The plans for the Grading System

General discussions about grading.
Brian Towers
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Brian Towers » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:12 am

Angus French wrote:Does anyone have any comments on the specification?

Is this a genuine request or a box ticking exercise? It does seem rather late in the day.

FWIW here are my thoughts.

Specification wrote:The Functionality of the LMS Software
Phase 1

Reporting Game and Match Results
• The time limit for each game, initially either standard play or rapidplay

replace with:
• The time limit for each game, eg G90, G75+10 and the category: standard, rapidplay, blitz or other. "Other" covers formats which clubs may use for formats which are not gradable but which clubs nevertheless want to enter into their LMS for administrative purposes.
This is trivial and it makes no sense to delay until a later phase. In fact that will likely create extra work pointlessly.
Specification wrote:Submitting Game and Match Results

This section needs to be rewritten. The email stuff is antiquated nonsense. Emails get lost, go astray, end up in junk by accident.

Instead authorized users login to the system, see messages for them, deal with them, send messages to other users in a semi-automated, controlled way which is built into the system. Take your email control flow and replace it with system messages. These are simple to implement and easy and clear to use.
Specification wrote:Lists of Registered Players

There is a lot of rubbish in here about validation of league rules. This is not the function of the LMS. Register players per team: yes. Validate who may be registered for which team: no. This is for the clubs and league controllers to handle outside of the system.

By trying to include stuff like this you are placing a big, heavy brick in a dark room which the users are going to run into. When they break a toe on this they will curse you and throw your software in the bin. All team registrations should be visible to all users so that issues can be raised with the clubs and league controllers who can correct as necessary. Their needs will be different and you cannot be all things to all men.

A player must be registered before he plays for a team. Registered players without an ECF number should automatically have their details sent to the main system and a code returned. This may include a code which indicates a new player who hasn't paid. The automated submission of results to the main system should always include the ECF code.
Specification wrote:Fixture Lists
but it is left to the developer to come up with the preferred layout for this input.

I don't think so! The developer is not going to be the one using the system! It is not developed for his benefit.

Suggestion: for something like an all-play-all the program should generate the raw fixtures (home team A v away team B). The user (typically the league controller) can then "complete" fixtures by assigning a date. He can select an individual fixture or a team. In the case of a team he gets a list of raw home fixtures for that team. He can select a raw fixture and the display will show him a monthly based calendar with free home nights highlighted in one colour and already booked ones in another. The user can select a highlighted free date or alternatively an unhighlighted date but with an "Are you sure?" warning. This turns a raw fixture into a complete fixture and the complete fixture is removed from the list. The program will detect and prevent clashes, i.e. it will not allow a team to have two fixtures on the same date.

The user can view the completed fixture list and modify it by first selecting fixtures for reversion to raw state (no assigned date) and then reassigning dates.
Specification wrote:Phase 2 additions

Player Restrictions:

This should not be a function of the system.
This is a classic useless function of the type that typically scuppers big expensive government sponsored failed IT projects. It is an invitation to specify ever more arcane functions that nobody will ever use and will eat up development resources for no benefit. Just another big, heavy brick in a dark room.
Specification wrote:Possible Future Developments
Setting up a League
• The time limit for games within it.

No! This is a trivial function which, as already noted, should be in phase 1.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Roger de Coverly » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:28 am

Brian Towers wrote:Suggestion: for something like an all-play-all the program should generate the raw fixtures (home team A v away team B). The user (typically the league controller) can then "complete" fixtures by assigning a date.


There are two methods in common usage in English league chess. One method is that the League Controller sets all the dates. The other method is that you hold a fixtures meeting where fixtures are agreed alongside date trading. For teams playing in two leagues, it can work well to have one league with pre assigned fixtures and the other league with negotiated ones. Either way, the FIDE published all-play-all tables are a useful resource.

From a club or league perspective, you want the ECF to be able to accepts results in a straightforward format, one which you can knock up in a spreadsheet in half an hour or less. I can see that from the ECF' viewpoint that receiving and processing emails with file attachments could be a time consuming process and using an API as suggested by some commentators might be a technically better solution, even if it would baffle experienced spreadsheet hackers.

John Upham
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby John Upham » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:30 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:There are two methods in common usage in English league chess


There is a third option:

Given the constraints for each team, once the divisional structure has been agreed then allow the LMS to auto generate the fixtures.

Not terribly difficult.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby IM Jack Rudd » Sat Mar 05, 2016 6:37 pm

The Devon League uses the fourth option: the league tells you which teams you are home or away against, and then it's up to the teams themselves to find a date on which they can play.

It works about as well as can be expected.

Angus French
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Angus French » Fri Apr 08, 2016 7:58 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Carl Hibbard wrote:A tender with ownership of the actual source code is going to be rather expensive.

It's now up on the main ECF site.
http://www.englishchess.org.uk/league-m ... evelopment

The page referred to above now doesn't exist. I think it may have contained a link to the LMS specification which is still available at its original location here.

Graham Ives
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Graham Ives » Sat Apr 09, 2016 2:49 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:
Michael Flatt wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:
It's now up on the main ECF site.

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/league-m ... evelopment

It shouldn't have been put out to tender yet. Currently, the Home Director has no authority to do this as he has not obtained the agreement of Council.

As Carl pointed out this could turn out to be an expensive exercise. The Budget is normally presented to Council in April.

I assumed it has already gone Yorkshire way?


So, has this been put out to tender yet? I can't see anything anywhere that announces it, and it seems from the debate on this topic, and the many comments raised, that the specification is less than satisfactory.

Surely, if the intention is to provide a capability to transfer game results directly to the grading database without all the current need for human involvement (spreadsheets, lists, emails, etc), then surley the first step would be to define the interface to the grading system that the LMS must adhere to. Otherwise any LMS that ECF decides to invest in and offer to Leagues that don't have one will, just like all the other LMS already developed and used by many Leagues, be equally unable to send results to the grading system in a sensible cost and time effective fashion.

This is simply not the right way to try to do it. As a very first step I'd recommend the appointment of a Project Manager to do some analysis of the ECF requirements, to consult, coordinate and produce a specification and ITT that actually addresses the requirements that the ECF really has (rather than the ones they think they have), to produce a project plan for the selection, development and implementation of the LMS and changes to the Grading systems to ensure they talk to each other, and to manage the delivery and implementation of the whole project if the go-ahead is given.

Repeating a question I asked on the "April 2016 Council meeting topic": ...."given that the role of Manager of ICT has been vacant for a good many years now. Who is advising the Council on this? ". And I repeat - this is simply not the right way to try to do it. It will end in tears. Well, maybe not, but certainly a lot of wasted time, effort and money.

Neill Cooper
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Neill Cooper » Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:07 pm

I am still completely unclear as to what the LMS would imply for me as a grader, and to those whose games I grade. Would there be a requirement, for instance, to submit all games for grading within so many days of the games being played, or by the 5th of the next month. What happens if I do not submit on time? What happens to the players grades if I submit late, and am I sanctioned as a grader?
At the end of a short and busy school term I have submitted internal club games for grading but not yet tackled the national schools tournament regional matches nor the Surrey Secondary School League matches.

ps It is nice to see the ECF using monthly gradings in the Tradewise Most Improved Player Leaderboards

Brian Valentine
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Brian Valentine » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:20 pm

Neill,
We don’t know if the grading system will change. The whole project is difficult to manage, but when it was set up it was decided that the first thing to do was to see what the costs would be. LMS is the main enabler to simplify grading submission.

We now know that cost and Council can decide if the LMS project is worthwhile, either in its own right or as part of the monthly lists project. If so, then we will discuss with the supplier a final specification and firm up on a timetable. There were several new good ideas in the tenders and we will take the best on board.

At the same time, I will begin consultation on the nuts and bolts of how grading might change. In the end any changes to the grading system will depend on how quickly results can be submitted. This can only be decided by:
• Making tools available to facilitate quick submission
• Events putting resources into what remains manual, and this will only happen if
• Members show enthusiasm for the change.

When we have got a feel for these three indicators we can begin the task of tailoring suitable changes to the grading administration and calculations.
As my initial note to graders (pasted into the opening of this thread) implied, the first possible change is for season 2017-8.

So I can say that I am also pretty unclear what this will mean to graders, but I do have a reasonable idea how I will find out. I expect to consult with graders when I know we have new facilities and what they will be (i.e. the spec and timetable) to see what problems can be ironed and those that can’t. I can then propose to Council the service standards we can meet. Then we, the grading community, have to manage the change. Sorry if this still seems vague, but it is a project where we have to take one step at a time.

Brian Valentine
Manager ECF Grading

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Roger de Coverly » Sat Apr 09, 2016 6:25 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:I am still completely unclear as to what the LMS would imply for me as a grader


As a match captain, but not a grader, it has become the practice to report the results as soon as you get home. So you are reporting at about midnight. If I took the computer and a mobile connection to the match, I could report at match completion at around 11 pm. A well designed system would make that the sufficient condition to get results into the ECF grading system. You can follow the 4NCL remotely, why not any league of club tournament?

Ian Thompson
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Ian Thompson » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:00 pm

Brian Valentine wrote:We now know that cost and Council can decide if the LMS project is worthwhile, either in its own right or as part of the monthly lists project. If so, then we will discuss with the supplier a final specification and firm up on a timetable. There were several new good ideas in the tenders and we will take the best on board.

Given the costs stated, is the the supplier effectively making a substantial donation of either existing software, or their time, to the ECF? If not, or even if they are, what is the ECF's assessment of the risk of the supplier failing to deliver a quality product, or even a working product at all, on time? What are the consequences if this risk occurs?

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Carl Hibbard » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:17 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Brian Valentine wrote:We now know that cost and Council can decide if the LMS project is worthwhile, either in its own right or as part of the monthly lists project. If so, then we will discuss with the supplier a final specification and firm up on a timetable. There were several new good ideas in the tenders and we will take the best on board.

Given the costs stated, is the the supplier effectively making a substantial donation of either existing software, or their time, to the ECF? If not, or even if they are, what is the ECF's assessment of the risk of the supplier failing to deliver a quality product, or even a working product at all, on time? What are the consequences if this risk occurs?

Source code and database etc you can recover but is this supplied?
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Graham Ives
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Graham Ives » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:27 pm

Brian Valentine wrote: LMS is the main enabler to simplify grading submission.

Incorrect! An ECF LMS is only an "enabler to simplify grading submission" if:- 1. it interfaces to the grading system in an effective manner, and 2. Leagues actually use it. As far as I can tell, the current proposals don't seem to address either of these issues or to have considered them.

A central ECF LMS certainly will NOT become the "main enabler", unless the ECF chooses to make it mandatory (which I've been assured it won't), or prevents other LMS from interfacing with the Grading system, or imposes a financial penalty on "competing" LMS that would like to do so. Far and away the main enabler to simplify grading submission, right now, would be for ECF to develop and publish a specification of an interface to the Grading system - an API - and allow the many existing LMS's already used by the Leagues to submit their results directly without any need for emails, files, lists spreadsheets, etc. Many, many more result submissions would be captured in this way, and probably at zero cost to ECF, than by ECF trying to acquire it's own LMS while failing at the same time to define any interface to the grading system at all!

Isn't this obvious!?

Brian Valentine wrote: At the same time, I will begin consultation on the nuts and bolts of how grading might change.

Cart before the horse..... You (or someone - sorry - I don't know the people involved) issue an invite to tender, choose a supplier and then plan to start a consultation on how everything might change? The ITT should specify what is required, and then systems should be developed to meet that requirement. Not the other way about - that's a superb way to end up spending a lot of time, money and effort on something that you eventually find you didn't actually want!!

Brian Valentine wrote: In the end any changes to the grading system will depend on how quickly results can be submitted. This can only be decided by:
• Making tools available to facilitate quick submission
• Events putting resources into what remains manual, and this will only happen if
• Members show enthusiasm for the change.

Again, from the perspective of the debate about the LMS, the reality is precisely the other way about. How quickly results can be submitted will depend on what changes are made to the Grading system to:
    • provide an interface, available to all existing LMS, to facilitate quick submission of all the results they gather
    • provide Events, that would otherwise remain manual, with a very simple result submission method direct into the Grading system, using the same API mentioned previously. (No need for a full LMS - a simple result submission app would be fine and be much cheaper and quicker to develop and implement.)
    • ensure that Members effort to learn and use any new submission method is kept to an absolute minimum, to encourage take-up by those that are not used to using an LMS

David Pardoe
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby David Pardoe » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:39 pm

Sorry, I`m not convinced this monthly grading is really a good idea..
Yes, it takes advantage of modern IT systems, etc...but what does it do for chess?
I know that a number of current league systems give stats that show `current performance` amongst other stats.
The Stockport League is but one example, and the software seems to serve that league reasonably well..
These are very interesting to look at and add interest to the websites, even if the data is only `partial`.
But I`m a bit concerned that we are being deflected from more important matters by this fixation over gradings in certain quarters.
League players will find there grades bouncing around `month by month`, depending partly on how frequently they play, and the pattern of the opposition, etc... big deal, some might say.
Not a lot of point, unless you can show some `cost` or other benefit for the effort expended..
Who would benefit, and who might not be effected to any noticeable extent.
What are the benefits, and at what cost are these going to be realised..
I personally don't see a great point in being too obsessive about grades... These should be taken as `indicative` of player `form`.....perhaps.
A six -monthly grading is quite enough for most purposes, I suspect.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Brian Valentine
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Brian Valentine » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:01 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Brian Valentine wrote:We now know that cost and Council can decide if the LMS project is worthwhile, either in its own right or as part of the monthly lists project. If so, then we will discuss with the supplier a final specification and firm up on a timetable. There were several new good ideas in the tenders and we will take the best on board.

Given the costs stated, is the the supplier effectively making a substantial donation of either existing software, or their time, to the ECF? If not, or even if they are, what is the ECF's assessment of the risk of the supplier failing to deliver a quality product, or even a working product at all, on time? What are the consequences if this risk occurs?


I don't think that this is right time for having conversations on this level of detail. And I think the best way I can try to explain the situation is to say that just because council agree to a budget it does not mean that the Board will just go out and spend it. Clearly the various risks (including the status of the code, to address Carl's post) are things that will need to be covered before the costs are incurred. We have a Board who is responsible for this activity, but it needs the budget to be available to justify the time of volunteers who will need to do this work.

I support the way the Board is carrying out this project and therefore disagree with Graham.

Angus French
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Re: The plans for the Grading System

Postby Angus French » Sat Apr 09, 2016 8:33 pm

I thought Ian asked a good question about the risk of failure to deliver. If Council is being asked to approve this project then I, for one, would have liked to have seen is a proper project proposal put forward for approval with a list of the risks etc.


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