Dont be too disappointed at losing to the `Heinz 57 varieties` of county chess....its all about catchment area, some might think.
I`ve made no secret of the fact that I believe eligability rules need some sharpening up, not least to reduce `poaching` and restrict league eligability where leagues stretch over several county boundaries.
For example, the Stockport league covers Manchester, Cheshire, and Derbyshire. I believe the clubs in that league (and other leagues) should be restricted to just the county they actually reside in.
County boundaries need to be recognised more formally... in an administrative sense.
ie, Manchester could reasonably be defined as all areas within say 20 miles of Manchester centre that are covered by Manchester Passenger Transport or Greater Manchester Police. Same goes for Merseyside...and other connurbations. But it is important to make some allowances where genuine long standing historic individual player connections exist. Note... that I talk hear about `administrative sense`, because I`m talking about Administrative boundaries. Some players may feel they have a foot in many camps, so fair allowances should be made, on a case by case basis.
Also, some counties play almost no qualifying matches, so arrive at the `national stages` fresh as diasies, having done little or no travelling, etc....
I mention travel, because this/costs, and time factors/contraints I think are limiting players interest, as well as the `pull` of other events.
However, look at http://www.ecfgrading.org.uk/?club=Warwickshire+CA
and maybe start by contacting directly all the top 16 players on that list and asking for there support. An Open team needs to be able to call on at least half a dozen 200+ players if it is to have any chance at the National stages.
Next, note all the clubs mentioned and contact the club secretaries and team captains of all these clubs...maybe even a phone call. Quite often these can gleen useful intelligence and help, whereas emails can get ignored.
If you can find other league and county websites from which to gleen additional players, all the better.
Many league sites carry some useful player and league stats, and contact information....as I`m sure you`ll know.
It might be worth looking at `past players` from the grading lists, and maybe chasing some of these up....to see if they fancy coming out of retirement. Or maybe they have left the area, or gone to college, etc...
The other key option is to contact all congress organisors in your area to see if you can obtain lists of players, perhaps going back a couple of years. Congress results tables can also throw up options, particularly of players who might play congress chess but not league chess.
I`ve also said that counties need two captains for each team (an active `deputy` from another big club can be invaluable).
I quite agree your comments about county chess...it offers much that other events just dont give...but are hard work for captains, who should not underestimate the task. Its far more demanding than league chess, because there`s much more organisation involved. I think some `newbies` might underestimate this. In particular, it takes at least 3 weeks in my experience to put together a team...and its vital to line up at least a couple of reserves, for that inevitable last minute withdrawal. But...an essential ingredient is `transport` (as I`m sure you know), and having several volunteer drivers to provide shared lifts is the bedrock...with shared costs making for a cheap days travel.