Rough Guide to new grades

General discussions about grading.
Justin Hadi

Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Justin Hadi » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:34 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:Most of my friends, and presumably most children, don't play for senior clubs until they get to 15/16 sort of age.
Why not? I have played chess in 3 counties plus London and there has always been provision for juniors under 15/16 to play in at least one club in each county. For example at my old club Warley Quinborne (which isn't at all far from bartley green) there was a junior under 13 playing when I was there. This holds If parents are prepared to give lifts (but you could probably catch a bus) - once a week isn't excessive to support your son/daughter playing.
Alex Holowczak wrote:Therefore, the only way they can play 30 games per season is to play 6 tournaments per season. In the Midlands area, there aren't 6 tournaments per season to play in.
You can also play in county matches and get lifts from other players, there are up to around 10 of these per season per county team, and you may get picked for more than one team. Even if you play 15 games per season you get a grade reflective over two seasons which is not that bad. If you play 6 games per season of course there will be accuracy issues on your grade.

The issues of travel are relevant to everyone, not just juniors. You do need supportive parents if you want to play a lot of games. Again, if you can get lifts or travel with people from a senior club you don't have a problem going a bit further out. There are plenty of tournaments in the Midlands - Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, etc, it should be easy to get 30 games. For example Birmingham New Street to Leicester is 1 hour on the train. It's not a fault of the grading system if you're not prepared to join a local chess club, or travel to adjacent counties to play.

Michele Clack
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Michele Clack » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:43 pm

This takes the biscuit. You complain that you're not getting the service and then it transpires you're not prepared to pay for the service.

If people in your county don't like having to pay Game Fee for each event, you can form yourselves into a Membership Organisation, as they've done in Leicestershire.
Shades of Marie Antoinette here except that you seem to be suggesting biscuits rather than cake! If Alex, when he was at school, could not get youngsters to pay £1 to enter the Schools Chess Challenge how on earth was he going to persuade them to part with say £5 for junior membership to an ecf scheme.

Seriously, I think it is very important that the chess community realise just how parlous a state chess is in in the midlands. It's clear from what Alex said that he only had 4 or 5 seriously engaged junior chess players in his school and was doing his level best to get more interested. Given the effort he has clearly put in personally I'm not surprised that he is frustrated at the lack of opportunities for junior players.

Very few schools around here even play chess which makes it hard to get juniors involved at club level. I have been running a club at my local first school (ages5-9) for 4 years and one of my first students spent nearly 3 years doggedly trying to persuade his middle school (9-13)to start a club. A few weeks ago they finally agreed to let him run the club under the supervision of the library staff. Well done to him but this shows the general level of indifference. There are a few green shoots in Worcestershire with the Worcestershire Junior Academy started by Ray Collett and run by Andrew Moore. Of course Warwickshire has always been rather stronger because it includes Birmingham. However, a traditionally big breeding ground in Birmingham the King Edward Grammar Schools, one of which I believe Alex belonged to, don't seem to be producing so many players now going by his experiences.

The Birmingham League next season has already lost 3 teams from Division 4. Redditch have taken a gamble on finding enough players and put in an extra team in Division 6 but most clubs seem to be still contracting. We've been putting in effort to recruit new players and are quite hopeful at the moment. Now if we get people to give it a try how is it going to help if they have to join the ECF before playing league games and hopefully getting hooked? If you have people queueing up to play League chess I suppose you would argue that if they won't pay up then they are no use anyway, but chess is a great game and competitive chess even better and some will get hooked who might have not bothered. When every member counts towards the survival of chess in your town and ultimately your local leagues this really matters. So when you suggest we follow other areas where chess is clearly more popular please spare a thought for the people in this area, Alex included, who are doing their level best to improve the opportunities for chess here. We need your support not your derision.

Andrew Farthing
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Andrew Farthing » Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:16 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
michele clack wrote:
The only tournaments most could play in are the one in Dudley, the one in Walsall (Staffordshire Congress), and the one in Arden (Warwickshire Championship).
Don't forget that this year Andrew Moore and Andrew Farthing are organising a Worcestershire Open in Bromsgrove on 25th and 26th July. The details can be downloaded from the ECF website calender. There were still a few places left the other day so anyone interested should get their entry in pretty quickly.
Yes, I'm planning to enter it, but I don't think it's graded is it? There's no mention of it on the ECF website as being graded, other tournaments say "ECF Graded", for instance, but this one doesn't. Do you know whether it is, or otherwise?
Sorry for the belated response to this (I've only just spotted it). I can confirm that the Worcestershire Open/U155/U105 events on 25-26 July are definitely graded.

Entries welcome!

Andrew Farthing

Neill Cooper
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Neill Cooper » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:37 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:I was prepared to pay for it. Unfortunately, out of the 40 or so people in the tournament, only about 4 players were. So we couldn't really pay 10x the fee it would normally be for all of the other games to get graded.
It would be very unusual for an internal school tournament to be graded (did you play with clocks in all matches?)
Similarly not all junior tournaments are graded - or well publicised (e.g. the Birmingham U18 and U14 inter-school Saturday events, Millfield International, the NYCA events)

David Sedgwick
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by David Sedgwick » Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:13 pm

michele clack wrote:
This takes the biscuit. You complain that you're not getting the service and then it transpires you're not prepared to pay for the service.

If people in your county don't like having to pay Game Fee for each event, you can form yourselves into a Membership Organisation, as they've done in Leicestershire.
Shades of Marie Antoinette here except that you seem to be suggesting biscuits rather than cake! If Alex, when he was at school, could not get youngsters to pay £1 to enter the Schools Chess Challenge how on earth was he going to persuade them to part with say £5 for junior membership to an ecf scheme.

Seriously, I think it is very important that the chess community realise just how parlous a state chess is in in the midlands.


So when you suggest we follow other areas where chess is clearly more popular please spare a thought for the people in this area, Alex included, who are doing their level best to improve the opportunities for chess here. We need your support not your derision.
I wasn't suggesting, nor do I happen to think, that a membership scheme would be right for every county.

I cited Leicestershire as an example because:
a) it is in the Midlands;
b) the membership scheme seems to have resulted in a significant number of extra graded games there.

If suggesting an annual membership fee of £5-£6 for juniors is going to provoke comparisons with Marie Antoinette, then it's true that I can't usefully contribute to the discussion.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:44 pm

Justin Hadi wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:Most of my friends, and presumably most children, don't play for senior clubs until they get to 15/16 sort of age.
Why not? I have played chess in 3 counties plus London and there has always been provision for juniors under 15/16 to play in at least one club in each county. For example at my old club Warley Quinborne (which isn't at all far from bartley green) there was a junior under 13 playing when I was there. This holds If parents are prepared to give lifts (but you could probably catch a bus) - once a week isn't excessive to support your son/daughter playing.
Well, that is my current club! (Just lost a game for them tonight, as a matter of fact :( ) Anyway, they used to get juniors because of Birmingham Checkmate and Warley Quinborne sharing Quinborne Community Centre. Now, the "senior" club plays up the road at the Midland Red Social club. That, coupled with the death of Mike Fox, has meant that the previously existing link between the two has been lost. The senior clubs aren't advertised at the junior club, but more importantly, there aren't that many juniors there to advertise it to. That's pretty much what I had to do tonight to get to St. George's Church, I had to get the train from Rowley Regis -> Jewellery Quarter and walk to the venue. You can imagine why some parents would think it's a bit of a faff.
Justin Hadi wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:Therefore, the only way they can play 30 games per season is to play 6 tournaments per season. In the Midlands area, there aren't 6 tournaments per season to play in.
You can also play in county matches and get lifts from other players, there are up to around 10 of these per season per county team, and you may get picked for more than one team. Even if you play 15 games per season you get a grade reflective over two seasons which is not that bad. If you play 6 games per season of course there will be accuracy issues on your grade.
This year, a few players started to play County chess. I only found out about it for Worcestershire a few weeks ago - I didn't even know they fielded a team (I have friends who play for Staffordshire and Warwickshire). I was aware of the setup, but had no way of finding out how to get involved.
Justin Hadi wrote: The issues of travel are relevant to everyone, not just juniors. You do need supportive parents if you want to play a lot of games. Again, if you can get lifts or travel with people from a senior club you don't have a problem going a bit further out. There are plenty of tournaments in the Midlands - Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, etc, it should be easy to get 30 games. For example Birmingham New Street to Leicester is 1 hour on the train. It's not a fault of the grading system if you're not prepared to join a local chess club, or travel to adjacent counties to play.
You're right about the train, but try doing that on a Sunday morning. I'm going to stuggle to get to Catshill for Round 4 of the Sunday of the Worcestershire Open. I have to get the 126 to just outside Moor Street station, then walk down past New Street to catch the 144 at 0830. If I miss that, then the next 144 is at 1030. Later starts on Sundays would be a big help in this sort of thing for me. Warwick is sometimes out of bounds, because the earliest a train arrives at either Warwick station on a Sunday is about a quarter-to-ten. So if you arrive on time, you then have about a one mile walk to the venue, you're going to lose Round Four just because of the default time. When I played in the Warwickshire Championship, I had to go Rowley Regis -> Dorridge and back on the Saturday, then 126 + Moor Street -> Dorridge on Sunday morning, then Dorridge -> Rowley Regis on the Sunday afternoon. And catch a bus to/from Rowley Regis. Being a student, I could just use my pass, but it was a tiring journey. I got to Moor Street station on the Sunday at about 0800, and it was still locked!

You can see why this sort of thing can put people off entering tournaments. If parents aren't willing to lend a hand, it's tough.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Alex Holowczak » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:54 pm

Neill Cooper wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote:I was prepared to pay for it. Unfortunately, out of the 40 or so people in the tournament, only about 4 players were. So we couldn't really pay 10x the fee it would normally be for all of the other games to get graded.
It would be very unusual for an internal school tournament to be graded (did you play with clocks in all matches?)
Similarly not all junior tournaments are graded - or well publicised (e.g. the Birmingham U18 and U14 inter-school Saturday events, Millfield International, the NYCA events)
We did use clocks in all matches. Each game had 45 minutes each on the clock, ran over two lunchtimes (or after school), with games being written down, sealed moves etc. As for the Birmingham U18 and U14 events, you're right, they're not graded. They're organised by the same people who organise the ungraded Birmingham Junior League.

May be worth noting here: When it was my school's turn to organise the League, we made sure we sent out an invitation to every school in Birmingham, by post. We had a big list of them. Only 7 of them took part. It was well publicised, but no one was interested.

Steve Rooney
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Steve Rooney » Tue Jul 07, 2009 3:59 pm

Shropshire has had two all-junior teams competing in its main league for the past couple of seasons. The teams have been able to play all their games at home (except the one against each other of course) which has made it much easier to get the juniors involved. The support of the other teams in the division and the league officials has been invaluable in avoiding the travelling, and more importantly the very late finishes, that away fixtures involve in the county.

The juniors' standard of chess at long play has undoubtedly benefited from playing in the league and they have also competed in the MCCU U100 for the past two years - no match wins yet in the latter, but some good individual performances. These initiatives have kept more of our teenage juniors active than in past years where only the very strongest survived the transition to adult clubs in their mid-teens. Of course, the reality is that most of them may end up moving out of the county after school, but I believe that getting more juniors active in 'adult' leagues everywhere is important for the future of the game.

Justin Hadi

Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Justin Hadi » Thu Aug 20, 2009 8:58 am

Alex Holowczak wrote: You're right about the train, but try doing that on a Sunday morning. I'm going to stuggle to get to Catshill for Round 4 of the Sunday of the Worcestershire Open. I have to get the 126 to just outside Moor Street station, then walk down past New Street to catch the 144 at 0830. If I miss that, then the next 144 is at 1030. Later starts on Sundays would be a big help in this sort of thing for me. Warwick is sometimes out of bounds, because the earliest a train arrives at either Warwick station on a Sunday is about a quarter-to-ten. So if you arrive on time, you then have about a one mile walk to the venue, you're going to lose Round Four just because of the default time. When I played in the Warwickshire Championship, I had to go Rowley Regis -> Dorridge and back on the Saturday, then 126 + Moor Street -> Dorridge on Sunday morning, then Dorridge -> Rowley Regis on the Sunday afternoon. And catch a bus to/from Rowley Regis. Being a student, I could just use my pass, but it was a tiring journey. I got to Moor Street station on the Sunday at about 0800, and it was still locked!

You can see why this sort of thing can put people off entering tournaments. If parents aren't willing to lend a hand, it's tough.
Could you get a bye in round 4 and still play the tournaments? I sympathise, when I started playing, I could only play 2 tournaments per year because of the same problems (and one of those was a rapidplay). Unforunately it's not a problem that's going to be sorted any time soon.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: Rough Guide to new grades

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Aug 20, 2009 9:34 am

Justin Hadi wrote:
Alex Holowczak wrote: You're right about the train, but try doing that on a Sunday morning. I'm going to stuggle to get to Catshill for Round 4 of the Sunday of the Worcestershire Open. I have to get the 126 to just outside Moor Street station, then walk down past New Street to catch the 144 at 0830. If I miss that, then the next 144 is at 1030. Later starts on Sundays would be a big help in this sort of thing for me. Warwick is sometimes out of bounds, because the earliest a train arrives at either Warwick station on a Sunday is about a quarter-to-ten. So if you arrive on time, you then have about a one mile walk to the venue, you're going to lose Round Four just because of the default time. When I played in the Warwickshire Championship, I had to go Rowley Regis -> Dorridge and back on the Saturday, then 126 + Moor Street -> Dorridge on Sunday morning, then Dorridge -> Rowley Regis on the Sunday afternoon. And catch a bus to/from Rowley Regis. Being a student, I could just use my pass, but it was a tiring journey. I got to Moor Street station on the Sunday at about 0800, and it was still locked!

You can see why this sort of thing can put people off entering tournaments. If parents aren't willing to lend a hand, it's tough.
Could you get a bye in round 4 and still play the tournaments? I sympathise, when I started playing, I could only play 2 tournaments per year because of the same problems (and one of those was a rapidplay). Unforunately it's not a problem that's going to be sorted any time soon.
I usually take the bye in Round 3, but maybe taking it in Round 4 would be more beneficial. It might be a late finish on the Saturday, but at least travel is possible.

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