In approximately 1.5 days, I will be on my way to the 27th SEA Games. This has been a very difficult period in my career as the responsibilities of becoming an audit manager have been overwhelming in the last few months. I've never underestimated the challenges that were forthcoming when I knew I was getting promoted but the added pressure of being part of Team Singapore in this year's games was one I didn't expect and prepare for.
The Singapore chess team is a large contingent consisting of Mark Choong (team captain), Liu Yang and me. With 2 representatives from virtually all the neighbouring countries in all the events, the odds are clearly against us - it is unrealistic to say anything otherwise. However, we have trained hard every evening (after we are done with our day jobs), sacrificed our weekends and have done everything we possibly could to be as prepared as we can. Make no question about it, we will not be there to make up the numbers - we will be playing to win.
Throughout the last couple of months, I have received all kinds of messages, the odd sarcastic comment or snide remark and even had people questioning our selection but I'm glad that more often than not, I have friends that put their words into action and showed that they care about us and genuinely wanted to help. There will always be people who prefer to cause disruption and I have grown to live with that. Instead, I prefer to acknowledge those who have spent considerable effort into helping both Yang and me in the last couple of months:
- As always, Junior Tay, who basically took care of this blog, organised training get-togethers, offered the function room in his condo as our training arena plus providing countless advice along the way;
- Olimpiu Urcan: for offering himself as a punching bag during training and always knowing the right thing to say;
- GM Zhang Zhong, who must have played at least 100 blitz games with me all in his own spare time just to get me ready for the games, IM Steven Yap and Liu Xiang Yi for offering to be transfer partners with Zhang Zhong and IM Chan Peng Kong for showing up one friday evening even though they are clearly not very interested in the game! Big effort guys, appreciate that;
- Mr. Tin and Mr. Lee and their sons, Jingyao and Qing Aun respectively for sacrificing their weekends while knowing that they have nothing to gain from this. The training was incredibly helpful and we are grateful for that;
- Balestier Gang: Tim Chan, for spending a precious morning playing a rapid game with me. I know how important weekends are to NSF! Chongghee, for joining us despite flying in on the same morning and having very little sleep and the blitz monster Malcolm for spending time with us. Malcolm, I'll lock LKB in his cage the next time both of you are in the same room!
- National Squad: Luke, Jason, Jarred - I know you guys really have better things to do than spending Friday evenings with us and appreciate the time and effort spent; and of course,
- the Boon Lay Primary School Gang - Keng Boon, James, Yong Li, Qing Quan, Mark and the Bak Kut Teh master Hanwei for climbing out of retirement at my request. Too bad Khoo was uncontactable again...
Thank you all, we will fight hard in Myanmar!