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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Of Saying Things That Is Incorrect

I remember my neighbor's dog who kept barking at everything that moves, and it just barks and barks and barks, even late at night. Its annoying but what else can I do except to put up with the barking.... Because life goes on and like it or not, we all need some sleep sometime (and like it or not, I have to sleep) and after a while, we got use to the barking and it became part of our "night time music".

And sometimes, after a while when the dog decides not to bark, we wonder what had happened and missed the barking.....

Heh.... Life goes on mate!

By the way, the neighbor finally moved..... :)

Of Quotes By Famous Grandmasters - Interesting....

I came across the following interesting quote from non-other than the current World Champion, GM Vishwanathan Anand of India.

"Nowadays, when you're not a grandmaster at 14, you can forget about it."

There are more quotes from him and other famous chess players at the following link http://www.chessquotes.com/player-anand

I had the opportunity of meeting (and playing against) Vishy Anand when he was just an IM at the old MAA building. I remembered we played blitz and I was handling the Budapest Opening using the white pieces. I lost - terribly and after the game, Anand showed me a simple move which would have made me won a piece out right in the first few moves of the game. I laughed about it.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Of My Working Relationship with MCF

Somehow or rather, my last posting generated negative and unfavorable response from certain quarters and certain readers. Some even misconstrued the entire article and concluded that I have attacked MCF. Some even mentioned the word "bribery" which really boggles me how that came about.

I have had the pleasure of working, and knowing, most if not all the MCF Secretaries. One of them is Victor Vijayarungam albeit when I know him, he is already out of chess. I was told that his work as secretary was exemplary as he was a teacher/principal ergo, his documentation was flawless! FYI, Victor was also the person who designed our MCF logo. My first encounter with Victor was back in 1989 when Laurence How was the MCF Secretary - the next one. For the past one year, Victor has been my "office mate" at DATCC as he would hang around to help me keep the place occupied.

During the mid 80's until early 90's, the MCF Secretary was Laurence How, a Financial Controller and an avid footballer. Laurence was really good in managing big events and being a person with good connections (he is also the person who started the Malaysian chapter of the Manchester United Fan Club and set up the clubhouse in Taman Megah - near his house), he was also able to convince big sponsors to finance events. What more, with Dato Sabaruddin (now Tan Sri) at the helm of MCF, and Dato Tan as the tycoon who loves chess, they made quite a team. And I was part of the team that enjoyed the golden years of chess, running from one international event to the other almost on a regular basis.

When I left KL, Laurence was still the Secretary (I think) and the position was later taken over by Hamid, and then Latiff and then back to Hamid. I did not have any experience working with Latiff as the MCF Secretary but, I did work with him when he was the PCMM Secretary and caretaker/manager to Chess Palace.

When I came back to KL into chess in 2003, I rekindled my friendship with Hamid and he started giving me some events to handle i.e. Chief Arbiter for the National Closed 2004, NAG 2004 (I think), and Bulletin editor for Malaysian Chess Festival. Of course, I continued helping Hamid with the Festival for a few more years (missing only the one in 2006) even after he left the secretary's post. And although Hamid would like to give me more events to handle, I had to decline some like the 2006 Zonal chess as I was not able to get any leave for that long period.

Hamid did ask me if I wanted to be MCF Secretary or Assistant Secretary (sometime in 2005 or 2006 - I think) and I said "No" because, I was busy with work managing Operations for an MNC company. It would be difficult to handle 2 jobs at one time and further, chess does not pay much! I did tell him that I don't mind helping once a while but I am not able to do it on a full time basis. My full time job was high paying and I do not want to risk it for chess because I know I would have to run to see sponsors, meetings, write letters and all that (sometimes at a moments notice), and since its a National Federation, the responsibility would have been too much to bear - alone! And I am also sure, the same offer would have gone to other chess people at that time and I felt that they would have been a better choice. My work was much too important for me and again, for a simple reason that chess does not pay :)

In 2008, when Greg became the Secretary, my relationship with the MCF Secretary continues and after all, I am no stranger to the Federation. So, where is the surprise? Further, I love the game and I can spend the time to help and contribute more because as of 2008, I became a freelance consultant and therefore, I have more time to spare. On top of that, Greg also asked me to help especially in managing and running events, and preparing proposals - he was also a new kid on the block and since I have the experience of running events and writing proposals and budgets, it was a good combination as we compliment one another. Other than Hamid, Latiff and Tse Pin (who are all International Arbiters), I was the only other non-IA arbiter that have a lot of experience running and managing events so, I helped. FM Peter Long was another experienced FA (FIDE Arbiter) but he was also busy managing his Academy and he was more focused towards training programs.

Proposals after proposals went in but nothing bites, and at the same time, since I had the time, I continued helping Hamid with DATCC and run the Malaysian Festival as and when it happened. Mind you, in 2010 when I was at DATCC, I was never employed at DATCC - I was a mere chess lover who goes there to play chess and meet friends. But I was there almost 5 days a week.

When Dato Tan offered me to run DATCC for a year, I agreed and when MCF does not a place to do events, I offered - as was the case with the 2011 National Championship. There was no sponsor so I proposed to do it at DATCC with minimal cost - to pay for rental, arbiter's fee and manage some running expenses i.e. printing, stationary, etc. We targeted a number of players to attend and achieved our objectives. I took what was needed to pay off the things that I need to pay, and the balance went to MCF. Seeing that there is a surplus, MCF decided to return it back as prize money.

So, when ever Greg wants to make a proposal (or when I have a proposal about an event), we will discuss what needs to be done and in most cases, both of us will see Tan Sri Ramli to get his views and ideas - with the Melaka Festival as a good example. I remembered being called to Tan Sri's house at night because Greg and I need to catch Dato Seri Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam the very next day in Putrajaya - during an open house, on second Raya or 3rd Raya (not sure, but it was during Raya). So, the entire day next day, both me and Greg were on alert - trying to catch Dato Seri at the opportune moment. Finally at 6:00pm, we were told to go to Tun Abdullah's open house because he will be there at that time. So, both of us crashed into Pak Lah's house and hijacked Dato Seri at his table, the moment we see him alone enjoying his meal and talked to him about the event. And moments later, Tan Sri Ramli arrived (from Perak) because his Raya event at his hometown (where the PM was the guest of honor) ended earlier than expected. And that was how it started....

On a side note, the REAL HERO for the Melaka event should be Khairi Jansar, the person who literally pounced his way into Dato Seri house and office to make sure that the event will go on. I really salute him for that!!! And for me and Greg, whilst we did prepare the working paper, and gate crash an open house to meet up Dato Seri and persuade him to host the event in Melaka, it would not have happened without Khairi. We talked about the idea and Khairi made sure that it happens - and that he did!!!

So, back to my story.... and referring to my previous article....

So, there your are - how I became involved in MCF and how I develop and maintain my working relationship with each of its Secretary. So, why the fuss and the hint that something was not right? The point to my article was that
  1. There is not much money to be made in organizing chess so stop thinking that it does.
  2. How I earn money from events (whether or not MCF can or cannot pay), that is something that I will work out. There is actually no confusion (like someone had claimed) but it does need a bit of "tightening". But I do believe, when there is profit, it should be shared by everyone. Sometimes, its not the amount, its the recognition and token of appreciation!
  3. There is nothing wrong for me to work with Greg and if you think that there is someone who can do better, then go volunteer to Greg. The more the merrier as we can learn from one another
  4. How Greg gets paid, or whether MCF pays him or not, that is between Greg and MCF. I am sure MCF will give him what is due.... I don't even make much for myself and I am expected to give or share it someone?
  5. But at the same time, I pity Greg if MCF is not able to pay him - one of the reason why I was reluctant to (and still...) be the Secretary of MCF. People will expect me (in this case, its Greg) to work for free. Being the Secretary is a full time job. If there is profit from some events, the least is pay something back to Greg. For that matter, to all the Committee member who have spent time, effort, blood and sweat to manage chess movement in the country
  6. Only once - I think its once, (in the mid 80's) that MCF actually had an executive secretary - a full time paid/salaried secretary that manages MCF daily affairs.
  7. After Laurence How, all the MCF secretaries (Hamid, Latiff and Greg) were/are in chess on a full time basis i.e. Organizer, Coach, Player. Not sure about Latiff but I believe chess is part of his business - maybe not on a full time basis
  8. How MCF can make money (whether it was my suggestion back in 2003 or the other person suggestion in some blog site somewhere) is a different issue altogether. I have said my peace 9 years ago. If someone else is not peaceful with it, not my problem! But I believe my suggestion is still valid - if not all, some of it.
  9. The accounts for the Melaka event is not managed by me nor Greg. The account is set by the Melaka Government and that was what we had proposed and what they wanted as well. So all payments/budgets shall be received, managed and scrutinized by the Foundation
Until my next posting

Friday, February 10, 2012

Of Reviewing My Status....

It has been more than 2 months that I have started back at work. Whilst I can't say that I am enjoying it, this seems to be the more favorable move forward that I have to be contented with. Further, there are some quarters who are "happy" to see me leave the scene. They put up a smiling face (with a knife tucked behind their back) and tell me "It is good that you are back at work" and "It is for your own good to earn a living!". Either they care too much for my well being or they can now eliminate one "opposition" from their list. I would like to think that it was for the former.

Perhaps these people are envious of what I have done or, they think they can do better by shutting me down. Or they think that I am too influential because I am often seen in blogs, events, Facebook, etc. I think they must have mistaken me for the other Najib - the one whose father is Razak *LOL* Or, maybe they think that I am a bad influence to the sports... Did I sell games? Use bad words? Ban players from entering my event?

Or maybe they think I am making too much money! Ha ha ha... that will be joke of the century! How much money can a man make doing chess?

I was away from chess from 1991 to about 2003 as I was stationed in JB. Chess had to take a back seat (and eventually was left in the trunk of the car) as there were not many events being held in the southern capital. I was also contented with my own little world and own little "amusing adventure" in my hometown. With growing up kids to take care of, a small family business to attend to, surrounded by old friends and close family member, I did not miss chess at all. And it stayed like that for a rather long time.

In fact, when I returned to KL in 2000 to work, I remained away from chess until late 2003 when I decided to make a come back - after making some "spicy" comments about Malaysian chess in the Yahoo group. I think my comments are still there - feel free to read it. I was like the Raymond Siew that we have today with one significant difference - I actually play chess! *smile*

So, am I a bad influence to the chess community? Or, did I siphon a lot of money from chess? Or, do people out there think that I make tonnes of money from chess? Maybe I should start driving a Porsche Cayman and start living in condo penthouse somewhere in the heart of KL from tomorrow onwards!

But seriously, how much money can a man make organizing chess events? Does any of our chess organizers driving Mercedes and BMW? Or Porsche? Or Ferrari maybe? I don't think so.... Maybe its not fair to compare with those high end sports car so lets go down a bit..... Err, any of them driving Nissan Fair Lady? Or Accord? Or Peugeot? Heck.... Most of us are driving good old Protons and Perodua. Some don't even have cars! So what is the big deal if someone - like me, organize events and earn some money once in a while? What is wrong earning money doing things that I like and making a living out of it?

Events are like projects i.e. like national events which comes once in a span of 2 to 3 months. For International events, we did the last FIDE event back in 2007 (or was it 2006?) based on that scale, the span of doing International event is almost 5 years once! So, am I asking "free money" i.e. sitting down doing nothing and let the event runs by itself? Am I stealing money from chess player's pocket? Am I stealing events from other organizers? I had spent money and time preparing numerous working paper but only one or two that actually managed to materialize so, when one does happen, is it wrong for me to make some money (or try to make....) to "cover" some of the losses that I experienced elsewhere?

For 2011, I was on my own and Dato Tan had the generosity to allow me to use DATCC as my base. On top of that, there were 5 contributors who chipped in to help me maintain DATCC and to them, my sincere thanks for all the help that all of you have rendered - no need to mention names as I had promised they would all remain anonymous. After 1 year at DATCC, I thought I could buy the purple Lamborghini that I want, the dream Kawasaki Ninja, a Rolex watch and a Bungalow on top of a hill, but alas, the profit fell short. Given another year at DATCC, I would probably be able to start buying the car sticker for the purple Lamborghini.... But, I managed to be able to pay all the "normal" bills that I have to pay (with the help of my wife) the monthly installment for my old Proton, my phone bills (used mostly to reach out to other chess players and promoting events), still using my 16 year old watch (seriously! I had this watch since 1995) and upkeep the rental to my small house somewhere at the edge of town. But the most important thing was... I was happy! Happy doing what I did - going to work when I want, mostly on weekends, and help to "invigorate" the local chess scene - as one parent put it. On the chess "business" side, some events make money and some events did not - as they say it, you win some and lose some.

My reason for doing the Melaka event was because I was involved in the original proposal. It was only right that I continue with what I had started. I had attended a few meetings in Melaka and after all the "investment spent" to redo the paper, traveling up and down PLUS highway, cracking my head at night to prepare the budget, it was only fair to continue what I had started. The initial idea for Melaka Festival started before the Malaysian Chess Festival in August, so it has been there for a while. When I pointed out to someone that I had spent quite a bit of money traveling to other cities to present budgets and proposals to "convince" sponsors or organizers but it failed, I was asked to consider that as "lost investment". So, now that I am halfway to getting the Melaka event a reality, can I deem it as a "gained investment". And if I do get a profit from it, maybe I can start putting the down payment for bungalow in Hartamas. So, once the Melaka event is over, all of you can come to my open house somewhere in Hartamas Heights... Don't worry - I won't be nasty, I will invite everyone ..... But in all of it all, I am just happy that the event is looking to materialize really soon. The joy is to see something dreamed and for it to become a reality.

Anyway, I am doing all that I am doing now because I LOVE the game. I am passionate about chess and how to help improve the level of the game in the country. If some people think that I am doing it for power, money and control, then they better have their head examined.