Chess/ bridge

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Posts: 1258
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 12:43 pm
Location: Somerset

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by benedgell » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:09 am ... iera10.htm

was the congress I looked at:

Entry Fees (per player)
Full Congress : £78

Even taking into account the fact that there appears to be a full afternoon of events on the Friday in the bridge congress, as opposed to just the evening round in chess, the events on Saturday and Sunday alone cost £51 per person to enter.

I can't quote an exact entry fee for the Torbay Chess Congress, but I'd guess at £20-25. Note both events take place at the same venue.

Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 02, 2010 11:19 am
Location: London

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by hughfenwick » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:22 am

isaac wallis wrote: But why tell me should mediocrity be rewarded. I could take pretty much any weekend congress, but let's take for example Sean Hewitt's recent Sunningdale Congress. In the top section two GMs came 2= and won £100. In the bottom section a 138 won £300. Think about this and it's ludicrous. If 120 players turn up and the second largest amount of money goes to the 90th best player, something is seriously wrong. It has just become the accepted way of doing things, but it needs to be changed.
The idea of one large open at all week end congresses does not appeal. I don't mind playing stronger players from time to time but would like some chance of success in a tournament if only to restore my morale.

It would be interesting to hear from organisers about dividing the prize money in a different way. The stronger sections could then win more money while retaining some incentive for weaker players.

User avatar
Adam Raoof
Posts: 2606
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: NW4 4UY

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by Adam Raoof » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:42 am

In my events, I have always taken the view that all sections should have equal entry fees and equal guaranteed prizes. I would vary from this if there were sponsorship, and the sponsors were looking for a healthy turnout in the Open to boost the prestige of the event.

If this is a problem, and I am not sure it is, then it is a problem of our own making. On the continent (France, Spain, Germany) there are many more single section open events with grading prizes, rather than weekend congresses. The graded sections format is not restricted to the UK - in the Netherlands they also have many weekend tournaments, and very well run. However they often have just two sections, and are well sponsored.
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit -
Tornelo -
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" -
Don’t stop playing chess!

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19339
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:46 am

benedgell wrote:I can't quote an exact entry fee for the Torbay Chess Congress, but I'd guess at £20-25. Note both events take place at the same venue.
Is it a relevant difference that the Torbay Chess Congress is run by local volunteers whereas the Bridge event seems to be run from the Bridge equivalent of Battle? The EBU has far more employees than the ECF.

(added) Another difference is that there are no prizes in the Bridge event other than "Green Points". You wonder what the Bridge people are spending the entry fees on!

Martyn Harris
Posts: 108
Joined: Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:15 am
Location: Kendal

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by Martyn Harris » Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:23 pm

I allowed my membership of the EBU to lapse about 15 years ago, since when there have been a number of changes in the way bridge operates. It is probable that I am not aware of all of these. Nevertheless having had an innings of about 25 years in the game I may be able to shed some light on matters, though possibly not all I write is of relevance to this thread.

Whether played as pairs or teams, bridge is a much more social game than chess. Consequently it tends to attract people who enjoy social aspects of the game, including decent surroundings and access to facilities. Bridge appears free of an element corresponding to that in chess which is willing to play in 50 year old temporary classrooms, damp basements or noisy upper rooms in pubs, with a single 40 watt bulb doing dual service as source of heat and light, provided the venue is free. There is no reflex resentment of every penny of the entry fee that does not fall into the prize fund (let alone of every penny that does because someone - not them - should have arranged sponsorship). Thus bridge is dominated by people who attach a value to playing the game beyond that of a simple sum of costs. There is also a much more even split between the sexes, with women generally believed to (slightly?) outnumber men at all levels below the top. Cause or effect?

If the staple diet of most chess players is the league match against another club then that of the bridge player is the club duplicate, a one session event in which they compete with their partner against other members of the club. Clubs will run these virtually every week throughout the year - they probably give Christmas Day a miss if the club night falls then. Many clubs have their own premises and so run such events several times a week. Each time a player turns out they are charged table money. For clubs with their own premises this fee may well be up to 2 or 3 pounds, or even more for those clubs in the most expensive parts of the country. Some of this is returned as prize money, the rest is used to cover the club's costs. Given however that 100+ sessions a year bridge players are commonplace (bridge players would probably be amazed how little chess many chess players play) it is clear that the ordinary bridge player is not averse to spending money to support their addiction. Extrapolating (dangerous!) from those clubs at which I have played a 50-50 split between prize money and covering costs is common.

Whilst the bridge player is used to playing for small cash prizes at his club, when venturing into the world of congresses and national competitions cash prizes are rare. Trophies are fairly common, prizes where they exist are much more likely to be in kind - bottles of whisky, tins of biscuits, kitchenware, or other items that the organiser deems suitable. It is fair to say that the value of the prizes beyond that of proof of success is totally irrelevant to the bridge player, and plays no part in decisions as to whether to enter competitions.

Bridge players in this country are rated by the EBU's master point system. Anyone who claim's that the chess master point system is based on this is either fibbing or has themselves been misled. In essence it is a lifetime cumulative achievement rating. Points are awarded to those finishing in the leading positions in events signed up to the system according to their position, the size of the field and the status of the event. Reach certain landmark totals and you are awarded the relevant title (no extra cost). The highest ranks also have a requirement that a certain number of points won are "green". Green points were originally restricted to events of national importance, which corresponded remarkably closely to those that the EBU organised itself (rather larger in number than those organised by the ECF); though I believe it is now possible to pick up a small number of green points in more local events. Consequently a players rank is a function of activity and longevity as well as ability. It is undoubtedly a vanity system - I cannot ever recall anyone asking me my rank, and the number of rank restricted tournaments is so small that many bridge players have probably never played in one. Nevertheless the scales governing the award of points are such that life ain't long enough for the moderate player to reach the higher titles, even if they play every night of the week.

As previously intimated, most bridge events are open as to standard of entrant. Most are unseeded too, though the most important do have a small number of seeds. Representative bridge is also rare with inter-club and inter-county events being the exception rather than the rule. Partnerships and teams are formed and dissolved at the whim of the players concerned.

Naturally there is some self-selection in entry, with only the strongest and those with high aspirations entering the top competitions. It has to be noted though that bridge lends itself to mixed ability fields better than chess. This is because the probability aspect means that sometimes the superior action taken by strong players leads to disaster due to the lie of the cards. Thus over the 24 to 30 hands that make up a typical bridge session even the weakest players will experience one or two good scores to dine out on. Consequently the fear of just being cannon fodder is lessened.

The demographics of bridge are of considerable concern to it. Walk into many (most?) bridge clubs when you first get your state pension and you are a youngster. Many bridge players did not even learn the game until they had retired. It will be interesting to see how successful their attempts to get younger generations involved are.

Without checking a number of events both for cost and duration I cannot say whether bridge events are cheaper or more expensive than chess ones. What is different in many cases is the attitude of mind. Bridge players attribute a value to playing the game itself, and are liable to regard prizes as a bonus whose significance lies in their proof of success rather than monetary value. This attitude is rather rarer though not non-existent in chess, many of whose players clearly regard prizes as of central importance. Thus it is not regarded as beyond the pale to run a bridge event at a profit, which generally leaves the finances of bridge organisations in a healthier position.

Peter Rhodes
Posts: 246
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2009 10:53 pm

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by Peter Rhodes » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:22 pm

isaac wallis wrote:I think the lower sections should subsidise the higher sections, or to be more precise the weaker players should subsidise the stronger ones.
I think this argument somewhat puts the cart before the horse. Should mediocrity be rewarded ? In my opinion no, but then someone has to say where the line of mediocrity is drawn.

Isaac, is it possible for you to clarify whether you mean that
a) all players should subsidise the very top - i.e. minor and major subsidising the open, or
b) the minor should subsidise the major and so on upwards.

The reason I ask is because I have no problem with (a), but I find (b) personally wrong. The reason being that you then have to decide what is mediocre and what is not. If the minor subsidises the major - then are you not rewarding mediocrity unless you decide that minor players are mediocre and major players are not ?

Personally, I would be happy to play for a trophy only and happily have all the prize money to go to attract the strongest players to the open. What attracts me to this is that I can then choose where to place my financial support as a player - just as I choose which books or DVD products to purchase.

I used to play in a regular event that had a huge minor and very small major and open sections. It was obvious that the minor was subsidising all the events and I can remember having long discussions with my friend who happened to always be in the major and believed it was right he should be rewarded for being a strong player yet he was just a 160-grade player. Was he not a mediocre player himself - in comparison to the players in the open ?
Chess Amateur.

isaac wallis
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:32 pm

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by isaac wallis » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:05 am


I meant a)

The money should go to the best players. With more money on offer due to money being shunted away from 130s and 160s the top prizes would go up, and more titled players would play in weekenders instead of writing books or playing poker. As I said with the tournament being all one section, ideally six rounds.

Mediocrity is of course a relative term - a better way to put it would be 'players who would have little or no chance of a result against the best players in the room'.

The problem is because money has been given to weaker players for so long, they expect it as of right. This also discourages them from improving. Why should a 160 work hard to improve to 190 strength, when he will be rewarded by making less money in the middle of the open, than he did winning the second section?

Mark Howitt
Posts: 475
Joined: Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:20 pm

Re: Chess/ bridge

Post by Mark Howitt » Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:52 pm

I think people here should actually think about or know the 'market conditions' of chess tournaments.

The vast majority of tournaments currently run have proportionally larger entries in the Minor section. The Open section is almost always subsidised by these entrants. There is little chance that more people would enter if there was less chance of them getting a prize in a tournament with one or two sections.

There simply isn't a market for anyone really to make a living playing solely weekend congresses in the UK. In fact, some people on this thread who are better than maths at me might like to calculate how much an hour they get from playing congresses- even the good Open players would make less than four pounds an hour I reckon, certainly with preperation and expenses into account- and even for regular prize winners on other sections I doubt the figure would be higher than that.

Post Reply