County Championship Consultation

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Neil Graham
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Neil Graham » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:28 pm

The consultation has now ended. Results are awaited.

Michael Flatt
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Michael Flatt » Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:45 pm

Neil Graham wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:28 pm
The consultation has now ended. Results are awaited.
I would expect there to be further consultation regarding any options or proposals for change that might result from analysis of the responses from the initial questionaire.

The Unions, who currently nominate counties for the ECF competitions, would obviously like to have an involvement in the decision making process.

Neil Graham
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Neil Graham » Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:08 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 2:45 pm
Neil Graham wrote:
Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:28 pm
The consultation has now ended. Results are awaited.
I would expect there to be further consultation regarding any options or proposals for change that might result from analysis of the responses from the initial questionaire.

The Unions, who currently nominate counties for the ECF competitions, would obviously like to have an involvement in the decision making process.
The proposals are now in a consultation paper here :- http://www.englishchess.org.uk/county-c ... ond-stage/.
Unfortunately I am away for the New Year so I can't give a long and reasoned reply at the moment but my initial reaction is to misquote Dorothy Parker and say "these proposals should not be tossed lightly aside; they should be thrown with great force."

However let us deal very quickly with Proposal 4A which is one that should be firmly chucked into the long grass

In the Open section, the 16-player teams must include the following:
- At least 1 female player
- At least 1 Under 18 boy
- At least 1 Under 18 girl
- At least 1 Under 11 player


Proposal 4B is relatively the same sort of thing. i've just been watching Man Untd v Southampton on the television. Imagine if you said to a football manager - you can include your 12 best players but as well you must have three players who are juniors, one must be a girl and another aged Under 11. In the past the BCF had a similar rule where each county team had to have a woman player - it was swiftly thrown out. As a county match secretary I select the best team available; this includes girls, juniors, seniors etc based on their chess playing ability. All my teams are based on grading & ability without reference to discriminate in favour of any specific age group/sex etc. That is how it should be.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Dec 30, 2017 10:25 pm

Neil Graham wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:08 pm

However let us deal very quickly with Proposal 4A which is one that should be firmly chucked into the long grass

In the Open section, the 16-player teams must include the following:
- At least 1 female player
- At least 1 Under 18 boy
- At least 1 Under 18 girl
- At least 1 Under 11 player
It's all very well copying elements of the 4NCL in having some team places restricted. What makes it work in the 4NCL is that there are no restrictions on recruitment. That's quite different in county chess. The consultation is completely silent on whether eligibility rules would be relaxed, but assuming they aren't, they represent an excellent excuse for counties to say "can't be bothered" in terms of organising teams.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:14 pm

"All my teams are based on grading & ability without reference to discriminate in favour of any specific age group/sex etc. That is how it should be."

Absolutely. The proposal is completely insane. If it actually becomes the rule, I suppose there are three choices, (a) ignore it and play the 16 best players, (b) stop playing, or (c) demand that each team must also have a "differently abled" player, someone of ethnic minority background, a transgender player and a cyborg.

NickFaulks
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by NickFaulks » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:25 pm

In any case, what is the point? By promoting a player to the Open team, for which they would not otherwise qualify, aren't you just taking them out of the grading restricted team for which they would?
Last edited by NickFaulks on Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

David Sedgwick
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:11 am

Important as the above discussion is, the paper contains even more damaging proposals.

One of the key reasons for the formation of the BCF in 1904 was to facilitate competition amongst the Champion Counties of each Union. The resulting model - Union Championships serving as qualifying competitions for National Stages - has served the BCF / ECF extremely well for 114 years.

I didn't take part in the initial consultation, as I always suspected that its purpose was to provide a fig leaf for a predetermined agenda, that agenda being the abandonment of that model and the destruction of the Union Championships.

This paper confirms my worst fears.

The ECF Council of a decade ago would have thrown these proposals out resoundingly. Whether that still happens will be an acid test of the Council of today.

The Union Championships will survive anyway, of course. It will be the ECF Counties Championships which will end up being destroyed if these proposals are adopted.

There is one important respect in which even the rejection of the proposals must not be the end of the matter. The whole episode demonstrates the need to transfer responsibility for the National Stages away from the Director of Home Chess and into the hands of a Committee of the five Unions.

Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:22 am

Suppose it were the case that only a tiny proportion of adult chess players were women. Suppose, too, that there was a worrying shortage of young adults of either sex playing the game. Suppose further that you suspected county chess captains were mostly old blokes picking their teams from a contact list of mostly old blokes and no women. Finally, suppose you had a national federation committed to increasing participation, particularly among women. Surely, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the national federation sought to reform county chess along the lines being suggested.

Personally, I think introducing four separate quotas at the same time is too much. Perhaps a requirement to have at least one female player and one junior would be enough to start with? Even then, I can’t help wondering how easy it would be to persuade a female player to travel hundreds of miles in a car to join fifteen male (probably) chess players to play one game of chess in a drab social centre in Wolverhampton. That describes my last county game several years ago (except that I’m an old bloke). It’s an experience I shall never repeat.

Neil Graham
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Neil Graham » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:28 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:11 am
Important as the above discussion is, the paper contains even more damaging proposals.

One of the key reasons for the formation of the BCF in 1904 was to facilitate competition amongst the Champion Counties of each Union. The resulting model - Union Championships serving as qualifying competitions for National Stages - has served the BCF / ECF extremely well for 114 years.

I didn't take part in the initial consultation, as I always suspected that its purpose was to provide a fig leaf for a predetermined agenda, that agenda being the abandonment of that model and the destruction of the Union Championships.

This paper confirms my worst fears.

The ECF Council of a decade ago would have thrown these proposals out resoundingly. Whether that still happens will be an acid test of the Council of today.

The Union Championships will survive anyway, of course. It will be the ECF Counties Championships which will end up being destroyed if these proposals are adopted.

There is one important respect in which even the rejection of the proposals must not be the end of the matter. The whole episode demonstrates the need to transfer responsibility for the National Stages away from the Director of Home Chess and into the hands of a Committee of the five Unions.
Briefly I am sure that I will agree with David's sentiments above once I have thoroughly read and digested the document. Unfortunately as I will be off-line for a few days I didn't have time to construct a full rundown of all the proposals presented in the consultation paper. I anticipate there will be plenty of comment whilst I'm away. In respect of proposal 4A which I opened with; it's the easiest one to refute.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:53 am

Brendan O'Gorman wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:22 am
Finally, suppose you had a national federation committed to increasing participation, particularly among women. Surely, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the national federation sought to reform county chess along the lines being suggested.
That's all very well, but it's in the context of obsolete eligibility requirements where the resources and notional player availability to individual counties is by no means equal.

With a clean sheet, it's how do you want to organise weekend team chess, if at all.

Some years ago the 4NCL dropped from having 36 teams of 8 boards to 32 teams, in both cases with restricted boards. The expansion since then has been in unrestricted 6 board teams.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by MartinCarpenter » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:10 am

A perhaps minor point of pedantry regarding motion 3A - the idea seems very sensible to me but you surely wouldn’t want to go from U180 to Average 180?

Its quite an upgrade strengthwise - the two teams in the 2016-17 final were <170 average over 16 boards. 175 if it dropped to 12 boards perhaps.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:30 am

Bear in mind too the scenario, that the captain of a lower team might have lovingly constructed a team based as demanded in 4a. The first team captain rings up at noon on the match day, "My under-11 has scabies, and the female player has to play football - I'm taking your under-11 and the female." County match captains will recognise this (general) scenario...

The rule won't encourage participation as there will be loads of defaults, at which point the people winning on default won't play either. Assuming the people making these suggestions weren't doing it as a joke to see if anyone were crazy enough to take it seriously, can we identify them and dispose of them in an environmentally safe way?

Michael Flatt
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Michael Flatt » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:42 am

As David has pointed no member of the ECF board nor any of its officers have any authority over the organisation and running of the individual Union Championships - that doesn't seem to have been taken into account by the current review of the National Championships.

The current committee overseeing the 'consultation', as far as I am aware, only has a single member - that might be very efficient in terms of decision making but it does exclude the possibility of reasoned debate.

A better process might be to delegate the task to a properly constituted working party to discuss the results of the poll, determine what needs to change (if anything) and make recommendations.

The ECF Finance Meeting should focus on finance and not be distracted by a time consuming discussion on the future of the County Championships.

Mick Norris
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:52 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:11 am
The ECF Council of a decade ago would have thrown these proposals out resoundingly. Whether that still happens will be an acid test of the Council of today.

The Union Championships will survive anyway, of course. It will be the ECF Counties Championships which will end up being destroyed if these proposals are adopted.

There is one important respect in which even the rejection of the proposals must not be the end of the matter. The whole episode demonstrates the need to transfer responsibility for the National Stages away from the Director of Home Chess and into the hands of a Committee of the five Unions.
Well, Council has a few choices, such as voting down (all or some of) the proposals, or voting Alex out of his job as DoHC, but (re)electing him and complaining when he comes up with new ideas doesn't necessarily seem sensible

Council might think that DoHC is too big a remit for 1 person to do properly, and either reallocate part of the job to others, or require more managers appointed for specific tasks

As for the Unions, well my experience is there are some good people who would do a good job on your suggested Committee, but there are also some awful ones who wouldn't; the other issue is if the MCCU (representative perhaps Neil) and SCCU (perhaps you David) got outvoted by the other 3 Unions, I can't see either of you being happy

Lots of people think the ECF County Championships need changing, but I'm not sure there is going to be a consensus on change
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Alex Holowczak
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:41 pm

I first read some of this before leaving a hotel room, and I'm now writing his response on the train home. So this isn't a knee-jerk reaction.

On the point of gender-restricted rules, if you dig out some of my early Forum posts, you will find me largely expressing the same views as are being expressed here on the matter in regard to the 4NCL. However, my views have changed over the years. Why? Well, Brendan explained that as well as I could:
Brendan O'Gorman wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:22 am
Suppose it were the case that only a tiny proportion of adult chess players were women. Suppose, too, that there was a worrying shortage of young adults of either sex playing the game. Suppose further that you suspected county chess captains were mostly old blokes picking their teams from a contact list of mostly old blokes and no women. Finally, suppose you had a national federation committed to increasing participation, particularly among women. Surely, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the national federation sought to reform county chess along the lines being suggested.
England lags significantly behind other countries with regard to women's chess and junior chess. We expect to be behind eastern Europe, and countries with large amounts of government support. But we also lag significantly behind countries with whom we have the resources to compete with. This suggests we are not doing enough in these areas, and we need ways to improve that. The proposals in 4 are my best shot at doing something to address that problem, based on formulas that are used in other countries to increase participation in these areas. If you disagree with them, then that's fine. Those who are clearly against it - what are your alternative proposals to deal with the fundamental problem English chess has of female participation and juniors remaining involved in adult chess?
NickFaulks wrote:
Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:25 pm
In any case, what is the point? By promoting a player to the Open team, for which they would not otherwise qualify, aren't you jist taking them out of the grading restricted team for which they would?
They aren't playing at the moment, so it isn't a case of pulling them from a lower-graded team. They're just not playing in the event at all. But they play in the 4NCL when asked. So I think the problem is that they're just not asked. So why not have a rule that encourages captains to ask the question?
David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:11 am
One of the key reasons for the formation of the BCF in 1904 was to facilitate competition amongst the Champion Counties of each Union. The resulting model - Union Championships serving as qualifying competitions for National Stages - has served the BCF / ECF extremely well for 114 years.
Has it, though? The numbers of teams participating, at least outside the SCCU, has been declining. One of the reasons for this, which came through in the results, was the distance to travel. In the SCCU, that's no problem. But Worcestershire v Lincolnshire? Greater Manchester v Wawickshire? Devon v Gloucestershire? If there were smaller regional units, even if they cut across Union lines, would that help solve the problem? I don't know. That's why we've asked.
David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:11 am
I didn't take part in the initial consultation, as I always suspected that its purpose was to provide a fig leaf for a predetermined agenda, that agenda being the abandonment of that model and the destruction of the Union Championships.

This paper confirms my worst fears.
I'm all too acutely aware that I have the perception of having a pre-determined agenda, so I went to great lengths not to be perceived to do that this time. Many of the proposals in this paper aren't even mine, and I am actually against a few of them myself. I worked very closely with Mike Truran and others. I ran the initial questionnaire past some vocal county captains to make sure we were asking the right things, and updated it as a result.

By all means question the value of the proposals, but to question my integrity in the process? Shame on you, David. I realise it's not quite New Year yet, but it seems like your resolution to be nicer to people in Forum posts hasn't quite kicked in yet.
Michael Flatt wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:42 am
As David has pointed no member of the ECF board nor any of its officers have any authority over the organisation and running of the individual Union Championships - that doesn't seem to have been taken into account by the current review of the National Championships.

The current committee overseeing the 'consultation', as far as I am aware, only has a single member - that might be very efficient in terms of decision making but it does exclude the possibility of reasoned debate.

A better process might be to delegate the task to a properly constituted working party to discuss the results of the poll, determine what needs to change (if anything) and make recommendations.
There are many inaccuracies in this post, which I will try to talk about here.

Firstly, it has been taken into consideration - the paper refers to the Unions being able to run their competitions as they do now. They've no need to adopt the ECF rules at all if they don't want to. They'll have complete independence. This is actually partly driven by the consultation responses, which said this is precisely what they wanted.

As explained earlier in this lengthy post, I consulted a number of county captains and board members when putting the first questionnaire together, to make sure we were asking the right things.

I then wrote a paper with the results, which I analysed during the London Chess Classic. I invited Jack Rudd and Tom Thorpe to help me with interpreting the results, on the grounds that they're academically well-suited to that task, but I confess more pertinently, they were staying with me in London. Having done that, I presented a results analysis paper to the Board, who modified the proposals in places based on the data and conclusions presented. I then took that paper and turned it into the document you see on the website. I've undoubtedly led on it, but that's my job - to say I've been a one-man band doing everything is simply wrong. The process was just fine in my opinion - in fact, I regard it as one of most collaborative things I've tried to do in my time in chess administration.
Mick Norris wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:52 am
Well, Council has a few choices, such as voting down (all or some of) the proposals, or voting Alex out of his job as DoHC, but (re)electing him and complaining when he comes up with new ideas doesn't necessarily seem sensible
Or call a motion of no confidence in me, I suppose. I first thought about the wisdom of Council electing someone who comes up with ideas and then insulting me for coming up with them when it happened back in 2014, and not much has changed since.
Mick Norris wrote:
Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:52 am
Council might think that DoHC is too big a remit for 1 person to do properly, and either reallocate part of the job to others, or require more managers appointed for specific tasks
It's not really the point of this thread, but the DoJC Directorship is much, much bigger. It's done by someone in full-time employment who has even less time than me. Yet no one has ever suggested that should be split up.

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