English Primary Schools Chess Association

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Michael Flatt
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Feb 25, 2017 1:30 pm

I don't believe that EPSCA ever set out to produce elite chess players. It was created in a different era and with a different emphasis than the current fashion of FIDE Chess Academies and 'hot housing'. It must have been doing something correct for it to still be thriving after fifty years of existence.

Its role is very specific (promoting u11 junior chess) and it works in cooperation with members of the ECF as can be seen by the composition of its council. It is a small organisation and has few resources in comparison with the ECF. It is driven by one or two key personalities who have been ever present throughout its existence. The challenge will come when those individuals eventually step down.

My involvement with EPSCA has been very recent and limited; It arose through my participation in county junior chess. Our association enters team in its events: Inter-Association under-9, under-11 and under-11 girls competitions. It is doubtful whether our junior association would exist if EPSCA did not run these competitions.

Another popular competition is the National Primary School Chess Team Championship for school teams of 6 players. This is otherwise known as the 'Pontins' competition since the finals take place in these family friendly holiday resorts. The children are always very keen to participate and qualify for the finals.

I don't know too much about the EPSCA England u11 and u11 girls teams apart from the fact that qualification is through a series of rapidplay events and nomination by one's own junior association. In practical terms it is easier to organise one day rapid play events than longer standard play tournaments.

I wouldn't disagree that players wishing to develop into elite players need to participate in standard play events, but there are increasingly opportunities to do that outside of EPSCA. For instance, many juniors enter adult weekend congresses (Blackpool, Kidlington, e2e4, 4NCL, Southend, Torbay, Weald, Thanet) and play in the 4NCL/J4NCL Leagues. In North London, local chess promoter Adam Raoof (aka Chess England), runs monthly rapid and standard play events and festivals (e.g. Kings Place on 8th July).

One area where the ECF could benefit Junior players is in encouraging the creation of more independent FIDE Academies where future stars can receive professional support from a variety of chess coaches.

I understand that some individuals attempting to set up Academies are finding that the ECF block their applications to FIDE - I would suggest that this is a more significant issue than whether EPSCA offers places in their own junior England team.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:02 pm

I don’t think I disagree with much in Michael’s most recent post (with the possible exception of the last two paragraphs which might well form a topic in themselves!) and I believe I have generally avoided major criticism of EPSCA except in regard to what I, and apparently others, consider a misleading claim.

The only point I might question is Michael's opening sentence. If the EPSCA “… (never) set out to produce elite chess players …” then what is the thinking behind its National Chess Junior Squad? Again, I’m not knocking NCJS as such – I can see that participating juniors on its recent trip to Poland are likely to have found the experience beneficial – but the pretence (as it seems to me) that this automatically leads to, or is, the official England team.

Mike Truran
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mike Truran » Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:34 pm

I understand that some individuals attempting to set up Academies are finding that the ECF block their applications to FIDE
Not so. We are very happy to endorse applications to FIDE, but a combination of past and prospective Academies' difficulties in meeting the ECF's operational and financial requirements and the ECF's difficulties in getting our own ducks in a row as quickly as we would have liked has meant that progress has been slower than hoped for.

Michael Flatt
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Feb 25, 2017 2:43 pm

The National Chess Junior Squad (NCJS) is a different organisation than EPSCA. Confusingly, both organisations comprise some of the same individuals in key posts. The main distinguishing feature is the age range of the children being supported: EPSCA covers under 11's and NCJS the age range 11 to 25.
NCJS Chairman's Report 2013 [3] wrote:The National Chess Junior Squad is a charitable trust constituted by a Deed of Trust dated 23 December 1999 and is a registered charity, No. 1084293. Its official address is 50 Worcester Road, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 6QB. The charity’s Trustees during the year to 31 December 2012 were: Mr Peter Purland (Chairman), Mr Gerald Jacobs & Mr Alec Webster (Treasurer and Membership Secretary).
The object of the charity is to advance the education of children and young people (between the ages of 11 and 25) through their leisure time activities so as to develop their physical and mental capabilities through teaching, supervising and developing their playing of chess.
Personally, I have no involvement with the NCJS and my knowledge of it is limited to what is on its website.

The proliferation of different junior organisations does make it difficult for parents and junior organisers to understand what each organisation does and whom to contact.

I can only think that each of these organisations was created by an independent group of individuals to give opportunities for junior players where none previously existed. The ECF as the National Authority for Chess in England could help by producing a lay man's guide to English junior chess organisations, their objectives and links to each of their websites.

Reference
[1] NCJS website: http://www.ncjs.co.uk/
[2] EPSCA website: http://www.epsca.org.uk/
[3] NCJS Chairman's Report 2013: http://www.ncjs.co.uk/chairmans-reports.html

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:13 pm

Very happy to accept Michael's correction, pointing out that EPSCA and NCJS are separate organisations. The NCJS age range may indeed be 11 to 25 but, last year, the NCJS championships included an under-10 section described as being "for aspiring squad players" which might indicate a measure of overlap. But I'd claim this reinforces my point (with which I think Michael, in his penultimate paragraph, agrees) that this is all very confusing - and, in instances, misleading -for parents and others.

Mike Truran
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Mike Truran » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:29 pm

The ECF as the National Authority for Chess in England could help by producing a lay man's guide to English junior chess organisations, their objectives and links to each of their websites.
Those links are already on the ECF website's Juniors homepage. I'm not really sure though that it's the ECF's job to describe other junior organisations' objectives on their behalf, as the ECF has no particular jurisdiction over them. That's back to the point that has already been made a number of times - the English junior chess scene is uncoordinated and fragmented. To my mind that can only work to the disadvantage of English chess, but others may have different views.

Michael Flatt
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Feb 25, 2017 3:33 pm

Looking at the ECF Junior page, the ECF does in fact promote the National Junior Chess Squad as a path for Playing for England!
ECF Junior page[1] wrote: Playing for England
Follow this link to see the teams and read the reports from the World Youth, the European Youth and more … or click for the current Junior Selection Policy, Expression of Interest form, Coaches Expression of Interest form and the National Chess Junior Squad website
Further down there is reference to the National Youth Chess Association (NYCA) but the link to http://www.nyca.org.uk/ is for a site unrelated to chess.

The website of Staffordshire Junior Chess has a page devoted to NYCS and its events[2].

The NJCS and NYCA may if fact be the same organisation and references on the ECF & SJCC pages in need of updating to remove NYCA since that name now appears to be obsolete.

References
[1] ECF Junior page:http://englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/
[2] Staffordshire Junior Website (NYCS page): http://www.sjca.org.uk/nyca.html

Roger Lancaster
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:12 pm

I'm as confused as anyone but I'm not sure the NYCA (despite, I agree, the apparent absence of a website) is necessarily metamorphosed as Alex Holowczak earlier mentioned that they attended the EPSCA AGM last year (that would be September 2016, unless I'm much mistaken) where their suggestions apparently were given short shrift.

Alex Holowczak
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Alex Holowczak » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:31 pm

NYCA organise inter-county team events for Under 12, 14, 16 and 18. They are essentially equivalent to the EPSCA Under 9 and 11 events.

Michael Flatt
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Michael Flatt » Sat Feb 25, 2017 5:37 pm

I have discovered that news on NYCA events is being hosted on the NCJS website: http://www.ncjs.co.uk/nyca.html

It appears that the only problem is that nobody knows it's there!

Anyone with links to the original NYCA website might like to update them to the above webpage; or even better, if anyone knows of the whereabouts of the current NYCA website they might like to share the information.

The Sussex Junior website calendar: http://www.sussexjuniorchess.org/Calendar.htm seems to be one of the most comprehensive for Junior events. It shows the next NYCA event (u14 & u18 jamboree) on 24 Sept 2017 (tbc), but gives no information on how to enter or get information about it.

According to the Sussex website their teams are 2016 NYCA U12, U14 & U16 Champions.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:55 pm

Michael Flatt wrote:I don't believe that EPSCA ever set out to produce elite chess players. It was created in a different era and with a different emphasis than the current fashion of FIDE Chess Academies and 'hot housing'. It must have been doing something correct for it to still be thriving after fifty years of existence.

Its role is very specific (promoting u11 junior chess) and it works in cooperation with members of the ECF as can be seen by the composition of its council. It is a small organisation and has few resources in comparison with the ECF. It is driven by one or two key personalities who have been ever present throughout its existence. The challenge will come when those individuals eventually step down.
I'm perhaps going slightly off topic but is there an equivalent organisation focusing on secondary school chess? Does the EPSCA have a legacy in terms of former participants in their events still in active play? This ties into something I have a bee in my bonnet about locally.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Paul Cooksey
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:38 pm

Mike Truran wrote: One of the things that has struck me in my short tenure as CEO is the lack of jurisdiction that ECF has in all sorts of areas - and (if I may be controversial) the seeming reluctance of various organisations to risk relinquishing what they see as their own power base for the greater good of English chess.
Phil Ehr - who used to like to describe the ECF as the Governing body for chess in England - might agree with you.

I though Phil was removed by the ECF traditionalists for this reason. But views seem to vary.

David Sedgwick
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Feb 26, 2017 11:17 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Mike Truran wrote: One of the things that has struck me in my short tenure as CEO is the lack of jurisdiction that ECF has in all sorts of areas - and (if I may be controversial) the seeming reluctance of various organisations to risk relinquishing what they see as their own power base for the greater good of English chess.
Phil Ehr - who used to like to describe the ECF as the Governing body for chess in England - might agree with you.

I though Phil was removed by the ECF traditionalists for this reason.
Then you are mistaken. That wasn't the reason.

He was removed because his critics, of whom I was one, considered that his management style was not suitable for a voluntary organisation.
Paul Cooksey wrote:But views seem to vary.
On that point you are of course correct,

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:19 am

"That's back to the point that has already been made a number of times - the English junior chess scene is uncoordinated and fragmented. To my mind that can only work to the disadvantage of English chess, but others may have different views."

I don't have a different view. The casual observer would think that the junior organizations all want to protect their own turf and work against other junior organizations. Come to think of it, it's not just junior chess!

There is no problem with independence - it's frequently beneficial. It's the false claims that they make that annoy me.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: English Primary Schools Chess Association

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:45 am

Wasn't historically the National Junior Chess Squad, the BCF Junior squad? I think they parted company with the BCF around the late 1990s. The BCF had no control over what the squad did.

One way of telling who was or had been a member was that they wrote their moves like this

Code: Select all

1. e4     e5
2.    Nf3    Nc6
3. Bb5    a6
4.    Ba4    Nf6
The BCF Junior squad would have been behind the big London simuls of the 1970s and domestically would turn up en masse to terrorise Open tournaments with prepared novelties.

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