county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
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Jonathan Rogers
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county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:35 pm

I made an unusual appearance at an open county match yesterday and couldn't help noticing that over 80% of the players seemed to be over 40, usually with a lot to spare as well. Moreover, I suspect the same would have been true whoever we were playing. But you don't see 80% of the first division players in the 4NCL being over 40, nor in the second division.

Is it a county chess thing, then, and if so why?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:42 pm

I think it's probably a 4NCL thing rather than a county chess thing; my observation of chess in this country is that in general it has a bimodal age distribution (lots of kids and lots of old people, with relatively few working-age adults), but that this distribution tends to break down as you approach the top players. The top two divisions of the 4NCL draw disproportionately from the pool of top players.

David Pardoe
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by David Pardoe » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:20 pm

Or should that be `chess for connisours`..?
County chess offers something different in weekend chess, with the attraction of a big 16 board match, played at a variety of venues, at a more relaxed saturday afternoon format.
Even though there are no `sparkling prizes`, these matches have a unique atmosphere, and can produce some great chess battles in some quaint and interesting venues.
So, yes, it is perfectly true that these events would welcome greater participation from our junior combatants. It is also true that these counties events provide excellent playing opportunities and some very good chess competition for our junior players to hone there skills, against a rich variety of opponents....so I`d urge those juniors looking for such opportunities to make themselves known to county captains. They woould be most welcome.
Just to say that Manchester played Leicester yesterday at Checkley. The setting was a typical english village scene. Picture the traditional country pub, opposite an 11th Century Norman Church.
And on that occasion Manchester turned out no less than 7 juniors...and believe me, these youngsters can play chess and gave an excellent account of themselves in a typical closely fought match. Coffee and refreshments were fine....a great afternoons chess.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Roger de Coverly
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Mar 03, 2013 7:29 pm

I would have thought there is no shortage of players eligible to play in the British Seniors also playing in divisions 2 and Three of the 4NCL.

Graham Borrowdale

Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Graham Borrowdale » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:13 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:
I made an unusual appearance at an open county match yesterday and couldn't help noticing that over 80% of the players seemed to be over 40, usually with a lot to spare as well. Moreover, I suspect the same would have been true whoever we were playing. But you don't see 80% of the first division players in the 4NCL being over 40, nor in the second division.

Is it a county chess thing, then, and if so why?

4NCL offers 2 long games over 2 long days, in effect using the whole weekend. For people with family responsibilities, county chess offers 1 game on Saturday afternoon, generally 4 hour sessions, or, in the case of EACU, 2 games on a Sunday, leaving time for other things. I stopped playing 4NCL because I could not commit full weekends. Of course, there are some chessplayers with families who spend the whole weekend playing chess, but they are more likely to be married to the game. County chess caters for keen players with time, but not that much time, to spare. It is a shame there are not more young players, but they will return when they are 50+!

By the way, 40+ does not a dinosaur make, and I am not clear what 'a lot to spare' means - is this a reference to waist size? :?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sun Mar 03, 2013 10:24 pm

Graham Borrowdale wrote: By the way, 40+ does not a dinosaur make, and I am not clear what 'a lot to spare' means - is this a reference to waist size? :?
It probably means that they reached 40 a long time ago.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:29 am

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I made an unusual appearance at an open county match yesterday and couldn't help noticing that over 80% of the players seemed to be over 40, usually with a lot to spare as well. Moreover, I suspect the same would have been true whoever we were playing. But you don't see 80% of the first division players in the 4NCL being over 40, nor in the second division.

Is it a county chess thing, then, and if so why?
Do you mean the Middlesex-Essex match you played in yesterday?

The match scorecard for that is here:

http://www.sccu.ndo.co.uk/match1.htm

Going by birth years as provided in the FIDE rating database for those with FIDE ratings, the ages are as follows (calculating approximately by subtracting the birth year from 2013):

Middlesex-Essex
1. 34 0.5-0.5 32
2. 46 0.5-0.5 54
3. 49 0-1 41
4. 17 0.5-0.5 43
5. 52 1-0 56
6. 46 0.5-0.5 31
7. 26 0.5-0.5 42
8. 53 1-0 66
9. 35 1-0 15
10. 65 0.5-0.5 65
11. 37 1-0 39
12. 31 0.5-0.5 [unknown]
13. 51 0.5-0.5 70
14. 53 0-1 67
15. 38 0.5-0.5 80
16. 53 1-0 [unknown]

The Middlesex team had nine people over the age of 40, and seven people under the age of 40, with an aggregate age of 686 years and an average age of 42.88 years. That includes one junior. For Essex, I was able to ascertain approximate ages for 14 of the 16 players. Of those 14, only four were under the age of 40, with the other ten over the age of 40. The aggregate age for those 14 Essex players was 701 years, with an average age of 50.07 years. Of the six decisive games where the age of the players was known, the younger player triumphed four times and the older player triumphed twice. Overall, Essex was the greyer team, and lost the match 9.5-6.5. Combined stats for both teams: 11 under 40; and 19 over 40 (36.7% vs 63.3%). If the two Essex players on boards 12 and 16 are over 40, then the stats are: 11 (34.4%) vs 21 (65.6%). So the estimated figure of 80% doesn't seem quite right. But only two juniors and an aggregate age over 30 players of 1387 years and an average of 46.23 years does seem to indicate that a preponderance of players aged over 40 is an accurate assessment, even if not as much as estimated, and not "with a lot to spare" (unless you were over-estimating people's ages).

EDIT1: I'm sure something could be done with modes and medians as well.

EDIT2: Forgot to add that for proper comparison, someone could do an analysis of the approximate ages of players at the 4NCL. For those with FIDE rating cards with birth years, this is all public data. Anecdotally, I would agree with Jonathan that you see more players in their 20s at the 4NCL, and more juniors as well, but some hard data to back that up would be good (and I have no idea what the percentages would be). I'm sure someone can do something to extract age data from the FIDE rating IDs without needing laborious manual look-ups for each and every player... (and for good measure, do the same for the county Open competition, though I don't think FIDE IDs are recorded as the competition is not FIDE-rated). Not all will have FIDE ratings in these competitions, but most do (in the 1st and 2nd 4NCL divisions anyway), and not all FIDE rating cards have birth years (though not 100% sure of this). Maybe those running FIDE-rated congresses (such as e2e4 events) could do age-related analyses as well?

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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:02 pm

Thanks for these responses. As ever Chris corrects me, but my general point still stands; and by "a lot to spare" I did of course mean to refer to a lot of players very much older then 40. Flicking through Chris' ages, and adding the observation that Essex's board 12 and 16 are both very likely to be over 50, we can see that just under half the field were over 50. Had Colin Crouch played, as intended, for Middlesex (instead of the 49 year old reserve), the figure of 50% at 50 or above would have been reached.

To repeat, this is the Open section. Middlesex are defending national champions, and Essex have won it twice since this new millenium. Some of these players compete in the first division of 4NCL and the vast majority would be strong enough for the second division. But I don't doubt for a second that the age profile (both mean and median) is considerably lower in 4NCL.

So, why?

Graham makes the point that it is easier for your family man to play just one county game than to get a pass for the whole 4NCL weekend. But that would seem to affect mostly those men in their thirties and forties who may also have career ambitions and/or young children, and I don't see all that many of them playing county chess either. In fact my own experience is that these men are just as likely to play 4NCL and sacrifice county chess. To some extent, I am one of them.

Add to this that in terms of county chess, the general strength seemed to be at its height in the 1980s, and I wonder whether that is relevant to explaining why so many people who recall those days still play county chess. By contrast younger players (below, say 35) have more likely always regarded county chess in the shadow of 4NCL and so are more likley to give it up if choices have to be made. I also wonder whether for many players the distance to travel for a county match can seem excessive, whereas the same journey or even a longer one, seems more proportionate for two games, as on a 4NCL weekend (plus social side, rating points etc). If either explanation is right, then I would not share Graham's confidence that people can be expected to "return" to county chess in their fifties.

If I am right - and this is impressionistic and obviously not everyone will agree - then to my mind the measure of rating county chess should be under serious discussion. I imagine it is ECF membership-related complications which is mainly blocking it at the moment.

Mick Norris
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:14 pm

FIDE rating for at least the Open section has been discussed at ECF Council

I can't see anything stopping this at Union level, so if the SCCU wanted it, they could so so even if the other Unions did not

For the national stages, this is the first year that ECF membership is compulsory, so we might need to see how that goes before making the leap to FIDE rating - it might be interesting after the event to see how many players in the Open sections already are ECF Gold members

Whether the county captains want this is, of course, another issue
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Simon Brown
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Simon Brown » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:51 pm

Just so Chris can update his statistics - I recall the Essex boards 12 and 16 as opponents when I was a junior, and without seeming indelicate, I would guess that one is at least five years older than me, the other at least 10. I'm 52.

Why? I think that unless you are a really talented or dedicated player, you just have better things to do when you hit your thirties. I played to a reasonable level up to age 35 or so, then work, other interests, family just took over. I fully expect to play again when I have retired and the kids have left home, and I'm looking forward to seeing the impact of a 24 year playing gap.

For what it's worth, it would always be 4NCL ahead of county chess for me, but that would come second to interesting events - Gibraltar and Bunratty spring to mind, and I wish the e2e4 events were around when I was playing seriously.

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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:10 pm

David Pardoe wrote:Just to say that Manchester played Leicester yesterday at Checkley. The setting was a typical english village scene. Picture the traditional country pub, opposite an 11th Century Norman Church.
And on that occasion Manchester turned out no less than 7 juniors...and believe me, these youngsters can play chess and gave an excellent account of themselves in a typical closely fought match. Coffee and refreshments were fine....a great afternoons chess.
Result is here if anyone wants to analyse the ages of the players by way of contrast
http://www.mccu.org.uk/cm12-13/minor/mi ... 2mar13.htm
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Roger de Coverly
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:02 pm

Mick Norris wrote: I can't see anything stopping this at Union level, so if the SCCU wanted it, they could so so even if the other Unions did not
The requirement to have at least a "National Arbiter" present might well stop it. The 4NCL and the Oxfordshire Sunday League get away with ENG players not being Gold members, so the ECF could exempt the County Championships as well under some conditions.

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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:52 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote: But I don't doubt for a second that the age profile (both mean and median) is considerably lower in 4NCL.

So, why?
The 4NCL rule which says that in the second division, a team must have a female or junior player is likely to have the effect of both increasing the number of juniors playing and requiring team organisers to actively recruit.

Attempts have been made periodically to profile the grading database by age. If done today, it would be likely to show an age profile with a hump in the age range 40 to 70. Ten years ago, it would have shown 30 to 60 and twenty years ago 20 to 50.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:31 pm

Simon Brown wrote:Just so Chris can update his statistics - I recall the Essex boards 12 and 16 as opponents when I was a junior, and without seeming indelicate, I would guess that one is at least five years older than me, the other at least 10. I'm 52.

Why? I think that unless you are a really talented or dedicated player, you just have better things to do when you hit your thirties. I played to a reasonable level up to age 35 or so, then work, other interests, family just took over. I fully expect to play again when I have retired and the kids have left home, and I'm looking forward to seeing the impact of a 24 year playing gap.

For what it's worth, it would always be 4NCL ahead of county chess for me, but that would come second to interesting events - Gibraltar and Bunratty spring to mind, and I wish the e2e4 events were around when I was playing seriously.
Eh, updating the stats for two players hardly seems worth it. And I'm not going to age-profile that Leicestershire - Greater Manchester match either. Manual look-ups are tedious. For my part, the attractions of county chess are having half the fixtures effectively local (it is not much bother to travel to home county fixtures for me) and it being a lot cheaper. 4NCL is good, but committing to a whole season can be very expensive (part of a season is doable).

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Joey Stewart
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Re: county chess = chess for dinosaurs?

Post by Joey Stewart » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:05 pm

I find alot of chess players just LOOK older then they actually are.
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

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