How many casual players?

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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JustinHorton
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:19 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:24 am
600 million may be a myth
There's no "may" about it. It's a manifest nonsense for well-documented reasons.
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Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Sat Apr 06, 2019 1:19 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.
Just a few points, whilst it would be nice to know the source of these numbers, I suspect its probably true that millions of people in the country have played chess at some level before, but maybe no more than half a million have played more than more one game of chess over the past year in the casual/competitive setting.

Of the 160+ members at the University of Warwick this year, roughly 40 are ECF members, another 20-30 have probably played in some competitive capacity this season but won't buy ECF membership, the rest are casual players/enthusiasts. For example, we have a number who don't play chess, but are funded by the University to run chess in local primary schools, and we run a fair number of weekend and online tournaments for members/non members (which are free and does not require ECF membership), as well as a sizeable football team playing against other societies at weekends. From random sampling of our University's library workspaces, and our Mathematics Department common room, a lot of people play chess but don't turn up to the Chess Society, because they either don't want to pay membership, or are happy with playing for free online. When I first joined my postgrad office, there were 2-3 chess players who played online, and even watched the Magnus Carlsen games, but have never played a single graded game, and still have not joined the chess society. So my estimation is that probably no more than a third of people who play chess somewhat casually are actual members of the University society, suppose we scale that to the number of people on the ECF grading database, I would reckon no more than 500,000 people nationally engage with chess meaningfully.

If we want to genuinely encourage casual players to engage with chess under the auspices of the ECF, we would need to drill down on exactly where we do (or don't) add value to casual chess players, if they buy membership. Otherwise, perhaps it is fine, that chess is taking place organically, in parallel with the ECF.
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Angus French
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Angus French » Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:00 pm

An interesting and thoughtful post from Hok. I've long thought the ECF should survey players (whether graded or not, members or not) to ask them what they want out of the ECF and what would make playing competitive, over-the-board, chess more appealing. One thing I think the ECF could do is improve its membership proposition. It ought also, I think, to focus more on supporting grassroots chess and clubs.

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Allan Hodgkinson
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Allan Hodgkinson » Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:33 pm

Stewart Reuben mentions the chess culture in NY where they have permanent chess tables available. How about encouraging councils here to instal chess tables in local parks? Jesus Molina has had some success in The Netherlands. https://mobile.twitter.com/jmedinamolina

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Apr 06, 2019 9:55 pm

allan How about encouraging councils here to instal chess tables in local parks?
There is nothing to stop you, or anybody else, doing so.
Of course our weather is not ideal and the game is not that popular in Britain.
The last time I tried was local to me. An idyllic setting . The response was that they had consulted a local chessplayer and his response was that it wouldn't be successful.
But I have seen giant chess sets in Twickenham. They have been arranged in Russell Square.
But the weather in N Y in the summer is so much better for this ourpose.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by John Townsend » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:31 am

Allan's suggestion of encouraging councils here to install chess tables in local parks sounds a marvellous idea. Where successful, it would get people playing chess more. I recall many years ago enjoying a game one sunny afternoon with a large set on the end of a pier at the seaside. Was it Bournemouth? I've also played on a giant set in a street in Hastings, which was kibitzed by quite a crowd.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Apr 07, 2019 5:43 pm

" I recall many years ago enjoying a game one sunny afternoon with a large set on the end of a pier at the seaside. Was it Bournemouth?"

It could have been - I remember such a set.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Apr 07, 2019 6:18 pm

People should go forth and mulitply.
The ECF might be willing to contribute to the cost.
Think of the advantage for the local club.
Downside, ensuring the sets are put away in the evening. I was in Hyde Park - in Sydney and observed how they did that by waiting around. A lorry came by and the sets were loaded on and off they went.
In NY it is more bring your own. In Washington Square, which is often used in films and ads. Union Square on 14th St. Bryant Park near the NY Public Library. Central Park, where they even have an indoor room as well as space for about 12 tables with inload boards.
But it is even done in Moscow, where the weather is much worse than ours.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Mon Apr 08, 2019 2:42 pm

Angus French wrote:
Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:00 pm
An interesting and thoughtful post from Hok. I've long thought the ECF should survey players (whether graded or not, members or not) to ask them what they want out of the ECF and what would make playing competitive, over-the-board, chess more appealing. One thing I think the ECF could do is improve its membership proposition. It ought also, I think, to focus more on supporting grassroots chess and clubs.
The ECF seems to be saying that it should be doing just that, as proven by the Chess Development papers put forward by Tim Wall. However it's harder than it sounds to support grassroots chess and clubs and I think there are three reasons for this.

a) There is no clear consensus from clubs and grassroots players as to what they want to see happen and therefore it is hard for the ECF to put any definite strategy in place.

b) Many clubs don't want to change. Even those who say it would be great to have more members and juniors aren't prepared to make the changes necessary for this to happen.

c) Too often the attitude of club players is to moan about the failure of other people to do things. The thought of doing it themselves is an alien one.
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Stewart Reuben
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:47 am

Angus > I've long thought the ECF should survey players (whether graded or not, members or not) <

That would be a clever trick. To contact non-members, who are do not play organised OTB competitive chess.
Some of those playing online, might respond to a message - if the sites cooperated.
Those playing at home or in a pub, possibly against their mate or relative.How would we go about that?
The people who enter the Saturday Times, Spectator or Sunday Times competition. Well, the paper has the contact details. They shouldn't divulge them to us and wouldn't.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Angus French » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:04 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:47 am
Angus > I've long thought the ECF should survey players (whether graded or not, members or not) <

That would be a clever trick. To contact non-members, who are do not play organised OTB competitive chess.
Some of those playing online, might respond to a message - if the sites cooperated.
Those playing at home or in a pub, possibly against their mate or relative.How would we go about that?
The people who enter the Saturday Times, Spectator or Sunday Times competition. Well, the paper has the contact details. They shouldn't divulge them to us and wouldn't.
Well, you're right, especially now that we have the GDPR which presumably means contact details for former members are destroyed... I did think it would be particularly useful to hear from former (or non-) graded players/members.

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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Apr 09, 2019 11:34 am

You could open a survey on the ECF website (or with a link from it) as a start; you could then ask chess journalists and mags to point their readers to it; you could ask people who have contact details of chess players to email them and point them towards it; you could ask Unions, counties and clubs to do the same, with links on websites etc

Not sure how you could stop it being hijacked?
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Re: How many casual players?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:07 pm

You would also need a carrot to encourage people to respond. Otherwise most of the responses would be from such as Paul Morphy.

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