Saturday, December 17, 2011


In any sport or endeavour that requires sponsorship for its sustainability, the source of funds into the activity is usually limted.

Much depends on the popularity of the activity, its target audience base and most importantly endorsement from the powers that be.

In the context of chess, the problem of low sponsorship has inherently stifled the growth of the sport over the last 10 years. We have had it good during the 80s and 90s thanks to the generosity of Datuk Tan Chin Nam, a tycoon who is fervent about chess. It was he who sowed the seeds of China as a superpower in chess by sponsoring the Tan Chin Nam Cup in Beijing in the 90s. 

Apart from that, whatever sponsorship SCF collects ( during my tenure of office there) comes from the usual Lee or Tan Foundation, Singapore Pools (before SSC streamlined the funds transfer) and well-wishers who were once prominent chess-players in their youth.

I somehow get the notion that interested parties in the chess community ought to do something about the situation, but why shouldn't parents of chess-playing children take an interest in this matter? After all, with the local scene dominated with junior players, the health of the chess scene directly impacts the chess-playing prospects of their children.The reason why I cannot count on parents of chess-playing children as potential sponsors is the vested interest factor. Most will generally contribute to any shortfall in funding for an activity if it concerns their child, but no further. Most of them will not wait to get off the hot seat once their child stops playing. That is a reality.

The current pool of Life members who are active in chess unfortunately do not see eye to eye with the current SCF administration, so there's no likelihood of any sponsorship forthcoming from them. 

Hence it is an uphill task of raising funds, for which there is no immediate solution or fix. The Kasparov visit last year could have been a splendid opportunity kickstart the rise in profile of chess in Singapore, only to be marred in political quagmire because it was FIDE election year. Well, I suppose the current administration may wish to reconsider inviting Kasparov back in Singapore as he is actively championing scholastic chess education throughout Europe? His last visit was to Turkey. It's not FIDE election year after all in 2012..


  1. I think your comment that the scholastic chess initiative should be channeled through Mr Kasparov is misconceived as I have visited the FIDE website and have seen the system that it has been set up. So instead of diverting attention to a single person, it would be prudent to highlight the efforts of FIDE and to comment on their initiatives and perhaps to encourage the SCF to invite the FIDE president to visit Singapore.

    I have personally seen no change to the chess scene following the visit of Mr. Kasparov and the time, effort and money spent has not translated into anything beneficial for the Singapore chess community. If there has been any change then you should highlight it so that readers of your blog have an understanding and can then decide if it is something worth supporting.

  2. Sorry, but I do not think Mr Kasparov's initiative has anything to do with FIDE. Rather, he is promoting the cause as an alternative means of reviving diminished chess interest throughout the world. Perhaps you may be interested to read his views on FIDE over the last 2 issues of New In Chess?

    As to FIDE's views on improving the scholastic scene, readers can best judge for themselves whether FIDE has done much to promote chess apart from organising chess tournaments for younger children, some as young as 6 years and younger? In my opinion, the other initiatives by Ms Susan Polgar,Mr Michael Basman, Mr Malcolm Pein and Kasparov have done far better in outreaching the children at large than FIDE's efforts which are often funded by none other than the FIDE President as an election ploy.

    Perhaps you are not aware that the FIDE President did visit Singapore last year before the FIDE elections but somehow SCF did not mention it?? I wondered why...

    As Kasparov's visit clearly proved that there is good organisational ability amongst our local chess community. It is clearly up to the community who they should give their support to in the future if chess is to move in the right direction. Those who make the bed will have to lie on it, so its a choice.

  3. Yes it is precisely because Mr Kasparov is not doing it in conjunction with FIDE that I question the sustainability or effectiveness of what is being done. Once again I am puzzled as to why people reinvent the wheel just because they have differences. FIDE already has a program and then somebody comes up with a slightly different label and a slightly different approach and then it suddenly becomes a new initiative!

    The chess parents and chess children are not concerned with what differences may exist between some members and the SCF, the goal is how the SCF can be helped to achieve more, 4 years may not be enough especially if the support is lacking from members.

  4. I believe that the SCF used to have a Parents Support Group in the past. Perhaps it is high time the current PSG contribute ideas on how to achieve more? For starters, perhaps a blog by the PSG in the SCF website?

  5. I think that although that is a suggestion worth exploring, ad-hoc chess organizers who run tournaments independently of the SCF should also be clear of what they wish to achieve as chess parents should not feel that merely by playing in these tournaments they have fulfilled the needs and aspirations of the child. There will be children who can achieve more but do not know they have that little extra. Ad-hoc organizers have never shown any plan to help groom such budding talents, let alone give guidance to parents of such budding talents. When you attend these tournaments you will see a mass of parents sitting around while their children play, have lunch, collect their prizes and go home. This is then repeated at the next ad-hoc tournament and so on and so on. It is precisely because these ad-hoc organisers do not have the structure, manpower or long-term planning, that things are the way they are with the ad-hoc organizers. Chess parents happily (or otherwise) bring their children to the ad-hoc tournaments and go back.

    So what can be done by these ad-hoc organizers? They should be honest enough to tell parents they can do nothing much other than to organize tournaments and have children attend a chess club to play games, which from the feedback I get can be disorganised as there is no proper syllabus. It is therefore not surprising that chess parents are quite happy to send their children to the ad-hoc tournaments for the games and nothing more because there is nothing more that can be offered.

    So ad-hoc organizers have to get out of a rut that they themselves have created and do something more.

    I say all this to also show why I believe there is little value in just 1person making flying visits to many countries to promote scholastic chess without any organizational backing that has an international reach. It is counter-productive though the 1 person receiving the garlands and playing 10-man simul chess games probably feels good about himself, as would the ad-hoc organizers who feel that they have achieved something by being able to organize the same tournament every year. It is tried and tested and purports to show success.

  6. Yes, tournaments are organised simply where the objective is for the players to know where they measure up against the rest of the competition. Whether it is a CC tournament or Linares or Corus, it is not the job of the organisers to go beyond what the needs of the tournament are. Tournaments are opportunities created for players to hone their skills, make friends while analysing their games and enjoy the company there. Why should it be more than that??

    If the writer feels strongly that there's more than can be done other than that, he is most welcome to set the example.

    As to point of Mr Kasparov, let the public decide if it has garnered more media attention than say the National Individuals where more than 1000 schoolchildren take part but no press coverage given. Without media attention, how can we even talk about raising the profile of chess in Singapore? With paid ads??

    Given that the visit of FIDE President last year did not even make it to the local news, I wonder if the writer's faith in FIDE is misplaced?

    If the children do not need such opportunities, they can always seek other tournaments organised that others that are more "meaningful". However, we aim to serve all chessplayers, some of which simply want to play and nothing more.