Director of Women's Chess

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Michael Farthing
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Michael Farthing » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:39 pm

Andrew's not trying to stop you Nick!

And I can confirm from personal observation on more than one occasion that Andrew has been a participant in such a scene and behaved with due and appropriate male nerdishness. I'm sure his light-hearted comment was to some extent intended at his own expense.

NickFaulks
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:43 pm

Thomas Rendle wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:33 pm
I also think it's worth pointing out that this is not a problem that is likely to be 'solved' in the near future. For numbers to start to level out we'd need a change in the way society views boys/girls as well as chess (this is changing - slowly). This of course doesn't mean that we shouldn't try, it's just that progress is likely to be incremental!
I'm not sure that I understand why that should be. Starting today, if classes of girls and boys were given equal access to chess from the age of five, I wouldn't expect a higher dropout rate within the girls for at least several years. Later on there might be peer pressures, which are of course societal.
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:29 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:43 pm
Thomas Rendle wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:33 pm
I also think it's worth pointing out that this is not a problem that is likely to be 'solved' in the near future. For numbers to start to level out we'd need a change in the way society views boys/girls as well as chess (this is changing - slowly). This of course doesn't mean that we shouldn't try, it's just that progress is likely to be incremental!
I'm not sure that I understand why that should be. Starting today, if classes of girls and boys were given equal access to chess from the age of five, I wouldn't expect a higher dropout rate within the girls for at least several years. Later on there might be peer pressures, which are of course societal.
I have some experience of this in the schools I coach at.

Genesis of the issue is with parents signing up their children for the chess club at primary school, maybe at age 6-8 or thereabouts depending on the school. I tend to get about 20% girls and 80% boys at my groups, and that seems to be about normal based on the earlier comments in this thread. So if the aim is 50/50, we don't even start there.

Some other comments, based on my own observations.

During the lessons, I often find myself, as a coach, solving disputes between boys who play. The boys are, in general, more argumentative. I'm constantly intervening in such disputes, but this often means I am correcting errors in understanding. For example, the argument may have been caused by moving a white pawn forwards two squares when it was on c3, or leaving a King in check. When I am invited to intervene, I can explain the problem, and hopefully it doesn't repeat in future.

The girls who play tend not to get into as many of these arguments. They're generally quieter, and generally just get on with playing. So as a coach, I am spending less time paying attention to what they're doing, because I can be fighting fires elsewhere. I'm sure if I were able to pay more attention to their games, I would see the same misunderstandings, but they don't get corrected because I am not intervening in their games as much as games between two boys.

If you want to see a practical example of this, go to a Gigafinal and compare the Saturday (U7-10 Boys) with Sunday (U7-10 Girls + everyone 11-18). On Saturday it's a constant battle to keep the children quiet, but it's a proper chess tournament on Sunday. Why?

Another issue that comes up from time-to-time is mixed groups/tournaments and boys-only/girls-only groups. I find that if I give children the choice of who they play in a free play lesson, nearly always the girls will go to play the girls, and the boys will go to play the boys. Without any prompting, they neatly divide themselves into these two groups. Why?

It's a controversial opinion to promote single-sex education these days, but would it would be beneficial for girls because the learning environment would be more conducive to them? Paul seems to think the Girls only groups, delivered by a female, at RJCC were a success; indeed, not having them seems to have reduced the quality and number of their players, if I understand him correctly. At-a-glance, most teams in the ECF National Schools Girls competitions seem to be Girls only schools, rather than a girls' team from a mixed school.

NickFaulks
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:42 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:29 pm
It's a controversial opinion to promote single-sex education these days, but would it would be beneficial for girls because the learning environment would be more conducive to them?
In my experience, and without a shadow of a doubt, yes. I realise that my earlier comment was making this assumption, which I didn't even think about.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:55 pm

Following on from Alex's comments, if you decide to start a junior chess club with a clean sheet and three quarters of the applicants are boys there is relatively little you can do about it.

It's occurred to me that increasing the number of female players and increasing the ratio of female players to male are two different things. If you increase the player base generally then the number of individual women and girls will increase (which over time will allow for greater networking and bespoke events). However you can only improve the ratio either by a) attracting women and girls at a higher rate than men and boys or b) actively preventing men and boys from playing. If somebody wished to set up a junior chess club only for girls I could live with that on the grounds that I shouldn't be beyond the wit of the boys (or a parent) to set up their own. However if the boys end up with more members that only compounds the ratio problem.
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:03 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 2:28 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:06 pm
If a group of silent morose men want to sit hunched over boards at the cheapest hovel they can afford and shh anybody who dares breathe we can't stop them.
Full marks as always for emotive language, but what are you really saying? Taken point by point

Silent. Yes, serious chess is best played in quiet surroundings, a fact that female players understand just as well as their male counterparts.

Morose. Does that mean the same as silent? If they look fed up, perhaps their game is not going as planned.

Hunched over. Different players find it best to observe the board from different angles. I have noticed no distinction between the sexes in this regard.

The cheapest hovel they can afford. I suspect you mean the best hovel they can afford. Ideally it isn't even a hovel, but it is true that for some players the cost of the venue is a concern. If it is not for you, be thankful.

And shh anybody who dares breathe. Most clubs seem to have someone whose shh is far more disturbing than whatever noise they are trying to stop. However, if players whose game is over start an animated discussion, they do need to be reminded that there are still games going on around them.
Serious chess is best played in quiet surroundings and I appreciate that quiet as much as any one (although I prefer a bit of background noise to constant shushing and rising tension). It's about getting the balance right (and my club doesn't a lot of the time). You ideally need two rooms or a mixture of competitive chess nights and more relaxed social nights.

As for hovels it's the simple truth that too many chess players expect their hobby on the cheap. I'm willing to bet nobody here pays £100 p/a for their club/ league chess but it works out as less than a tenner a month. While it is true that some players might not be able to pay that, I'm willing to bet that there are plenty who could pay five times as much.
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:13 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:03 pm
As for hovels it's the simple truth that too many chess players expect their hobby on the cheap. I'm willing to bet nobody here pays £100 p/a for their club/ league chess but it works out as less than a tenner a month. While it is true that some players might not be able to pay that, I'm willing to bet that there are plenty who could pay five times as much.
Can you name any activities where people pay £500 a year. What, for example, is the typical cost of a gym membership?

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-styl ... 31181.html
Gym memberships aren’t cheap, but many Brits are signing up and then wasting their money: the average gym-member spent £550 on membership in 2015 but only went 13.5 times in that time - a cost of £40 per visit.
(Apparently, the cheap ones when that article was written in 2017 "cost about £20 a month".)

That luxury gym has "an even split of male and female members".

Maybe gyms aren't the natural comparison here... :wink:

(In 2014, golf fees averaged around £430 per annum.)

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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:53 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 3:29 pm
At-a-glance, most teams in the ECF National Schools Girls competitions seem to be Girls only schools, rather than a girls' team from a mixed school.
Very true. All the more surprising that the winning team was from a mixed comprehensive.
Hopefully next year more girls teams from mixed schools will enter.

Brian Towers
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Brian Towers » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:10 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:03 pm
I'm willing to bet nobody here pays £100 p/a for their club/ league chess
I beg your pardon! I pay a hell of a lot more than that. Each of my roughly 40 visits a year to the chess club cost me £7.25. £4 return bus fare plus £3.25 for a decent pint. One of the conditions of getting the room in the pub for free is that we each buy a drink. Not a bad deal as I can kill two birds with one stone.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:16 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:41 pm
Roger Lancaster wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:07 pm
I agree with Paul and believe, as I suspect he does, that a distinction should be drawn between girls and women.
Roger, can you explain what distinction you see that should be drawn?

I suspect that making the game more attractive to women would also make it more attractive to girls.
Paul, maybe I picked my words poorly but the distinction I was trying to make was between girls, who might typically account for 20% of participants in a junior event, and the much smaller percentage of women in adult events. In other words, the negative factors weigh more heavily with women than with girls.

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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:19 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:49 pm

The rules of various competitions seem designed to thwart the efforts of junior clubs, recognising only teams from schools or counties...
J4NCL comes immediately to mind as an event designed specifically for junior clubs although, with that exception, I agree.

[This post has been edited as it was drawn to my attention that the original wording could easily be misconstrued].
Last edited by Roger Lancaster on Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Roger Lancaster » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:33 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 5:03 pm
As for hovels it's the simple truth that too many chess players expect their hobby on the cheap. I'm willing to bet nobody here pays £100 p/a for their club/ league chess but it works out as less than a tenner a month. While it is true that some players might not be able to pay that, I'm willing to bet that there are plenty who could pay five times as much.
Hmm, final 4NCL weekend alone in early May I spent £120+ on hotel accommodation, never mind petrol and refreshments. In that I certainly wasn't alone. The cost of annual club subscriptions is, for many, a small fraction of their chess-related expenditure over the year which will often exceed £500.

Chris Rice
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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Chris Rice » Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:47 pm

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 6:16 pm
Paul McKeown wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:41 pm
Roger Lancaster wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 12:07 pm
I agree with Paul and believe, as I suspect he does, that a distinction should be drawn between girls and women.
Roger, can you explain what distinction you see that should be drawn?

I suspect that making the game more attractive to women would also make it more attractive to girls.
Paul, maybe I picked my words poorly but the distinction I was trying to make was between girls, who might typically account for 20% of participants in a junior event, and the much smaller percentage of women in adult events. In other words, the negative factors weigh more heavily with women than with girls.
One thing that might make tournaments and clubs more attractive to adult women would be if there were creche facilities available. I believe its Chris Fegan's intention to try and get this done for the British but don't know how feasible it is for other events.

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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 05, 2018 8:59 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:
Thu Jul 05, 2018 1:49 pm
From the Richmond Juniors perspective, may I ask if any competitions are open to post-primary girls teams from junior clubs?

The rules of various competitions seem designed to thwart the efforts of junior clubs, recognising only teams from schools or counties...
When I was running Castles Junior Chess Club and helping at Whyteleafe School we had a good proportion of girls. There was a short time when Claire Summerscale was ECF Girls organiser and she ran some great girl team events (U19 and U11) at Claremont School for a few years. Those were the only girls only team events I was aware of.

How many of your girls could form a school team? The ECF Schools girls events are held at weekends.

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Re: Director of Women's Chess

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 05, 2018 9:24 pm

Correction. Claire's events followed on from earlier ones run by Neil Clifton which were also for schools and clubs.

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