Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

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Jon D'Souza-Eva

Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Sat Jul 09, 2011 6:35 pm

Did anyone on here go to the Southern Gigafinal today? If so perhaps they could give a quick review of the new venue, the Rivermead Leisure Centre in Reading. The word on the street is that this venue can be a little noisy (e.g. tannoys going off with announcements about activities happening elsewhere in the Centre) and that there may be a problem for parents to find somewhere to sit whilst they wait for their progeny to finish playing their games. I'd love to hear from anyone who can give me any tips before I brave the venue myself tomorrow.

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:02 pm

Well I have to say that I thought the Southern Gigafinal venue was really great today. By no means the best I have been to, but excellent considering the number of competitors and parents it needed to cope with. I hope Mike Basman is able to book it again for future Gigafinals.

Parking was plentiful and cheap (£1 for the day) and I understand that the train station was close enough for public transport to be an option. There was hot food available, though the queue was very long at lunchtime. The tannoy was only used a couple of times during the day, and one of those was by Mike Basman!

The main problem was a lack of chairs and tables in the hall being used by parents, but this was much, much better than at the previous venue (the dire Wellington College). Perhaps Mike Basman ought to ask parents to consider bringing camping chairs? If just a few did that there wouldn't be a problem.

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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:12 pm

Jon D'Souza-Eva wrote:Perhaps Mike Basman ought to ask parents to consider bringing camping chairs? If just a few did that there wouldn't be a problem.
Surely the responsibility of the organiser is to provide adequate facilities in the first place? :shock:

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:19 pm

Possibly, but there are so many people at the Gigafinal that it must be very difficult to find any venue which has enough chairs and tables on site. I suppose bringing in extra just for the weekend might be an option.

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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Mike Truran » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:41 pm

My wife would beg to differ - but then again she's not a seasoned chess parent veteran. She had to sit in her car most of the day in the absence of any available seating indoors, the women's toilets were in a disgusting condition, the venue was overcrowded and the instructions on arrival were poor. Suffice it to say that it lived down to her low expectations.

No doubt though these things are run on a shoestring in order to maximise the profit for the organiser. Nothing wrong with that of course - as far as I know Mike Basman has never claimed anything different. Hats off to to him for creating such a successful business model.

Based on my wife's report back, God knows what the previous venue must have been like if Jon thinks the present one is 'really great'.

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Mon Jul 11, 2011 12:00 am

Hi Mike.

I forgot about the women's toilets (not having used them myself). Several of the women I was sitting with told me that they were awful. These sort of places usually check / clean the toilets every hour or so, I guess with the extra volume of people these checks should have been performed more frequently.

I've been to enough junior tournaments to know what to expect and so don't really need any instructions on arrival, but I can appreciate that this will not be the case for parents new to the scene. At the Oxon Congress we provide a handout explaining where the playing room is, where the toilets are, a reminder about the timetable for the day etc. Is this the sort of thing that your wife would have found useful today?

The room available for parents was so much better than at Wellington College that it seemed like luxury to me. At Wellington the hall was split into two with a curtain separating the players from the space available for the parents. Miraculously the Gigafinal weekend always seemed to be a sunny one and so most parents just sat outside on the school field during the day. However I can remember one showery day when all the parents had to squash into their half of the hall - there was bearly room to stand, let alone sit!

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Adam Raoof
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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Adam Raoof » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:28 am

Out of interest, how many people were there for it to become so overcrowded?

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:36 am

Adam Raoof wrote:Out of interest, how many people were there for it to become so overcrowded?
I don't know the exact numbers, but there must have been around 500 children (just on the Sunday, I wasn't there for Saturday) with most having at least one parent in tow.

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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Matthew Turner » Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:41 am

In my view the venue was very good. It was easily accesible, there was plenty of parking, I thought there were plenty of chairs in the parents' area and the food and drinks were good value.
The chess, is what it is. There are a lot of relatively inexperienced players so it will always be a bit chaotic. Some of the arbitting is a a bit odd, but the vast majority of players seem to enjoy themselves.
To answer Adam's question I think there are about 500 players (on each day), but with siblings and parents that is a lot of people.

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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by John Upham » Mon Jul 11, 2011 9:41 am

I attended for both days. From 9am until 1.25pm ECF Certificate of Merit was demonstrated between the Tournament Chess Supplies and the Hoodie / T-shirt production stands.

From 1.30pm until 4.30pm I assisted Tom Rendle coaching groups of very keen juniors who had been coached in the morning by Andrew Martin. Prizes were handed out that were sponsored by ChessBase, CHESS and The British Chess Magazine.

The venue was very good, UKCC had hired a huge number of additional tables and chairs and most parents were accommodated. Announcements were clear and audible.

Around 500 children competed each day being accompanied by 1-2 parents plus siblings.

I would say that the venue coped well with the numbers and the facilities were fine. The refreshments were reasonably priced and the queues weren't too long. The male toilets were clean and adequate. I have no opinion on the female toilets.

At peak times (Arrival and between rounds) the corridor was pushed to the limit there is no doubt. In the main, however, all appeared to run well and a good time was had by all.

UK Chess Challenge and Mike Basman worked hard and deserve much thanks.
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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Andrew Camp » Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:20 am

Northern Giga is this weekend at Derby University. I'm anticipating it being a good venue.
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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Andrew Varney » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:30 pm

I was at the venue both days and agree that overall it was a very good venue, and better than Wellington College in many ways. The reasons (in order of importance from my personal view):

1. Separation of playing hall and parents' room. Not just a curtain separating them.
2. Coaching venue in close proximity. As nice as the grounds are in Wellington College, walking across them and back three or four times a day to get between one child in the coaching and one in the playing hall was a chore.
3. Ample parking at not too high a price (£5 on Saturday, £2 on Sunday with half cost reclaimable at reception).
4. Easier to get to than Wellington College (of course, depends where one's coming from).
5. Park and playground outside for children to get some fresh air in between rounds.
6. A PA system that meant one could actually hear announcements!

There were more tables for parents on the first day than the second (some had to be moved from the parents' room to playing hall on the Sunday because of the greater number of players).

Some down sides:
1. Limited toilet facilities with frequent queues (even mens).
2. Tannoy announcements a few times during play sessions. My daughter said that during one game she and her opponent found it distracting enough to stop the clock by mutual agreement while the announcements were made. If there were some way the tannoy could be turned off in the playing hall itself during the actual game playing time, that would be a good thing.

Jon D'Souza-Eva

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Jon D'Souza-Eva » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:41 pm

Andrew Varney wrote:My daughter said that during one game she and her opponent found it distracting enough to stop the clock by mutual agreement while the announcements were made.
A clock? Zoe was lucky to have a clock! Chloe had to make do with two old egg timers tied together with a bit of string.

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Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:52 pm

Jon D'Souza-Eva wrote:
Andrew Varney wrote:My daughter said that during one game she and her opponent found it distracting enough to stop the clock by mutual agreement while the announcements were made.
A clock? Zoe was lucky to have a clock! Chloe had to make do with two old egg timers tied together with a bit of string.
Can I just ask, is this hyperbole, or did some of the games really use two old egg timers tied together with a bit of string?

Paul Cooksey

Re: Southern Gigafinal - Saturday 9th July 2011

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:53 pm

Difficult to see what better venues are available for a mass chess event than a big leisure centre. Until such time as chess can afford Wembley, of course :)

Last time I went to Rivermead was several years ago, to see Kings of Leon. Someone was sick on my shoes, so Mike can assure his lady wife it could have been worse.

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