An ECF Junior Squad

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Roger de Coverly
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:31 pm

LozCooper wrote: PP said that the critical point was that people must know what they need to do in order to be selected. The method must be transparent.
I would have thought that next to impossible. You can award the right to a place as a prize and you can have a minimum standard. Beyond that you just have the subjective of who you might expect to do well and who might most benefit from the experience. At the end of the day, they are only tournaments, so other tournaments are available even if a poor subjective choice was made.

I think we've seen with the existing selection process, that where there's been a player some way in front of his or her contemporaries that player gets the invites every year as they move through the age groups. But if you want a squad of strong young adult players at the end of the junior process, you need more than one in each age group, so spreading the invites or having more than one qualifier makes more sense.

LozCooper

Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by LozCooper » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:36 pm

Paul Sanders wrote:It looks like there was not time to discuss the ECF Junior Squad idea, or indeed many of the points from the meeting at Sunningdale.

This is a pity as we managed to bring forward a range of very positive ideas to help the ECF with funding and with the general development of junior chess. From the minutes it looks like it has been turned into a referendum on international selection, which is rather missing the point. Parents are by definition not experts on how to select representatives with the best chance of doing well in tournaments - we look to the ECF for that expertise and it is absurd to ask us to tell the ECF what to do.

I very much hope that someone at the ECF will recognise the enthusiasm parents have for a genuine national junior chess programme which will help them give their children the best opportunities to enjoy chess and improve. We need this much more than we need a poll.
Hi Paul,

It was certainly talked about which suggests an omission in the minutes. Adam read out the minutes from Sunningdale and PP himself acknowledged that there was currently no "official" England junior squad and that the National Junior Squad prefered to be unofficial and would continue running much the same after PP steps down as Junior Director in October.

The discussions on how players were to qualify/be selected etc was part of the overall point about if a Junior Director should be able to set policy or if it should be set by the board.

Whilst the poll might not solve anything in itself I think it should be viewed as the board wanting to listen to what parents have to say and involving them more in the junior set up.

I think there is support for a junior squad and programme but at the moment there is no one to run either. To make it work we need more involvement with parents, juniors and coaches but we also need someone to take control and oversee it.

As you know, I care a lot about the junior scene, albeit other commitments such as The Big Slick International have meant I've been rather pre-occupied over the last couple of months. Hopefully I can contribute more once that is over and my stress levels have reverted to normal.

Krishna Shiatis
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:42 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
LozCooper wrote: PP said that the critical point was that people must know what they need to do in order to be selected. The method must be transparent.
I would have thought that next to impossible. You can award the right to a place as a prize and you can have a minimum standard. Beyond that you just have the subjective of who you might expect to do well and who might most benefit from the experience. At the end of the day, they are only tournaments, so other tournaments are available even if a poor subjective choice was made.

I think we've seen with the existing selection process, that where there's been a player some way in front of his or her contemporaries that player gets the invites every year as they move through the age groups. But if you want a squad of strong young adult players at the end of the junior process, you need more than one in each age group, so spreading the invites or having more than one qualifier makes more sense.
I agree completely. Apparantly, we need a poll to check what is obvious and common sense.

I wonder, who is funding this poll? Is it the precious John Robinson funds being frittered away, which should be being used to fund training and development?

LozCooper

Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by LozCooper » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:56 pm

Well anyway, I'm just relaying what was talked about. I think that at least the junior scene is being talked about at board level which is more than was happening before the meeting. Finding anyone who is prepared to step into the firing line won't be easy but at least if everyone is prepared to work together we may be able to improve things in the future.

Krishna Shiatis
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:23 pm

LozCooper wrote:Well anyway, I'm just relaying what was talked about. I think that at least the junior scene is being talked about at board level which is more than was happening before the meeting. Finding anyone who is prepared to step into the firing line won't be easy but at least if everyone is prepared to work together we may be able to improve things in the future.
Hi Loz,

Thank you for relaying it. If you did not, then I think most people would be unaware. You are a sweetie and I know that you do care.

However, the ECF as a group seem incapable of doing anything sensible. Is there not even one person there who can stand up and put a stop to the dithering and time-wasting (polls etc) and say:

!) There is a problem,
2) Lets fix it,
3) Lets get a group of interested parties and talk about it?

Paul S did try. The JD should have come along. Paul even did a report - a starting point for discussion surely? What more can the parents do? Nobody is acting on the suggestions being made.

The ECF is really struggling. There are interminable discussions about finance and participation. The British Championships are looming and I can not help but notice that there are not too many entrants in the junior sections.

There is no money in the kitty for training and development, but there is money for 'polls'.

The message being sent to parents is that the ECF just does not care about the children. We have asked CJ, Nigel Short, anybody who can, to help. Nobody has (succeeded). Nothing has been done. Surely your juniors should be at the top of your agendas, surely they deserve better?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:41 pm

There are two primary bottlenecks when it comes to large-scale national projects. One of these is, as you touched on, money; the other is manpower. In order to have an ECF Junior Squad, you need to have somebody to run the ECF Junior Squad.

LozCooper

Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by LozCooper » Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:50 pm

Krishna Shiatis wrote:
LozCooper wrote:Well anyway, I'm just relaying what was talked about. I think that at least the junior scene is being talked about at board level which is more than was happening before the meeting. Finding anyone who is prepared to step into the firing line won't be easy but at least if everyone is prepared to work together we may be able to improve things in the future.
Hi Loz,

Thank you for relaying it. If you did not, then I think most people would be unaware. You are a sweetie and I know that you do care.

However, the ECF as a group seem incapable of doing anything sensible. Is there not even one person there who can stand up and put a stop to the dithering and time-wasting (polls etc) and say:

!) There is a problem,
2) Lets fix it,
3) Lets get a group of interested parties and talk about it?

Paul S did try. The JD should have come along. Paul even did a report - a starting point for discussion surely? What more can the parents do? Nobody is acting on the suggestions being made.

The ECF is really struggling. There are interminable discussions about finance and participation. The British Championships are looming and I can not help but notice that there are not too many entrants in the junior sections.

There is no money in the kitty for training and development, but there is money for 'polls'.

The message being sent to parents is that the ECF just does not care about the children. We have asked CJ, Nigel Short, anybody who can, to help. Nobody has (succeeded). Nothing has been done. Surely your juniors should be at the top of your agendas, surely they deserve better?
LIke I said, I think the fact the board is talking about junior chess should be seen as progress. People do care but they don't confess to have all the answers.

I don't see why a poll would cost anything. Everyone has e-mail and while it wasn't my idea I see any form of communication between the board/directors and parents as a step forward.

There will also be a board meeting at the British so I hope time will be found before/after to communicate your wishes further :)

Krishna Shiatis
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:48 pm

LozCooper wrote:
I don't see why a poll would cost anything. Everyone has e-mail and while it wasn't my idea I see any form of communication between the board/directors and parents as a step forward.

There will also be a board meeting at the British so I hope time will be found before/after to communicate your wishes further :)
If it is being done by e-mail and it does not cost anything, then why not poll everybody? ECF should have the necessary details.....

Mick Norris
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Mick Norris » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:53 pm

LozCooper wrote:I don't see why a poll would cost anything. Everyone has e-mail and while it wasn't my idea I see any form of communication between the board/directors and parents as a step forward.
Exactly, and collating the answers for publication wouldn't be difficult either

We did this in the MCF a few years ago in relation to league size/team size etc, I designed a simple questionnaire for our clubs, the secretary sent this to club secretaries by email, waited for them to flood back, and collated the responses for Council

OK, the flood wouldn't have troubled Noah, but I do quote the answer back at people occasionally

So, back on topic, if the ECF can't find anyone to collate the answers, the MCF will do it for free if it will stop the southerners whinging about the cost (that's the way up here, stop moaning and offer to do something to help)
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Chris J Greatorix
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Chris J Greatorix » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:39 pm

It seems to me that Peter Purland has done a great job so far. Parents seem to think that competing in the euros and the worlds is a ticket to stardom, it is not. There are many great chess players who didn't get selected for the England team.- Just like Paul Scholes wasn't used as well as he could have been for the football team.

Sabrina Chevannes
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Sabrina Chevannes » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:41 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:There are two primary bottlenecks when it comes to large-scale national projects. One of these is, as you touched on, money; the other is manpower. In order to have an ECF Junior Squad, you need to have somebody to run the ECF Junior Squad.

Jack - this issue was tackled at the meeting too. It is a shame that you couldn't have been there.

I know that these two are the biggest milestones as I have found this when I have been running events myself. To try and tackle these problems I have a) invested as much money as I can in the projects and b) recruited many people. Now, as people know, I am not the richest of people and have still put a lot of money into junior chess becasue I think it is worthwhile and the projects that I have invested in are ones that can be self-financing when they kick off in the future. I really feel that since the ECF have more money than I do to contribute (I should hope!) that they can achieve something much bigger and better with a bit of investment.

Regarding the manpower issue. I don't think it should be just one person who runs the junior squad as it is a very big job for anyone. If we wish this to be successful then we do not want it to be solely the responsibility of an individual. I think that there should be about 4 people who work together and take on equal duties and roles to ensure the smooth running of the squad.

I really feel that teamwork is the key

Andrew Farthing
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Andrew Farthing » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:18 am

I'll try to pick up as many points raised as I can.

1) The summary of the Board meeting published on the website is not the same as the official minutes. Not everything that was said and minuted is reported in the summary. This is necessary, because the Board must be able to discuss issues in confidence without having all of the details published online.

2) The issue of an ECF Junior Chess Squad was briefly discussed, but no firm conclusions were reached. The online summary tends to be a record of decisions taken, although I did include more detail this time because I knew that some of the subjects discussed were of wider interest. The Board's view was that it wanted to invite the views of a wider sample of parents, coaches and other interested parties. This isn't "dithering" or "time-wasting"; it's a responsible wish to ensure that decisions are made based on an understanding of the views of as large a number of relevant parties as possible.

3) The survey will be conducted by e-mail. There won't be any costs beyond office time.

4) I understood the figure of 100 participants to be a minimum to ensure that a representative number were invited to give their views. I certainly didn't understand it to be any sort of attempt to handpick people with the views the ECF wanted to hear (whatever these might be - I must have missed the memo and no one's enlightened me).

5) Peter Purland kindly offered to draft the questionnaire. It will then come to me for review. It was certainly my intention that it should include an invitation to give views and ideas not covered by the specific questions, so one way or another parents will have the opportunity to comment on broader issues of junior chess development if they wish to.

6) I'm sorry if it seems as if the ECF spends a lot of time talking about finances. I accept that I am spending quite a lot of my personal time on this, but the other directors are largely focused on their own areas of responsibility. I'd love to be able to ignore questions of funding, but it's a fact of life that real progress in developing chess activities - junior and adult - won't happen without money (in addition to suitable willing volunteers).

7) I can't speak for the other Board members with regard to attendance at the meeting over the last Bank holiday weekend. As for myself, I would have attended, but it clashed with a prior commitment to play in a congress in Cheltenham, so I couldn't make it.

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Adam Raoof
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Adam Raoof » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:39 am

The figure of 100 may have arisen because if you use SurveyMonkey's free service, that's the cap. Above 100 respondents, you pay a premium. However there are many other ways to organise a survey by email - but SurveyMonkey is free, and anonymous.
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Steve Rooney
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Steve Rooney » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:23 am

Thank you for your summary Andrew.

A survey of around 100 respondents seems a good idea and I don't understand the earlier criticism at all. This forum clearly doesn't reach everyone and widening the discussion to other parents, current and recent juniors is a good way to gather opinions.

It should also be remembered that promoting junior chess is about more than supporting elite players, which the proposal for an ECF junior squad is directed at. At the risk of repeating comments made many times here before, unless you have a decent mass of players getting involved at the base of the pyramid, there will be fewer rising to the top. In this context it might be helpful to establish some appropriate measures of junior chess activity. Counting juniors at the British Championships is one very small metric, knowing how many juniors are competing in leagues and congresses as well as junior events such as UKCC - and how those figures are changing over time - would be more helpful.

Jim Wadsworth
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Re: An ECF Junior Squad

Post by Jim Wadsworth » Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:32 am

I see no harm in a survey, provided its scope is a lot wider than just selection methodology for a couple of international events, and provided that it is not simply a "mutiple choice" pick from three options with no scope for qualitative input. If it helps to provide new ideas and helps give the new junior director (whoever he or she may be) some form of mandate for action that can only be positive. And it is great that the Board is showing interest in the topic.

I would however also say that surveys in themselves are constrained by - and results influenced by - the questions asked and how they are asked. So survey design is very important. It is also true to say that market research is only part of the answer - vision and leadership are much more important. A survey helps, but it's not (or shouldn't be) the only input.

To capitalise on the opportunity, such a survey should be comprehensive. As such it should include the role of the ECF vis a vis junior chess. In particular it should include the Junior Squad concept and including funding considerations (what would parents want from such a squad, who should be eligible, what are parents prepared to pay, etc.).

And there is no need for using tools like Survey Monkey, just use email. Anonymity towards whoever is collating the responses should not be an issue - if people aren't willing to put their name to their views in their response to the collator, then I might question the value of those views.... (clearly however, when results are published then respondents' names should be kept confidential, and respondents should be made aware of this).

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