How many casual players?

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Roger de Coverly
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How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:29 pm

In the latest Board (125th) minutes
Malcolm outlined the key points from the paper and supporting note. Malcolm said that it was critical to reach out to the millions of casual players who do not currently engage with the ECF,
Where does he get that count from? Is it on the same scale as the 600 million worldwide, so popular with Agon and the ex FIDE president.

By way of a hard number, the ECF grading page now discloses the total on the grading database. It's 124,558 as of writing, and that's going to have been the headcount generated during the 25 years that the BCF/ECF have had a centralised system. The count of active players is usually around the 15,000 mark which would exclude juniors who play school competitions but don't play any graded chess.

Angus French
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Angus French » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:24 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:29 pm
In the latest Board (125th) minutes
Malcolm outlined the key points from the paper and supporting note. Malcolm said that it was critical to reach out to the millions of casual players who do not currently engage with the ECF,
Where does he get that count from? Is it on the same scale as the 600 million worldwide, so popular with Agon and the ex FIDE president.

By way of a hard number, the ECF grading page now discloses the total on the grading database. It's 124,558 as of writing, and that's going to have been the headcount generated during the 25 years that the BCF/ECF have had a centralised system. The count of active players is usually around the 15,000 mark which would exclude juniors who play school competitions but don't play any graded chess.
The August revision of the July 2018 Grading List provided to Results Officers has 130,224 entries. I'd guess that the quoted 124,558 figure is old and hasn't been updated.

But, yes, where does Malcolm get his "millions of casual players" from?

Ian Thompson
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Ian Thompson » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:27 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 7:29 pm
In the latest Board (125th) minutes
Malcolm outlined the key points from the paper and supporting note. Malcolm said that it was critical to reach out to the millions of casual players who do not currently engage with the ECF,
Where does he get that count from? Is it on the same scale as the 600 million worldwide, so popular with Agon and the ex FIDE president.
Who knows, but the YouGov survey figures said 2% of the adult UK population play chess (casually) at least once a week (either against a person or a computer), so that would justify a figure of just over a million. Is there any reason to disbelieve that figure? I suppose the obvious questions are whether the sample size (4161 adults) is large enough to extrapolate to the whole population and whether the demographics of those 4161 people who responded to the YouGov survey is representative of the whole population - probably not, so how was that dealt with to come up with the 2% figure?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:44 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:27 pm
Is there any reason to disbelieve that figure?
No particular reason to disbelieve it as it was a very soft definition. There's every reason to distrust business plans based on the presumption that many of them are going to become members of the ECF or even follow World Championship chess, especially on pay to view.

The problem is that whenever you consider a proper count, as opposed to statistical extrapolations from questions in surveys, you get nowhere near the numbers sometimes claimed.

If you count playing once a month against a computer or smartphone engine as being a "chess player", what sort of totals do you get for some of the more popular computer games, particularly the ones that offer a five minute diversion?

J T Melsom
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by J T Melsom » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:14 pm

Roger

Do you agree though that it is critical to reach out to casual players however defined and whatever the exact numbers? I think debating the numbers is missing the key point. I don't know how many new members you have at your club this season, but we have a few and the key challenge is to find suitable opposition both internally and if very keen within the local competition structures. It takes some convincing that OTB chess might be a more enjoyable experience than on-line and also that people are good enough - some aren't ready but that is often because the leagues don't have grading limited sections for newbies, and also that relatively few clubs offer coaching to those players to facilitate the sort of improvement a keen adult can probably manage relatively easily, compared to some of the juniors that do get coached and lack the maturity to grasp the concepts.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:34 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:14 pm
Do you agree though that it is critical to reach out to casual players however defined and whatever the exact numbers?
Given that the ECF would like to demand that players become members of the ECF as a condition of playing competitive chess, the ECF abandoned attempts to outreach when it went on its "we must have membership" obsession.

I think numbers do matter. If Malcolm commits ECF resources, including destroying its ranking system in an attempt to find players who just aren't there, that isn't a good outcome.

Think about the financial consequences of ECF membership rules, particularly about what the entry fee might be for a one day rapid play
(a) for someone who was an ECF member
(b) for someone who wasn't

and what impression it leaves.

J T Melsom
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by J T Melsom » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:48 pm

Almost all of what you have written is simply a project fear extrapolation. Mandatory membership is still only an option. The ranking system is not being destroyed - if possible it will be modernised, something that may suit new audiences, possibly some of the existing members as well. If the ECF doesn't commit some resources to developing new markets then the pool of players will continue to diminish. Of course those resources should be deployed with regard to realistic outcome based on sound analysis, but arguing about what those numbers are, and doing nothing else isn't a strategy either. Where are your alternative plans. I think it may be worth upsetting a few of the existing chess community if it removes obstacles faced by potential new players - conservatism has its limits.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Dec 16, 2018 11:40 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:48 pm
Mandatory membership is still only an option.
It's in the business plan/ strategy statement, two bullet points later than monthly grading.

If the Council system has any value, those attending meetings should hold the ECF Directors to account when they make such statements.

Move to monthly grading once the investigation into detailed requirements (currently in progress) is completed.

Review junior membership arrangements with a view to improving publicity for our free first year membership offer and improving junior membership retention in subsequent years.

Complete the move to a full membership organisation and phase out Game Fee and Pay-To-Play fees

Mike Truran
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Mike Truran » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:05 am

What’s your point? The business plan/strategy statement you refer to was approved almost nem con by Council in full session.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:15 am

Mike Truran wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:05 am
What’s your point?
That the ECF Board have written a document that mandates compulsory membership. In other words it will be compulsory to be an ECF member to participate in organised and graded chess. Perhaps unlike the USCF, foreign players will be permitted to play in internationally rated tournaments without being ECF members.

There have been repeated denials that compulsory membership was the ECF's longer term objective. Indeed my local representative continues to deny this.

J T Melsom
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by J T Melsom » Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:58 am

For clarification ' I am local representative in name only having stepped name at the same time as relinquishing my other roles within the county. My receipt of the papers is simply a transitional arrangement, in the absence of other volunteers. I'm not intending to attend Council. I've never denied compulsory membership is an objective for some, simply that it is one of a number of options. I may have made a fundamental error but I doubt the endorsement of the strategy paper is meant as an endorsement of compulsory membership such that it can be implemented without further debate by Council.

And again I feel bound to point out that the same person you believe is intent on wrecking chess has just hosted a successful event in London in which you participated. It doesn't mean Malcolm Pein gets everything right or should get a free run, but your description of his motives seems a bit bizarre. A little appreciation would reflect well and give greater credence to your views. Otherwise just as in your games at the Classic, it is you that is guilty of 'woolly thinking' :)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:21 am

J T Melsom wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 6:58 am
I doubt the endorsement of the strategy paper is meant as an endorsement of compulsory membership such that it can be implemented without further debate by Council.
The ECF Board are acting as if the endorsement of the strategy paper by Council means that they can implement monthly grading without further debate. A previous Board went ahead with the regrading exercise without Council endorsement either and that was a waste of resources that could have been used to investigate monthly grading or even Elo based systems.

Richard Bates
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:27 am

There is a difference between “reaching out to millions of casual players” and “aiming to actively secure support/engagement to the ECF of millions of casual players”.

It is a strategy based on casting the net widely.

J T Melsom
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by J T Melsom » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:59 am

I will be writing to the ECF asking for clarification on the status of the strategy paper proposals and the endorsement by Council. That seems better than a debate based on conjecture, half truths and guesswork. There is no reason at all why others should not do the same thing.

NickFaulks
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:17 am

J T Melsom wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:59 am
I will be writing to the ECF asking for clarification on the status of the strategy paper proposals and the endorsement by Council. That seems better than a debate based on conjecture, half truths and guesswork. There is no reason at all why others should not do the same thing.
I hope they will permit you to publish their reply.

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