Attention Congress Players

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Sean Hewitt
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Attention Congress Players

Post by Sean Hewitt » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:12 pm

I'm interested in the views of congress players here.

I've long held the view that the majority of congress players have no interest in prize money and I often get that feedback from the players themselves. However, prize money is usually the biggest cost for an event (for us it's about 2/3 of our expenses) so has a big effect on entry fees.

So, whhat do congress players think of

1 - A weekend congress with no prize money but entry fees circa £10-£12

and / or

2 - A weekend congress with entry fee circa £10-£12 plus the option of paying a further £15-£20 into a prize pool which can only be won by players paying into the prize pool. Something like
1st : 50%
2nd : 25%
3rd : 15%
GP : 10%

The second might take some explaining, but I quite like. Sharking becomes seriously less attractive of course!

Please feel free to email of pm me if you prefer as I'm interested in genuine views.

Paul Dargan
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Paul Dargan » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:24 pm

Congress with no prize money fine by me - in theory.

Of course if the overall result is that the strength goes down event after event as those capable of winning increasingly see no point in playing to 'beat-up'/give away rating points to weaker opposition then I might change my mind.

Paul

Andrew Camp
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Andrew Camp » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:26 pm

Very interesting. I sense responses will fall in one of two groups.

A) People like me who never win anything will still play congresses with no prize money and would be highly attracted by cheaper entry fees.

B) People who can pretty much guarantee coming in the top three will want to keep the prize money.

I'm not sure the second option given by Sean would work as I doubt there would be enough prepared to chip in extra to make the prize money attractive.

Maybe there is room for both on the calendar. Some congresses act as they always have while others try something different. How about a cheap entry fee and trophies for first, second, third and gradings prizes.

I'd cherish winning a trophy far more than winning £160* in a tournament I've paid £28 plus accomodation and food to enter.

* I know e2e4 pays more than this but most minors / majors don't.
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Andy Price
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Andy Price » Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:43 pm

I'm not in it for the money so I favour option 1, but would not object to option 2 for people who like to receive cash.
Ideally I would like a small memento of my success, like a small shield or a certificate which wouldn't cost much.
As it is, on the few occasions I win something I usually just spend the money and forget about it.
If a prize giving is out of the question or a winner has had to go home, the certificate could be posted, or even emailed to them.

John Townsend
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by John Townsend » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:19 pm

Sean, my preferred option is:

1 - A weekend congress with no prize money but entry fees circa £10-£12

Of course, the entry fee needs to be seen in the context of any other costs involved. For example, whether or not ECF membership is required, or what game fees, if any, are payable, may be significant considerations for some players.

Martin Benjamin
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Martin Benjamin » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:24 pm

I am not an active congress player, as family commitments make it very difficult for me my current stage of life to enter weekend tournaments, but both options would be attractive to me in future once I have time - and even now a lower entry fee would make me feel a little less guilty about making a pitch to the family for a weekend freedom pass! I agree with Sean's view that prize money is not a determining factor for most of us. Maybe an individual or company would be willing to donate some trophies or chess related prizes (e.g. software, DVDs) in return for some publicity - much cheaper than sponsoring a tournament. What really counts is having some good games against decent opposition, and for me it would depend on how many players of my standard or better (the numbers of these increase as the years go by) feel the same way. My hunch based on casual conversations in the past is that enough would be interested, once a few players of the right standard have signed up early. I would miss the chance to take on really strong players who might reasonably want a monetary prize at which to tilt, but that would still be possible at another tournament.

Interesting ideas, Sean, and good luck if you go ahead with either (1) or (2).

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Greg Breed
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Greg Breed » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:26 pm

I was invited to go to an e2-e4 congress down in Brighton this year sometime by a friend. He specified that there would be no prize money but it would be a good week of chess. This I do not doubt, and though my chances of winning prize money are usually slim, it still seems to determine whether or not I play in them. I'm sorry but I cannot explain that one.

I think the expense of travel, accommodation and sustenance determines whether I can afford to participate. I've always been happy with entry fees up to £30 for a weekender. Working full-time and playing (a stupid amount of) league chess pretty much determines whether or not I can play in such tournaments.

If the venue was fairly local and the tournament ECF and/or FIDE graded I would definitely consider playing in a non-prize-money tournament, but I too would like to see the winner(s) get something. A trophy or maybe a voucher for entry into another tournament, but preferably both! :D
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Nick Burrows
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Nick Burrows » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:51 pm

I personally prefer the chance of winning an occasional prize and to recoup some of the money invested/lost over the years.

I would however still play in a convenient tournament as per option 1.

I suspect that there are many players similar to me, who would play both but are attracted by a prize.

Richard Bates
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:13 pm

Can you win the prizes if you get free entry? :?

Clive Blackburn

Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Clive Blackburn » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:33 pm

Definitely option 1. At the moment a large proportion of the entry fees is used to bump up the prize fund in the Open section, which very few players have a realistic chance of winning.

Sean Hewitt
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Sean Hewitt » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:30 pm

Clive Blackburn wrote:At the moment a large proportion of the entry fees is used to bump up the prize fund in the Open section, which very few players have a realistic chance of winning.
That doesn't happen in e2e4 events. Each section self finances its own prize fund.

Dan O'Dowd
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Dan O'Dowd » Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:49 pm

Oops, ramble below. Proceed with caution!

Disclaimer, I'm not at the moment a hugely regular congress player (limited as I am to county championship here, and British Championship tournaments, with the occasional travelling rapidplay or other weekender). I find it interesting that this option is now being mooted. It's sort of equivalent to pub poker, where there's often an option to enter the cash pot for the top x places but playing in the points event itself garners little to no cost except perhaps a couple of pints.

The difference here is of course ancillary expenses and efforts, i.e hotel rooms and travel costs, and time away from work for example in many cases - I know very few people indeed who take part on the weekenders circuit as pure grinding or effort as opposed to attempts at recreation.

If I think about it with my heart on my sleeve, given that I mostly enter major tournaments (say U160), and if I take my placing in the British one as representative of my strength, I'd say that psychologically I'd find a difference between paying £x without the chance of winning anything, and paying £2x that would potentially be the make-or-break extra criterion which swung me between entering tournament a or some other tournament b at another location etc. If I enter a tournament, yes I'm going there to enjoy it, but I think the idea of potentially winning something (since even to players, this can be the delineation of prestige between 3rd and 4th say, if you've not played so well) is very ingrained into a lot of players.

Personally, I'm mostly very spiritual if I can say that, about my chess. (This sounds obtuse and very Rowson for a lettuce, but bear with.)

I'm not one of those tournament bods who goes to 5-6 weekenders a year and does his prep and work on his pet opening lines, tries to optimise his performance, and minimises financial cost. I'm more one of those bods who makes the pilgrimage to a big tournament he loves every year purely for the enjoyment as a grand holiday. That I won significant cash this summer was a great little coda to my time, but not having done so wouldn't have soured me. If I'd played horribly and won the same money I'd even have been very low about it. If by contrast I'd played some beautiful games and won nothing I'd be far happier. But this is in the perspective of a holiday as opposed to these weekenders you get, like my county championship.

If I go to my county championship say (where I switched up to the Open last year instead of remaining as one of the favourites in the Major, as our county champion put it), I go to it hoping I'll enjoy it - or more accurately; hoping I won't suffer with sleepless night(s) and showing all the technique of a banana - but also because I realistically think I'm playing well enough to finish highly. If I do come top 3 say, I would theorise that because of this ingrained idea that you win a prize (as opposed to someone who sees it more accurately; and says the tournament is a cost of £y and any prize simply leads to a deduction in £y, and weighs up whether he's happy with the risk) and because of my own financial state, I'd feel a significant (though not allconsuming) absence of reward or pleasure unless I'd played some amazingly strong games and pushed beyond my own boundaries, which is rare enough for anyone.

A little anecdote to make you laugh. I went to the King's Congress rapid in Newcastle back in 2005, and played in the U130 as it was then. By a stroke of luck I managed to atone for a loss and make the prizes. Before r5, two players had 4, two had 3.5, and a few had 3. As one of the guys on 3 I managed to win, doing all I could. But the two players on 4 drew, the two on 3.5 were paired apart and both lost, and I ended up coming 3=. The way the prizes were split, our two 4.5 scoring warriors were rewarded with (80+60)/2=£70, and the three people of us who shared 3rd got the grand total of £3.50! :lol: :lol: But the outlay to go to that tournament was so small that rather than disappoint, it simply made me laugh :)

I've always been frugal enough that I'll either be comfortable with the outlay for a tournament or not; regardless of prizewinning. I think the salient point is that if someone has traveled a fair distance to get to an event, is seeded in the middle or lower order, and isn't feeling especially confident; they're not going to be very likely to shell out on an offchance, because presuming this is the same sort of fella who goes to lots of these a year, he'll be budgeting as he goes. Accordingly you'll get the scenario where if someone is in doubt, they won't put into a prize pool (which may become quite tightly contested, by only say 7-8 people maybe in a section of 20-25?). You may also end up with some sporadic range of people putting in, and that leading to someone who scores only 3, or 2.5, winning a significant prize. How much would that disgruntle the cautious chap who didn't pay in but streaked to 5/5? Their choice I know, but perhaps you could modify this to account for such possibilities. You could safeguard something for whoever comes 1st (it can be reduced to the right level if they didnt pay), or make a pools dividend structure (if that isn't complex), so those who pay in have their ladder of prizes, but anyone scoring 5, 4.5 or 4 gets a little something back from their entry? That way your entry fees aren't suddenly plummetting but there remains a good range of prizes to motivate every sort of person who attends. If you found such issues after a few events you could even allow people to pay in right after their first round game at the latest, to account for potential indecision.

I'll stop there before I come out with any more nonsense tonight!

Richard Bates
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:22 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Clive Blackburn wrote:At the moment a large proportion of the entry fees is used to bump up the prize fund in the Open section, which very few players have a realistic chance of winning.
That doesn't happen in e2e4 events. Each section self finances its own prize fund.
Personally, I have a lot more sympathy for a view that says there should be low entry fees, and no prize fund, than a view that opposes lower sections "subsidising" the Open in favour of equal (or even higher!) prizes in the lower sections. I've never understood why somebody graded 169, say, should be able to regularly expect to win decent prizes in Majors whilst somebody graded 175 has to settle for playing for the love of the game.

Although it goes without saying that I think that the game in this country, and the weekend circuit in particular, benefits if it tries to make itself attractive to strong players/'professionals', with "subsidy" if necessary being a part of that.

Paul Buswell
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Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Paul Buswell » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:48 pm

Location Location Location

If it is a congress where I have had to pay for accommodation then the entry fee is a small part of my outlay, and I am happy to pay a little extra to enjoy the fantasy of prize money - in for a penny, in for a pound.

If however I have no accommodation costs, and only modest travel costs, then I prefer to keep all my costs low and would forego prize money for a lower entry fee.

PB

Clive Blackburn

Re: Attention Congress Players

Post by Clive Blackburn » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:11 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Clive Blackburn wrote:At the moment a large proportion of the entry fees is used to bump up the prize fund in the Open section, which very few players have a realistic chance of winning.
That doesn't happen in e2e4 events. Each section self finances its own prize fund.
I'm sorry Sean, I don't know anything about e2e4 events and have never played in one.

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