Are Opens a little too open?

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Matthew Peat
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Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Matthew Peat » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:47 pm

On both occasions in the first round of my last three Open events, I (grade 184) have been paired in the 1st round with an opponent rated over 40 points below my rating and at the weekend, it was 60 points.

I am not directly criticizing these guys for entering the Open whilst being able to enter lower ranked section(s) as the rules clearly allow them to do so. However I would question why this is permitted.

Is there a de-minimus level i.e. would organisers allow someone with a grade of 50 in the Open in their event if they insisted that is the section they wanted to play in?

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Gareth Harley-Yeo
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:54 pm

I agree. The open is really for those who are too highly rated for the major. I certainly don’t enjoy travelling to events, paying for an overnight stay and an entry fee to play/beat somebody who's lower rated than a player I'd face in my local league.

I think organisers should use a little common sense and put a player where he'd perform best. Sure Joe Newbie might want to pay for the privilege of playing in a section with hallowed GMs but surely they should have to get there on merit rather than wealth?

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:07 pm

The Blackpool congress has something to the effect that "people graded below 150 BCF are recommended to enter a lower section"......

Which seems reasonable - recommended, but not mandatory. There *are* those who are badly under-graded or improving rapidly (mostly, but not all, juniors) People under 150 BCF *have* entered in recent years, and in more than one case done OK.

OTOH, total beginners (or near enough) entering an Open is *not* recommended. I think our own RdC has an example (again, at Blackpool) from a few years ago :)
Last edited by Matt Mackenzie on Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mick Norris
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:07 pm

Matthew Peat wrote:Is there a de-minimus level i.e. would organisers allow someone with a grade of 50 in the Open in their event if they insisted that is the section they wanted to play in?
It would be difficult not to if the entry form says Open and makes no reference to a minimum grade

I have suggested to players that maybe they have entered too high a section, but for many events particularly Rapidplays the Open is the section with the lowest number of entries and extra ones would be welcome

I have only had complaints about players playing in sections too low for their abilities

For interest, what grading limit was in the Major or whatever the next section was called?
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:10 pm

I once had someone graded 95 enter the Open at Yeovil. He beat a 160 in the fourth round, getting the crucial point for his first part-rating.

Alan Walton
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Alan Walton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:13 pm

One of the annoying things I see sometimes in opens is a grading prize set at say U170, whilst there is a section U170 why should these players be exclusively eligible for a prize in an open when they can enter a section exclusively for themselves

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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Alan Walton » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:20 pm

The more drastic way of overcoming this is to do away with all sections, and have one "open", you will have to use accelerated pairings obviously, but as Warren said the players will find there own level, unless somebody is over/under performing

Though when Manchester Congress experimented with this, one of my opponents complained that he didn't play chess tournaments to get beat by strong players, can't please everybody

David Sedgwick
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:28 pm

Warren Kingston wrote:Its called an Open for a reason, isn't it?
Indeed so. Some organisers like their Open Tournaments to be exactly that - Open.

The Tradwise Gibraltar Masters is probably the strongest Open Tournament in the world. It's not as strong in depth as the Aeroflot "Open", but that has a lower rating limit.

From this standpoint Blackpool probably has it just about right.

I remember a problematic example in the British Rapidplay 1992 (which in that year was a one day six round event in Hammersmith). There were two sections, Open and Major. One player entered the Open, but was far too weak even for the Major, to which he was transferred after two rounds. One of my duties was to go round the room putting out result slips during the first couple of minutes of each round. By the time the player in question was transferred I'd learnt that I needed to start at or very near his board. Otherwise the game would be over before they had their result slip.

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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:36 pm

Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote: I think organisers should use a little common sense and put a player where he'd perform best. Sure Joe Newbie might want to pay for the privilege of playing in a section with hallowed GMs but surely they should have to get there on merit rather than wealth?
I suppose you could could impose a minimum standards of
(a) published grade or rating to exceed ..
(b) recent performance rating to exceed ... ( to be validated, it would need to be in an event that web-published its cross-table
or
(c) plead a special case to the organiser.

I think the British Isles are already quite stringent in avoiding mis-matches. The French for example usually dump everyone in one open. http://cappelle-chess.fr/fr2/default.php?page=3940

The Dutch by contrast like their rating restricted sections.http://onk.schaakbond.nl/toernooien/toernooien

I'm not sure I mind winning in 17 moves as I did with about 50 points in my favour last weekend first round. It's where players try to struggle on for hours when completely lost that can get a bit tiresome.
Matt Mackenzie wrote: I think our own RdC has an example (again, at Blackpool) from a few years ago :)
From what I remember of the game, my opponent was quite adhesive so not unskilled. I did need to have to get an arbiter to explain what when the entry form wording said it required you to make 40 moves in 100 minutes, it meant that you lost the game if you failed to achieve this.


In some tournaments, ungraded players are steered towards the Open, either directly by eligibility rules for rated sections or indirectly by restrictions on their eligibility for prizes.

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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by LozCooper » Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:46 pm

Alan Walton wrote:One of the annoying things I see sometimes in opens is a grading prize set at say U170, whilst there is a section U170 why should these players be exclusively eligible for a prize in an open when they can enter a section exclusively for themselves
I found it even stranger that the top seed in the U185 at Blackpool (he was graded 184) was able to win a grading prize :lol:

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Joey Stewart » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:12 pm

I guess the organiser might have expected a stronger field - after all there are some pretty good players up that northern end of the world.

It is true though, the opens can be a huge range of chessplaying skill. I often find 160-170 players make up the core of the players but you do get the odd masochist who is playing well below the rest and yet seems to think it will be less credible to enter a lower section (even though he might actually score a few points down there)
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:56 pm

From what I've seen, some tournaments struggle to justify or populate a section between Major and Open, so you can get people with fairly low grades drifting up to the Open. I think, historically, the names of the various sections in weekend tournaments (though the grading bands have varied) have been Minor, Major and Open. But if you have enough people, you can vary this and add in sections.

For example, the South Herts (St Albans) Congress I was at last weekend (9-10th April) had the following sections: Minor, Intermediate, Major, Challengers, Open. I think Matthew Peat and Roger de Coverly are both referring to their first rounds from that tournament. I can't find a webpage for the 2011 tournament, but the 2010 one is here, and from memory the grading bands were the same:

http://www.gracetremayne.com/StAlbansCC ... gress.html

Open: No grade limits
Challengers: 180 and below
Major: 160 and below
Intermediate: 140 and below
Minor: 120 and below

Clearly that tournament (long-established, it even had my name on a list of winners from past years, and this is going back ten years now!) has enough people attending to have grading bands of 20 points. But smaller tournaments will struggle to do that. FWIW, my current grade is 159 and I chose to enter the Challengers section (U180) rather than the Major section, on the principle that you improve best by playing players graded higher than yourself.

One thing I did find strange was playing against someone whose grade was given as 180, but later finding out that he was an inactive player on the grading list, and his last published grade was an A-142 in 1998 (with an E-160 rapidplay the same year), and a peak ECF grade of A-164 in 1994. Not sure how that translated to 180 in this tournament. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found myself in the strange position of bashing out 15 moves or so of Najdorf theory, while my opponent thought for ages on the clock (40 minutes to my 3 minutes at one point). I'm not complaining, as it gave me the luxury of calculating a win with plenty of time left, but it did make me think that maybe he wasn't really playing to 180 strength.

It was annoying, because as he is technically ungraded (i.e. not really a 180 but counts as a 119 as I beat him), it reduced my grading performance over the five rounds (3.5/5) from 192 to 179. But it's the chess that really matters, of course, not the grades.

EDIT: The 2011 page (and eventually the results) will be here:

http://www.gracetremayne.com/StAlbansCC ... ressx.html

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:08 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:From what I remember of the game, my opponent was quite adhesive so not unskilled. I did need to have to get an arbiter to explain what when the entry form wording said it required you to make 40 moves in 100 minutes, it meant that you lost the game if you failed to achieve this.
Hilarious! Though talking of arbiters, I was rather surprised to see several people at the St Albans Congress (which was very well-run, though with a slight delay at the prize-giving) doing the following:

(1) Getting a mobile phone out at the board and typing out a lengthy text message (or e-mail, as it looked to be a phone that could do that) while the opponent was away from the board (this was about 10 moves into the game). He finished typing out the message and sent it, and then put the phone away, all before the opponent returned, all while I was looking at him with a quizzical look on my face (and ignoring my own game, as usual). Of course, he never looked around or anything, and didn't look in the slightest bit guilty at doing this. Probably didn't even realise what he was doing.

(2) Reading a chess book during the game. This time I stood behind the perpetrator and read the book over his shoulder, while enjoying the bemused look on the face of his opponent. It probably didn't help that I glanced from the book to the board and back several times and raised my eyebrows and pulled various quizzical facial expressions (OK, this was just a bit silly of me). The second time the same player did this (opening the book again to carry on reading it later in the game), the opponent spoke out and objected. But he shouldn't have had to object really.

I would have mentioned it to the arbiters both time if it had been my opponent, but as it wasn't I didn't. Not the fault of the arbiters at all, I hasten to add, but I wonder how much arbiters do patrol the playing hall for this sort of thing, especially in the lower sections where people may not be confident enough to object? I suppose in most congresses arbiters rely on the goodwill of the participants to sort things out themselves and not be silly.

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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:17 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:From what I remember of the game, my opponent was quite adhesive so not unskilled. I did need to have to get an arbiter to explain what when the entry form wording said it required you to make 40 moves in 100 minutes, it meant that you lost the game if you failed to achieve this.
Hilarious! Though talking of arbiters, I was rather surprised to see several people at the St Albans Congress (which was very well-run, though with a slight delay at the prize-giving) doing the following:

(1) Getting a mobile phone out at the board and typing out a lengthy text message (or e-mail, as it looked to be a phone that could do that) while the opponent was away from the board (this was about 10 moves into the game). He finished typing out the message and sent it, and then put the phone away, all before the opponent returned, all while I was looking at him with a quizzical look on my face (and ignoring my own game, as usual). Of course, he never looked around or anything, and didn't look in the slightest bit guilty at doing this. Probably didn't even realise what he was doing.

(2) Reading a chess book during the game. This time I stood behind the perpetrator and read the book over his shoulder, while enjoying the bemused look on the face of his opponent. It probably didn't help that I glanced from the book to the board and back several times and raised my eyebrows and pulled various quizzical facial expressions (OK, this was just a bit silly of me). The second time the same player did this (opening the book again to carry on reading it later in the game), the opponent spoke out and objected. But he shouldn't have had to object really.

I would have mentioned it to the arbiters both time if it had been my opponent, but as it wasn't I didn't. Not the fault of the arbiters at all, I hasten to add, but I wonder how much arbiters do patrol the playing hall for this sort of thing, especially in the lower sections where people may not be confident enough to object? I suppose in most congresses arbiters rely on the goodwill of the participants to sort things out themselves and not be silly.
I'm not so sure the arbiters weren't at fault!

In (1), he clearly should have been defaulted. How do you know he was sending an e-mail? He might have had an application on his phone open with a chess engine. Particularly with his opponent away from the board. The important thing being that the player couldn't object to it - as he surely would - because he wasn't there. The proper course of action would be to store the incident in the memory bank. When the player returns to the board, stop the clocks, and inform both players of what had happened while he was away. Then probably default him if the returning player objects.

With (2), the book-reader was doing it in front of his opponent. The player objected when he felt it necessary to. So there's much less need to interfere. Chess is a game for two players, after all. Not two players and an arbiter.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Are Opens a little too open?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Apr 12, 2011 7:19 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:With (2), the book-reader was doing it in front of his opponent. The player objected when he felt it necessary to. So there's much less need to interfere. Chess is a game for two players, after all. Not two players and an arbiter.
I was half-convinced you (in the abstract sense) might have defaulted me for reading the chess book over his shoulder. In hindsight, my opponent might have objected to that if he had seen me doing that! :D (to clarify, I wasn't really 'reading' the book, I was satisfying my curiosity as to whether the position on the board resembled the ones in the book...)

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