County Championship Consultation

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
David Sedgwick
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by David Sedgwick » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:00 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:51 pm
I think I can say with some certainty that breaking the link between union and national stages would make almost no difference to WECU teams. Devon already pull out all the stops to try to win the Open and U-160 sections in the region, while only ever entering the U-180 section in the national stages.
Would Devon still enter the U180 Division of the ECF Counties Championships if they had to travel long distances to play matches from October onwards whilst at the same time striving to wim the Open and U180 Divisions of the WECU Championships?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:03 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:00 pm
IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:51 pm
I think I can say with some certainty that breaking the link between union and national stages would make almost no difference to WECU teams. Devon already pull out all the stops to try to win the Open and U-160 sections in the region, while only ever entering the U-180 section in the national stages.
Would Devon still enter the U180 Division of the ECF Counties Championships if they had to travel long distances to play matches from October onwards whilst at the same time striving to wim the Open and U180 Divisions of the WECU Championships?
Probably. They only have three local fixtures in total to schedule round that.

David Sedgwick
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by David Sedgwick » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:11 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:36 pm
I regret that I'm still struggling to understand how severing the link between the union and national stages will damage participation in the county championships. It may remove an element of excitement in the more hotly contested union sections but surely not to the point where players will decline to participate.

(Whispers quietly.)

How many people do you know who support this proposal? I am aware of Alex himself, you, Mike Truran and maybe Jack Rudd. Who else is there?

If the answer is "not many", then you don't need to struggle any more.

Speaking for myself, I would indeed still play in the SCCU Championships. I wouldn't go near the new ECF Championships with the proverbial bargepole, even in the unlikely event of my county seeking to enter them.

Several people, including Alex, have referred to the problem of finding captains. It is a strange proposed solution to that problem that potentially doubles the number of captains required.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:17 pm

I'm not sure what I think of these proposals, as it happens. I have a feeling that the problems the event has are at a more fundamental level than the level people are trying to solve it at.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:29 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:00 pm
the U180 Division of the ECF Counties Championships

Talking of which, did I read that one of the possible proposals was to merge the Minor Counties and U180 using the rule set of the Minor, so that it was U180 only in the sense that the average had to be under that? The principle could also be extended to U160 etc.

From a small county's point of view, an average grades competition can be easier to justify entering than an absolute value one. If you only have a tenth of the playing numbers of larger counties and the rules preclude you from importing players, you are unlikely to enjoy much success in an under 180 where the opposition can field 16 players between 171 and 179.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:05 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:03 pm
David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:00 pm
IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:51 pm
I think I can say with some certainty that breaking the link between union and national stages would make almost no difference to WECU teams. Devon already pull out all the stops to try to win the Open and U-160 sections in the region, while only ever entering the U-180 section in the national stages.
Would Devon still enter the U180 Division of the ECF Counties Championships if they had to travel long distances to play matches from October onwards whilst at the same time striving to wim the Open and U180 Divisions of the WECU Championships?
Probably. They only have three local fixtures in total to schedule round that.
That would make sense. One of the proposals requires a maximum of 4 dates for the matches to be played on. At the moment, if you start in the Preliminary Round and keep winning, you need to play on 4 dates.
David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:11 pm
Several people, including Alex, have referred to the problem of finding captains. It is a strange proposed solution to that problem that potentially doubles the number of captains required.
If the sections were the same in both competitions, which is an option in the set of proposals as a whole, then you have the same teams. So you just have one captain to field the same teams in two competitions. You would get more matches than you do now - the promise of 2 or 3 followed by a Final if you qualify in the ECF part; rather than a knockout tournament where you may get only 1. This may only get the same number of people playing more, rather than increasing the number of people playing, but that's still good.
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 6:29 pm
David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:00 pm
the U180 Division of the ECF Counties Championships

Talking of which, did I read that one of the possible proposals was to merge the Minor Counties and U180 using the rule set of the Minor, so that it was U180 only in the sense that the average had to be under that? The principle could also be extended to U160 etc.

From a small county's point of view, an average grades competition can be easier to justify entering than an absolute value one. If you only have a tenth of the playing numbers of larger counties and the rules preclude you from importing players, you are unlikely to enjoy much success in an under 180 where the opposition can field 16 players between 171 and 179.
You did - there were two options: An average grade restriction or a limit for everyone; to have all the sections doing the same thing, rather than have a mix of both.

My opinion on that was that an average would be better for a number of reasons. It helps small counties, as you say. But in addition to that, if you have a pool of players who want to play county chess, you can always find a section for the pool of players to enter a team into. On the other hand, with a hard cap, you might have an Open team and a Under 140 team (e.g. Worcestershire, the county I play for), and find that your grade goes over 140 and you don't get a sniff in the Open team because you're too weak. So you don't have any county matches that season, and so you find something else to do. If you had an average, you could play in far more county matches if you wanted to, because a player graded 141 might conceivably be useful in an average 160, 140 and 120 team; whereas they'd be excluded from two of those with a single limit.

Some of the consultation responses said that they'd prefer a grade limit for everyone to be under, because it was simpler. Others said they preferred an average because it gave them greater flexibility.

J T Melsom
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:14 pm

The average grade v grading cap debate is interesting. In introducing the new Chiltern League jamboree format for the Open section, we raised the limit of the next event from U150 to U160 to avoid players missing out. As we have no u125 event it might have been better to utilise an average, to give opportunities to those players at the bottom end- in our discussions at least one county suggested they would still want boards available to those who might otherwise get no county chess. You might of course want to have a maximum grade for any one player as well - nobody really wants IM plus newly board child at the top and bottom of a team :)

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:28 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:14 pm
You might of course want to have a maximum grade for any one player as well - nobody really wants IM plus newly board child at the top and bottom of a team :)
The way to avoid that is to have an Effective Minimum Grade rule - "everyone with a grade below 90 counts as 90" or something like that. That way, squads can't pack their team by throwing the bottom board, but weak squads with one really strong player can still field competitive teams.

(It might be instructive in this regard to look at Barnstaple's Mamhead Cup results over the years to see how good a tactic "field by far the strongest board 1 in the league while having weaker boards 2-4 than everyone else" is.)

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:46 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 5:11 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 4:36 pm
I regret that I'm still struggling to understand how severing the link between the union and national stages will damage participation in the county championships. It may remove an element of excitement in the more hotly contested union sections but surely not to the point where players will decline to participate.

(Whispers quietly.)

How many people do you know who support this proposal? I am aware of Alex himself, you, Mike Truran and maybe Jack Rudd. Who else is there?

If the answer is "not many", then you don't need to struggle any more.

Speaking for myself, I would indeed still play in the SCCU Championships. I wouldn't go near the new ECF Championships with the proverbial bargepole, even in the unlikely event of my county seeking to enter them.

Several people, including Alex, have referred to the problem of finding captains. It is a strange proposed solution to that problem that potentially doubles the number of captains required.
I wouldn't say that I'm in favour of the proposals. It's more the case that I'm not opposed to them just as I suspect many players will be neutral. If they don't play their county chess in the MCCU or SCCU it doesn't affect them. Direct entry would have made my life ten times easier as controller but that's history now.

I'm afraid I still don't understand why your county wouldn't compete in the national stages. Leaving aside the fact that you would might have qualified by the standards of the old rules anyway you would still be competing for a prestigious national title.

It is hard to see any obvious losers (except possibly Lancashire). The winners would be counties who might not be competitive within their union but fancy the opportunity to play a match with a county father afield. But if you actively want to keep them from competing that's a different ball game.

Another fundamental question seems to be whether the county championships belong to the county unions (in which case why are the ECF involved) or whether they belong to the ECF, in which case they should be run for all counties and players, not just the vested interests of five unions.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Richard Bates
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Richard Bates » Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:50 pm

Personally I think average grading is a terrible idea. Especially if extended beyond the current limited confines of the Minor County open competition. Whilst it may sound superficially attractive because it theoretically massively expands the player base for captains of any individual team, it also takes away almost all meaning from the grading bands. It is likely to increase conflict between inter county captains, lead to a larger degree of board mismatches, increase sharp practice and gamesmanship.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:09 pm

Richard Bates wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 8:50 pm
Personally I think average grading is a terrible idea. Especially if extended beyond the current limited confines of the Minor County open competition. Whilst it may sound superficially attractive because it theoretically massively expands the player base for captains of any individual team, it also takes away almost all meaning from the grading bands. It is likely to increase conflict between inter county captains, lead to a larger degree of board mismatches, increase sharp practice and gamesmanship.
Why do you think it would increase conflict between county captains?

Richard Bates
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Richard Bates » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:17 pm

Under current rules there are a limited number of players who are available for multiple (basically 2)teams. Average grading means that all players are theoretically available for all teams. Which means multiple captains competing for their “services”. More broadly I think that most people like to think of themselves as part of a specific team and are prepared to make commitments/sacrifices as a result. I think average grading undermines that.

Richard Bates
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Richard Bates » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:32 pm

Anyway from a personal perspective I think the biggest problem with the current arrangements is the way that teams are forced to choose between the minor and Open championships. I think there is a serious problem when the Open Championship appears to be struggling for teams whilst the Minor seems to be very popular. When the reason seems to be an (unjustified and unambitious view IMO) view that they can’t compete. Essentially arguing that the Open competition is suffering because the theoretically stronger counties are making a commendable effort to field strong teams) If it could be arranged I think the competition would be significantly enhanced if the Minor was a plate competition of some description.

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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:42 pm

Richard Bates wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:17 pm
Under current rules there are a limited number of players who are available for multiple (basically 2)teams. Average grading means that all players are theoretically available for all teams. Which means multiple captains competing for their “services”. More broadly I think that most people like to think of themselves as part of a specific team and are prepared to make commitments/sacrifices as a result. I think average grading undermines that.
OK - you meant conflict between captains from the same county, rather than captains of opposing teams. I misunderstood.

I organise a Birmingham Summer League, which is a Rapidplay competition. It has 4 divisions based on a team total (i.e. an average): Open, Max 560, 480 and 400. It gets about 25 teams of 4. My club entered all four divisions last year, and I think I appeared in three of those teams. I don't remember our captains getting involved in disputes, and it isn't a problem that's widely reported to me. I guess because we started from average grades, rather than considered moving to average grades, it was just a thing people got used to.
Richard Bates wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:32 pm
Anyway from a personal perspective I think the biggest problem with the current arrangements is the way that teams are forced to choose between the minor and Open championships. I think there is a serious problem when the Open Championship appears to be struggling for teams whilst the Minor seems to be very popular. When the reason seems to be an (unjustified and unambitious view IMO) view that they can’t compete. Essentially arguing that the Open competition is suffering because the theoretically stronger counties are making a commendable effort to field strong teams) If it could be arranged I think the competition would be significantly enhanced if the Minor was a plate competition of some description.
When Warwickshire tried to enter the Open two years in a row, they got thrashed quite badly, 13.5-2.5 or worse two years in a row. Given that the team Warwickshire put out were less than 180 (and thus eligible for the Minor), their meeting decided to enter that instead. Warwickshire hasn't qualified out of the Union stages since then, from memory. They were last in the Minor last year in the MCCU competition. I think the argument is that despite efforts to get out the strongest possible team, those players don't seem to want to play, sadly.

I did consider the idea, in the past, of having one Open section with the Minor being a Plate for teams that lost in the 1st Round, but when I mentioned it to a few teams in the Minor, they all liked the Minor just the way it was. Perhaps not very surprising really.

Richard Bates
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Richard Bates » Wed Mar 21, 2018 10:11 pm

Yes sorry, meant intra, not inter...

I agree the problem I perceive is not necessarily a solvable problem. Although your example of Warwickshire seems to be more related to the way MCCU structure their competition rather than the ECF stages. Wawrkshie enter the Minor rather than the Open because the MCCU require them to make the choice. Which then, in a possible precursor to what might happen in the ECF stages left Staffs as MCCU champion by default. After which it was perhaps unsurprising that they (Staffs) struggled to retain the enthusiasm to survive.

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