15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

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Roger de Coverly
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:53 pm

David Shepherd wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:09 pm
it is normally the mark-up on the hotels that is used to fund the event.
You can check the mark up by using one of the usual booking sites. At open market prices Antalya for random dates is usually cheaper than Telford etc. (as one might expect). Perhaps school holidays / Easter made it more expensive.

Actually that's one for the ECF to consider. Try to run an English or UK event on similar lines to the World or European ones, assuming it was possible to block book a hotel for long enough. What sort of price would it be able to offer and how much interest would the concept attract?

Roger Lancaster
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:42 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:53 pm
David Shepherd wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:09 pm
it is normally the mark-up on the hotels that is used to fund the event.
You can check the mark up by using one of the usual booking sites. At open market prices Antalya for random dates is usually cheaper than Telford etc. (as one might expect). Perhaps school holidays / Easter made it more expensive.

Actually that's one for the ECF to consider. Try to run an English or UK event on similar lines to the World or European ones, assuming it was possible to block book a hotel for long enough. What sort of price would it be able to offer and how much interest would the concept attract?
Interesting question. One suspects that, in mid-winter, many hotels in (say) Eastbourne or Margate don't do too much business and might come cheap. Whether the will and resources exist is another matter altogether.

Ian Thompson
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Ian Thompson » Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:28 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 3:12 pm
David Robertson wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:30 pm
Our youngsters performed poorly for the most part, presumably miles out of their depth.
Something does seem to have gone badly wrong with the qualification criteria, which say they've been set at a level where a player meeting them would expect to be in the top quarter of the field.

Of those players with a rating, 3 were seeded in the top quarter of the field and 14 were not.
... and 1 of the 27 players managed to finish in the top quarter of the field.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:23 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:42 pm
One suspects that, in mid-winter, many hotels in (say) Eastbourne or Margate don't do too much business and might come cheap.
The likely problem is that any such event would have to take place in school holidays, which is probably going to increase the hotel prices. No such problem for senior events of course.

Leonard Barden
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:27 am

Only two of the England eleven U11 Open players are graded among the top 40 ENG U11s; the lowest are graded outside the top 100. That beats even the Prof's 91st place.


As against England's 1/27 finishing in the top quarter, Mongolia with 23 players got three golds and three silvers. China and USA were absent, India were only serious in the U7 where they won gold and silver.


Ireland fielded Just ONE player, rated 2070 and seeded 7th in the U15 Open. He won silver. Gold was 2495-rated GM Sindarov from Uzbekistan. That's like Nigel Short's silver behind Kasparov gold in the 1980 World Junior. Glory for Ireland, ??? for England.


I thought: why didn't the junior selection committee stop this nonsense happening?
Then I discovered that although the ECF has loads of committees for this and that, junior selectors are no longer listed.


If our 50+ and 65+ seniors can win gold and silver, often paying their own expenses to do so, shouldn't the ECF show respect by ensuring that junior performances are at least decent, with much higher minimum standards for selection?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:34 am

Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:27 am
If our 50+ and 65+ seniors can win gold and silver, often paying their own expenses to do so, shouldn't the ECF show respect by ensuring that junior performances are at least decent, with much higher minimum standards for selection?
Applying rather more to the 65+ age group than the 50+ group, isn't it the case that many or most of that group were self taught? Admittedly there was excellent material available if you were prepared to put in the effort. Fischer's games collection, Batsford books and Guardian articles come to mind.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:53 am

Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:27 am

I thought: why didn't the junior selection committee stop this nonsense happening?
Then I discovered that although the ECF has loads of committees for this and that, junior selectors are no longer listed.
This discussion seems to have moved on to selection/performance issues, rather than money, and it's fairly obvious that overall performance in Antalya left something to be desired. One of Alex Holowczak's early actions, after taking office some 6 months ago, was to revise the junior selection criteria and a new selection policy was announced, effective 3 January 2019, and may be found easily enough on the ECF website. Of course, selections for any particular event are made some time in advance so it may be that the Antalya selections pre-dated this new policy.

Historically, in my view, the selection process has been anything but transparent. I've been involved in the running of a junior club which, in recent years, has fairly regularly contributed members of the England team. Occasionally I've been surprised when club member A was invited when, to my certain knowledge, B was an equally strong or even stronger junior. That has left me wondering who the junior selectors are and whether they really have a clear idea of what they are doing, beyond picking numbers from an ECF grading list which - due to its being up-dated only every 6 months - is frequently well out-of-date as regards juniors, particularly at the younger ages.

I can see that selection is not simple and don't wish to be unduly harsh but, in my view, Antalya simply demonstrates shortcomings in the selection process which have been apparent for some time.

Brian Towers
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Brian Towers » Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:39 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:53 am
That has left me wondering who the junior selectors are and whether they really have a clear idea of what they are doing, beyond picking numbers from an ECF grading list which - due to its being up-dated only every 6 months - is frequently well out-of-date as regards juniors, particularly at the younger ages.
I wonder if the ECF would consider moving to monthly grading ... ?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Leonard Barden
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:21 am

It looks to me as if Alex H or his predecessor have dumped the selection committee and substituted this mechanical qualification by rating, with disastrous results. A committee of strong masters with a keen interest in juniors (Chris Ward and Peter Sowray come to mind) could have at least vetoed the many absurd selections.

England's overall performance at the World Youth 2019 was among the very worst by any of the competing teams (see my post above for further details) and is among the very worst by any England junior team ever.

There is another imminent event, the European Schools in May. Reforms urgently need to be in place so that, for example as a simple fail safe, selected players for that event need to be graded in the top 20 ENG (top 10 for girls) for their age group.

Frankly, I have little confidence that this will happen. My opinion of this junior director has taken a heavy knock, and I also note the separate criticisms by Tim Wall above.

Matt Bridgeman
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Matt Bridgeman » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:51 am

I think this is getting a little hysterical! The new selection criteria are actually very strict and are clearly aimed at getting England juniors to really work on their FIDE grades. I suspect though that both the recent World Schools (not World Youth) and the forthcoming European Schools are part of a transition period and were not using the newly published criteria. What I think you will find is that by say the European Youth Championship in August the strict criteria will be kicking in with full force and the junior teams from that point onwards will be markedly stronger, (and probably a lot smaller too).

Roger Lancaster
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:23 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:21 am
It looks to me as if Alex H or his predecessor have dumped the selection committee and substituted this mechanical qualification by rating, with disastrous results. A committee of strong masters with a keen interest in juniors (Chris Ward and Peter Sowray come to mind) could have at least vetoed the many absurd selections.

England's overall performance at the World Youth 2019 was among the very worst by any of the competing teams (see my post above for further details) and is among the very worst by any England junior team ever.

There is another imminent event, the European Schools in May. Reforms urgently need to be in place so that, for example as a simple fail safe, selected players for that event need to be graded in the top 20 ENG (top 10 for girls) for their age group.

Frankly, I have little confidence that this will happen. My opinion of this junior director has taken a heavy knock, and I also note the separate criticisms by Tim Wall above.
I'm not at all sure I'm in complete agreement with Leonard here. To take one example, the new selection process removes - and not before time - the English Youth Grand Prix anomaly whereby juniors could qualify for England teams on the basis of their performances in sometimes not-so-strong junior events. Further, performance in the EYGP favoured those who could enter the maximum number of qualifying tournaments since only the best three results counted, the others being discarded. This also favoured erratic performers over the consistent.

For total and absolute nonsense, one had to look no further than the u-7 and u-8 EYGP sections where it was possible to qualify - and bear in mind that these international tournaments generally have, in effect, 40 moves in 2 hours as the first time control - simply and solely on the basis of performances in non-FIDE-rated rapidplay events. Since when did 30-minute rapidplay games prepare juniors for international events where classical chess is played?

For the u-12 age-group and above, the new selection process removes ECF grades entirely as a criterion in favour of FIDE ratings. That seems logical as it must surely be unwise to send juniors, particularly at the older ages, into international events unless they have had prior experience of playing under FIDE-type conditions. Of course, this isn't helped by the paucity of FIDE-rated classical chess events suitable for English juniors, particularly the younger ones, but that's largely outside ECF control.

As I've said earlier, it's not clear that the new selection process kicked in in sufficient time to be used for Antalya. That being the case, it seems a little premature to hang Alex H out to dry! As to Leonard's suggestion of "a committee of strong masters with a keen interest in juniors", I'd have the reservation that their interest might be mainly local. I know Chris Ward, for example, does sterling work with Kent juniors but would he know who's who in Manchester or Warwickshire? Big snag, of course, is that this is probably true of everyone else too - including the members of whatever selection committee may have operated in the past.

Leonard Barden
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:24 pm

Alex H has been the junior director for many months, time enough to make reforms before the World Schools and European Schools. But the point has been now made strongly, so let's see what develops.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by LawrenceCooper » Sun Apr 28, 2019 6:55 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:24 pm
Alex H has been the junior director for many months, time enough to make reforms before the World Schools and European Schools. But the point has been now made strongly, so let's see what develops.
Having been a Junior Director (albeit a long time ago) I don't consider six months to be a lot of time to learn the role and make sweeping reforms. When I took over I inherited something in the region of 115 players who believed they were qualified to play in the European & World Schools through the UK Chess Challenge. A lot of the year I spent as director was trying to get to grips with the role and resolve issues that I inherited. I think it would have taken me at least another year to make any real impact.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:46 pm

Unfortunately, Leonard has made a number of factually inaccurate comments, and doesn't really seem to be aware of what is actually going on. Perhaps I can help him and other commenters who are equally unaware.
Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:21 am
It looks to me as if Alex H or his predecessor have dumped the selection committee and substituted this mechanical qualification by rating, with disastrous results. A committee of strong masters with a keen interest in juniors (Chris Ward and Peter Sowray come to mind) could have at least vetoed the many absurd selections.
I am not aware that there has been a selection panel for the junior teams since before Peter Purland was junior director. That was what, 2008? Since then, there have been various "mechanical qualification" methods, which have been modified by the Junior Director of the day.

"A committee of strong masters" has in fact been reintroduced, sort of. The Accelerator selectors/Academy Directors have just successfully made team selections for the European Youth Team Championships in July, and is currently considering selections for the Glorney Cup in Ireland also in July.

As I explained elsewhere and as Matt has explained - the selection criteria were indeed tightened this year; i.e. the qualification targets were increased. To much criticism from parents, I might add. So why do results appear, on the face of them, to be worse?
1. I have changed the approach of informing those who qualified. In the past, parents had to express an interest. The anecdotal result of this reported to me, if you permit the rather blunt way that I am going to phrase this, was that rich people expressed an interest and poor people didn't because they couldn't afford to go anyway. This was thought unsatisfactory. So rather than have expressions of interest, I am proactively working out who has qualified and emailing those people invitations. The result of this twofold: (1) More parents are aware that their children are qualifying (2) It appears to them as though they have met the qualification criteria, and so it is something that they are more willing to invest in, rather than enquire on the off-chance. Actually, I think my process is the better one. Separately from that, I've established a bursary fund - soon to be launched - to help make the tournaments more affordable for anyone who qualifies, so that money is less of a barrier to entry.
2. As I've said elsewhere, the Academy qualification route weakened this target; unknown to me until January, a discount was applicable to the target grades if children were members of the ECF Academy. It would clearly be inappropriate to move goalposts on parents, who have paid hundreds of pounds to attend the ECF Academy weekends in expectation of a benefit, to have it taken away from them once they'd paid the money. This will be addressed in time for the 2020 Academy selection process, but for now, I need to work with the situation I find myself in at the moment.

On the topic of Academy selection, the criteria for membership were laid quite some time before I was in post; indeed, my first job was more or less to select people from the applicants, who had applied based on the criteria set by Traci. Again, it would not be reasonable to apply different criteria to the ones Traci set when judging the applications, and this can be looked at in time for 2020.

Loz is quite correct that there hasn't been enough time yet for the changes I made to filter through; but the one process change I've made seems to have made more people aware of their qualification than before, and I think that has had the biggest impact.
Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:21 am
My opinion of this junior director has taken a heavy knock
I'm afraid to say that the feeling is mutual. You've shown that you haven't really kept up with various details, and yet you're throwing criticisms around anyway. While that's not exactly a new phenomenon for this Forum, I assumed journalists - especially someone of your standing - might rise above that and take the time to contact me privately first to find out what was going on. I appear to have been mistaken.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: 15% markup in ECF transfer fees for World Schools Ch, Turkey

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:12 pm

Alex Holowczak wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 7:46 pm
I appear to have been mistaken.
That seems to be ongoing.

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