Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CHANGING THE FORMAT IN INTER SCHOOLS?

This year's National Inter-Schools is slated to begin 31 August - 1 September. As usual, going by statistics over the last 3 years:

BOYS U14
    TEAMS SCHOOLS     PLAYERS
2010 18 15 90
2011 13 10 65
2012 12 9 54
SEC OPEN
2010 31 25149
2011 29 18 136
2012 30 24 146
OPEN 2010 16 10 73
2011 10 8 48
2012 12 8 55


Note that the Secondary Open section is combined with the Girls U16 category, otherwise the numbers will drop if we are to measure only boy's participation. I am sure the number of ladies playing in secondary school has dropped but will need to work out the statistics at another post.

The trend that fewer schoolchildren engage in chess for school competition after they turn 16 years of age shows a gradual erosion of interest (seen from the number of players still playing in the Open). This could also be due to the fact that some schools may have closed their chess clubs since 2010, notably ACS Barker, SJI amongst the top schools. Others may have closed their chess clubs but we'll need some sleuthing from visiting MOE websites of these schools to find out. 

My point is that this is a worrying trend for chess development in Singapore, especially if we detect erosion of interest in the Secondary Schools where the budding talents from the Primary Schools wither owing to the dominance of the top 3 ( RI, ACI, HCI) and leave little to the rest of the participating schools to garner any meaningful titles. We urgently need a relook of the current format of awarding accolades to help the schools that participate but do not win anything annually. Create 2 leagues perhaps (much like the EPL) so that the weaker schools can also emerge tops in their own league? Change the structure so that each school is represented not by age-group but have them represented as a collective team from U14-U16 (total of 10 players a team)? This will eliminate the favourites from having amassed a huge pool of talent from 1 bumper year of new students and also allows those schools which do not have enough students in the age-group category to compete. 

Whatever the solution, I urge the newly formed EXCO to seriously deliberate on this issue as the erosion will negate much of their presents efforts in trying to sustain growth in numbers of schoolchildren after they leave their primary schools. 

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