British championship grading sections in the main event

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Kevin Thurlow
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:06 pm

Thanks to Stewart and Lawrence for their helpful replies. I didn't realise the women's titles helped for IM and GM norms.

Stewart said, "The sections were effectively A, B, C... and the players assigned by the committee according to the perceived strength of the players. That must have been difficult before Sir Richard Clarke started the grading system."

That's why the current format of having a Swiss for the Championship exists. There were lots of arguments about who was playing where. Even 30 years ago, a 180 from North West seemed much stronger than a South-East 180. So it must have been very difficult to assign sections before gradings came along!

Stewart Reuben
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:04 am

I first played in the British Championship Qualifying Competition in 1955 aged 16. I did not have a grade at that time. 3b was the lowest, 200+ equivalent. I was nowhere near good enough to get a grade. But, I could qualify for the British had I done well enough in that competition - as I did in 1961. The BCQC was held in people's homes, or possibly at the National Chess Centre. The growth of weekend Swisses, swept that system away when I was in charge.
I don't know why the British Championship went from a 12 player all-play-all to a 32 player Swiss. I doubt it was because of the difficulty of selecting the players. They qualified.
I do know why it expanded. I was in charge from 1981 and Leonard Barden and Richard Beville said to me there should be no maximum number of entrants. anybody good enough to play should be entitled to play. That was the start of the period of the English Chess Explosion and we had far more strong players. Clearly they were correct and I devised a system based on grade or performances in tournaments. Naturally it changed to Rating. After all, the British is an international event.
Long after my time, qualification was dumbed down in order to get a higher income from entry fees.
Title norms are not the first priority. If they were, Accelerated :Pairings could be used (as they were for a few years) to reduce the number of encounters with low rated opponents. The system isn't very popular when used for this purpose. When I was in charge it never occurred to me to use Accelerated Pairings. In Round 1 in 1997 in Hove the first Smith & Williamson Championship, Michael Adams met Ruth Sheldon, then rated 2290.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:18 am

"I don't know why the British Championship went from a 12 player all-play-all to a 32 player Swiss. I doubt it was because of the difficulty of selecting the players. They qualified. "

I'm sure I mentioned this somewhere. BH Wood complained that a late sub had done really well and should have been selected initially. Alexander and MIlner-Barry got cross, but a couple of years later, the system changed to some direct entry and some qualifiers, and it ended up at 32 players. Then it expanded...

Maybe it should be like the old Lloyds Bank Masters or this year's Reykjavik, where you have an accelerated Swiss to avoid mismatches (at first). Norm chances are presumably affected by having a preponderance of players from one Federation, although there's a few non-ENG this year.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:25 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 9:18 am
Maybe it should be like the old Lloyds Bank Masters or this year's Reykjavik, where you have an accelerated Swiss to avoid mismatches (at first).
You just get mismatches later. Sheffield in 2011 was a case in point where Adams in round 3 or 4 faced a much weaker opponent than his peers, his opponent having got two or perhaps three "wrong" results earlier.

NickFaulks
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Jul 01, 2018 10:58 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:04 am
In Round 1 in 1997 in Hove the first Smith & Williamson Championship, Michael Adams met Ruth Sheldon, then rated 2290.
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1014808

Just a typical first round rout.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:49 am

Kevin >Norm chances are presumably affected by having a preponderance of players from one Federation, although there's a few non-ENG this year.<
Norm chances are not affected in the British Championship, nor 4NCL by the foreigners rule. There is a rule that one national individual and one national team championship is exempt each year from the rule requiring foreigners in the tournament mix. I had to argue with the late Mikko Markulla, then Chairman of the QC when I was secretary, that the 4NCL was a national championship. Alexander Cherniaev achieved his final GM norm in the 4NCL, playing all but one English opponents.

Roger >You just get mismatches later.<
That is very true. It is a trade-off. Every game in the first round is a mismatch, or a handful in later rounds. In the Islington Open of 1971, PE Morrey was sole leader of the tournament with 3/3. He was graded about 185. That was the first time a GM had ever played in a weekend tournament in Britain. It was Ljubomir Kavalek. Julian Simpole asked me, before entering, what the probability was of his meeting him. I thought for a bit and said, 'If you have the opposite colour in round 1 and both of you win, then it is about 3/1 against in round 2.' He played and it all came to pass. He drew against Lubosh.

Nick Grey
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Nick Grey » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:57 pm

So it looks like after 70 years we still cannot agree what we want from a British chess championship compared to another large congress.
Basically having a championship organised with sections of 32 will minimise mismatches. Ought to increase norm chances. Will probably have the same result for the British Champion. That is providing those organising are given the freedom to do so. Such a system can allow prize money lower down.

I still think stuck in some Victorian ideal of hotels by the seaside rather than comfortable air conditioning in London.

Those that like the playing stronger or much weaker players week in week out can play congresses or evening league chess.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:09 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:57 pm


I still think stuck in some Victorian ideal of hotels by the seaside rather than comfortable air conditioning in London.

Those that like the playing stronger or much weaker players week in week out can play congresses or evening league chess.
So essentially a championship in London, for London? Easy enough for players in the home counties such as yourself who would be able to make a day trip as a spectator and just hard luck for players in the North (who would presumably have to finance it through their membership fees).

The British is a chess festival that allows players of all standards to get involved while combining it with a holiday. Those who want an elite GM event in London can go to the London Chess Classic.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

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Michael Farthing
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Michael Farthing » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:14 pm

As I've just crossed swords with Andrew elsewher it seems only fair that i should say that on this issue I'm absolutely with him.

Nick Grey
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Nick Grey » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:40 pm

I think say once every 20 years in London would be fair.

Then again I work in London in an environment where we have a big issue workwise in funding for education.
Current & future proposals are likely to distribute too much up north per pupil than they need at expense of country.
Either way each year when they do so it is as schools break up and go on hols & will want answers in September.

They are likely to get the answers a bit earlier with shortage of teachers & those in early years, families going back to Europe, or elsewhere.

Hopefully if I get a break it will be for Paignton (a nice area for walking). Then again may just go on hols & not be available when leagues trying to organise fixtures.

Nick Grey
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Nick Grey » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:47 pm

The London Chess Classic is a festival for all. Not just elite GM. Plenty of choices & some great work with the young too.

Combine it with a Christmas break with all that is great in this part of the world.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: British championship grading sections in the main event

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Jul 01, 2018 3:26 pm

Nick Grey > So it looks like after 70 years we still cannot agree what we want from a British chess championship compared to another large congress.<

It is since 1904. I do hope we don't totally agree. Circumstances and people's attitudes change. e.g. venues seem now impossible to get free. So we have what are called discussions. We might eventually even have a democratic vote.

What is special about the number 32? We may have more players who are good enough by the criteria. That was especially true when we were overrun by the Indians.
When last asked, the majority of Londoners did not want the British in London. Indeed, having it here once every 20 years would be fairer - but more expensive. The event was last in Scotland in 2003 and never in Northern Ireland. What is fair about that? Where will it be in 2019? The event should visit all 5 Unions, Scotland and Wales. That is why, when I was in charge, there was a 7 year cycle. Ireland could not be contemplated at that time. The event was not a success in The Isle of Man, partly because of the perceived concern about travel costs.

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