Team Board Orders & Grades

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
IanCalvert
Posts: 212
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:59 pm

Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by IanCalvert » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:47 pm

Do all leagues have team Board order rules related to grades? Doubtless there is often (always?) scope for subjective adjustment by team captains for under-rated juniors and others.What are the extreme examples of such adjustment rules?

My question is do others think this practice of broadly grade dependent board order is still appropriate in the 21st century when computer aided (database and engine) preparation for specific opponents is quickly possible?

My view is that my league team chess, particularly when I am Board 1 ( which does happen , honest!), might sometimes benefit from a bit more randomisation of board order :)

Nick Burrows
Posts: 761
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:15 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Nick Burrows » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:54 pm

Definately necessary to avoid a squad with multiple teams, playing their strongest players in lower teams to get promoted etc.

David Sedgwick
Posts: 3033
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 pm

IanCalvert wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:47 pm
... when computer aided (database and engine) preparation for specific opponents is quickly possible?
The effect of that is that pre-game preparation now extends down to players about ECF 150, if not lower.

Those who spend time on preparation see their results improve and their grades go up. Those who do not prepare struggle to maintain their grades.

Is that so wrong?

I have probably prepared specifically for more games in the last two years than in the previous fifty years.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 16986
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:11 pm

IanCalvert wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:47 pm
Do all leagues have team Board order rules related to grades?
Having rather weaker rules that suggest teams be ordered by strength is common. There would be an implied rule that board orders are not altered on whim, even if they don't go as far as to say that the nominated order applies throughout the competition. Grade implies strength with the obvious exceptions of rapidly improving and new players.

The 4NCL was perhaps an exception in having a detailed rule governing legal board orders. I think that arose in part because in the earliest years of the league, teams would have weekends with the same top board colour in both matches. As a consequence board order switching to give colour alternation became commonplace. When in at least one match, the players facing one another on board 1 would more naturally have faced on a much loser board, detail rules were introduced.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 16986
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:22 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 pm
The effect of that is that pre-game preparation now extends down to players about ECF 150, if not lower.
Arguably it goes as low as there exists a record of a player's previous games and the attitude of mind that it's worth knowing your opponent and how they are likely to play. But for regular or prominent opponents you would do this over thirty years ago before ChessBase and the like came into existence. I had an idea 3. a4 in the 2. .. a6 Sicilian saved up for years, which I eventually got to use against Michael Franklin in 1981. Franklin had a reputation for playing that line and had been one of England's top 10 in the grading list.

IanCalvert
Posts: 212
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:59 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by IanCalvert » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:43 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:04 pm
IanCalvert wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:47 pm
... when computer aided (database and engine) preparation for specific opponents is quickly possible?
The effect of that is that pre-game preparation now extends down to players about ECF 150, if not lower.

Those who spend time on preparation see their results improve and their grades go up. Those who do not prepare struggle to maintain their grades.

Is that so wrong?

I have probably prepared specifically for more games in the last two years than in the previous fifty years.
David

I guess the important moral question you raise is for local leagues. I do think individual leagues should decide whether they want to discourage such preparation by for example last minute exchange of team lists or not.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 16986
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:54 pm

IanCalvert wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:43 pm
I do think individual leagues should decide whether they want to discourage such preparation by for example last minute exchange of team lists or not.
The usual principle is that you exchange team lists immediately before the start of play. The publication of pairings an hour and a half before the match is confined to the 4NCL, I would have thought.

Nick Grey
Posts: 848
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:16 am

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:52 pm

The Thames Valley League does not have a order of strength rule. Captains can then make all sorts of adjustments. Having implemented a London League system for division 1 with alternate quickplay and slowplay defaults is also good = having experienced in the London League.
Also helps is nominations especially captains. With nobody coming forward for captaining our 1st teams I agreed to run our Thames Valley first team on the basis I would be nominated. I had no interest in playing in division 4 where our original intention was to cram it with those graded 100 and below or new players.

Thames Valley also has a rule to stop parachuting new players after 31st March into the first division - there was a lot of this a long time ago which was unfair. A team winning the league when playing some very strong players that had not played for that club before.

In 4NCL it is generally the last weekend that counts - and seems unfair and affects all divisions if new strong players come in at the last weekend. Other than it being the same for all teams it one point that has bothered me about the 4NCL.

The order of strength rule is clear other than my shock at 5 minutes before the start and playing on board 5 for our 4th team, having to play board 1 for our 2nd team with a 1000= point upfloat because I was a named substitute. The next day I was allowed to go back to our 4th team on the proviso I had to play another black on board 1 against a very strong player. I spent more time queueing for a coffee than playing but still won in 10 moves. it helped that the controller explained this to me as soon as I saw the pairing in the morning.

Surrey Leagues and Knockouts have 10 point rule based on the previous August grades. It has tied the hands of every tournament controller for years going back to Martin Cath who has never used a computer. I must say that I have spent so much time with our captains and players and even at my last Surrey match I had 3 players querying my board order. Sometimes we do tie ourselves up with rules.

On preparation you will find that players graded even below 100 will prepare. I was shocked when I found out so much that I have varied some openings. I have enough problems recalling recent games than those I played 20-40 years ago. So I do take a view that if I do not know what move I will play it is likely to mess up any opponent preparation. I may well have used databases and engines in the past, but have not over the last decade.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1526
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:19 am

From my experience of the Yorkshire League, both as player and controller, it is very hard for teams to engineer or avoid specific pairings. While some long standing top boards may have what amounts to an annual encounter, changes within teams from match to match means that individual pairings are hard to predict.

As a captain I prefer to keep a stable team with a consistent board order determined by playing strength (not always easy now the grading list updates twice a year and Yorkshire of course has an additional problem). If nothing else that stops any squabbling over board order. However some teams with players of broadly similar strength may jiggle the line up between matches so that everybody gets their turn on top board and there's nothing wrong with that. I can't imagine there are many leagues (if any, besides the 4NCL) that insist on pairing lists being exchanged other than immediately prior to the match.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Clive Blackburn

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Clive Blackburn » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:12 am

In the Coventry League, the rules have been tightened up and players must now be placed in strict order of playing strength. Teams are to keep to a constant board order. Movement of players may be deemed to be seeking a tactical advantage and penalties can be applied.

This is often counterproductive, particularly in the case of strong juniors whose grading is rising rapidly.

As always, ungraded players are a problem and in their first season an estimate has to be made.

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 2433
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:55 am

"In the Coventry League, the rules have been tightened up and players must now be placed in strict order of playing strength. Teams are to keep to a constant board order."

Teams should always be in order of playing strength. Unfortunately, too many people think that "Grading" = "Playing strength". Surrey introduced a ten point rule, apparently copied from 4NCL, then penalised one club for fielding two players in the "wrong" order, when the one lower in the team was 6 points higher than the one a board higher... The "justification" was that the rules about playing strength meant that the league could decide that only 6 points difference was sufficient to make that player stronger. (We got the rule changed to an absolute 10 points later.) In this case, the higher graded player had just played in a gruelling 11 round tournament, and had returned to England that day, so had asked to drop down a board, which seems entirely reasonable.

Redhill had a player graded about 145, who was undergoing treatment for cancer. He had to play on too high a board during his treatment, and understandably, his grade plummeted to about 125. The next season, when he was happily recovered, he had to play on too low a board and the by now 82-year-old, finished the season with a grade of about 145.

This is obviously a dramatic case, but it seems daft that the rule forces you to play your team out of order of strength, if a player is ill (even with a cold) or if a player has driven 200 miles to get to an evening league match, or if someone has improved dramatically during the season, or if your star junior is in the middle of exams.

Of course, I do recall that when such rules were not applicable, that some clubs used their club president on board 1 as he had played there for 50 years!

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 16986
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:12 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:55 am
In this case, the higher graded player had just played in a gruelling 11 round tournament, and had returned to England that day, so had asked to drop down a board, which seems entirely reasonable.
Arguably there are two philosophies illustrated at the extremes by what happens in international team competitions at one level and perhaps the 4NCL at the other.

In international team competitions such as the Olympiad there is no requirement to field your team in order of strength or even rating. However the initial order has to be followed throughout the competition with tactical switching allowed only by leaving players out.

In the 4NCL and perhaps leagues like Surrey who have followed suit, you are required to field your team in rating or grade order however with a leeway of 80 Elo points or 10 ECF points, you can interchange for whatever reason you want. I don't know about Surrey, but it's common practice for the 4NCL teams not to be in strict rating order, or even a consistent order from one match to the next.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1526
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:04 am

My rule of thumb as Yorkshire League controller has always been that if a team has a complaint about playing order it is their job to raise it and the burden of proof is on them (unless of course the violation is so obvious that it sticks out like a sore thumb - this has never happened). Following a dispute a few years back I did tighten the rule to specify a specific grading list and a points tolerance but made the point that essentially players needed to decide whether they wanted rigidity or flexibility; they couldn't have both. It was a privilege to be involved with the county championships but I will not miss having to impose penalties or the jobsworths combing results for infractions I might have missed. The comments about Surrey up thread really do not surprise me.

Ultimately we all play chess because (hopefully) we enjoy it. Flexible and common sense rules aid that enjoyment - for example if a team gets promoted to a division where they are at a grading disadvantage in most matches (and their top four boards are pretty much of a muchness) they may choose to take it in turns to play top board. Or the player who would be board 3 on grade opts to play top board every time because he enjoys a bit of hard practice.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

NickFaulks
Posts: 4269
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:28 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:46 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:55 am
Of course, I do recall that when such rules were not applicable, that some clubs used their club president on board 1 as he had played there for 50 years!
And why not? It is of course quite likely that other club members welcomed the new rule as cover for demoting him.

Graham Borrowdale
Posts: 107
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:54 pm

Re: Team Board Orders & Grades

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:03 pm

Oh, how I miss playing in the Surrey League!

The imposition in general of grading numbers as a strict indication of playing strength was inevitable, given the number of "jobsworths" (Andrew Z) in chess, and the need for rules for everything, but it does prevent the development of improving players, junior or otherwise, by them having to play too low, and similarly, exposes out of form players, who have to play too high.

To answer the original post, I find that I need to prepare for every league game, as I can be almost certain who my opponent will be, and even for county matches I can narrow it down to 3 or 4. Whether that is a good thing I am not sure, but it has added a different dimension to amateur chess compared with, say, 30 years ago. Some of that can be stressful, but some is educational.

Post Reply