CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

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William Metcalfe
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by William Metcalfe » Thu May 28, 2009 2:49 pm

The 1 thing that really hurt the weekend congress scene was the downscaling of the grand prix by the ECF we regularily used to get Mark Hebdon.Keith Arkle and numerous other gm or ims playing in the north east congresses.And when the GMs played it used to attract more local players into the open section as they had a shot at playing and maybe beating or drawing with a GM.
As the open section is normally the 1 section that costs organisers the most money that decesion turned profit making congresses into loss makers.
Plus it was one off the few things the BCF/ECF gave back to the average club player
I am speaking here for myself and not the NCCU which i am now president of

Keith Arkell
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Keith Arkell » Thu May 28, 2009 3:10 pm

I agree with Andrew that the more tournaments the better.This is obviously a healthy thing for the game of chess in England.

Organisers can consult with each other to minimise clashes in the same area.

If numbers threaten to get a bit thin how about amalgamating all sections into one big open with larger grading prizes.Not everyone's cup of tea I know,
but worthy of a try,just as some try the opposite of this-ie ''stars-barred'' events.

Yes William,the loss of the Grand Prix did put us off a bit,because our GP prizes helped recoup our expenses throughout the year.
An unconnected coincidence in my case though was that round about that time I decided to put more emphasis on International chess.

Tim Spanton
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Tim Spanton » Thu May 28, 2009 3:15 pm

I’m surprised more players haven’t mentioned Hastings as a great congress. I fear its reputation for poor venues is still widespread - certainly I meet a lot of foreigners who have trouble believing me when I say it now has probably the best playing conditions in Britain.

Sean Hewitt

Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri May 29, 2009 10:14 am

Now that my laptop is fixed perhaps it is appropriate for me to answer the original question from the perspective of the organiser of the Amerham event.

Overall I was satisfied with the number of players in respect that 107 players was not bad considering this was the first time the event had been held. I had hoped for more, but hopefully that will come in subsequent years!

Looking at it in more detail, we had 57 in the Open which was fantastic and whilst someone said the event was not very strong and that we had 3 GMs and "not much else" I'm sure the 1 IM, 2 FMs, 1 CM and 1 WFM would disagree. The fact is that 35 of the players were rated 2000 or above which I think is pretty reasonable for a weekend swiss.

Of more concern to me was the numbers in the Major and Minor (28 and 23 respectively). Whilst these sections covered the costs of their prizes, they made no contribution to the overall running costs of the event.

Our philosophy is to offer a better weekend experience than that provided by playing in church halls and schools, whilst keeping decent prize money and a reasonable entry fee. That means good playing facilities, on site refreshments (bar, restaurant, tea/coffee etc), and of course discounted rates in the hotel. I wonder why Open players seem to be attracted in droves (where else do you get 57 players in a weekend Open swiss?), but the Major and Minor players don't seem so keen. This is contrary to most congresses experiences. Suggestions please!

Looking forward - the question of more or less is an interesting one. I chose this weekend because we wanted to run a 7 round event (requiring a bank holiday weekend) and this was the least crowded weekend in the chess calendar. Ilford is 45 miles away, and Cheltenham 80 miles away, and the people I consulted with didn't think that we would be a major problem for those events given those distances. I'm not sure how many of our players would have played elsewhere if we had not run.

My personal playing experience is that there are too many poor quality congresses, and whilst some are excellent, there are not enough of those. I would like to see more of the latter and less of the former - and that's why I started running these events!! Hopefully players like them, but ultimately it's player choice that will determine which events succeed and which fail.

Regards,

Sean

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri May 29, 2009 10:32 am

Sean Hewitt wrote:Of more concern to me was the numbers in the Major and Minor (28 and 23 respectively). Whilst these sections covered the costs of their prizes, they made no contribution to the overall running costs of the event.
Was U155 for the Major a little low?

I think players like myself or people in the 175-155 band are really not going to bother with an Open with no grading limit?

It's difficult to decide on the limits though...
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Mike Gunn
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Mike Gunn » Fri May 29, 2009 10:37 am

We're finding the same with the Surrey Easter Congress. The number in the Open is holding up but the lower sections have fewer players than previously. (This was for the sections with 2 5 hour rounds per day.)

Angus French
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Angus French » Fri May 29, 2009 11:34 am

Sean Hewitt wrote:...Ilford is 45 miles away, and Cheltenham 80 miles away, and the people I consulted with didn't think that we would be a major problem for those events given those distances. I'm not sure how many of our players would have played elsewhere if we had not run.
Ha! Ilford may be 45 miles away but both tournament venues are accessible from the London underground and will have competed, I suggest, for a decent chunk of the London chess population.

Indeed, a comment here implied that Amersham was an alternative to Ilford!

Sean Hewitt

Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri May 29, 2009 12:21 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:
I think players like myself or people in the 175-155 band are really not going to bother with an Open with no grading limit?
I set the limits as I did because only 10% of players have a grade above 175. If you set your Major at that level, you risk having very few players in the Open in my opinion. The break down of the grades of Open players was

200+ 4
190-199 1
180-189 8
170-179 10
160-169 7
150-159 8
Uner 150 12
Ungraded 7

So I agree that perhaps we lost a few 160-170 players.

But I dont understand why we had so few 100-120 players in the Minor in particular (only 6 of 23 entrants were graded over 100, depite the U120 grading limit).

Sean Hewitt

Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri May 29, 2009 12:26 pm

Angus French wrote:
Ha! Ilford may be 45 miles away but both tournament venues are accessible from the London underground and will have competed, I suggest, for a decent chunk of the London chess population.
I'm not sure that I agree with that. Ilford had 139 players last year. Just 14 of these played at Amersham this year instead. More importantly this means that 93 of this years Amersham players did not play Ilford last year so collectively we have increased the amount of chess played over the bank holiday weekend. A good thing, I would have thought.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri May 29, 2009 12:42 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:So I agree that perhaps we lost a few 160-170 players.
I would set them as U170 and U125 personally?
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Richard Bates
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Richard Bates » Fri May 29, 2009 6:46 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:Now that my laptop is fixed perhaps it is appropriate for me to answer the original question from the perspective of the organiser of the Amerham event.

Overall I was satisfied with the number of players in respect that 107 players was not bad considering this was the first time the event had been held. I had hoped for more, but hopefully that will come in subsequent years!

Looking at it in more detail, we had 57 in the Open which was fantastic and whilst someone said the event was not very strong and that we had 3 GMs and "not much else" I'm sure the 1 IM, 2 FMs, 1 CM and 1 WFM would disagree. The fact is that 35 of the players were rated 2000 or above which I think is pretty reasonable for a weekend swiss.

Of more concern to me was the numbers in the Major and Minor (28 and 23 respectively). Whilst these sections covered the costs of their prizes, they made no contribution to the overall running costs of the event.

Our philosophy is to offer a better weekend experience than that provided by playing in church halls and schools, whilst keeping decent prize money and a reasonable entry fee. That means good playing facilities, on site refreshments (bar, restaurant, tea/coffee etc), and of course discounted rates in the hotel. I wonder why Open players seem to be attracted in droves (where else do you get 57 players in a weekend Open swiss?), but the Major and Minor players don't seem so keen. This is contrary to most congresses experiences. Suggestions please!

Regards,

Sean
I think the answer is that players in Opens are looking for very different things, and one has to work much harder as an organiser to attract them. But i would hope that the rewards are there for those who put in the effort!

I would say that three things are important for attracting people to and making decent open tournaments (and it does tangentially link in to the other thread on players playing out of their sections) - Prizes, playing conditions and prospect of strong opposition. And importantly all work together to produce the result. There will always be players attracted mainly by the prospect of testing themselves against strong opposition, but without prizes and/or reasonable playing conditions (and in some cases also the prospect of other strong opposition) the strong opposition will not be attracted.

Whereas the challenge is not the same in grading limited competitions. Those who are just looking to play six games against players of a similar standard are pretty much guaranteed what they are looking for regardless of the other factors. One can talk about a 'weak' or a 'strong' Major tournament, but it is not really comparable with the differences in strong or weak Opens. Consequently, someone entering a major doesn't really have to give too much advance consideration to whether it will be worthwhile playing. This is not the case with Opens.

The problem is that an organiser has to take a certain amount of risks (on paper at least) if they are going to try and set up successful Opens, because of the larger upfront costs and greater uncertainty on entrants. In recent years I think fewer have been prepared to do that (especially in the London area, where with the strongest leagues in the country there must be a large potentially untapped market, currently largely restricted to the usual diet of one-day rapidplays if they play at all).

I wish you all the best Sean in your endeavours.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Adam Raoof » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:54 pm

Of more concern to me was the numbers in the Major and Minor (28 and 23 respectively). Whilst these sections covered the costs of their prizes, they made no contribution to the overall running costs of the event.

Our philosophy is to offer a better weekend experience than that provided by playing in church halls...
Hey! Golders Green Church Hall is really nice!

But seriously, I agree. The secret to getting more players is to forget the statistical analysis over two events; keep organising them and you will gradually find that people will tell their friends, chat on Facebook and eventually you'll get more entrants to the grading limited sections. Players over 150 may prefer to enter a FIDE rated Open than a tournament they might even win, so you could even consider dropping the grading limits to Under 145 and Under 100.

But whatever you do, keep organising the tournaments.

If you organise it, they will [eventually] come.
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Sebastian Stone
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Sebastian Stone » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:17 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Carl Hibbard wrote:
I think players like myself or people in the 175-155 band are really not going to bother with an Open with no grading limit?
I set the limits as I did because only 10% of players have a grade above 175. If you set your Major at that level, you risk having very few players in the Open in my opinion. The break down of the grades of Open players was

200+ 4
190-199 1
180-189 8
170-179 10
160-169 7
150-159 8
Uner 150 12
Ungraded 7

So I agree that perhaps we lost a few 160-170 players.

But I dont understand why we had so few 100-120 players in the Minor in particular (only 6 of 23 entrants were graded over 100, depite the U120 grading limit).
Funnily enough, in the West of England (exmouth) U125 there were more 100 plus players than those under 100.

With yours truly not playing anyone under 110. :D
AKA Scott Stone

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That's Mr Stone to you, f**kface.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:54 am

As far as I know nothing has been done about coordinating the congress + county matches calendar since 1996. We have had as many as 10 congresses over the Easter weekend.

It is true that Gibraltar is not in the UK, but then nor are the French tournaments that have been referred to. That event is run by English Chess Federation officers and is ECF Graded, has the highest prize money available to weaker players in the world, is warmer than England at the time played - 26 January to 4 February 2010, and has a reasonable venue. Of course I am in no way prejudiced.

Stewart Reuben

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: CONGRESSES, MORE OR LESS

Post by Gavin Strachan » Sun Jul 26, 2009 9:22 pm

You have to be careful of the monkeys at Gibraltor (not just 1. B4). Adam Raoof gave me some great advice about organising congresses which seemed to work when I took it and was backed up when I decided to try other things out!

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