County Championship Consultation

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Alan Walton
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Location: Oldham

Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alan Walton » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:27 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:20 am
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 10:43 am
Probably the only way you might get more chess players at secondary level would be to close down the internet.
The Internet exists in France and Germany, but the equivalent problem appears not to. So I think there's more to it than that.
Yes there is more to it than that; but it is nothing to do with the County Championships

I don't what regional structures France and Germany have within their respective federations, but is it those structures we should be emulating (if not replicating) if we believe they do things significantly better than ourselves

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:57 am

Alan Walton wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:27 am
I don't what regional structures France and Germany have within their respective federations
Weekend chess is organised at club level, although clubs are much larger, more in the nature of county associations. Other than being a member of a club and very possibly only one club at a time, there are no county style eligibility restrictions based on birth or residence. Think 4NCL but with club based teams and regional divisions all the way down to mostly local competitions.

Andrew Zigmond
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Location: Harrogate

Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jan 09, 2018 12:22 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:57 am
Alan Walton wrote:
Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:27 am
I don't what regional structures France and Germany have within their respective federations
Weekend chess is organised at club level, although clubs are much larger, more in the nature of county associations. Other than being a member of a club and very possibly only one club at a time, there are no county style eligibility restrictions based on birth or residence. Think 4NCL but with club based teams and regional divisions all the way down to mostly local competitions.
Firstly (and going off topic) can you imagine the outcry is Alex decided to impose the structure France and Germany have on the English chess scene? Certainly some of the conservatism on this thread has left quite a nasty taste in my mouth.

One criticism the county championships has had in previous years is that the quarter and semi finals take place in exam season and prevent those still in education from competing. That said; the last time there was a consultation on reform the suggestion to move the national stages to earlier in this season was probably opposed more fiercely than structural reform; mainly from those county unions who didn't want the prestige of their internal events diminished but also from counties (including my own) who had a full calendar of events earlier in the season.

With secondary school chess I think you will see a drop off in activity from the players in the exam years. I run a club for players of secondary school age and above locally; I currently have nine players on the books with three potential applicants joining this week. Given that I'm hardly the world's greatest coach or organiser; in theory this shouldn't be too hard to replicate in most places.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

John Reyes
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Location: Manchester

Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by John Reyes » Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:06 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:01 pm
One advantage it seems to me of the 12 board proposal is that it makes feasible transport in a single minibus which may have cost advantages but also is useful for cementing team relationships. Our u160 team uses a minibus but the u140s go in dribs and drabs by an assortment of cars and I usually arrive and dont know which players are the opponents and which are my own team! When my grade once rose a little I was catapulted into the 160s and felt much more a part of it all.
you are lucky to get called up to the team, I not had a look in at the moment
Any postings on here represent my personal views only

David Pardoe
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by David Pardoe » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:31 pm

It might just be that the problems that many have described are in fact the challenges of the competition..
ie., transport, getting players, finding suitable venues, etc..
As regards getting players, I think it helps for team captains to make an early start, say, at least 4 weeks before the match date.
... same goes for the venue selection...
I`d also advise that captains should appoint at least 1 assistant to help pick players and assist with other admin matters..

Each Union will have its own problems, but I`m afraid that some of it is about finding solutions, and removing the `can`t be bothered` hat... and putting on the `can do` hat. I agree its not easy, but I think most counties could field at least one county team if they put there minds to it.
Picking players and finding clubs are greatly assisted these days by the amount of web data and web sites out there. The web can also help with choosing venues and identifying contacts..
As to changing the rules and formats for the County competitions...
Care is needed here.. for instance widening the grading boundaries would help captains with player selection.
Some special measures might help certain counties and Unions.. eg, allowing East and Western Unions to each field a combined counties Open team might help.
Splitting Yorks into the 3 Ridings might help with there geography. ie, a massive Yorks creates travel problems I think..
Even splitting this into 3 for the U160, U140, U120, and U100 sections might be worth thinking about. You might further address the NCCU geography issues by creating separate `east` and `West` Zonal events.
Yes, allowing `wild card` entries for teams might help, for cases where no representative County team has been entered in any of the sections.
Some of these points would require the ECF to sit down with the various Union bodies to discuss the issues.
I`m sure that the number of Counties represented could be boosted by a host of measures, but care must be exercised to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.
The measures suggested regarding fielding 6 and 8 board teams dont really stack up, as said previously... and neither does the micro counties competition idea that has been floated. It just wont work in my opinion.
BRING BACK THE BCF

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:05 pm

David Pardoe wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:31 pm
and neither does the micro counties competition idea that has been floated. It just wont work in my opinion.
The Chiltern competitions of just 4 counties, Bucks, Berks, Oxon and Hants have worked reasonably well for a number of years. It's outside of the SCCU, WECU and the ECF so it doesn't qualify for anything national. Rather it's a Saturday afternoon competition with four hour games and relatively limited travelling. The EACU competition usually of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge and Bedford is also 4 teams. They play double round at a central venue. Again that seems to work.

It's in the NCCU that the county match system is broken with only two counties, Lancs and Yorks having the interest and resources to compete. In Yorks at least and to the extent of cross border travel, Lancs as well, the Yorkshire league fills the demand for winter weekend league play.

Ian Thompson
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Location: Awbridge, Hampshire

Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Ian Thompson » Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:48 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 6:05 pm
The Chiltern competitions of just 4 counties, Bucks, Berks, Oxon and Hants have worked reasonably well for a number of years.
Until last season, at least for the Open section - only three counties played last season; this season 10 boards jamborees instead of 20 board matches and still one county didn't play in the second round.

J T Melsom
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:23 pm

Ian, Roger did say the competition worked reasonably well, which is fair comment I think. He didn't comment on the relatively weak sides fielded by some counties - the Bucks success owed much to our maximising playing strength, compared to our rivals. The Jamboree structure is in part intended to remove the tail from some teams.

I agreed at the start of the year to try and get the Bucks team going again. Its not been one of my more successful county posts, but it does afford me the chance to make some more general better informed observations.

I can’t help thinking most of the decline is not down to format but demographics. A smaller number of players will put strain on finding adequate players and volunteers alike. And county chess may not offer the same appeal as it did historically. Moreover, even where a county has modest success (Bucks won the Chiltern League two seasons running) such success can be fleeting. After dropping out of the event for a season due to a lack of match captain, I volunteered this year for the new Jamboree format team (reducing match dates from 6 to 4 and team size as well). I found on reviewing my eligible player list that with players retiring from county chess, moving away from the area for work/retirement/study 20% of the successful squad was unavailable, and the playing pool hasn’t been re-stocked. ( I've actually looked in the archive and found that especially on the top ten boards I've under-stated the changes - Roger was down on board 7/8 for some fixtures].We’ve lost strong juniors and their parents, and people have found other things to do not just other forms of chess. And county captains do need a subtly different skill set to club captains as you are dealing with people you see less regularly, and actually not have met.

Changes to the eligibility rules will not help us re-join the national stages or the SCCU event . There are currently three juniors graded above 130 in the county and just one female. A change in eligibility rules would not be unfair, but would disproportionately impact the smaller counties.
But nor would scrapping the eligibility rules in their entirety, as the team would cease to represent its county, which is a factor in some choosing to participate. Apart from only requiring half a weekend, there doesn’t seem much point in something which would just be a duplicate of the 4NCL.
I suspect Alex’s proposals are too radical, but he should be applauded for trying to do something. Some of the most negative posts have been from representatives of counties within the SCCU. When I last looked only five of nine eligible counties competed in the Open section of the SCCU competition. I cannot recall the last time I was asked as secretary of one of the absent counties why we didn’t play. So as well as criticising Alex, maybe some should consider a more constructive dialogue.
Last edited by J T Melsom on Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

NickFaulks
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:00 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:23 pm
When I last looked only five of nine eligible counties
Nine?

J T Melsom
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Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:12 pm

Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:06 pm

Nine in the sense that Bucks, Berks, Oxon and Herts have participated historically at Open level during my time as a chess administrator. There seems to be a view that the SCCU event is working and doesn't need to consider change, whereas one could argue that whilst it may be a success by some measures, it too is in relative decline.

NickFaulks
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:32 pm

J T Melsom wrote:
Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:06 pm
Nine in the sense that Bucks, Berks, Oxon and Herts have participated historically at Open level during my time as a chess administrator.
Thanks. I saw no reference to Berks or Oxon on the website, but if not currently members they could presumably (re)join if they wanted to participate.

Starting from Central London, I must say that it suits me very well that nearly all matches are effectively local. This is of course a selfish point of view.

J T Melsom
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by J T Melsom » Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:48 pm

Berks and Oxon both left the SCCU when they opted out of adult competition. Bucks has remained because of the ramifications for the eligibility of juniors to win SCCU titles if the county left. Arguably, the Bucks junior organisation could assume membership to address these issues, but I don't think any of us are in a rush to tidy these things up.

Yes - the SCCU event has reverted to Metropolitan counties plus Sussex. I am not sure what proportion of the Kent, Surrey, Middx and Essex players are drawn from the outer extremities of those counties or even 30 miles from Charing Cross.

Michael Flatt
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Michael Flatt » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:35 pm

Those participating in this season's competition, 2017-18, need to be aware that the regulations and dates for last year been removed from the ECF website and their replacements have yet to appear.

ECF County Championship: http://www.englishchess.org.uk/competit ... onships-2/

Nigel White
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Nigel White » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:12 am

I have been supportive of the County Championship, but after my experiences on Saturday, I'm not so sure. (I've left out the names to protect the guilty.)

I had agreed to play in an away County fixture. I had some regrets, as there was a normally well organised congress I would have liked to play in that weekend, just a few miles from my County match venue.

On a cold and wet Saturday, I travelled by public transport to the venue arriving about 35 minutes before the scheduled start time only to find the place deserted. Coming back 15 minutes later, some of my team had arrived by car, but the home team only turned up five minutes before the scheduled start. Being cold and wet, I had hoped for a cup of tea or coffee, but none was available.

Tables were erected, boards set up, so only 20 minutes late I thought we might be ready to start. Only then is it discovered that the usual clocks are missing. A further search discovers some antiquated digital clocks, but nobody knows how to set them. After some phone calls and Googling of instructions this is worked out. These start to be set, only to discover that they all have virtually dead batteries which won't last a game.

Confusion reigns about what to do. Someone offers to drive home to collect some clocks, but should the games start without clocks? As I had agreed to be home for dinner that evening, I wanted to start. My opponent agrees to do so using the chess clock on my phone. We start our game 40 minutes late. However, there is still much noise and confusion as it transpires that there are multiple defaults on both sides, with discussions about who should be playing whom and what to do about clocks still going on for another 20 minutes or so.

I think we won the match, but the last game on which the result depended, was still ongoing when I had to leave, and I've still not seen a match scorecard.

What a miserable shambles. Not a great advert for county chess.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:57 am

I'm assuming the match above must have been a union stage match rather than a national stage match, as the latter don't start until April. The point (and it shouldn't detract from what sounds a thoroughly unpleasant experience) is that complaints would need to be taken up with the county union involved, rather than the ECF.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

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