Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2013


If you have views to contribute on how we can promote chess in schools, I will see you this Friday , 7.30 pm at Singapore Chess Federation located at Bishan St 13, Singapore Intellectual Games Centre (opposite the Bishan Bus Interchange) 2nd Floor conference room. Please email if you can come.

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion and ideas.


John Wong


Recently there was a post by English GM Danny Gormally who laments about his woes as a chess professional. By that he hopes to be able to make a living doing what he loves, playing chess.

As he'd described in his post, found here , the cash returns from winning tournaments in England are dwindling in view of a weakened EU economy, not forgetting the deluge of Eastern European and former Soviet GMs who now reside in Europe thus heightening the competition. So the few avenues left open to the GMs who wish to eke out a living from chess are to consider teaching students or write books/produce instructional videos. Unfortunately he's not interested in these activities, hence he finds himself stuck in a rut as he put it.

There are 2 main points in his post, ie
a) He chose to be a GM, hoping to make his livelihood through playing chess and not willing to consider other chess-related forms of income, and
b) There is no way he could turn back the clock and do something else to make ends m…


As we have over 5 million recorded games of chess known to man, they present a huge reservoir of ideas and precedents of what has been played, correct or wrong. It would be useful to look at past games to derive ideas and innovate on what's played to try something new yet based on solid fundamental ideas played by the past players.

Somehow in the games I've played with the juniors, I can discern that they have played lots of games and hence their practical ability to spot tactical threats is strong. However, when it comes to making strategic decisions to steer the game in their favour, they seem to hit a blank. I attribute this to spending too much time studying variations but not full games. One of the main areas of study in my opinion for a competitive player is not just to learn the variations but also the games of how the variations may turn out. Playing over master games based on the variations will allow the player to have a preview of what's to come, what positions t…


It's no secret really.

Ask any older player what it takes and invariably you boil down to 3 things:




Somehow I find the chief failings of our young players (based on my observations at the recent Serangoon Inter-team tournament) is that their level of concentration is generally lower to that of the older players. When a player concentrates, he starts to work out relationships between his pieces and his opponents. He will be aware of what can happen when one of his pieces leaves a square, which can be occupied by his opponent if there is insufficient control of it.

I am guilty of this in my first game whereby I lost a Queen, so really it can happen to anyone. No excuses! I could have paid dearly for it but I was lucky. That lesson woke me up real fast and for the remaining games I concentrated hard for every game and it was amazing how much the mind's eye can see once in that mode. I didn't waste any time working out m…


At the recent Serangoon Inter-Team competition where I partnered my students, I had the chance to cross swords with several of the juniors from the other teams. As I do not get the chance to play in tournaments often, there are few opportunities to meet them over the board. Here are some of my first impressions of their play  (I hope the parents reading about their children do not take it too personally).

My first encounter was round 2, playing White against Steffi Lim. She's played in many competitions, generally quite calm, but tends to give up easily when things do not work out her way. One of the most important qualities in a chess-player is to be resilient and always being resourceful out even when things do not work out. Only this way can one improve and succeed.

My next junior opponent is Carwyn Yeo, an aggressive young man who has got ambition on his eyes. He concentrates well and was eyeing me for breakfast that morning. I feel that I have to tread very carefully as he'…


Spend the last weekend with my students at the Serangoon Inter-Team tournament and we called ourselves the JW's Musketeers, in the company of teams like 152, ChessKids New Generation to form a total of 19 teams. It was time to play chess for fun and enjoyment rather than worry about the result. So much fun I was having when I realised I blundered a Queen against a very scared Royce Ho (whose brother Josh had lessons from me 2 years ago). I managed to compose myself and grinned throughout the game, laughing at my carelessness and trying to calm my team-mates that everything was under control. Soon the boy lost on time in whirlwind complications and I told myself its going to be a fun-filled day!

Saturday's 4 rounds earned me a perfect score, so I was looking forward to extending that when I met WIM Gong Qian Yun from 152. This was her first chess outing I think after a long time, so with perfect peace of mind I started:
Though I lost this game, I was very happy to have had the p…


Some time ago (about 5 years maybe?) I stumbled on the idea of converting my old copy of  " STUDY CHESS WITH TAL" which was a great classic written by the World Champion in collaboration with his then trainer Alexander Koblenz. I'm often curious as to who the guy in the old cover is. Koblenz wrote many great books on tactics and strategy in Russian but so far this has been translated to English:

It took me close to 10 years in hunting down the out-of-print book from an old bookseller in UK who offered it used at  US$15, where most second-hand booksellers were pricing it way above US$50. Naturally I treasured the book and thought many times if I should want to undertake the project to convert the notation from descriptive to algebraic. A painstaking job no less - finally I decided to start work on it last year during this time when my students are having exams and I had a little more spare time on my hands. But lo and behold! I found this!

Someone at Batsford must have read…