Quality of club venues

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Ian Kingston
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:59 am

Leagues could help the situation in a small way by setting recommended standards for venues. New clubs would have to meet them; existing clubs would be encouraged to improve (where necessary).

Some basic standards really ought to be met:
  • Playing room not used by general public or venue staff during matches
  • Adequate heating
  • Tables large enough for board, clock, captured pieces and scoresheets, and of suitable height
  • Individual chairs for each player (not benches or stools)
I don't think that's asking for much.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by MartinCarpenter » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:01 am

The problem with things like that free pub venue for Stannington - which sounds fantastic! - is that they never last forever and then you find everyone expecting something else similar for free/being very reluctant to pay the amounts you'd need to get it when they do go.

Heating can be genuinely a little tricky. For instance the heating itself at Chorlton is actually fine, it just isn't switched on (the venue is empty I think, definitely our room is) until we get in to turn it on. Which would need to be around 6:30 to start matches at fully sane temperatures. That isn't very easy to arrange.

Ray Sayers

Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Ray Sayers » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:09 am

In short, it is about money.
You can have a very nice venue if subs are raised (probably substantially) and members stay at the club to pay them. But we all know that won't happen.
Some lucky clubs get good free/subsidised venues due to some arrangement with the landlord, but that is less common.
The rest have to cut their cloth to suit. A chess club isn't a golf club; members won't put up with big fees to have great facilities. Plus chess clubs don't have such high memberships.

David Robertson
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by David Robertson » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:06 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:Leagues could help the situation in a small way by setting recommended standards for venues. New clubs would have to meet them; existing clubs would be encouraged to improve (where necessary).

Some basic standards really ought to be met:
  • Playing room not used by general public or venue staff during matches
  • Adequate heating
  • Tables large enough for board, clock, captured pieces and scoresheets, and of suitable height
  • Individual chairs for each player (not benches or stools)
I don't think that's asking for much.
And because we've been here before, I'm sure you'd want to add * accessibility at the head of your priorities

Reg Clucas
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Reg Clucas » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:29 pm

Ray Sayers wrote:In short, it is about money.
You can have a very nice venue if subs are raised (probably substantially) and members stay at the club to pay them. But we all know that won't happen.
And even if existing members do stay, it is difficult to attract new members if subs are high. So the club will gradually die due to natural wastage.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:34 pm

Is demand for chess really that price-elastic? People always trot this argument out, but I haven't actually seen much in the way of evidence.

Ian Kingston
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:57 pm

David Robertson wrote:
Ian Kingston wrote:Leagues could help the situation in a small way by setting recommended standards for venues. New clubs would have to meet them; existing clubs would be encouraged to improve (where necessary).

Some basic standards really ought to be met:
  • Playing room not used by general public or venue staff during matches
  • Adequate heating
  • Tables large enough for board, clock, captured pieces and scoresheets, and of suitable height
  • Individual chairs for each player (not benches or stools)
I don't think that's asking for much.
And because we've been here before, I'm sure you'd want to add * accessibility at the head of your priorities
Absolutely - something I've spoken out about at league meetings.

NickFaulks
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:28 pm

For me, lighting is the one crucial element, within reason I can put up with just about anything else. I find several premises where I play poor in this regard.

Why is it that these seem to be the clubs which offer sets with jet black pieces and boards with jet black dark squares on which they can safely hide?

Nick Grey
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Nick Grey » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:46 pm

Lighting
Noise
Heating
Refreshment
Players Home & Away helping to get matches started & finished.

Worst venue - a county match somewhere in Kent years ago. In snow, no heating, cannot remember if tea/coffee, having to play wearing gloves.
More unpleasant than Hounslow toilets & unbearable aircraft noise for any match

Some awful experiences - stuck I traffic/snow 8 hours & no matches.

Venues are likely to be costly in London.

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David Grobler
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by David Grobler » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:37 pm

MartinCarpenter wrote:The problem with things like that free pub venue for Stannington - which sounds fantastic! - is that they never last forever and then you find everyone expecting something else similar for free/being very reluctant to pay the amounts you'd need to get it when they do go.
Well....I dont think the New Barrack is going anywhere soon (did I mention it is one of the best pubs in the Country ? ) :)
Last tuesday I played away at Barnsley...not been to that venue before . It is at a working mens club. The venue was absolutely fantastic....in the main function room I guess. On a night when nothing else is happening....very quiet....access to drink (if thats important) . Plenty of space , comfy chairs and what not. Lighting seems to be an issue to some....I dont re-call the need to use a torch to see the board . :? Apart from the actual match , there were half a dozen or so club members playing as well (bit of a novelty...though at Stannington we have many , many playing chess/skittles on a club night in the main pub area! )
I think the point I want to make is that as long as you have a club that has a few officers willing to put something back into the game and work to find something decent...well...the places are out there !
The Sheffield League has in the main cracking venues ! Maybe you should all consider a relocation to Yorkshire ?

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by MartinCarpenter » Fri Apr 01, 2016 9:39 am

I can confidently report on the existence of some non ideal venues in Yorkshire too!

I don't think the pub is going anywhere :) Still take York and the railway institute. Despite having no real railway connections at all, we somehow managed to join that on members rate. For years we had a really big room at the top, with space for cupboards etc. Basically perfect.

Then we had to share that (and play in other rooms), with a german boardgaming club - they really don't charge a lot (4 pounds/head/event), but still more turnover than we were giving them. Finally we all got kicked out for a pilates studio :)

Then we had a couple of years of chaos - the odd match where it looked like we'd not have enough tables! - but it has thankfully settled down to a much more manageable state, if still not fully ideal.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Apr 03, 2016 7:16 pm

In my time running the Yorkshire League I've had three complaints relating to venues. Finding decent venues at affordable prices isn't always easy so I don't think it's right to action any complaint except if the venue is so unfit for purpose it is beyond a joke. Also what makes a good venue is subjective; some players enjoy a pub atmosphere and can cope with conversation in the background while others might prefer the relative quiet of a church venue (which other players may find a bit dry).

The frustrating thing is when some players are content to settle for second best, arguing in favour of a venue because it might be cheap, not thinking that a more central and upmarket venue might attract new players. The flipside is - as some people have noted on this thread - pub and clubs change ownership relatively frequently - while one landlord might be accommodating his successor might not want to know.

It doesn't help that there are chess players who don't realise the importance of looking after a good venue; insisting on their right to bring their own refreshments and on occasion violating a dress code but we've had that debate before.

I'm a little bit out of love with my club's current venue which has its good points (ample parking, tea and coffee facilities) but consists of one echoey room - not helped by a division between some members who insist on silence for friendly games and others who talk at the top of their voice when they know match games are in progress. It's got to the point that if I want to have a few friendly games I'd rather go to the pub and if I want to play a match I'll go to the same pub where several members drink after club nights and we have a good rapport with the landlord (we get the top floor room for free when we have a local league match). It's got to the point where I go to club nights seldom.

At the moment I'm currently trying to cultivate a relationship with the local Catholic club which has been newly refurbished, has two spacious upstairs rooms and a bar that's often not busy on a weekday - it's well worth a £10 annual membership.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:24 pm

We have a perfect venue: the local cricket club lets us all take out social membership of the crisket club for what amounts to a peppercorn in the hope that we'll drink at their (members' discounted) bar and help keep the venue going off season. Reluctantly we agree to these arduous terms. In return we get a free room every Wednesday and can wander in on any other night and be given access anyway. Plenty of parking and in the summer we can of course still turn up and watch the cricket (after all we are all social members). As for the other inhabitants - I think they're quite proud of us and like having us about. Serious matches and games happen in our little room but there is overflow into the bar area if needed, which is a pleasant environment for casual friendlies and after-game analysis. No one tries to throw us out at some silly time like 10.30pm, though at about midnight we do feel the bar staff should be allowed to go home, so we tend to say good night about then.

Only problem is that our little room is - well, little! It does rather hinder expansion of membership: so all cricket fans come and support Morecambe and persuade them to build a bigger clubhouse with a nice large room for the chessplayers!
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Joey Stewart
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Joey Stewart » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:00 pm

Finding a good venue seems to be one of those situations where there is no easy solution for clubs. Our old gloucester club was cheap, had a bar and even a separate annexe area for matches to take place without being too disrupted by other members. The downside..... it was next door to the cathedral and on the same night that the bellringing club did their practise. You cant please everybody, but I do think that quietness is paramount (not absolute silence, obviously there will be the odd bit of murmuring, but certainly not any continuously loud noise or talking during matches.)
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Quality of club venues

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:11 pm

Joey Stewart wrote:Finding a good venue seems to be one of those situations where there is no easy solution for clubs. Our old gloucester club was cheap, had a bar and even a separate annexe area for matches to take place without being too disrupted by other members. The downside..... it was next door to the cathedral and on the same night that the bellringing club did their practise. You cant please everybody, but I do think that quietness is paramount (not absolute silence, obviously there will be the odd bit of murmuring, but certainly not any continuously loud noise or talking during matches.)
You really need two rooms for the perfect venue although this limits your options further. All too often at my old club new members, often new to the game, would turn up, have a game and get barked at to be silent when they tried to ask questions.
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Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
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