17 April 2012

Responding to 'Among the Strongest in the Country'

This post is a response to 'anonymous' who attacked me and my children in this blog a few days ago on Sunday and later tried to justify the attacks by claiming that I made “an unjustified ‘attack’ on  Ronnie and previous-years players”. ‘anonymous’ further claimed to be ‘among the strongest in the country' and ‘a friend of Ronnie's’ to justify his attack on me and my family.

I am posting this response to establish whether I even claimed any superiority for later generations of junior players before the Sunday attacks on me and my family.

Thus, to ‘anonymous’ who claims to be ‘among the strongest in the country’:

On Superiority of Juniors:
Let’s see who attacked who first by looking at the posts by chronology, using the time stamps copied from the respective postings, and my rationale for saying what I said:

Eddy’s original ‘Watershed’ post:
“That our top juniors of recent years are not inferior to the top juniors of the 1990s.”
Time stamp at (Saturday night)

I can’t see any claim of superiority of 2000s generation over 1990s generation, can you?
As I have explained in one of the posts, I was just hoping to give the current generation some confidence in themselves. I felt that the later generation is a ‘much-maligned’ generation that is short on confidence, not least due to a lack of encouragement from predecessors.

If anything, I think an objective observer would say that mine is a ‘defensive’ statement. In fact the word ‘inferiority’ was used to indicate the sentiment.
I could easily have said it as ‘at least as good” and still not be claiming superiority.

Ronnie’s first round of comments:
“My point is THAT the juniors of 1990s (at the peak of their strength when they were still juniors) would crush the juniors of today in a match. That to me seems beyond doubt…”
Time stamp at April 15, 2012 12:17 AM (Sunday morning)

Can we agree that Ronnie claims indisputable superiority of 90s generation. The word ‘crush’ was used, which I had thought was not very diplomatic.

How should I react? Do I cower and withdraw with ‘tails between my legs’ on behalf of the current generation at this claim of crushing superiority? What would happen to the confidence of the current generation that I was hoping to build up?
You tell me.

Eddy’s response (in the “Of…” post) to Ronnie’s first round of comments:
“Yes, our current top juniors are not inferior to the top juniors of 1990s.”
Time stamp at (Sunday morning)

Even with this response to Ronnie's comments, I still cannot see any claim of superiority, just reiterating the earlier claim of ‘not inferior’. The ‘superior’ word or its derivatives was not used even once in my whole response.

I left for Slim River on Sunday morning and did not do any additional posts until 26 hours after the above last post, which was on Monday morning.

In the meantime during daytime Sunday, all the ‘anonymous’ attacks came while I was away. Subsequently, ‘anonymous’ claimed justification for these attacks, with a later comment that included:

“Until I got roused by an unjustified "attack" on Ronnie and previous-year players. Now, it is one thing to say that the juniors did well. It is another to claim that they are now stronger than previous generations.”

A totally unjustified claim to justify an unjustified attack on me, is more what it appears like, I would say.

Or is ‘anonymous’ saying that me claiming current generation to be ‘not inferior’ is an ‘unjustified attack’ on the 90s generation.  I’ll let our readers form their own judgment hereas to what kind of person 'anonymous' is to use such a reason to attack children.

National Closed Matter?
Other matters covered in my above last post were on ratings deflation and increasing difficulty to win National Closed. So is saying that it is more difficult to National Closed in the 2000s ‘an attack on the 90s generation’?

My statement on increasing difficulty to win National Closed is so obvious that I do not know why it was even disputed in the first place. Ronnie appears to have seen my point after my terse explanation and did not pursue it.

I really don’t see how this National Closed matter can be reasonably construed as ‘attacking the 90s generation’.  Let’s take for illustration, 14-year old Yee Weng winning in1996 and the situation faced by a 14-year old Anas Nazreen in 2005.

14-year old Yee Weng won National Closed in 1996. But who finished 2nd or 3rd or 4th? Can you remember? Maybe 15-year old Ee Vern, maybe Ismail or Fairin. I don’t know. You tell me.  But definitely not Jimmy or Mok because they did not play.

Now compare, for 14-year old Anas to win in 2005, who must he finish ahead of? A 2200-strength Marcus and a 2200-strength Ronnie, among others. Which is more difficult? 1996 or 2005. And this was the situation right up to at least 2006 when Jonathan won.

And mind you, Anas at 14, was already strong enough to beat 2300+ rated Le Quang Liem even if it was only a one-off game, but could not win the National Closed that year. And if you claim that a 14-year old Yee Weng is clearly stronger than a 14-year old Anas, I have to respectfully disagree.

Ok, take another thought experiment, …. even if the same ‘strongest juniors’ play every year and no one else. Yee Weng, Ee Vern, Ronnie, Jonathan, Nicholas. With each passing year, they are getting stronger. It follows that with each passing year, for any one of them to win, they had to be playing stronger compared to the previous year. I hope you can see it also means that it gets progressively more difficult to win with each passing year.

I have been hearing all sorts of claims that the 2000s generation was weaker than 1990s generation just because they did not win National Closed when they were 14 years old (in the early 2000s), etc., etc.. And when they started winning in the late 2000s as teenagers, another set of excuses were created by the oldsters to diminish these achievements. Excuses like the strongest players did not play, etc, etc. As if the strongest players played in the 1990s National Closed.

I really do not know why I even had to explain my claim that it is more difficult to win National Closed in the 2000s compared to the 1990s.

And when Zhuo-ren won in 2011, only the people who were watching closely knew how strong he was playing at that time, which also covered the Selangor Open period. Even Jimmy and Srinath could barely keep up with him in that form. Only Nicholas was clearly ahead of him. (Of course, I think a lot of the credit must go to Mok for preparing Zhuo-ren so well). Zhuo-ren only fumbled in the SEA Games selection.

So I cannot see where I have claimed, at this stage, any superiority of later generations, something which ‘anonymous’ says justifies his attack on me and my family.

Even if there was a claim of superiority, I don’t think it justifies the malicious attacks. I really don’t know what’s wrong with some people. And even if there was a claim of superiority, how is that even an 'attack' without really stretching the meaning of 'attack'? Even if we disagree, discuss lah, and still don’t agree, then go separate ways loh. Why do all the personal attacks?

Anyway, the main discussion was between Ronnie and me. We have known each other for a long time and well enough. Anybody else is welcome to contribute any insights that further the discussion and so we can all leave the discussion with more knowledge and hopefully wiser.

But why all the personal attacks and on my children by ‘anonymous’? I still don’t understand.

That I later claimed ‘general superiority’ for current generation at least 12 hours later after the Sunday attacks is a separate issue, and cannot be used to justify attacks before that claim. Again, I cannot think of any good reason that can justify those malicious attacks, even if I had made the claim.

(Update 10 May 2012: I now understand the attacks as I believe the attacks were made by a person I consider to be mentally unstable.

I have deleted the comments relating to 'Anonymous' with a view to regaining some sanctity for this blog. However I am leaving this post on line so as not to lose the insightful comments by Ronnie).


  1. "14-year old Yee Weng was playing 2200+ when I don’t think he even had a rating yet"

    Actually, Yee Weng got his maiden elo around 2200+ when he's 13+ y.o.

    2 yrs later, he went on to capture his maiden Selangor Open title with Jimmy and Mok playing in the same event. At that point, he could be playing around elo 2350 if we based on Jimmy and Mok active rating fr. International events in those yrs (but the event was not submitted for rating purpose in those days).

    What so special in that event? He was able to win the title under the following condition:
    1. He was running between event hall and school exam hall in between rounds.

    2. Sit for an early morning paper in school before rushing over to event hall for morning round game with time handicapped.

    3. Reading school book (with Arbiter permission, of course) while his game still in progress because he needs to get back to school and sit for his remaining papers for the day.

    After his 1998 success, he was given few rare chance to play in some Int. events (Unlike in recent 3 yrs, those days seniority comes first - a system that I fought against since 1996).

    However, he no longer can put in those time in chess (F5 and after) which saw his rating plummeted to around elo 2150 by 2000.

  2. Fyi, Ng Ee Vern too got his elo at the same time as Yee Weng back in late 1995. Ee Vern elo is 2240.

    Both of them competed in 1996 and 1997 NC but Ee Vern failed twice to Yee Weng.

    Looking back, do we think anyone is able to stop Yee Weng in completing a hatrick in NC 1998.

    According to reliable source, Yee Weng did not compete in NC 1998 to enhance the chances for Ee Vern to capture the title. And Ee Vern did not fail the task. This was the type of peers bonding that we had among the juniors in those years.

  3. Tse-pin, How did Yee Weng get his rating? Was it a 2205 from one of those 50% score thingy?

    Yee Weng's FIDE Card showed him as 2149 in January 2149. So to drop from 2200+ to 2149 over that period implies he was playing below 2149 on average during that period. This is weaker than Anas who started low and was on the uptrend at 14.

    So I stand by my view that 14 year old Anas is stronger than 14 year old Yee Weng.

  4. Tse-pin, you contradicted yourself. First you say he was maybe 2350 because he won Selangor Open, while taking exams.

    Then you say his rating plummeted to 2149 because of exams. Pray tell, was all this in 1999?

    How can his rating plummet to 2149 when he was playing at 2350 more or less in the same period???

    Doesn't make sense to me.

  5. Since I have been cited as an example, who else is more fit to comment than me? It is not my intention to go through line by line of blog post or comments in detail about what has been written but always good to set the record straight where there are obvious errors based on my recollection:
    1) Yes my first published rating was 2240 but it went down to 2150 after playing Malaysian Masters shortly after. Nothing to do with no time for chess. It just reflects my real strength. My opinion is that I never played at 2300 level until my university years where I benefited greatly from sparring & exchanging ideas with the Chan brothers.
    2) The above leads to 2nd point, I think a 14 year old Anas is indeed stronger than me as a teenager. Just look at his Olympiad results in Turin, simply remarkable for a young teen!
    3) Anonswriter source isn't reliable I guess :) I didn't play in NC 1998 because I played in zonals in Myanmar. In any event, Ee Vern always have the upper hand against me & I think I'm still down. If I remember correctly, the dates crashed. That zonal event was a nightmare, I was so demoralized that I gave up chess for a few years. But I guess I also got distracted like most teens with everything else.
    4) I feel that it's a pity so many talented players stopped playing after they turn 17. My best years came when I was a uni student. Perhaps then I was more disciplined & mature. It was then I started played 2300+. I'm pretty sure had juniors (then & now) continue to put in hard work & dont give up on chess,they can achieve a lot more.
    5) As a player, I see many turning points in my career. I hope that beating a GM marks one of those & spurs both your kids to greater heights. Great tenacity was required & character was shown under pressure so that was an important lesson.

  6. Who else is playing? How can remember on an event that took placed 14 y.o. - Back-up files ??? All I can remembered the field was not weak with few foreigners joining.

    He did beat Mok in a fashion like an IM defeated a wannabe in a game where Mok just needed a draw to claim a hatrick and get to keep the Challenge Trophy (a commitment by Royal Selangor for winning 3 yrs in-a-row).

    As against Jimmy, i can't recall the result. Jimmy may remember it - The event was held in Sunway College Exam Grand Hall.

    I'm refering to performance rating based on Jimmy and Mok active rtg back then. It's just a guesstimation.

    Fyi, Yee Weng then was not recognise by MCF despite winning 2 NC because people in power used the lame excuse "Mas, Jimmy and Mok not playing, so a schoolboy can win".

    Yee Weng historic Selangor Open 1998 wins shut their mouth, then they used another excuse that Selangor Open cannot be used as a selection criteria for Int. representation by MCF. See how a schoolboy been victimised back then.

    The same lame excuse "Mas, Jimmy and Mok not playing, so a schoolboy can win" was used again in 1999 when NC was dominated by a bunch of schoolboys Jonathan, Tze Han, Nicholas, Marcus and etc thereafter ...... until recent years when Jimmy came back to play in NC

  7. Honestly, i don't recall beating Jimmy in my life. As a kid, i remember he played a brilliant game (advance French) & beat me up nicely.

    In RSO 1998, I did beat Mok but I rmbr he wasnt well on that day. I don't rmbr the field too well but I rmbr losing to Arshad with Dutch in Rd 1! On studying for exams during my games, I do regret my actions & apologize for it which was really 1) out of ignorance (been a teen) rather than any disrespect 2) purely out of my desire to compete despite having exams

    As a kid, of course I'm aware of the "whispers" that went around those days. But at the end of the day, if you want something you just have to do it yourself & you reap what you sow.

    For clarification, me, Vern, Jing & SM got our fide rating by playing a round robin match with Jimmy, Mok, Colin M, Dang Tat Thang & I think Junior Tay?

  8. Ok Yee Weng, thx for the correction on NC 1998.

    Why elo 2350?
    Performance rating is based on the who's who elo rating in an event.

    If many people have high elo rating as per that event despite many may be over-rated on whatever reason based their form during event (I'm not accusing anyone who played in that event). If you came out 1st in a like of 8 from 9 games, you will get a high enough performance rating above the top seeded guy. It's just sad that all local events with Classical time (NC included) were not submitted for rating in those years. We can refer to one of Eddy's earlier posts on this subject.

    Of course, Yee Weng after his U was a much stronger. By then, a elo 2350 as a benchmark is no longer the same as elo 2350 in 1998. Why so?

    Welcome to world of Rating inflation and deflation that was discussed actively between Eddy and Ronnie. All points elaborated form roughly half the picture "On Why Rating Inflation and Deflation".

    To know the other half, you must bring the discussion back into Malaysia and ASEAN context. Nowadays, it is harder to reach min. elo for title requirement. As for now, I do not wish to go into this topic.

  9. Yee Weng, thank you for your comments. which straightens out a few things. I am sorry that I had to use you as illustration to make my points.

    It is just that because you won NC at 14 years and was thus the closest match as I wanted to use Anas as the representative for the 2000s generation.

    Deep down, I know that both you and Anas are very strong at 14. If you remember, I lost to you in the 1st round in 1996 when you won NC for the first time. I also played Anas in the 2005 NC, a game which I drew. But my circumstances and states of mind were different for those two games.

    But I have to take a position to defend the 2000s generation. So I wish to apologise again.

    In no way, did I intend to take anything away from the 90s generation. I was just fighting for some space and recognition for the 2000s and later generations.

    I never would have thought that an innocent article to boost the confidence of the current generation could turn so ugly.

    And I believe that I have made it clear where I put the blame, in my latest posting.

  10. Hi,

    Notwithstanding what I said the last time about not posting anymore about this subject, I could not help but clarify a few points.

    Firstly, I do think that this debate about 1990s juniors vs 2000s juniors sometimes borders on arbitary distictions and vague proclamations (yes, I can be considered guilty in this respect too). For one, I noticed that we can sometimes mean different things when we speak about the "juniors 10 years ago", "the recent juniors", "1990s generation" or "2000s generation" etc.. Who exactly belong to which group? Do we classify Nicholas (who essentially made himself known to the Malaysian chess community in 1999?) as the 1990s generation or 2000s generation?! Or Anas as the "2000s generation" although Anas' and Nicholas' active chess playing careers overlapped more than Anas' and Li Tian's did (In fact Anas is 5 years younger than Nicholas while Li Tian is 8 years younger than Anas) So just to clarify, whenever I used such vague terms as "1990s juniors" I had the following players in mind: Mas, Ee Vern, Yee Weng, Zi Jing, Tze Han, Jonathan, Nicholas, Marcus and myself (Forgive me if I missed any names that should belong here). So when I made statements such as:

    "My point is THAT the juniors of 1990s (at the peak of their strength when they were still juniors) would crush the juniors of today in a match"


    "What I'm trying to say is that the OVERALL achievements of these players before they reached 20 were unparalleled by juniors in the years after (I'm pretty sure in the years before too)"

    all I meant was to designate these aforementioned players.

    Yes, someone might disagree with me in classfying Jonathan or Nicholas as a "1990s junior" but this is of course just terminology. That is why I am now quite reluctant to use the term "1990s juniors" to designate the above players. If anything, "middle 1990s to early 2000s junior" seems more on the mark. After all, I won the National Closed in 2001 as an 18-year-old so should I too be considered as a "2000s junior" ?!

  11. Whatever it is, everyone may come up with their own classifications so as to include or exclude certain players from the respective groups. So I agree that to a certain extent, my classification is arbitary and subject to my own bias. After all, from Mas' point of view, he may not liked to be classified as a junior in the same group as Nicholas.

    In fact, those players mentioned in the last few posts by Eddy and I, from Mas to Li Tian are born in various different years from 1981 to 1999. One may argue that to make a mark at any one year to divide them into two opposing camps is to a certain extent arbitary.

    So does this mean that I didn't suspect how arbitary this distinction can be when I first posted my initial comments? No. I was just following up on Eddy's initial comment in his first post on this topic, which i quote here: "That our top juniors of recent years are not inferior to the top juniors of the 1990s."

    He didn't specifically mention who he meant so naturally I came up with my own view of who this group would comprise. Actually I would think that to categorize the players I mentioned above (Mas, Ee Vern, Yee Weng, Zi Jing, Tze Han, Jonathan, Nicholas, Marcus and myself) as a group is not completely arbitary. After all, we did played each other a lot and arguably improved as a group from the discussions we had as well as from our rivalry. Also not to forget we were all born only 5 years apart. (1981 - 1986). At the very least, to group Anas and Li Tian in the same group as "recent juniors" is even more arbitary as they are 8 years apart and didn't play each other as much. [perhaps Li Tian belongs to another group? the 2010s group! :-)]

    Nevertheless, I do believe that to label one as "1990s junior", "2000s junior", "recent junior", "senior", "dinosaur" or what have you, in comparing strengths of different players is pretty much pointless . The more important issue is who is strong NOW and who has the potential to become a GM in the future (age is not a exactly a major hurdle although being younger and being stronger at a younger age helps a lot).

    I hope that reflection on these points will clarify the issues involve in this debate [And show how pointless it can all be, although i'm again guilty in participating in it :-)]

    P/S: Btw, the 1996 National Closed was in no way a weak tournament. Nope, it wasn't a 15-year old Ee Vern, Ismail or Fairin who got second. It was the 13-year-old Ronnie :-).

  12. Ronnie, I have no issue with you as our initial differences or 'misunderstanding' was thrashed out through reasoned discussion, which is the proper way.

    The issue I have is with this other guy 'oots' who claims to be 'among the strongest' and 'your friend', on his 'taking strong exception' on my innocent statements. And his using the 'anonymous' handle, and blasting away saying I attacked the 90s generation and so on. His above comments, still seems to be maintaining the same stance, which I think has little foundation. I have already explained my position, which I admit is more for the benefit to other readers who may otherwise be influenced to think that I actually 'attacked' the 90s generation, which is a totally false notion.

  13. Ronnie, as to your clarification above, I have also come to the more or less the same conclusions. You may have noticed my following statement in my last round of response to you:

    "It is better to just compare, Li Tian, Anas, Eng Chiam and Yit San to only the junior Mas, Nicholas and Ronnie". (I should also add Siti, Sumant and Edward)

    These names are who I considered talents. And when I say comparing, I don't mean it as doing so to see who is better for bragging rights, etc. But comparing so that we can fleshed out the uniqueness of each and see more clearly what makes them tick.

    and in my original 'crass version' of 'responding to strongest' article (but excluded from the polite version), I had said:

    "As for Ronnie’s latest round of comments, I have already said I would not respond, so I won’t. Except that I’ll say this much, I agree with some of the things that Ronnie said. As I was doing the analysis to compare players, it slowly dawned on me that I was moving from ‘the general’ to ‘specific talents’. I saw the multi-faceted issues. It is not that simple but I was starting to see through the complexity. But by then, I had already worked on the document for nearly 5 hours (in half anger, I’ll admit which maybe clouded my judgment a bit), feeling very tired and certainly not going to revise what has been written, so I just posted it.

    Ronnie’s latest round of comments highlighted some of these complexities but that is only one aspect which is comparing age for age. The issues I noted includes classifying our juniors into talents (sub into starting very young and late bloomers), less talented players receiving training from a very young age or later and working very hard to make the most of relatively limited talent. And there is the puberty effect, when the less talented catches up with the really talented, and also the issue of development progressing to a plateau, and achieving a quantum leap from that plateau. And the question of opportunities to progress, etc.

    Any valid comparison of two groups of players has to take into account all these, and probably more factors. I believe that with just the foregoing few words to go on, Ronnie will start to see what I mean because it is clear to me that he has put more than a bit of thought on this matter to come up with his latest round of comments".

  14. Ronnie, perhaps we can end our discussions on this note.

    I have certainly gain a greater insight into various issues affecting junior chess development from this discussion.

    My understanding of the ratings inflation/deflation issue has also deepened as a result of our discussion.

    I hope you have also gained from our discussion, and wish to thank you for taking the time and making the effort to explain the findings from your obviously substantial analysis.

    I see your name in the Melaka list so we should be meeting in the next few days. Cheers.