Victory for the Dinosaurs

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Jon Underwood
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Jon Underwood » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:19 pm

Jaimie Wilson wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:15 pm
Like many here, I love county chess and see it as important so I really appreciate the efforts of everyone involved to help keep it in the best shape possible.

I must admit though that when I heard that Sussex had been drawn against Lancashire in the Open section I thought it was an April fools'! Then I realised that 3 of the unions weren't even involved.. Now whilst I totally understand why you wouldn't be willing to travel a long way for an 'almost certain defeat', I think it's worth noting that my lot, Sussex, achieved 2nd place in the very competitive SCCU with an average grade of 184/185. This means we're only a wee bit stronger on paper than the teams in the patently strong Minor counties competition (which I'm pleased to see appears to be in rude health). What's more, chess isn't played on paper (it's usually played on plastic).

I can't speak for for people in the Western, Midland and Eastern unions and I'm certainly not dismissing their concerns but in recent years when Sussex have been in the Minor we've lost to Leicestershire and Bedfordshire with a team only slightly weaker (if at all) than our regular so I'm quite sure there are more than 6 counties out there potentially capable of getting the better of the South Saxons, just as the Wessex army did back in the 8th century.
There aren't that many counties out there capable of getting the better of Yorkshire, Lancs and a few others though. You've lost to Leics and Beds with a level playing field, and there is every chance that the really big teams would too if restricted to average 180.

If you look back through a century of winners of the county championship they have always come from a county with part of a large population centre, except when Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire have won it for equally obvious reasons. A WECU county has apparently never ever won, not even Hants. The proposal to scrap the minor counties has generated something between fury and "why do we bother" down here.

If it happens it's entirely possible there won't be a single WECU entry next year at any level (maybe Hants would stay in the U140). Not sure how that helps county chess.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:35 pm

Alan Walton wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:37 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 3:23 pm
Another route open to Surrey would be to ask one of the three non Open competing Unions (Midlands, East and West) to nominate them for the Open competition. They might have to affiliate and go through a few constitutional hoops but there is no ultimate barrier. Again it is unlikely but perfectly legal under the competition rules, as competing counties are nominated by the unions and who and how is an internal union matter.
At the beginning of season, Greater Manchester asked the MCCU if they would nominate us into the Open competition since currently no county actually wants to play this section

It was refused saying that we would have to still enter the qualifying competition if they were going to nominate us
That does sound rather short sighted to me but the matter is purely an internal one for the MCCU.

The ECF wanted to allow Greater Manchester (and any other county) to be able to enter directly but even suggesting this appears to be tantamount to heresy.

I should add that I'm only posting as a slightly cynical controller emeritus.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Michael Flatt
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:39 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:35 pm
That does sound rather short sighted to me but the matter is purely an internal one for the MCCU.

The ECF wanted to allow Greater Manchester (and any other county) to be able to enter directly but even suggesting this appears to be tantamount to heresy.

I should add that I'm only posting as a slightly cynical controller emeritus.
Simply reading the post immediately below the one that you are commenting on would have given you the explanation.

MCCU ran a Championship competition in which the two winners were offered a nomination to either the ECF Open or Minor Counties. Why would the MCCU offer a nomination to third team that didn't take part in their Championships?

Richard Bates
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Richard Bates » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:01 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:39 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:35 pm
That does sound rather short sighted to me but the matter is purely an internal one for the MCCU.

The ECF wanted to allow Greater Manchester (and any other county) to be able to enter directly but even suggesting this appears to be tantamount to heresy.

I should add that I'm only posting as a slightly cynical controller emeritus.
Simply reading the post immediately below the one that you are commenting on would have given you the explanation.

MCCU ran a Championship competition in which the two winners were offered a nomination to either the ECF Open or Minor Counties. Why would the MCCU offer a nomination to third team that didn't take part in their Championships?
Is that actually true? It looks to me as if the MCCU run an Open and a Minor competition. It’s just they don’t get any entries to the Open. It’s not entirely clear why GM couldn’t have just entered the Open which would have guaranteed their nominations? The subsequent granting of an option to the top two in the Minor to enter the national Open competition just seems a bit bizarre.

Michael Flatt
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Michael Flatt » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:15 pm

It would obviously be best if the MCCU answered for themselves, but their website page dated 11th September shows what was decided at the beginning of the season before any matches had taken place.
MCCU website wrote: 11 Sep. Overall there are two new teams this year. Derbyshire and Leicestershire - shown in red in the table below - play in the under-120 competition. There were no entries for the Open section and five counties that entered the Minor will compete for the Midland Counties Team Championship. The two top teams will be asked to choose nominations to compete in either the Open or the Minor Counties championships in the national stages.
Ref: http://www.mccu.org.uk/cmatch.htm

Richard Bates
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Richard Bates » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:29 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:15 pm
It would obviously be best if the MCCU answered for themselves, but their website page dated 11th September shows what was decided at the beginning of the season before any matches had taken place.
MCCU website wrote: 11 Sep. Overall there are two new teams this year. Derbyshire and Leicestershire - shown in red in the table below - play in the under-120 competition. There were no entries for the Open section and five counties that entered the Minor will compete for the Midland Counties Team Championship. The two top teams will be asked to choose nominations to compete in either the Open or the Minor Counties championships in the national stages.
Ref: http://www.mccu.org.uk/cmatch.htm
Yep sorry my initial question was somewhat out of place in the context. I think I meant to query whether the (slightly strange IMO) rules adopted for qualification were the reason why GM’s request was turned down. The problem with the MCCU rules as (I think they formerly existed - happy to be corrected) is that they forced a choice on prospective counties between participating in Union stage matches and gaining nomination for the Open.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:33 pm

"What's more, chess isn't played on paper "

Well, no. You lose 12-0 on default.

Neil Graham
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Neil Graham » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:38 pm

Here is the MCCU relating to its Championship

The Championship section (Open and Minor) will be played as one section within the MCCU stages. If there are 8 or more teams then this will be in 2 zones as described above. The winner of this section will be declared the MCCU Champions. For the purposes of qualification to the ECF stages counties should elect whether they wish to receive nominations for the Open or Minor section. This decision should be made on or before 31 December.

All the competing counties opted to elect to be nominated into the Minor Section in 2017-18. This system was adopted after the embarrassment caused by Staffordshire a couple of seasons ago. They wished to play in the "Open" section and refused to play any games in the Union competitions. People will remember that about three days before they were due to play their match in the National in 2016, Staffordshire defaulted.

At the time I wrote on here The MCCU rules designate separate Open and Minor Counties Championship competitions. A couple of seasons ago although Staffordshire were the only MCCU county competing in the Open event, all the MCCU Counties competed in a competition to determine the Midlands Champions. Unfortunately this was an agreement between the various counties and the rules were never amended. Consequently when I proposed this take place this season, Staffordshire demurred. Hopefully the rules might be amended next season to give a proper competition in the Union irrespective of whether a team wishes to compete in the Open or Minor.

Going back to Lawrence's point. What makes you think Staffordshire will actually raise a team to compete in the semi-final - unless you organise it yourself. Staffordshire were due to play in the MCCU U160 competition in which they'd entered a team but defaulted and then withdrew without playing any matches. Their explanation? They had no captain! :?


The whole thread here makes interesting reading viewtopic.php?f=35&t=8093 to see how things have progressed!

Richard Bates
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Richard Bates » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:46 pm

Neil Graham wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:38 pm
Here is the MCCU relating to its Championship

The Championship section (Open and Minor) will be played as one section within the MCCU stages. If there are 8 or more teams then this will be in 2 zones as described above. The winner of this section will be declared the MCCU Champions. For the purposes of qualification to the ECF stages counties should elect whether they wish to receive nominations for the Open or Minor section. This decision should be made on or before 31 December.

All the competing counties opted to elect to be nominated into the Minor Section in 2017-18. This system was adopted after the embarrassment caused by Staffordshire a couple of seasons ago. They wished to play in the "Open" section and refused to play any games in the Union competitions. People will remember that about three days before they were due to play their match in the National in 2016, Staffordshire defaulted.

At the time I wrote on here The MCCU rules designate separate Open and Minor Counties Championship competitions. A couple of seasons ago although Staffordshire were the only MCCU county competing in the Open event, all the MCCU Counties competed in a competition to determine the Midlands Champions. Unfortunately this was an agreement between the various counties and the rules were never amended. Consequently when I proposed this take place this season, Staffordshire demurred. Hopefully the rules might be amended next season to give a proper competition in the Union irrespective of whether a team wishes to compete in the Open or Minor.

Going back to Lawrence's point. What makes you think Staffordshire will actually raise a team to compete in the semi-final - unless you organise it yourself. Staffordshire were due to play in the MCCU U160 competition in which they'd entered a team but defaulted and then withdrew without playing any matches. Their explanation? They had no captain! :?


The whole thread here makes interesting reading viewtopic.php?f=35&t=8093 to see how things have progressed!
Thanks Neil, i’m obviously a bit out of date. Although it seems a bit confusing that the MCCU site refers to “no entries in the Open competition” if there isn’t actually an Open competition as such to enter?

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:55 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:39 pm
Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 6:35 pm
That does sound rather short sighted to me but the matter is purely an internal one for the MCCU.

The ECF wanted to allow Greater Manchester (and any other county) to be able to enter directly but even suggesting this appears to be tantamount to heresy.

I should add that I'm only posting as a slightly cynical controller emeritus.
Simply reading the post immediately below the one that you are commenting on would have given you the explanation.

MCCU ran a Championship competition in which the two winners were offered a nomination to either the ECF Open or Minor Counties. Why would the MCCU offer a nomination to third team that didn't take part in their Championships?
I get that. I'm merely trying to illustrate how much the competition hinges upon the politics of the county unions. I have to admit I'm starting to see some merit in David Sedgwick's suggestion that the event be removed from ECF control and given to a committee of the unions. Given the grief the ECF (and myself as controller) receive during the national stages every year it would be great to see the dinosaurs with nobody to blame except themselves.

I have to admit that I'm pessimistic about the long term viability of the county championships when the demographic collapse that must surely hit the UK chess scene happens in a decade's time. Removing the union link wouldn't prevent that, although it would give the ECF more flexibility to batten down the hatches when the storm hits. Those such as myself, Alex Holowczak, Thomas Thorpe and others who missed the glory days by virtue of being born too late (not our fault) can hardly be blamed for thinking of the future. I don't see the game of chess dying entirely in the UK (although I'll admit to dark nights of the soul when I worry otherwise) the way it is played and organised will have to change radically.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:50 pm

Richard Bates wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:29 pm
Michael Flatt wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:15 pm
It would obviously be best if the MCCU answered for themselves, but their website page dated 11th September shows what was decided at the beginning of the season before any matches had taken place.
MCCU website wrote: 11 Sep. Overall there are two new teams this year. Derbyshire and Leicestershire - shown in red in the table below - play in the under-120 competition. There were no entries for the Open section and five counties that entered the Minor will compete for the Midland Counties Team Championship. The two top teams will be asked to choose nominations to compete in either the Open or the Minor Counties championships in the national stages.
Ref: http://www.mccu.org.uk/cmatch.htm
Yep sorry my initial question was somewhat out of place in the context. I think I meant to query whether the (slightly strange IMO) rules adopted for qualification were the reason why GM’s request was turned down. The problem with the MCCU rules as (I think they formerly existed - happy to be corrected) is that they forced a choice on prospective counties between participating in Union stage matches and gaining nomination for the Open.
If you go back to 2010/11, there were two MCCU competitions that were stable: http://www.mccu.org.uk/cm10-11/seasonnews.htm
- Open, in which teams competed for the Championship. There were 4 teams in it, and the top 3 were nominated to the ECF Open. The team that finished 4th was eliminated.
- Minor, in which teams competed for nominations to the Minor, albeit it was played to Open rules. There were 5 teams in it, and the top 2 were nominated to ECF Minor.

Most of those rules were changed, I understand, as a result of the Staffordshire problem that has been discussed before I posted.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:18 am

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 11:50 pm
- Open, in which teams competed for the Championship. There were 4 teams in it, and the top 3 were nominated to the ECF Open. The team that finished 4th was eliminated.
- Minor, in which teams competed for nominations to the Minor, albeit it was played to Open rules. There were 5 teams in it, and the top 2 were nominated to ECF Minor.
Back in the days when the SCCU competition had 9 or 10 teams, the top 3 would qualify for the Open and the next 2 for the Minor. There was also a rule, probably imposed by the BCF, that you were a minor county if you hadn't qualified for the Open in the previous 5 years. There were no grading restrictions on the Minor Counties. That was replaced by the grading average rule when the disorganisation of Middlesex was such that they failed to qualify 5 years running and thus became a Minor County.

NickFaulks
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Apr 06, 2018 1:19 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Thu Apr 05, 2018 10:55 pm
it would be great to see the dinosaurs with nobody to blame except themselves.
So there is something upon which both sides agree.

Neil Graham
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Neil Graham » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:13 pm

Can I enlarge on Alex's reply about the MCCU Counties Championship?

The situation in 2010/11 was as quoted but by 2012/3 the number of entrants to the Open Section had fallen to two (Warwickshire and Staffordshire) and by 2013 just one (Staffordshire).

The MCCU website states:- Seasons 2013-6. There was one entry only for the Open tournament and counties agreed that all teams that had entered for the Open or Minor Counties should compete for the MCCU team county championship using East and West zones followed by finals matches between top teams in each zone. Staffordshire the only entry for the Open were nominated for a place in the national stages and remaining teams competed for places in the national stages of the Minor Counties tournament in 2014 and 2015, but not in 2016.

Consequently Notts played Staffordshire in the MCCU Final in 2013/14 winning for the first time since 1975. However Notts continued into the Minor Counties whilst Staffordshire played in the Open. We know what happened in 2015/6; Staffordshire didn't want to partake of these arrangements and declined to play the other MCCU Counties and went into the Open where they defaulted! This is why the rule was changed to reflect the situation as it was then - and now all Midlands Counties must play in the Midlands Championships to gain entry to whichever section they have opted for.

I'll return to the question of Open & Minor in the County Championship consultation thread. Nottinghamshire made the decision to enter the Minor as we were not strong enough to play in the Open Section. The Minor (with an average of 180 and below) is well suited to our county side. There are only two players graded 200+ in Notts who wish to represent the county whereas the average for the winning Open team has often been over 200. Last year the two finalists average grades were 202 & 198. Staffordshire were never able to progress beyond the quarter-final when they played.

Mick Norris
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Re: Victory for the Dinosaurs

Post by Mick Norris » Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:47 pm

Neil Graham wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 12:13 pm
Can I enlarge on Alex's reply about the MCCU Counties Championship?

The situation in 2010/11 was as quoted but by 2012/3 the number of entrants to the Open Section had fallen to two (Warwickshire and Staffordshire) and by 2013 just one (Staffordshire).

The MCCU website states:- Seasons 2013-6. There was one entry only for the Open tournament and counties agreed that all teams that had entered for the Open or Minor Counties should compete for the MCCU team county championship using East and West zones followed by finals matches between top teams in each zone. Staffordshire the only entry for the Open were nominated for a place in the national stages and remaining teams competed for places in the national stages of the Minor Counties tournament in 2014 and 2015, but not in 2016.

Consequently Notts played Staffordshire in the MCCU Final in 2013/14 winning for the first time since 1975. However Notts continued into the Minor Counties whilst Staffordshire played in the Open. We know what happened in 2015/6; Staffordshire didn't want to partake of these arrangements and declined to play the other MCCU Counties and went into the Open where they defaulted! This is why the rule was changed to reflect the situation as it was then - and now all Midlands Counties must play in the Midlands Championships to gain entry to whichever section they have opted for
Or to put it another way, because Staffs defaulted in 2016, the MCCU have no nominations to the 2018 ECF Open even though they had 1 county who wished to take up that nomination :roll:
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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