Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Grandmaster Plan for RP Chess

Every weekend, Pinoy chess fans can enjoy reading a locally produced publication called "The Chess Plaza Weekender" (or just "The Weekender"). This little newsletter, edited and published by Pinoy journo Manny Benitez, covers both Philippines and world chess news. It's pack full of the usual reportage style segments, game analysis, opinions and so on. I'd bet that if there was a gong for "Best Microsoft Word document chess newsletter", then Manny's baby would surely take it! Content is well-written and nicely laid out, quite unlike a certain Sydney chess newsletter that I also receive! The best thing is: it's completely free!

Yet, in fact, I've only heard about The Weekender in the last couple of weeks and only got my hands on the last two most recent issues. But in many ways my timing was opportune because these two issues contain an important paper: Grandmaster Bong Villamayor's proposed development program for RP chess. The proposal was written and submitted to the NCFP in 2002 but only now do we get to see it in full.

GM Villamayor's document, published in full in The Weekender, is interesting because it will have resonance in other places especially where chess is either developing or is in a troubled state. It's basically a strategic plan, albeit perhaps lacking in some important detail. For example, the grandmaster suggests:

The NCFP’s over-dependence on contributions and donations to finance projects. It should engage in revenue generating activities to complement donated funds. These activities could take the form of book publishing, distribution and marketing of chess sets, clocks, decals, and other paraphernalia, A strict imposition of payment of membership and affiliation dues, rating fees, etc.

However, absent are hints on how to actually make that happen. Introducing "rating fees" alone can entail all sorts of issues (i.e. how much, frequency of collection, who collects, and so on). More than that - the idea of generating income through the publishing and sale of books means taking the NCFP, or at least some part thereof, into a whole new ball game. Business. Doubtless the current NCFP personnel - who are, by the way and as far as I know, volunteers - have the necessary skill sets to run businesses. I just doubt if the NCFP, organisationally, would be anywhere near ready to run a for-profit enterprise.

Overall, though, GM Villamayor's paper is still worth a read. He has many good ideas. What also struck me is the style of language but especially the sentiments behind them. For these are qualities that I rarely see in my current local scene, Australian chess. There is a certain kind of passion for chess in a Filipino that, I have to say, you can never or rarely see in an Aussie. Take this combative section:

In recent years it is becoming increasingly clear that our country’s dominance in Asian chess cannot be maintained unless a second renaissance occurs.

Already, countries such as China, Indonesia, India and even Vietnam are mounting a serious challenge to Filipinos in International tournaments. (In Southeast Asia alone, Vietnam is clearly the main threat to Philippine dominance especially in the SEA Games.) Collectively, Filipinos are without question stronger players because of two distinct factors: a good chess environment and decades of chess culture; but other nations are slowly but steadily gaining ground, possibly because of long-term planning and scientific training for their elite and mass-based players.

You don't see those words pouring forth out of an Australian chesser. Instead, these guys here are happy in the knowledge that Australia is the big dog in a zone full of puppies!

For those who want to subscribe to The Weekender, just email Manny Benitez at "manny underscore o underscore b at yahoo dot com". By the way, copies of the TW editions referred to in this post are available online via Kiko's blog. The first issue is here and the second half is available here. Happy reading.


Anonymous said...

GM Bong Villamayor was so frustrated he left for Singapore, hehehe, he is now teaching Singaporeans. Even GM Nelson Mariano is now with him. RP chess is really going down, unless....

arianne said...

bong haas always been right

Anonymous said...

Bong Villamayor's effort is wasted because the NCFP is run by politicians. Like this guy, Pichay, who pathetically lost an election and now wants to head RP basketball. Such a delusion of grandeur! Hey, how about you concentrate on chess, huh? We won't even have a website for the Asian Indiv. Championships, will we? Or maybe you don't understand how important it is to have up-to-date results for such major events? Grrrr... oh well.

And by dummies. Wasn't Abundo the Filipino who tried to block and delay Paragua's GM title?

And now you have the dumbest of them all, I think he's the one called Abalos, who ruled that Dableo and Laylo who were suspended for "cheating", should now play for the Philippines in the Asian Individual Championships, both of whom are one or two norms away from the GM title and are among the strongest Filipino players. Looks like you're cheating only if it's expedient. But does this a--hole really think that anyone can cheat oneself to an IM or GM title?

Anonymous said...

Tito Abundo I think successfully block [rather, did not support] Barcenilla's GM norms from a New York tournament.

Ang suspension of our players are pure hogwash. It is the same old politics and self serving agendas.

BTW I do not think our former no. 1 GM Paragua will even play for the Philippines now. What can he get?