Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stunted Talent

This recent bit of news from Vietnam just about broke my heart:

On the day that Minh and Thang flew with 92 members of the Vietnamese chess team to join a regional competition, Minh said to his mother, “I will try to win every single game because we have run out of money, haven’t we, Mom?” At this, Mrs. Xuan was at a loss for words, knowing her little son could have such a mature thought.

From Vietnam Net.

One of the best things about chess is that it really doesn't take much to learn the game and it's cheap. In the beginning, at least, all you need is a chess set and a few friendly people to practice with. Big expenses only kick in when you get better or gain some higher ambitions. You might buy books and software, subscribe to magazines, get coached, or play in tournaments - both locally and, for the really ambitious, overseas. Lucky for us here, as well as in other so called developed countries, all these things are, well, easily attainable.

But clearly not for the brothers Tran Tuan Minh and Tran Minh Thang. I'm sure there's a lot of them out there. You can see these guys with plenty of potential and then, bang(!), it all just comes to a halt. Unless there's some government-run program to nurture these guys until they're set on their on as pros, the kids are likely to be lost. And that would be tragic.

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