Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Paul Cooksey

Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:44 pm

There have been a few comments on this topic, including by ECF insiders, on other threads.

Stewart Reuben described the championship as sucessful. In terms of a festival for the British chess community, I think that is fair. Excellent attendences, and a very strong and exciting championship

On the other hand, in terms of generating interest in chess, I think it was a bit disappointing. I think we have to be realistic, no TV and limited radio exposure is to be expected at the moment. But I hope that daily coverage by newspapers, at least in their online editions, is a realistic hope.

Arguably a much more elite championship and a bigger major open is a better format. I think a 12 player all-play-all would be a better flagship tournament. Maybe with later round times to attract spectators on site and online. The major open would offer one of the very few qualifying places, and could be opened up to international entries.

I like to talk about change. Sometimes you find something new and better, sometimes it reminds you of the virtues of the status quo :)

edits: I meant all-play-all and worst spelling of generating and edit ever! :oops:
Last edited by Paul Cooksey on Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:50 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote: I think a 12 player swiss would be a better flagship tournament.

Typo? Wouldn't a 12 player 11 round swiss be an all play all?

Paul Cooksey

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:52 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Paul Cooksey wrote: I think a 12 player swiss would be a better flagship tournament.
Typo? Wouldn't a 12 player 11 round swiss be an all play all?
Just edited to that effect. I meant instead of - error between brain and keyboard... :)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:55 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote: I think a 12 player swiss would be a better flagship tournament. Maybe with later round times to attract spectators on site and online.
I think you mean all play all.

There are several problems with this, presumably why it was discarded in 1949 and never revived. This is notwithstanding various advocates of such a format in letters to chess magazines forty years ago.

The very big and obvious one is finance. Sponsorship income for the British has been erratic at best in recent years and the tournament has relied on selling places to chess tourists at £ 200 a throw.

The second is how you determine the qualifiers. The Scots, Irish and Welsh might want a place at the table, so you could only be talking about 8 or 9 English players. This makes it exceptional difficult for a much improved player to demonstrate his standing, as for example Hawkins, this year and last.

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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by benedgell » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:06 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:There have been a few comments on this topic, including by ECF insiders, on other threads.

Stewart Reuben described the championship as sucessful. In terms of a festival for the British chess community, I think that is fair. Excellent attendences, and a very strong and exciting championship

On the other hand, in terms of gerneralting interest in chess, I think it was a bit disappointing. I think we have to be realistic, no TV and limited radio exposure is to be expected at the moment. But I hope that daily coverage by newspapers, at least in their online editions, is a realistic hope.

Arguably a much more elite championship and a bigger major open is a better format. I think a 12 player all-play-all would be a better flagship tournament. Maybe with later round times to attract spectators on site and online. The major open would offer one of the very few qualifying places, and could be opened up to international entries.

I like to talk about change. Sometimes you find something new and better, sometimes it reminds you of the virtues of the status quo :)
I think a lot of newspapers like these sort of reports to be virtually written for them, so that they can just copy your report across with a picture rather then having to research/ write the whole piece themselves. I think producing round- by- round reports in future, which could just be sent directly out to the press each day with a photo or two, might help improve coverage from the media.

Of course I'm well aware that it seems hypocritical of me to write this given my ECF role, but paid work has to come before voluntary for me, and I didn't have the time to offer to do this each day.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:08 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:There are several problems with this, presumably why it was discarded in 1949 and never revived.
I knew this, but don't know what the reason for the decision was the time? Maybe it is valid still, but I think we can review the decision after this length of time!
Roger de Coverly wrote:The very big and obvious one is finance. Sponsorship income for the British has been erratic at best in recent years and the tournament has relied on selling places to chess tourists at £ 200 a throw.
This is very fair. There are a number of poeple on this forum, including Roger himself, who could comment on whether they would pay anything like this, to play in a stronger major open and spectate on the Championship.
Roger de Coverly wrote:The second is how you determine the qualifiers.
5 places for the ENG olympiad team, 1 Scots nominee, 1 Welsh nominee, Qualifiers - 1 Major Open, 2 other qualifying tournaments, 1 wildcard, 1 highest active rating (more if others decline)
Roger de Coverly wrote:for example Hawkins
Particularly valid as he was pin 13! But I think he was likely to qualify in some way above, and is the extreme example of the lowest rated player who could improve enough to be a serious contender.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:24 pm

Regarding selection, wouldn't you just ask the top 12 by rating (across all eligible national federations) and continue down the list as people declined? Maybe one or two wildcards, but you really want the top 12 strongest players for an APA. And only one qualifier from the Major Open, and only after the new format started (i.e. anyone who just misses out on the main event, has the option to enter the Major Open and qualify that way).

Paul Cooksey

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:31 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Regarding selection, wouldn't you just ask the top 12 by rating (across all eligible national federations) and continue down the list as people declined? Maybe one or two wildcards, but you really want the top 12 strongest players for an APA. And only one qualifier from the Major Open, and only after the new format started (i.e. anyone who just misses out on the main event, has the option to enter the Major Open and qualify that way).
I'm trying to support some of the ECFs other stated aims too, supporting professional chess and using this as an encouragement for players to play in the Olympiad.

I like the idea of qualifying supporting other events (or the Grand Prix?). Some from the top of the list to make it a valid championship, of course. But all rating, to decide between the 2500s, doesn't seem so good to me.

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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:34 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:Maybe it is valid still, but I think we can review the decision after this length of time!
Someone would have to research the chess magazines from 1948, but I'd imagine that it was felt desirable to have a system where anyone could qualify to play, rather than it being at the whim of an official or officials. Where other National Federations have the money to run the national championship as an all play all, they usually seem to run it as the top section of a number of all play alls, with the monster swisses coming in a few layers down. Here's the French version

http://www.echecs.asso.fr/Default.aspx?Cat=15

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:35 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Regarding selection, wouldn't you just ask the top 12 by rating (across all eligible national federations) and continue down the list as people declined? Maybe one or two wildcards, but you really want the top 12 strongest players for an APA. And only one qualifier from the Major Open, and only after the new format started (i.e. anyone who just misses out on the main event, has the option to enter the Major Open and qualify that way).
I'm trying to support some of the ECFs other stated aims too, supporting professional chess and using this as an encouragement for players to play in the Olympiad.

I like the idea of qualifying supporting other events (or the Grand Prix?). Some from the top of the list to make it a valid championship, of course. But all rating, to decide between the 2500s, doesn't seem so good to me.
Then have qualifying tournaments involving just the 2500s to decide who goes into the main event. What some people want to see is an APA between the top players. Diluting that moves away from that basic assumption.

LozCooper

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by LozCooper » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:47 pm

If you have a twelve player all-play-all, possibly all GMs, then that doesn't leave many GMs to help create GM norm chances in the next section. Would it be invitation only or could players qualify?

Paul Cooksey

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:54 pm

LozCooper wrote:If you have a twelve player all-play-all, possibly all GMs, then that doesn't leave many GMs to help create GM norm chances in the next section. Would it be invitation only or could players qualify?
I was thinking for the major open say 2000, variable by age. But maybe a higher threshold and qualifying, if qualifying is attractive.

We might need need to pay for some 2400 GMs if we want GM norm opportunities, possibly not English ones. But I hope the qualifying would be attractive too.

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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:38 am

If you have enough money you can make anything work.
When the British was last an apa there was no grading system. The FIDE Rating System dates back only to 1970.
12 players apa. First you have your top 12, however that is determined. Then invite and reserves. There would have to be enough money available in the second section so that your reserves were willing to play there. That works for the London Chess Classic and used to for the Hasting Premier. Wijk an Zee has a tier of many apa sections.
Without doing a budget, I'll guess at £60,000 sponsorship minimum. The current British Champ. system sometimes works on no sponsorship at all.
The Major Open used to be restricted to players graded over 180 or thereabouts. Now many of those play in the British to raise money from their entry fees. I objected to having an event called 'open' when it wasn't. Thus the change in the MO.
It isn't essential that norm opportunities be available in the Championship. They aren't in the Classic and rarely were in the Hastings Premier.
In 1961 and 1970 I qualified for the British from the apa county and zonal stages. The sections were round robin and played mainly in people's homes. I presided over the dismantling of that system in the 1980s as the growth of the weekend Swiss circuit made using those events more practical. But it gave me the opportunity to play against strong players. I first entered at 16 in 1955.
Personally I think the current system is fine and has lasted nearly 30 years. But too many weak players qualify in order to increase the revenue. In 1997, the first sponsored by Smith & Williamson, there were 15 GMs, 4 of them over 2600 and 82 players. The median rating was 2295. There was only one Indian. The Major Open attracted 139 players. Some adults don't like to play in the Major Open because there are so many underrated juniors competing.

It occurs to me that few of you will even know about the History of the BCF written by John Poole and me and published in the 2004 Yearbook. I will see whether I can get that scanned in and put on the ECF site.

Stewart Reuben

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Sun Aug 07, 2011 8:02 am

Paul Cooksey wrote: Arguably a much more elite championship and a bigger major open is a better format. I think a 12 player all-play-all would be a better flagship tournament.
Yes, this would be my preferred format - see extensive discussions on this forum and elsewhere last year and before - although I suspect it's not feasible in the current climate.

One of the problems is that the championship tournament is expected to raised sufficient amounts in £200 entry fees to fund the rest of the tournament - hence its present bloated shape compared to many years ago.

I agree with you about improving the major open and limiting the size of the field of the Championship itself in principle, though. Perhaps a good first step to change would be to keep the swiss, but restrict the numbers somewhat (like the current format for the American championship). 20? 25? 30 at most?

That would leave enough very good players - but not quite genuine championship material - for an excellent major open tournament.

Doubt that will happen either, mind.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Changes to the format of the British Championship?

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:57 am

Jonathan Bryant wrote:Perhaps a good first step to change would be to keep the swiss, but restrict the numbers somewhat (like the current format for the American championship). 20? 25? 30 at most?
I do not think a smaller Swiss works as a stepping stone, since it would have almost the same impact on revenue. Most of the top 30 would be exempt from entry fees.
Stewart Reuben wrote:Without doing a budget, I'll guess at £60,000 sponsorship minimum. The current British Champ. system sometimes works on no sponsorship at all.
I'd welcome a bit of clarification on the costing, while accepting it is a very rough estimate. I understand my proposal creates a shortfall of about £6K as 60 players move from a £200 tournament to a £100 tournament. But I was not expecting the professional element to cost any more than it does now. In fact I was expecting apa to be much more attractive to titled players.
Stewart Reuben wrote: Some adults don't like to play in the Major Open because there are so many underrated juniors competing.
I think this needs factoring in to revenue predictions. With the overrated seniors hiding in a separate tournament, the major open has a poor reputation with adult players. There is a risk it will shrink.
Stewart Reuben wrote:It occurs to me that few of you will even know about the History of the BCF written by John Poole and me and published in the 2004 Yearbook. I will see whether I can get that scanned in and put on the ECF site.
This would be very welcome. I'd like a wiki section on the website if we could set it up.

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