Friday, September 13, 2013


Judging from the comments I've read (published or otherwise) from real parents, impostering ones, trolls and all, here's what I gathered:

The SCF should indeed take a hard look at the way current large-scale junior competitions are run. We have seen recurring instances of ill discipline amongst the students, over-crowding at the pairings corner, mis-communication regarding rules of the competition in general. There are of course solutions to be found and I'm suggesting some of them right now.


In view of the changing personnel taking charge of the school teams, I feel it is best to address basic matters such as pairings, board order of players, protocol inside the tournament hall etc in a technical meeting with teachers and SCF officials. This of course cannot be done on the day itself. The technical meeting can be conducted at SCF premises perhaps a week before, on a Saturday so that teachers concerned can attend.

Issues such as discipline should be communicated to the teachers at the meeting, who shall be solely responsible for their wards' behaviour. Regarding punishment, I propose that should anyone be caught misbehaving in the tournament hall, his/her entire team shall be given a yellow card or 1 match suspension but the team can compete after serving the suspension. In a 6 round competition, a 1 match suspension technically rules the team out of any contention for the top places. Students can then learn the consequences of their actions and we will not have future instances of any SCF official seen as rude or imposing when all they are doing is their job of keeing order in the tournament hall. This should be reiterated at the start of the competition and thereafter carried out with no exceptions should any student insists on breaking the rules.


Pairings I feel should be uploaded once done, so that teachers and interested parents can then check them online with their smartphones and not rely on students milling round the pairings corner for it. There may be a difficulty in entering the round results of every team due to manpower shortage and time constraint at the time of the tournament, could they be added on after the tournament?


I've talked about this at my earlier post to increase the number of prizewinners in the competitions.

These are my views on the other issues raised:


Parents are of course paying good money and have every cause to examine the training given to their children. I wish more parents can be forthcoming in expressing their woes so that this feedback can be channelled to the relevant parties without malice. When I tried to address the concerns of Raymond and Christina who wanted help, they did not communicate with me. Strange, unless..


I have withheld several postings which I deem as inappropriate, incendiary and mischievous. At the start of the post I've pleaded with readers to keep it clean. However this does not mean that I harbour any legitimate queries which may place the organisation or person concerned in a bad light. At the same time, I urge those giving comments in the guise of anonymity to exercise fair comment and not use my blog as a battleground to grind their axes because really, it wastes everyone's time and does not do anything constructive. Those who do care to get it off their chest and feel that they are right should identify themselves.

Once again, thanks (and no thanks to those who know who you are) for your comments and till the next comment request...


  1. As an add-on to what has been helpfully and usefully summarized, I would suggest the SCF form a PSG focussed on chess in schools. I know there have been previous attempts that have fizzled out, I think because parents will write and speak a lot but ultimately expect somebody else to do the hard work. The only things the parents will do is to write but never to actually volunteer their time. Having read the complaints that John has helpfully published, there is a disconnect which creates unhappiness and misconceptions. A lot of the comments are based on not understanding the big picture. Ultimately the complaints of the parents remain what they are, merely complaints because the parents themselves do not step forward to help. The complaints do not become a process that leads to positive change because typing a complaint on a blog is so easy but actually making the effort to effect a change is difficult. The proof is in the pudding. How many of the anonymous parents who have commented are prepared to step up and help? I am not holding my breath to find out.


  2. Yes Mr Siva plays rider on the high horse.

    Strange that we do not see him in any role to help out at SCF or PSG.


  3. It is precisely because of comments by persons like Mr Foo that not many are prepared to speak out. It is the classic case of the dog in the manger attitude that has also been highlighted in John's blog. His blog is an avenue for ideas to be brought up. It is not a forum to sign up to volunteer. And by the way I can't ride a horse, I prefer to drive.


  4. I applaud John's initiative to garner feedback from parents and chess enthusiasts. Thanks, John!

    IMHO, Chess has never really reach a high point in Singapore. Hence, it may be a bit pessimistic to predict its demise here :-).

    One thing I do note is that commercial chess activities have increased. More chess schools, more chess coaches, more personal chess trainers (and more exhorbitant fees!). There were a few comments about the training schemes organised by SCF as being just another money-making gimmick but if that is so, why are there still so many "willing" parents signing up? Perhaps, the National Junior Squad is the only avenue available for national selection? (Correct me if I am wrong). IMHO, I see the training organised by SCF to be beneficial based on the following:
    (a) generates revenues for SCF (nothing wrong, SCF needs to survive)
    (b) allows identification of talents (there may be other means but the NJS is indeed a good way - IMO)
    (c) allows social interaction (which may otherwise be lacking in the case of 1-on-1 training)
    (d) allows children to have fun

    I do hope that parents understand the returns of their "investments". If they are thinking of DSA, CCA points, CV decoration etc., maybe a better way is to just ask their children to study harder and forget about Chess! Chess should not be used solely as a means to get admission to better schools only to be dumped once the goal is achieved.

    Maybe I am too idealistic. Maybe I will succumb to that when I become desperate (I do have kids!). For now, I would like to think of Chess as being a way to:
    (a) improve my child's attention span (and give me more peace!)
    (b) substitute electronic games (very addictive!)
    (c) exercise the brain (analysis)
    (d) learn some discipline (game rules, competition rules, etiquette)
    (e) learn sportsmanship

    BTW, I hope I do not appear to be a self-centred person making fun of such a serious matter as Chess! I was just tempted to make a few comments after reading through the various contributions. The views are mine alone and for those who disagree, well, that's your right! Maybe I shall make some more comments in future, time permitting! Apologies for not being overly serious.


  5. Good views with humour, BR.

    Alas the junior training of SCF do not attain the objectives you laid down.

    Trainees came back with a win at all cost attitude and displays -100 in the area of chess etiquette 😱


    1. Care to share any experiences you came across? I assume your views are substantiated?


  6. My kid was in the NJS for a few quarters. However, I do not see him coming back with a "win-at-all-cost-attitude". Perhaps I would be happier if he does that! (joking). To be fair, my kid is not a fantastic player, so losing is not a big deal!

    I think it may not be fair putting the blame of bad attitude on the SCF. Please bear in mind that some NJS participants have other non-SCF coaches as well. Could it be that bad attitude is acquired elsewhere? Or could it be that bad attitude is inherent in every kid, when winning becomes their ultimate objective?

    I had the chance to attend a school chess event for my kid last year and I witnessed the school trainer espousing sportsmanship and importance of following the rules etc. I was impressed. I wonder which Chess trainer worth his salt would teach his students a "win-at-all-cost" mentality? As usual, I might be making stupid comments in my concrete (not ivory) tower! Perhaps John or Foo can enlightened?

  7. I have always stressed the importance of sportsmanship and fair play, especially when touch-move is concerned. All my students know that they should own up to their mistake if they had moved and let go of the piece that loses the game. Once I was the arbiter between two boys, one of whom was my then-student. He had the habit of making bad moves then said "Adjust". Obviously you should say that BEFORE touching the piece, not while at it. I had to insist he moved his piece and he duly lost it the next instant. Lost the game and cried in front of his father who looked at me for making the decision. Well, tough luck.