Subscription concessions?

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Sebastian Stone
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Sebastian Stone » Wed Jun 22, 2011 2:39 pm

Ernie Lazenby wrote:
Paul McKeown wrote:
Ernie Lazenby wrote:I doubt theres one single chess player anywhere in the UK who cannot find what in many cases amounts to less than a £1 a week over a year to pay club fees.
You obviously don't have much imagination, then, do you? If someone was on Unemployment Benefit, for instance, they might seriously struggle to pay £50 per annum. Or if they received the State Pension and little else. Or if they were earning the minimum wage. Or if they were in London, earning £25K pa say, but paying £700 pcm, say, in rent and 2K pa in travel. All those people might find £50 per annum a stretch. Or in bankruptcy for a failed business, say, unable even to claim Unemployment Benefit. Nothing to do with your booze and fags.
I have never read so much rubbish as the above. Bottom line, cannot afford to play dont play, one cuts ones cloth accordingly. I can afford to do what I do but when I cannot afford it I wont- simple economics. Bottom line a lot of chess players can pay but wont pay or winge at having to pay its the nature of the beast. They want the game for nothing.
As far as I'm aware one of the goals of the ECF is (or should be) to get people to play chess, not sneer at them.
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Adam Raoof
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:10 pm

Sebastian Stone wrote:As far as I'm aware one of the goals of the ECF is (or should be) to get people to play chess, not sneer at them.
That is a good point, and one which is definitely on our minds as we try to decide how to take the ECF forward.

There is not much we can do to help clubs at a local level - even if what the ECF decided to do regarding membership / game fee had no financial implications for clubs, clubs would still have to set their membership fee. This membership fee has to take account of the cost of a venue, cost of equipment and replacing equipment, insurance, even refreshments. A well-meaning club committee can set a perfectly fair price for membership and still find that they can't recruit, or that some members can't pay, or won't pay. I am not sure that a club which has no membership fee will ever find itself overwhelmed by new members (try it!) or whether a club that charges £100+ has problems recruiting.

If our changes do affect clubs, I suspect that the change will be temporary rather than permanent. There is no standard membership fee to join a club. There is and still will be a standard membership fee to join the ECF, and I think most people accept that this is one way of funding the ECF. If we don't have membership then the level of game fee will be such that organisers will probably insist on membership, as it will save them a lot of money and dissuade relatively few players.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:27 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:If we don't have membership then the level of game fee will be such that organisers will probably insist on membership, as it will save them a lot of money and dissuade relatively few players.
Do you think you could illustrate some numbers on this? Whilst not having a Game Fee would no doubt save money for Congress Organisers, if players have to pay both an Congress entry fee and ECF membership, then their personal costs increase. How much will depend at what level you set the ECF membership fee. For those players only intending limited participation in over the board chess, too high a membership fee will just encourage them to spend their leisure budget elsewhere.

I think the ECF have stepped back from actually trying to ban non-members from playing chess. It remains to be seen whether players really care about having their grade unpublished. This was tried by WECU in particular in the 1980s as a means of forcing players to become BCF registered. It was generally accepted as not that successful.

It seems to me that Congresses should be trying to attract as many entries as possible. Restricting the possible entries to those who are ECF members would seem to do the opposite, unless there an incentive like FIDE rating.

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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:48 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:

There is not much we can do to help clubs at a local level

Not being a hindrance would be a start.

Here's a check list

additional admin in processing memberships
removal of flexibility in allowing wild card players
doubling the "ECF cost" part of a club membership
insisting that if you have 40 members playing 10 games each, you pay twice the cost of 20 members playing 20 games each.
withholding grades
cancellation of FIDE ratings
extra costs if you run a Congress to attract new players

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:59 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote:

There is not much we can do to help clubs at a local level

Not being a hindrance would be a start.

Here's a check list

additional admin in processing memberships
removal of flexibility in allowing wild card players
doubling the "ECF cost" part of a club membership
insisting that if you have 40 members playing 10 games each, you pay twice the cost of 20 members playing 20 games each.
withholding grades
cancellation of FIDE ratings
extra costs if you run a Congress to attract new players
Please read my post before replying.
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Adam Raoof
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:01 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote:If we don't have membership then the level of game fee will be such that organisers will probably insist on membership, as it will save them a lot of money and dissuade relatively few players.
Do you think you could illustrate some numbers on this? Whilst not having a Game Fee would no doubt save money for Congress Organisers, if players have to pay both an Congress entry fee and ECF membership, then their personal costs increase. How much will depend at what level you set the ECF membership fee. For those players only intending limited participation in over the board chess, too high a membership fee will just encourage them to spend their leisure budget elsewhere.

I think the ECF have stepped back from actually trying to ban non-members from playing chess. It remains to be seen whether players really care about having their grade unpublished. This was tried by WECU in particular in the 1980s as a means of forcing players to become BCF registered. It was generally accepted as not that successful.

It seems to me that Congresses should be trying to attract as many entries as possible. Restricting the possible entries to those who are ECF members would seem to do the opposite, unless there an incentive like FIDE rating.
Anyone in the UK can become a member of their chess Federation, therefore the possible number of entries is restricted to 61,838,154.

As you say, if they want to play in any FIDE rated events, (like e2e4, Gibraltar, or the British, or the London Classic) then they will have to be members. This already increases the pool of players who have a membership already.

If we don't have compulsory membership, but the level of game fee is high, then it makes sense for some organisers to insist on membership or pay a higher entry fee (£20 for members, £26 for non-members) - reducing their game fee costs from £800 per annum to nil, or attracting more in entry fees to balance the cost. This is already happening in some events, such as Heywood Congress in Lancashire.

Once that starts happening it becomes much easier for other organisers to do the same - in fact they would be benefitting (as they do already) from the fact that the ECF does not charge game fee on membership. The marginal threat of losing a few players would be offset by the saving on game fee and the entra income from higher entry fees for non-members.

Players who were members would be leaving the events where they didn't get any benefit from being a member and playing in those where they do see a benefit / discount.

Alternatively organisers could just have FIDE rated events, especially when the level of FIDE rating makes it practical for everyone to aim for a rating.
Last edited by Adam Raoof on Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sean Hewitt

Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:20 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote: Do you think you could illustrate some numbers on this? Whilst not having a Game Fee would no doubt save money for Congress Organisers, if players have to pay both an Congress entry fee and ECF membership, then their personal costs increase. How much will depend at what level you set the ECF membership fee. For those players only intending limited participation in over the board chess, too high a membership fee will just encourage them to spend their leisure budget elsewhere. .
I've noticed recently at e2e4 events how few English players are not already ECF members. Of course, in the Open and Major players have to be members and although we occassionally get an entry from a non-member it is a rare event. But even in the Minor, we get more and more memebrs. At both Sunningdale and Gatwick there were less than 10 non members.
Roger de Coverly wrote: I think the ECF have stepped back from actually trying to ban non-members from playing chess.
I don't recall ever seeing this suggested, let alone it now being back tracked from. Can you provide a link?

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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:38 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:
If we don't have compulsory membership, but the level of game fee is high, then it makes sense for some organisers to insist on membership or pay a higher entry fee (£20 for members, £26 for non-members) - reducing their game fee costs from £800 per annum to nil, or attracting more in entry fees to balance the cost. This is already happening in some events, such as Heywood Congress in Lancashire.
I'm aware of Heywood. Isn't what they are doing just overcharging non-members by asking for £ 6 extra when their own costs are just £2.50 to £3.50?

Game Fee is, or should be, the ultimate in variable costs for the Congress Organiser. Whilst almost everything else, entry forms, hire of hall, arbiter costs, guaranteed prize money are fixed overheads, it's the one expense that changes directly with the entry numbers. Unlike leagues, Congresses have always been allowed to offset Game Fee for members.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:49 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote:
If we don't have compulsory membership, but the level of game fee is high, then it makes sense for some organisers to insist on membership or pay a higher entry fee (£20 for members, £26 for non-members) - reducing their game fee costs from £800 per annum to nil, or attracting more in entry fees to balance the cost. This is already happening in some events, such as Heywood Congress in Lancashire.
I'm aware of Heywood. Isn't what they are doing just overcharging non-members by asking for £ 6 extra when their own costs are just £2.50 to £3.50?

Game Fee is, or should be, the ultimate in variable costs for the Congress Organiser. Whilst almost everything else, entry forms, hire of hall, arbiter costs, guaranteed prize money are fixed overheads, it's the one expense that changes directly with the entry numbers. Unlike leagues, Congresses have always been allowed to offset Game Fee for members.
Game fee is a variable cost. However because the ECF gives a 100% discount on game fee for members, game fee does not change with entry numbers if the entries are members. In economic terms therefore it is advantageous for organisers to encourage members to enter their tournaments. I believe what Heywood does is very reasonable.
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:57 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote: I don't recall ever seeing this suggested, let alone it now being back tracked from. Can you provide a link?
Certainly. The ECF Board had a discussion about it. The public parts of this are at
http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... 54-Jun.doc

from which some selected content
iv. Can we clarify the consequences of NOT being a member under this scheme? Should we attempt to establish that (a) a non-member cannot play at all in graded events; (b) their games will not be graded (i.e. not processed); or (c) their games will be graded but the non-member’s grade not published?
So it was on the table for consideration.
There was no support for option (a).
So they ruled it out.

As an organiser you will know this better than me, but what would happen if you submitted a rating file to the IRO containing ENG players not currently members? Would the entire file be rejected? At the back of my mind was the notion that option (a) applied to FIDE rated events if only by virtue of sanctions on the organisers.

Moving on
There was discussion of the practicalities of option (c). In particular, it was unclear how feasible it would be to prevent the underlying grade from being disclosed by organisers.
AF asked how option (b) might work in practice. SR said that it should operate as for FIDE ratings, i.e. the non-member is a rating “black hole”, whose games are simply not rated. AF and others were concerned that this would be considered penal towards members paired against such players, who would find themselves involved in an ungraded game through no fault of their own.
and then they voted
AF asked for a straw poll of Board members’ views on the three options. The results were:
Option (a) - No votes
Option (b) - 1 vote
Option (c) - 7 votes
So they've gone for the weakest of the possible enforcement options.

Earlier there's another reference to non-members, this though is unclear as to what was decided.
iii. Would it be more logical for the “Pay to Play” fee still to exist but to apply solely to non-English players? If so, would it be reasonable to extend the scheme to leagues as well?
Following discussion, the Board’s majority view was in favour of retaining this option.
So is this the £ 6 per head temporary membership/ enhanced Game Fee described in the Option 1 paper as applying to Congresses only, or an extra concession to leagues?

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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:07 pm

Adam Raoof wrote: I believe what Heywood does is very reasonable.
Apologies for being simple minded, but for every non-member Heywood attract, their additional entry fee is £ 6. At 54p for 5 games, their Game Fee is £ 2.70 per head. I make that a windfall profit of £ 3.30 per head. I imagine they do it to make NMS look more attractive at £ 12 a head, but it looks deceptive to anyone who knows the calculation method underpinning Game Fee.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:15 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote: I believe what Heywood does is very reasonable.
Apologies for being simple minded, but for every non-member Heywood attract, their additional entry fee is £ 6. At 54p for 5 games, their Game Fee is £ 2.70 per head. I make that a windfall profit of £ 3.30 per head. I imagine they do it to make NMS look more attractive at £ 12 a head, but it looks deceptive to anyone who knows the calculation method underpinning Game Fee.
So they make a greater marginal profit on a non-member's entry than a member's entry. So what?

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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:18 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:Apologies for being simple minded.
Apology accepted ;-)

Cost of a single fare on a London Bus: £2.20

Cost to Oyster Card holders: £1.30

Message: if you travel a lot in London get an Oyster Card!

Note that nobody is stopping you getting on a bus and paying the larger fare, or getting an Oyster Card for £5 (returnable). The market determines the outcome. 34m people own them. They don't charge for having an Oyster Card... yet.

Membership of the ECF / NMS works the same way. I still think they are acting reasonably, in fact they are ahead of the game.
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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:26 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote: So they make a greater marginal profit on a non-member's entry than a member's entry. So what?
Adam was saying that Congress Organisers would demand membership to save on Game Fee. They would but if they charged non-members more than the Game Fee, this is financial advantageous to them. If you are marketing memberships, trying to make them look cheaper than alternatives is one of the ways of promoting it.

I'd suspect there's some crossover. You can charge £ 18 to members and £ 24 to non-members without it looking totally ridiculous. Charge £ 25 to members and, in effect , £ 50 to non-members because you make full membership a condition of entry must surely be a disincentive to those who need a bit of persuasion to enter.

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Re: Subscription concessions?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:45 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:
Cost of a single fare on a London Bus: £2.20

Cost to Oyster Card holders: £1.30

Message: if you travel a lot in London get an Oyster Card!

Note that nobody is stopping you getting on a bus and paying the larger fare, or getting an Oyster Card for £5 (returnable). The market determines the outcome. 34m people own them. They don't charge for having an Oyster Card... yet.

Membership of the ECF / NMS works the same way. I still think they are acting reasonably, in fact they are ahead of the game.
I thought Oyster cards were essentially a method of pre-purchasing travel and still a form of pay to travel. In other words they don't give you unlimited travel for a fixed cost.

Consider travelling to the London Classic from outside London. The options are to buy a weekly season ticket or each day to purchase a one-day travel card. You could I suppose also use an Oyster card. The ECF/NMS analogy is that Game Fee represents the one-day travel card or Oyster and membership the weekly season. If you had to buy a weekly season ticket to visit the London Chess Classic for just the one day, the possibility is that you'd give it a miss. This is what Option 1 was or is proposing to impose on Club players. The Civil Service league picked up this analogy (as reported by Brendan O'G) and it's not particularly difficult to grasp.

It's fine for the ECF to notice that the Game Fee payable for those who play frequently can mount up, and offer some form of discount which caps or restricts the amount. What isn't fine is to insist that absolutely everyone should pay the same regardless of how many games they play. But perhaps I'm wrong and the ECF will sign up the necessary 6,000 to 7,000 additional members without any difficulty. Opinions reported as expressed at county AGMs don't seem favourable to this outcome.

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