Chess is becoming more popular in Singapore
Overseas Family School - hosting National Schools Individual 2024

Chess is becoming more popular in Singapore

| 6

Without a doubt, the 'Queen's Gambit' Netflix movie has increased the popularity of chess in Singapore but to sustain it, the chess scene must be vibrant and attractive enough to retain the new players' interest subsequently.  On any given week, one can expect about 2-5 FIDE rated events, typically a Community Centre (Bishan CC especially) event, a Tertiary institution one (mostly Singapore Management University) and those from Singapore Chess Federation, Singapore Chess Infinity, Kasparov Chess Foundation Asia Pacific and Chess Academy.  The numbers for the National Schools Individual  Championships have shot up exponentially too. In 2016, there were 805 entries and the recently concluded NSI had almost double the number of participants (a whooping 1606!) , so SCF had to use 2 big venues (Overseas Family School and Senja Community Centre) to host the events. 

The NSI event for the U8, U10, U12 and U20 players

Another indicator was that there are more requests for trainers to coach in chess clubs, private members' clubs and also school teachers have been asking about whether their students can get private coaching lessons. Definitely a promising sign for the game.

I would however like to show these pictures taken over the past few months, which show that Chess in Singapore is more happening than it used to be...scenes I seldom see in the past.

I was waiting at the barber for my turn to get a haircut.  However in the queue ahead of me, this little girl was playing online chess and once in a while, her mum will peer over and comment on her moves.

About a couple of months back, I passed by Toa Payoh Koufu (a food court in central Singapore) and was pleasantly surprised to see 2 dudes playing blitz right at the far corner. The positions they had were pretty decent and I thought it's a marvelous idea air-conditioned venue where one can get cheaply priced coffee fix and also a quiet enough spot for a good fight. 

It's not just chess being played in the public areas...a chess-dad sent me this from his son's tennis club.

The dude is studying Nakamura's stream in between tennis games. Not a bad way to unwind indeed.

Lastly, I went to check out the relatively new Woodleigh Mall and I happened to chance upon a Mindstretcher centre.

I was intrigued to see that the Woodleigh branch of their enrichment and tuition centres had this  video  advertisement.

In the video, Singaporean Grandmaster Tin Jingyao was explaining how he could further his chess career with the centre's support. I had previously discussed with chess-friends/parents how it's not easy for sports-people to get advertisement funding so they don't have to worry about putting bacon on the table while they try to scale the professional ranks, compared to say Japanese table tennis players (I see sponsors' logos from various Japanese firms plastered all over their top 100 types players' T shirts).

This Japanese player (world No 76 last month) with at least 5 endorsements, played in the Singapore Smash event qualifiers.

My take (I might be wrong) is that Singaporean firms prefer to back 'winners' (those who have already achieved world class results) before sponsoring rather than getting the fellas there with their help.

In any case, this chess-boom is certainly great for Singapore chess and of course, for the local chess trainers.