Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Discussions regarding the 70,000 Free Chess Sets for Schools in England.
Dai Carpenter
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Dai Carpenter » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:44 pm

How so?

1.) 2 free coaching/simultaneous sessions a year from a titled/2300+ player (we have enough of them in this country!). (Might also help the clubs raise a bit of cash as members would probably be willing to pay a little to attend these.)
Titled players get free/reduced entry to virtually everything, make each volunteer a handful of times a year for this privilege.

2.) 3 free places in tournaments that are part of the British Championships fortnight (would help also to promote this a bit and stop the slide in numbers competing).
I used to play every year in the british. When I first started the junior competitions had over 50 players each though that steadily declined, nowadays they still have under 20, and some age groups have been scrapped altogether. I don't see that giving away a small number of places (given that to get those you efectively have to get more juniors playing chess) actualy costs money. Heck, it may even make some people aware of the british (and make money) as for the average club player it's generally not on their radar.

3.) Free entrance into some sort of couty/national club knockout champs
Ok scrap this.

4.) Free/discounted coach and arbiter training (organised regionally)
This doesn't cost, in any case what overheads are there (it's not like you need to hire an astroturf for days on end to train officials and coaches in chess like you do in most sports).

5.) Members of the club become eligible to play for county/zonal/national/junior representative teams (i.e. to play junior international chess you have to be a member of an accredited club; that may make the parents more keen to help the club out in its duties)
No costs, end of. May cause some juniors to move clubs (but in theory, the accredited club they move to will be better)

6.) Entrance to some kinda prize draw
Ok, possibly scrap. Personally I think these are pretty ineffective anyway.

7.) Access to a 'member clubs' only section of the ECF website (which could say include the grading list)
As far as I see this is an incentive and people have debated this topic on here before - why should non paying members have access to this list for instance though I don't want to discuss this.



What costs do you mean Ben?

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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Ben Purton » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:58 pm

1.) 2 free coaching/simultaneous sessions a year from a titled/2300+ player (we have enough of them in this country!). (Might also help the clubs raise a bit of cash as members would probably be willing to pay a little to attend these.)
Titled players get free/reduced entry to virtually everything, make each volunteer a handful of times a year for this privilege.
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

Dai Carpenter
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Dai Carpenter » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:04 pm

FM Jack Rudd wrote:I'd be willing to be a simul-giving ambassador.


Jack you're great!!!!! Spread the word ;-)

Ben - what cost? Is chess really in such a dire state that more of our stronger players wouldn't give up to say 5 evenings a year voluntarily?

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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Ben Purton » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:06 pm

Yes?
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby IM Jack Rudd » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:07 pm

Dai Carpenter wrote:How so?

1.) 2 free coaching/simultaneous sessions a year from a titled/2300+ player (we have enough of them in this country!). (Might also help the clubs raise a bit of cash as members would probably be willing to pay a little to attend these.)
Titled players get free/reduced entry to virtually everything, make each volunteer a handful of times a year for this privilege.

Virtually everything? As an IM-elect, I won't get reduced entry to your average weekend congress, nor do I get a discount on my local club membership. The only events I get special conditions for are ones that need titled players in them for title norms to be available.

2.) 3 free places in tournaments that are part of the British Championships fortnight (would help also to promote this a bit and stop the slide in numbers competing).
I used to play every year in the british. When I first started the junior competitions had over 50 players each though that steadily declined, nowadays they still have under 20, and some age groups have been scrapped altogether. I don't see that giving away a small number of places (given that to get those you efectively have to get more juniors playing chess) actualy costs money. Heck, it may even make some people aware of the british (and make money) as for the average club player it's generally not on their radar.

3.) Free entrance into some sort of couty/national club knockout champs
Ok scrap this.


I'll deal with these together - the free places don't in themselves cost anything, but if they're used merely to pay the entry fees of people who would have played anyway, they're resulting in a severe opportunity cost for the organizers.

4.) Free/discounted coach and arbiter training (organised regionally)
This doesn't cost, in any case what overheads are there (it's not like you need to hire an astroturf for days on end to train officials and coaches in chess like you do in most sports).

Hiring a venue for the training, and paying for the time and travel costs of the trainer.

5.) Members of the club become eligible to play for county/zonal/national/junior representative teams (i.e. to play junior international chess you have to be a member of an accredited club; that may make the parents more keen to help the club out in its duties)
No costs, end of. May cause some juniors to move clubs (but in theory, the accredited club they move to will be better)

Potentially difficult if there is no accredited club within easy travelling distance. (As Chairman of Barnstaple, I'd try to get the club accredited anyway, but if it weren't, there'd be a BIG travelling distance for a junior from the area.)

6.) Entrance to some kinda prize draw
Ok, possibly scrap. Personally I think these are pretty ineffective anyway.


No comment on this one.

7.) Access to a 'member clubs' only section of the ECF website (which could say include the grading list)
As far as I see this is an incentive and people have debated this topic on here before - why should non paying members have access to this list for instance though I don't want to discuss this.


Making the list members-only would require one to set up a method to identify genuine members - it's extra work for no real reward; the ECF gains nothing from making it hard for non-members to find people's grades. (If you're playing local chess, you probably know your opponent's playing strength without needing to know his grade. And if you're playing in a tournament, the wallchart will probably display your opponent's grade.)

Paul Stimpson
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Paul Stimpson » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:09 pm

Titled players get free/reduced entry to virtually everything, make each volunteer a handful of times a year for this privilege.


Titled players provide Norm opportunities in events. I think the current system of free entry/reduced entry is reasonable enough. Also how could you treat English titled players differently than visting titled overseas players?

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Ben Purton
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Ben Purton » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:18 pm

I like the ideas Dai, Just expensive thats all
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

Dai Carpenter
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Dai Carpenter » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:23 pm

Not necessarily disagreeing with what you say Jack, and I am aware of the points you raise, so here me out:

1.) Sorry i'm wrong about tournament entry. Anyway it's irrelevant - surely there are more titled players who will very occasionally volunteer?! A mate who's an FM says he would. Jack would. Any more?

2.) Agree with what you say. Again, given that to get these fee places you effectively have to get more juniors playing chess who may in turn want to enter tournaments like this it's not really a cost now is it? I was an international junior and I only heard of the british when it was held in the town next door to me - it needs some direct promotion to clubs imo.

4.) Aware of this - note I say reduced costs - every sport I've worked in does this, budgets accordingly and clubs like it (and I assure you sport overheads are larger).

5.) For areas like North Devon allow some dispensation and common sense (though don't make this widespread)

7.) You may be right - what I wanted to get at is in some sports accredited clubs get some extra online benefits. They also get increased promotion from the governing bodies etc though that'd be difficult for the ecf.


We're getting to bogged down in the nitty gritty here people. Point I wanted to convey is - we need to be trying to energise and incentivise our clubs to be linking with schools.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby IM Jack Rudd » Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:25 pm

Dai Carpenter wrote:We're getting to bogged down in the nitty gritty here people. Point I wanted to convey is - we need to be trying to energise and incentivise our clubs to be linking with schools.


Yes, I agree. I was just pointing out where some of the costs lie - with all that in mind, I'm willing to work with you on this and see how we can get the ball rolling.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Neill Cooper » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:21 pm

Ben Purton wrote:Reading Grammer lost their team???? Thats another surprise.


They (Reading School) have entered the National Schools tournament this year

Brent Smith
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Brent Smith » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:57 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:They (Reading School) have entered the National Schools tournament this year


Well, that's encouraging. Perhaps it's time to dust off my old contacts list. Might try for a one-day jamboree event, rather than a league. We bought three new expensive trophies (with the money remaining when the previous secondary schools chess assoc'n folded), and it would be a shame to see them go to waste. Reading could do well as they have no less than 14 ex-county players, and many of them are in the younger age range which can be a sneaky ploy in this competition :)

Brent Smith
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Brent Smith » Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:22 pm

Dai Carpenter wrote:...

We're getting to bogged down in the nitty gritty here people. Point I wanted to convey is - we need to be trying to energise and incentivise our clubs to be linking with schools.


Dai - these are all great ideas and worth pursuing. Unlike other "sports" (e.g. football, and rugby which my older sons have played, after giving up on chess, sigh), chess organisations seem to multiply and all want to do their own thing. Just in my local neck of the woods, there is the Berks Chess Assoc'n, the Berks Junior Chess Assoc'n, the Berks Primary School Assoc'n, the Chiltern league, the Berks and Bucks Congress and the Maidenhead Junior congress (I would be astonished if there weren't more that I don't even know about). I think these are all, at least nominally, independent of each other. I think I'm right in saying that the Junior ones are not in any way affiliated to the ECF; also the Berks assoc'n is not affiliated to the SCCU. The ECF has nothing like the influence of the FA or RFU. The anarchist in me quite likes this, but it can be very confusing.

There is no point in raking over these issues, or in trying to impose some sort of ideal structure. "Think national, act local" might be a good way of looking at it. You're quite right that we need to incentivise clubs to get more juniors involved. Some do this very well already and should be seen as, dare I say, "beacons". Don't be shy - we want to know who you are, and how you do it! We need to share our experiences so that we can use those ideas which suit our local circumstances best.

Going back to the original topic - physical sets are not the problem. I haven't seen the DVD (e.g. from Andrew Martin) or the book based on the chesskids site (from Richard James), but these are in my view more likely to engage schools' interest in chess. Shame we couldn't give the teaching materials away free, and charge for the chess sets! (N.B. I'm not suggesting that Andrew or Richard or whoever do their work for free!).

Personally, I am finding running my kids' school chess club rather limiting, and would rather reach out to other schools with a more open junior club. This could make use of some of your ideas about linking with the local adult club. Another new year resolution (I'm up to #44 now): pursue this idea with other like-minded people. Wish me luck.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Neill Cooper » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:16 pm

Brent Smith wrote:Personally, I am finding running my kids' school chess club rather limiting, and would rather reach out to other schools with a more open junior club. This could make use of some of your ideas about linking with the local adult club. Another new year resolution (I'm up to #44 now): pursue this idea with other like-minded people. Wish me luck.


Brent - go for it! Now!
That is how Castles Junior Chess Club started. After15 years of having a successful school club, the head of Whyteleafe (state primary) was fed up with seeing strong chess players go to secondary school and stop playing. So I formed Castles meeting at Whyteleafe and in the boom time membership was over 50 children a week coming along. But you need to do it when you have a supportive school with an active chess club. So run it at Caversham Primary, in the early evening midweek, encourage Caversham primary pupils to come (and they will form a nucleus) and put out fliers to local primary and secondary schools, and at the excellent Berkshire Junior SAEs .
If you get going now you could even run UKCC! Initial numbers would be low (about 10) - but get the webmaster to plug it on that excellent BJCA website - you will pick up pupils from other chess playing schools, and some who do not have a strong chess team.
You can start on your own and then find others who will help. Chess playing teenagers doing DoE award will help and get their 'service' done.
Do get back to me for more help and ideas and experience.

Tony Robson
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Tony Robson » Mon Jan 19, 2009 7:53 am

Brent Smith wrote:...my personal experience is that many schools have chess sets, but only a very small proportion have a chess club
...The "problem" is not lack of chess sets, but rather a lack of people willing / able to run a school club


I agree, Brent, from our modest experience we feel too that lack of chess sets is often not the problem. Our problem is perhaps slightly different, but frustrating none-the-less.
1. I and two colleagues have taught chess to children from 4 to 18 since 2007.
2. We can provide chess sets and teaching materials at no cost.
3. We do not charge for our time or other expenses.
4. We have enhanced CRB clearance.
5. We are not members of the teaching profession.
6. Less than 15% of the 60 schools in our immediate area "do chess".
We have approached about 25 of these schools and they are simply not interested in receiving any outside help. As far as we can judge, they appear reluctant to deal with people not within the schools system.
Have any others found this in their areas of the country? Why do you think this is? How can we overcome this?
If you would like me to clarify anything regarding our experience, please just ask.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Lack of chess sets is not the problem

Postby Kevin Thurlow » Mon Jan 19, 2009 12:43 pm

"We have approached about 25 of these schools and they are simply not interested in receiving any outside help. As far as we can judge, they appear reluctant to deal with people not within the schools system."

That is a good point. A few years ago my local paper had a picture of some pupils at a local school playing chess, with a plea for more equipment as the school didn't have enough to go round. I wrote to the teacher, explaining that I was chairman of the local chess club, and we had a number of spare wooden sets, which we were in the process of replacing, and that although the sets were old, they would certainly be good enough for serious games. I also said that we had people available who could help with coaching, (some would do it free), and that all were welcome at the club, and if they just wanted a chat to discuss any other way we could help, then feel free etc....

I never received a reply.

I wonder if some of the schools don't want any outside help in case the "glory" goes to somebody else?

Kevin
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