Too many sections in the County Championships?

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Mick Norris
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Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:53 am

elsewhere on the Forum, Ian Kingston said

"I agree with Drag on the question of reducing the number of sections in the county championships - but then I predicted that these problems would arise when the extra section was added.

If I remember correctly, the SCCU noticed that the new grades would effectively cut players graded below 100 out of county chess altogether, so they wanted the additional section. This was perfectly reasonable for the large SCCU counties, but problematic for most of the rest of the country. Looking at the results on the summary page, we can see that only four counties outside the SCCU fielded teams at the union stage this season. More tellingly, only three SCCU counties did so, suggesting that the demand for U100 county chess is slight.

There is a broader question, which perhaps doesn't belong in an MCCU sub-forum: why is there so little county chess in the NCCU, EACU and WECU? Which leads on to another one: what (if anything) can be done to change that state of affairs?

And finally: if the county championships were cancelled after this year's finals, how many people would really notice?"

Discuss?
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: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:04 am

The SCCU appears pretty healthy

http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/table.htm

The MCCU reasonably so

http://www.mccu.org.uk/cmatch.htm

The NCCU used to be, but is not now

http://www.nccu.org.uk/county-chess/

The WECU is OK

http://www.chessdevon.co.uk/HTML/News/w ... htm#County Match Programme 2011/12

The EACU is small

http://www.eacu.org.uk/
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:19 am

Mick Norris wrote:There is a broader question, which perhaps doesn't belong in an MCCU sub-forum: why is there so little county chess in the NCCU, EACU and WECU? Which leads on to another one: what (if anything) can be done to change that state of affairs?
Locally the four counties of Berks, Bucks, Hants and Oxon play a double round at both Open and under 150 over twenty boards. That seems to meet a local demand for weekend winter chess without excessive travelling and without excessive disparities in strength. There's little or no interest in it being a qualifier for a national competition. EACU have the same double round structure for their four counties of Beds, Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk, but cut travelling and occupying the calendar with county matches by running double rounds at a central venue.

Congresses, the 4NCL plus the odd Saturday league cut into the interest and time available for Saturday afternoon chess. Travel and disparities in team strength cannot help. Grading restricted events don't greatly help. If you lack eligible players, you are going to be fielding 100 players in the under 150 team on lower boards while your larger opponent will be able to select a team exclusively 130 or 140 plus.

The SCCU argument in favour of narrow bands was that it facilitates players taking part in more than one competition. That's fine as far as the winter league is concerned if you keep the dates apart. It breaks for a national stage if you expect all matches to take place on the same day.

If you want a meaningful competition, you need player distribution so that every team can potentially win. The SCCU now has this as all of Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Middlesex, Herts and Essex are usually capable of putting out Open teams strong enough to win both the SCCU title and the ECF Open and Minor Counties.

Presumably in the MCCU, it was only Greater Manchester that had the potential fire power to defeat Warks and Staffs.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mick Norris
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:30 am

I think the Minor Counties would be better if restricted to Minor Counties, not large ones which had a bad season at Open level

At the moment, the Open is an SCCU v Lancs and Yorks competition, with the possibility of Staffs and maybe Somerset and Warks upsetting the odds
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Ian Kingston
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Ian Kingston » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:53 am

Mick's summary saved me some writing; Roger has clarified some of the main problems and identified that there is more demand for county chess that is apparent from simply looking at the union stage qualifiers.

If the national stage were to be abolished, the unions could carry on with their own competitions according to their regional needs. Number of boards, grading bands, eligibility etc. would not have to fit into a national straitjacket. Alternatively, the union competitions need not act as qualifiers - counties could enter teams in a national competition according to their resources.

So my final question should perhaps be rephrased: do we need a national county championship, and if so, what form should it take?

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:09 am

Mick Norris wrote: At the moment, the Open is an SCCU v Lancs and Yorks competition, with the possibility of Staffs and maybe Somerset and Warks upsetting the odds
As far as finalists are concerned, looking back over the last ten years or so using the archives at the SCCU site, this was only interrupted by Greater Manchester in 2004 and 2005 and Cambridge in 2001 back in the days when they were able to field ex University players.

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Ian Kingston » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:10 am

I've also just seen David Sedgwick's response over on the MCCU thread. Nothing that I said there should be taken to be critical of individual unions or counties - my concern is with the competition as a whole, where my feeling is that the one-size-fits-all approach of the current system may be damaging to county chess overall.

Mick Norris
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:40 am

There are other national chess events run in a different way to the County Championships, which may or may not be worth considering

http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/schoolschamps.htm

and

http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/nc.htm

I wouldn't mind, at the semi-final stage, having them played over a weekend, with a final (and third place play off) on the second day - a bit like a 4NCL weekend - however, we have some county players who play because it is only 1 day and they don't have to stay over or travel both days

The idea of 2 central venues for the final is worth thinking about too, although the size of county teams is more of a challenge
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 11:44 am

I should mention the debate at the MCCU AGM considered whether to look at the NCCU approach of 12 board teams, but this was rejected as some counties need the bigger team to defray the cost of venue hire

Accordingly, the increase of grading bands from 20 to 25 points, and dropping 1 section in the process, was considered a better route to counties being able to field sides

The other possibility mentioned was smaller counties merging to form teams
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David Shepherd
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by David Shepherd » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:18 pm

Does anyone have any thoughts on team sizes - some counties such as Northamptonshire don't compete (as far as I am aware but I haven't checked) :-(

I wonder if anywhere in the format there is scope for a variation in the team size in some of the grading bands.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Jun 27, 2012 2:36 pm

David Shepherd wrote:Does anyone have any thoughts on team sizes - some counties such as Northamptonshire don't compete (as far as I am aware but I haven't checked) :-(

I wonder if anywhere in the format there is scope for a variation in the team size in some of the grading bands.
It would be nice to have a historical record of which counties existed when and which fielded teams and which have not. About size, some of the lower grading bands are already smaller than the higher grading bands. And in the past, some of the county matches were contested over a very large number of boards. Again, a historical record of that would be nice. Might as well start with the first ever county chess matches, but that is more for a history thread than this one.

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 27, 2012 3:37 pm

David Shepherd wrote:Does anyone have any thoughts on team sizes - some counties such as Northamptonshire don't compete (as far as I am aware but I haven't checked) :-(
They don't any more, but the MCCU is hoping to get them to return

As I said above, smaller team sizes mean no way to run teams through board fees for some counties
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Graham Borrowdale

Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:54 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Locally the four counties of Berks, Bucks, Hants and Oxon play a double round at both Open and under 150 over twenty boards. That seems to meet a local demand for weekend winter chess without excessive travelling and without excessive disparities in strength. There's little or no interest in it being a qualifier for a national competition. EACU have the same double round structure for their four counties of Beds, Cambs, Norfolk and Suffolk, but cut travelling and occupying the calendar with county matches by running double rounds at a central venue.
Not sure why there should be little interest from players in the Chiltern League competing in the national stages, as compared to players from other counties. As a past player I was certainly never canvassed. I think it is more likely that it is the perceived wisdom amongst the organisers. As an EACU player as well I very much like their two rounds in a day format, although I realise this is not to everyone's taste.

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:04 pm

Graham Borrowdale wrote: Not sure why there should be little interest from players in the Chiltern League competing in the national stages, as compared to players from other counties. As a past player I was certainly never canvassed. I think it is more likely that it is the perceived wisdom amongst the organisers.
It may well come down to organisers. If you are prepared to do the job of match captain on the basis that it involves arranging matches at known local venues during the winter months, it's another matter entirely to have to arrange distant neutral venue matches at short notice during the early summer. Equally for players, if there's no regular involvement in National stages, there's no commitment to keeping weekends free for these matches.

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Re: Too many sections in the County Championships?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:13 pm

Graham Borrowdale wrote:I think it is more likely that it is the perceived wisdom amongst the organisers.
Of course it is. So much of chess administration relies on the perceived wisdom of organisers. People make a big deal out of something on behalf of everyone else, when in reality, it never tends to be a problem. Administrators are very quick to defend people who don't need to be defended.

As an example of this, I was criticised by the CEO of the MCCU for insisting on e-mail reporting for Counties Championship results, on the grounds of discrimination against those without the means to report in that fashion. In reality, this affected a grand total of 1 person, and that person had no issue at all with getting someone to report the result for him.

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