Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

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Neill Cooper
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Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:11 am

Sean Hewitt provides some interesting data http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... 611#p93571

Ignoring the M/F split, it appears that the majority of those players who progress on to long play by age 11 are still playing age 17. However, of the much larger number who are only playing rapidplay the vast majority drop chess by the age of 17.

The data give no answer to the cause or effect of the rapidplay drop off. My view is that we should offer more rapidplay opportunities for 11 to 18 year olds. One thing I will be doing is running rapdplay school team events. Possibly more individual events aimed at this age group are also required.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:21 am

Neill Cooper wrote:The data give no answer to the cause or effect of the rapidplay drop off. My view is that we should offer more rapidplay opportunities for 11 to 18 year olds. One thing I will be doing is running rapdplay school team events. Possibly more individual events aimed at this age group are also required.
I think I know the explanation for this.

There are lots of junior-only rapidplay events which might be graded.

For example, KJCA run regular junior congresses. Here's the number of halfresults from their most recent event, split into the sections:
Under 9: 156
Under 11: 134
Under 14: 70
Under 18: 30

Another example on the same line is Sussex:
Under 11: 414
Under 18: 192

Both of these show a clear drop off in rapidplay activity as age increases. This is caused by a general drop off in the number of players. (I assume all tournaments had the same number of rounds.)

Since all of these are rapidplay, I think the people who find their way into standardplay chess are the ones who've discovered things like adult congresses and perhaps evening league chess.

So I think the dropoff in players causes the dropoff in rapidplay activity, as opposed to a dropoff in rapidplay activity (or indeed, opportunities to play rapidplay) causing a dropoff in players.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:50 pm

Alex. I agree that all the drop in rapidplay data shows is a drop in rapidplay is due to the players stopping playing. Certainly a significant fraction of the junior rapidplay games are in events like those run by KJCA, Sussex JC and CCF (juniors). These suffer similar problems to UKCC and many other junior events - the teenagers are a small fraction of the players.

Hence I was wondering whether secondary school only events would be more popular for teenagers. My experience is no, they will not be any more popular! Looking back at an individual events I have run which have had more secondary than primary players I find that most secondary players were in years 7 to 9 with many less in years 10 to 13. [3 in years 10 to 13, 35 in years 7 to 9 and 9 in year 6 and below]. Another event was even more polarised.

So I'm still left wondering what will get more of those in years 10 and above playing chess.

Andrew Varney
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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Andrew Varney » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:46 pm

I suspect the answer is to attract them in years 7 to 9. Thinking back 30 years, I don't remember any of my peers taking up chess in the fifth form or later, but there were loads who did so in the second and third years. I'd guess half of those continued to play in fifth and sixth forms at some level or another, although by no means all would take part at an inter-school competitive level, let alone in county team matches or weekend congresses.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Krishna Shiatis » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:09 pm

I think that there are a number of factors for the drop off:

1) Exams/homework etc.
2) Proliferation of other activities.
3) Generally less free time (connected to the above 2).
4) Desire to become independent from parents.
5) Most importantly, it is "not cool" to play chess at this age. Teens are much more self aware and conscious of what is and is not cool and generally in this country, along with any other cerebral pursuits, chess is not cool.

In some other countries, chess players are revered like 'rock stars' and 'footballers'. I suspect that their teens are far less likely to walk away.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:33 pm

Andrew Varney wrote:I suspect the answer is to attract them in years 7 to 9. Thinking back 30 years, I don't remember any of my peers taking up chess in the fifth form or later, but there were loads who did so in the second and third years. I'd guess half of those continued to play in fifth and sixth forms at some level or another, although by no means all would take part at an inter-school competitive level, let alone in county team matches or weekend congresses.
We certainly have more chance with year 7 to 9 taking up chess, though I know of various pupils who have taken up chess seriously after their GCSEs. In my limited experience it seems that the older they take it up, the quicker they improve and the more likely they are to carry on playing chess as adults.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:38 pm

Krishna Shiatis wrote:I think that there are a number of factors for the drop off:

1) Exams/homework etc.
2) Proliferation of other activities.
3) Generally less free time (connected to the above 2).
4) Desire to become independent from parents.
5) Most importantly, it is "not cool" to play chess at this age. Teens are much more self aware and conscious of what is and is not cool and generally in this country, along with any other cerebral pursuits, chess is not cool.

In some other countries, chess players are revered like 'rock stars' and 'footballers'. I suspect that their teens are far less likely to walk away.
I think there can be some other important factors:
6) They have stopped winning/improving and so stop enjoying chess.
7) There is no chess club at school, or there is but they don't enjoy it.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Mike Truran » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:44 pm

Krishna

All fair points. I would be very interested to have Richard James' thoughts on whether he thinks there has been a fundamental shift in the environment for teenagers from that which pertained say forty years ago when English chess was at its zenith (as I think you may be implying in your post), or whether there is a structural problem in the way that we introduce children to the game. I suspect from Richard's recent posts that he will tend to the latter conclusion given our relative performance at junior level against other countries (who have presumably had the same environment shift for teenagers as we have had).

Apologies if I have either misrepresented you or got my timelines wrong (or both).

Mike

Paul Cooksey

Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Paul Cooksey » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:49 pm

This and several recent threads have discussed the numbers of juniors who stop playing in teenage years. The assumption has been that this is a problem to be solved. I’m not entirely sure though.

Neill suggested that older children might view the UKCC as an event for younger children. I think this is likely to be true. I’d go further and suggest maybe mass participation in chess is an activity for younger children.

An analogous activity might be cycling. A very high proportion of children learn to ride a bike. The drop off in adulthood is huge. Only a tiny proportion cycle competitively. But I don’t think there is any reason why the ECF* should view this as a failure. The young children get something significant from learning to ride, and a skill they can use in later life if they wish to revisit it. The few with an unusual affinity to cycling, and particularly the talented, take it to a different level.

I think we could view chess in a similar way. Learning to play brings benefits to younger children. Keeping playing, is less clearly in the child’s interests. Krishna's list of reasons juniors stop playing chess includes some things which I would consider failings to address. Particularly opportunities to play for those who want to play, especially girls. But a lot of junior stop playing for good reasons. Fundamentally, unless children want to play, when they are old enough to get a say in their own leisure activities, they won't.

Perhaps secondary school and junior club chess should be focussed more on identifying those who would most benefit from chess, and those with most talent for it, and tailoring events to them. Trying to maintain a very high participation rate might not be a good use of resources.


*English Cycling Federation

Neill Cooper
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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:00 pm

I've done an analysis of chess players at Wilson's school. There are about 120 in the chess club, 38 in year 7 and then roughly evenly spread across the other year groups. There are more than might be expected in year 10 and 11 as some do chess for their DoE 'skill'. 63 pupils have played chess for the school this year, 18 from year 7 and then roughly evenly spread across the year groups. So at the chess club and playing after school chess matches there is no great drop off as they got older.

44 pupils qualified for the UKCC Megafinal; 24 from years 7 to 9 and 20 from years 10 to 13. 19 (about 80%) of the year 7 to 9s played, but only 3 (15%) of the years 10 to 13. (One issue here is the proximity of the Megafinal date to important public exams for the older pupils.) Similarly it was more difficult to get old pupils to play for the school at weekends.

I don't want to read too much in to this, but it does appear that around the age of 14/15 is a time when many teenagers, who have kept playing chess in to secondary school, stop paying weekend chess. This drop off does not seem to occur with those who have joined an adult chess club or play in adult tournaments, particularly long play ones.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Mike Truran » Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:42 pm

But the elephant in the room remains. Why do our juniors fare less well than their colleagues overseas?

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:18 am

Mike Truran wrote: Why do our juniors fare less well than their colleagues overseas?
Expectations have been set much lower. If you send a "development" squad, an average of a 50% result is a success. When it's your supposed "best" players, it's a failure.

One of the benchmarks (it's even in the ECF strategic plan) is that you should have at least one IM or GM for each calendar year of birth. From 1952 (Bellin) or 1953 (Stean) to 1990 (David Howell) this was more or less sustained. I think we now have just the one English IM younger than David. Even for years before 1952, you could argue that Keene, Hartston, Basman, Whiteley, Webb, Botterill, Levy, Horner, Pritchett, McKay sustain the one (at least IM) per year, admittedly with the Scots as well.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:56 am

Mike Truran wrote:But the elephant in the room remains. Why do our juniors fare less well than their colleagues overseas?
Actually, I think the elephant in the room of this discussion is internet chess. My focus here is not on the elite players but on encouraging more teenagers to play chess.
I think if you want to look at good practice in developing elite players then we should look at what 3Cs do, and what is happening in the Reading area. But that is a separate discussion.

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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Neill Cooper » Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:13 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:This and several recent threads have discussed the numbers of juniors who stop playing in teenage years. The assumption has been that this is a problem to be solved. I’m not entirely sure though.

Neill suggested that older children might view the UKCC as an event for younger children. I think this is likely to be true. I’d go further and suggest maybe mass participation in chess is an activity for younger children.

An analogous activity might be cycling. A very high proportion of children learn to ride a bike. The drop off in adulthood is huge. Only a tiny proportion cycle competitively. But I don’t think there is any reason why the ECF* should view this as a failure. The young children get something significant from learning to ride, and a skill they can use in later life if they wish to revisit it. The few with an unusual affinity to cycling, and particularly the talented, take it to a different level.

I think we could view chess in a similar way. Learning to play brings benefits to younger children. Keeping playing, is less clearly in the child’s interests. Krishna's list of reasons juniors stop playing chess includes some things which I would consider failings to address. Particularly opportunities to play for those who want to play, especially girls. But a lot of junior stop playing for good reasons. Fundamentally, unless children want to play, when they are old enough to get a say in their own leisure activities, they won't.

Perhaps secondary school and junior club chess should be focussed more on identifying those who would most benefit from chess, and those with most talent for it, and tailoring events to them. Trying to maintain a very high participation rate might not be a good use of resources.


*English Cycling Federation
An interesting analogy. I think many parents see cycling as a life skill and in no way expect their children to take part in cycling competitions. Looking at the number of people who cycle in London the drop off rate in participating in cycling is much less than it was 30 years ago. I think competitive and club cycling is a closer analogy with the chess scene and judging by the number of people cycling around in club groups or on road time trials at weekends this too is very popular at present.

I'm not concerned to keep high participation rates of the U10s (about 10,000 in each year group play in UK Chess Challenge) as they get older. But the very low participation rates in teenagers (and young adults) does concern me. The drop off occurs even in our elite players who have represented England at the World and European Junior tournaments.

Peter Sowray
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Re: Rapidplays for 11 to 18s

Post by Peter Sowray » Fri Jul 20, 2012 8:05 am

Mike Truran wrote:But the elephant in the room remains. Why do our juniors fare less well than their colleagues overseas?

Mike,

I don't want to cause any offence, but I suspect that a large part of the answer is that our juniors don't work hard enough by international standards.

Peter

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