Social chess club or competitive chess club

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David Blower
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Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by David Blower » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:35 pm

What type of chess club do you prefer. A simple question, but I find not such an easy answer.

Brewood do compete in local leagues but then we also have a regular attendance of players that turn up each week even if there is not a match. Friendly matches are played where chatter and takeback moves are allowed.

If it was a 100% social though (i.e. we pulled out of all leagues) it really wouldn't be what I want.

But then again 100% competitive (i.e. you pick your best team for every game, so that some members would never get games, no takeback moves during friendlies) would also not be what I want.

Of course during the ECF graded matches in local leagues against other local clubs the players playing will be trying their best to win.

But we run 6 teams. Selection to the top two teams is done based on merit, but the other 4 teams are based on giving players games, especially those who may not get into the top two teams on merit.

I suppose a sub question to this is how does one define a competitive and a social chess club?

I would class Brewood as a bit of both.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:45 pm

David Blower wrote: I suppose a sub question to this is how does one define a competitive and a social chess club?

I would class Brewood as a bit of both.
I would have thought that a club running several teams should run its top teams from the top down and its lowest teams from the bottom up. That might need modification if the local league is of a high enough standard to make the games of the lowest ranked players embarrassing.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Michael Farthing » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:06 am

We're a bit more serious than David describes for his club. Our internal club games are more often than not in one of the internal competitions, graded and played to the formal rules. Even informal games are normally timed and chat is a no-no because of other games going on. Take-back is very rare. However, we have a separate bar area and informal games do sometimes happen there, along with analysis, socialising and so on. We're a small club of about 15 reasonably regulars and we run two teams, each of which is entered into two leagues. Our first team is chosen on merit, but we use the second team to ensure that anyone who wants to will have the opportunity to play in league games.
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Francis Fields
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Francis Fields » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:51 am

Is it social chess if a 180 player plays a 100 player on a non match night? Some people only enjoy playing players of similar strength and that is the fundamental. It should also be considered that if it is purely social chess away from chess clubs then how can people gauge how strong the players are?

As a slight aside: Is it possible to accurately grade a player based on observing some of their games?
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Clive Blackburn

Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Clive Blackburn » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:16 am

We don't really have any "social" games during the season as almost all of our players are involved in league matches, which is a bit awkward if someone new comes along in mid-season.

The only way I can see round that problem would be to meet on another evening for friendly games - at the moment we only have one club night a week.

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Jon Mahony » Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:19 pm

I'd go for a combo of the two (which is what Leeds Chess Club is) I wouldn't stay in a club which had no league teams and graded games as I love the competitiveness of serious Chess. On the other hand I wouldn't like to be in an elitist and snooty club (a club in same only) who simply gather for the league chess and do not play casual games, or socialise outside of this.

Just as well really, as I wouldn't get a look in, in such a place - if you aren't 170+ you don't get picked :)
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Stephen Moss
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Stephen Moss » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:41 pm

This is a really interesting question, and goes to the heart of sustaining chess and helping it grow, In my view, chess clubs are far too much match and league oriented. To play league chess, you probably need to have a rating of at least 100 to 120, but even then you're a pretty marginal player at your club. Clubs are really designed for experts, and don't have much time for beginners, enthusiasts and weaker players. I remember going to a club once with a view to joining; it was a match night; everyone's head was buried in their game; no one even bothered to talk to me; I didn't go back for about 10 years. Clubs, to function well and grow, need a strong social side – study nights, internal tournaments, the odd talk or simul. Matches should make up at most half of the activity. Then you have the makings of a club, rather than a team or set of teams.

David Blower
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by David Blower » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:43 pm

I should state that our internal club championship is ECF graded and also played to all of the formal rules that any of our external league matches are played to.

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Joey Stewart » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:58 pm

I have found that most clubs are match oriented, often to the extent that new members will be ignored by everybody else while deep in concentration, but it can also be difficult to accommodate such players (I receive emails from time to time asking for extensive coaching sessions for beginners, which very few places provide for free, even though most members are willing to chip in a little knowledge during a friendly game)

My current club is very social during the off season, but the potential new recruits seem not to turn up around those times as often as during matches.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

David Blower
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by David Blower » Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:03 pm

Stephen Moss wrote:
Clubs, to function well and grow, need a strong social side – study nights,
What kind of study nights do you have? And are they quite formal or informal?

The main 3 areas of study at our club are:
  • Openings
    Technical Endgames
    Members previous games
But this is very informal, and doesn't happen often.

David Blower
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by David Blower » Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:19 pm

Joey Stewart wrote:I have found that most clubs are match oriented, often to the extent that new members will be ignored by everybody else while deep in concentration, but it can also be difficult to accommodate such players (I receive emails from time to time asking for extensive coaching sessions for beginners, which very few places provide for free, even though most members are willing to chip in a little knowledge during a friendly game)

My current club is very social during the off season, but the potential new recruits seem not to turn up around those times as often as during matches.
This also partly relates to this topic in the junior section of the forum that I started. http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7195

The 7 year old is a complete beginner (although he does know how the pieces move) and yes we are doing basic endgame checkmates with him.

There is no one at our club that has suggested he doesn't come and as long as I'm on the committee it simply isn't going to be allowed to happen.

It helps that we have a regular group of players that turn up every week even if there is not a match to help him.

I wouldn't want new members to our club to be put off by competitive matches. However we need competitive matches for the existing club members.

Stephen Moss
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Stephen Moss » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:58 pm

My idea of study nights (and knights) is largely academic – like you, we don't have many, despite good intentions. I think a group of local clubs (there are four within three or four miles of where I live in SW London) could occasionally come together for presentations, simuls, opening discussions, so it isn't just about matches. There should be more camaraderie, more discussion of what it is about chess that excites us – maybe look at favourite openings, best wins, worst losses. But getting this sort of thing off the ground is tough. It's hard enough just organising teams.

Clive Blackburn

Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Clive Blackburn » Tue Mar 03, 2015 9:00 am

Stephen Moss wrote: To play league chess, you probably need to have a rating of at least 100 to 120, but even then you're a pretty marginal player at your club.
It depends on the local league. I play in the Coventry & District League and in the lowest division (Division 3) there are a lot of players graded around 80. I did a quick check and the lowest grade that I could see in Division 3 was 37.

Our club policy is that anyone who turns up and pays their subscription (even a complete beginner) can play for one of the weaker teams.
As they improve, they slowly work their way up. It is important to get people involved in matches while they are still keen, especially the juniors.

Francis Fields
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Francis Fields » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:18 am

I think juniors are a separate matter as they should gain their competitive experience against other children until they are strong enough for adult clubs. 6 year olds showing up with a grade of 100 should stick to school!
"These four walls are closing in. Look at the mess you put me in." Lyric from a Rainbow song taken from an 18th century poem.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Social chess club or competitive chess club

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:34 am

Francis Fields wrote:6 year olds showing up with a grade of 100 should stick to school!
A six-year-old with a grade of 100 should be treated as a potential genius and given every encouragement.



That said, I would agree that in general in the needs of young inexperienced players are very different to established club players and that young children are unlikely to thrive in chess clubs as they currently exist.

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