Wednesday, 24 August 2011

SEA Games 2011 - no Singaporeans in chess events?!

Not so sure if I should be writing all this but apparently, SNOC has rejected SCF's appeal to include Dr. Wong Meng Kong & I into this year's SEA Games and as such, Singapore will not be represented in the chess events.

According to my understanding (which may be wrong), SNOC only allows athletes who fulfill a certain criteria to play in the SEA Games, that is, to have achieved a top 3 placing in South East Asian events for the past 1 year. Even so, these athletes will only be "considered for selection" and by no means are their participation guaranteed.

Given that I've finished 15th in the Zonals and I did not really play in any regional events in the past few months, that means I am out. And since Meng Kong was relatively inactive this year, he also did not survive the cut.

To be honest, I am completely baffled by this decision (though I can't say that I am really surprised). Firstly, such a selection criteria, when applied to Chess, is clearly flawed for so many obvious reasons that I can't even be bothered to list them down one by one. As one good friend put it succintly, if every country adopts the same mentality, the tournament will just be between Indonesians, Vietnamese and Filipinos (no offence to my Malaysian friends).

Secondly, which is a perfectly valid point from Nat, if Singapore wants as many medals as possible, it makes sense to send as many participants as possible to increase the probability. Now, I do not mean that we should send any Tom, Dick or Harry. Neither do I imply that our participation will guarantee medals. But just because we did not finish in the top 3 placings in a regional event, or within the top 3 rated players in South East Asia does not mean that we stand zero chance of achieving something. Jason won a silver medal ahead of countless GMs in Vietnam 2003 when he wasn't even an IM yet and the Singapore team came within a whisker of knocking out the Philippines on their turf despite being heavily outrated on every board. These are just a couple of examples, I can easily list more.

Thirdly, and this is one which I personally find it hard to fathom. Is it really that big a deal to send 2 more players?

To be perfectly frank, I am not really disappointed (as explained, I wasn't really surprised) but what kind of message are we sending to the rest of the younger chess players?

Sports are meant to be competitive, make no mistake about it. But the bonding between players from each country, the mutual respect and friendship that is being built, and the sharing of knowledge all comes along with competition and that should never be downplayed in favour of the number of gold medals obtained.


  1. It's ok, as long as you've tried your best to meet the criteria set by the organisers. Well, at least one Singaporean will be officially present at SEA Games 2011 (Chess)? Found here: As for players, well, we pray for SEA Games 2015 in Singapore when happens. Found here:

  2. To be frank, I wasn't thinking about the SEA Games during the zonals although I was aware there might be an impact. I just think such a criteria is too harsh and that there is no harm in sending a couple of players to represent the country.