Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?

We have had a healthy exchange about how to involve parents into the current chess activities. Having followed the junior chess scene for most of the last 30 years, there has been a healthy growth of players taking up chess and the players are getting younger.

However, what worries me is the high attrition rate of players from the  local chess scene. I am sure we have had many  who followed the game since the Fischer-Spassky era of 1972 ( I did when I was 9). Many are in their 50s - 70s today and what's alarming is that they have not been seen at the tournaments. This crop of players are in their time relatively good to give any junior a good sparring , therefore they are critical to raising the level of chess-playing in my opinion. However, not many will have the time to spend a full day at tournaments given the demands of work and family, hence perhaps a few hours at a chess club a week may be helpful. Thus there lies the need to promote chess club activity in order to revive their interest in playing and interact with our youth.

Where are the boys and girls that used to play as students in the 80's-90's? Many are parents now, but I don't see many of their children playing ironically. If we estimate an average about 500 school-children  in a  cohort who have played chess from their P1 till O level (10 years), over 50 years (starting from 1960) that will work out to about 25000 people in the school system. How many of them are still actively playing today? It would be a crying shame if chess would end up being similar to music-theory learning where most kids go through the pain of learning and drop it out of their lives when the exams (or competitions in the case of chess ) cease.

In my teens, I owed my improvement and  chess values to veteran mentors who taught me not to  fear them, or rush my moves when winning and be humble even when they had to resign,. They would even share their thoughts with me in analysing our game without even asking. We will need these enthusiasts if we are to establish a true chess culture here. Sadly, many see the fast time controls adopted in tournaments today as a bane to their comeback. They find no relief playing online as most games on the Internet are either blitzes at 5 min or less. So where do you really go to play a game that will last 1 hr or more these days, without having to compete?

Hence the thrust of m,y 1984 article is to get everyone to look at the problem of the void in terms of sparring partners for our junior players. This void has grown over the last 25 years as I can recall, with the rapid decrease of SCF adult memberships and their participation rate in tournaments spanned over the 2 decades. I'd say that if we do not take steps to rectify the situation, in the long term, we may not be able to sustain even the children's interest in the game too (as they will ultimately fall out right after their A levels or even sooner).

I find that if chess is truly to be representative as a sport, its stature in society cannot be measured  mainly by just junior chess-playing activity. Representation in numbers should span across all ages, from the young to the aged, from schools to the cross-section of society. 

7 comments:

  1. By encouraging these players to return to the game, therein lies our potential supply of chess-organisers who can be called upon to serve unselfishly for the running of the clubs. In this way, the local chess scene can be restored to its vibrant renaissance time in the late 70's - mid 80's.

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  2. There is an illness in our chess culture. If we can see that and correct it, then the future will be brighter. Look at your own role in promoting that sickness.

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  3. Thanks for dropping by Raymond,

    However I do not quite understand your comment. Care to clarify what sickness that I am promoting?

    I will leave your comment here Raymond rather than delete it and let readers decide for themselves who's making sense here.

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  4. Hello again John Wong, I have posted the evidence on what happened with the Air Asia proposal that Jimmy is so fond of promoting. Do drop by and have a read. Thank you again.

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  5. I believe this is purely a Malaysian matter and therefore have no interest to know what is the truth.

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