MCCU Proposal to reduce number of Boards in County Matches

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Chris Majer
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MCCU Proposal to reduce number of Boards in County Matches

Post by Chris Majer » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:09 pm

The MCCU has made a proposal to the ECF April Council that the number of boards in the national stage of the county championship be reduced from 16 to 12 for the u175, u150 and u125 sections.

I would be interested in the views of players
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Greg Breed
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Post by Greg Breed » Thu Apr 12, 2007 12:16 pm

I would agree with that. Finding 16 people willing to travel quite far is surprisingly difficult considering the advances in transport since the early days of Chess!!!
4 less would reduce the the numbers by 25%.
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Mike Gunn
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Post by Mike Gunn » Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:18 pm

I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to raise a team for away matches, but I'm opposed to this as I believe it's the start of a slippery slope - how soon before we get calls for further reductions and the distinctive nature of county chess matches will be gone for ever?

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Post by Greg Breed » Thu Apr 12, 2007 4:06 pm

Mike Gunn wrote:I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to raise a team for away matches, but I'm opposed to this as I believe it's the start of a slippery slope - how soon before we get calls for further reductions and the distinctive nature of county chess matches will be gone for ever?
It is proposed only for the National stages. i.e. once qualified from the league bit.
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William Metcalfe
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Post by William Metcalfe » Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:57 pm

if it all about getting players to play why not make it a 2 man team then they can get there on a motorbike.This is a slippery slope people in the A league where i captain constanly want to reduce teams from 6 boards to 5 so far a few off us have held them off but for how much longer is anybodys guess

Sean Hewitt

Post by Sean Hewitt » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:26 pm

Makes sense to me. Given that the number of active players has reduced nationwide, most leagues have reduced the boards per match to keep leagues competitive.

Seems only sensible for county matches to follow suit.

The key factor in making up my mind was the number of lower graded players in each team ie players u125 playing u150 chess etc.

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Post by Neil Graham » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:57 pm

William Metcalfe wrote:if it all about getting players to play why not make it a 2 man team then they can get there on a motorbike.This is a slippery slope people in the A league where i captain constanly want to reduce teams from 6 boards to 5 so far a few off us have held them off but for how much longer is anybodys guess
Hi William - why not make it a one man team and have done with it?

Can I state that as an MCCU captain, I have never been consulted about this proposal from the MCCU which I am firmly and implacably against.

This constant watering down of the regulations leads, in the end, to competitions disappearing - just look at the National Club Championship for an example.

In the four Under 150 matches this season I've captained there has only been one player Under 125, a promising junior, selected in 64 games. I'm already having to turn players away - I understood the purpose of these competitions was actually to let people play chess.

I hope this proposal is roundly rejected by Council as it has been in the past.

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Post by William Metcalfe » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:36 am

hi neil sorry i was being ironic it was meant as a joke i totally disagree with reducing the number off players

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Post by Greg Breed » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:07 am

Neil Graham wrote:why not make it a one man team and have done with it?
Why stop there? Why bother travelling at all and play online in supervised internet cafes...

Actually...... :wink:
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Chris Stratford
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Post by Chris Stratford » Fri Apr 13, 2007 4:35 pm


As mentioned previously. I have returned to the game after some 30+ years away and there are stark differences between the two eras given that all my previous chess was played during the surge of Bobby Fischer-inspired interest.

At Upminster CC in Essex we were running five teams - I believe we may even have introduced a sixth - to help sate the demand for inter-club chess among its members. There would often be, I recall, as many as 40 - 50 people present on club nights.

I was very fortunate to be asked to play for Essex Seconds on a few occasions, even though my grade at the time was around the 110 - 120 mark, and I hope none of my opponents felt slighted by playing someone of a lower grade.

While renewed personal involvement in county chess is but a dream, I would share the view that any erosion of board numbers is counter-productive. Surely the more competitive chess that is available the better chance the game has of attracting - and keeping - competitors (young and not so young).

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Post by Neil Graham » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:02 pm

William Metcalfe wrote:hi neil sorry i was being ironic it was meant as a joke i totally disagree with reducing the number off players
So was I!! :)

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MCCU proposal re County teams

Post by juliedjohnson » Fri Apr 13, 2007 9:08 pm

As MCCU CEO I would point out that the issue of county team numbers was discussed at a GM, which was then reported on in the MCCU newsletter, & feedback was invited not only from county team captains, but anyone in the MCCU who wished to contribute. The upshot was that only 1 respondent spoke against reducing the number of players in county teams.

A paper setting out the reasons for the proposal has been sent out to ECF delegates as follows -

The format for the county teams has never remained constant. As late as 1988-89, the numbers of players in a team was 20 in the county 3rd team and 16 in the others. What others? - the Open, Minor and Second team. When graded sections came in, in 1992/3, the lowest section was U130, later U125. The U100 was added in 1995.

The changing format has reflected the changes in society. Going back further in county team history, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire were one county for competitive purposes. Now they are clearly separate. Teams were once 12 a side, with only one county team. The team often comprised those who could afford to travel on Saturday and not work on that day. Fond memories of 40 a side matches hark back to the days when families left the shopping to the ladies during the week, there was less pressure on youngsters to meet with their peers and “hang out”, there were lower transport costs, less traffic on the roads, and cheaper venues.

The current format of 16 a side, in all but the U100 section, dates back to the time when the Short/Kasparov match resulted in an increase in players. Sadly numbers have decreased since then, leaving captains with a smaller number of players to select from.

For a period, Saturday working changed from being the norm for “the masses”, to being the exception. Sadly working patterns have changed beyond recognition during the last 20 years, with greater flexibility being demanded of the workforce. The standard family unit is no longer husband and wife with 2.5 children. The breakdown of marriages has meant that for many, Saturday is a day when they have unfettered contact with their children/parents and as such is more important than chess. We have to meet the needs and demands of society as it is, not as we remember it through rose tinted glasses.

ANALYSIS OF MATCHES FOR 2006/7

SCCU % MCCU % TOTAL
(1) (2) (1) (2)
Open 123 320 38.44% 301 384 78.39% 424 704 60.23%
U175 118 384 30.73% NO EVENT 118 384 30.73%
U150 43 416 10.34% 46 256 17.97% 89 672 13.24%
U125 95 480 19.79% 68 256 26.56% 163 736 22.15%
total 379 1600 23.69% 415 896 46.32% 794 2496 31.81%

(1) Number of defaults and players used eligible for section below
(2) Number of boards scheduled

The above analysis of the SCCU and MCCU websites, the two unions which have the majority of matches over 16 boards for U125-Open inclusive, shows that the numbers of players who are playing for sections higher than the lowest for which they are qualified is considerable.

Whilst there are a very small number of counties who can field 16 a side with little overlap between teams, this is clearly not the case for the majority of counties. There may well be an argument from the “larger” counties that fewer players will have the opportunity to play county chess if the number of boards is reduced. However, in contrast, some counties have only a small pool of players; they currently find themselves having to choose which sections to enter. This can leave players within a certain grading spread with no opportunity to play county chess at all. A reduction to 12 a side would mean that such counties could then have enough players to run teams in adjoining sections, resulting in an increase in team numbers. Indeed those counties with a larger pool of players may even be able to consider running 2 teams in some events.

Team captains who have run sides requiring 12 & 16, are quite clear that getting 12 players is disproportionately easier than 16. Finding venues for 12 boards as opposed to 16 is also easier, and cheaper. Travel costs for away matches are also reduced.

The question is, are we trying to get people playing chess against their peers or are we trying to inflate the number of boards above the actual numbers? We are aware that there are concerns with the statistical accuracy of the gradings, but would suggest that the U125, U150 & U175 sections merit reducing to 12 boards with immediate effect.

We note that the NCCU already plays its events over 12 boards. The EACU already plays its U125 section over 12 boards. We would also move that due consideration be given to reducing the Open/Minor Sections to 12 a side. Whilst for some this would be tantamount to maiming the sacred cow, we feel that such a move would benefit the make up of U175 & U150 teams, and give “smaller” counties encouragement that any hopes of winning these sections are not doomed simply because they do not have the strength in depth.

I would add in response to some of the comments posted that rather than putting the county team event on a "slippery slope", the MCCU proposal is a recognition of the situation as it is. As the above paper points out the county team event has not stood still over the years, there have been increases and decreases in numbers & teams to meet the circumstances prevailing at the time, in my view, long may that continue to be the case.

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Post by Neil Graham » Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:13 pm

Firstly in response to my previous contribution in this section I have already received an e-mail which states

"Why is the MCCU suggesting reducing the number of players ?? have they asked the people who play and organise these matches - i'm totally against it !?! " and goes on to make some radical comments about consultation. The writer is a respected county captain.

The MCCU CEO seems to equate "feedback" from an article on Page 15 of the Nov '06 MCCU chess news with "consultation". The latter would have required the MCCU to actually ask the people who play and organise these matches what they thought - a process that they clearly failed to do.

Moving onto the other points raised in the extremely long post preceding this one can we dispense with the socio-economic history of chess. For each and every "fact" that has been produced, I can no doubt produce a counter argument.

As William Metcalfe (sorry to quote you again William) inferred, a team of two is easier to find than a team of 12 or 16. I don't think for one minute that finding a team of 12 is disproportionately easier than finding 16; neither do I think finding a venue for 24 is necessarily easier or cheaper than finding a venue for 32 players. Where precisely are the facts that back up these statements??

Every county is different and it would be folly to suggest that for example Shropshire would have the same pool of players as Surrey. The success or otherwise of the Counties Championship depends on a large measure on the competence of the officials of the various counties/unions. Some Unions attach more importance than others to the event, for example in the Under 150 event, the SCCU played some 15 16 board matches whereas the NCCU managed just 2 12 board fixtures.

Basically the MCCU proposal seeks to reduce these events to the lowest common denominator and penalise those organisers and captains that actually take their responsibilities seriously and do a good job. The county event has indeed "not stood still over the years" - the BCF has introduced new sections and encouraged county chess to thrive where it has the wherewithal to do so; this proposal is a giant leap backwards and if passed will diminish the event substantially.

Sean Hewitt

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sat Apr 14, 2007 5:23 pm

Neil,

I attended the MCCU General Meeting that decided to make this recommendation. The majority of MCCU counties were represented (although I can't recall if Notts were). I don't recall a single delegate being against the proposal.

I believe that the number of graded players nationwide has reduced by 30% in the last 10 years. Given the overlapping nature that county teams now demonstrate, it seems sensible to me to reduce the number of players per county side on a pro-rata basis.

That said, I would leave the Open section at 16 boards, and scrap the U175 section!

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Post by Chris Majer » Sat Apr 14, 2007 7:45 pm

Sean Hewitt says
I believe that the number of graded players nationwide has reduced by 30% in the last 10 years.
This is a much quoted but misleading statistic. The number of standard play halfgames graded games dropped by a third between 96 and 99 from 307,000 to 208,000. The number of standard play games graded last year was 202,000. Year to year fluctuations are probably about 6000 halfgames. So I don't believe that chess activity has declined significantly over the last six to eight years.
Given the overlapping nature that county teams now demonstrate, it seems sensible to me to reduce the number of players per county side on a pro-rata basis.
I fail to see why grade overlap necessarily equates to a need to reduce the number of players in a teams. The relevant parameter, I would have thought, is the number of defalts.
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