Proposed county championship changes

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benedgell
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Proposed county championship changes

Post by benedgell » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:07 pm

Copied from the other Forum:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/Forum/vi ... 1758#p1758

where you can download the document, should you wish.
The following consultation paper is also attached as a document that can be downloaded.

Intention to Allow Direct Entry to the Final Stage of the County Championship from 2016-17

This is a consultation paper. Please provide your thoughts to this either on the ECF Forum, or directly to Alex Holowczak at director.homechess@englishchess.org.uk.. before 1st June. A second document, outlining a more specific implementation plan, will be published soon thereafter. After a period of consultation on that document, a final document, outlining the intentions for the competition, will be produced.

The Problems with the Existing Format

The Problem(s) we are trying to Solve

Various people have made various comments in various public and private fora from time-to-time about the County Championship:

(1) At present, each Union receives two nominations for a section, regardless of the number of teams that enter the section. There is no obligation to run a qualifying competition, but if you do, because it is nomination based, there is also no obligation to nominate qualifiers in a particular order, or even to nominate a county from your own Union. Therefore, in the South or Midlands, you may have 4 counties enter a qualifier for the Under 180 section, and 2 of these counties qualify in accordance with the rules. However, in the North, 2 counties enter a qualifier for the Under 180 section, and 2 of these counties qualify. In the West, there is no qualifying event, 1 team is nominated. In the East, the 1 nomination is sometimes the team that finishes last in a qualifying event for a different section – the Open. The comments made are of the nature that this is unfair: Why should teams in the South and Midlands have to qualify to get into the Final Stage, whereas teams in the rest of the country can be nominated without having to play any matches?

(2) In order to qualify for the Final Stage, a county must be nominated by a Union. There are some counties that are affiliated to two Unions. There are some counties that are affiliated to no Unions. There is one county that is in one Union almost by default, because the Union it wants to be in has yet to let it join. Therefore, some county teams therefore get two bites at the qualification cherry, while others get zero.

(3) The entry fees have, traditionally, been paid by all teams that enter the qualifying stage; regardless of qualification for the Final Stage or not.

(4) The skeleton draw is usually made in January/February, and then if the requested nominations at this point aren’t taken up, the draw has to be re-made. While the teams scheduling matches before they have been notified officially are at fault, this is a problem I would rather not cause in the first place. There were problems this year because some Unions responded so close to the draw being made, that there was no opportunity to invite additional nominations to bring the total up to 8 as mandated by the rules, until after the skeleton draw had been made.

(5) The Final is played, out of necessity, in July; and the Final Stage is played starting in April. This is a poor time for juniors to play, and some have expressed the opinion that July is too late in the year to hold the Final. This is a poor time for some adults to play, who have perhaps gone on holiday, or moved on to their summer pastime.

How would allowing direct entry to the Final Stage help solve these problems?

Taking each of the five points above:

(1) All counties have the ability to enter the ECF Stage on an equal footing with one another. Unions can still run their existing league competitions alongside it, where such competitions exist.

(2) Same as (1) above.

(3) The ECF can collect entry fees only from teams that enter its competition, rather than teams that only enter the Union stage.

(4) The ECF can be directly responsible for the draws it produces, without relying on information from third parties.

(5) The schedule of the tournament can be brought forwards.

(1) to (4) above can be solved by allowing direct entry to the Final Stage, without Union qualifiers. (5) can be solved by bringing the rounds forward to earlier in the season.

Questions to Respond To

At this stage, there are two questions of principle that the ECF would like feedback on:

(1) Should the ECF change the rules of the County Championship from 2016-17 from a competition where Unions nominate counties to play in the ECF stage, to a competition where counties directly enter the ECF stage?

(2) If your answer to (1) is “Yes”, should the default dates of the competition be brought forward from April – July, to earlier in the season?

Depending on the responses received, a further document may be published in accordance with the timetable outlined at the top of this document.

--

Alex Holowczak

Director of Home Chess

20th April, 2015

Richard Bates
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:53 pm

I imagine it would/could do serious damage to and/or undermine the genuinely competitive Union competitions. Both because the Union competitions would (from a competitive viewpoint) become only about winning (so teams would weaken as prospect of winning diminishes) and running concurrently would create serious pressure on dates. Don't know if that is of any concern to the ECF, although i think it should be. If the Counties Championship were to morph into effectively a national only competition then the chances are that it would reduce the pool of players competing in County chess (too much travelling). If there were increases in numbers of entries in the national competition, I suspect that this might lead to demand for the initial knockout rounds to become regionally based with a sort of Union qualification recreated in all but name.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by MartinCarpenter » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:34 pm

The direct entry principle doesn't seem so insane as a principle - especially with all the byes :( Would have to be careful not to destroy the SCCU internal stuff at least, but the NCCU is basically already there of course.

The scheduling would genuinely worry me rather. Hard getting some players for summer yes, but there really aren't very few free dates at all from September to March/April. Basically impossible in Yorkshire I'd think.

Richard Bates
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Richard Bates » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:50 pm

Are there really that many teams who are excluded from the national stages by the need to get through a qualification competition? It seems to me that there are two significant limiting factors on decisions to enter the national stage competition - ability to get out players (particularly for counties where there are 'overlaps' between the teams (quite how it would effect the Minor Open/U180 is anyone's guess), and prospects of success. (the decline in teams opting to pursue Open nomination (as opposed to Minor Open) is some evidence of this - don't know if it applies at lower levels).

Of course, for Unions with significant numbers of qualification matches, this allows Counties to build up a realistic picture of their potential player base and strength. And in some ways, a limited number of national stage matches is an advantage because it is easier to maintain a representative side over a smaller number of matches.

it would also be interesting to know how the 'seeding' would be done for a national only competition.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 19, 2015 11:32 pm

Richard Bates wrote: it would also be interesting to know how the 'seeding' would be done for a national only competition.
For an Open, you might get five from the SCCU, namely Middlesex, Surrey, Essex, Kent, Sussex plus Staffordshire from the MCCU and Lancashire and Yorkshire from the NCCU. All other counties would be likely to opt for the grading restricted Minor Counties. Warwickshire might be prepared to add themselves to Staffs as national aspirants.

Richard Bates
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:28 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Richard Bates wrote: it would also be interesting to know how the 'seeding' would be done for a national only competition.
For an Open, you might get five from the SCCU, namely Middlesex, Surrey, Essex, Kent, Sussex plus Staffordshire from the MCCU and Lancashire and Yorkshire from the NCCU. All other counties would be likely to opt for the grading restricted Minor Counties. Warwickshire might be prepared to add themselves to Staffs as national aspirants.
I meant how would you seed the draw, or would it be totally random? (and/or would it be regionally based either to try and keep regional teams apart or, as suggested above, to pair together for travel convenience?).

Mick Norris
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:20 am

I have suggested that the MCCU email it to all county captains and county reps - perhaps the other Unions could do the same?
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Mick Norris
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:23 am

Richard Bates wrote:it would also be interesting to know how the 'seeding' would be done for a national only competition.
Presumably, it would be done initially similar to the existing Union championships on a geographic basis (e.g. Lancs, Yorks, G Man :lol: )

You could have small initial groups who play on a APA basis, with the winners going through to the semi finals say
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:24 am

Richard Bates wrote: I meant how would you seed the draw, or would it be totally random? (and/or would it be regionally based either to try and keep regional teams apart or, as suggested above, to pair together for travel convenience?).
For the lower rated divisions, is it possible there could be more than 16 entrants? I would have though a regional first round draw necessary although it wouldn't have to be Union based. You could pair Surrey against Hampshire or Essex against Suffolk for example.

The proposal is driven in part by demands to move the competition away from the summer. A necessary condition for that would be to abolish the Union qualifiers.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:33 am

Mick Norris wrote: You could have small initial groups who play on a APA basis, with the winners going through to the semi finals say
That would just overlap with the Union competitions. But it depends what sort of competition you want. Where they take place, the Union competitions are "Winter League" whilst the ECF stage is "Summer Knockout". A summer knockout with matches for the finalists in May, June and July only overlaps with Congresses as far as chess is concerned, but potential players may wish to take a break or have other commitments such as exams. If it starts in March and April, there's a lot more potential fixture congestion. That said, if you know in January, your April opposition, playing a "last 16" round becomes easier to arrange.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by MartinCarpenter » Mon Apr 20, 2015 9:42 am

Richard Bates wrote:Are there really that many teams who are excluded from the national stages by the need to get through a qualification competition?
Probably not (m)any I'd think. Its more that qualification has already broken down to a fair extent and in many ways this would simply be acknowledging the situation that exists in practice. The NCCU have had 2 (of 2) teams through for a few years of course.

In general there simple aren't enough teams wanting to play in many sections that you'd turn anyone down. The minor counties is doing rather well for teams with 10 qualifiers, so two prelims and the U160 and U100 have a full set of 1/4 finals. Everywhere else? 1/4 final byes :( The U180,140 and 120 seem to have one and the open 2.

Fixture congestion from trying to do this in winter would be near impossible in Yorkshire. We already typically seem to end up playing Lancs the Sunday after a round of Yorkshire league matches the day before and you'd really struggle to raise a team to go down to the Midlands under those circumstances.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:44 pm

Part of this is that certain regions have never had the relevant sections: WECU has, in all my time playing there, only ever had a first team competition and an U-150 - later U-160 - competition.

David Pardoe
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by David Pardoe » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:09 pm

Some key points about the counties events..
Firstly, they are probably the top chess events currently for our amateur players, with time controls that at least allow the prospect of playing out an endgame without hitting the blitz button, with the pot luck shoot out finishes that so blight the league chess, and turn many chess games into lottery chance events, where clock advantage can be leaned on to extract wins by players being forced into errors caused entirely by clock disadvantage, even in cases where a player might actually have winning chances.
Do we want our chess turned from a game of skill to a chance lottery....?

Next.... travel, time, and cost issues... followed by player challenges/difficulties.
The Union stages are quite good, if travelling can be kept to reasonable distances and good venues found. I`d particularly urge counties to look at raising teams for the lower level events.. i.e., U160, U140, U120, U100.... these are events that offer a good opportunity for some cracking 16 board, team chess matches, and with greater player selection, an enthusiastic captain, given good local support should be able to raise a team in most areas. The chance to play opposition from further afield, with a good light refreshment offering, some banter between the early finishers, who can also enjoy the match atmosphere as the remaining games draw to a conclusion.... yes, it all certainly makes for a good alternative to watching local football of a winters day...

Looking at event structure...
I`d be in favour of reverting back to U175, U150, U125, U100 competitions, and maybe upping these events to 20 boards, maybe 12 for the U100 competition..
This would enable captains to have greater choice of players, and thus a better chance of raising teams.. I`d rename the Minor counties to the Championship, with average board reduced to U175 perhaps.. Keeping the Open unchanged..

Key issues for encouraging more participation is getting county/Union bodies to be more pro-active in running good quality events... e.g., NCCU needs to shake up and get there counties more involved.. Merseyside, Cheshire, Durham, Cleveland, etc...should at least enter a couple of teams in various sections (and I`d urge Yorks to split into three, at least for the Union stage)... but they`d probably need to move to a structured `East` `West` competitions, due to travel issues.. that would put South and East/North Yorks in the East zone, and Bradford , etc. in the West zone, creating two really good zonal events in the NCCU. But, that might require some smart scheduling to avoid clashes with the 4NCL North `super league`, who are also keen to recruit more teams from across the north region. i.e., Stoke /Lincoln up to the Scottish borders. It would be so good to have a Scottish Borders team....

As to National Qualifiers..yes, keep the qualifying events, but add an option that counties can offer to fill any vacant slots in the National stages, as they see fit.
Raising teams for these events can be a challenging business for many counties.. so a key requisite for success is having a pro-active captain who is preferably assisted by one or two deputies from other clubs.. Start early with team selection, use the web and the many chess league/club web sites to build good contact lists..
Don't be frightened to move out of the comfort zone when selecting players. One willing volunteer is worth two pressed men... so, a U160 captain should be prepared to enlist players even 50 grading points below that level, to ensure a full team. And amazingly, its surprising how such players can upset the form books and put in a good showing. A full team is always a great moral booster....

So, to the Finals stages..can these be streamlined in any way.... maybe combining the Qtr. & Semi finals into a weekend jamboree event, at a major University campus..
I`ve said before that the SCCU has a big advantage due to population, transport and wealth factors. The Midlands has an advantage in travel factors, particularly the `core` counties.
I guess it could be said that this is balanced in the NCCU by having the two giant counties of Lancs and Yorks, with GMan hovering in the wings.....the latter just need to raise there game and can hopefully take a fuller part.. again, some well supported captains for the teams could make a big difference.

It might be worth going for a handicap of 1.5 pts for SCCU teams and a 1pt handicap for `core` MCCU teams.....and maybe including Yorks and Lancs. We need to give the `east` and `West` zones more encouragement to join the National stages. I`ve suggested allowing both regions to field combined county teams for Finals stages.
It might be worth combining the whole national competition into one grand w/e jamboree event, with Press invited along from across the country, and a boosted prize fund.. late June or early July, at a classy venue, but that might mean some restructuring of the calendar to free up a w/e for that to take place.. Removing the Qtr. & Semi Finals would also free up calendar space for other events...and reduce venue costs and significant travel reductions overall, which might encourage greater support.
I`d be tempted to rotate the Finals venues between say Leicester, Birmingham, Oxford, Cheltenham, and Sheffield, to even out some `travel` advantages..
Any of these measures could be adopted, but the package would take much consultation and co-ordinated effort from the major ECF organisations.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Mike Truran
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by Mike Truran » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:47 pm

I understand that Alex is consulting with his ECF Board colleagues to establish if he or Andrew are permitted to reply here.

:evil: :evil: :evil:

David Pardoe
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Re: Proposed county championship changes

Post by David Pardoe » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:55 pm

Another lesser point that might help is a change to allow non ECF players to participate in the National stages, by simply paying the requisite game fee, if they so wish.
This takes me onto another topic of interest..
Namely membership....
I see some changes to Membership have zipped through recently. Andrew Leadbetter, amongst others, were non too impressed, I understand....and attendance numbers were disappointing at the recent ECF meeting. Maybe this was a good example of a situation where OMOV might have been a useful tool, to be combined on a proportionate basis with the official delegate vote, to give a more balanced representation..
But, on the matter of Membership, I have long said that we maybe need to consider some additional membership categories...
I`d certainly offer a `part year` membership, say half price after 31st Jan..
I`d also favour a `mix and match` membership, say pitched at £10 allowing players to play any mix of up to 12 graded games...Gold, Silver or Bronze...
Some bulk membership offerings might also help, whereby Unions, Counties, other bodies/groups could be offered `special deals` based on the estimated number of members they might recruit... eg, Yorks (or another large county), could be offered say a 1000 member block package for £12k, offering say 300 Gold members, 300 Silver members, and 400 Bronze members.
These might incentivise organisations to actively support the membership.
Mike Basmans Juniors could be offered a special junior deal...all 80,000 members at a £2 per head (optional), with gradings published for those playing 4 or more games, say. But that would be outside the players who have already got established grades, and play regular league or tournament chess, where the standard junior charges would apply.
I`m sure there must be other ways of raising the ECF membership numbers...
Again, these are just ideas for discussion, and I`m sure others have equally valid views they might want to put forward...
BRING BACK THE BCF

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