Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1537
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:50 pm

The most recent set of ECF board minutes contained the following section and I'm surprised nobody has yet highlighted it, particularly the closing paragraphs.
Discussion centred on the drop-off of juniors playing chess for which MP had
provided some management information.
It was agreed that experiences across the country were varied, but key to successful
recruitment and retention was an adequate number of volunteers. Clubs that run
successful junior sections have an earlier time for the juniors to meet, and a number
of committed volunteers. It was noted that a number of opportunities could be
explored, such as use of local libraries to run junior clubs. It was agreed that we
should consider running pilots, to help and support the growth and development of
junior clubs.
The reintroduction of junior development officers was discussed. It was thought they
might be more successful if the role description was fully developed, and the right
person was fully supported. Time would be set aside at the next meeting to discuss
in more detail.
AP 113/13 MP to provide more detail on how the ECF might support clubs in
encouraging clubs to reach out to juniors more effectively and what the role of a
junior development officer might look like.
Obviously junior chess has been discussed here and elsewhere more times than anybody else can count and it is not my intention to initiate that discussion again. We generally have a good idea of what works, what doesn't work and what the blockers are. I'm more interested in what resources might be available and how these can be networked across the country.

The minutes are a bit vague on whether the junior `drop off` refers to the decline in numbers between primary and secondary school or the fact that even strong teenagers don't continue playing into their twenties (possibly a bit of both). In any case it is chess at secondary school age that requires the attention and any investment or co-ordination that the ECF can provide would a) be an extremely worthwhile use of surplus, particularly when other budgeted costs are offset by sponsorship and b) make a far more important discussion point than the minutiae of game fee.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 17039
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:11 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote: b) make a far more important discussion point than the minutiae of game fee.
The ECF has just made it more expensive to run graded junior events for those who are not committed players, but then compulsory membership and growth lack compatibility.

Programmes to introduce chess to those in Infant and Primary Schools have been running for enough years to establish that it doesn't result in any growth in numbers of those in the 18 to 25 age range. All those players who appeared in 1972 and after came from somewhere, arguably it was the success of the BCF in promoting chess in matches played between secondary schools that helped drive it.

I thought the current problems were known, but not the solutions. Promoting chess as a game or sport to be played in primary schools does exactly that. It's something to be abandoned as you get older. Even those that carry on playing after they reach secondary school are unable to participate in evening club chess because of the demands on their time made by course work and for that matter the late nights.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1537
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:17 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote: b) make a far more important discussion point than the minutiae of game fee.
The ECF has just made it more expensive to run graded junior events for those who are not committed players, but then compulsory membership and growth lack compatibility.

Programmes to introduce chess to those in Infant and Primary Schools have been running for enough years to establish that it doesn't result in any growth in numbers of those in the 18 to 25 age range. All those players who appeared in 1972 and after came from somewhere, arguably it was the success of the BCF in promoting chess in matches played between secondary schools that helped drive it.

I thought the current problems were known, but not the solutions. Promoting chess as a game or sport to be played in primary schools does exactly that. It's something to be abandoned as you get older. Even those that carry on playing after they reach secondary school are unable to participate in evening club chess because of the demands on their time made by course work and for that matter the late nights.
A twenty five pound annual subscription to the national association from all junior players would not be an exceptionally big ask from parents, even if the ECF were demanding that. Which they aren't: bronze and silver junior membership are considerably less and don't impact on entry level chess as much as it does adult chess. It's certainly dirt cheap compared to (for example) replica football kit. But I suspect you won't agree and that's not the issue here.

The over investment in primary school chess at the expense of secondary school chess has been criticised by a fair few people over the years, however it does give you a potential base for players of secondary school age if you can create them. I personally don't think the solutions lie within secondary schools due to known blockers but again that has been discussed elsewhere.

As for solutions, or at least possible ones, I will outline what I'm trying to do within my own town here.

There are virtually no dedicated clubs for older students. Teenagers don't want to be lumped in with screaming nine year olds, nor will they want to go to an adult chess club that has more than a passing resemblance to a reference library. Perversely more than any other age group teenagers are pack animals who enjoy doing things as a group. You can interface with the adult chess club where possible but it's not the be all and end all.

However the frustrating thing is the lack of dedicated investment for secondary school age chess. Primary schools have national organisations and charities and can drown out secondary school initiatives by sheer force of numbers. The question here is where does the ECF come in and how?
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 17039
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:30 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote: The question here is where does the ECF come in and how?
Nowhere probably. Given the extent to which it shares directors and managers with CSC, it's not going to give priority to secondary school chess or other initiatives for those of that age.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1537
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:48 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote: The question here is where does the ECF come in and how?
Nowhere probably. Given the extent to which it shares directors and managers with CSC, it's not going to give priority to secondary school chess or other initiatives for those of that age.
Hopefully somebody will correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe CSC is primary school only. Perhaps inevitably primary schools dominate, if only because it's ten times easier to start a chess club in one, but unlike some organisations they do not exclude students of secondary school age from their activities.

I didn't start this thread to debunk your conspiracy theories but only two executive directors appear to have a connection with CSC and that's because they are the two involved with just about every chess organisation going.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Neill Cooper
Posts: 1206
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Croydon
Contact:

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:53 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:However the frustrating thing is the lack of dedicated investment for secondary school age chess. Primary schools have national organisations and charities and can drown out secondary school initiatives by sheer force of numbers. The question here is where does the ECF come in and how?
Look at http://englishchess.org.uk/NSCC/ for a start.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 17039
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 5:54 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote: but only two executive directors appear to have a connection with CSC
Almost the whole Board have a CSC connection, even if only as tutors.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1537
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:03 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:However the frustrating thing is the lack of dedicated investment for secondary school age chess. Primary schools have national organisations and charities and can drown out secondary school initiatives by sheer force of numbers. The question here is where does the ECF come in and how?
Look at http://englishchess.org.uk/NSCC/ for a start.
Good point, although I suppose I was looking more at entry level.

On that note I have a group of very enthusiastic 11/12 year olds to catch up with ...
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Neill Cooper
Posts: 1206
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Croydon
Contact:

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:08 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Good point, although I suppose I was looking more at entry level.

On that note I have a group of very enthusiastic 11/12 year olds to catch up with ...
What do you mean by "Entry Level"? Team Chess Challenge and Junior Team Chess Challenge (year 7 and 8, ideal for yours) are aimed at all abilities. You can try the problem solving at your club/school. Even the National Schools is not too tough to begin with as the 25 or so leading teams go straight to the Regional stage not the qualifying stage.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 17039
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:16 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote: Good point, although I suppose I was looking more at entry level.
A history is at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_S ... ampionship

That claims a peak entry of over 1000 in the 1970s, so that's 6000 in the 11-18 age range for starters. Perhaps at least a three or four times multiplier per school for the players not selected, so that's 18,000 to 24,000 in that age range. That would give 3000 a year reaching the age of 18 as potential club, Congress and university players. Even in its very first year in the 1950s, the competition attracted more schools than it has in recent years.

If you were at school in the 1960s, you didn't have a mobile phone, but you might carry a portable gaming machine, aka a pocket chess set.

LawrenceCooper
Posts: 4760
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:13 am

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by LawrenceCooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:36 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Almost the whole Board have a CSC connection, even if only as tutors.
Is that really true? Looking at the current line-up here http://www.englishchess.org.uk/about/ecf-officials/ I was struggling to name many albeit there may be some I don't know about.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 17039
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:10 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote: Is that really true?
Perhaps it just sometimes seems that way, although the departure of Phil Ehr and friends reduced the head count a bit.

The CSC site is a better source than the ECF's disclosure of interests.

For example the non-Exec chairman is listed as a Regional Co-ordinator.

Roger Lancaster
Posts: 446
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2015 2:44 pm

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:08 pm

To be blunt, the closing paragraphs which Andrew sets out above strike me as mere words. I'm involved in the running of what might fairly be described as a reasonably successful club with, plus or minus the odd member, 28 adults and 36 juniors. Of those junior members, eight have either played for England or been selected to play in future events. We have a perfectly good relationship with those ECF directors involved with 4NCL (but in their J4NCL, rather than ECF, capacities) but no constructive relationship with the ECF junior directorate. For the avoidance of doubt, I should stress that the ECF junior director has been entirely courteous and helpful when approached but any dialogue has concerned only routine administrative matters rather than the sort of questions touched upon in the paragraphs set out above.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1537
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:12 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:Good point, although I suppose I was looking more at entry level.

On that note I have a group of very enthusiastic 11/12 year olds to catch up with ...
What do you mean by "Entry Level"? Team Chess Challenge and Junior Team Chess Challenge (year 7 and 8, ideal for yours) are aimed at all abilities. You can try the problem solving at your club/school. Even the National Schools is not too tough to begin with as the 25 or so leading teams go straight to the Regional stage not the qualifying stage.
By entry level I mean getting a dedicated chess club for older pupils off the ground and attracting new players to the game. That's the stage I've been at this year and I will look at entering the events you run next season.

It goes without saying that I am well aware of the excellent work you and others (such as Phill Beckett) do. My purpose in starting this thread was to highlight a specific comment from the latest board minutes and discuss what the ECF might be able to offer and how those of us on the ground can best utilise it, particularly if a Junior Development Officer is appointed.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Neill Cooper
Posts: 1206
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Croydon
Contact:

Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:18 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:We have a perfectly good relationship with those ECF directors involved with 4NCL (but in their J4NCL, rather than ECF, capacities) but no constructive relationship with the ECF junior directorate. For the avoidance of doubt, I should stress that the ECF junior director has been entirely courteous and helpful when approached but any dialogue has concerned only routine administrative matters rather than the sort of questions touched upon in the paragraphs set out above.
I think that with the various vacancies on ECF junior posts is one reason why. If you know anyone who could be the ECF Manager of Junior Home Chess or the ECF Manager of Girls’ Chess then I sure Traci would love to hear from you.

Some of your junior members did play in the recent ECF U19 National Schools Chess Championships finals.

Post Reply