Ray Ong

Ray Ong

What do you think makes you a good coach? 
I think I have average intelligence but I’m hardworking and always willing to learn. I remember a time in high school chemistry when the teacher showed us our individual performance in a series of class assessments compared with the class average. Although my performance was above average for all the tests except one, interestingly, I had the same trend as the class average across different tests.

Because of this, I think I would be able to identify which aspects of chess are more difficult to learn and understand.

What are your key strengths?
I am quite driven when it comes to improving my game and am very enthusiastic about sharing knowledge. I also work well with people from different backgrounds.

Why do you love Chess?
I have always been captivated by the intellectual aspect of the game. Playing chess also connects people from all walks of life and age is not a barrier because the rules are easy to learn. However, the game is difficult to master because there is no simple formula that wins every game. Victory takes a lot of persistence, emotional management and probably a bit of luck.

When/how did you first learn to play?
I have an older brother and my family bought a chess set for us when we were primary school-aged. I started reading books about chess and played with my brother during the school holidays. My aunt also gave us a computer game called Kasparov Chessmate for Windows which I used to prepare for the primary school chess tournament. My mentor for the tournament was William Li (he was the leader of our team) and he taught me to play the Queen’s Gambit if I was white and the Sicilian if I was black.

Why do you enjoy working with kids?
Kids have an innocence about them and are usually very enthusiastic and eager to learn. I’m very grateful for being given this opportunity to work with them because it keeps my mind young and also helps me communicate better in general.

What are your main Chess achievements? 
During primary school, I was part of a team of four that won a national tournament.

How do you think Chess helps kids? 

Chess can complement other aspects of life and schoolwork that require logical reasoning. Strong chess players are able to visualize the chessboard many steps ahead after a single move, so chess may help kids improve their visualization and memory. Also, chess helps kids manage stress and emotions, especially if they play in a tournament. I once had a girl play “a4” against me as the starting move. She subsequently developed her rook and won the game, even though I managed to take her queen. Now I have an idea about what to do against “a4”!

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