Certificate of Merit

Questions and Support regarding the Certificate of Merit.
Matthew Turner
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Matthew Turner » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:14 pm

Richard James wrote
"The earlier a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to become a GM.
The later a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to continue playing as an adult."

I think the second statement is undeniably true, but I'm not sure about the first. For example, there were three players equal first at the Terra-Final, Felix Ynojosa, James Adair and Martin Brown, all three of whom I think have the potential to become at least IM's. James started at 12 and I believe Martin was also a late starter.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Adam Raoof » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:15 pm

Richard James wrote:The earlier a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to become a GM. The later a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to continue playing as an adult.

To take an example (I hope he doesn't mind my mentioning him in this context): Alex Holowczak is a very enthusiastic player, organiser and member of this forum. It's really great that young people are getting involved in this way. But, to the best of my knowledge (his first published grade was in 2006) he only started playing competitively in his mid teens, just as I did many years ago.
I was another late starter, though I would say that I learned the moves much earlier. I think this is more of a factor in ability than when a player starts competing in tournaments. I wonder when Felix et al learned?

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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Daniel Young » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:31 pm

At my secondary school, most players who enter the school with an interest in chess lose it rather quickly even if they are reliable and capable players at first. People like me, who take up the game part-way through secondary school, are frequently those who maintain their interest, as has been noted before. BUT - our very strongest players are without exception the few pre-secondary players who stick with it.

In response to Adam's point, I too learned the moves way earlier, but the improvement I made, if any, in the 7 years between learning how to play and actually starting to play competitively was negligible, even though I was a regular casual player throughout most of this period.

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Rob Thompson
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Rob Thompson » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:46 pm

James Adair hadn't even learnt the moves before age 12. What is noticeable is that many of the players who started early in my age group (i simply don't know the others well enough to comment), such as George O-Toole, for example, are now no stronger than some of those who started later (James Adair, George Salembeni, Martin Brown et al).

Starting early may help, but it is not enough on it's own to produce anything special.

Of those playing in my school, the top players all played at primary school. The same primary school, as it turns out. I think this has had a massive effect on how strong we all became - from a team of a school with only approx. 150 students in total, 4 of the 6 still play (173 @ 17, 167 @ 17, 159 @ 15, 157@14). I think having the two older players who were strong helped the others, and that it was a case of success breeding success. I wonder if this can be applied to RJCC.

Personally, i learnt the moves aged 4 or 5. I started playing in local junior events aged 8, and in adult events aged 10, at around the same time i started playing in national junior events. I'm now 173, aged 17. If i really worked at it, i could probably become an IM, but that would take me practically devoting my life to the game - something i'm not prepared to do at this time. I don't think i could reach GM standard, and certainly couldn't go over 2600.
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:34 pm

Richard James wrote:While I agree with much of what has been said here about improving facilities for our leading young players, I think it misses the main point.

I believe the main focus of junior chess policy should be to ensure that as many children as possible continue to enjoy chess throughout their lives, regardless of the level they reach.

Yes, we need GMs and IMs, but we also need average players. We need them to be club secretaries, treasurers and match captains, to be organisers, controllers, arbiters and graders, to teach their children and grandchildren to play, to teach other people's children to play, to take part in tournaments so that the prize funds will encourage GMs and IMs to continue playing.

Is it better to produce someone who becomes a GM at 18 and then stops playing because there's no money in the game, or someone who spends 60 years enjoying his games for his local club and in local competitions while never being graded above 150? I'm pleased that RJCC produced GMs like Luke McShane and IMs like Richard Bates, but I'm if anything even more pleased that someone like Christopher Kreuzer is continuing to play and enjoy chess even though he hasn't quite (yet) reached such exalted levels. Nurturing the apex of the pyramid is all well and good, but without a solid base the whole edifice will collapse.

Perhaps we have our priorities completely wrong.

Consider this (based on watching children's chess development over the past 40 years):

The earlier a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to become a GM.
The later a child starts playing competitive chess the more likely (s)he is to continue playing as an adult.

To take an example (I hope he doesn't mind my mentioning him in this context): Alex Holowczak is a very enthusiastic player, organiser and member of this forum. It's really great that young people are getting involved in this way. But, to the best of my knowledge (his first published grade was in 2006) he only started playing competitively in his mid teens, just as I did many years ago.
I agree with everything Richard writes here.

I learnt the moves (incorrectly) from my cousin aged 10; I'd played draughts against my Mum quite often as a child, but never chess. I remember my draughts set had a chess set with it, and always wondered how you played the game with the pieces we never used. Then, I remember getting a book about it as a Christmas present, written by Bill Hartston. I learnt the moves, and played through the games in the back. Never quite understood them, but played through them anyway. I remember discovering my school had a chess club in its calendar, which listed it as a daily activity. The problem was that it was located in the Sixth Form centre, which was strictly out of bounds. In the end though, I found it, and was allowed in along with the others. I then realised I was actually pretty decent, at least, relative to the others. It was a lot of fun; there were always good people to play against (relative to me), and I slowly improved. Eventually, the Sixth Formers left, and they chose me to be the captain. So I started organising in-school competitions etc. I played two tournaments in 2006, but stopped because it was quite boring; often there was no one else there I knew. I only played the UKCC.

Then, I left school, didn't play tournaments, and my University didn't have a chess society. I guess this is the stage where people give up at 18. I tried unsuccessfully to start a chess society in my first year. During this time, I was teaching a beginner from my old school, who was on a gap year, and became decent enough to play in tournaments and not score 0. Because of this, I started playing tournaments again, and was able to encourage others from my old school to come along too. I then found out about the Birmingham League. Until then, I had no idea this thing called league chess existed. Anyway, eventually the aforementioned person on a gap year left for University. At this point, I tried to set up a chess society at Aston, which stuck this time. They asked if there was some sort of inter-University competition. I said no. So, I set one up with a bit of help from some of the people on here.

And here we are today. :D

The fact I play chess can be accredited to the fact that I was given a draughts set as a present while young, which had a chess game thrown in that was always left in the bottom of the box. In the end, curiosity got the better of me. But I probably would have given up at 18 had it not been for my interest in organising things, otherwise I wouldn't have had anything to play in, and I'd be another person in the "people who give up at 18" statistic.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:02 am

Richard James wrote:I believe the main focus of junior chess policy should be to ensure that as many children as possible continue to enjoy chess throughout their lives, regardless of the level they reach.

Yes, we need GMs and IMs, but we also need average players. We need them to be club secretaries, treasurers and match captains, to be organisers, controllers, arbiters and graders, to teach their children and grandchildren to play, to teach other people's children to play, to take part in tournaments so that the prize funds will encourage GMs and IMs to continue playing
I agree absolutely that the aim should be for "as many children as possible [to] continue to enjoy chess throughout their lives, regardless of the level they reach". That isn't always visible, though. Many will continue to follow chess and still consider themselves chess players, even if they aren't actively playing for clubs or playing OTB chess.
Richard James wrote:Is it better to produce someone who becomes a GM at 18 and then stops playing because there's no money in the game, or someone who spends 60 years enjoying his games for his local club and in local competitions while never being graded above 150? I'm pleased that RJCC produced GMs like Luke McShane and IMs like Richard Bates, but I'm if anything even more pleased that someone like Christopher Kreuzer is continuing to play and enjoy chess even though he hasn't quite (yet) reached such exalted levels. Nurturing the apex of the pyramid is all well and good, but without a solid base the whole edifice will collapse.
I suppose a lot of it is getting the information across and finding out why people stop playing chess. How many of the people who stop playing chess do so because they are not aware of the possibilities for playing chess, and how many do so because they make a conscious decision to stop, or drift away, or are too busy with other things? There have been times when I've considered reducing the amount of chess I play, or redirecting the times spent on chess towards other things. I suspect that "being unable to find the time to play and play well" would be one of the major reasons people drift away from the game. And returning to the game, a common reason might be "a lifestyle change left me with more time for chess so I started playing again".

How much provision does the ECF make for part-time players as opposed to very active players?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:06 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:I tried unsuccessfully to start a chess society in my first year. During this time, I was teaching a beginner from my old school
Both this comment and one by Richard (James) has made me realise that I don't think I've ever taught anyone the moves of chess, or tried to help them improve their game (other than in the form "you did this wrong and that's why I won the game"). Which is pretty bad when you think about it. How many people here actively try and encourage others to improve their games, or even teach newcomers the moves, or are most chess players only concerned about improving their own results!? :?

Sean Hewitt

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Sean Hewitt » Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:51 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:I tried unsuccessfully to start a chess society in my first year. During this time, I was teaching a beginner from my old school
Both this comment and one by Richard (James) has made me realise that I don't think I've ever taught anyone the moves of chess, or tried to help them improve their game (other than in the form "you did this wrong and that's why I won the game"). Which is pretty bad when you think about it. How many people here actively try and encourage others to improve their games, or even teach newcomers the moves, or are most chess players only concerned about improving their own results!? :?
I have taught my partner how to play. It has nearly led to divorce on more than one occassion :lol:

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:57 pm

The latest ECF Council and Board documents are here:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=897

The Finance Director Report details:

"The accounts include £10,564 of Certificate of Merit development costs, which have been capitalised."

Is this a more accurate cost and if so how much has now recovered in sales?

One for the DoM this one :!:
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Alex Holowczak » Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:36 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:The latest ECF Council and Board documents are here:

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/?page_id=897

The Finance Director Report details:

"The accounts include £10,564 of Certificate of Merit development costs, which have been capitalised."

Is this a more accurate cost and if so how much has now recovered in sales?

One for the DoM this one :!:
I downloaded the Finance Director's report.

I see:
Income 9,462
Expenditure 2,955

So that suggests £6,507 of that has been made back.

Edit: I hadn't read quite as much of that report as you had!

Matthew Turner
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Matthew Turner » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:08 am

NOTE P CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

INCOME
Sponsorship 8,696 -
Sales 766 -

So that is less than 130 exams so far. LV don't seem have got good value for their money.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sat Sep 18, 2010 7:54 am

Matthew Turner wrote:NOTE P CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

INCOME
Sponsorship 8,696 -
Sales 766 -

So that is less than 130 exams so far. LV don't seem have got good value for their money.
I presume you have to take off the mentioned stock purchases of £416 from that £766 as well :o
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Sep 18, 2010 8:55 am

These accounts are only up until April 30 though. I can't recall how developed CoM was by then, but it's likely that level 2 and 3 didn't exist in full, and that they hadn't been marketed at all.

Sean Hewitt

Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:31 am

There are two figures that matter here, and a third which is not available in the accounts but hopefully will be at council

Costs £10,564. That's how much it cost to put the thing together (forget the capitalisation, that's just accountancy). It does not seem unreasonable to me.

Sales £766. That's to 30 April of course. One would expect it to take time for sales to get going so this figure is fine.

The key figure is sales 1 May - 30 September. I hope this figure will be available at council. If it's £1000 plus then things are on track.

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Re: Certificate of Merit

Post by John Upham » Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:07 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:These accounts are only up until April 30 though. I can't recall how developed CoM was by then, but it's likely that level 2 and 3 didn't exist in full, and that they hadn't been marketed at all.

CoM was launched on the 4th of March, 2010 with Level One only available.

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