Death of a congress ?

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
John Ariss
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:28 pm
Location: Torquay

Death of a congress ?

Post by John Ariss » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:18 am

Could we see the death of one of Devons major congressess?
The East Devon congress could well fall foul of the current financial climate.
We are all aware of the' drop-off' in entries at congresses, but an alarming situation has developed at this congress.
Entries for this congress have dropped of so drastically that the congress faces a 4 figure loss- obviously unsustanable .
The annoying thing is the lack of entries reported from 'locals'. By this I refer to people in the Devon/Somerset area in general.
One response i have heard was ' I might enter - or I might leave it until next year !'.
My reply to this was -there probably won't be a 'next year'.
This is exactly the type of attitude( the said person is certainly not struggling financially ) that will come back and bite him on the backside and I guarantee he will be the first to moan when the West country has one less congress to attend.
The commitee (of which I am nothing to do with) will be meeting to discuss their options, i.e changing venue(At the moment in Exeter city centre), prize money, entry fees etc.
Any input/ suggestions from people reading the forum can be directed straight to me if neccessary( which I will then pass on) at marriottqpr@hotmail.com .
Although the said commitee is meeting ,it is to late for this year and may be to late full stop.
Can I urge people in general to wake up from their apathy , It may be to late, though hopefully not, to save this great congress -but don't let it happen in your area.
Our great game is going through a rough time, but we need to keep it going,once these things die they rarely come back :(

Sean Hewitt

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:42 am

Entry form here for those who are interested

http://www.chessdevon.co.uk/HTML/ede.pdf

User avatar
Adam Raoof
Posts: 2581
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: NW4 4UY
Contact:

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Adam Raoof » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:45 am

Dear John,

Thanks for your post. I have some thoughts which might reassure you. You might have noticed that people are entering tournaments later and later, postponing their decision to play until the last minute. This may be because of people's busy schedules, or it may be because the threat of the late fee isn't compelling enough! East Devon is a fine tournament, and as long as you continue to publicise it as widely as possible I think you will end up with a workable entry.

Players may not enter in advance, but they certainly plan in advance. The one thing that will definitely kill off any tournament is a rumour that it may be cancelled at the last minute. Organisers need to commit themselves to running an event, come what may, even if it means absorbing a financial loss in the lean years. Hopefully they put some money aside during the past few years when the final entry was at a healthy level. Cancelling a tournament at the last minute almost certainly scuppers a tournament for the next year.

The current venue is excellent, but may be expensive. As the Director of Home Chess I am quite prepared to write to the local council and make the case for any tournament of long standing and try to get the cost down - just give me the councillor's name and address and I'll write. If you need help with promoting an event I have an email list of about 500 players who won't mind receiving details of chess tournaments if there is a website they can take a look at.

I think that's another area that could be improved - every event that hopes to get a decent entry should have a website with as much detail as possible about the tournaments, accommodation, travel and anything else that will make the difference between a player entering, and not entering. It's not enough to have a general county chess site with lots of events competing for attention on the page - people don't 'read' websites the same way they read a paper - they won't scroll down and search, or click though lots of links to find what they want. They will just google East Devon Congress - and they want to find a website dedicated to the tournament when they do.

Let me know if there is anything I can do, and good luck with the event!
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit - https://chesscircuit.substack.com/
Tornelo - https://tornelo.com/chess/orgs/chess-england
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" - https://gingergm.com/ref/106.html
Don’t stop playing chess!

Sean Hewitt

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:57 am

My experience is that entries at this stage (16 days out) generally double by the time the event occurs. Not sure how much comfort that offers (if any).

I would agree with Adam that a dedicated website is key. In Leicestershire, we have a totally separate website from the county association which is dedicated only to the congress. I also believe strongly that an online entry facility in this day and age is important.

If late entries are an issue, then you could adopt something that we've done previously (which I stole from Irish tournaments) which is a discount for early entry. There's nothing that chess players like more than a bargain.

David Sedgwick
Posts: 4121
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:02 am

I'm sorry to hear about East Devon's problems.

A lot of traditional congresses seem to be struggling. Some new ventures, by contrast, seem to be thriving. Sean Hewitt's e2e4 events are going from strength to strength and the London Chess Classic was packed with both spectators and players.

There are a fair number of events in the South West: WECU Easter at Exmouth, Frome, Paignton, Dorset at Weymouth or Bournemouth and Torquay. (Apologies for any I've missed.) I rather fear there's no longer room for all of them and that East Devon is the casualty.

All the same, I hope the event can be saved. I wonder if the Committee should consider reverting to having the top section as a Stars Barred event. There are very few events where players in the 180 to 200 range can reasonably hope to win a main prize and I felt that that was one of East Devon's principal attractions.

Edit: I've now read Adam's post and this has led me to think I might have been too gloomy. I agree that to cancel this year's event would be very damaging to any future prospects. The Surrey Easter Congress has never completely recovered from not having taken place in 2001.

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3248
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:14 am

Adam Raoof wrote:I think that's another area that could be improved - every event that hopes to get a decent entry should have a website ....
Indeed. I recently found out about a tournament and I thought I might enter it. I found the website for the event but there was nothing on there about the cost of entry, nor the time that the first round started.

So now I won't be entering. I wonder if the organiser will be unhappy with the number of entries that s/he receives and if so whether s/he thinks, like the OP, that the low numbers were the result of "apathy" amongst amateur chessers.
Last edited by Jonathan Bryant on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John Ariss
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:28 pm
Location: Torquay

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by John Ariss » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:22 am

Thanks for your input Adam, I will pass on your advice to the relevant parties.
I am not directly involved with the congress organising, although I am arbiting there this year again.
I just find it extremely soul destroying to see organisers putting so much time and effort in and when all their efforts come to nothing through apathy are blamed for the demise.
We lost the Torbay congress one year due to the venue seeing a 'better deal' on the horizon and leaving us high and dry .
The organiser Ray Chubb worked himself into the ground looking for an alternative venue, then in the following years slaved to get the numbers back up.
Unfortunatley, if this happens at East Devon I genuinely feel that they have neither the infastructure nor the finances to fight back. Of course they will get advice and support from people like yourself and the usual stalwarts from the Devon clubs,but we are thin on the ground ( no doubt a national problem)when it actually comes to doing something about it.
Once again thanks for your advice , which I will forward to the relevant people.

John Ariss
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:28 pm
Location: Torquay

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by John Ariss » Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:28 am

Good afternoon David
The event will certainly not be cancelled this year, everything is in place.
It is just that the organisers are predicting the loss as being in 4 figures which puts the future of the event in jeopardy in its present format.
I am sure that the advice that is being posted on here will be helpful and I am pressing to be involved when the meeting is called as I feel my input cannot do any harm, although a 70 mile round trip to the meeting on my not to reliable Vespa does give me cause for concern :wink:

Brendan O'Gorman
Posts: 607
Joined: Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:10 pm

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:57 pm

I fear I haven't been to the East Devon (Exeter) Congress for a few years because I've been 'priced out' by changes to the section grade limits. But doubtless my loss has been others' gain. I compete in lots of congresses and I can assure potential entrants that Exeter is one of the best - well run, decent venue, good book and equipment stall and located in a nice city to visit. One of the top ten congresses in the country.

Adam and Sean have given sensible advice. I'd offer three further points:

- you really should do more to make entry forms available at other congresses (I haven't seen many Exeter forms on my travels)
- in the good years, don't increase prize money or offer extra grading prizes and the like, instead put the profits by for the lean years
- don't blame the punter: you have to work on the basis that people play because they want to not because it's their civic duty

Good luck and safe travelling!

Sean Hewitt

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Feb 22, 2011 1:09 pm

Brendan O'Gorman wrote:don't blame the punter: you have to work on the basis that people play because they want to not because it's their civic duty
Punter / Player = THE CUSTOMER

It's not always possible to deliver what they want, but you should listen to what they tell you and try to accomodate their requirements where possible.

John Ariss
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:28 pm
Location: Torquay

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by John Ariss » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:06 pm

I am thinking about putting together a questionnaire to put around the clubs to get the feedback and hopefully remedy whatever we can.
I do know that the cost of parking at Exeter is a big problem. If anyone has any ideas on what to put in this questionnaire, please let me know, the more problems we can nail down thte better. Either post or pm, I don't mind.
Brendan , I take your point and appreciate the ammount of travelling you do to events, just don't like the fact that people like yourself will go anywhere within reason to play whilst there are people who can't be bothered to enter an event within walking distance and have the temerity to moan at the lack of playing opportunities in the area.
Oh by the way Brendan,one thing that used to wind me up(and it happenedto me - at East Devon strangely enough)was the arbiter giving the bye to the 'local' player - lived 35 miles away!!.
Anyway as you know now I am an arbiter I have my own solution - I give it to you :lol: :lol: :lol: Only joking.
For those of you who don't know, Brendan had a bye at both Paignton and Torquay last year- guess who was the arbiter :wink:
It won't be happening again this year, not after I found a horses head on my pillow :shock:

LozCooper

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by LozCooper » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:31 pm

I'd also recommend adding it to the Congress Diary on the forum: http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewforum.php?f=5

Richard Thursby
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:25 am
Location: origin + pathname + search + hash

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Richard Thursby » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:35 pm

John Ariss wrote:not after I found a horses head on my pillow :shock:
It must have been a wooden knight whose base had become detached through age/use. :)

John Ariss
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:28 pm
Location: Torquay

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by John Ariss » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:12 pm

Thaks Loz
Have done that now,grateful for anything that may help them out

User avatar
Gareth Harley-Yeo
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Location: Wales
Contact:

Re: Death of a congress ?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:57 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:I'm sorry to hear about East Devon's problems.
I wonder if the Committee should consider reverting to having the top section as a Stars Barred event. There are very few events where players in the 180 to 200 range can reasonably hope to win a main prize and I felt that that was one of East Devon's principal attractions.
I couldn't agree more with this idea. I entered (and won) the Chepstow summer congress last year. It was an event I wouldn't have entered if it was Open to all as I'd be paying and travelling with virtually no hope of securing or indeed even playing for prize money. With money such an issue in recent times I'm afraid it sometimes comes down to more than 'the love of the game'.

Post Reply