Season's impressions

Venues, fixtures, teams and related matters.
Jonathan Rogers
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Season's impressions

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue May 08, 2012 5:02 pm

I won't trespass on to Lawrence's final weekend report, but I thought I might offer a few impressions of the whole season.

In terms of the positive surprises, White Rose, Barbican 2, Jutes of Kent spring to mind in the first division. The latter two made the championship pool for the first time. For Jutes this was an impressive performance as a promoted team in the tougher pool (see below) and as for Barbican 2 - well, one just has to remind people that even their first team players don't receive any conditions for playing. White Rose finished third for the second time in succession, haveing finished fourth in the previous two years, so one may quibble at the label "surprise" in their case; but they themslves would seem to concur, and they needed their greatest match result ever (victory against a 7 GM squad Guildford) in order to achieve it. It should also be noted that they came closer than anyone else to making a result against Wood Green, and that (to me) is often the acid test of the team which finished third (in a season where there are two giant teams) - did they make a better effort than the others against the top two? On that basis their third place of this year was much more significant than their third place of last year. Cambridge also had a good season and would probably have qualified for the champiuonship pool had it started in the other pool (see below).

Richard Palliser's (11 round) GM norm was very well deserved and popularly received. IM norms were made by Samuel Franklin (Barbican 2, though he made his debut for Barbican 1 against Wood Green in the last round) and Michael White (Oxford). Barbican 2 almost made a second norm but Terry Chapman lost his way in a good position in the last round against Colin McNab. The match between Blackthorne and Cambridge in the last round proved apocolyptic in this respect; each side had a norm seeker (David Ledger and David Moskovic) but since the latter needed to win they were not paired together, and each lost with White. Normally one would see more than three norms in a season but there is no such thing as a recipe for success with norms. I myself had a very dreary season, not winning a single game for the first time ever, but I still managed to frustrate two GM norm seekers by drawing with them in consecutive rounds (Sam Collins and Jonathan Hawkins) ...

Sympathies for the relegated teams, especially Oxford and ADs. Again Oxford were a victim of the new pool system (see below) and the ADs face being relegated for the first time since BCM entered in 1994 (if one takes ADs to be connected to the old BCM team through its various transitions, which I think one can). Only once before were they due to be relegated, only to be reprieved when Wood Green withdrew two of its teams in 2006; but I don't see any reprieve in the offing this time.

Congratulations to all the promoted teams from division two, though their successes are not so "surprising" - three of them have played in the fisrt division before. The exception is the winners, AMCA Dragons who almost became the first team to make 100% in the second division. White Rose 2 (which really is composed purely of Yorkshire players) were rightly pleased to make the promotion pool and they are strengthening year by year, though actual promotion still looks to be a work in progress.

Finally, a word about the pool system of the 4NCL - this year proved to be the worst, sadly. Just think:

(1) the top two teams in division one met in round four in the same pool, because yet again seeding the teams correctly - the possibility of which is a notoriously false premise - broke down. So we knew the winner before the last weekend. It also proved to be the second time that one pool provided the teams which finished 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th, whilst the other pool provided four very competitive teams which finished 3rd-6th. Needless to say the latter pool is much tougher and that is why Wood Green 2 failed to qualify for the championship pool for the second consecutive year.

(2) three of the four relegated teams in division one came from the same original pool - again, the other "weaker" one (the first time this has happened: I think it has been split evenly in the past).

(3) All four promoted teams from division two came from the same original pool - and that was the second time that this had happened. To make things worse, only one team from this pool was eventually relegated (Brown Jack, see below), so again there was no way of arguing that the pools were of comparable strength.

(4) Two teams made a substantial number of points against the stronger teams in their original pool, only to "lose" these results when they played in the relegation pool - and then they were relegated. Oddly enough this was the second time when each team (Oxford in division one, Brown Jack in division two) faced this problem. Be that as it may, the possibility of this happening is by no means academic and it is particularly unfortunate if the team had played in the stronger pool, which was the case for both teams this year.

Mick Norris
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Mick Norris » Tue May 08, 2012 6:34 pm

Wouldn't it be better to have 3 divisions of 12 on an APA basis and the rest of us in a Swiss down in Div 4?
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Alan Walton
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Alan Walton » Tue May 08, 2012 6:38 pm

Mick Norris wrote:Wouldn't it be better to have 3 divisions of 12 on an APA basis and the rest of us in a Swiss down in Div 4?
This is exactly what is was before this system

Mike Truran
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Mike Truran » Tue May 08, 2012 6:47 pm

It was changed to three divisions mainly because people wanted a faster route through to Div 1 for teams entering the 4NCL for the first time.

As usual, you can only please some of the people some of the time.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Season's impressions

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue May 08, 2012 7:03 pm

Mike Truran wrote:It was changed to three divisions mainly because people wanted a faster route through to Div 1 for teams entering the 4NCL for the first time.

As usual, you can only please some of the people some of the time.
Which is a very principled position from Mike, given Brown Jack were very unlucky with the pool split this year.

Still, I preferred the 12 team divisions too. Were there any serious alternatives considered? I'd be tempted to relegate an extra team in every division in favour of a new team (with average Elo and financial requirements), but reprieve them if there is no new entry to that division or higher.

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David Shepherd
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by David Shepherd » Tue May 08, 2012 7:24 pm

Mike Truran wrote:It was changed to three divisions mainly because people wanted a faster route through to Div 1 for teams entering the 4NCL for the first time.

As usual, you can only please some of the people some of the time.
I guess an alternative would be to have 4 divisions but to allow the top team(s) in division 4 to be promoted to division 2 with the teams just below them promoted to division 3. The number of teams relegated being adjusted accordingly.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Season's impressions

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue May 08, 2012 7:26 pm

David Shepherd wrote:
Mike Truran wrote:It was changed to three divisions mainly because people wanted a faster route through to Div 1 for teams entering the 4NCL for the first time.

As usual, you can only please some of the people some of the time.
I guess an alternative would be to have 4 divisions but to allow the top team(s) in division 4 to be promoted to division 2 with the teams just below them promoted to division 3. The number of teams relegated being adjusted accordingly.
I like that idea better than mine!

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue May 08, 2012 9:00 pm

I suggested the idea of having:

Division 1 - 12-team APA. Four relegated.
Division 2 - Two, 12-team APAs. Two teams promoted and relegated from both 2a and 2b.
Division 3 - As now.

The advantages of this would be having APAs, keeping only three divisions, and having a reasonable distribution of rooms by having a split of hotel rooms on split weekends.

Richard Bates
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Richard Bates » Tue May 08, 2012 9:37 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:I suggested the idea of having:

Division 1 - 12-team APA. Four relegated.
Division 2 - Two, 12-team APAs. Two teams promoted and relegated from both 2a and 2b.
Division 3 - As now.

The advantages of this would be having APAs, keeping only three divisions, and having a reasonable distribution of rooms by having a split of hotel rooms on split weekends.
Having 4 teams relegated from a 1st division of 12 teams would be too high a number IMO. And this suggestion would also increase the strength differential between top and second division(s) which is bad for two reasons. Strong teams relegated from division 1 (and you would get some very strong teams relegated under this format) would IMO be far more likely to fold on relegation, which would have the knock-on effect that promoted sides would also be weaker and unable to compete.

One concern i had when the current system was introduced was that it would increase the above "penalty price" of relegation for teams looking for strong opponents. In practice however it has not really worked out like that because in some ways what we now have is not two divisions of 16, but 4 divisions of 8. As a result the differences between competing in each division is not so great. My instinct is that there is more strength in depth now than there was before the switch, although this may be mistaken based on an horrendous season for my team.
Last edited by Richard Bates on Tue May 08, 2012 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Richard Bates
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Richard Bates » Tue May 08, 2012 9:45 pm

Of course however much some people claim to dislike the current format, an attempt to revert to 12 player A-P-As would probably meet with quite stiff opposition. For the simple reason that it would be quite difficult to implement without putting a lot of teams in danger. Going from 12 to 16 was easy - nobody got relegated and 4 teams got promoted (as opposed to the previous 3 and 3). Unsurprisingly there was little dissent to that.

Going from 16 to 12 would probably mean, for one season only, relegating 6 and promoting only 2. All but a handful of top division sides would be in serious danger at the start of the year (and the complained about 'pool bias' would be seriously magnified).

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue May 08, 2012 11:51 pm

Richard Bates wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:I suggested the idea of having:

Division 1 - 12-team APA. Four relegated.
Division 2 - Two, 12-team APAs. Two teams promoted and relegated from both 2a and 2b.
Division 3 - As now.

The advantages of this would be having APAs, keeping only three divisions, and having a reasonable distribution of rooms by having a split of hotel rooms on split weekends.
Having 4 teams relegated from a 1st division of 12 teams would be too high a number IMO. And this suggestion would also increase the strength differential between top and second division(s) which is bad for two reasons. Strong teams relegated from division 1 (and you would get some very strong teams relegated under this format) would IMO be far more likely to fold on relegation, which would have the knock-on effect that promoted sides would also be weaker and unable to compete.
Those are certainly some impacts. More impacts include:
(1) The top two divisions have 36 teams instead of 32. I don't think this overly weakens the top two divisions; indeed Division 2 is quite competitive.
(2) Division 1 has many one-sided games involving the very top sides against the rest of the Division 1 sides. By cutting away some of the bottom sides, you make Division 1 more competitive.
(3) There seem to be a few teams yoyoing between Division 1 and Division 2. Bristol 1, Sambuca Sharks and Warwickshire Select, for example. Relegating 4 from 12 is likely to make this problem worse. A solution to this problem would be to relegate only 2 teams, and promote 1 from each of 2a and 2b. This would reduce yoyoing dramatically.
(4) Only 12 teams need a female, rather than 16. 24 teams need a female or junior, rather than 16.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 09, 2012 12:29 am

Richard Bates wrote: Going from 12 to 16 was easy - nobody got relegated
There was a cut back from 36 eight board teams to 32. In the change over season, half of division three was relegated, so that two teams could be promoted from the "Swiss" division.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by Ian Thompson » Wed May 09, 2012 12:56 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:(3) There seem to be a few teams yoyoing between Division 1 and Division 2. Bristol 1, Sambuca Sharks and Warwickshire Select, for example. Relegating 4 from 12 is likely to make this problem worse. A solution to this problem would be to relegate only 2 teams, and promote 1 from each of 2a and 2b. This would reduce yoyoing dramatically.
Why is this a problem? You have some teams that are clearly of Division 1 standard and in little danger of relegation, some that are clearly of division 2 standard and with little chance of promotion, and some borderline teams where it could go either way. I'd have thought the more borderline teams you can get, the better. It makes for a more competitive division.

What you really want to avoid is matches where one of the teams has nothing to play for. Under the current structure that's typically going to happen in rounds 6 and 7 when its clear that one team is going to finish in the top half and the other in the bottom half, and in rounds 10 and 11 when one team's promotion/relegation fate is already decided.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Season's impressions

Post by Paul Cooksey » Wed May 09, 2012 8:48 am

Richard Bates wrote:Going from 16 to 12 would probably mean, for one season only, relegating 6 and promoting only 2. All but a handful of top division sides would be in serious danger at the start of the year (and the complained about 'pool bias' would be seriously magnified).
This is indeed tricky.

Maybe merge the 1st demotion and 2nd promotion pools into a 16 team 5 round Swiss with 4 up and down, ignoring previous results except for seeding? It is not a format I'd like in the long term, but for a transitional year I could live with it.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Season's impressions

Post by LawrenceCooper » Wed May 09, 2012 8:54 am

Alan Walton wrote:
Mick Norris wrote:Wouldn't it be better to have 3 divisions of 12 on an APA basis and the rest of us in a Swiss down in Div 4?
This is exactly what is was before this system
The Bundesliga have 16 teams but play a fifteen round all-play-all. Would that be an option or is the calendar already too crowded to cater for an additional two weekends?

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