Official Website : MCF Announcement
Official Website: Chess Olympiad 2022
Head of Delegation – Muhammad Firdaus Ismail
Open Team Manager– FM Sumant Subramaniam
Women Team Manager: IM Mok Tze Meng
- FM Lim Zhuo Ren
- FM Lye Lik Zang
- FM Wong Yinn Long
- Poh Yu Tian
- CM Tan Jun Ying
- WIM Puteri Munajjah Az-Zahra Azhar
- WFM Puteri Rifqah Fahada Azhar
- WCM Sim Jia Ru
- WIM Siti Zulaikha Foudzi
- WFM Agnes Chong Kai Ni
# Info Malaysian Team: OLYMPIAD
Tournaments, Tournaments, Tournaments. What is the point of it?!
There have been a string of IMPORTANT tournaments in the last month or so. From May to June.
There was the NYCC and MCC. (essentially the winners of NYCC can call themselves the best under-8,10,12, etc in Malaysia) and the champion of MCC can actually call himself the Malaysian champion for the year 2022 (Congratz to Tan Jun Ying for winning-seems its only a matter of time before he breaks the 2200 barrier). And perhaps more importantly he qualifies for the chess Olympic team. (i myself won in 2011 and was joint champion in 2018 which was why I went to Olympiad in those years.)
Up next are the MSSD competitions some time in July. For me, as a schoolboy, MSSM and NYCC (then known as NAG) were the 2 most important tournaments. Reason is MSSM is where you play with all the best players from every state. And the top 4 or 5 for NYCC can represent Malaysia in the ASEAN, ASIAN and WORLD age group events. Not to mention, people remember who you are. And even now, I remember the name of the player who won U14 preliminary NAG in 2006, Nordin from kedah. I won the finals that year.
What I realised from these tournaments is that there is a certain pressure to perform. The ambitious players also put some expectations on themselves here and normally want to showcase their best result. It can be a type of pressure cooker. And honestly, you have to take part to really get better at dealing with it.
I took part in my first NAG (now NYCC) at age 12
In 2004. I didnt even score 50%. One year later, I was 3rd and I went to ASEAN age group in Pattaya, Thailand together with the champion and 2nd. 2006 i won the finals and i won 3 years straight before finishing 3rd and 2nd in my final 2 years. Also, i won silver in MSSM individual in 2007 and Team gold in 2008 before winning individual Gold in my final year in 2009.
But 2009 was also a heartbreak year for me. I was leading nationals(MCC 2009) by 1.5 points with 2 games left. I think im the only player in MCC history to not win with such a lead. I ended up 3rd. Which would have been a great result beforehand had I not had such a commanding lead. I just couldn't handle the pressure. I also expected to win after a 6/6 start and also having played most of the strongest in the field. It took me til 2011 to finally win. This time i started with 7/7 before drawing Yeoh Li Tian (current malaysia #1) and Malaysia first IM Jimmy Liew in the round 8 and 9 to clinch it.
So from 2004 to 2011. It took me 7 years to go from someone who couldn't score 50% in NYCC under 12 to finally winning MCC and being known as the Malaysian Champion of 2011.
Question for you is this, was I alot stronger between 2009 and 2011? Or did I learn better how to handle pressure and deal with the uncertainty and unknown of tournament play.
Perhaps the answer is both. But here is something for you to ponder, my rating difference from 2009 and 2011 was less than 80 points. I was 2050 ish in 2009 and i was 2120 in 2012. These are not amazing ratings for this age. For example, Poh yu tian is 13 and is already 2050 ish.
The point I want to make is this. If you want to be champion, it is going to take time. And if you dont win, its because there is something you still need to learn. Its definitely a process. You cannot expect to use only one month or even a year to win.
I essentially treated every tournament I played as a learning experience. My parents didnt expect me to champ. My coach didnt expect anything. I only started aiming when I got 3rd in 2005. Why? Because I was close. I had the experience. I didnt aim to win nationals until only 2009. Why? Because nothing in my results suggested I could....yet.
And this brings me to the next point....
You can only achieve the type of results you believe is possible and that confidence can come from results you get.
for example, in 2004, i was not even in top half. Was my aim to win in 2005? Of course not, I wanted 50%. But somehow i got 3rd. Then suddenly I believe I had the ability to win with some improvement.
Tournaments help you to gauge where you are at and highlight weaknesses not just in game but also things like managing emotions, stress and pressure. Then you work on those things and get better as you progress.
One thing I learnt that is constant throughout tournament play is this:
the stress and pressure is always there. I still feel it. The nerves. It probably will never go away unless somehow i really don't care anymore.
So having a coping strategy to these stresses, pressures and emotional rollercoaster is very important. One thing that tournament players will get decent with experience is self regulation. You get very aware of how you are feeling and also what certain triggers are.
And it will take many many tournaments to just even realise this thing. Right now, I am only explaining this to you but some wise guy once said there is a difference between knowing the path and walking it. Ie,someone telling you how it is like over you actually experiencing it for yourself.
this is probably a big reason why the champions of NYCC and MSSM normally played 100s of tournaments before they won.
To give you rough estimates, i played around 30 or so weekend tournaments per year from 2004 to 2007. Then maybe 15 to 20 in 2008 and 2009. I only won NYCC in 2006 and I got individual silver in MSSM in 2007. Thats 3 years and roughly 100 tournaments.
Also i recorded every game. EVERY Game. And my coach analyse them with me. Once a week. 1.5 hours. From 2004 to 2006. And then on and off in 2007 to 2008.
Most of my peers also had 1.5 hrs per week last time. Its also more common now. All mssd, nycc players are doing this too.
Which brings me to the point: consistency > intensity in the long run. You can bring in intensity once you have the consistency.
today, everyone who wants to challenge for nycc and qualification to mssm are doing these. 1.5hr per week. But why do others do better than others?
I cant say for sure. And definitely having the right coach helps ABIT.
But alot of it comes down to the player himself. Its important to get a coach who has achieved what you achieved. For example, Kaushal has many good students too who qualified for mssm and also placed top 10 in nycc. Why? I was his teammate in FOUR MSSMs. He got 2nd individual in 2007 in under 18. I got silver in under 15. Unfortunately for him, he didnt have time to learn to win gold.
So once you have the right coach. Alot (in fact, most) comes down to the player. His passion, his interest. And his own ambition. These aren't in-born or innate. They can be developed. Like me, i just improved because i enjoyed it. There was never pressure from anyone to win anything. Actually the pressure and expectation mainly came from myself. This is also why I generally don't pressure my students. The ones i do pressure is normally because the parents tell me they want them to qualify. And at least for me, these students tend to do worse than the ones who just enjoy. Of course, other coaches pressure and the students do great too. Like i said, find a coach that suits you. Someone who has done what you want to achieve. And perhaps equally important, someone who has done what you want to achieve in the approach/way you prefer.
I have one student who literally started from scratch with me. He never had a coach before me. Learnt the moves and played abit at school with zero knowledge. He learnt the moves in april, may 2019. We started online in nov 2019. Did one class that year. He is 11 this year. Last year in u 12, he was first in mssd and was top 10 in msss. Top 4 go mssm. He missed out. He played in penang last december. He was last seed. He told me, nvm if i 0/9 i get to learn. Great attitude. Exactly the way I was at 12. He scored3 or 3.5. He managed to beat WCM, one of the woman olympiad players And he also beat the u12 MSSM champion in that tournament. He always chooses the adult section if he has the choice. I was the same. I played open(adult) section all the time since 2005. Except nycc and mcc.
Now will he qualify for MSSM this year? Honestly, i dont know. Do i hope he will. Of course. But i also understand that this will be his 2nd mssd. So experience-wise, its not alot. And perhaps more importantly, the skill to win tournament on DEMAND is not a skill you would expect to have at their age. Even for me, i never say definitely will champ even If im seeded first.
One example, Yun Rui was seeded 3rd in NYCC under 12. He finished outside top 10. He told me he really wanted to get top 5. And since he is 3rd seed, should have been no problem. Nycc ended June 7th. Last Sunday, June 19th (12 days later), he champiom Dc Mall (Open). Not under12. But adult, open section. If you see the photo, he is the shortest. Meanwhile, Jai played In Under 12. Got good results but not champ.
And yun rui and Jai played each other at nycc. It was a draw. Jai was winning.
Yun Rui probably didnt expect to champ such a strong event, finishing ahead of not only adults but also some of the nycc Top 10 of under 14 and 16.
But then, in nycc he collapsed and he probably put alot of pressure on himself To do well There.
Some people might say he musT have had Alot of coaching in Those 12 days after nycc. Well we had only one group class on thurs nights. The same time it has always been for the last two years. And in fact, i haven seen him in class since that last class since my group classes on Break now Til mid august.
This leads me to say he probably wasnt able to handle the stress very well. And added pressure.
The best coping strategy (or at least the one I use now Or try to) Is my aim is to play well. Results never mind. Lose then lose. But i want to play some good moves. This is very easy To say But very hard to do. I have only won on demand less than 10 times in my life. Those were the times when results mattered to me. But the times i won normally is when i am focused on playing well. Its extremely hard to shut out the thoughts Of I need to win, what of i dont win, what if my opponent forces a draw. Etc etc. In fact, those thoughts come. I dont shut them out. But if they come, i do my best to redirect them to Play well. Play a good move here. Not best move. Just good move. You never will play All Best moves. Its rare. Its also too much pressure. You want to reduce pressure. Finding good moves is easier. Because they can be more than one. And if you keep making Good moves, all you really need it one mIstake From your opponent to win the game. And if it doesnt happen. Nothing to say. You played good moves and if Your opponent did the same. You draw. You can normally sleep easy without regret because you played well.
Remember playing well Doesnt mean Win. Your opponent can play well too.
Hope this gives a good overview of some of the Points of playing tournaments as well as giving you insights into this journey of becoming not just a better chess player but also a better regulator of your emotions.
Comment down below which point was most insightful for you. Or share your own views of what is the main point you play tournaments.
Ps: Im playing a tournament now with Kaushal and Brien. You can watch The games on follow chess(search Pula Open) or here https://skpula.hr/live/pula22/
Photo shows us before flying off as well as our dinner after Round 5. The pizza is huge and was only rm40.
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