Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Once again, my blog is open for comments from parents. Please post your comments if you are a chess-parent on matters which are of concern to you and your child regarding chess.

The floor is once again open. Let's keep it clean.


  1. Hi, I came across this blog while trying to find another chess centre for my 6 years old son to continue his passion in chess.
    My son started to learn chess more than 1 year ago with a chess centre located in the eastern region of singapore. Initially, he had a very good filipino lady as his instructor. Unfortunately, he was then taught by a young singaporean guy (doing part time) for his subsequent courses.That was then we realised he made no improvement at all and we are simply wasting our time and money. Therefore, we had withdrawn him from that school and have been looking around for another. so far, it has been a few months but we couldn't find another sch which is nearby. it's a pity but I find that that school was simply making money out of us rather than really putting effort in training my son..

    Made by a parent in an earlier thread

  2. Yes we had the same experience with this chess school and now my 2 boys aged 8 and 10 refused to attend any more chess classes.
    Do you know of any individual chess coach who can train them? We want dedicated chess coach and are prepared to pay top dollar.

    Raymond and Christina Ong

    1. You can write to me at jfan2003@gmail.com or whatsapp me at 97985479 and we can discuss this offline.

    2. Raymond and Christina, are you real?

  3. Hi John,

    Your blog is awesome and do much good for chess. It is a different voice from the politically correct national association which is unfeeling of chess parents' real concerns.

    I see the national training schemes as simply schemes to make money and control the local scene - what are your views on this ?

    A concerned chess mother

    1. You are of course entitled to your opinions. However, I think to make a statement that incriminates, one should do the right thing ie substantiate your views or at least state your reasons why you arrive at such a view. Others who read this will of course be keen to know if they've encountered similar incidences.

      I am also most interested to know what are your real concerns regarding chess training? Parents generally have high expectations while spending top dollar for chess training and it would be useful to all if you can state your expectations.

      I am a neutral party and hence will not offer any comments on your views reagarding the junior training scheme. All I can say is those who avail themselves to the squad get a first hand experience of it and decide if it brings value to their chess.


  4. Hi Mr John,

    Is it true that by paying a lump sum, the national association can groom a young player till she obtains an international title like lady candate master?

    This was proposed to my wife and we need to know more details.

    A chess parent

    1. Dear chess parent,
      it is funny that you ask me such a question when all you need to do is ask the person that contacted you if

      a. Is the person that spoke to you is found in the SCF website?

      b. If this person is indeed from the national federation, should you not verify the details with someone in authority by calling the President or Vice President?

      Don't you think it is ridiculous that someone like me who is not in the SCF committee should have your answer?

  5. Dear Mr John,

    What if the proposer is the President?

    We are checking with you because another chess parent in the same shoes as such, recommended that we should contact you as a fair person in the local chess scene who has no fear or prejudice.

    Affected chess parent

    1. Then,may I suggest,you get the proposal in black and white from the proposer and the party responsible if the project does not materialise.

      I cannot comment on this any further as I would not make such commitments myself.

  6. Hi John,

    We are concerned about how the recent 54th National Interschool Team chess at Rulang Primary School was conducted, overly harsh punishments were imposed on young primary school children. An extremely obese official was shouting over the PA system on stage, across the hall, at school children, over no reason, threatening to expel them from the rest of the competition if they were caught running.

    That was a competition meant for all primary school children, and we feel that the SCF official was overly rude, harsh and totally unprofessional in handling children. Some children came down from stage crying. The competition was organized for the children to gain exposure, experience and to play chess and enjoy the games with their team mates and friends, not to be treated like prisoners or army soldiers, or traumatized for life.

    SCF should only send officials who are more professional and less curt in their approach, it's a total turnoff! We will rethink if we want to send our girls for such competition again.

    unhappy chess parents

    1. To unhappy chess parents,

      I assume that you are visiting the Inter-Schools for the first time and so are the children. Most children who have participated in such competitions behaved better knowing the decorum by watching the older children.

      To control and effectively run the competition of approximately 500 schoolchildren plus another 200+ parents cum teachers with only 10 officials is a daunting task for any organisation. Picture yourself in the official's shoes, trying to get some order with children running around. How would you do it?

      I am not condoning the methods used by the official in keeping order, but some form of discipline has to be meted in order that the event be conducted.

      If you have not watched the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer" which is an excellent introduction to parents guiding their children to chess, you will see that the tournament director portrayed in the movie was just as curt. It is the role they have to play to the children that they mean business or else the tournament hall starts to become a playground.

      My approach is to explain the decorum and norms expected of each player before the start of the tournament. The penalties will be clearly spelt to the teachers and parents as well. It then becomes the onus for the adults to mind their wards' behaviour throughout the course of the competition. Should any member of the team misbehave, the whole team will not be paired for the next round. This will send the right message and no threats need to be uttered.

  7. Hi John,

    We also brought our children to play at Serangoon Gardens Country Club during their annual TCA, which boasts over 200 players and another 200 parents and well wishes.

    We saw that you are one of the organizers there. Everything was well conducted and our children enjoyed the event.

    If we are to rate the Interschools it is 2/10 while the Serangoon Gardens Country Club event is definitely 9.5/10.

    Why can't SCF do just as well?

    Same unhappy parents

    1. The Serangoon Gardens Country Club staff alone is more than 15 people together with volunteers like me numbering another 8. So in terms of manpower they were sufficient in keeping order. The number of participants in the Interschools is twice that size of those who played at the TCA. So it is objectively a harder event to manage.

      In perspective, this size of participants is seen only in chess and not in other Schools sports. A good thing, but requires more resources to manage it well. It is time for the SCF EXCO to reflect on how they can better deploy more manpower, even to the extent of involving everyone in the Council, to see to the successful organisation of this annual event than to rest on the shoulders of a few good men.

  8. Hi unhappy chess parents,

    I was there with my boys and I had to agree with you that the 'extremely obese SCF official' was indeed shouting over the PA, at children and even parents, threatening and all. Like what John said, I agreed that some form of discipline has to be meted but to shout over the PA and to threaten expelling the children from the competition is punishment out of proportion.

    The entire atmosphere was very tense, unhappy and unpleasant, and how to encourage the children to play chess, love chess and participate in future competitions in such an environment? I had been to countless chess competitions, and I had seen with my own eyes how this extremely obese SCF official scolded and shouted at his own son in a harsh manner at the top of his voice, in the presence of all, when his son lost a round. Maybe to vent his frustration or disappointment, maybe there's some anger management issue on hand to handle.

    Maybe SCF could re-assign someone more competent and with better emotion-handling skills to front the public up on stage. Why shout when one can handle the situation without shouting? Do we see the school Principal shouting on stage when trying to address the entire school (>1500 students)? Who wants to pay $$ to participate in competitions and be subjected to excessive shouting? Some points for the SCF officials to ponder........

  9. Good day John.
    If SCF continues in this manner, many chess parents will take their children out of SCF programmes and events.

    Already chess is losing participation at secondary level. My son's secondary school closed the chess club and when we enquiried, the school informed us that chess is no longer listed as a sport / preferred CCA.

    So we stopped our 2 primary school children from chess since at secondary level it is not useful to play chess.

    Imagine that when this happens across the whole school scene, chess will just be relegated to a hobby.

    What can we parents do ?
    The SCF keeps charging us quite a lot of money (junior training, expensive hotel fees for third rate motels, etc) and many of the parents I spoke with said that if the schools do not support chess, it is better that our children take part in other CCA.

    It does not help that SCF charges us high fees and treat the parents shamefully.

    Would like to hear the views of other parents in this blog.

    Thank you very much.

    1. Being here for 3 years, i noticed Singaporeans chess school children took Chess as a vehicle for qualifying higher learning institution. i feel this is wrong.

      So it seem to be bad parent's initiatives rather than the choice of these chess children. i pity them and they are just puppets to their parents.

      Then why Chess parents spent money on Chess then.. do something else.

      These Chess parents should go and get a life.

      Wim de Koff.

  10. I am pleased to see that chess parents these days are brave and dare to openly feedback about SCF.
    This is so different from a few years ago when we chess parents were told to enbloc sign up as members and vote to throw John out of the SCF Exco !

    That was an unhappy incident that made me question why I have to behave this way.
    I am glad that my son and daughter now do not see the need for fake honours like titles. Indeed my son (without so much as a FM or Fake Master title) beat Karpov in a 1-1 blitz game and my daughter beat a stronger player checkmating with knight and bishop.

    John - I owe you an apology for that enbloc voting.

    1. Accepted. We must learn to put the past behind and move on. The future chess players of Singapore deserve better.


  11. I understand the frustrations that some of the parents are expressing here about the way events can be managed better. However as rightly pointed out by John, the number of SCF officials were few and each school would have sent their teachers along with perhaps some parent volunteers. Would it not have been easier if each school maintained the discipline of their children? The actions of the SCF official may have been different if the children had behaved in the same manner as perhaps the Northland Primary School children, who were exemplary especially at the end when they sat together and cheered for their fellow teammates who won. If every school had instilled that form of sporting discipline then perhaps this forum could be now focussing on other important issues which have been raised on John's blog such as increasing the participation level of chess in schools.

    Here parents can play a role by coming together in the respective schools and firmly putting across their views for the inclusion and promotion of chess in the school. Parents can lobby through the PSG of the school, can volunteer at the school to be a chaperone for the children during competitions, can assist the school teacher in charge of chess to raise the awareness of chess as a CCA in the school. There are many things a chess parent can do and John's blog is a forum for ideas, suggestions and yes constructive criticisms. But to constructively criticize without understanding the underlying difficulties is not useful.

    I am sure if parents can display such passion about the conducting of an event, they can hopefully channel these passions to suggesting ideas for the promotion of chess in schools, be it primary or secondary.


  12. Hi John,
    Puzzled why Rulang could sent in 3 teams per category for the recent interschool team chess while the rules and regulations stated clearly that only 2 teams maximum per category.

    Why does SCF set rules and regulations only to break the rules themselves?

    1. Well, in team competitions, often the host is given the privilege of fielding 1 extra team in order to ensure that the total number of teams is even, so that no team will receive a bye which can upset the final standings. The rules do not allow schools to play each other in the last round,that in itself will rule out any fixing of the results.

  13. Hi Puzzled,

    SCF has always set rules and break them because SCF is mainly a one man decision association. The President will direct his cronies to tell you that Rulang as host can field 3 teams.

    SCF pushed for zero start, yet in its own National Premier last year, did not apply zero start. Imagine zero start on primary school kids yet for top players none? Indeed speaking from both sides of the mouth.

    There are many more examples.

    As John is a neutral party who shows no fear or inability to speak freely, kudos to him for publishing many comments from us the aggrieved chess parents.

    If we chess parents are indeed serious about doing our bit for our children, we should contest the next SCF elections and seek to remove the current President and his cronies, as a start.

    Unhappy chess parents

    1. I think for a start, you should identify yourselves first before attempting any higher cause. I shall be stopping anonymous postings right after this reply. Tome to put your money where your mouth is :-)

    2. I think this unhappy Chess Parents already go beyond the limit. Going too personal now. Very unprofessional lady parent.

      Peter Lim

  14. Huh.. i understand now why Singapour chess stagnated.

    Parents get children to play chess for a reason but it is not right. They are also picking small matters to go bad.

    They pick problems with the Host Then they pick problem with the Association.

    We cannot go on this way. This is real Bad for Chess development for Children.

    Wim de Koff

    1. I agree with Wim BUT we have to bear in mind that those who complained are in the minority (based on the number of online complaints in this blog page versus the actual number of Chess parents). I may be wrong or maybe it's a matter of my reluctance to admit that the glass is half-empty rather than half-filled.

      My personal take:

      * Nothing is ever going to be perfect but expecting perfection is not wrong either (maybe futile though)
      * Letting the child decide is the way forward - if the child does not like what he/she sees/hears, let him/her voice it out; that's a good way for them to learn about life!
      * Parents should be more proactive; I hope those who complained here would have already complained to the federation/organiser
      * Nothing will likely change by complaining in this blog or any other blogs

      Lastly, Wim, you are rather harsh to parents here. I do empathise with them. Though I may not necessarily agree with them. Please understand that most of the parents were never Chess players and may not understand Chess well.