What does it take to become a Grandmaster...
Chess on Board 2020 Match featuring Myanmar's No 1 vs Singapore's No 1 players (Left-IM Wynn Zaw Htun (2519), Right- IM Kevin Goh Wei Ming (2489).

What does it take to become a Grandmaster...

juniortay
CM juniortay
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1

By now, everyone and his dog already knows that IM Kevin Goh Wei Ming has crossed the elo 2500 rating required to complete his Grandmaster title by edging out IM Wynn Zaw Htun 4-2 in their standard match (though Wynn claimed the Chess on Board trophy by winning 3.5-2.5 in both rapid and blitz encounters).

On Wei Ming's Facebook, he listed down a bunch of people/sponsors he had to thank to get him past the goalpost. Well, it's definitely quite a long list.  In time to come, we will probably see media interviews on how he made it.  Another notable point was how many chess friends from all over the world are willing to help create the opportunities for him to make attempts in scaling the seemingly maddeningly tough 2500 barrier...

However, the image that came to mind when he finally made his title was ironically this one...

One Wednesday evening in mid December 2017, Kevin called me and asked if the function room at my place was available for booking as he wanted to use it to work at chess. So, he turned up at 7pm-ish and we started looking at 1.c4 e5 English lines and compared notes (more like I showed him 1 line and he showed me 10 of his...). By 10pm, the security guard came knocking as he had to lock up the room. Instead of driving back, Kevin asked if he could use the patio on top of the function room to continue working. Well, nobody was using it for any functions and BBQs so he parked himself across the sofas and continued analysing....until past midnight....in the dark. I left him to his devices and went home.  Furthermore, Olimpiu Urcan had also arranged for a 90min +30 sec increment online training match for him vs a Romanian FM.   My wife asked me to check on him later, so I made my way down again with some snacks.  And so there he was, fighting into the wee hours of the morning in semi-total darkness, illuminated by two laptop screens, one with what he had been working on, and the other, with the playchess.com server screen on, a furious Sicilian Richter Rauzer tussle vs the 2300+ Romanian master. I couldn't resist taking a photo of course.

Oh and here's how the game went.

And there you have it, this is what it takes to make GM with a full time job...when we are sleeping, watching K dramas or playing blitz online, he is there plugging away...and he continued plugging away after repeatedly missing the 2500 mark despite just needing a win on 4 attempts in different countries.

When my students are floored after 1 or 2 hours of chess-work, I will use this example to remind them of what it takes...and even then, it doesn't guarantee anything. Just that the persistence will surely count some day, and for Wei Ming, it was 3rd of March 2020 when it all worked out finally.