Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

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John Swain
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Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by John Swain » Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:46 am

Playing at the National Counties Final yesterday, it struck me that most of the competitors, with the exception of a few juniors mainly in the lower graded matches, were in the 45+ age-group (like me). The same is true in the Notts League where I play. As a teacher with an active chess club at school, I have noticed for a long time how players often give up at 18 when they leave school and only occasionally return to the game.

A good deal of focus, quite correctly, is on ways to promote junior chess, but it seems to me that a bigger challenge is to retain juniors as chess-players into adulthood, and to tempt adults back into playing after a spell away from the game. If we do not rise to this challenge, there will be a real crisis both in terms of lack of organisers and players in 20-30 years time.

Any ideas?

Ljubica Lazarevic
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Ljubica Lazarevic » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:14 am

I expect a combination of the huge selection of different activities that are available at university, combined with the low to non-existent profile of chess in most universities is most likely the biggest culprit.

One idea that may perhaps help maintain interest in the game for the 18-22 age range could be for club members to maintain contact with the younger players through emails, club updates and tournaments in their area. This could well serve as a useful reminder about the game that they have had interest in.

Andrew Camp
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Andrew Camp » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:31 am

You're lucky if they get to 18 and give up.

In my experience, most fall away once they get to Year 7.
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matt_ward
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by matt_ward » Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:52 am

I guess the reason for people when they reach 18 the chances are becoming much less for them to get to the standard in which they wont. I do not know the statistics on this but I imagine the chances of becoming titled after 18 are pretty small.

However of course this depends on what level your at when you reach this age, no doubt Ljubica I can understand your point their however I can not realistically see this working. If 18-22 year olds want to play they will, if they have lost interest in the game it is more likely because they are not the level they wont to be.

Or another reason could be because of the minor disputes which occur within the game in tournaments or league matches etc. But lets hope someone will find a way to keep youngsters at the game. I think the other problem when at 18-22 this in career changing for most, i.e. A levels and what university to go to and so forth, and I think chess will get in the way of people 18-22 i.e. like socialising.

Matt.

Ian Kingston
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Ian Kingston » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:07 pm

There's a lot of peer pressure not to play chess at secondary school. At John Swain's school the chess club is so strong that a lot of boys who might otherwise give up do carry on, even if only in school matches.

Post-18, the attractions of sex & drugs & rock & roll (loosely speaking) compete very strongly with chess. The peer pressure against chess remains. Many years ago I was keen to carry on playing at university, but too many gigs clashed with league matches and I gave up chess after a year. Thirty years on the opportunities to do something else are even greater. I suppose the question to be asked of 18-year-olds graded 120-180 would be: 'What do you want from chess that would make it at least as appealing as some of the other things that you also enjoy doing?'.

Mark Howitt
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Mark Howitt » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:15 pm

Read basically most of my posts on here and chessninja.com and you'll get an idea. I'm an example of a dedicated chessplayer who gave up- over 95% of people my age through the ranks did before me.

John Upham
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by John Upham » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:16 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:
Post-18, the attractions of sex & drugs & rock & roll (loosely speaking) compete very strongly with chess.
Even post 50 this is still true although I have replaced drugs with vitamins! :lol:
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benedgell
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by benedgell » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:41 pm

I think there is a great deal less focus on chess players at secondary school level, not just from the ECF side of things, but also within schools. The number of internal chess clubs tends to fall away greatly. If you go to a state school the chances of there being a club are slim- to- nil. That along with exams, and the increased pressure of the stereotype that chess is for geeks, accounts for a great deal of young chess players.

Inevitably of the people that stick with chess through secondary school, a great deal will find the social- life of university more appealing, and others will find they have to prioritise exams over chess.

I think to a certain extent the lack of a social side of things in chess makes it unattractive. Events like the 4ncl, where people can play chess and then go for some drinks with friends attracts a great deal of people in the 18-24 age range, but events where all you do is turn up to play at a school/ village hall, play chess, and then go home (weekend congresses, county matches etc), are going to struggle to attract people in that age range.

There's also the fact that somewhere towards the end of secondary school parents stop bankrolling their children's entries into tournaments, and make them become financially independent to this end. If you look at the prizes for a lot of tournaments, comparable with the costs, its very difficult/ impossible, to make a reasonable income. With the costs associated with university, the people that stick with chess do tend to cut back on the amounts they play.

Finally, its difficult to make going from the 170-200 grade range (which a lot of 18- 24 year olds tend to reach) towards the FM/ IM title an attractive option. The amount of time and money needed to get there (it usually means entering a fair number of tournaments that last a week at a time, and quite often flying abroad to somewhere obscure and difficult to reach), greatly outweigh the potential income (coaching if you live in an affluent area, reduced/ no entry fees).

Mark Howitt
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Mark Howitt » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:43 pm

Anyone with a chess brain who wants to make easy money will do poker. If I'd learnt about it at 18 I probably would have given up then.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Joey Stewart » Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:20 pm

And, yet, you still feel the need to hang around a 'chess' forum and involve yourself with a game you claim to have no intrest in anymore.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Arshad Ali
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Arshad Ali » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:09 pm

benedgell wrote:There's also the fact that somewhere towards the end of secondary school parents stop bankrolling their children's entries into tournaments, and make them become financially independent to this end. If you look at the prizes for a lot of tournaments, comparable with the costs, its very difficult/ impossible, to make a reasonable income. With the costs associated with university, the people that stick with chess do tend to cut back on the amounts they play.
It's part of a broader problem of reduced security and stability these days. Youngsters -- given the harsher economic climate we all have to unwillingly endure -- have to be more focused on university and jobs. Life is arguably more stressful, less secure, and less stable these days. I myself encouraged my boy to give up chess at around the age of 14, nine years back, when his ECF strength was roughly 160. These days he plays on the ICC and five-minute coffee-house games, but that's about it. School and university work has absorbed his time and energy, and given the paucity of jobs and the ferocity of competition for openings that do still exist, he can't afford to be lax in these matters. Things weren't the same forty or fifty years ago. Just sayin' ...

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:55 pm

There's no reason to give up chess at 18 anymore if you attend University: http://www.buca.org.uk

The biggest problem with people "my" age is that often they can't be bothered to run things for themselves. "Oh, there's no chess society." So, they give up. They don't think, "Maybe I can start one up?" It's all too much effort, and too much hard work. The consumption of alcohol and nightclub attendance is often far higher up on people's priority lists. Which I guess you can't do much about. So nothing ever happens.

As for the county championship, I think that's because there are quite a lot of students playing in the 4NCL, and they don't see the point of the County Championship. Or even if they do, no one ever invites them to play; captains tend not to hunt people down on the grading list who might actually be an asset to the team, they just ask the same people who've been at it for years, because they know them.

Mark Howitt
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Mark Howitt » Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:02 pm

Lol I know... I do question it myself, given the somewhat unstable characters there are.

I've given up playing OTB chess (at least for now). I still follow the gossip and some chessplayers are interesting!

matt_ward
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by matt_ward » Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:43 pm

I do agree with you somewhat on that point Alex.

Matt.

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Gareth Harley-Yeo
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Re: Lack of young(ish) adults playing chess

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Sun Jul 11, 2010 6:12 pm

Ian Kingston wrote: I suppose the question to be asked of 18-year-olds graded 120-180 would be: 'What do you want from chess that would make it at least as appealing as some of the other things that you also enjoy doing?'.
Ladies to 'socialise' with.

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