Six-time Singapore National Chess Champion and Singapore No.2 (No.1 is Grandmaster Zhang Zhong who was formerly one of the top players of China) Goh Wei Ming has just written a long post on his blog about his decision not to be a part of any Singapore chess team under the current Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) administration. He is one norm shy of becoming the second Singapore-born chess grandmaster (Wei Ming is as “heartlander Singaporean” as one can get. The other is Dr Wong Meng Kong. Grandmaster David Howell has a Singaporean mother, but was born in UK and is about as British as one can get), and has persevered at competitive chess far, far longer than most other chess players in Singapore, including myself. The pressure of maintaining one’s chess skills while striving at one’s career in Singapore is not trivial – the earning power of a chess player locally is poor, even if he/she engages in coaching activities.
In some ways, Wei Ming’s decision seems inevitable, especially in light of the fallout from the last SCF extraordinary general meeting. Although he was a neutral party at that meeting, the current SCF Exco had not succeeded in reconciling past and active chess players subsequently. The threat of legal action against detractors (among other issues) seldom wins one wholehearted supporters.
Wei Ming’s decision will leave Singapore with a much weakened Olympiad team this year, and in the short to medium term is bad for everyone (including Wei Ming himself) in our chess community.