Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Roger Lancaster
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:26 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Some of your junior members did play in the recent ECF U19 National Schools Chess Championships finals.
Yes, I wasn't intending to imply that our juniors didn't play in ECF events (and I'm sure a few will make their way to Llandudno) but that, if our club is any kind of example, this is an ECF dialogue without input from those clubs who have had some success in this regard.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:05 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote: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.
The minute I quoted appears to concern a general discussion rather than a specific action plan at this stage. It goes without saying that the ECF should, and hopefully will in due course, speak to those clubs and organisers who have a proven track record in junior chess with a view to co-ordinating activity and sharing good practice where possible.

I do feel that Roger Lancaster's post again misses the point slightly. The clubs that have structured junior activity are not the ones that require the attention and investment. Look at things from the point of view of a 13 year old wanting to play chess. He (I'll say He for the sake of argument) may be fortunate enough to live close to a club run by Roger or Neill Cooper. He may have to make do with a small club led by somebody with limited chess and coaching ability (ie me). Or he may have to join an adult chess club with no juniors; they're happy to encourage him but have no idea what to do with him so to speak. Or ... he lives in a small town where the chess club meets at the WMC and doesn't want to know. That is the hole that needs to be filled.

One of my players does actually play for England (something I can't take any personal credit for I hasten to add). Most of the others won't. That doesn't mean they can't rise to 160 strength (or even 120) and have many decades of pleasure in congresses and local leagues. There is a reasonable focus on the elite but little structure for those inbetween. Again, something the ECF could work on.

I'll throw a final thing into the mix, namely the North/ South divide.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:53 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.
Just to clarify one point; can clubs enter the team challenge or is the competition only open to schools?
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Neill Cooper
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:02 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Just to clarify one point; can clubs enter the team challenge or is the competition only open to schools?
You raise a good point, and one that I grappled with when I ran a junior club with 50 members. There are no events for junior clubs - except when Claire Summerscale ran her girls events for clubs and schools. At one time we had an ECF Chess Club co-Organiser, but I don't remember anything being organised. The only thing clubs can enter in J4NCL. Sorry, all national schools events (including TCC) are only for schools.

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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:04 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote: if our club is any kind of example, this is an ECF dialogue without input from those clubs who have had some success in this regard.
I do not know if Malcolm has started the dialogue but I would hope that when he does so he talks with me, and also with you, and other successful with juniors such as 3Cs and CCF Coulsdon.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:37 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:Just to clarify one point; can clubs enter the team challenge or is the competition only open to schools?
You raise a good point, and one that I grappled with when I ran a junior club with 50 members. There are no events for junior clubs - except when Claire Summerscale ran her girls events for clubs and schools. At one time we had an ECF Chess Club co-Organiser, but I don't remember anything being organised. The only thing clubs can enter in J4NCL. Sorry, all national schools events (including TCC) are only for schools.
Unfortunately this makes it a non starter as far as my club is concerned as the four strongest players (the nucleus of a promising team) are split across three different schools. I suspect many junior chess clubs with secondary school members will have a similar situation. Which means that unless secondary school age players are fortunate enough to attend a school with a thriving chess club (increasingly rare) they are denied the opportunity to play in a flagship event for players their age. And we wonder why they stop playing!

I don't want this to sound like a swipe in your direction as you do more for secondary school chess than the rest of us combined. But if the ECF wants to increase junior chess activity it seems a logical place to start.

It has also made me rather determined to enter a team!
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:56 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote: Which means that unless secondary school age players are fortunate enough to attend a school with a thriving chess club (increasingly rare)
That's where the ECF is in a much worse position than the BCF of sixty, fifty, forty or thirty years ago. The various reminiscences about David Rumens elsewhere on this site is a reminder that it was not unusual for teenagers of the past or those only slightly older to spontaneously form their own clubs. Nearly parallel in time to Cedars in North West London was Mushrooms in South London.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:26 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Unfortunately this makes it a non starter as far as my club is concerned as the four strongest players (the nucleus of a promising team) are split across three different schools. I suspect many junior chess clubs with secondary school members will have a similar situation. Which means that unless secondary school age players are fortunate enough to attend a school with a thriving chess club (increasingly rare) they are denied the opportunity to play in a flagship event for players their age. And we wonder why they stop playing!

I don't want this to sound like a swipe in your direction as you do more for secondary school chess than the rest of us combined. But if the ECF wants to increase junior chess activity it seems a logical place to start.

It has also made me rather determined to enter a team!
Andrew, that is how I felt 15 years ago! Your 4 could play at J4NCL as a team. Otherwise it is up to you to create the club opportunities. I organised a few matches for Castles JCC, first against a school and then East Grinstead JCC. These were played late afternoon/early evening.

You can also do something with schools such as run a Harrogate secondary school chess championships over 4 (or even 3) boards. If you email the schools you might get a surprise response - that is what Trefor Thynne found in Devon. But such events have to be accessible - that is why I use 30 mins total per round in Team Chess Challenge, and some matches without clocks.

Why am I so keen on school chess? - because it is a true form of "representational" chess. If you are not a pupil of the school you can't join the team. That creates special bonds between players (or pupils, as I sometimes call them!)

Many schools that are strong at chess benefit from local clubs open to juniors and/or strong junior chess associations which continue up to U18, so it would be great if the ECF could do more with junior clubs and juniors at clubs. But it will need someone to do it. (It was when Phil Ehr saw what I was doing at Wilson's that he created the Secondary School post for me to encourage other secondary schools to do something similar.)

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:31 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote: Which means that unless secondary school age players are fortunate enough to attend a school with a thriving chess club (increasingly rare)
That's where the ECF is in a much worse position than the BCF of sixty, fifty, forty or thirty years ago. The various reminiscences about David Rumens elsewhere on this site is a reminder that it was not unusual for teenagers of the past or those only slightly older to spontaneously form their own clubs. Nearly parallel in time to Cedars in North West London was Mushrooms in South London.
My slightly hazy recollection, as someone who was among the earliest members of Mushrooms, is that we were all in our late teens or early 20's when the club was formed - rather older than those being discussed in this thread. Rationale for its formation was lack of interest in young(ish) players by most of the then established Surrey clubs. Cedars was somewhat earlier, maybe by 5 years, but my understanding is that a similar situation had arisen in Middlesex. But I don't think the option of forming a separate club would have been open to a group of, say, 14-year-olds. So I'm not quite sure I agree with Roger in thinking that the ECF is in a "much worse position" than the BCF of yore.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:43 am

Neill Cooper wrote: Andrew, that is how I felt 15 years ago! Your 4 could play at J4NCL as a team.
I would heartily endorse participation in J4NCL with two qualifications, first, you really need a pool of more than 4 juniors to participate and, secondly, J4NCL is slightly elitist in requiring competing teams to be up to a certain standard - this isn't a criticism as no-one wants to travel 100+ miles to find that the opposition can barely play the game.

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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:52 am

Roger Lancaster wrote: So I'm not quite sure I agree with Roger in thinking that the ECF is in a "much worse position" than the BCF of yore.
Where it's in a much worse position is that there aren't the same numbers of players of secondary school age and slightly older. It's something the ECF should build long term statistics on, namely the number of players each year in the grading list aged 17 or 18. Universities are slightly different as participation from foreign students taps into the worldwide popularity of chess. Look at the nationalities of those playing in the Oxford v Cambridge match or the BUCA competition.

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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:25 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:Where it's in a much worse position is that there aren't the same numbers of players of secondary school age and slightly older. It's something the ECF should build long term statistics on, namely the number of players each year in the grading list aged 17 or 18. Universities are slightly different as participation from foreign students taps into the worldwide popularity of chess. Look at the nationalities of those playing in the Oxford v Cambridge match or the BUCA competition.
Richard Haddrell's excellent History of the National Schools Championships shows that for the past 15 years the decline has at least been halted, and numbers have stabilised.
Now, who might have some spare time to help collect and analyse the data of the number of teenage players? I don't, having both a job and voluntary roles organising youth chess activities.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:32 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:Unfortunately this makes it a non starter as far as my club is concerned as the four strongest players (the nucleus of a promising team) are split across three different schools. I suspect many junior chess clubs with secondary school members will have a similar situation. Which means that unless secondary school age players are fortunate enough to attend a school with a thriving chess club (increasingly rare) they are denied the opportunity to play in a flagship event for players their age. And we wonder why they stop playing!

I don't want this to sound like a swipe in your direction as you do more for secondary school chess than the rest of us combined. But if the ECF wants to increase junior chess activity it seems a logical place to start.

It has also made me rather determined to enter a team!
Andrew, that is how I felt 15 years ago! Your 4 could play at J4NCL as a team. Otherwise it is up to you to create the club opportunities. I organised a few matches for Castles JCC, first against a school and then East Grinstead JCC. These were played late afternoon/early evening.

You can also do something with schools such as run a Harrogate secondary school chess championships over 4 (or even 3) boards. If you email the schools you might get a surprise response - that is what Trefor Thynne found in Devon. But such events have to be accessible - that is why I use 30 mins total per round in Team Chess Challenge, and some matches without clocks.

Why am I so keen on school chess? - because it is a true form of "representational" chess. If you are not a pupil of the school you can't join the team. That creates special bonds between players (or pupils, as I sometimes call them!)

Many schools that are strong at chess benefit from local clubs open to juniors and/or strong junior chess associations which continue up to U18, so it would be great if the ECF could do more with junior clubs and juniors at clubs. But it will need someone to do it. (It was when Phil Ehr saw what I was doing at Wilson's that he created the Secondary School post for me to encourage other secondary schools to do something similar.)
Quite a bit to get stuck into with this one. I'll begin with the positives because, as you correctly suggest, there is a lot within my gift locally. I've already fired off an email about the possibility of a junior league in Yorkshire and I will do some groundwork to see if I can get a Harrogate secondary schools event going. I'm not getting too excited as I have written to the schools a few times without success although I have some pupil and parent contacts I didn't have before. There is another blocker locally which I'll come to.

I've looked at the J4NCL and as things stand my players just wouldn't be strong enough to qualify (to clarify I have seven regular players but the other three might struggle slightly at this moment in time). So I'm glad the guys aren't `with me`, so to speak, or at least unaware that I'm making these enquries because that's another door slammed in their faces for now. In any case I think three full weekends; one in Berkshire and two in Solihull would be a bit of a hard sell. A Saturday in Hull or Manchester competing in the Team Chess Championship would have been something to build up to but obviously that's only open to schools and thus something of a closed shop. It does seem to me that the event is being run on an outdated model and I may raise this with the board in due course (but not right now).

The blocker I'm up against locally; I'll avoid going into too much detail on a public forum but I'm competing against a primary schools chess association, a registered charity that has considerable resources and clout but won't work with or support any initiative involving secondary school chess. I am on the committee of the association and have made the case for expanding into secondary schools chess but have encountered resistance to the point where I am banging my head against a brick wall. As things stand primary schools in Harrogate can access bursaries for equipment and other resources and their pupils enjoy a free tournament (possibly two from next year) with plenty of theatre and incentives while secondary school pupils have no offer at all outside of the club I've started (and I will accept year 6 students so it works both ways). The suggestion that I should form my own association and obtain my own funding is a fair one but hard to do when another organisation is already well established and sucking up a lot of the oxygen.

Going back to the latest board minutes which are the main thrust of this thread; Malcolm Pein took away an action point and the board should have subsequently met (30th June) although the minutes won't be published immediately. So there may be developments we don't yet know about. In any case the board will currently have their hands full with Llandudno and it is unfair to expect them to spend their time on other matters at present.
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Paul Cooksey
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:37 pm

I'm feeling nostalgic at the mention of Harrogate primary school chess. Good to hear it is thriving and I hope Pannal are as dominant as they were when I was a tyke.

But more on topic, I still don't understand why the ECF is trying to collect revenue from juniors.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Junior chess in latest ECF board minutes

Post by LawrenceCooper » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:59 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:But more on topic, I still don't understand why the ECF is trying to collect revenue from juniors.
That reminds me of a comment from a board member during my brief time as Junior Director "Why should we put anything into junior chess when parents can fund it all"

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