Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SCF NEW TEAM 2012-2013

December 11 saw the formation of a mixed team of old and new chess officials stepping in to chart the course of Singapore Chess for the next 2 years.

With the unopposed nomination of Ignatius Leong, Ang Yao Hao (the son of former MP Ang Kok Peng)  was roped in as Vice President along with incumbent Shashi Jayakumar. Leonard Lau of Serangoon Chess Club volunteered to fill the hot seat of Treasurer. The other new Committee members (apart from Grace Leong) are Tony Tan, Jason Goh and Luke Leong. Both Jason and Luke would have to be co-opted as they were not present at the meeting.

I find it most amusing when some members in the AGM were indignant at the questions on matters relating to the accounts, remarking that it was a waste of time to go through details or perceived discrepancies. They felt that time should be given for the EXCO to convey new directions for chess with regard to their children who are currently active in chess.

Perhaps these parents were misinformed about the AGM? Anyone who knows about corporate workings would understand that an AGM is held where the current executive body reports on the workings of the organisation and must stand up to questions from members. Most of the time, the questions can be blunt but in earnest, necessary to ensure that the organisation is properly run. When members question the prudence of holding chess tournaments which historically run into losses, their main concerns are about the viability of the Federation should it become financially insolvent in the near future. When that happens, who would foot the bill for the Federation to continue as a going concern (which was pointed out by the Auditors present at the meeting)?

We've had many misconceptions clarified at the meeting, which came to light after much insisted demands from members from the floor. Members were not aware that the Federation had its IPC status suspended since 31 March 2011 and would be restored only if the accounts for FY2009 and 2010 were passed. The auditor and accountant  had verified at the AGM that all monies that were unaccounted for in FY2009 were tallied in FY2010. Hence, the presence of concerned Life Members ensured that the EXCO discharged its corporate responsibilities and proved to be a most effective watchdog of the SCF, albeit that their curt remarks were not welcomed by the incumbent EXCO.

As for the parents of chess-playing children joining the EXCO, please be mindful that you are in it to serve chess in Singapore - that is, all chessplayers and not just junior chess (although the current chess scene is predominately junior in nature). Hence all age groups should be given due attention. The sharp drop of affiliates, little sponsorship, high fees for SCF organised activities, reduction of  SCF tournaments are a cause for concern. Hopefully, they would get their act together to improve matters in 2012, perhaps starting with a improved National Championship 2012?


  1. Since some " New Blood " had pump in to the EXCO, I think is time to concentrate how to promote Chess in Singapore.

    All Singapore chess players should step out to play in the Singapore Open or the SIYC 2011 and not only in oversea.

    I hope some coaches in Singapore should encourage these " hidden" players to play in local games other then outside Singapore.

    And please remember that we are aiming for one goal, that is bring chess to its next higher level in Singapore and looking forward for the next International Games

  2. I have 6 of my students taking part in the coming SIYC, as I believe that it is beneficial for them to take part in such tournaments to gain the international exposure and also to understand how to manage the game in classical chess time controls.

    Thanks for your comments and I look forward to lively and constructive exchanges on how we can elevate the current state of chess in Singapore.

  3. It is good to have the blog highlight the lack of funds in the SCF. Unfortunately at the AGM the focus was on the accounts by members who then did not suggest ways to improve the funding of the SCF. Members because of their interest should go beyond just asking questions about the SCF accounts to also providing suggestions to increase the profile of chess, increase funding and how to better support the SCF. The AGM is more than just questioning the accounts. That is one part, many AGMs will have members raise issues about the EXCo's plans etc., but this was not done at the recently concluded AGM.

  4. Well,the accounts were in the highlight this time round owing to the adverse state of affairs. We had been warned by the auditor that SCF may be financially insolvent.Surely this must take priority over all else,as SCF does face the prospect of going bust.

    The onus is not on anyone on the floor (parents included) to suggest ways of improving the situation. As a matter of fact, Mr Koh asked for prudence in refraining from organising events that have proven to be financially unsound. I had even asked the President if it is dangerous to rely on foreign aid to fund such tournaments, as the funds may not be forthcoming. Sadly all I get is that he would try to collect the remaining funds from the sponsor. In that regard, the Life members did more than the others on the floor in offering solutions.

    Some austerity measures may be necessary in order to keep the house in good order. There was ample opportunity for parents to enquire about SCF's future direction after the elections were completed (under AOB), but I think the President did the right thing by suggesting another forum rather than the AGM, so that the new team can brainstorm and discuss what can be donein the light of the financial state that SCF is in. Fund raising has to be top priority I would think, hopefully not by raising tournament fees any sooner

  5. Let us not get carried away with being dramatic about the SCF going bust. The auditor explained himself clearly when this matter was queried further. And precisely because it was queried, I am surprised that some members still saw fit to continue asking questions about the accounts instead of dealing with the issue of fund-raising and the future direction of the SCF. Also the show of hands regarding the passing of the accounts was another clear indication of what other members thought about the excessive amount of time spent on the accounts especially as the auditor had given an unqualified report for the latest set of accounts.

    I am also surprised at the comment that Life Members were asking questions and raising issues. There is an assumption that the members who did speak represented all Life Members which of course was not the case, as after the AGM, a member expressed his frustration that he had been attending the SCF AGMs for more than 10 years and felt that the AGMs never went beyond the same tired questions regarding the accounts. Regretably the majority of members who applauded a member who suggested that too much time was spent on asking questions of the accounts did not then ask for the questions regarding the accounts to close. Fortunately the overwhelming show of hands at the AGM approving the accounts would have been a clear sign that the majority of members including some Life Members were satisfied with the state of affairs of the accounts and wanted to move on.

    As for the suggestion that some events be dropped, it is also fortunate that the suggestion was not taken up as if it was indeed a prudent suggestion then it would have passed but the suggestion did not receive any support as nobody proposed or seconded the suggestion. That itself speaks volumes, so let us move on.

    As for sponsorship, to merely highlight the help given by one person, itself means nothing in the bigger picture. The question is sustainable long term financing and the SCF Exco must be given support, especially as they are volunteers. Members cannot simply sit back and then at the AGM think that by questioning the acoounts, that they are then showing their concern. Other members know that is not enough.

    Members who have the interest of chess should step forward and volunteer their help. As the accounts

  6. As I have remarked in my post, if there was strong desire for parents and other members to discuss about future plans of the SCF, then why did they not speak up and ask for the floor? The AGM in June 25 lasted 5 hours,so I am sure the EXCO would not have stopped anyone from fielding the questions if there was burning desire.

    To elaborate on your point about the impatience of the members to pass the accounts, we were mindfully aware of the outgoing Treasurer's excessive repetitious nature in his answers to queries of the Accounts and sought to save precious time by voting in open ballot.
    As to the notion of dropping the events to save costs, it was the President I recalled who brushed off discussion rather than a vote of motion on the matter. A member had to pacify him into calming down. Taking a vote would not have made any point as it was clear that parents would not want such events that can benefit their children to be scrapped, but then again, they would not be forthcoming with donations to make it feasible. So I ask again: who would ultimately foot the bill?

    The fact that funding at this point is reliant on individual donations rather than programs speaks volumes of the incumbent board of officials who have had 4 years (since 2006) to improve the situation but as yet, nothing substantial has materialised.

    Of course, querying accounts is but 1 way of keeping the EXCO in check to ensure the viability of the SCF. As to other ideas, I believe that I have contributed a fair bit in my earlier posts a year ago (see Sponsorship). I can't say if the SCF has deliberated on them, perhaps you can ask them??

    Some of us have organised tournaments from the CCs where we served. We have made entry fees affordable, provided decent tournament conditions for everyone to take part in. That has been our contribution to chess in Singapore. This is our contribution, so we have walked the walk

  7. I pick up on the point that others are organizing their own chess events and that therefore there are people walking the walk. The question is where does this walking lead to. What follow-up can these organizers achieve other than organizing chess events which in itself does not offer anything different from what the SCF does. If all that is achieved is that chess events are organized at more CCs at lower costs then what happens after that. Anyway it is the CCs who control the fees that can be charged for events that are held on their premises.To my knowledge nothing other than the same group of players go for weekly chess sessions. There is no long term plan and no goal that these scattered organizers have.

    Why don't these organizers do more than just repeat what the SCF already does? Why don't these organizers have forums to brainstorm with participants or

  8. What I am saying is that we are able to perform the functions of running tournaments for the benefit of the chess community. As such we have serviced the needs of those who want to play chess locally with no further ambitions. For your information, the CCs respect organiser decisions on pricing of fees rather than deciding on it. Thanks to the CCs we are able to absorb the infrastructure costs of the venue and logistics, so we pass on the savings by way of lower entry fees and even the occasional free lunch.

    It is our mission to promote mass participation,not chess excellence. That is the Federation's. Rather I feel that the SCF should not be duplicating our function but focus its energies on creating sustainable programs which can draw the interest of the authorities to a worthwhile cause, such as the introduction of chess as part of the school curriculum. It seems that the FIDE program does not find acceptance in many countries in our region, which is why I feel Mr Kasparov may have a better shot at convincing the authorities.

    The current local chess scene is amply sustained by the number of CC tournaments which take up 70% of the annual chess calendar. We are also reaching out for more volunteers to help us in the running of the tournaments so as to complete the network of tournaments covering the entire island. It is in the SCF's interests to work with us in terms of logistics support (ie arbiters, helpers) by offloading some of their perfunctory local tournaments to save costs, channelling their energies solely on the main large scale ones like the National Schools events and the National Championship. This will free the EXCO and staff to work on development and fund-raising programs.

  9. Then perhaps what these chess organizers should be doing, as the swimming clubs are doing, with the SSA, which is to be part of the feeder program for the SCF. If the various organizers can adopt certain guidelines for training of children and adults, follow a comprehensive syllabus which is audited by the SCF, then you can say these organizers are walking the walk because then they are giving something useful to the chess community and the concept that you have promoted of having more chess clubs can possibly become a reality.

    Parents need the assurance that the ad-hoc organizers will adhere to the standards of the SCF and FIDE. Personality differences or differences about how FIDE and the SCF are run should not bar such organizers from working with the SCF, if truly the ad-hoc organisers have the interest of Singapore chess at heart.

    It is apparent that some of these tournaments have gone on for many years, but what have these ad-hoc organizers done other than to have the tournaments themselves and to organize the chess clubs at the CCs? This has remained the same for so many years without any progress. How have these ad-hoc organizers actually assisted in increasing the mass participation when in previous blogs you have highlighted the decline in chess clubs and the apparent decline in the number of mass participants especially beyond the primary school. It may be due to the fact that these ad-hoc organizers themselves have never been able to convince chess parents that there is something more they can do for the children? The chess clubs and ad-hoc organizers can help the national cause if they are prepared to work with the SCF on a national plan. Certainly just organizing tournaments will be insufficient. Areas-hoc organizers prepared to walk the walk in working with the SCF? Will chess parents see such ad-hoc organizers as being only interested in promoting their own tournaments or in helping to achieve the greater good?

  10. THe decline of interest in tournaments by the adults has been answered in my earlier posts ( Letter to the Editor, Where have all the Flowers Gone?) so I shall not elaborate further.

    The CC tournaments and SCF have existed longer than the writer's period of involvement in chess in Singapore (which may not be more than 5 years). SCF has always respected the autonomy of the clubs and affiliates to run their own programs. Back in the 80s, the CC tournaments were even used as qualifiers for the National Championship.

    So synergistic measures have existed in the local chess scene, known to many players who've played in the past. Until there is a change of SCF administration, I'm afraid neither party will have any common interest in initiating any form of collaboration. If such is the reality, then I urge the writer to roll up his sleeves and take action rather than thinking about following up on this post. Kindly help yourself.

  11. I am from another side of the globe, Australia. I am impressed at how chess enthusiasts in your place have created programs relating to chess to keep it actively going. I guess dwelling more about will enhance the chess playing skills among children and adults.

    In our place we have given much importance to training schoolchildren with chess as it will for sure give them positive impact in their studies.

    You might to know more about our programs by visiting http://smartdolphins.net/school-chess-classes/