CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

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David Gilbert
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CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by David Gilbert » Tue May 26, 2009 8:23 pm

Were there any winners in the clash of the Congresses last weekend? In the south, Ilford and Cheltenham held their traditional Bank Holiday events, and this year they were joined by Amersham. Not sure any of the organisers will be entirely satisfied with their entrant. Numbers were down at both Ilford and Cheltenham, reflecting happenings at Amersham. Is greater contestability offering us more choice and potentially better events, or will it drive some established congresses to the wall? The Titanic sails at dawn.

Matthew Turner
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matthew Turner » Tue May 26, 2009 8:44 pm

From a professional's point of view there are clearly too many congresses, prize money has not increased in absolute terms for probably 35 years, which is quite amazing if you think about it (what has happened to your mortgage over the same period!) From an amateur's perspective, I'm not sure, but I suspect for them too, less congresses would be advantageous, because we would get better organisation and venues for bigger events. I am not a regular congress player now, so I apologise if I miss some obvious ones out, but these seem to be the best (adult) congresses in England to me.

Blackpool
British Rapidplay (Halifax)
West of England Championships (Exmouth)
Frome (probably)
York (maybe, because I haven't been since they have a new format)
British Championships (usually good, but perhaps not value for money)

You will notice none of these are in he South-East and I think generally, you'll find tournaments are better the further away from the capital that you get. This is just an observation, it is not a criticism of Adam Raoof for example, it is probably just too expensive to get good venues in London

William Metcalfe
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by William Metcalfe » Tue May 26, 2009 10:14 pm

I think you can add scarborough to the list mathew
I am speaking here for myself and not the NCCU which i am now president of

Matthew Turner
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matthew Turner » Tue May 26, 2009 10:21 pm

I considered Scarborough, but left it off. It has a large number of entries so it must be doing most things right. However, I think you would also find a lot of players who didn't like Scarborough. This is different from say the West of England Championships where the overwhelming number over competitors (95%+) would say it was a great event.

Lara Barnes
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Lara Barnes » Tue May 26, 2009 11:08 pm

Matthew,
I think that some players used not to like Scarborough due to the random pairings, weird controlling decisions, poor lighting, strange occurences etc. This, of course, was before I took over 2 years ago!!!! It is now competently run, has 3 ECF Senior & International Arbiters, no strange advertising for holistic therapy and all profits ploughed back into the congress. We now have improved lighting for the event, more prize-money, grading prizes etc.
Please consider coming and doing a review!

www.scarboroughchesscongress.co.uk will take you to our website.

Entries to scarboroughchess@googlemail.com

David Gilbert
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by David Gilbert » Tue May 26, 2009 11:17 pm

I'd add Scarborough too, and even Exeter and Doncaster. And in the south, Kidlington, St Albans and Bury St Edmunds are great events. What a shame that last year Scarborough and Bury St Edmunds clashed, and on the same weekend there were people playing at Weymouth. Why have three good events the same weekend?

David Gilbert
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by David Gilbert » Tue May 26, 2009 11:28 pm

...and I meant to mention the excellent Golders Green rapidplays. When I first played there five or six years ago there were probably not many more than 50 entrants. Numbers have been increasing steadily - not least because Adam is there every month and has never amalgamated any grading bands. When I last played in April 2009 (with a remarkable - for me - 6/6 in the minor) there were close to 120 entries. With different people turning-up every month Adam's big problem might turn out to be sending people away!

Lara Barnes
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Lara Barnes » Tue May 26, 2009 11:29 pm

When I bought Scarborough the dates were booked for ten years. Having a 300+ player event sort of limits you to dates when you need a large venue. This year is the latest we go in October (23rd-25th). We then go back to the 'middle weekend' in 2010.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Wed May 27, 2009 12:41 am

The South Lakes Congress (it's the weekend after next!) is highly rated by most people who play there, so I hear :D

Main problem is accommodation - a pig to get and b****y expensive too :(

Blackpool is the best in that regard, of course 8)
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Keith Arkell
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed May 27, 2009 2:10 am

''Random'' pairings with emphasis on quotation marks,but yes Scarborough is a much nicer proposition these days.

Sean Hewitt's FIDE rated weekenders are also excellent.

My favourite of all though is Paignton.One game per day in a stunningly beautiful venue by the seaside.

Andrew Wainwright
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Andrew Wainwright » Wed May 27, 2009 10:03 am

Going back to David and Matthew's initial discussions about the number of congresses in the calendar in recent times and whether too many congresses is actually having a negative effect on Chess I can only disagree with any such proposition.
Perhaps from the perspective of a professional trying to make a living from chess there is a need to ensure the prize funds in the larger events remains centralized rather than being spread over several smaller events but from the perspective of a local league player I can only say that I would welcome more congresses in my area (Yorkshire). I have long wondered why the Leeds Chess Association and the Sheffield Chess Association do not run congresses like so many of their neighbouring smaller cities and towns. Large cities like these with excellent transport routes and very strong local leagues (particularly Sheffield) would be ideal locations for large tournaments.
I heard excellent reviews about Doncaster this year and will def be there next season. I am also highly looking forward to the South Lakes and Chester Congresses in June.
On a personal note I would also recommend the Bradford Congress in September as a great weekend, it would be excellent to see a titled player there this year to give Richard Palliser a run for his money as he has dominated the Open in recent years.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed May 27, 2009 10:43 am

There can never be too many tournaments! As long as the dates are arranged well in advance and with due consideration (avoiding clashes with other local events), then let's have more, and more variety. When I first started playing tournament chess the London scene was packed; an event every weekend thanks to George Goodwin and others. And there were more entrants than organisers today could cope with!
Right now venue costs are prohibitive in central London which is one reason I have never organised a weekend congress solo, but I think that Sean Hewitt's recent successful congresses at Amersham and Uxbridge have proved that there is a demand for quality chess events, not just tournaments in drafty church halls ;-) And that players are able to travel to satellite events on the periphery of London, not just into town.
We are a long way from saturation...
Last edited by Adam Raoof on Wed May 27, 2009 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed May 27, 2009 10:46 am

There are two separate issues being tangled up here. One is the number of congresses available to players; the other is their clashing with each other.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed May 27, 2009 11:15 am

It has always been a tradition in the UK to hold large chess tournaments on Bank Holidays, for instance. The clash was never a problem in the past. Today, I would guess that more people play chess than ever. I know several kids who learned chess thinking it was a computer game, as it came pre-installed on their pc's!

What may have changed is the total pool of players prepared to take part in over-the-board events. I agree with Matthew Turner that prize funds really haven't kept up with inflation. But I don't believe in practice that the majority of players look hard at the prize fund before deciding whether to play in an event. What is keeping lots of players from tournaments may be [fill in the gap!]
  • ungraded players in grading limited sections
    The availability of game playing online
    Improvements in chess playing software and lower prices
    The cost of accommodation
    not enough sections
    Lack of sponsorship
    no side events like simuls, commentary, evening events, team events
    some loss of club identity (players going as a team or group of friends to events used to be more common)
I'm not sure. As has been kindly noted below, I have had steadily increasing numbers at Golders Green Rapidplays despite modest prize funds, so it can't be that!
Adam Raoof IA, IO
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Matt Harrison
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matt Harrison » Wed May 27, 2009 2:31 pm

In terms of good London tournaments, I'd add both Metropolitan and Ilford to the list. Thew new venue for the Metropolitan places it in a fantastic location right on the River Thames, and the playing hall is excellent. The only downside is the rather cold and bleak analysis room/cafe, but the compensation of being able to pop over to Tate Modern for an hour is great.

Ilford is a really well run tournament in a good venue very close to a tube station. Not the most attractive part of London though. A good mix of players, although this year it was noticeably smaller, presumably due to Amersham attracting a few who would have gone. The problem is when the break-even point is quite high, just losing a few players throws the event into deficit.

Golders Green must be an example of success breeding success. It now has that rare combination of narrow grading limits so lots of players are in contention from the start to do well and even win a bit of cash, with enough numbers that you're not in a swiss with less than 10 players.

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