Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The first midterm school break is coming near. On this coming Friday, parents including GiLoCatur will fetch their children from boarding schools. Most the school kids will be happy since they will take break from going to school. Surely, many plans and activities for them. Some will go for holidays either overseas or local. Some will go back to their hometowns staying with their grandparents. Some will just stay at home play video or computer games. Some will go for school break camps.
How about for chess playing school children? They will be busy participating in chess tournaments. There are many of them to take part where the big and important one is the National Age Group or simply known as NAG.
GiLoCatur had been to the past three NAGs since GiLoCatur's children took part in the event. GiLoCatur started to know about the NAG in 2008. Both Fikri and Anis took part for the first time in the event. Fikri played in the Under 12 Boys section while his younger sister, Anis, took part in the Under 10 Girls category. At that time, both of them was about eight months into chess. Fikri was rated 1460 while Anis was rated 887. Whereas, Fahim, GiLoCatur's youngest child had his debut in the NAG last year held in Penang.
But unfortunately, for this year edition that is held at the Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), all the three of GiLoCatur's children will not take part. One of the reasons is because Fikri who will sit for his PMR exam this year has a program in his school during the first weekend of the school midterm break.
Let's see and compare the statistics of the participation for the past four years. For this year, the figures are not the final one yet but based on the listing published in most Malaysian chess blogs.
*note : the total number of participants for NAG 2008 was 336.
Below are two basic info regarding the NAG.
In the year 2008, the NAG was held from 10 - 12th March. The venue was the OCM Indoor Sports Arena near the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. The following year of 2009, the championship was held at the Pearl Point Shopping Complex located on Jalan Kelang Lama, which is also in Kuala Lumpur or Klang Valley. Instead of in March, it was held from 3rd until 5th April. While in last year edition i.e. 2010, the national age group chess competition was held in Dewan Seri Pinang, Penang between 14th and 16th March.
From the above statistics, it is very obvious that the 2009 edition had the most number of participants which is 465. It drops to below 250 while it was held in Penang last year. What would be the main reason(s) for such drop in total numbers? For this year edition, the total number of participants climbs back to more than 330 players about equals to the 2008 edition. Is FIDE scholarship one of the reasons or attraction for the increase number of participation?
[ GiLoCatur : As of today, the total number of participants has increased to 378 as reported here by Marcus Yeoh, the NAG's Deputy Chief Arbiter. Hopefully, it will be the actual figure during the tournament day. By then, it is more than in 2008 by 42. - 10/3/2011, 9.00am]
Shouldn't we the Malaysian chess community set the Key Performance Index (KPI) for future editions in order to improve chess in the country? Say, next year the total number of participants to be 400 then 500 after that? How to attract participations from several other states like Sarawak and Sabah? It is quite surprising that for this year edition no players from Terengganu and Malacca either.
GiLoCatur believes many other interpretation or findings can be summarized or generalized from the above statistics. In whatever angle we see from the statistics, GiLoCatur hopes that chess among the juniors will be better and better and has improvements because a strong base among them is very essential for our dream to have the first grandmaster.