THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

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Alex McFarlane
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Alex McFarlane » Tue Apr 03, 2012 12:54 pm

From my glossary of chess terms

Inactive: Of a piece, one which hasn’t been developed. Of a player, one who has restricted their chess activity to the Internet until their rating has disappeared allowing them to enter Minors.

This is, of course, tongue in cheek and should not be seen to apply in this case.

AustinElliott
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by AustinElliott » Tue Apr 03, 2012 7:28 pm

Well, I am living proof that it really IS possible not to play for thirty-plus years. Not OTB. Not online.

But the comments on people playing correspondence and online do highlight the difficulties for congress organisers if players decide to be, er, economical with the actualité.

Of course, the phenomenon of people 'gaming' the system is older than online chess. I have an old bound volume of Chess from 1973 or 1974 in which there is an extended correspondence concerning a player who had ratings in two different regional grading lists, and entered, using his lower grading, a weekend tournament that his higher rating would have made him ineligible for. He was spotted, and, on admitting what he had done, was slung out. The extended correspondence ensued when a lawyer acquaintance of this player wrote in to say he thought the player had been entirely within his rights, and would have a case in law against the congress organisers. There was also a magisterial letter from CHO'D Alexander, giving the player in question what one might metaphorically term 'both barrels'.

Plus ca change, and all that...

r.desmedt
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by r.desmedt » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:12 pm

I would like to support my clubmate Petet Shaw. I have long campaigned for there to be no prize money at all in grade limited tournaments. Several advantages would
accrue. 1. Entry fees could be reduced. 2. There would be no incentive for the (very few) players who manipulate their grade to continue doing so. 3. It would not be advantageous for the (very many) cheats who go around accusing genuine players of being sharks in order to upset them during a tournament and so gain an advantage for themselves. 4. Only people who genuinely love our game, (rather than love the money) would continue to play.

I have played other sports over the years (football and tennis) at a reasonable level and no one would have expected to win prize money.

I would like to point out a. that whilst I am a clubmate of Peter Shaw I have not discussed this matter with him. b. I play more graded games (rapidplay

plus longplay), than any other member and have done so for some years, so I speak from a very wide experience of the habits of congress players.

David Pardoe
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by David Pardoe » Sat Jun 02, 2012 11:34 pm

Interesting arguement this...in the light of other sports where players have a lay-off.
I`d argue that on the one hand a player returning `cold` would tend to be rusty to start with.
In the case of chess, you`d expect them to be rusty regards openning play, and possibly time controls..ie, pacing against the clock might initially be harder..again from just being `rusty`...it might make one a bit more cautious, etc....and maybe at risk of clock trouble.
However, I saw a case last year of a returning player who`d had a layoff for about 10 years or so...
His previous grading had been about 160, I think. So, he was estimated at about 143....fair enough, perhaps.
Off he went, and built up an initial rating of about 185 for that season.
Some of this might be explained by the recent 20-point grading adjustment that many players recieved.
ie, if his previous grade was 160..that equates to an adjusted grade of circa 180 assuming no degeneration...which isnt far off the 185 he received.
Given that he might have `trained` on the web prior to returning, its feasible that his standard was relatively unchanged by the lay-off. It might even have sharpened his play..
Another factor effecting `comeback` might be the `refreshed factor`, ie a player comes back refreshed from the break and plays with initial vitality, which reflercts in an improved performance.
Making allowances for such things in a first season seems reasonable...
A player returning `cold` after say 10 years absense, might reasonably expect to play 20 points or so below his previous level. Factors like `age`/health... might also play a part... ie, someone returning at age say 65 after a 20 year lay-off might well struggle to play at 20 grading points below previous grading...
Very difficult to generalise, but for Congress purposes, I can see why some Congresses penalise such players who win any prizes by only allowing them to claim half there prize. I`d also suggest that such players should be subject to `fast track` grading adjustments during that first season of returning.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Stewart Reuben
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:40 am

In both FIDE and the US a player retains his old rating though inactive for long periods.
Thus I didn't play in the US between 1965 and 1991. My rating when I left was about 2150. On my return I rose with every tournament until I re-stabilised at 2240. It wasn't because I was stronger, it was because there had been inflation in the US Rating System.
Saturday I played my first game in the US this century and gained 1 rating point, as one does for beating a player 700 points lower than oneself. I acted as a filler.
Matthew Sadler made a welcome return to competitive chess after some years and gained rating points.
Why throw away useful data as is done in England? How you handle that data is another question. The Glicko System seems to deal with this problem better than the FIDE System.

Of course those who have said ungraded players should not be eligible for large grading restricted prizes are correct.

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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by John Upham » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:49 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:The Glicko System seems to deal with this problem better than the FIDE System.
Are you comparing the Glicko methodology with Elo?

RIght now FIDE implements their flavour of the Elo method so I assume that FIDE are considering other methods?
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Adam Ashton
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Adam Ashton » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:19 pm

Peter Shaw wrote:I don't see why ungraded players should be allowed to win prize money at all, except in the Open. If such a rule puts off a few sharks then its all good.

I don't understand why the lower sections of tournamnents have such big prize money anyway. I'm graded in the 190's and there is no chnace of me ever getting anywhere near a £600 prize, since any Open with a prize like that is sure to attract a few titled players. Why should I have a lower chance of winning prize money than players graded 80 points below me?
This has always irritated me as well! It's ridiculous that the lower tournaments are often playing for the same/similar prize money as the Open.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:30 pm

Adam Ashton wrote:This has always irritated me as well! It's ridiculous that the lower tournaments are often playing for the same/similar prize money as the Open.
I can understand there being a slight disparity, or the Open section being different, but surely you can understand why it would annoy some that the grade-limited tournaments vary compared to each other in prize fund. The Open, I can understand, but why would an U180 section (for example) be more deserving of prize money than an U100 section? The simple rule of thumb should be that all sections have as much prize funding as can be supported by entry fees of those who enter (with tournament organisers covering their costs or more if they are a commercial organisation), and anything extra comes from sponsorship, with probably the bulk of that going to the Open section. And the sections that are more popular (i.e. more people entering) also have more prize money because of that. In other words, all sections start off equal, and disparities should all be traced back to either more people entering, or sponsorship in some form.

Dragoljub Sudar
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Dragoljub Sudar » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:17 pm

Look at Scarborough. Apart from offering good prize money it has the same prizes in all sections which is brilliant and one of the reasons I enter.
I've never understood why open sections should have the largest prizemoney when they often have the fewest number of entrants. I've been told it's too attract the stronger players but then the 180s & 190s never get a chance to win those events. Those who win the U100 or U150 section of a weekend congress work just as hard, and probably harder, than a grandmaster has to when winning the open section. We shouldn't forget that it's the 'rabbits' who fund these events so they should be given as much opportunity to win a decent prize as higher graded players.

Ian Kingston
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Ian Kingston » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:24 pm

There's a particular problem for players at the bottom end of Open sections. The cut-off is typically at 160-170, so the range of grades can be 70-80 points. In contrast, the range of grades in lower sections is only around 25 points. Everyone in one of those sections has a fighting chance of a major prize, whereas the 170-graded player in the Open is realistically only in with a chance of a grading prize. This is obviously iniquitous. There is also a perverse incentive for players to keep their grades just below a typical grading threshold so as to maximise their prize-winning chances.

What to do about it is another matter. There aren't enough players to justify narrow bands above the 160 level. Increasing the grading prizes in the Open might redress the balance, but winning one is often just a matter of luck - a bye often helps. And then some of us aren't in the Open for the money anyway. Delusional or not, we're hoping to play strong players in order to try to improve - or at least get an upset result against a titled player.

Anyway - if prizes are important (and they are to some people), it should be clear that there is a group of players that does suffer from the typical prize structure.

Adam Ashton
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Adam Ashton » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:08 pm

Dragoljub Sudar wrote:Look at Scarborough. Apart from offering good prize money it has the same prizes in all sections which is brilliant and one of the reasons I enter.
I've never understood why open sections should have the largest prizemoney when they often have the fewest number of entrants. I've been told it's too attract the stronger players but then the 180s & 190s never get a chance to win those events. Those who win the U100 or U150 section of a weekend congress work just as hard, and probably harder, than a grandmaster has to when winning the open section. We shouldn't forget that it's the 'rabbits' who fund these events so they should be given as much opportunity to win a decent prize as higher graded players.
It can't be fair to effectively punish the better players. It doesn't happen in any activity but chess. As Richard Desmedt said in any other sport or hobby the people of Minor/Major standard would be playing for enjoyment with no expectation of financial reward. The 'rabbits' would be funding the better players but what's wrong with that exactly? It's exactly what I'm doing whenever I play an international tournament and it doesn't bother me at all.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:54 pm

John Upham >RIght now FIDE implements their flavour of the Elo method so I assume that FIDE are considering other methods?<

It is being recommended, for consideration in Turkey, that the Sticko (a variation on Glicko) System be run alongside the FIDE System for som time. Then when th playrs and raters have reached a conclusion a decision will be made whethr to continue as currently with minor tweaks or to go over to Sticko.

Adam Ashton >Why should I have a lower chance of winning prize money than players graded 80 points below me?<

Because the organisers ar not taking full advantage of the options available to them. If they awarded rating band prizes, not on raw score, but on improvement in rating, then that problem can be solved. W-We is easy to determine from the computerised tables. That is score achieved minus the expected score.

Richard Bates
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:10 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Adam Ashton >Why should I have a lower chance of winning prize money than players graded 80 points below me?<

Because the organisers ar not taking full advantage of the options available to them. If they awarded rating band prizes, not on raw score, but on improvement in rating, then that problem can be solved. W-We is easy to determine from the computerised tables. That is score achieved minus the expected score.
This is slightly missing the point, I think. The complaint is not about how rating prizes are awarded, however valid the argument is in this case. The argument is about prizes awarded in ratings banded sections, both that they are often as generous as the prizes in higher sections and particularly that players with little chances of winning prizes in higher sections (the 180/90s in Opens) are actually effectively penalised for being "too" strong (but not strong enough). The argument that lower sections (because of their greater numbers) should not fund higher sections is pathetic. Lower sections have more players simply because of a result of normal distribution and how organisers traditionally try to ensure consistent rating bands (120,140,160,180 etc) for each section rather than consistent number of players.

None of this is necessarily to blame organisers from pandering to the demands of the majority to try and ensure at least breakeven congresses. In the absence of sponsorship (which will always prioritise the higher sections) they ultimately have to do what they can to at least maintain a breakeven position. (it is rare that congresses these days take a chance on the theory that attracting strong players has a knock-on effect down the levels). Of couse the argument about "subsidisation" is a bit more complicated than some make out. If a minor section, say, has half the total players in a Congress, should they not reasonably be expected to bear the cost of half the accommodation (and any other overheads)?

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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Sean Hewitt » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:28 am

Richard Bates wrote:it is rare that congresses these days take a chance on the theory that attracting strong players has a knock-on effect down the levels
Yet, bizarrely, is one of the reasons for the success of e2e4 events (in my opinion).

Andrew Farthing
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Re: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLACKPOOL MINOR

Post by Andrew Farthing » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:26 am

I suspect that having prize money in each section of a congress is a Pandora's box which can't be closed once opened. It would take considerable courage (or a certain amount of financial security) on the part of an organiser to run an event on the no prize money / lower entry fees model, although I am tempted to try.

Many of the players I speak to at congresses seem oblivious to the prize money available. I would be hard-pressed to remember the prizes available even in the section of a congress in which I was playing at the time; it's simply not a factor in my decision whether to play in a particular event. That said, I do think that prize money can add to the enjoyment of a congress. I doubt, however, that the amount makes much of a difference for the majority of players. We minnows receive a minor buzz from winning an £8.50 part-share of a grading prize from time to time - it's the pleasure of knowing that you won something which matters most of the time.

For others, money undoubtedly matters. For example, I was phoned yesterday by a player who was thinking of entering the Worcestershire congress in July, which I help to run. He argued that the prize money was such (top prize £200 in the Open, £100 in the other three sections) that even winning top prize in his section wouldn't cover his entry fee, travel and accommodation costs. (He also offered the more general observation that northern congresses seemed to offer much higher prize money than southern ones. Whether this is true in genral, I have no idea.) It didn't seem to cut any ice when I pointed out that the prize fund is geared to the underlying purpose of the congress, which is to raise money for a nominated charity (we raised £650 last year), or that we achieved 110 or so entries last year with the same prize fund.

With a few notable exceptions (take a bow, Mr Arkell!), it seems crazy to me to believe that playing regularly in congresses is going to be a money-making enterprise, taking into account expenses. Playing chess is a hobby, like going to watch football. There's a cost involved, which needs to be weighed against the enjoyment obtained.

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