Database Upgrade

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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:05 pm

It seems to me that in this electronic age we should be publishing grades more often than once a year.
Noting that you can now establish your current FIDE rating by taking the current list and adding the most recent performance I would suggest that the ECF system could

(a) retain the principle of annual updates to the "official" grade. The rapidplay list which is updated half-yearly suffers from the nonsense that your grade can go up without playing.

(b) Get tournament and league results reported in a timely manner, process them and put up "provisional this season" on the website. This could be an update every month or every other month. You might also want to freeze the estimates for new players every 3 or 6 months to avoid too many retrospective changes. This would give those who wanted to use "up to date" measures for selection, board orders or pairing systems the ability to use them without the issues of trying to make a system based on a rolling 12 months actually work.

It was a rolling 12 month approach that was proposed and rejected a while back - this would be unpopular since it breaks the distinctive feature (for players playing more than 30 games) in the ECF system of a discrete performance measurement without a memory of past results. Under an Elo system, if your playing standard improves by a significant amount, it takes a while for the rating to catch up. In the ECF system it's immediate from the end of the season provided you've played 30 games at the new level.

Leonard Barden
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Leonard Barden » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:30 pm

In reply to Matthew Turner above, I don't think that Short, Norwood, Ian Wells, Davies, Hawksworth, Adams, Taulbut, Flear, Lane, Arkell, Hebden, Lawton, Gawain Jones, Parker, Haslinger, Hanley, Buckley, Pein, Sheila Jackson, Rudd, Cooper or James Howell (or earlier Miles, Paul Littlewood or Mestel) were disadvantaged by my influence. I took the view that talents far from London had a built-in handicap and that their achievements therefore deserved extra respect.
Last edited by Leonard Barden on Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Richard Bates
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:38 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:In reply to Matthew Turner above, I don't think that Short, Norwood, Ian Wells, Davies, Hawksworth, Adams, Taulbut, Flear, Lane, Arkell, Hebden, Lawton, or James Howell (or earlier Miles and Mestel) were disadvantaged by my influence.
When did the "Barden grades" end?

Leonard Barden
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Leonard Barden » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:00 pm

They sagged in the 1980s when my mother developed Alzheimer's.

Richard Bates
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Richard Bates » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:22 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:They sagged in the 1980s when my mother developed Alzheimer's.
That would explain why I've never heard of them! Vaguely have a memory of someone (probably Bob Wade) collating unofficial "World Junior Rankings" at one point, but i don't think that involved more than taking names off the FIDE lists.

Matthew Turner
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Matthew Turner » Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:03 am

I am not sure that all the juniors promoted by Leonard as the future of British chess have reached such exalted heights (in chess terms). Leonard tirelessly promoted Peter Williams a few years ago, but apparently now he doesn't make the grade. Similarly, I'm not sure what happened to Kevin Risk or George Hassabis.
I'm not saying that I would have done any better at picking winners (in fact I would almost certainly have done worse). The problem was that Barden grades were subjective and when dealing with youngsters one needs to be as objective and transparent as possible.

Leonard Barden
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:48 am

I think I gave Peter Williams one plug in a Grand Prix report. 'Tirelessly promoted'? It was Demis Hassabis, not George. He was around 2200 strength at age 12 but then diverged to become a millionaire in writing online games and is now eminent in the field of artificial intelligence. In assessing large numbers of junior talents, any method produces plenty of errors and I made my share of mistakes. But Matthew's previous criticism was a generalised one of regional bias, I pointed out with concrete examples that this was not so, and he has apparently now shifted his ground. 'Transparency and objectivity' in BCF terms has historically meant making no special effort to help exceptional talents, with often the practical effect of holding them back.

Thus if matters had taken their normal course, to take a few examples, we would not have bid in 1971 for the 1973 World Junior where Miles and Stean won silver and bronze (hosting the event was the only way then to have two entrants), Short would not have been paired with world champions and candidates in simuls at age 9-10, the Plymouth junior internationals to give Adams high-class experience at 10-11 would not have happened, McShane would not have gone to the 1992 world U10, and there would not have been a needed change in the BCF junior directorship in 1999.
Last edited by Leonard Barden on Wed Mar 11, 2009 10:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

Richard Bates
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Richard Bates » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:50 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:... McShane would not have gone to the 1984 world U10
Luke's aged a bit! Life must be tough in the City these days ;)

Leonard Barden
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:58 pm

My creaking memory confused his birth year with the tournament date....

Matthew Turner
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Matthew Turner » Fri Mar 13, 2009 9:45 am

In response to Leonard, there has been a problem with the ECF not supporting Excellence and this needs to be addressed. The JR monies means that there are now funds to support our best talents, but there needs to be some pretty major structural changes to allow these funds to be used effectively (I won't hold my breath!)
However, what we are talking about is how talent is identified. A subjective system operated by one person like the Barden grades is to my mind not the way forward (it may have had it's day when other methods weren't available). There certainly was regional bias inherent in the Barden grades, most of the results came from the Grand Prix and since the South of England are generally more pro-ECF than the North then more results would be forthcoming from Southern events. This is not Leonard's fault, it just highlights the inherent weakness of the system. Similarly, given that Leonard is based in the South-East then he is more likely to find out about League results from this area.
We have just had the first World Youth Trial and this to me has highlighted a number of things,
1. Gosh we really are weak!
2. There are very girls
3. Some people feel they have the divine right to be selected and don't want to face up to competition
However, perhaps over the longer term we will be able to draw some hope for the future. For example, some will be surprised that a player graded at 174 won the U18 (Mixed) Trial. It is no surprise to me because he did exactly the same at an event at Millfield. Perhaps had a trial system existed a couple of years ago James Adair would have been able to identifdy himself and a properly functioning ECF would have been able to give him the appropriate support.

Matt Harrison
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Matt Harrison » Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:20 am

I would totally agree with everything Matthew has said. The drop-off in support for our players as they enter secondary school is striking. Luckily, my son has received some excellent support from his local adult club (Hackney), but he is one of only 2 juniors in the club, and even at 15, the late hours on school nights of the London and Middlesex leagues take their toll.

The regular junior and adult congress circuit can be excellent, although some events do need to think about provision for non-playing parents, as are the longer events like the NCJS Young Masters at Matthew's school, and the British. But outside competitive play, there is little sense of attempting to support and develop what talent shows itself at these events.

The pool of players is not large (a few hundred at most across all age groups), and inevitably some of these will drop out and follow other interests, and others will turn out not be good enough to proceed to titles etc. Even after the regrading, there will only be about 150 juniors graded over 150, across all age groups.

It seems to me that the sort of thing that is needed is advice for parents and juniors about what to do at different stages of their chess development. General advice on grading, FIDE ratings, tournament opportunities, international selection, coaching, adult clubs, league chess etc. could all be delivered via the Right Move or something similar. I remember only finding out about the England U11 junior selection process by accident at a Kent tournament at the start of the relevant year. Luckily, the junior pages on the ECF website have improved since then, but much more could be offered there.

Surely in this age we could do more. Recording games played by the top juniors and collating them in a database would assist with coaching individual players and identifying how they could improve their game for example.

More direct communication with juniors and parents (by email) would help keep players involved. If a junior doesn't play enough graded games to retain an A grade, maybe a follow up email or phone call to the parent to ask if there is anything the ECF could do to keep the player interested.

The financial cost of supporting a keen junior player is considerable. Each year I spend over 1500 pounds on entry fees, coaching, books and software,travel costs and hotel rooms for tournaments - and that's without any international travel. Now I am in the fortunate position of being able to afford this, but many families won't be.

All of this will require time and effort, and can we continue to rely on the dedication of a few individuals. Is there a case for a paid post for 3 years from the JR trust money to see what can be achieved in this area?

Steve Rooney
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Location: Church Stretton

Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Steve Rooney » Fri Mar 13, 2009 1:51 pm

First-time poster, so apologies in advance for any errors etc.

Matt Harrison and Matthew Turner have raised some important issues about junior development which I would echo from our experiences in Shropshire. For the past three years we have had two teams in our adult league made up entirely of juniors. The Shropshire league has been very supportive in enabling them to avoid travelling by having all matches at home, and although it took them a while to adapt to regular league chess, this year one of the sides has been in contention for promotion. We also have one other club which regularly fields two juniors in a five-strong team.

For the past two seasons we have run our county under 100 side as a junior team and set up our own Junior Academy which has all helped to retain juniors at secondary level. Previously we had seen a major drop-off and the only survivors were the very strong juniors.

We're not sure whether we have any 'stars' among our juniors - indeed if someone can come up with a surefire method of identifying future IMs, I'd like to know! - but we have got a good crop of enthusiastic juniors who can certainly develop into club and county players and that is surely really the bedrock of ensuring a healthy chess future.

We will readily admit that we have not been as successful at attracting younger ages, but we continue to work on it using UK Chess Challenge etc. We have in the past had more in the younger age groups but only a handful continuing into their teens.

Our experience also seems to support ideas I have read from earlier links on this forum to work by Richard James looking at the best age to develop chess players. We have found that the 11-15 age group are very receptive to coaching and develop very rapidly, obviously as long as they have the chess bug already. This might also call into question the latest junior grade increments which are weighted to the younger juniors, but I hesitate to tread into that particular debate ...

Carol Williams
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Carol Williams » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:39 pm

Matthew Turner wrote:I am not sure that all the juniors promoted by Leonard as the future of British chess have reached such exalted heights (in chess terms). Leonard tirelessly promoted Peter Williams a few years ago, but apparently now he doesn't make the grade. Similarly, I'm not sure what happened to Kevin Risk or George Hassabis.
I'm not saying that I would have done any better at picking winners (in fact I would almost certainly have done worse). The problem was that Barden grades were subjective and when dealing with youngsters one needs to be as objective and transparent as possible.
Peter Williams now Under 14 No 2 - perhaps not a bad call by Leonard after all
I wonder what Stephanie Hale is up to now - do you know Matthew?

Matthew Turner
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Matthew Turner » Fri Apr 23, 2010 10:49 pm

I am afraid that do not know what Stephanie Hale is doing at present. Michael is an organ scholar at Robinson College, Cambridge and Katie is having a year out, working with disabled children before going to Medical School. I am very proud of both of their achievements.

Matthew Turner
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Re: Database Upgrade

Post by Matthew Turner » Sat Apr 24, 2010 7:21 am

Carole,
In terms of Peter Williams, Leonard Barden commented here "Peter Williams has been around for several years and has made rather slow progress." That may or may not be true, but afterwards Peter had a fantastic performance and suddenly he looks like the next superstar. Leading child players at all sports have periods of very rapid progress and periods of plateauing off. I think we as adults must be careful with our comments because if we build a child up too early to believe that they are a superstar then it will be more difficult for them to overcome those setbacks.
Have you made any progress on finding out what happened to Peter's invite to the World Youth trial?

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