Counties Abolished

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Sean Hewitt

Counties Abolished

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:46 am

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-10825499

Can someone dial 999 and arrange an ambulance for Alex :D

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 31, 2010 7:43 am

There was an act passed in 1997 that means you can still use the traditional counties if you want to, and your post will still be delivered as normal.

E.g. where I live:

Oldbury
West Midlands
B69 1NX

Would become

Oldbury
Worcestershire
B69 1NX

West Midlands and Worcestershire are bits of information they don't need.

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John Saunders
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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:59 pm

The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. All the silly squabbles about who can play for which team would suddenly disappear out of the window. The 4NCL figured this out 16+ years ago and they've been all the happier for it. It might be different if there were lots of people involved in club or county chess but there aren't. British chess is not rich enough in numbers of players to afford strict eligibility rules.
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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 31, 2010 3:50 pm

John Saunders wrote:The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. All the silly squabbles about who can play for which team would suddenly disappear out of the window. The 4NCL figured this out 16+ years ago and they've been all the happier for it. It might be different if there were lots of people involved in club or county chess but there aren't. British chess is not rich enough in numbers of players to afford strict eligibility rules.
So you're saying we should get rid of the County Championship, the national stages of which attract somewhere in the region of 1,000 players?

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Scott Freeman » Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:48 pm

John Saunders wrote:
"The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. "


Perhaps EPSCA would also have to follow suit and get away from the need to have to stick to physically regional areas for their eligible bodies. There are enough independent trainers and organisations that junior chess teams could be developed on a different basis - but no reason why the original bodies could not be retained as well.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Neil Graham » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:08 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
John Saunders wrote:The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. All the silly squabbles about who can play for which team would suddenly disappear out of the window. The 4NCL figured this out 16+ years ago and they've been all the happier for it. It might be different if there were lots of people involved in club or county chess but there aren't. British chess is not rich enough in numbers of players to afford strict eligibility rules.
So you're saying we should get rid of the County Championship, the national stages of which attract somewhere in the region of 1,000 players?
Alex, of course you're correct and John is wrong. The vast majority of players in England play club chess and club chess only - the average grade is around 130 which means that 50% of players are graded less than that. All these people have no interest in the 4NCL and the like - they just turn up at their chess club on a winter's evening to play in their League matches. Of the people in the grading list I would guess that 95% at least play club chess and substantially more play county chess than play in the 4NCL. What happened when there was some money in chess is that the person with the biggest cheque book got the best chess team. The 4NCL is fine operating on that basis but I see no reason to say you are eligible for, say, Worcestershire on the basis that your county can offer me more money to play! I note that the 4NCL's attempt to start a Northern League looks doomed to failure unless they suddenly find about 20 more teams this month. Incidentally is there a huge history of silly squabbles - I haven't heard about it!

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:28 pm

Neil Graham wrote:I note that the 4NCL's attempt to start a Northern League looks doomed to failure unless they suddenly find about 20 more teams this month. Incidentally is there a huge history of silly squabbles - I haven't heard about it!
There are two important things to note:
1) A bit of research suggests there are far fewer FIDE-rated players in the North of England than the South. This could be due to a lack of opportunities (before e2e4's Northern expansion). It might also be that fewer of them are ECF members; which is possible due to the NCCU's membership scheme. Because of the NCCU scheme though, there's no barrier to enter FIDE-rated chess that players from non-MO places have.
2) Since when did chess teams/players enter things well in advance of the deadline? I get about 1/3 entries in the last week before the deadline. The deadline for 4NCL entries is August 31. So there's plenty of time left for the Northern 4NCL to flourish.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:17 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
John Saunders wrote:The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. All the silly squabbles about who can play for which team would suddenly disappear out of the window. The 4NCL figured this out 16+ years ago and they've been all the happier for it. It might be different if there were lots of people involved in club or county chess but there aren't. British chess is not rich enough in numbers of players to afford strict eligibility rules.
So you're saying we should get rid of the County Championship, the national stages of which attract somewhere in the region of 1,000 players?
No, of course I'm not. Complicated eligibility restrictions need to be canned, not club/county chess itself. Other sports (e.g. cricket) have gradually got rid of most of their eligibility rules. It's OK to have them while they work and competitions thrive, but if those competitions wither on the vine (as they have), and people are forever getting into silly boundary disputes (as they do), then they need to be curtailed.
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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:24 pm

John Saunders wrote: No, of course I'm not. Complicated eligibility restrictions need to be canned, not club/county chess itself. Other sports (e.g. cricket) have gradually got rid of most of their eligibility rules. It's OK to have them while they work and competitions thrive, but if those competitions wither on the vine (as they have), and people are forever getting into silly boundary disputes (as they do), then they need to be curtailed.
I don't see why the County Championship needs to be more 4NCL-like. The 4NCL is already 4NCL-like. The County Championship offers something different, which appeals to some people who don't play in the 4NCL. So there's no problem.

Besides, they're not that complicated; they actually allow for lots of flexibility. Most people are eligible for more than 1 county.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:33 pm

Neil Graham wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:
John Saunders wrote:The really good news will be the day when the ECF abolishes the concept of eligibility for club and county chess. All the silly squabbles about who can play for which team would suddenly disappear out of the window. The 4NCL figured this out 16+ years ago and they've been all the happier for it. It might be different if there were lots of people involved in club or county chess but there aren't. British chess is not rich enough in numbers of players to afford strict eligibility rules.
So you're saying we should get rid of the County Championship, the national stages of which attract somewhere in the region of 1,000 players?
Alex, of course you're correct and John is wrong. The vast majority of players in England play club chess and club chess only - the average grade is around 130 which means that 50% of players are graded less than that. All these people have no interest in the 4NCL and the like - they just turn up at their chess club on a winter's evening to play in their League matches. Of the people in the grading list I would guess that 95% at least play club chess and substantially more play county chess than play in the 4NCL. What happened when there was some money in chess is that the person with the biggest cheque book got the best chess team. The 4NCL is fine operating on that basis but I see no reason to say you are eligible for, say, Worcestershire on the basis that your county can offer me more money to play! I note that the 4NCL's attempt to start a Northern League looks doomed to failure unless they suddenly find about 20 more teams this month. Incidentally is there a huge history of silly squabbles - I haven't heard about it!
Neil,

Like Alex you have failed to read or understand what I actually wrote. And you haven't heard of silly disputes? Gtr Manchester / Lancashire? There was also a major brouhaha some years ago about the continuing eligibility of former university players to carry on playing for the county of their university after they had gone down. I think there have been plenty of others. This forum has seen a tsunami of words about all manner of petty boundary issues.

There seem to be two schools of thought on the subject of people being paid to play domestic club/county chess. I personally can see nothing wrong with someone putting money up to get a pro player to turn out for a club or a county team but I sense you may be of the other school. If some wealthy person were to find the money to field a county team headed by Anand, Kramnik and Topalov - would it not be a shot in the arm for the competition and British chess in general? A slightly eccentric example, perhaps, but why shouldn't players at least be free to move from one county team to another without reference to arbitrary and anachronistic rules about where they were born, where they live or work? All I'm really saying is that the field of selection needs to be opened up a bit and these old tribal divisions kicked into the long grass. Given that quite a lot of counties no longer have a county team, it is even possible for some native-born English chessplayers to be completely ineligible for any county. Which strikes me as bonkers.
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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:45 pm

John Saunders wrote: I personally can see nothing wrong with someone putting money up to get a pro player to turn out for a club or a county team.
Me neither. Just don't expect me to pay it!
John Saunders wrote:If some wealthy person were to find the money to field a county team headed by Anand, Kramnik and Topalov - would it not be a shot in the arm for the competition and British chess in general?
They wouldn't play one game of chess in a church hall in Syston. Wealthy people can't even afford to get them on their side in the 4NCL, which is FIDE-rated, has high quality conditions...
John Saunders wrote:Given that quite a lot of counties no longer have a county team, it is even possible for some native-born English chessplayers to be completely ineligible for any county. Which strikes me as bonkers.
Citation needed. I think the vast majority of counties who want to field teams do. The most notable exception I can think of are Berkshire (because they don't see the benefit of SCCU affiliation). That's created by daftness from the Berkshire CA.

I think of the County system as like the Olympiad, but for counties (or geographical regions) instead of countries. OK there are disputes, but at the heart of it, there are simple divisions which are easy to follow. If each county had a membership scheme, it would be even easier. Eligibility would be determined by whichever county you're a member of.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:59 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
John Saunders wrote:Given that quite a lot of counties no longer have a county team, it is even possible for some native-born English chessplayers to be completely ineligible for any county. Which strikes me as bonkers.
Citation needed. I think the vast majority of counties who want to field teams do. The most notable exception I can think of are Berkshire (because they don't see the benefit of SCCU affiliation). That's created by daftness from the Berkshire CA.
None of Bucks, Berks and Oxon play in the SCCU (or national competitions). All three, along with Hants play in a local Saturday afternoon competition known as the Chiltern Cup. Berks and Oxon don't pay any money to the SCCU because they don't play in any SCCU competitions. They don't pay anything to the MCCU or WECU for the same reason.

I think John's point is that a players in smaller counties may not have a team (even in a neighbouring county) for which they would be allowed to play. He's suggesting that if you appointed a match captain with a particularly good set of contacts in the chess world, that said captain should be able to recruit widely and beyond the traditional eligibility restrictions. No money need change hands, a few favours perhaps! That is the model used in the 4NCL (and the London League to some extent). For amateur players, easy access to the venues is probably important and a limiting factor. I noticed that Lancashire fielded two players this year in the national stages who I would have described as Oxford stalwarts. It probably helped that all the matches were in the midlands.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:57 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Citation needed. I think the vast majority of counties who want to field teams do. The most notable exception I can think of are Berkshire (because they don't see the benefit of SCCU affiliation). That's created by daftness from the Berkshire CA.

I think of the County system as like the Olympiad, but for counties (or geographical regions) instead of countries. OK there are disputes, but at the heart of it, there are simple divisions which are easy to follow. If each county had a membership scheme, it would be even easier. Eligibility would be determined by whichever county you're a member of.
I don't need to cite anyone because you've done it for me - Berkshire. Or my own native county, Buckinghamshire. For the sake of argument, let's assume that I have spent my entire life living there (which I haven't, by the way) and, after a long lay-off, want to play county chess again. I discover that they play in the Chilterns League, but I fancy having a bash at playing for another county who play against the Metropolitan counties (as Bucks did years ago) with a view to playing some high quality chess and maybe becoming a county champion with them. But I'm not allowed to play for any other county under the rules as I have spent my entire life in Bucks and can fulfil no other criteria for eligibility.

As it happens, I have lived in two other counties - Cambridgeshire (when I was a student) and Surrey (since the 1970s). But I can't play for Cambridgeshire because, some years ago, some rulebook-waving so-and-sos decided that ex-Cantab players are not bona fide members of a Cambridgeshire club - despite the fact that they are life members of Cambridge University Chess Club. Flexible? Hmm. So I could play for Surrey, I suppose. But do I live in Surrey or Middlesex? I live in Kingston-upon-Thames, which has a postal address with "Surrey" in it but isn't a part of Surrey administratively. Or something equally boring of that sort. I'm not a member of any Surrey club so am I eligible? Supposing I am a member of a club affiliated to Middlesex? Could I play for them?

Another example - I am eligible to play for Nastyshire but I don't like the people who play for it or some aspect of their organisation. I'd like to play for Niceshire where all my friends play. Why can't I play for them? Because "the ECF says NO"... I note that, under the county eligibility rules, I could play for Niceshire if I were a teacher at a school there. Unfortunately, I am only a road sweeper in Niceshire so it's hard luck - I can play for Nastyshire or nobody. One rule for teachers and one rule for other workers... weird!

Here's another scenario - Mr Wealthy has a major business in Nicetown, Niceshire. He wants to play chess for Niceshire and intends to pump lots of cash into Niceshire Chess Association. Unfortunately he lives across the county boundary in Nastyshire (where all the wealthy people live) and isn't eligible to play for Niceshire. Oh dear, never mind, how sad. It would all have been different had he been something really special and important like a teacher in Nicetown, of course, but unfortunately he's only a plutocrat. Still, never mind, he can take his money to the long line of eager 4NCL team managers and prospective Staunton Memorial tournament organisers fighting for his pile of loot.

Not complicated? Flexible?

A further point: the county championship / national club championship could have been the 4NCL had the BCF had the gumption to revise their rules and give their competitions a make-over many years ago.
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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:44 am

I think you are looking for a problem that doesn't really exist, John. And the eligibility rules for the County Championship aren't complicated, if you just look them up. It is very easy to find a county if you want one - you just have to join a club in the area. As long as the competition is thriving and competitive, which by most measures it is (problems in the Northern qualifying zones notwithstanding, which i don't think can really be attributable to the ECF's regulations), why should there be a particular need for change?

Comparisons with cricket, for example, are a bit spurious because the Cricket County Championship is THE professional tournament. Thus it not only has to abide by European law etc, but also is the feeder for the England team meaning that it can't afford to have any rules which might potentially exclude England qualified players. Nevertheless even that adopts restrictions on things like overseas players for a variety of reasons. (And I don't know, but i also imagine that in things like age-group limited county cricket there are far more strict qualification criteria). In addition, whatever the problems and arguments in county cricket, the one thing that isn't a challenge is participation - short of as a result of traffic, county teams do not put out teams short of full complement!

It is certainly true that prior to the 4NCL there was a massive gap in English chess which needed to be filled. Which it was. Frankly I don't really think that the failure of the BCF to take action to fill that gap, whilst clear evidence of institutionalised inertia, is a cause for complaint - does anyone really think the 4NCL would have been successful had it fallen under the BCF's auspices? And conversely just because the 4NCL can be judged 'successful' at what it does, it doesn't follow that all competitive chess should follow the same model.

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Re: Counties Abolished

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:55 am

I don't think the rules are complicated. I admit that the teacher thing is a bit odd, but the rule in itself isn't complicated.

Kingston upon Thames is in Surrey, so you can play for them - http://www.gazetteer.co.uk - just bash 'Kingston upon Thames' into that. Simple.

I would argue that the place for Mr. Wealthy is not the County Championship, but the 4NCL. The County Championship shouldn't be a free-for-all. If a county doesn't field a team, then you should go through their AGM and offer to run one. If you offer to pay the affiliation + entry fee, and still they decline, then they're fools.

As far as I see it, there are two forms of weekend-based chess (other than congresses that you can play in):
1) 4NCL - open to anyone
2) County Championship - closed to certain restrictions

So there's a nice balance - there are two different types of competition. I don't see why you need another, inferior, open-to-all event. If you want to play in something like that, play in the 4NCL.

I can even see the reasoning behind the National Club being closed; mainly the name of the competition implying that it's people from your own club, rather than a team of anyone. Richard is right that the gap needed to be filled, so there was no problem.

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