28 December 2013

2013 Report Card

The turn of the calendar year is here and it is as good a time as any to review the progress of the past year and set targets for the coming year. I do this regularly but is sharing my assessment publicly for the first time. Hopefully other chess parents and young players who take the game seriously might find my thinking useful.

My family chess project  started back in November 2000, when I introduced chess to my 3 eldest children, Mi Yen, Yit Ho and Yit San. I was surprised how easily they took to the game and decided for them to take up the game seriously. This meant regular training sessions which I conducted myself and playing tournaments regularly with its related financial and time commitment. It was just as well that the children did well and won prizes from the outset which maintained their interest in the game.

13 years on, I see 2013/2014 in a way as a cross-road for this project. Mi Yen is already an adult with her own interests, studies and very soon to start working. Yit Ho exits the junior ranks in the next few days and Yit San's game is already beyond my capacity to understand live.

Yit San is clearly the most talented chess-wise of my children. Even when he was only 8 years old, he was able to quickly see things on the board which I could not. At 9 years of age, he completely outplayed a national player (senior) in a Q+Ps endgame. I know of his talent but it is not something that I speak of freely outside the family. So it was a surprise when Azhar (at Kuala Terengganu) showed his knowledge of Yit San's talent and highlighting his greatest strength (and politely avoiding mention of weaknesses) as the capacity to work hard at the board. Azhar and Azman of course also have their respective family chess projects with 'multiple' children who are doing well nationally. I value their views as we have seen each others' children grow up at the chess board and they understand the problems I face and decisions to make.

2013 is the year when Yit San made a quantum leap to master (2200) level. I do not really know the trigger for this jump but something just clicked. All I know is that the upturn started in December 2012, just after the Perak Closed event that year. In early 2012, I had agreed for Yit San to put aside his studies and focus on chess. I'd support this project to the extent of my financial capability if he is really interested. The alternative being to continue his academic/professional studies and proceed to join the rat race. I was pleased that he chose chess and to accord him the opportunities that I did not have at the same age. The condition was that he has to put in the hard work. My role would be limited to being a pseudo-coach: identifying material to study and events to play. He has to do the hard work of poring through the material, which requires a high level of self-discipline. I would like to do more by conducting training sessions but so far the resolve (on my part) has not been there.

I am pleased with Yit San's progress in 2013, gaining 143 rating points to end the year on 2167. Perhaps this could have been higher but the funds were not there to play more international FIDE-rated events for the opportunity to gain rating points. So we just made do with whatever events that come our way and which we can afford.

Yit San
Rating as at 1 January 2013 2024
2013 Changes  Ro   Rc n  w  Rp   ∆R
Bangkok Open (THA) 2024 2063 9 4.5 2063   -
Selangor Open 2024 2069 9  6 2186  +25
National Closed 2024 1991 9  7 2211  +28
Malaysian Masters 2049 2219 9 4.5 2219  +28
Malaysian Open 2105 2105 9 5.5 2185  +13
Hari Raya Haji Rating (SIN) 2118 1788 6 4.5 1981    -4
Asian Cities (PHI) 2118 2179 7 4.5 2281  +20
National Juniors 2134 1841 9  8 2192   +2
Penang Open 2134 2141 9 6.5 2228  +31
Rating Gain - 2013  143
Rating as at 1 January 2014 2167

The Rp is calculated with 1800 as the rating floor. The figures indicate that Yit San is playing at the 2200-2300 level, meaning equal expectations of win, lose and draw against opponents playing within that range. He may get the occasional win or draw against opponents playing above 2350, and should not be losing to opponents playing below 2150. If he maintains this playing strength, Yit San is expected to continue gaining rating points until his rating catches up with his playing strength. Of course, I hope that his playing strength continues to develop, but that is a matter to consider going forward and not in a review.

Yit Ho laid off chess for something like 6 months to prepare for his STPM exam and later to work at Genting. So his chess year really started in April when he played the FIDE-rated rapid at Sg. Petani and one week later he was off to Pattaya for the Bangkok Open with zero preparation. He started the serious chess work only after that. I see him still struggling to find a structure to the influx of information from new material and a way to systematically apply it to his games. If  he succeeds, then there should be a jump in his playing strength. But at this point in time. I haven't seen any evidence of that. 

Yit Ho is surviving on 'old' knowledge and skills from his developing days which are perhaps good for social (weekend) chess below master level. He has shown that he can play at a much higher level and can work hard at the board if he has to.

Yit Ho
Rating as at 1 Jan 2013 2006
2013 Changes  Ro  Rc n  w  Rp   ∆R
Bangkok Open (THA) 2006 2086 9  4 2043   -4
Selangor Open 2006 1930 9 4.5 1930  -24
National Closed 2002 1899 9  6 2016  +13
Malaysian Open - Challengers 1991 1840 9  6 1957   -8
Hari Raya Haji Rating (SIN) 1983 1800 6  4 1993  -21
National Juniors 1962 1860 9  7 2080   -2
Penang Open 1962 2006 9 4.5 2006   -7
Rating Loss - 2013  -53
Rating as at 1 Jan 2014 1953

Yit Ho is playing at about 2000 level and lost 53 rating points in 2013 due mainly to a few losses to much lower-rated players who are arguably under-rated. Ratings deflation in effect. Yit Ho has to decide how far he wishes to progress at chess. Whether to be happy at his current level and just enjoy the game socially and winning prizes now and then at weekend events or make the effort required to move up to the master level. For that matter, Yit Ho is happy to have made a sort of  breakthrough by winning 2 weekend open events, i.e. the SSTwo Mall Open and the RSC Open during the year.

Mi Yen played only sporadically during the year, preferring to dabble in beauty pageants during the first half of the year and focusing on her ACCA studies in the second half. Nevertheless, her showing at the Malaysian Women Masters and Malaysian Open is evidence that she is still among the country's strongest women players. Her games against 2 WIMs at the Malaysian Open changed her view of her own chess ability. It was most pleasing for me to hear her remark that she does not feel far away at all from the WIMs, a big change from her previous view of the WIM level being unattainable for her. She now feels that she can make WIM with the right effort. She has a naturally aggressive style unique among the active Malaysian women players. She is confident with tactics (and combinations) but still raw at positional play. The talent is there, however, I feel other priorities will have a big say on her chess future.

Mi Yen
Rating as at 1 January 2013 1890
2013 Changes  Ro  Rc n  w  Rp   ∆R
Malaysian Women Masters 1890 1870 6  3 1870   -5
Malaysian Open 1885 2071 9  4 2028   +16
Rating Gain - 2013   11
Rating as at 1 January 2014 1901

Overall, it has been a good year for the family chess wise especially with the progress shown by Yit San. A future post will consider the 2014 outlook.


  1. Thank you for sharing with the Malaysian chess community, Mr Eddy. Very useful insights for me especially. Best of luck from me for your family chess project in the future esp in the new 2014 year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  2. A credible insight from parent who know "how to push the pawn"...

  3. Thanks Saleh and thanks Hairul for the appreciative comments. It feels good to know that my post has been helpful to you.

  4. Hi Eddy,
    Good luck to your FGM (Fong's GM) project.

    May they all have a good and winning 2014! (with exception if they meet me ofcourse! :)

  5. Thanks Ilham and happy new year to you and your family.