Monday, December 28, 2015

COACHING JOBS FOR 2016


This is part of the market for chess trainers in Singapore for 2016. There should be more of such jobs.

All I can say is that the pie is growing and can only grow bigger if there are more trainers available. Some schools had shelved their Chess CCA due to lack of trainers, which is a real pity because I am sure that there are enough Singaporean chess players approaching their retirement with good speaking skills and just need a little training to teach chess to kids.

Join me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SINGAPORE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS 2015

This year's National Championships from 20-27 December differs from the ones held before.

We see the return of some old faces with the rating cap of 2400 lifted. With the absence of (IM Goh Wei Ming who will be away at  in Hungary), IMs Hsu Li Yang and Terry Toh, we get the participation of:

GM Wong Meng Kong
IM   Ravindran Shammugam
IM   Enrique Paciencia
IM   Tin JingYao
FM  Mark Ong Chong Ghee (after a long break!)
CM  Tan Wei Liang
       Benjamin Foo
       William Woong
       Urcan Olimpiu

We hope that this event with a total prize fund of $5000 can attract and compensate the top players of Singapore for their time and effort in maintaining the chess prowess whilst pursuing a career outside of chess. I hope that the following players (whose names are mentioned below) do see the significance of contributing back to the Singapore Chess scene now that there is positive vibes and vigour with the launch of the Nationals.

Terry Chua
IM-elect Timothy Chan
FM Dominic Lo
Kelvin Wee
Andre Eng
Jarred Neubronner
Wee Zhen Yang
Teo Wei Xing
Lau Keng Boon
Mark Chan
Tan Tzer En
Howard Chiu
Wong Meng Leong
IM Jason Goh
Alphonsus Chia
NM Koh Kum Hong
IM Tan Lian Ann
Alvin Ong
Tan Chin Hoe
IM Leslie Leow
IM Lim Seng Hoo
Quek Suan Shiau
Quek Suan Fuan
Tan Chor Chuan
FM Goh Cheng Hong
Dennis Tan
Derrick Heng
FM Lim Hoon Cheng
Low Pe Yeow
Mark Tan Keng Yew
Lee Wang Sheng
Wong Foong Yin 


Should all of them (spanning 3 generations of national players) have participated, the Nationals will have been the strongest in Singapore chess history. 


THOMSON CHESS CLUB 2016

Please read

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

THOMSON CHESS FIESTA 2015

The 2nd Thomson Chess Fiesta concluded yesterday, smoothly run thanks to the tireless team of 6 that saw to rapid situational changes (including changing 30 clocks on the spot due to an error in settings). Other than that, most players had relatively good conditions of play, though parents had to scramble for chairs they could find to get seated in the hall. 

All Prize Winners 

The top 3 prize winners in the Cup Rapid were dominated by the foreign players, top place was Nelson Villanueva with 7.5 pts, followed by Steward Manaog  and Franco Demiar on 7. Our local juniors Tan Jun Hao and Lee Shi Hao followed on 6.5 pts. Gavin scored best performance for U14 with 6pts finishing 9th, Thomson Chess Club regular Leong Sher Han scored 4 pts to end 37th out of 64 registered players.  Full results here


The Thomson Challengers had an outstanding result : Under 10 player Zachary Leong finished ahead of 2 adults to emerge clear 8 pts as Champion! Bradley from VS scored 6 pts but finished just outside the prize list of 15. Challengers results posted here.


Ryan managed 4.5 pts 36th out of 82 registered players. Though a reasonable result, I felt he had grown as a player and now puts in greater effort in each of his games, feeling tired towards the end of the tournament. A sign of better things to come.


Other students who did not fare well were either out of touch ( this is their first tournament just after the exams) or they did not apply what was taught. Parents should have their kids then to reflect on what happened and let the children express their views on what they should do to do better next time round. This should be done before they take part in the next tournament or else the same outcome will repeat itself. 

All in all, everyone had a good time at the tournament and I certainly hope more juniors will consider playing in the Cup Rapid next year to lift their FIDE ratings. And parents stop asking about age-group prizes, because young children should be taught the right values of hard work and sacrifice to achieve :-)

My heartfelt thanks to the Thomson CCMC and to Mr Yap Pao Ming for his sponsorship, all of which helped to make this tournament a success.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

PAWN SACRIFICE


CHESS AFTER WORK?

No, this is not a scene in Europe or the US..

It's right here in Singapore!  That's right. And you thought chess is only played by kids here :-)



Well, the adult scene is thankfully kept alive thanks to the efforts of Bradley Loh, a FIDE-rated enthusiast who sets up the boards and tables for the regular meetup group to play at the Asia Square Tower 1 foyer from 6.30pm till 9.30pm Wednesdays. As I had no teaching to do, I thought I'd pop by to check out the action.

There were about 18 or so players who milled in and out of the event, many of whom I do not recognise. However once seated, the action was fast and furious. The lighting was good though I'd wish the PSI was lower than the 100+ then. I introduced myself to Bradley and being every good organiser he whisked me to an opponent to blitz in less than 30 seconds. It was a good mix of locals and foreigners playing blitz, skittles and there was a puzzle set up and the winner gets a mini-bottle of red wine. I soon met up with R my ex-student and he got the right answer but graciously shared the bottle.

One encouraging sign was that there was a lady who came and played till it was time to close. No clocks. But the moves were good. Others were more into blitz and 10 minutes. Well, to each his own.

Looks like a good hangout for those who haven't played for ages to come on down and pick on players your own size.

If you need information on this meetup, please click here.

Monday, September 21, 2015

ABOUT THAT DAWN

Many readers having read my post on the SCF Elections were confused as to the hat I am wearing whilst writing that post.

I must apologise for the confusion that followed, as it was impulsive of me not to consider my change of status writing that post the day following the elections.

Let me state henceworth that ALL of my posts are of my personal views alone and do not represent that of the organisation I serve.

Thank you for your attention.

Monday, September 7, 2015

YEAR END INTERNATIONAL STANDARD CHESS EVENTS

The Johore and Penang Opens have published their prospectus as both tournaments run back to back, with the Penang starting from 7 to 12 Dec  followed by the Johore Open from 14 to 19 Dec. A good 2 weeks of serious chessplaying awaits those who yearn for long drawn battles where stamina and nerves outplay impulse and speed.

The PENANG OPEN prospectus

The JOHORE OPEN prospectus

Serious standard chess players should make their trip bookings early as these tournaments are very well attended and often the hotel rooms are quickly full. Based on experience, Penang's public transport is not as convenient so if you are staying some distance away from the Red Rock it may be some hassle getting to the playing venue on time. The venue however, is simply wonderful!


This is what it looks like at last year's Johore Open at the 36th floor of the City Square Tower. I am sure it will even be better furnished. Thanks to the organisers for the photos!


The Penang Chess Association has organised a charter bus to take players from the Penang Open after its last round on 13th Dec 9pm arriving at Johore Bahru 8pm 14 Dec, ahead of  time for registration and checkin at 2 before 1st round starts at 3.30pm.

Have a chess-filled December this year!

Friday, August 21, 2015

FIDE INSTRUCTOR

My FI card arrived yesterday !


Thursday, August 20, 2015

LABOUR SHORTAGE IN CHESS EDUCATION

DISCLAIMER: This post is written by a chess trainer.

There is an acute shortage of chess educators on this island. 

Back in the early 21st century we saw institutions like Intchess hiring as many as 32 trainers to cope with the demand for chess education in schools. Other institutions like Powerchess, Chesskidz, Chess Academy and over the last 10 years we have also seen more recent players like Checkmate and Master Move come into the scholastic scene as well. Freelance trainers like myself are but a handful. However, the pool could barely cover the demands of enrichment programs relating to chess from the primary schools locally. 

With the government's policy of curbing foreign talent, employment passes for chess trainers are hard to get and existing ones not renewed when the term expired. Singapore is now facing a chess trainer crunch when the number of trainers available are dwindling and yet demand is on the rise.

Many schools have placed their tenders on Gebiz calling for term or annual chess training contracts but I observed many re-tenders and some schools could not find any trainer despite months of notice given. The situation worsened with the closure of Chesskidz recently. 

Looks like it is up to the locals to step up and take on the vacancies left, but I guess the remuneration and other terms may need to be revised before it is lucrative. The other factor is the timing - many schools want Chess CCA on a particular day. It will not be possible for any institution to solve the huge demand of chess trainers on a single day. 

What solutions are available? Here are some of mine.

TRAIN THE TRAINER

    More trainer seminars may need to be conducted to accredit interested individuals to look into chess training as a full-time career. It would be good if these courses are also recognised by the WDA who can subsidise the course fees. I expect many PMETs who are middle-aged to be interested in considering a chess training career given this push. 

TECHNOLOGY

    The use of Internet podcasts may also be the way to go to alleviate the surge of demand on particular days by the schools for chess education. Hypothetically, if chess.com material rights can be secured for public broadcast, it is then possible to stream  videos, at the beginner's level, to schoolchildren during the CCA period. What is needed perhaps is someone to answer the questions children may have. 

POLICY 

   If SCF can work with the MOE on formalising chess for schools by official adopting chess as a CCA in all schools, there should be possibilites to tap on its resources. Some school teachers can be trained to teach chess as a subject which will solve the acute manpower crunch. 

What matters is the approach to convince the MOE that chess deserves to be considered in its curriculum. As Singapore moves along the lines of a Thinking Nation, it is imperative that we develop good thinking and concentration skills among our students. Of course, some may argue that chess is not the only vehicle for this course, but then again chess is currently the most formalised board game in terms of acceptance as a teaching tool world-wide. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

NATIONAL INTER - TEAM 2015 SEP 5 and 6

It's taking place just around the corner, have you formed your teams yet?

Take this opportunity to gather inactive and retired chess-players and join! School teams should take this opportunity as a warm up tournament for the coming National Inter Schools.

We hope to do better than last year's turnout - let's make it a vibrant tournament !

Details are available here.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

YOUR WISH LIST?

Now that the new SCF EXCO is in place, we would certainly like to hear from you your wish list for the term 2015-2017, Please feel free to indicate in your comments below what changes you hope to see in the coming years ahead, as a survey of what matters are of priority for the chess community now.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

REVISITING OLD ISSUES - ON CHESS CLUBS

My take on chess club activity here , for those new to my blog.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

RELAUNCHING SCF'S CORPORATE IMAGE

This year we had the privilege of joining the PA Corporate Partners group in the National Day Observance Ceremony at Teck Ghee, with the GOH none other than the PM himself with Ms Ho Ching. Parents and children from the NJS joined the newly elected President Mr Leonard Lau, myself, ED Thomas, EXCO members Toni and Adelin. We were 1 of 3 groups with a banner there.


Everone was in high spirits as we sang our National Songs loudly and proudly! Just as we were to board the bus back to SCF, a call from EXCO member Philip beckoned us back to the venue for a rare photo opportunity!



The PM graciously took this picture with us and thanked us for coming to the ceremony. We also had pictures with Mr Ang, CEO PA and Ms Ho Ching which were posted on Facebook.

Many present took pictures of the SCF group which was a refreshing and welcome change as we made our presence felt. This is the first step the new SCF Committee is taking to rebuild its image as one relevant entity with the PA Strategic Partners who are ready to forge collaborations with other partners on national projects. Looking forward to our first joint project ..

Sunday, June 7, 2015

CYRUS NISBAN IS 2015 ASIAN SCHOOLS' U11 CHAMP

Cyrus Nisban has won the Asian Schools' U11 title after scoring 7.5/9 in a keenly contested field comprising  of opponents from Kazakhstan, Mongolia,Sri Lanka, and displacing the favourite Nogerbek Kazybek.


My congratulations to Cyrus for scoring Team Singapore's first tournament success in this year's regional competition. This win would certainly inspire the others in try to better results in the upcoming Asean Age Group Championships starting 9 June.


Monday, March 23, 2015

THOMSON CHESS FIESTA POSTPONED TO 7-8 NOVEMBER

As a mark of respect for our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Thomson Chess Fiesta shall be postponed to 7-8 November.

Participants who have signed up can get their refunds if they are unable to commit to the new date.

PLEASE DO NOT SEND ANYMORE ENTRIES FOR 28-29 MARCH. WE WILL RELEASE NEW FORMS CLOSER TO NOVEMBER.

Sorry for the inconvenience.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

MY STUDENTS AT THE 2015 NSI

THE GIRLS

The beige coloured entries are my private students while those in white are the ones I teach in schools in groups. 

3 of the 6 private students scored 6 points or more. Congratulations to Arshia on her 2nd placing in her first NSI! Cadence also did well to finish on 6 but Cheong Sue Lyn let slip another opportunity to finish in the top 3 despite a 5/5 on her first day. Complacency has struck yet again...

I am glad that Claire and Alyssa managed their scores, even when it is their first year with me. All that is required to do better is to have more game practice. The Thomson club sessions on Fridays have definitely helped. 


The RGPS girls did satisfactorily as many do not do much outside of their once a week CCA. Who knows what they can be capable of if they can devote more time to the game :-)

THE BOYS

My male private students fared better, with more achieving 6 pts. I Shiang came very close to challenging the Champion but nerves got in the way and he finished his game much too soon to give a fight. Preparation is very important when you are facing the top and it showed that the winner of the Junior Boys was the better prepared. Naython and Christian did themselves proud though they were just outside the top 20. Naython gave his all but could not overcome Jaryl Lee. Christian beat my other student David Tan, mainly because he put in more practice.




The performances of my students who scored below 5 pts were mainly attributed to lack of practice and insufficient preparation. I am sure if they had done that, they are all capable of getting at least 1.5 pts above their current score.

Quite a fair number of games were decided on players making illegal moves (ie not seeing a check or exposing their king in check). These are generally symptoms of inadequate game time as well as poor board vision on the player's part. Conscious effort must be put in to see the possible moves of every piece on the board or else this ailment cannot be overcome.

The private students who scored 5 pts or more are guaranteed a prize from me. Once again, congratulations!


Friday, March 13, 2015

HOW TO GET TO PASIR RIS SPORTS HALL ON TIME IN 2015

Reading this article will definitely save your children from zero-starting on March 17-18!



If you are coming via the PIE then TPE, exit at Loyang Ave and drive along till Pasir Ris Drive 3. Turn left into it and once past Downtown East on your right (about 1 km after turn from Loyang), you will see East Vale on your left and once past the river the Sports Hall is on the left turn into Pasir Ris Central.

Try NOT to alight your child at the Sports Hall Drop Off (see below). Imagine 800 students and estimated double the number of parents alighting from this driveway! Getting your child there will be a lot faster if you choose alternative drop offs.



One is at the side of East Vale and walk across the bridge to the Hall, Do not turn into Pasir Ris Central Rd for I am sure the  will be conjested on that day. The other is to alight at the Pasir Ris MRT station and walk across (about 5 minutes).



Another hassle free drop off is to turn left to Pasir Ris Drive 6 right after you past Downtown East. Keep right and  turn into block 407-408 which is the side where Hai Sing Catholic School is. There are lots of carparks there and once you are parked you can cross the Park Connector into the back of the Sports Centre.

Cross over to the Sports Hall
Block 408 end next to connector



















Here is the view of the drop-off point. The stairs to the Sports Hall are on the right
of the picture below.



The Sports Hall can hold the students but I think there are limited spaces for the parents.


The viewing gallery can at most sit about 150 to 180 people each side so many will have no alternative but to move.


Besides White Sands Shopping Centre (which should have the usual eateries), the Sports and Recreation Centre has got MacDonald's and Toastbox, while Downtown East is about 15 minutes walk away. There is an open air carpark opposite Downtown East which you can park for $4 for the whole day. Coupon parking applies at the carparks on Block 407-408. The Red lots there are available from 7am to 7pm. Alternatively you can try Downtown Park just after the Sports Hall on Pasir Ris Central but enter the carpark from Pasir Ris Drive 1 side and go towards Block 530D.

Other details to note:


  • Best to bring along groundsheets for the students to sit on, in the event that they are not allowed to stay in the Hall after their games.  
  • Lunch is not provided, so packing sandwiches may be easier.
  • Kids should remain within the Hall compound as it's hot weather nowadays and chances of getting heat stroke playing in the open field are higher.
All the best to the participants and accompanying persons!

Monday, March 9, 2015

MARCH 28-29 -> THOMSON CHESS FIESTA

The 2nd Thomson Chess Fiesta shall take place March 28-29 weekend. We are the only CC tournament applying incremental time controls for all events in the Fiesta.

Those interested can follow this link for more details


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday, January 11, 2015

KICKOFF 2015 TOURNAMENT




The faces tell it all..prizes or none, on the students who took part in the Kickoff Tournament organised by SCF at the Toa Payoh Sports Centre on Sunday 11 January. 7 prize winners in the respective categories !

I want to congratulate Naython Tan on his superb performance today in the Cat 4G section, 2nd with 5.5 pts, as well as Soh Rui Yang though he finished on 5th by tiebreak. Good job boys! Andre and Ethan Chiam started their first tournament and I'm so proud of them after they watched Sue Lyn in action and learnt so much about taking their time to record their games and think. Ethan managed to record till move 35 and he was unexpectedly not crying over his loss. They have grown to learn how to deal with losses and I'm sure they will look forward to playing their next tournament. I Shiuo scored 4 pts while Jasper managed 2.5 pts.

I Shiuan and Sue Lyn are in Cat 2 and clearly the strength of the participants meant extra effort to win every game. Both lost against the Champion but scored 5 and 4.5 pts to finish 4th and 6th. Clearly Sue Lyn needs to be more focused on her games if she wants to progress further as watching other boards during the game is a definite no-no.

Jaryl in Cat 4F finished on 8th place with 3.5 while Qi Xuan could only get 3 pts and ended on 12th place.

Zhong Kai had a good run starting 3/3 but fell back in the second half and managed only 1 more point after. Good win against Arlan Cabe but this meant being paired against Tin Jingyao and FM Terekhov later and the strength told in the end. Qing Aun was the top scorer from VS with 5.5pts on 3rd.

A satisfying end to a day well spent!




Friday, January 2, 2015

PAWN POWER IN CHESS


Many may find this book archaic in presenting the study of pawn structure with its quirky terms like leucopenia, telestop, ram etc. But if you take that away and understand its content, Pawn Power is a classic book on pawn structures that no budding chess-player can avoid studying.

Evidently this came about when we were discussing a game between Cyrus Nisban and Lee Jun Wei. Someone opined that the position was wrongly played by Black having a Benoni pawn structure, where White broke through the centre with the advance e5. The pawn advance is thematic (at least to those who read the book). When discussing the position further, it seemed that Lee did not realise that his c8 bishop was a hindrance and his battle plan should involve the exchange of that bishop. Again, such understanding can only be attained if one were to read books like Pawn Power in Chess. 

The study of pawns pervades not only in the opening but also into the middlegame and endgame. Of course, computer analysis may do a lot to negate the weaknesses created by pawns in odd squares by counterbalancing it with piece pressure. However, as humans do not possess such visualising power when compared to the silicon monsters, what makes sense still will be the exploitation of pawn weaknesses as performed by the masters in their collection of best games. 

I recommend that the juniors take a serious look at this wonderful classic (until someone revises it by taking away the clinical terms).