How much does a game cost?

General discussions about grading.
User avatar
Gareth Harley-Yeo
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Location: Wales
Contact:

How much does a game cost?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:00 pm

There is a lot of talk about game fees on the forum at the moment. 70p per game - £1.20 a game etc.

I was wondering, how much does it actually cost the ECF to grade a game, and how much is profit?

In Wales, the games are rated by the rating officer for each league. Any games played in congresses/international tournaments are also rated by the grading officer who normally rates you in your local league.

These guys usually get paid ~£50 a year by the local league for their efforts which usually include a website where Joe Public can see their grades change on a game by game basis.

I know the ECF needs money; otherwise it can't pay their top GM's to represent their country at Olympiads etc. I'm just not sure the game fee is the fairest way to do it. Shouldn't the ECF be encouraging English players to play more chess rather than make them assess if they can afford to!?

E Michael White
Posts: 1378
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2007 6:31 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by E Michael White » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:03 pm

4p per half game isnt it - but lots of voluntary work is donated in addition.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19086
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:37 pm

E Michael White wrote:4p per half game isnt it - but lots of voluntary work is donated in addition.
I think Andrew's paper had the costs as £ 17,000 in aggregate. On top of that there's all the work done by local graders in collecting and validating results. I'd suggest that cost drivers are the number of games and the numbers of players, so economies of scale may exist but aren't that dramatic.

Once upon a time, grading was almost self-financing. The direct costs was offset by sales of the grading book. In the days before on-line lists, every club bought at least one, possibly several. You couldn't go back there of course.

If you look at Game Fee as a mixture of a relative small rating fee to cover the direct costs plus an Event Cost paid by Clubs, Leagues and Congresses, you have a view on how ECF financing currently works. Of course you have Direct Member individual charges on top of that.

(edit) Always go back to Source material. The actual figure from http://englishchess.org.uk/farthing/ is £ 7950 so nearly £ 10,000 less than what we assumed.

For the players with published grades , the sum of "half-games" was 198933 for standard play and 60375 for rapid.

I don't think it costs any less to grade a game because it's rapid so cost per game 7950 /( 198933+60375) so just over 3p per game appears to cover the direct costs. Perhaps add another 2p to make a contribution to Office overheads. For a tournament of 100 players over 5 rounds, that's £ 25 for grading. For a league of 10 teams with 6 boards that would be £27. It's not the true economic cost because of the volunteer work in collecting results.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Fri Mar 18, 2011 7:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Richard Cowan
Posts: 120
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Richard Cowan » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:41 pm

It shouldn't cost that much though! If league secretaries enterall the results online in a system provided by the ECF, gradings could be calculated automatically. What's the problem with this? This is done already in Yorkshire. I'm sure the grader doesn't receive £17,000!

User avatar
Adam Raoof
Posts: 2577
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: NW4 4UY
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Mar 16, 2011 1:53 pm

Richard Cowan wrote:It shouldn't cost that much though! If league secretaries enterall the results online in a system provided by the ECF, gradings could be calculated automatically. What's the problem with this? This is done already in Yorkshire. I'm sure the grader doesn't receive £17,000!
The YCF ChessNuts grading is excellent, but even they acknowledge that it couldn't be done properly without the ECF database.

To be fair, the YCF doesn't have any paid staff, or an office, and all the responsibilities of the governing body for chess in England. Yes, you could probably automate all the processes for grading, but even then, the ECF has to raise money to provide a range of services to chess players. If you want to know what the ECF does for you I think Andrew Farthing has comprehensively listed those jobs in his paper. If you rely entirely on volunteers then you risk those volunteers disappearing overnight. Paid staff are essential, and that money has to be raised somehow.
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit - https://chesscircuit.substack.com/
Tornelo - https://tornelo.com/chess/orgs/chess-england
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" - https://gingergm.com/ref/106.html
Don’t stop playing chess!

Richard Cowan
Posts: 120
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Richard Cowan » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:01 pm

I agree to an extent, but a better system would also offer advantages for paid staff (however many there are!).
I understand that the office / ECF does more than just grading. The grading is what most people see however, and if it's done in the most efficient, transparent and simple way possible, then that gives people confidence that other aspects of the ECF which they have no involvement with, will be also. If it costs money year-on-year, and this can be reduced, and results in a better system, surely it should be?

Besides, the topic is "how much does a game cost?" not how much all that other stuff does. Reducing cost for grading the actual game means more can be spent on the other stuff!

Alex Holowczak
Posts: 9085
Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 5:18 pm
Location: Oldbury, Worcestershire
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Alex Holowczak » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:18 pm

Richard Cowan wrote:It shouldn't cost that much though! If league secretaries enterall the results online in a system provided by the ECF, gradings could be calculated automatically. What's the problem with this? This is done already in Yorkshire. I'm sure the grader doesn't receive £17,000!
Chess is very, very slow to catch up technologically to the world around it. I shan't mention the a-word... People still report league results with stamps on postcards. You've noted this slow modernisation with the congresses without an online entry form/payment; there are very few that do. Even the British Championship doesn't! I've suggested it should have one for a couple of years now...

Online submission of grading reports could be done. The software for grading exists within TD already; space-wise there should be enough for it to go online.

Richard Cowan
Posts: 120
Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 4:57 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Richard Cowan » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:25 pm

Exactly. I don't think chess can afford not to modernize. People ask how table-tennis / etc. work and run their membership schemes. They do it with modern technology. Chess needs to embrace this too. :)

User avatar
Adam Raoof
Posts: 2577
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: NW4 4UY
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:26 pm

Richard Cowan wrote:I agree to an extent, but a better system would also offer advantages for paid staff (however many there are!).
I understand that the office / ECF does more than just grading. The grading is what most people see however, and if it's done in the most efficient, transparent and simple way possible, then that gives people confidence that other aspects of the ECF which they have no involvement with, will be also. If it costs money year-on-year, and this can be reduced, and results in a better system, surely it should be?

Besides, the topic is "how much does a game cost?" not how much all that other stuff does. Reducing cost for grading the actual game means more can be spent on the other stuff!
OK then, the strict answer is that grading itself does not cost a penny. The ECF raises money by a tax on chess (a chess prevention tax, as Sean Hewitt would call it), linking it to grading and rating. It is an indirect tax, in that most people do not realise they are paying it. Nevertheless, I accept the principle that we pay the tax for the good of the game.

Strictly speaking, many of the services that your local council provide could be provided free by volunteers, (Big Society) but then the Council would have no money to spend on the less sexy services. The ECF could do away with staff, and even those few people who receive honoraria for their work on grading and rating. It could be entirely voluntary. However I am not entirely sure that is the kind of national governing body that I want.

What I would prefer is a system where people become members to support the Federation, paid by direct debit. That way they know what they are paying, to whom and how that money is being spent.
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit - https://chesscircuit.substack.com/
Tornelo - https://tornelo.com/chess/orgs/chess-england
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" - https://gingergm.com/ref/106.html
Don’t stop playing chess!

User avatar
Gareth Harley-Yeo
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Location: Wales
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:55 pm

Adam Raoof wrote: OK then, the strict answer is that grading itself does not cost a penny. The ECF raises money by a tax on chess (a chess prevention tax, as Sean Hewitt would call it), linking it to grading and rating. It is an indirect tax, in that most people do not realise they are paying it. Nevertheless, I accept the principle that we pay the tax for the good of the game.
Taxing income makes sense to me (I am a tax man after all). The more you earn, the more you pay. But with chess, is it fair to say, the more you play the more you pay? It really does seam counterproductive to the good of the game. I currently play in 4 different leagues (if you include the 4NCL). I'd be much less willing to answer my respective captains calls for assistance if I not only had to factor in the cost of travel to each venue but also the added cost of a game fee/tax.

I agree membership to the ECF is vital to keep it alive but paying per game will do more harm than good. As You wrote on the other thread. You are here to support the regular players, not the skittle players.

If it were up to me, which granted it's not. I'm a simple neutral observer. I'd go with the two tier approach.

Everyone must be an ECF member (or member of their respective national body) to play chess in England.

You can have two membership options.

(a) ECF League membership (£10)
(b) ECF Tournament membership (£10)

Or both (a)+(b) for the discounted price of say (£18)

The respective league could add say £2 to pocket for their own league if they so wished.

No game fees, 100% ECF membership. Everyone's a winner?

User avatar
Adam Raoof
Posts: 2577
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 4:16 pm
Location: NW4 4UY
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:00 pm

Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:
Adam Raoof wrote: OK then, the strict answer is that grading itself does not cost a penny. The ECF raises money by a tax on chess (a chess prevention tax, as Sean Hewitt would call it), linking it to grading and rating. It is an indirect tax, in that most people do not realise they are paying it. Nevertheless, I accept the principle that we pay the tax for the good of the game.
Taxing income makes sense to me (I am a tax man after all). The more you earn, the more you pay. But with chess, is it fair to say, the more you play the more you pay? It really does seam counterproductive to the good of the game. I currently play in 4 different leagues (if you include the 4NCL). I'd be much less willing to answer my respective captains calls for assistance if I not only had to factor in the cost of travel to each venue but also the added cost of a game fee/tax.
Agreed, that is why I am not in favour of game fee, but of membership, however it works.
Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:I agree membership to the ECF is vital to keep it alive but paying per game will do more harm than good. As You wrote on the other thread. You are here to support the regular players, not the skittle players.

If it were up to me, which granted it's not. I'm a simple neutral observer. I'd go with the two tier approach.

Everyone must be an ECF member (or member of their respective national body) to play chess in England.

You can have two membership options.

(a) ECF League membership (£10)
(b) ECF Tournament membership (£10)

Or both (a)+(b) for the discounted price of say (£18)

The respective league could add say £2 to pocket for their own league if they so wished.

No game fees, 100% ECF membership. Everyone's a winner?
With refinements, yes!
Adam Raoof IA, IO
The Chess Circuit - https://chesscircuit.substack.com/
Tornelo - https://tornelo.com/chess/orgs/chess-england
Simon Williams "The Ginger GM" - https://gingergm.com/ref/106.html
Don’t stop playing chess!

User avatar
Gareth Harley-Yeo
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Location: Wales
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:20 pm

The added bonus of my system would be that those who just want to play a congress but dont want to pay the £10 can do so with the permission of the congress organiser, they just won’t have their games graded.

And a big one that's close to the Sambuca heart right now, ECF membership for those who solely play 4NCL. The current full membership costs really put off some players but the fact they'd only have to pay the one option of £10 would make life much easier for quite a few captains I'm sure.

Alex McFarlane
Posts: 1530
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 8:52 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Alex McFarlane » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:29 pm

Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:The added bonus of my system would be that those who just want to play a congress but dont want to pay the £10 can do so with the permission of the congress organiser, they just won’t have their games graded.
If you did this you would rapidly spot the sharks (no pun intended) remaining ungraded and playing in lower sections to win the prize money.

I doubt if encouraging a large number of ungraded players is the way forward for anyone.

User avatar
Gareth Harley-Yeo
Posts: 307
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:58 pm
Location: Wales
Contact:

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:42 pm

Alex McFarlane wrote:
Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:The added bonus of my system would be that those who just want to play a congress but dont want to pay the £10 can do so with the permission of the congress organiser, they just won’t have their games graded.
If you did this you would rapidly spot the sharks (no pun intended) remaining ungraded and playing in lower sections to win the prize money.

I doubt if encouraging a large number of ungraded players is the way forward for anyone.
As I said it would be down to the congress organiser if he wanted to allow a guy that's just come in off the street to try his hand at chess whether or not to let him play without paying the ECF fee or not.

Let the decision be made at local level, a la the Big Society :shock:

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19086
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: How much does a game cost?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Mar 16, 2011 4:18 pm

Gareth Harley-Yeo wrote:And a big one that's close to the Sambuca heart right now, ECF membership for those who solely play 4NCL. The current full membership costs really put off some players but the fact they'd only have to pay the one option of £10 would make life much easier for quite a few captains I'm sure.
To the extent that they are allowed to declare themselves Welsh, they just join the WCU and play internationally as WLS.

Post Reply