Certificate of Merit

Questions and Support regarding the Certificate of Merit.
Locked
Matthew Turner
Posts: 2659
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 11:54 am

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:39 am

What the ECF needs to do is develop a 'performance pathway' for the top chess players. What have those that have reached the top (like Anand, Carlsen Topalov etc) done. You might consider questions like

1. How much coaching have they had (at what age)?
2. How long did they stay in 'education'?
3. How much tournament chess do they play (and at what age)?
4. How do they use the Internet?
5. What opening do they play (as their chess is developing)?
6. How often do they change their openings?

The English Cricket Board and Lawn Tennis Association have done something very similar to this and this is an important part of their submission for government funding.
I am not pretending it would be easy to write this sort of report and the ECF might have to pay a fair bit of money to get someone to do it. However, I do think it is important. There are various statements here about the openings juniors play and should play, but I suspect none of us know what is best practice from the empirical evidence.

Stewart Reuben
Posts: 3705
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Stewart Reuben » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:22 am

Christopher Kreuzer >Richard, if you can remember, how many of those at RJCC attended schools outside the borough? I lived in the borough of Richmond (still do), and went to both primary and secondary school in Kingston. But I remember quite a few RJCC members (at the secondary school level) being from further afield (probably because people expand their horizons when looking for a secondary school). Am I remembering it right?<

The reason so many of those at RJCC attended and attend school outside Richmond is because they live(d) outside Richmond. This is because it was and is such a centre of excellence. Why don't you come along to the club. You should have a CRB clearance to stay for any length of time. Examples of people who came at least occasionally to RJCC include McShane, Howell, Gavin Wall, Murugan, Peter Williams.

It is perfectly true that City of London School has had quite a number of strong players who attended. Bill Hartston, Michael Hennigan are examples. I know we now have a number of strong players who come from comprehensive schools, but the fact is a huge proportion of our leading players come from academic schools. Don't misunderstand me, in many ways comprehensive schools provide a superior education for the general population.

Peter Barton as a chess coach is interesting. He encouraged girls to play chess. One year the British U15 (or 14?) had 45 entries, 15 were girls. He became a deputy headmaster and had no time to continue chess teaching. The following year you would have expected nearly 15 girls to take part. We were down to the more usual 3 or 4.

Stewart Reuben

Alex Holowczak
Posts: 8397
Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 5:18 pm
Location: Oldbury, Worcestershire
Contact:

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:43 am

Richard Bates wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:
Richard Bates wrote: What's your objection to the King's Indian attack??? If it was good enough for Fischer...
I just find it boring compared to 2. d4. Maybe it's because I'm more familiar with what to do after 2. d4...

Most of the time I've come across it, it doesn't end up as a King's Indian Attack. It ends up as Nf3, Be2, 0-0, c3, Nbd2, and the pawn never threatened to get to f4.
Certainly not. White rarely moves their f-pawn in the KIA. Putting the Bishop on e2 however is certainly entering the realm of passivity...
Well, I assumed part of the reasoning for Be2 was to allow something like f4 to happen. Particularly against the French, f4 makes e5 I awkward, so I thought that would be quite good for white.

Of course, I play in Division Four of the Birmingham League, and you are an International Master, so you're more likely to know the ins and outs of the KIA!

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 2443
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:30 pm

"The English Cricket Board and Lawn Tennis Association have done something very similar to this and this is an important part of their submission for government funding."

I am sure Matthew is right, and seeing that the LTA is not exactly producing a host of talented players, their funding might be in danger. (Do they actually need funding when they make a fortune out of Wimbledon?) Perhaps chess could get hold of some of theirs... I'm not saying it's easy either.
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

andrew martin

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by andrew martin » Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:56 pm

There is no money at all in the coaching budget and never has been since I have been the manager. I'm sure the idea above is a great one, but at present anyone embarking on this project would have to be prepared to do the work for nothing. Thus it is unlikely to happen.

Stewart Reuben
Posts: 3705
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Stewart Reuben » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:17 pm

There are at least 4 junior chess charities. Does it really need money to come from the ECF to support a junior coaching budget, which is a tax-inefficient way of raising money? Anyway, the ECF does spend money on junior coaching in its support for junior players in international events. Has the case been made for a coaching budget as it was in the 1980s?
We have a magnificent resource to analyse what can be done to develop talented players. Have our top players ever been asked for their opinions? English junior chess used to be the envy of the world. Of course this pinnacle could not be maintained, but all those involved are still available and are articulate. A thesis on the subject would have valuable implications beyond chess.
Stewart Reuben

Geoff Chandler
Posts: 1798
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:36 pm
Location: Under Cover
Contact:

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Geoff Chandler » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:25 pm

Edit 1.

Wow Stewart! (great minds thinking alike.)

I had just put this together on notepad and see
just a minute ago you posted something along the same lines.

----------------------------

Hi Mathew.

"What the ECF needs to do is develop a 'performance pathway'
for the top chess players. "


Totally Agree, but not from the players you listed.

Natural talent will surface and what worked for these great players
may not and often does not work for the average player.

I'd like to see the training program that players who were not
naturally gifted but worked hard at their game to got to IM level.

I think these players can tell us more than a gifted player.
if we can gel their methods then you will be on the right path.

One important thing is to discover why did they stayed with the game.

Where do chess players they go after showing so much promise?

Perhaps one idea is to knock up a simple questionnaire and email
the top male and female players that was posted elsewhere on this site
a few days ago.

Make one of the questions.

Did you ever consider giving up Chess?

a) If so Why?

b) And why did you stay?

There may be something in that one answer that everyone has missed
and if the reply to a) shows a common trait then there is something
to train our guns on.

3 Questions, no more, some of these guys/girls are busy.

The one listed, Favourite chess book, book to recommend to
a beginner.

(they are not allowed to recommend a book they have written) ;)

Get a wee team of three to shift through the answers, which will
be confidential. The solution to a) may be right under our noses.

Out of curiosity I'd like to see the top chosen books.
No need to give the names of who chose what.

Just an idea.

No need to read any further as I'm going on a wee ramble.

Of course it may be futile as my answer to:
Did you ever consider giving up Chess?
Would of course be never and I suspect many others would reply the same.

I gave up weekenders a long time ago because as much as I love the
game the thought of playing it all weekend does not appeal anymore.

Also it clashes with Hibs and the Orient away games north of York.

(Love the game - that's a laugh. I eat, sleep and breathe Chess.)

Matthew Turner
Posts: 2659
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 11:54 am

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Matthew Turner » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:27 pm

The ECB's approach is very much focused on the top achievers. They claim that the likes of Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara all have very similar development pathways and you can set milestones for elite performers.
The LTA's approach is slightly more confusing. They have similar milestones, so I think a 17 year old should typically play 14 tournaments a year, for instance. However, I think they also talk about academic achievement. The LTA National Academy is at Loughbororough, so it is also recognised that young tennis players must do well enough academically to get the grades to go to Loughborough. I assume this is an LTA approach because I wouldn't imagine that top tennis players from other countries go to University?
Andy Martin says the ECF doesn't have the money to get somebody to write a 'performance pathway' for top chess players - well maybe so, but I'm afraid if you want to have any chance of keeping government funding you have to talk the talk and 'performance pathways' are all the rage at the moment.

CliveHill
Posts: 40
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:08 pm

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by CliveHill » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:38 pm

Having once been a 'promising junior' who failed to become a master, my advice to a youngster (really a late teenager) would be

(a) play correspondence/internet turn-based chess, so that losing just becomes part of life and you don't get phased by it. [Play under a pseudonym if you don't want to be mocked for your blunders ;-)]

(b) if you can afford to take a 'gap year' and play full time for while, then do so. People advised me not to and I will always regret it.

I probably wasn't good enough to get a title, but as it is ... I shall never know ...

Having said all that, I'm far more inclined to say 'the game' and not 'the result' is the thing today!

Art for art's sake.

C

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

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Sep 01, 2010 5:42 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:'performance pathways' are all the rage at the moment.
It seems to change over time though. Back in the 1960s, it was necessary to go to university even as an amateur because if you started work at 18, you only got 2 weeks holiday a year. Keene, Hartston, Stean, Nunn, Speelman, Mestel all went down the "Oxbridge" route. At around the same time though, Tony Miles dropped out after one year and this seemed to set a trend that the "top" player went straight into professional chess at 18. Examples were Short, Adams and Sadler. Their contemporaries and junior rivals though like Hodgson and Norwood still went the university route. Later again, McShane and others returned to the university path. I'm not sure what the intentions of Gawain Jones and David Howell are.

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1287
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Leonard Barden » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:13 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:The ECB's approach is very much focused on the top achievers. They claim that the likes of Ponting, Tendulkar and Lara all have very similar development pathways and you can set milestones for elite performers.
The LTA's approach is slightly more confusing. They have similar milestones, so I think a 17 year old should typically play 14 tournaments a year, for instance. However, I think they also talk about academic achievement. The LTA National Academy is at Loughbororough, so it is also recognised that young tennis players must do well enough academically to get the grades to go to Loughborough. I assume this is an LTA approach because I wouldn't imagine that top tennis players from other countries go to University?
Andy Martin says the ECF doesn't have the money to get somebody to write a 'performance pathway' for top chess players - well maybe so, but I'm afraid if you want to have any chance of keeping government funding you have to talk the talk and 'performance pathways' are all the rage at the moment.
I think this is what we did in the 1970s, though the term performance pathway was not invented then.

English juniors then had a chart which gave expected rating levels every year from age 7 upwards needed to reach IM strength by the late teens. The best achieved figures for juniors at each year level were also on the chart. The top group were expected to play at least one team simul annually against a top GM (an idea modelled on the USSR in the 1930s), and received personal invitations and financial incentives to compete at Lloyds Bank (modelled on the top US event at Lone Pine) and in Lloyds Bank junior invtations. They were also expected to play in the strongest weekend opens (again often with direct invitation and financial incentives) and the Hastings challengers, and to try to qualify for the British championship. And of course junior selections went to the perceived all-round best candidates and not on the winners of a weak 5-round Swiss. There were direct financial incentives at the very top (the Slater GM awards and much later the Terence Chapman awards)
to encourage achieving international titles.

Obviously this is not an exact formula for 2010, but I believe the basic approach is still correct and would not need a large manpower and financial adninistrative budget. The real problem now is to create a more targeted approach by the Robinson and other junior trusts.

One item which I would definitely include now in a 2010 performance pathway and which has hardly been mentioned in the discussion above is for our top juniors to play regular online blitz on ICC or Playchess, the two sites with plenty of GM and IM opponents . It is absolutely obvious that many elite talents such as Karjakin, Giri, Le Quang Liem and So have honed their skills significantly online.

I don't see this currently emphasised to English juniors.

John Henderson, who is press officer for ICC, sometime ago offered to let me choose half a dozen English juniors who would be given free subscriptions to ICC. I didn't get round to doing anything about it but I guess that could be revived. I should also like to see our top juniors playing internet team matches against the US (on ICC) and Germany (on Playchess) which would offset another glaring weakness of the present system, the gross over-emphasis for England teams of all ages on matches against easy opposition from the other home countries. This in fact is quite negative as it encourages juniors to get an easy 'England international' tick on their CVs and then to drop out of chess early.

Richard Bates
Posts: 2699
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2008 8:27 pm

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Richard Bates » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:58 pm

I would suggest that the "mission statement" of the Junior Directorate (as found in the Business plan - http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... _09-10.pdf ) is notably lacking in any concrete measures of success to justify the activity taken.

Alex Holowczak
Posts: 8397
Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 5:18 pm
Location: Oldbury, Worcestershire
Contact:

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:03 pm

They may still be a bit young, but there are lots of players who were at KEFW while I was there who now play in League chess - I can name players who currently play for Warley Quinborne, Redditch, Rushall, Birmingham, Birmingham Checkmates, Shirley & Lucas. One is a budding arbiter, and helps out at most of the local events (not too keen on playing, but plays for the school). Another is desperate to do so, but parents are preventing him. We have one or two others who are quite promising who are yet to branch out into league chess, but are beginning to take interest in playing other competitions. I don't know if this interest will continue well into adulthood, but I think all it needs is a bit of enthusiasm, a daily student-led club, a few competitions, and you're well set. They don't attend junior clubs (despite me trying to get them to), yet KEFW seems to have done wonders in the last 5 years at getting people into the league.

I think another thing to guard against is a sense of entitlement. If parents take their children all over the country, chess doesn't quite become as interesting. Just another long trip to a tournament, taking up a few weeks of time. (This is the problem with the current excessive junior merry-go-round.) That's not an issue for some people, however. I've noticed that people who are prevented from playing as much as they would like by parents are far more keen to do things when they become adults, because they missed out on it while they were young. An opportunity to do something seems that much more exciting. Maybe modern children are just a bit spoilt? (He says, aged 20.)

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 6854
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:16 am

Roger de Coverly wrote: Later again, McShane and others returned to the university path. I'm not sure what the intentions of Gawain Jones and David Howell are.
Don't know about Gawain Jones, but there was a bit on a recent tournament website about Howell. From what I can remember, he seems to be in the middle of a year seeing whether he wants to turn professional or not.

This is what I said in the "NH Chess Tournament 2010" thread:

About deciding to go (fully) professional or not, I noticed the NH website has this for Howell:

http://www.nhchess.com/participants.html

"Of late Howell has been playing semi-professionally and he is still hesitating if he should put his money on chess or follow his friends who are studying at university. Perhaps the NH Tournament can help him to find an answer to this question."

This seems to be a perennial debate, but with Sadler having played a few tournaments recently, and McShane being more active again, it might be worth discussing. Obviously it is a personal decision at the end of the day, but what factors influence such decisions?

Possibly a subject for a new thread, though.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 6854
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:22 am

Leonard Barden wrote:One item which I would definitely include now in a 2010 performance pathway and which has hardly been mentioned in the discussion above is for our top juniors to play regular online blitz on ICC or Playchess, the two sites with plenty of GM and IM opponents . It is absolutely obvious that many elite talents such as Karjakin, Giri, Le Quang Liem and So have honed their skills significantly online.
As someone who got rather addicted to ICC and hasn't played there for ages (though I periodically consider returning), I would say that you might need to make sure some juniors don't get addicted to online chess! :shock: (Maybe that is just me though.) I do have the recent book on bullet chess by Nakamura, and that has good advice on when to switch off and do something else. I've also seen some people say that they might be better over the board if they played less online! As with anything, I suppose it is a question of balance and moderation.

Having said that, playing on ICC against top players must improve your chess in some way (well, if you are an improving junior, that is). What caught my interest here though was Leonard's comment that it is "absolutely obvious" that some named players have "honed their skills significantly online". Is this an observation from watching their play, or is it from knowing that they play online?

Locked