Alex Holowczak wrote: ↑
Tue Mar 20, 2018 5:55 pm
David Sedgwick wrote: ↑
Tue Mar 20, 2018 1:12 pm
Alex has been a big asset to the ECF and to English chess in a great many ways. His approach to the Counties Championships is not one of them.
This got me to reflect on what my "approach to the Counties Championships" is.
Over the years, I've observed a few things:
- Yorkshire reduce their involvement to two sections, rather than six.
- The MCCU Open section go from two four-team divisions to one, five-team Minor section. There is no Open section. The Under 180 section now only has 2 teams too. The lower sections are still OK.
- I see captains doing multiple sections in the MCCU the absence of volunteers; people like Neil Graham and John Fahy. What will happen to the Nottinghamshire teams once Neil stops captaining three of them?
I think most of these can be attributed to a shortage of volunteers. Is there a shortage of volunteers, or are the volunteers volunteering their limited time on other things?
Over the last 5 years, the 4NCL has expanded its number of teams. Division 4 South is already just about as big as Division 3 was when it was split first by North/South and then into 3 South and 4 South. Division 3 North has expanded in size too, and regularly gets posts on here in the way that the NCCU Counties Championship doesn't. By expanding the number of teams, presumably the number of volunteer captains has expanded. What is it that is drawing volunteers to captain 4NCL teams that isn't drawing people to captain county teams, where there's an apparent shortage?
In the 4NCL, I see an event that is growing quickly; but in the County Championship - particularly the higher sections - I do not see the same growth. In the MCCU, I see the opposite. Why is the 4NCL growing where the County Championship isn't? Is there anything that can encourage 4NCL-style growth in the County Championship? Would you agree that I'd be negligent to watch these things happen idly, rather than coming up with some ideas that are aiming to improve things?
I think that's my approach to the event, and I think that's reasonable. Feel free to disagree with the ideas, or indeed come up with better ones. That's why we put them to consultation.
When the establishment of the 4NCL was proposed in the early 1990s, some members of the then BCF Management Board opposed it on the grounds that it would damage the participation levels in the Counties Championships.
I was not among them as I foresaw the potential benefits of the 4NCL but, above all, I felt that players should be given the choice of which weekend competition they preferred, or whether they wished to play in both.
For a long time the 4NCL was a fairly elite event, but in the last ten years or so the lower Divisions have expanded rapidly. Inevitably this has resulted in some decline in the participation levels in the Counties Championships at the U160 and the U180 level.
That does not mean that drastic change is needed. The Counties Championships are still perfectly viable in their current format.
You said that players in Warwickshire prefer to play in the 4NCL. Fine. That is their choice.
I prefer to play in the Counties Championships and to try to help the teams for which I play qualify for the National Stages (under SCCU Rules).
That is my choice - or at least it should be.
I prefer the Counties Championships, but I do not seek to shut down the 4NCL. I ask no more than that the 4NCL acolytes allow me to continue to enjoy the Counties Championships, as I have been doing for over thirty years.
Above all, I would like the Director of Home Chess to seek to sustain the competition for which he is responsible, rather than to seek to change or even destroy its entire ethos. Is that too much to ask?
Council will decide.