Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:18 am

Andrew Varney wrote: This has not been demonstrated! I know 100% for sure that not ALL junior organisers are against ECF membership because I am not. I regularly promote membership to parents of more active juniors I am involved with.
Andrew - No one said that all junior organisers are against membership. What I said was most of them are and, of the ones who have corresponded with me, all of were against. Therefore, when you said that
Andrew Varney wrote:junior organisers are no more against ECF membership than any other party
it's wrong as a higher percentage of junior organisers are anti membership when compared to adult organisers.
Andrew Varney wrote:The document I cited also clearly implies that the bulk of junior organisers (as represented by Phil Ehr and Neill in the document) were in favour of membership.
That's a very strange conclusion. To me, it demonstrated that they wanted to exempt vast numbers of players from membership requirements. They withdraw it when presumably they realised that it would not find support.
Andrew Varney wrote:
If that had not been the case, the document would surely not have been proposing an amendment to the membership scheme but it's abolition!
To be fair, even the authors of the document realised that ship had sailed long ago.
Andrew Varney wrote:If the "experts" in a major sub-group that is strategic expresses a strong view, it should probably be listened to.
Are you describing junior organisers as experts and strategic? Some of them are very good no doubt, but as a whole I'm less sure. Perhaps it would be useful to compare their track record of producing 2700+ players, GMs/IMs and total number of active players in general with other countries similar to England. Once that's done we can agree if they are experts or not.

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:23 am

IanDavis wrote:
Junior Organisers who are in favour of membership : Zero
Junior Organisers who are against membership : All of them
This is generally the sort of statement you'd expect from a troll, however, that's not to say it is a troll in this instance.
The problem with selective quoting is that you always miss out the most important bit. So for the avoidance of doubt I've requoted and highlighted it
Sean hewitt wrote:I have witnessed comments made by junior organisers at council and based on actual correspondence I have received from junior organisations I've found

Junior Organisers who are in favour of membership : Zero
Junior Organisers who are against membership : All of them
There are undoubtedly good junior organisers out there who are in favour of ECF membership. The problem is that their voice is drowned out by others who are not.

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:29 am

Paul Bielby wrote:However, as I have mentioned before on this forum, the more expensive silver membership and the relatively cheap 50p game fee for junior games, must discourage juniors from actually taking up membership.
You are correct without a doubt. However, council had no opportunity consider this properly this when it was ambushed in April 2012 by the junior game fee proposal. I remember Neill Cooper claiming at the meeting that junior game fee would raise £10,000 for the ECF, and make kids more likely to join the ECF. That unbelievably swung some votes despite the more sensible members saying that the claim was nonsense.

It has actually raised £1,000 and distinctivised kids from joining. As I've said before, a missed opportunity for junior chess.

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:32 am

Neill Cooper wrote:
Sean Hewitt wrote:No problem. I have not conducted any survey (neither, I suspect, have you). I have witnessed comments made by junior organisers at council and based on actual correspondence I have received from junior organisations I've found

Junior Organisers who are in favour of membership : Zero
Junior Organisers who are against membership : All of them

However, please feel free to cite your own source of information.
I think the subsequent posts by various junior organisers in response to this biased and false claim show why it is imperative that in the review of ECF junior membership it is the junior director who leads, as he has the confidence of junior organisers.
How dare you call this claim false. I am no liar, as everyone who knows me will attest. I will reaffirm that I was absolutely correct to say that "based on actual correspondence I have received from junior organisations" not one of them has been in favour of ECF membership.

If you can substantiate that my claim is false I shall resign immediately.

Angus French
Posts: 1649
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Angus French » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:38 am

Sean Hewitt wrote:
Andrew Varney wrote: This has not been demonstrated! I know 100% for sure that not ALL junior organisers are against ECF membership because I am not. I regularly promote membership to parents of more active juniors I am involved with.
Andrew - No one said that all junior organisers are against membership. What I said was most of them are and, of the ones who have corresponded with me, all of were against. Therefore, when you said that
Andrew Varney wrote:junior organisers are no more against ECF membership than any other party
it's wrong as a higher percentage of junior organisers are anti membership when compared to adult organisers.
This is still an undemonstrated assertion.
Andrew Varney wrote:The document I cited also clearly implies that the bulk of junior organisers (as represented by Phil Ehr and Neill in the document) were in favour of membership.
Sean Hewitt wrote:That's a very strange conclusion. To me, it demonstrated that they wanted to exempt vast numbers of players from membership requirements. They withdraw it when presumably they realised that it would not find support.
A couple of point's:
1. The way I see it, the proposal was supportive of membership - it wanted to introduce membership it in a more appropriate and gentle way.
2. I thought it was withdrawn when the proposal on reduced game fee rates for junior-only events went through (but maybe I've misremembered).

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:42 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:Trying to be dispassionate, I don't think there is a huge difference in the positions that Sean and the junior organisers are taking. Sean is saying he doesn't know what kind of membership scheme the junior events need, they are saying they would support a membership scheme if the ECF proposed one that met their needs.
Absolutely right. So far we have some junior organisers saying that events must be graded, and others saying it doesn't matter. We have some saying that kids are excited by gradings and others saying they don't care. We have some saying the cost is too much, and others saying it isn't a problem. Finally, we have some saying its administratively burdensome with others saying it isn't.

So how to proceed? I think it would be really helpful for junior organisers to be constructive and agree collectively what their issues with the current membership scheme are. Don't attempt to solutionise at this stage as I want to hear coherently want the actual objections are.

From there we could see if there was a solution that would be mutually acceptable.

But until the junior organisations can agree collectively on the issues, we'll go round in circles.

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:43 am

Angus French wrote:2. I thought it was withdrawn when the proposal on reduced game fee rates for junior-only events went through (but maybe I've misremembered).
I think it was withdrawn in advance of that but, like you, I may be misremembering!

Angus French
Posts: 1649
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Angus French » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:49 am

Richard Bates wrote:I think this whole thread is compromised by too much black and white "pro" vs "anti" membership assumptions. Many people's views are clearly more nuanced. Of course there will always be individuals who hide behind specific circumstances to cover a wider agenda, but that should not be assumed to be the case. Furthermore it doesn't help by it not being clear whether this was a decision taken in the knowledge of the claimed effect it would have on the National Schools competition, or if it is one of those "unintended consequences" decisions for which a case is having to be constructed after the fact.
I don't think it can be an "unintended consequence" (in quotes) as it should have been anticipated (through use of consultation etc.).
Richard Bates wrote: ... 2) Is it actually desirable for events like the National Schools to be graded? Not from the perspective of the organisers, who obviously see it as a useful incentive, but from the perspective of the integrity of the grading system. It has been commented before about the potential consequences of the UK Chess Challenge suddenly deciding it wanted its games graded, considering the uncertain value of the Junior/new player algorithm. This is obviously smaller scale, but should there be a requirement for a minimum % of graded players for an event to be considered for grading
I was thinking that in general, the more events which are graded the more accurate grades will be (but maybe it's not so simple).
Richard Bates wrote: More widely I think there is a discussion to be had (away from the specifics of individual events) about whether there is a case to be made for the ECF to introduce some new tournament category within the membership structure of "entry-level tournaments" which could have different requirements in relation to funding the ECF. Basically events which meet certain defined criteria (including probably being non-profit making) which are designed to introduce new players to the game, on the basis the introduction of new players who will contribute to the finances of the ECF in future is as valuable as any financial contribution any single event could generate. Such a category would, it seems to me, be logically compatable with the universal membership structure being established.
I had the same thought. Perhaps a "Copper" (?) membership category which would also cover internal club events.

Angus French
Posts: 1649
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Angus French » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:06 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:From long and painful experience trying to develop business processes, if you want someone to do something you quite often have to do a lot of different things to help them define their requirements.
Quite so. And in going to a lot of effort and in engaging with people you not only get closer to the truth of what's required, you also get "buy in"...
Last edited by Angus French on Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

IanDavis
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 8:41 pm

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by IanDavis » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:17 am

If you state
Sean Hewitt wrote:There are undoubtedly good junior organisers out there who are in favour of ECF membership. The problem is that their voice is drowned out by others who are not.

Unusually subtle for you there...
Present information in a needlessly aggressive and partisan fashion, ignoring contradictory sources, and watch the flames burn while bleating

Angus French
Posts: 1649
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:37 am
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Angus French » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:39 am

So: a new membership category for graded junior-only and internal club events (other types of event too?) to encourage newcomers to competitive chess.
Rate: something low so as not to discourage participation (but sufficient to cover processing and grading costs) – say £2 a year (if even this is too much, could sponsorship be found? Sponsorship of junior chess ought to be an attractive proposition, oughtn't it?).
Registration: in bulk, through submission of a completed spreadsheet (like the Membership Organisation spreadsheet) accompanied by payment - not too inconvenient to administer and with revenue to the ECF presumably not swallowed up by transaction charges.

Would this remove the need for concessionary game fee rates?

What am I missing?

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1751
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:40 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:Are you describing junior organisers as experts and strategic? Some of them are very good no doubt, but as a whole I'm less sure. Perhaps it would be useful to compare their track record of producing 2700+ players, GMs/IMs and total number of active players in general with other countries similar to England. Once that's done we can agree if they are experts or not.
Sean, you keep making this point and I actually find it quite offensive. Junior organisers are often limited by the system they have to work within. When most people compare the parlous state of British chess with other countries it's the governing body they hold responsible. Would you dispute that for many years the ECF lurched from disaster to disaster? In fact it was a junior chess initiative (chess for schools) that proved the most infamous fiasco.

Now this is NOT an attack on the current ECF board who have, on the whole, done a good job considering what they inherited. The ECF board has a number of extremely capable individuals of which you are one. There is much work still to be done and you yourself have conceded it will not be an overnight process.

Junior organisers can only do so much. Many will only have a modest rating themselves and a lot of their time will be spent supervising, rather than coaching. There will come a time when young players have to leave the world of junior chess behind to progress. Are chess clubs always keen to welcome junior players (some are, some aren't)? Do they seek to build bridges with local schools in order to talent spot? This isn't the fault of the ECF but it is what junior organisers are up against.

Finally you seem to talk about junior organisers as if they were some sort of collective hive mind. From my own experience they're probably one of the most diverse groups within the UK chess community.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Sean Hewitt
Posts: 2190
Joined: Sat Mar 10, 2012 8:18 pm
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Sean Hewitt » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:15 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Sean Hewitt wrote:Are you describing junior organisers as experts and strategic? Some of them are very good no doubt, but as a whole I'm less sure. Perhaps it would be useful to compare their track record of producing 2700+ players, GMs/IMs and total number of active players in general with other countries similar to England. Once that's done we can agree if they are experts or not.
Sean, you keep making this point and I actually find it quite offensive.
I'm sorry if you find it offensive that I suggest we look at the track record of those people that some would choose to describe as experts. Maybe they are indeed experts, but wouldn't it be better to check? If they are, we should listen to them. If they're not then perhaps we should attach less weight to their views and possibly think about doing something different.

Or is the bit that you find offensive that their track record does not stand up to scrutiny?
Andrew Zigmond wrote:When most people compare the parlous state of British chess with other countries it's the governing body they hold responsible. Would you dispute that for many years the ECF lurched from disaster to disaster? In fact it was a junior chess initiative (chess for schools) that proved the most infamous fiasco.

Now this is NOT an attack on the current ECF board who have, on the whole, done a good job considering what they inherited. The ECF board has a number of extremely capable individuals of which you are one. There is much work still to be done and you yourself have conceded it will not be an overnight process.

Junior organisers can only do so much. Many will only have a modest rating themselves and a lot of their time will be spent supervising, rather than coaching. There will come a time when young players have to leave the world of junior chess behind to progress. Are chess clubs always keen to welcome junior players (some are, some aren't)? Do they seek to build bridges with local schools in order to talent spot? This isn't the fault of the ECF but it is what junior organisers are up against.
I actually agree with much of this. I can't comment on the past as I wasn't involved. I can only speak about now. If people want to blame the ECF for the current state of chess in England maybe they're right to do so. But I want to look at how to move forward and I see junior organisers at many turns blocking the way forward. Many want to carry on doing what they've always done which, as you yourself recognise, has contributed to the state of chess in this country. I'm not sure I'd call it perilous, but we can agree it ain't good.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:Finally you seem to talk about junior organisers as if they were some sort of collective hive mind. From my own experience they're probably one of the most diverse groups within the UK chess community.I don't mean to give that impression. They can't be a hive mind when they can't agree why they don't support the membership scheme for a start!

But let me make a suggestion that we park this for a while. Give the junior organisers an opportunity to agree and articulate their objections. I've floated some ideas which appear to have gotten a good reception from junior quarters so I'm hopeful the ECF can announce something exciting soon!

EDITED to fix quotes.
Last edited by Sean Hewitt on Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Andrew Zigmond
Posts: 1751
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 9:23 pm
Location: Harrogate

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:52 pm

Sean Hewitt wrote:I'm sorry if you find it offensive that I suggest we look at the track record of those people that some would choose to describe as experts. Maybe they are indeed experts, but wouldn't it be better to check? If they are, we should listen to them. If they're not then perhaps we should attach less weight to their views and possibly think about doing something different.
Final word as I agree that we're going around in circles and I think most points have already been made. You'd probably need to analyse each junior organiser on their successes and failures and that would be pointless. I'm perfectly willing to concede that some junior organisers are blockers to progress; I think they're the minority but that's just a gut feeling.

I'm pleased positive progress appears to be taking place behind the scenes; that's far more important than the debate on this forum.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Richard James
Posts: 969
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Why are junior organisers against ECF membership?

Post by Richard James » Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:49 pm

Here's my take on it. You'll probably get different answers depending on whether you speak to those junior organisers who work mostly or exclusively with lower level primary school age children, or to junior organisers who work mostly or exclusively with secondary school age or higher level primary school age children.

Before I continue, in principle I'm in favour of direct membership of the ECF.

Most (but not all) adults coming into competitive chess for the first time will do so through their local chess club. Typically, they'll come along for a few weeks to see if they like it. If they decide to stay they'll play in a couple of league matches in the lowest division of the local league to see how they get on.

Many adults play both league and tournament chess. Many adults only play league chess. In my club, Richmond, most of the stronger players (I'm the exception) play in tounaments, while many of the weaker players do not. There are not so many adults who only play tournament chess. (Perhaps someone can produce figures on this.)

Therefore it is entirely reasonable, for adult players, to have Bronze: League Chess, Silver: League and (lower level) Tournament Chess, Gold: League and FIDE-rated Tournament Chess.

Most juniors, however, come into competitive chess through tournaments, not through league chess. Almost all primary school age juniors only play tournament chess. The stronger juniors will join a club and play league chess as well. There will be very few juniors who only play league chess. Again, if someone could produce figures it would be helpful.

Therefore, there will be few, if any, juniors who will only require Bronze membership. I rather suspect that many of the 413 Junior Bronze members (or their parents) have misunderstood the system.

It would be logical for junior players to have Bronze: (lower level) Tournament Chess, Silver: League and (lower level) Tournament Chess, Gold: League and FIDE-rated Tournament Chess. There will be a perception among some junior organisers, and also some parents, that the current ECF membership system is unfair to juniors. An adult coming in at entry (Bronze) level is paying £13. A junior coming in at junior entry level (playing in a graded tournament) is also paying £13 (Silver level junior).

I am, as many of you will know, opposed to grading mass participation low level primary school events for several reasons. Partly for the reason mentioned above by Richard Bates: I am one of those who previously commented on the potential damage to the integrity of the grading system by grading events, especially very low level events, where almost all participants will be ungraded. My experience is that many participants in these events barely know how the pieces move, and that their actual playing strength would be some way below 0. What I've seen happen in the past is that kids get unrealistically high grades from scoring heavily in low level primary school events, and, when they take part in real competitions they perform well below their expectations. This can hardly do them any favours. If children don't know about grades then they won't be bothered if their games are not graded. If they're just casual players they won't understand them anyway.

Children of primary school age who are good enough to play in real tournaments and get real grades will almost always have supportive parents who, by and large, are prepared to pay money to enable their children to pursue and develop their interests. Paying an ECF membership fee will not be an issue for them: they will understand why and will be happy to do so. It is very hard for primary school age kids to get to this level without supportive parents.

The situation with secondary school age players is very different. I think we all agree that we want to see many more young people of secondary school age playing competitive chess. Neill's initiative in running schools tournaments seems to me like the best way of trying to encourage this. I think it's important that these tournaments are graded for several reasons. There are likely to be more players who already have a grade so the grades for new players will be more reliable. The players, being older, will have more understanding of what grades are about. The grades will also be useful for those players who decide, as a result of playing in a schools tournament, to take part in an individual tournament or join their local chess club. However, not all of these players will have supportive parents who will be prepared to pay their membership fee. The schools will also probably not be in a position to pay their pupils' membership fees.

So if the ECF want to encourage this sort of competition they really need to sort out a way of getting the games graded while not putting players off for financial reasons. Yes, it will be a loss leader. A 'Copper' membership for children playing in this sort of competition is a possibility. Perhaps a school membership is also a possibility: schools might be more prepared to pay something to join the ECF than to pay membership fees for pupils. Alienating junior chess organisers who are doing a vital job promoting chess within secondary schools is not a good idea.

Post Reply