University chess clubs

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David Robertson
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Robertson » Thu Nov 27, 2014 6:48 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:Most selective schools had disappeared by 1975, but the boom in English chess and a long list of talented players continued long after that
The 'boom' is easily explained, I think. The period 1975-85 was 'peak chess'. The maximum number of young people who have ever played chess, were playing chess. They were the accumulated cohort of those youngsters exposed to chess in secondary schools between 1955-1985. Most, but not all, of the most talented were privately educated. A few (Miles, Short for example) attended 'direct grant' state schools which soon became fee-paying.
Roger de Coverly wrote:it's possible that an egalitarian attitude by teachers, contemptuous of competitive activity, began to have a malign effect
It's possible that accountants, contemptuous of the evidence, would believe this

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:05 pm

David Robertson wrote:They were the accumulated cohort of those youngsters exposed to chess in secondary schools between 1955-1985. Most, but not all, of the most talented were privately educated.
Selective schools were well on the way to becoming the minority by 1970, about halfway through your period.

Ian Thompson
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Ian Thompson » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:37 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Simon Brown wrote:I'm quite disappointed to see it isn't even a BUCA member, but maybe that's more of a reflection on the decline of BUCA.
I think your knowledge of BUCA is twenty years out of date.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 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)
They hosted the event in 1981.

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John Clarke
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by John Clarke » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:46 pm

Note also the comment in the 2nd para on this webpage, which I've seen referred to before somewhere. Presumably there was a serious effect on after-school activities, including chess clubs and the ability to hold matches.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:48 pm

Ian Thompson wrote: I think 30 or 40 years ago 25 teams would have been considered disappointing
I played in 1969 in Liverpool and 1970 in Manchester and there were around 30 eight board teams at each. So that's about the size of today's 4NCL division 1 and 2. I believe the 1972 event in London was even bigger.

Martyn Harris
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Martyn Harris » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:29 pm

John Clarke wrote:Note also the comment in the 2nd para on this webpage, which I've seen referred to before somewhere. Presumably there was a serious effect on after-school activities, including chess clubs and the ability to hold matches.
My memory is that it was not so much the teacher strikes of the 70s as their work to rule in the early to mid 80s that had a big adverse effect on many extra-curricular activities. Afterwards not only did many staff not want to go back to running activities but heads also seemed intent either on directing staff towards the big three drama, music and sport, plus in some cases activities such as CCF or charity work. A side-effect was that these priority activities were deemed too important to be left organisationally in the hands of students, so that students lost out on chances to get experience in running clubs. Obviously this didn't apply to all schools or all heads, but it didn't need to to have a knock-on effect on universities.

High player turnover at university clubs is a problem as the simultaneous loss of two or three leading players can easily leave their teams floundering in divisions where players are out of their depth. Not all leagues, or their members, are sensitive to this and permit variation in their promotion and relegation rules.

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.

Neill Cooper
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:12 pm

David Robertson wrote:Chess has only ever been available, post-11, in independent or state selective schools.
I am pleased to say that is no longer the case. Various of the schools playing at the ECF Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament at Eton College in September were non-selective state schools and about 20% of this year's entries in the ECF U19 Open National Schools Championship are not from independent or state selective schools. Chess is becoming more popular at all types of secondary schools.

Neill Cooper
ECF Manager of Schools Chess

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:57 pm

Mick Norris wrote: last time was mid season when they got a game fee bill after ignoring what we told them about the membership scheme
As was blindingly obvious but vehemently denied by the membership enthusiasts, what else did you expect? Any club that relied on fielding teams based on a large number of players playing a small number of games is going to take a financial hit when you switch to per head costing. Even BUCA seems to have belatedly noticed, as there's a choice between membership at £ 12 and non-membership at £ 10 for entry to the annual championship.

Alistair Campbell
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Alistair Campbell » Fri Nov 28, 2014 2:03 pm

One problem of a club going into abeyance is there is a disincentive to reform if the club has to start again at the bottom level.

There is a story (possibly not completely true) that Strathclyde University CC started in Division 6 of the Glasgow League, won 5 successive promotions before winning Division 1 in 1981 and then promptly disbanding. I note a successor club was back in Division 6 about 5 years later. With the decline of the number of divisions in league chess this is less of a problem.

Edinburgh University still compete in the Edinburgh league (although this isn't in England...). In fact, they won the Premier Division 3 years ago (and, amusingly, are listed merely as "University"). One in the eye for Heriot-Watt, Napier (and, indeed, QMU).

The only other Scottish University currently with a league team is St Andrews in the Tayside and Fife league.

There was a "Scottish Universities Cup" about 4 years ago, with representatives of 7 unis, but that seems to have been a one-off. Glasgow University Union won the Richardson Cup in the late 60s/early 70s, but disappeared years ago, and of course Wandering Dragons started off life as the Stirling University C team.

I note the comment about teachers' strikes above. There is a theory that the lack of school chess clubs in those days led to a "missing generation" of players, which has continued to have a deleterious effect as the missing cohort has matured (if a missing cohort can mature?) Such players would first have been the up-and-coming juniors, then the backbone of the club, then, crucially, taken their turn at sharing the organisation burden as the older generations found career, family and other commitments taking up more of their time. Their absence has accelerated the decline of club chess and ultimately caused clubs to fold.

David Robertson
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Robertson » Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:17 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:Various of the schools playing at the ECF Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament at Eton College in September were non-selective state schools
I took a look at the list, Neill, but nothing jumped off the page on a cursory glance. It's important to know, I feel, so I poked about a bit. Still nothing much. Claremont High seems to fit the bill. Any others?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Nov 28, 2014 3:49 pm

David Robertson wrote: It's important to know, I feel, so I poked about a bit.
Just Google the school name. I tried Piggott first as it's local and then Mill Hill High. Both are academies, but that still counts as non-selective state, does it not?

David Robertson
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by David Robertson » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:27 pm

Piggott is a faith-based selective; Mill Hill is an independent boarder - if we're talking the same schools

[edit: ...but we're not. Mill Hill County High is indeed a comp, albeit a heavily oversubscribed (hence, pretty rare) comp

Roger de Coverly
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:47 pm

David Robertson wrote:Piggott is a faith-based selective
Faith based yes, selective no. It's in Berkshire not Bucks, admission criterion is geographic to Primary schools in the Twyford and Wokingham area.

http://www.piggott.wokingham.sch.uk/

http://www.piggott.wokingham.sch.uk/Fil ... 015-16.pdf

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Nov 28, 2014 6:08 pm

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.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Neill Cooper
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Re: University chess clubs

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:11 pm

David Robertson wrote:
Neill Cooper wrote:Various of the schools playing at the ECF Secondary School Rapidplay Chess Tournament at Eton College in September were non-selective state schools
I took a look at the list, Neill, but nothing jumped off the page on a cursory glance. It's important to know, I feel, so I poked about a bit. Still nothing much. Claremont High seems to fit the bill. Any others?
They are not always obvious. For instance many high schools are non-selective. In this case the non-selective schools were:
Claremont High School Academy, Middx
Harewood College, Bournemouth
Mill Hill County High School
Piggott School, Wargrave and
Vandyke Upper School, Leighton Buzzard (2 teams)

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