2010/11 Championship

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Ian Kingston
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Ian Kingston » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:13 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Ian Kingston wrote:County chess is slowly fading away in these parts.
That's also a slightly negative gloss!

It is true that counties struggle with the higher teams but the same is not true at other levels (U120, U140 and to a lesser extent U160). This is not a surprise because each of these bandings (100-119 ; 120-139 ; 140-159) contains more players than the higher bands (160-179 and 180+) do. Only populous counties such as Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Yorks, Lancs and the Southern Counties can hope to field full teams in the higher grading bands.
Well, I did say 'slowly'!

I think there are players who want to play, but relatively few people who are willing to go through the tedious and painful process of assembling a team, organising transport and finding a venue. And as the pool of players dwindles, the number of potential captains falls at the same time as the difficulty of finding players rises. I wouldn't be surprised to see the MCCU U160 follow the U180 into near extinction over the next decade. I hope I'm wrong.
Adam Raoof wrote:Is the problem with the lack of available volunteers to take on the organisational jobs such as Captain? Or, dare I suggest it, is it something that the ECF can do something about?!

If it is, I'm really open to suggestions.
I think that's a large part of it - see above, which I wrote before I saw your reply. Some people are organisers by temperament; some do it because no one else will, but would rather not; and most (probably the majority) are either unwilling or incapable. The middle category is the one to target: if you make it easier for them, the chances of more people coming forward are increased. Quite how to do that I don't know.

LozCooper

Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by LozCooper » Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:58 pm

I can imagine it is hard to field both an open and an U180 team as a lot of midland counties would field several under 180 players in their open team. In several cases it may be choosing one or the other.

I grew up regarding Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire as strong East Midland counties and Staffordshire were arguably the third strongest county in the West Midland section behind G Manchester & Warwickshire. Thankfully, with David Anderton as captain, we are enjoying a successful spell where we are fiedling some of our strongest teams in recent times and that combined with the other midland teams appearing to field below strength teams means we are regularly qualifying for the national stages whereas in the past we would have had to first finish above either Manchester or Warwickshire and then beat either Notts or Leics to make it to the national stages.

Mick Norris
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:02 pm

Adam Raoof wrote:Is the problem with the lack of available volunteers to take on the organisational jobs such as Captain? Or, dare I suggest it, is it something that the ECF can do something about?!

If it is, I'm really open to suggestions.
Partly, and yes

You could try and survey the counties (although whether at the level of individual players, captains or county presidents is a good question) and see what they actually want

I would have thought the most obvious place to start to make changes would be the Minor Counties - get entry to this restricted to those counties with less than x players (decide what x should be) so that you can't have a "major" county having a bad season in Open qualifying and being allowed to compete at Minor level

Leave the Open as it is

For the grading limited sections, you need to decide whether to stick with (mostly) 16 boards, or reduce to, say, 12 to allow smaller counties more chance of fielding teams

Then you decide how many grading bands you can realistically support - Sean's breakdown of number of players is most useful here

Then allocate the players equally to the bands

You might end up with U170, U150, U130, U110 plus Open and Minor

The bigger counties are always favoured, but good organisation and team spirit can win out as Neil Graham from Notts has often said
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: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Feb 14, 2011 2:06 pm

The problem is getting this to work nationally. While the MCCU et al might have problems with the grade boundaries and team size, the SCCU probably cope adequately. Arguably, Surrey and Kent, for instance, could probably have a 40-board match between themselves and everyone would still be above 150.

Perhaps, to appease the SCCU in this case, the Minor counties could also be open to county 2nd teams? Obviously rules would have to be drawn up about who can play for each team, but it might solve a problem with a further reduction in team size.

Mick Norris
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:09 pm

A national championship should be designed for the majority, and you only have to look at entries from non-SCCU teams, and look at the Union qualifiers to see where the problems are
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Mick Norris
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:24 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:Perhaps, to appease the SCCU in this case, the Minor counties could also be open to county 2nd teams? Obviously rules would have to be drawn up about who can play for each team, but it might solve a problem with a further reduction in team size.
Why?

The SCCU Open section has 6 teams - the top 3 qualify for the nationals in the Open and a further 2 for the Minor

The NCCU has 2, both qualify for the Open, leaving no-one for the Minor (although any of Cheshire/NW, Northumberland, Durham, Merseyside, Cumbria, Cleveland could simply ask and be entered into either of the 2 spaces available)

The MCCU has 8 teams in 2 divisions, of which 3 qualify for the Open and 2 for the Minor

The WECU don't enter the Open, but put 2 in the Minor from the 5 teams competing

The EACU have 4 teams competing, for 1 Open place and the 2 Minor places

If you kept Major counties out of the Minor, maybe some of the other counties would enter? At least, they would have a better chance if they did

If you changed the Minor entry rules to match those of other sections, then maybe the WECU and MCCU could have an extra team in the Minor (and maybe the MCCU one less in the Open, as G Man have qualified this year due to Notts withdrawal only)
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: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Mick Norris wrote:Why?
Because the team size will eliminate 25% of the players who the SCCU could cope with fielding.

At the moment, the Minor is defined as a county whose average team grade is under 180 (I think). So does it really matter what the name of the county is (and whether it's major or minor) so long as they fulfill that description?

Mick Norris
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:07 pm

Team size? You are currently looking at 16 boards for the Minor Counties

Yes, the MC is U180 average, but the bigger counties, as has been shown in recent years, can field better teams - if you want the smaller counties to compete, then give them a chance

It is only 1 of half a dozen sections that we are talking about
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:39 pm

Mick Norris wrote:Team size? You are currently looking at 16 boards for the Minor Counties
Yes. You mentioned cutting the team size for the graded only sections. I misread this and thought you meant all of them!
Mick Norris wrote:Yes, the MC is U180 average, but the bigger counties, as has been shown in recent years, can field better teams - if you want the smaller counties to compete, then give them a chance
You could also lower the average to, say, 160.

I think the only problem - if one exists at all - is that there are too many sections without counties to fill them. The SCCU needs all the sections whereas the rest of us perhaps don't.

When the grades were realigned, maybe the sections should have been kept to the same limits, to allow for the general drop off in chess that had occured since the 1980s and 1990s, when the sections were probably much fuller.

LozCooper

Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by LozCooper » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:57 pm

When Staffordshire won the County Championship almost 20 years ago they had to play 9 matches; 4 group games, midland semi & final, then national q/f, s/f and final. This year we can only play a maximum of five matches even if we get to the final with the third match of the season being in mid May.

I'm not sure what the desirable number of teams in the qualifying group is but I would suggest a minimum of four and a maximum of six. It remains to be seen in the future if we end up with one big qualifying group in the Midlands or two small(ish) ones.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Carl Hibbard » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:21 pm

LozCooper wrote:When Staffordshire won the County Championship almost 20 years ago they had to play 9 matches; 4 group games, midland semi & final, then national q/f, s/f and final. This year we can only play a maximum of five matches even if we get to the final with the third match of the season being in mid May.
Nice to see "us" giving Warwickshire a kicking :!:
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Brian Valentine
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Brian Valentine » Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:44 pm

The Minor County Championship might have a flaw in that "Major" counties can field an elible team fine tuned to meet the average grading limit, but I don't see it being dominated by such counties. This century it has been won by Norfolk 4 times, Herts 3 times, Bedfordshire twice, Staffordshire and Suffolk.

Now at present Bedfordshire has 31 active players on the ECF grading list, but I guess there must be about 70 in the pool. We are expecting to qualify for the final stages this year (the only way we can't is by qualifying for the open!). Although we normally don't, we are capable of beating all the others apart from Staffordshire (as Loz has said, these guys have won the open in the past).

Now the inclusion of Kent and Middlesex in the last two finals suggests something might be amiss, but there is absolutely no reason why other small counties couldn't have a go at the Minor. I fail to see how any such county can be put off by the standard of the other regional qualifiers. I think the problem is more likely to be the other reasons (geographic, finding organisers etc) than anything to do with the current qualifying criteria.

David Sedgwick
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by David Sedgwick » Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:11 pm

I hadn't intended to respond to yet another thread seeking to hold the ECF responsible for problems with the Counties Championships of individual Unions. However, certain of the points raised call for a reply.

One should never have a closed mind about suggestions made in good faith with a view to improving a competition. However, I've seen little new in this thread. Some of the ideas (eg restricting eligibility for the Minor Counties Championships to certain counties) have been tried and found wanting compared with what we have now.

The primary responsibility of the ECF is for the National Stages. I have not always been Cyril Johnson's greatest supporter, but the reforms he initiated in October 2008 have resulted over the last couple of years in our experiencing a fair, representative, challenging and worthwhile competition in all seven Divisions. That's no mean achievement at the time of an expanding 4NCL and a marked contrast to the situation that pertains in the National Club Championships.

Alex Holowczak wrote:When the grades were realigned, maybe the sections should have been kept to the same limits, to allow for the general drop off in chess that had occured since the 1980s and 1990s, when the sections were probably much fuller.
That was precisely what the MCCU suggested at the April 2009 Council Meeting. The idea was substantially defeated, not least because several MCCU counties did not concur with the official policy of their Union.


Sean Hewitt wrote: Availability of captains may be a problem for some but the fundamental problem is a simple matter of availability of players within each band. We have 6 grading bands, with the number of players currently graded in that band shown below

Open (180+) : 1048
U180 (179-160) : 1318
U160 (159-140) : 1989
U140 (139-120) : 2146
U120 (119-100) : 1767
U100 (99-) : 1801 with a disproportionately large ratio of juniors

Ideally, one would want the bandings to be approximately the same size in terms of numbers of players. Whilst the situation remains as is, where the Open and U180 bands combined are only marginally bigger than the U140 band, only large counties will be able to field full, competitive teams in those bands with the fewest players.
It's well known that stronger players tend to be more active. That's why we have the U180 Division as an addition to the general pattern.

If you want to try to persuade Council to abolish that Division, then go ahead. If you were to succeed, you wouldn't affect the SCCU very much; the SCCU U180 Division would almost certainly continue. You would, however, deprive the last two national champions, Yorkshire and Warwickshire, of the chance to repeat their successes.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Feb 15, 2011 12:30 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:When the grades were realigned, maybe the sections should have been kept to the same limits, to allow for the general drop off in chess that had occured since the 1980s and 1990s, when the sections were probably much fuller.
That was precisely what the MCCU suggested at the April 2009 Council Meeting. The idea was substantially defeated, not least because several MCCU counties did not concur with the official policy of their Union.
Before my time. :wink:

Sean Hewitt

Re: 2010/11 Championship

Post by Sean Hewitt » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:13 am

David Sedgwick wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:When the grades were realigned, maybe the sections should have been kept to the same limits, to allow for the general drop off in chess that had occured since the 1980s and 1990s, when the sections were probably much fuller.
That was precisely what the MCCU suggested at the April 2009 Council Meeting. The idea was substantially defeated, not least because several MCCU counties did not concur with the official policy of their Union.
David is partially right. The motion was defeated in part because MCCU county representatives voted against the MCCU proposal - though I think it would have been lost in any case. However, one can't say that the MCCU counties were against the proposal as the county captains (all of whom were surveyed before the proposal was made) were unanimously in favour of the proposal! Two of the county reps I spoke to afterwards were completely unaware of their own captains views. It just goes to show that ECF reps don't consult their membership.


David Sedgwick wrote:
Sean Hewitt wrote: Availability of captains may be a problem for some but the fundamental problem is a simple matter of availability of players within each band. We have 6 grading bands, with the number of players currently graded in that band shown below

Open (180+) : 1048
U180 (179-160) : 1318
U160 (159-140) : 1989
U140 (139-120) : 2146
U120 (119-100) : 1767
U100 (99-) : 1801 with a disproportionately large ratio of juniors

Ideally, one would want the bandings to be approximately the same size in terms of numbers of players. Whilst the situation remains as is, where the Open and U180 bands combined are only marginally bigger than the U140 band, only large counties will be able to field full, competitive teams in those bands with the fewest players.
It's well known that stronger players tend to be more active. That's why we have the U180 Division as an addition to the general pattern.

If you want to try to persuade Council to abolish that Division, then go ahead. If you were to succeed, you wouldn't affect the SCCU very much; the SCCU U180 Division would almost certainly continue. You would, however, deprive the last two national champions, Yorkshire and Warwickshire, of the chance to repeat their successes.
Abolishing a division without aligning the grading bands would make no sense David. In my view, that opportunity has been lost.

But make no mistake; the number of teams competing in the National Stages is no measure of the health or otherwise of the county championships. We could change the rules to give each Union 4 nominations to the final stages but that wouldn't mean the competition is healthier than it is now. The only true measure is the number of teams entering the Union stages, and that has been in decline for some years. Though not in the SCCU, so that's alright.

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