Guardian article by Stephen Moss

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JustinHorton
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:42 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
John Foley wrote:Stephen Moss will be one of the contributors to the forthcoming London Chess Conference. There is an impressive line up of speakers from around the world discussing the role of chess in society.
I thought this was worth quoting. I see no reason to spell out why. It's perhaps worth noting that it was a report printed in the Grauniad four years ago at the behest of a former President that had quite devastating consequences for an ECF volunteer
You sure about that?
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Mike Truran
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Mike Truran » Mon Nov 23, 2015 9:37 am

the 4NCL who were rather snottily dismissed in the article.
Yes, we were really, weren't we?

Makes it all worthwhile...... :(

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:07 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:It has been suggested that prize money in weekend tournaments hasn't kept pace with inflation - is this the case?
Entry Fees have kept pace with inflation, and the costs of hiring venues have likely exceeded it. The numbers are a major difference. It would have been the rule rather than the exception that tournaments used accelerated pairings because without them, it would have been a struggle to achieve a winner inside five rounds.

There was much more sponsorship around. The British Championship offered both large prizes and financial support to titled participants, the national teams had a sponsor, the Grand Prix had worthwhile prize funds etc.
Andrew Zigmond wrote: with the series of FIDE rated tournaments that provide a decent prize fund and title norm opportunities
Unless FIDE have it in mind to change the rules, there are no norm opportunities in 5 round tournaments.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by John Foley » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:21 am

The 4NCL brings together the cream of the country’s 10,000 or so competition players, plus a smattering of overseas titled players paid to add a bit of star quality to the teams.
Surely this is an endorsement of 4NCL consistent with the approach taken by many other sports and belies the prior reference to the inclement weather in Birmingham. The 4NCL is a rare success story in English chess.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:26 am

Justin - I'm assuming you're referring to the fact that the story first appeared in the Sunday Times which is correct. The Guardian ran with the story the next day (possibly after being contacted by the former President) and were the first to name the arbiter.

Roger - thanks for the clarification on five round tournaments. My mistake.

Mike - the 4NCL has revolutionised the English chess scene in the past two decades and the vast majority of us know it. Let a small minority write poisonous biased articles. Your contribution towards English chess is far greater and far more worthwhile.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:29 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Justin - I'm assuming you're referring to the fact that the story first appeared in the Sunday Times which is correct. The Guardian ran with the story the next day (possibly after being contacted by the former President) and were the first to name the arbiter
I'd forgotten that but I've checked and you're quite right.
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Mon Nov 23, 2015 10:32 am

John Foley wrote:
The 4NCL is a rare success story in English chess.
The opening description of the 4NCL sets the scene for an article portraying an English chess scene in decline and contains a dig at the catering (to be fair I've always been a bit disappointed by the lunch menu).

But it's good to see the 4NCL described as a `rare success story`. How fortunate we are to have controllers and arbiters willing to give up their time to run it!
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JustinHorton
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:24 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:Justin - I'm assuming you're referring to the fact that the story first appeared in the Sunday Times which is correct. The Guardian ran with the story the next day (possibly after being contacted by the former President) and were the first to name the arbiter
I'd forgotten that but I've checked and you're quite right.
I notice that the 2011 piece does at least quote the people being criticised, which is more than can be said for Stephen Moss's article.

EDIT: I do like the footnote which quotes the ECF statement saying

For our part we wish to reaffirm our confidence in CJ de Mooi as President of the ECF.

As I was saying, this was the point when all the people terribly concerned about good governance in the ECF might usefully have spoken up.
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:02 pm

Andrew Zigmond >
Unconnected to the above is the interesting comment in the article that there was more money in professional chess in the 70s and 80s than there is now and perhaps we could do with some more detail here. With the exception of the British and Hastings I can't think of any prestige events that there may have been then that we don't have now (granted, the odd one has come and gone such as the Lloyds Bank Masters) but then again I wasn't born until 1981 so can't comment with much authority.

In the early 1980s, the Evening Standard London and Aaronson Brothers Harrow weekend Congresses each had first prizes of £1200 (£5000 equivalent today?) for open competition. There is litle doubt the London weekend chess scene has moved sharply backwards in the past 20 years or so.

Stephen Moss also interviewed me, but didn't quote me.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:51 pm

An interesting substantial article in today's Times about tennis. I always think there are parallels to be drawn between our two sports. The article on page 70-71 is headed:
MURRAY'S SUCCESS CANNOT HIDE DECLINE IN PLAYER NUMBERS. It is occasioned by the coming Davis Cup Final this weekend of course. A few snapshots.

2008-9 there were 968,000 people aged 16 and over playing tennis once a month or more. 2013-2014 it had dropped to 694,000.
Year to March 2015 170,300 14-25 year olds who played tennis at least once a week.
LTA income last year £68.7 million, £39.7 million of it from Wimbledon.
There are fewer young players and a lot of old ones. (Sounds familiar?). The biggest drop-off is among 12-17 year olds. More than half of tennis club members are over 50.
Most tennis successes trace to entrepeneurial academies rather than systems run by national federations.
David Lloyd has taken the opportunity to attack Andy Murray.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 24, 2015 1:59 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote: In the early 1980s, the Evening Standard London and Aaronson Brothers Harrow weekend Congresses each had first prizes of £1200 (£5000 equivalent today?) for open competition.
The advert for the 1980 Evening Standard quotes a first prize of £ 1200 for the Open with prizes of £120 for each of the Under 180, Under 145 and Under 125. In those days, you were a veteran or Senior at 40.

The tournament report in a later edition records 910 players as taking part. This was 230 (!) in the Open, won by Murray Chandler, Paul Littlewood, Jon Speelman, Ftacnik (Czech), Pavicic and Roguli (Yugoslavia) and Haik of France, all with 5/6.

Amongst the players with 4.5 were Nunn, Kurajica (second seed) and future GMs Flear, Kosten and Arkell. There were 178 in the U-180, 265 in the U-145 and 237 in the U-120. Michael Franklin also scored 4.5 and with it the over 40 prize.

"News from the British Isles" in the September edition gives a round up of summer tournaments and the count of participants.

Charlton (430)
Cleveland (nearly 200)
Greater Manchester (547) - split over two weekends
Thanet Junior (nearly 80)
Skegness (42)
Sandwell Open (29)
Sandwell Major (48)
Sandwell Minor (63)
Knutsford Quickplay (240)
Holsworthy Speed (60)
Scottish Championships (75)

The British Championships attracted 480

The detailed report lists
40 in the Championship, 16 in the Ladies' Championship, 26 in the Under 21, 39 in the Under 18, 48 in the Under 16, 50 in the Under 14 and 38 in the Under 11. The Major Open had 42, but with "First Class" "Second Class" and "Third Class" tournaments beneath it containing around 30 each. The one week tournaments, am and pm, week 1 and week 2 had between 20 and 30 entrants each. The smallest tournament was the Over 60, which whilst 11 rounds had to be played as an APA with 12 players.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:03 pm

The tennis parallel is quite interesting; particularly as you would have thought there would be a lot of kids wanting to `be` Andy Murray - and even before him Tim Henman commanded a considerable fanbase in the country. It contrasts interestingly with the boom in British cycling after Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France.

Obviously it's unfortunate that Nigel Davies has once again had his reasons for switching federations blown out of proportion. Another point inferred in the article was that Phil Ehr `wanted to wrest control from (the) organisers and arbiters` something I don't ever recall Phil Ehr saying, indeed he always took time to praise the volunteer base. Returning to Nigel Davies I think the comment that has done the damage is the one about a `rag bag of amateurs`.

To an extent I see where this comment is coming from. Chess needs a combination of willing volunteers AND professional people with the knowledge and skills to bring in vital investment. That is not in doubt. However it seems to be a perennial problem that the two camps don't always gel and the simple truth is that in the most recent elections (and the evidence is - for now - in the public domain) the professionals (for want of a better phrase) put up back after back after back and then blamed everybody apart from themselves when they lost badly.

However we are going around in circles, myself included (partly because there's something I want to say but I just can't prove it). There is a lot of truth in the article, not least Nigel Short's comment about the closed minds of English club players. We need to look at how we can get different individuals working together better. We need to engage the wider chess community with everything that is going on. For all that there is still a lot of work to be done English chess has come a long way in the past ten years.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Nov 24, 2015 4:33 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:Another point inferred in the article was that Phil Ehr `wanted to wrest control from (the) organisers and arbiters` something I don't ever recall Phil Ehr saying, indeed he always took time to praise the volunteer base.
A point made by an observer at the AGM was that Phil Ehr was keen on telling the assembled voters many of whom were organisers and arbiters what they could and could not discuss. You add to this the whole shouting match about a nexus coming from his close associates.

It's a question of power. Phil Ehr's vision was of an ECF that had control over the chess organisations and bodies in England. The representatives of these were unconvinced that they should surrender what limited powers they have to set the direction of the ECF.

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Re: Guardian article by Stephen Moss

Post by Mike Gunn » Tue Nov 24, 2015 5:58 pm

Based on the time I spent on the board,I think it is much more about personal relationships than any of the factors previously identified (amateurs versus professionals, arbiters versus the rest, modernisers versus traditionalists or disagreements about policies (e.g. funding the international teams).

What the ECF needs needs is more people who are prepared to forget old arguments and just get on with what the majority decide and implement it. We are all trying to get to basically the same place!

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