, Joven and Portia! Let's make 2015 a fruitful year of success! Work hard and I'm sure you will be duly rewarded.

My congratulations to Sue Lyn, Malcolm, Gavin and Bryan for having the most outstanding results this year. You shall be the role models of the group and many will look up to you. Keep up the good work!

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 15, 2014


Sue Lyn decided on participating this event on a whim. It was after the National Rapid and I guess she wanted to redeem herself after the slightly disappointing showing there. She rattled off a series of wins in the first 5 rounds, beating the likes of the Champion, along with Alfred Chua and Elmer Arrocena who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. She also took the Best Women's Trophy ! Though she lost the next 3 games, she managed to compose herself to win the final game and secured 6/9. 

If only there was more time spent on reading my opening notes...still, a most commendable effort!

Thursday, December 11, 2014


A total of 366 registered for the National Age Group Championships played at the Jurong East Sports Hall. Some foreign entries from India, Malaysia spiced up the competition and gave our local juniors good opportunities to pit their skills against.

 The above managed to garner some of the trophies and my congratulations to them for the work they put in their preparations. Gavin lost the playoff for the best Singaporean result in the Under 12, while Cadence was 10th in the Under8. Sue Lyn lost her last game against Amanda Chan, having beaten the other 2 favourites Erica Chin and Kong U-Ham to finish 4th overall. Bryan came in 8th place overall.

Caleb and Isaiah not in the pictures

Others who took part missed out of the top 10 places but I'm sure they had all matured during the gruelling 4 days. Some took defeat painfully and could not continue, while on the other end of the spectrum, we also have those who did not think much about losing a game. The correct attitude towards treating a loss should be: yes, it is painful but more importantly, one must seek the reasons for the loss with deep analysis of the game played and errors are to be sought and corrected. No improvement can be attained if this critical step is not taken in every chessplayer's career. 

We had a workshop conducted to ensure that they understand how the pace of the game must be slowed in order to minimise losses. However, many are still trying to cope with the pace of play and made unforced errors. Opening lines were also not well memorised and therefore their games drifted into unknown territory. Besides time management, preparation for such a tournament also requires well-studied middlegame positions and clear understanding of the endgames that will result. 

 Indeed, it takes a lot of conditioning before they can perform at standard chess. To those who did not score above 4 pts, there is work to do in the areas you are weak at. Generally, I am satisfied at the overall behaviour of my students throughout the 4 days. We now take a short break and brace for the next major event - Back to School!