County Championship Consultation

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:50 pm

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:25 pm

Obviously, old guys playing chess is a historic trend; from my understanding, chess was traditionally a 'working man' 's sport played in working men's clubs across the country, and after the economic-political change of the 1980s, working men's clubs were in a decline, and subsequently the uptake of chess went down to.
I think you are seriously overlooking the role of the elite day schools and elite universities in promoting chess. It was when secondary schools ceased to hold matches against one another that the rot set in with new adult players. Studying mathematics at an elite university in the late 1960s, a plausible 20 board team could have been recruited from the people I saw everyday at the lectures. They had learned their chess by representing their school in external matches.

By way of further evidence, both the 1969 and 1970 BUCA tournaments attracted nearly 32 8 board teams. So that's an entire 4NCL sized competition comprised solely of university based players and pre-Fischer.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:02 am

A very interesting post above with very little that I disagree with although it goes a little bit beyond the consultation paper for the county championships, an event with a distinct culture and traditions. A lot of it ties into the `Attracting New Players To The Game` thread I started in the general chat section.

There is perhaps one bit I would push back on slightly.
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:25 pm

Obviously, old guys playing chess is a historic trend; from my understanding, chess was traditionally a 'working man' 's sport played in working men's clubs across the country, and after the economic-political change of the 1980s, working men's clubs were in a decline, and subsequently the uptake of chess went down to. [I was confirmed this by the Director of the CCA - so I take it to be largely true...] The point is that, obviously we can not force quotas of 50:50 male-to-female, or equivalent proportions between adults:children that reflect the national population! But unless, someone is going to suggest how else we should widen participation for juniors (to which I will answer further down), this set of proposals is relatively thin gruel, not some radical "social engineering" programme that some seem to suggest...
I can't speak with great authority as I was born in 1981 but the glory years of English chess were driven by two factors - a boom in university chess in the 1970s and a general surge in interest after the Fischer vs Spassky match. My point is that the students of the 1970s are the `old men` playing county and club chess in 2017. They may well have joined the then older generation in the working man's club because, as is correctly stated, up until the 1980s these were thriving venues where people used to go. Young people as well. Obviously social factors changed this and large out of town pubs suffered as well.

For a number of reasons new blood stopped entering chess clubs around the late nineties. I suspect many club and county stalwarts would be delighted to pass the baton to the new generation, particularly as most of them have done their turn as secretary, captain etc. However they are forced to soldier on year after year and the problem (along with their views) becomes more entrenched.

If you want to attract juniors/ women/ students you have to create appropriate environments for them to play and learn. Once they do they should filter relatively naturally into county teams.
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Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:03 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:50 pm
Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:25 pm

Obviously, old guys playing chess is a historic trend; from my understanding, chess was traditionally a 'working man' 's sport played in working men's clubs across the country, and after the economic-political change of the 1980s, working men's clubs were in a decline, and subsequently the uptake of chess went down to.
I think you are seriously overlooking the role of the elite day schools and elite universities in promoting chess. It was when secondary schools ceased to hold matches against one another that the rot set in with new adult players. Studying mathematics at an elite university in the late 1960s, a plausible 20 board team could have been recruited from the people I saw everyday at the lectures. They had learned their chess by representing their school in external matches.
Sure, whether it's working mens clubs or elite grammar/public schools is secondary to the current proposals, nor does it change the trend of old guys playing chess (which I'm sure I will become!).

An important point to note is that the decline of working mens clubs have reduced the historic board appeal of chess being an everyman sport; looking at the Coventry and District League, the vast majority of clubs/teams playing 40+ years ago were a broad range of 'working mens' clubs, from the local police to workers from all across the city filling up 5 Divisions, where now we just have 3 Divisions. Anyway, I'm sure what we do about addressing the trend and changing the environment of the County Championships is slightly more important than who played chess in the 1980s!
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:13 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:03 am
Anyway, I'm sure what we do about addressing the trend is slightly more important than who played chess in the 1980s!
I'm unconvinced that attracting under 11s to play chess does anything useful for participation in the longer term. It's a plan that's been running for twenty years at least without much longer term success. The BCF's 1950s and 1960s strategy of embedding chess in elite schools and universities was more successful.

If you think that having reserved boards is a good idea, why not propose it for local league matches?

There are a number of counties who no longer participate in ECF or Union organised competitions. Is this consultation an attempt to lure them back or drive them further away?

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:38 am

@Roger, I'll have to refer you to my first comment that, it is the combination of having at least one individual from the four key demographics, which makes this a good step forward for encouraging participation and improving the environment for Juniors to join by creating an achievable impetus. I would agree that the U11 rule on its own would be quite a step change for the Championships - but this appears to be taken out of context by some, almost presenting the current proposals as let's have 15 adults, and one U11 Junior, then of course, no Junior would be interested or feel very part of the team!

I think that you need different approaches at the different levels of chess; at the local league level, the focus should be on what Leagues and clubs are doing on attracting more Juniors to play. I think we need to look at what is most achievable, for example the current proposals are really not that difficult (which I've justified in my earlier comment). I know a couple of clubs in the Coventry League that would not have a single U11; whilst some clubs are better than others at attracting Juniors, from a League-wide viewpoint - suppose my own Coventry League was to field a team with these requirements, it would be easily achievable. So if we take a County-wide perspective, it will really not be that difficult. Obviously, there needs to be constant dialogue between the ECF with the Counties, and the Counties with their constituent Leagues/Clubs to ensure that even these conservative targets can be meet.

My personal opinion is that these proposals will neither lure or drive away the counties who no longer participate, but the proposed reforms will benefit the Counties who are currently involved and be a positive factor towards attracting more young players. Regarding counties that no longer partake in ECF competitions, I would ideally like to know the list of which counties this includes (and any stated reasons for leaving), but are you suggesting that the leaving the Championships unchanged as it is, will encourage these counties to come back?
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:48 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:38 am
but are you suggesting that the leaving the Championships unchanged as it is, will encourage these counties to come back?
I regard the current eligibility rules as completely unfair on smaller counties, In the absence of any change on these, the ECF can do what it likes to annoy Surrey, Yorkshire and other counties with lots of eligible players. It won't have any effect elsewhere other than to bolster the "not interested" lobby in the counties not currently participating. Arguably if the SCCU runs a competition where the 16 best eligible players compete, what stops it offering a challenge to Yorkshire, Lancashire and other counties feeling hard enough to fight it out for a national title?

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Hok Yin Stephen Chiu » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:08 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:48 am
I regard the current eligibility rules as completely unfair on smaller counties
You may have noticed my earlier statement that I was doubtful on the impact on small counties, but unless I'm missing something terrible, I struggle to see how it is 'completely unfair'! Surely, the easiest solution is to allow counties too small to field a single team to be able to combine with another county to field one team; otherwise, I suspect all the counties already fielding teams in the Championships will not struggle with these reforms...

I think I would agree that it wouldn't have an effect on the counties who do not currently take part, but I doubt it will "bolster the not interested lobby", I don't think either of us can pursue this line of argument without having the full list of counties that do not take part and each of their reasons why they have left.

(If @Alex sees this, perhaps he could help correct us either way)
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:21 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:08 am
[ Surely, the easiest solution is to allow counties too small to field a single team to be able to combine with another county to field one team
That's not allowed within the rules as currently formulated. The reform proposals could have modified this, but didn't.

In terms of counties not participating in Union competitions, that's most of the NCCU outside of Lancashire and Yorkshire and the ex SCCU /Chiltern three of Berks, Bucks and Oxon. I don't think all the WECU counties run teams either. Apart from a reluctance to declare their teams "open", I think all or almost all the MCCU counties still participate.

Berks, Bucks and Oxon have the excuse of having the 4NCL on the doorstep with much less stringent eligibility rules. Indeed the ECF CEO's county of Oxfordshire quite deliberately withdrew from the SCCU competition in favour of entering multiple teams under its own name in the 4NCL.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:58 am

Hok Yin Stephen Chiu wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:08 am
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:48 am
I regard the current eligibility rules as completely unfair on smaller counties
(If @Alex sees this, perhaps he could help correct us either way)
Roger is in a minority viewpoint. According to the results of the questionnaire, the two big reasons why counties don't enter teams are the fear they won't have enough players and the lack of a suitable captain. "Won't have enough players" came through everywhere, even from captains of teams in the bigger counties. The fact that they consider their team would not be very successful was not regarded as a reason why counties didn't enter.

Personally, I don't regard the eligibility rules as unfair on smaller counties, any more than the eligibility rules are unfair in the Olympiad.
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 1:21 am
Indeed the ECF CEO's county of Oxfordshire quite deliberately withdrew from the SCCU competition in favour of entering multiple teams under its own name in the 4NCL.
Except that they play in the Chiltern League, so there are still county teams playing for Oxfordshire in inter-county teams. So it's not as simple as you think.

Michael Flatt
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Michael Flatt » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:07 am

If the consultation and remodelling of the ECF competition is not aimed at attracting counties such as those competing in the Chiltern League then, perhaps, the objectives of the exercise need to be restated.

How will the success of the project be judged?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:11 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 8:58 am
According to the results of the questionnaire, the two big reasons why counties don't enter teams are the fear they won't have enough players and the lack of a suitable captain.
You don't perhaps think that an inability to recruit anybody who would agree to play has something to do with not enough players?

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:14 am

Having read the posts from Hok Yin Stephen Chiu I do feel he is posting in the wrong thread. There is a fairly big difference between increasing participation and attracting new demographics to chess in general and focusing these specifically on the county championships which due to its nature (mainly the distances involved) is not the best entry level event. There is also the fact that the lower graded sections do provide opportunities for juniors and new players to play county chess; removing one need to parachute them into the open section. Just on that note, one tweak that could be made to the rules is relaxing the requirement for clearing ungraded players as it's the biggest admin job for the controller and (more importantly) the worst tripwire for captains. In the lower sections I'm often guesstimating grades for juniors with limited or no data.
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Alex Holowczak
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Alex Holowczak » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:22 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:11 am
You don't perhaps think that an inability to recruit anybody who would agree to play has something to do with not enough players?
If Yorkshire respondents don't think they have enough players, then the problem goes beyond the size of the county.

But there is little point in prolonging discussion on that point. You think that the eligibility rules are a problem for smaller counties. Very few people, including officials of smaller counties, do. The proposals reflect what large numbers of people think are problems, and attempts at solutions to them.
Michael Flatt wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:07 am
If the consultation and remodelling of the ECF competition is not aimed at attracting counties
An interesting leap of judgement. What have I written that gave you that impression?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:30 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:22 am
What have I written that gave you that impression?
If there's an intent to persuade Berks or Bucks to reenter even the SCCU competitions, the contemptuous dismissal of eligibility issues says quite a lot. From a player perspective a county season record of something like played 8, won 1, drew 2, lost 5 gets dispiriting after a while and a likely outcome when facing opposition 30 points higher in many matches.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: County Championship Consultation

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:32 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:30 am

If there's an intent to persuade Berks or Bucks to reenter even the SCCU competitions, the contemptuous dismissal of eligibility issues says quite a lot.
What specific eligibility issues?
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
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