Chess in the UK

Discuss anything you like about chess related matters in this forum.
Post Reply
Peter Webber
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:09 am

Chess in the UK

Post by Peter Webber » Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:21 pm

I'm most dismayed about the way that chess is being run in the UK today. When I retired from work four years ago, my objective was to try to put into practice all that theory I had learned from studying DVD's, books, playing through games, tactics puzzles etc, because I hadn't had the time to play.  Next stop was to find a playing partner - unbelievably difficult, because of course at lot of games now take place over the Internet, and I soon realised that many of the opponents I faced were haphazard and the resulting games rather non-instructive, and lacked the opportunity to have meaningful discussions and analysis.  Since those days, I have turned to three different clubs in my county. I told them I wanted to learn and improve above all else, and that I had the time to put in as much training as it would take, and they all answered "play in competitions." What they didn't mention to me was that each had so very few players at my level of play (under BCF100) as the vast majority were full of members much higher rated, and who had played for most of their lives. The result is that I am getting hardly any opportunities to play against people of my own strength mostly due to competitions prevailing. Last week I had to play against two different players rated at 'expert' level, neither of whom seemed to care about the disparity and only wanted to win against me in whatever way they could without offering me 'odds' games or a different time on the clock. Many of the higher rated players I meet seem to have great difficulty in handing down the wisdom of their playing years. Yes, I realise that chess is a sport, but it is also an art and a science. Competitions may be fine for some players, but one has to learn to WALK BEFORE THEY CAN RUN, and I don't yet feel up to playing them with kibitzers breathing down my neck. Anyway, how could I stand a chance of getting a  win against someone else who probably has a higher rating, and been playing competitions for a long time, when I've had such little practice! Each of the clubs has pressed me to take part in competitions, but none of them has the time to invest in me to help me to help them. My friend is an expert who has been playing club chess for most of his life, and is most concerned that his club will one day cease to exist, as there are no new players (of any age) coming forward.  PLEASE, put things into perspective to encourage new blood to come and ENJOY and LEARN and have FUN without the flagstone of competitions having to hang around their necks and kill off any pleasure they may want to have! And also, give us as many training courses as you can to help us lower rateds get higher!

Robert Stokes
Posts: 119
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 4:51 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Robert Stokes » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:54 pm

Some weekend congresses are divided into 3, 4 or even 5 sections, and the lowest section will sometimes be for players graded 120 or 125 and below. These will often have quite a few players graded under 100. For example, last weekend I was playing in the 'minor' section of the Doncaster Congress, which was for those graded up to 125. My grade of 107 put me almost exactly in the middle of the 35 or 40 players in that section.

If you entered one of these grade-restricted competitions, you might lose the first game, but you would then be up against those who had also lost their first game and be roughly the same grade as you or lower.

There are opportunities for those of us who took up the game in retirement and will never progress much higher, so please don't give up.

Mark Ashley
Posts: 62
Joined: Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:56 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Mark Ashley » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:05 pm

It's often said you learn more from playing stronger players. I find many of those i do play fairly generous in explaining what they think i did wrong, or how i can improve, whether at a club or a tournament. If your club mates are asking you to play in tournaments with them, i am sure they would be willing to go over those games with you, once they have been played.

In addition to tournaments, Some counties field teams consisting of players graded under 100 in the county championship.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1702
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:37 pm

It's not clear from your post exactly where you have been playing chess. In my experience the standard of the lowest section of a congress is not that high; you might have to endure a couple of losses against slightly stronger players in the first couple of rounds but as the swiss system progresses you should get games against players of your own standard.

If a club doesn't have any members in your strength bracket then there's not an awful lot they can do to help. That said, it is true that a lot of clubs are not beginner friendly and any player seeking to use a club night to ask their opponent for some hints is likely to be shushed by players engaged in competitive play.

Perhaps you could say whereabouts in the UK you are based which would enable anybody local to get in touch and recommend a club. There might be a social that isn't widely advertised.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1467
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Leonard Barden » Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:52 pm

The grading list has a Peter Webber with no graded games affiliated to Gloucestershire.

Roger Lancaster
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:40 pm

There are two different possible answers here.

1. Whether at chess or any other sport/activity, it is unreasonable to expect others to invest hours of unpaid time in you. That’s not to say it won’t happen, simply that it’s unreasonable to expect it. There are professional coaches listed on the ECF website but you can expect to have to pay. As others have observed, one way of improving is through practice and you can check the ECF website for tournaments restricted to players graded under, say, 125 which should be the sort of opposition from which you might benefit.

2. In my opinion, you are absolutely correct (notwithstanding my "unreasonable to expect" point earlier) in saying that too few clubs are prepared to invest in training. That’s a problem for many adults but even more for children – in the south-eastern county in which I reside, only a couple of clubs make real efforts for juniors. At my local club, we have numerous juniors in the 60-120 grading range who, on club nights, like nothing more than to take on adults of comparable strength with mutual benefit. If there’s a remotely similar club in your area, they might help.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18052
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:51 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote: As others have observed, one way of improving is through practice and you can check the ECF website for tournaments restricted to players graded under, say, 125 which should be the sort of opposition from which you might benefit.
One other thought is that games involving players with grades under 100 ( probably higher than that as well) are going to feature chaotic and incoherent play. If as a player you can impose order and coherence to the positions, getting results to take grades well above 100 can be relatively simple.

David Williams
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 8:37 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by David Williams » Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:16 am

You seem to have been making the same point for three years now. You seem to be unwilling to take the advice you are consistently given to enter tournaments. I don't suppose many of the lower graded people at chess clubs have ever had the sort of training that you would like to see, nor have most of them put in the amount of effort that you have done, and yet you seem to be making no progress. Perhaps you just aren't ever going to be good at chess.

User avatar
Joshua Gibbs
Posts: 399
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 5:44 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Joshua Gibbs » Fri Feb 24, 2017 3:02 am

Peter Webber wrote:I'm most dismayed about the way that chess is being run in the UK today. When I retired from work four years ago, my objective was to try to put into practice all that theory I had learned from studying DVD's, books, playing through games, tactics puzzles etc, because I hadn't had the time to play.  Next stop was to find a playing partner - unbelievably difficult, because of course at lot of games now take place over the Internet, and I soon realised that many of the opponents I faced were haphazard and the resulting games rather non-instructive, and lacked the opportunity to have meaningful discussions and analysis.  Since those days, I have turned to three different clubs in my county. I told them I wanted to learn and improve above all else, and that I had the time to put in as much training as it would take, and they all answered "play in competitions." What they didn't mention to me was that each had so very few players at my level of play (under BCF100) as the vast majority were full of members much higher rated, and who had played for most of their lives. The result is that I am getting hardly any opportunities to play against people of my own strength mostly due to competitions prevailing. Last week I had to play against two different players rated at 'expert' level, neither of whom seemed to care about the disparity and only wanted to win against me in whatever way they could without offering me 'odds' games or a different time on the clock. Many of the higher rated players I meet seem to have great difficulty in handing down the wisdom of their playing years. Yes, I realise that chess is a sport, but it is also an art and a science. Competitions may be fine for some players, but one has to learn to WALK BEFORE THEY CAN RUN, and I don't yet feel up to playing them with kibitzers breathing down my neck. Anyway, how could I stand a chance of getting a  win against someone else who probably has a higher rating, and been playing competitions for a long time, when I've had such little practice! Each of the clubs has pressed me to take part in competitions, but none of them has the time to invest in me to help me to help them. My friend is an expert who has been playing club chess for most of his life, and is most concerned that his club will one day cease to exist, as there are no new players (of any age) coming forward.  PLEASE, put things into perspective to encourage new blood to come and ENJOY and LEARN and have FUN without the flagstone of competitions having to hang around their necks and kill off any pleasure they may want to have! And also, give us as many training courses as you can to help us lower rateds get higher!

1:I am a certified translator. I am one of the few people world wide who will actually read everything you have typed.

2: What you aren't getting across is that chess is beautiful. I learnt to play as a drifter and alcoholic in Liverpool who lost countless bar fights and almost got killed. I then beat a fide master online - if you inbox me I can prove this. How great is that? Not most games can boast that inequality. I was in Liverpool Library and somene looked at my chess.com page the other day and asked "who's your friend beaten?" and I said "Nakamura". His expression was great.

If you want to get higher rated tactics are the way forward. Inbox me if you want to see how how an ex drunk beat a cm,fms and a GM in a simul
Chess, translation, dealing with the police, programming and almost getting killed or arrested: http://honyakujoshua.blogspot.co.uk/

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18052
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:09 am

Joshua Gibbs wrote: If you want to get higher rated tactics are the way forward.
To improve a rating a player first needs to get one. That seems the original poster's problem. If he doesn't want to play internet chess, cannot demonstrate that he's strong enough to play in a club team, won't enter internal club championships or minor sections of Congresses for fear of the strength of opposition, where then to go?

Given the way that Swiss pairings work, the opposition standard for the lowest seeded player is not the headline "under 125" but in practice the median of the tournament. Particularly when a tournament has a loyal following, there's a tail of players all the way down to 50.

Jonathan Bryant
Posts: 3146
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 3:54 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:21 am

David Williams wrote:You seem to have been making the same point for three years now.

Indeed. It strikes me that there’s a link here with the Rookie thread

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8954


and the question of why the author of that book didn’t improve as he wanted to. Bottom line is the same it both cases, it appear to me: when we get to a certain point to improve we need to do things we might not want to do.

Nick Burrows
Posts: 981
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 12:15 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Nick Burrows » Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:30 pm

Play in tournaments. Lose every game (though I bet you won't). Don't be afraid of losing. Discuss your games with opponents. You WILL improve. If you don't risk losing you will never start winning.

Find a coach. Study tactics. Play through the games of great players. Immerse yourself in chess. Enjoy the process of playing rather than emphasising the result. There are so many things you can do to improve, but it's not easy - and that's why we love it!

David Robertson
Posts: 2143
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by David Robertson » Fri Feb 24, 2017 5:40 pm

Always keep in mind one uncomfortable truth:

With chess, it is far easier to get worse

Laurie Roberts
Posts: 164
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 5:16 pm

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by Laurie Roberts » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:44 am

One option could be to play unrated correspondence games as, if unrated, I believe it would be permissible to discuss the game as it developed (need to check that on the sites rules first). 'Lichess' is one good server. There may be good players on here willing to play you at correspondence and highlight areas for development.

Lichess also has a "learn from mistakes" tool where after you have played so many games it analyses them and shows where you are going wrong.

Site is free (relies on donations if you like it)

David Blower
Posts: 403
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:01 pm
Contact:

Re: Chess in the UK

Post by David Blower » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:12 pm

If you have a chess.com account I'll play against you in an odds game if you like. With yourself as white the first 8 moves will be:

1 Nf3 Nf6
2 Nd4 Ng8
3 Ne6 Nf6
4 Nxd8 Ng8
5 Ne6 Nf6
6 Nf4 Ng8
7 Nh3 Nf6
8 Ng1 Ng8

This will lead to a starting position without my queen. From then on I'll play normally against you. I am ECF Graded 118 but without my queen unless you start hanging pieces I would not be able to win.

Post Reply