University chess clubs

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Neil Graham
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Neil Graham » Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:27 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:The turnover rate of students can often be a good thing or a bad thing.

The good thing is that arguments/disputes don't linger for 50 years. It also means there's a bit of variety, whereas local league chess can become a bit stale after a few years with no real change in faces, the University Championships have different teams periodically.

The bad thing is that it often leads to a lack of continuity, and students are - with a few exceptions - terrible at organisation. I know of one University that nearly didn't enter BUCA last year because they didn't apply for funding from the Union in time. Given the tournament was played in West Bromwich, and the university in question is Birmingham, and the entry fee was £20... :roll:
In this context, the turnover rate is a bad thing in my opinion.

I don't accept that students are any more terrible at organisation than the rest of the populace. However, most clubs find some good people who serve for say eighteen years. They then struggle for a couple of years until they find their next good people. So on the whole things are okay 90% of the time.

University clubs only get one or two years out of their good people, interspersed with the two years in which they struggle, or even collapse completely. So things are okay 50% of the time at best.

As for arguments not festering for 50 years, don't be so sure. Alumni still remember them. Are you unaware that my periodic moaning about the scheduling of the Counties Championships National Stages has its roots in the notorious 1973 dispute?
David is completely correct. One of my consistent and oft-returned to themes on this board is the lack of organisers at every level of the game. I have seen countless clubs simply disappear and University teams are more susceptible to this than most.

I was at a Polytechnic (now a University) which had no chess team, so in my second year another player and myself organised a club, obtained money from the Students Union for equipment and we were soon running successful teams in both the local and the County league. I think that the club lasted two years after I left before it became moribund. A check on the current ECF Grading database shows that a club has existed since but has 35 ungraded players with no graded players.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:49 am

"I think there is little doubt that the teachers industrial action of the mid-1980s had a detrimental impact on chess and several other "out of hours" pursuits."

The "out of hours" gives it away - unpaid overtime in other words, so why do it?

Graham Borrowdale

Re: University chess clubs

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:31 am

'Out of hours' overtime by school teachers is still substantial. No doubt much of this is contractual (eg parents evenings), but much of it appears to be voluntary (eg school drama productions, attendance on residential trips). At the senior school my teenage children attend this is evident, with all manner of clubs being run. I believe there is even a chess club, run one or two lunchtimes per week, but there is no local leageue...

David Pardoe
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Pardoe » Sat Nov 29, 2014 9:56 am

I did precisely the same thing as Neil Graham, and set up a University chess club at Stafford around the early seventies..
We got funds from the Student Union to buy the sets and clocks, etc...a bulk order from BH Wood.
I remember posting a large welcoming notice outside the canteen, and the responce was brilliant...we got about 40 people along and immediately entered to team in the local Stoke league.. We had several good players and had a good season, despite some hiccups...
Key lessons were that you need to get organised..establish a proper list of players/contacts...take details of player history etc... and run some internal club competitions to get things started..
Yes, initially, players may need to bring along chess sets, etc....
Yes, the ECF should set up schemes to encourage student participation...maybe a special `block` membership rate for Universities and colleges..
And key to success is continuity..so getting a good club secretary in place, maybe encouraging some University Staff to join, might help ensure good handover from year to year.
I can remember previous to that, that Durham University (several colleges), entered teams in the local Durham leagues. It was always a joy to visit these colleges, of a winters evening, and many great chess encounters were enjoyed.

So...come on you students...
BRING BACK THE BCF

MartinCarpenter
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by MartinCarpenter » Sat Nov 29, 2014 11:15 am

That has definitely died with Durham Uni now :( Hardly any students for the Durham teams in the Durham league actually. A shame that really. Hardly like the league is overwhelmed with teams.

Dewi Jones
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Dewi Jones » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:57 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:I think there is little doubt that the teachers industrial action of the mid-1980s had a detrimental impact on chess and several other "out of hours" pursuits.

And yes, it had knock-on effects which affect our game to this day.
I hope you're happy Thatcher.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:29 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:The bad thing is that it often leads to a lack of continuity, and students are - with a few exceptions - terrible at organisation.
I don't accept that students are any more terrible at organisation than the rest of the populace. However, most clubs find some good people who serve for say eighteen years. They then struggle for a couple of years until they find their next good people. So on the whole things are okay 90% of the time.
I think I take this point, which Neil Graham has also agreed with.
David Sedgwick wrote:As for arguments not festering for 50 years, don't be so sure. Alumni still remember them. Are you unaware that my periodic moaning about the scheduling of the Counties Championships National Stages has its roots in the notorious 1973 dispute?
I am not, but look forward to being informed of it at a future meeting!
Simon Brown wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:I think your knowledge of BUCA is twenty years out of date. BUCA didn't exist at all between 1992-2010, and has been revived ever since. It has grown from 12 teams in 2010 to 25 teams in 2014. I don't see how this can be considered a "decline of BUCA".
I'm sure that's true, as I left Exeter in 1984. But from what I see BUCA then was more active than BUCA now; I recall large numbers of teams each year and an 8 board match against Germany UCA in 1982 or 1983, with a fairly strong line-up. Don't think there has been anything like that recently, though I may have missed it.
I'm sure it was more active. We played in the World University Chess Championships in 2010 in Zurich. We've not been allowed to since, because British University & Colleges Sport have to enter for us, and they are unwilling to even though we played. I've attempted various avenues to organise something of the nature you describe, but either never had a reply, or we were just too weak for our potential opponents.
Ian Thompson wrote:I think it's your knowledge of BUCA that is lacking. I think 30 or 40 years ago 25 teams would have been considered disappointing, and that's at a time when there were relatively few universities, and students, compared to what there are now, with just about any higher education establishment being able to call itself a university. So all credit to you for reviving BUCA, but I think you've still got a long way to go before it's back to what it used to be.
Alex Holowczak wrote:Leeds League: Leeds University (never been to BUCA)
BUCA, in the 1950ish-1992 era, died. The new body is a completely new organisation. My comments about Leeds are in this context. I am very aware that 30 or 40 years ago, 25 teams (of 8, as it then was) would be disappointing, but it simply isn't going to get back to what it used to be in the 1980s unless the game returns to its popularity of the 1980s. Chess in this country doesn't have the numbers we have now, and the perception of the game to students isn't what it was then.
MartinCarpenter wrote:That has definitely died with Durham Uni now :( Hardly any students for the Durham teams in the Durham league actually. A shame that really. Hardly like the league is overwhelmed with teams.
They've been relatively omnipresent at BUCA, however.

Neill Cooper
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Neill Cooper » Sat Nov 29, 2014 10:33 pm

Apologies for continuing the hijacking the thread just as Alex has posted about modern BUCA.

Chess can be made more popular for secondary schools, and this is happening. The problem with the old model of leagues and cups was that it was based on two schools playing each other. All too often this was, and still is, a one sided affair, in which the travel time was longer than the match time. This was particularly disheartening to new schools, and the weaker teams.

The new model I have developed in Team Chess Challenge (TCC) is of multi-round afternoon events means that most players win a game and teams who lost most of their matches still go home feeling positive about their achievements. This is epitomized in this review by a school new to inter-school chess. By running more and more of these events I hope to be able to promote secondary school chess.

Chess at my school, Wilson's, has gone viral. 170 have come to chess club this term, with typically 60 at each lunchtime meeting (three time a week), already 50 have played in inter-school chess matches, 50 are ECF members and 70 have ECF grades. The inter-form chess tournament (played one afternoon with a similar format to TCC) had over 120 playing and most forms represented. This in selective state school of 1050 boys. Chess can be popular in secondary schools.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:06 am

Neill Cooper wrote: Chess can be popular in secondary schools.
Your achievements are astonishing, Neill.

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Anthony Higgs
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Anthony Higgs » Sun Nov 30, 2014 2:30 pm

Martyn Harris wrote: Enthusiasts arriving at a university with no established club may effectively have to mark time for a year before they can get a university team into the local league. No surprise that the enthusiast finds it simpler to join an existing local club.
Sussex Uni have entered a team in the Mid-Sussex League this season for the first time in well over a decade. They have been placed in Division 4, which on the flimsy evidence of one match looks correct (they were almost whitewashed by Horsham's 6th team).

Brighton CC have a new member this season who I understand is also at the uni, but with a grade of 190-odd understandably preferred to play in Division 1 for an established club, rather than be in Div 4 and presumably spend their student loan travelling to matches where the opponent was likely to be no challenge.
http://www.horshamchessclub.org.uk - ECF Club of the Year 2010

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