CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

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Adam Raoof
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed May 27, 2009 3:36 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.
That sounds promising - where is the new venue for the Metropolitan congress? I looked in vain for it (and even my own events) on the new ECF calendar ;-)

PS looking wider afield, there are loads of great tournaments; Kidlington is my favourite, with St Albans, Noteboom (Leiden NL), Brentwood and Kilkenny (IRL) close behind. I recommend players based in London look at tournaments in Belgium and Paris and even The Netherlands as they are very easy to get to by Eurostar, and you would not be amazed to hear that there is an interesting comparison to be made with English events (not yet played in a Scottish or Welsh Congress). Not necessarily better.
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Matt Harrison
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matt Harrison » Wed May 27, 2009 4:27 pm

Adam, It's not that new, in that they moved there in 2007 (and went back in 2008). It's at City of London School, on the north bank of the Thames right by Millennium Bridge. I'm assuming it's on again this October, but I haven't checked.

Paul Buswell
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Paul Buswell » Wed May 27, 2009 5:05 pm

[quote="Adam Raoof"] 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)
For me in Hastings it's mainly cost driven. Add up the entry fee, b&b, meals, it starts to get prohibitive to travel away. I will spend to be away one night, but two nights away starts to get too pricey, unless there is some additional factor: visiting people in the vicinity, tourism factors, whatever.
So from my point of view the more congresses the better because that increases the chances of there being one that fits my bill.
Someone downthread mentioned France - Hastings club members have becomer regulars at the four or five French rapidplays near the other end of Eurotunnel. A long day for sure, maybe 15/16 hours away from home, but for a full car it's about £25 each travel & entry fee and a bit of vive la différence. Good value, in my view.

PB

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Adam Raoof
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed May 27, 2009 5:08 pm

Someone downthread mentioned France - Hastings club members have becomer regulars at the four or five French rapidplays near the other end of Eurotunnel.
I appreciate what you mean about cost, Paul. Which five French rapidplays are they? If you can post the names and places then I am sure that Google will provide the rest of the details ;-)
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Paul Buswell » Wed May 27, 2009 7:23 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:
Someone downthread mentioned France - Hastings club members have becomer regulars at the four or five French rapidplays near the other end of Eurotunnel.
I appreciate what you mean about cost, Paul. Which five French rapidplays are they? If you can post the names and places then I am sure that Google will provide the rest of the details ;-)
The unfortunately named viruschess.com was my source before building up direct contacts....

Béthune was last Thursday (Ascension Day), though that meant a day off work and was the furthest to go, 45 miles (50 mins) inland. 11 rounds, 15 mins each (the standard rate now, it seems, they used to play 9 x 20). Four of us went - knackering. But it's our twin town - there's been a proper twinning visit each year for the last four.
Oye Plage on 14 June, 15-20 mins from the other end; planning to go, had better book Tunnel but not expecting probs. 9 rounds x 15 mins I think, the more usual number.
Bourbourg on the first Sunday in September, about 5-10 miles past Oye Plage - memo to self, check the cheap fares haven't all gone with holiday returners, been caught that way in past.
Grande-Synthe is in same vicinity, I forget whenabouts.
Boulogne in autumn is 20-30 mins in other direction.

There are several others in the region but a bit too far for a day trip.

Over here there's Snodland in July or Crowborough in September - i.e. for me there's more on in France!

Tunnel pre-booked cheap day return £54 per car.

PB

Matthew Turner
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed May 27, 2009 8:55 pm

One would normally expect a sport, or game, to have tiers of tournaments - so you would have Regional, National and International Events. In English chess our regional events, in which I would include Golders Green, Yeovil, Bury St. Edmunds and Doncaster are excellent. We clearly have a problem with International events, basically we have the British and Hastings, both are pretty well run and perfectly OK, but they are very under-funded and there are only two of them!
Then we come to National events, a category in which I would include the likes of Blackpool and the British Rapidplay. I think in an ideal world we would have perhaps one of these a month (an event that you could take the Chairman of a big company to and say look chess is worth supporting). I am concerned that the mass of regional events has really crowded out the big National Events to the detriment of chess in general.
It may well be that I have misinterpretted what is going on and I certainly don't have a magical solution, but I simply offer it up as an observation.

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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Mike Truran » Wed May 27, 2009 9:19 pm

Matthew

Shouldn't you be watching the Champions League final? At least I waited until it was 2-0! (at which point I gave up)

Mike

Matthew Turner
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed May 27, 2009 9:35 pm

Mike,
I've found drinking Sol gives me the uncanny ability to watch football and spout gibberish at the same time :P

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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Mike Truran » Wed May 27, 2009 9:38 pm

Multitasking? I thought only my missus could do that. Correction - I can read the BBC updates, drink wine (not Spanish), post on ecforum and feel depressed - quadritasking?

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Carl Hibbard » Wed May 27, 2009 9:41 pm

Mike Truran wrote:Matthew

Shouldn't you be watching the Champions League final? At least I waited until it was 2-0! (at which point I gave up)

Mike
Cough, I had Barcelona to win at 2-1 odds
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by John Anderson » Wed May 27, 2009 10:13 pm

Having played in Congresses all over the country for over 35 years I would have to say that ,in my view, the best congress -by far - is the one at Bury St.Edmunds. Run almost single-handedly by Bob Jones, it has a great venue (in a beautiful market town), good prize-money, excellent catering at amazingly low prices and fierce competition. Yet it all takes place in a convivial atmosphere - probably something to do with the in-breeding that takes place in that corner of the world ... :D

This year`s dates are 30th October to Ist November and as it no longer clashes with the 4NCL it should be stronger than ever. If you have never played there, I can highly recommend it.

However, the best weekend Congress ever has to be Kilkenny - simply no contest.

Andrew Farthing
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Andrew Farthing » Thu May 28, 2009 12:44 pm

I'd definitely vote for more congresses rather than fewer, but then I'm one of those sad people who plays in lots of the things (about 20 a year) and would play more if there were events within reasonable travelling distance on some of the 'vacant' weekends. Personal favourites for me are Paignton, Exmouth, Scarborough and St Albans. Two newcomers - Milton Keynes and Uxbridge - were also very good (well organised; nice venues).

It's quite sobering to think that this thread started off with a question about whether one new congress over the Bank Holiday weekend was harmful to the existing congresses because of its effect on entries. With over 11,500 players on the ECF grading list, you'd like to think that the real question was why aren't there more events each weekend!

I wonder how many of the 11,500 don't play in any congresses at all, or just one a year? Is this a marketing problem or just a fact of life that lots and lots of graded players don't fancy congresses?

Andrew Farthing

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu May 28, 2009 1:45 pm

Having played in 30 Guernsey Chess Festivals, I must plug that. Good venue, nice surroundings, good atmosphere, no VAT... The weather's variable in October admittedly, anything between shirt sleeves and Antarctic survival kit, but a good tournament. Entrants this year include Tiger Hillarp-Persson and Bojan Kurajica, so there's interesting opposition as well.
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu May 28, 2009 2:13 pm

Andrew Farthing wrote:I wonder how many of the 11,500 don't play in any congresses at all, or just one a year? Is this a marketing problem or just a fact of life that lots and lots of graded players don't fancy congresses?
Writing as someone who hasn't managed to play half as many congresses as I would have liked in the last year, here are a few reasons (not all of them mutually exclusive) why people might not want to play in a congress:
  • Family commitments - it's not always easy to escape for a whole weekend, especially if travel/overnight stays are needed.
  • Work commitments - if you work at weekends, then you've got a problem.
  • 4NCL - if you commit to playing regularly in the 4NCL, then four or five weekends are already spoken for.
  • Cost - for any event that involves an overnight stay, the cost of travel and accommodation can be prohibitive.
  • Distance - getting away from work/home in time for a Friday evening round can be tricky; getting back home on Sunday by public transport is often impossible.
  • Some people just don't like congresses - a league match once a fortnight or so is all they need.
  • County matches - playing for the county is enough weekend chess for some.
  • Other weekend activities - I've known football fanatics who just won't miss their team's games for any reason, and there are many other things for people to do.
What this all boils down to is that congresses compete with a multitude of other activities (including other chess events) for the limited time and money that people have available. Everyone's preferences are different - for instance, I like playing in the 4NCL because one game per day in high-quality venues suits me. But in terms of the number of games one gets for the money, it's expensive.

I think that congresses need to put more effort into providing good playing conditions, and if that puts up the entry fees, well... is that a problem? People routinely fork out £50 plus for an afternoon's football entertainment, so perhaps we should be thinking in terms of providing value for money, rather than making things as cheap as possible. I think Sean Hewitt's recent events (I'm still trying to find time to play in one!) may be one way forward, since they seem to be attracting just as many players as some less expensive events.

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Gavin Strachan » Thu May 28, 2009 2:31 pm

It would be ideal if the cost of venues in the south was cheap, but that's the way things are and it is difficult getting a good venue at a good price. I don't have a problem with the quantity of congresses and hope that the quality is always high. I do think it is ridiculous to have several congresses in the same region on at the same time as this is clearly not cost effective. Having played in several congresses you see the "usual" crowd at the events with small smattering of extras. Clearly, even though 11,000+ people are on the grading list, I would reckon that less than 2000 (maybe nearer 1000) play in congresses. So the preverbial butter is somewhat spread rather thinly. Prize money is certainly an attraction but at the end of the day, chess in the UK is extremely poorly sponsored which means that the prize fund is somewhat determined by the entry level (with a little help from some friends).

I personally think that a congress spread over several days will not get a huge crowd as most people have families and work and so to taking more than two days out of their schedule is quite a strain. This is what stops myself from playing in 3+ day events. The big events which run several small tournaments over a couple of weeks I note that the number of entrants in some of the graded sections or junior tournaments is not particularly high although the overall event can have a reasonable turnout.

FIDE rated open tournaments are poorly entered by titled players because they are more worried about getting a duff draw against a player significantly lower than themselves. An example of this is the Amersham tournament had several GM's but not a lot else.

I won't ramble on anymore as I have to go back to work.

Hate to mention Spain after last night, but they do get superb sponsors.

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