Tournament Structures

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Roger de Coverly
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Tournament Structures

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:11 pm

There's a debate in the latest edition of the ECF's emailed newsletter about whether tournaments should be all one section or split.

I would suggest the number of rounds should have a major bearing on this, with the numbers not targeted to exceed the natural limits of avoiding two winners with 100% scores. For a weekend tournament of 5 rounds, that's 32 players, but you can add back all the half point byes. If you have a nine round tournament, the limit is 512.

That to my mind is a good enough reason for the usual split of a British weekend tournament into three, four or five sections with the odd monster like Blackpool or Scarborough running to six,

For nine rounders like Hastings or the London Classic there's less reason to do this. The organisers of these events do however discourage lower rated players from entering with higher entry fees and no or low rating prizes. Apparently that's to not put Norm seekers at the disadvantage of playing low rated opposition.

http://www.englishchess.org.uk/wp-conte ... il2018.pdf

I cannot help thinking that a five round tournament of 128 players, even with accelerated pairings is just going to be a contest between IMs or GMs as to who can best beat players in the 150-200 range without any accidents over five games.

(edit) I did a hypothetical on the forthcoming St Albans Congress to see what standard of player I might face in the first round if it was all one section. Low 120s it seems. Not sure if either of us enters a tournament for that sort of pairing. The second round might be a 140s player. Mind you if the top 16 by grades was the remaining 100% players, I would get Richard Bates in round 3, which has happened in a past year at St Albans under the conventional sections. (/edit)

Nick Burrows
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Nick Burrows » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:23 pm

The majority of players primarily want to play competitive chess. The chance of winning decent prize money is a secondary and positive dynamic to the weekend. This can be verified by the fact that the vast majority of players choose to play in the appropriate graded section rather than in the Open - which is always available to them.

The view that one big open section is an improvement on the normal tournament structure has so far only been offered by players from the only group that would benefit from such a change - strong open players.

NickFaulks
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:42 pm

Nick Burrows wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:23 pm
The view that one big open section is an improvement on the normal tournament structure has so far only been offered by players from the only group that would benefit from such a change - strong open players.
Why would it make any difference to them? Presumably the prize funds for the lesser events would simply be rebranded as rating prizes.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by LawrenceCooper » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:46 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:42 pm
Nick Burrows wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:23 pm
The view that one big open section is an improvement on the normal tournament structure has so far only been offered by players from the only group that would benefit from such a change - strong open players.
Why would it make any difference to them? Presumably the prize funds for the lesser events would simply be rebranded as rating prizes.
I believe that the reasoning is that rating prizes wouldn't be the same as 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc which seems to be the bone of contention that the open players are playing for the same prizes as those lower rated in events with multiple sections.

NickFaulks
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:51 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:46 pm
the bone of contention that the open players are playing for the same prizes as those lower rated in events with multiple sections.
Does that actually happen?

Nick Burrows
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Nick Burrows » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:58 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:51 pm
LawrenceCooper wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:46 pm
the bone of contention that the open players are playing for the same prizes as those lower rated in events with multiple sections.
Does that actually happen?
Next weekends 4ncl Congress:

FIDE Rated Open: Open to all players.

1st £500; 2nd £250; 3rd £120; 4th £80; best performance prize of £50.


FIDE Rated U2000: Open to:

(1) FIDE rated players rated below 2000 FIDE; (2) players without a FIDE rating graded below 175 ECF.

1st £500; 2nd £250; 3rd £120; 4th £80; best performance prize of £50.


ECF U135: Open to players graded below 135 ECF.

1st £500; 2nd £250; 3rd £120; 4th £80; best performance prize of £50.

LawrenceCooper
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by LawrenceCooper » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:59 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:51 pm
LawrenceCooper wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:46 pm
the bone of contention that the open players are playing for the same prizes as those lower rated in events with multiple sections.
Does that actually happen?
One example quoted was Scarborough: http://www.scarboroughchesscongress.org.uk/

NickFaulks
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:06 pm

LawrenceCooper wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:59 pm
One example quoted was Scarborough: http://www.scarboroughchesscongress.org.uk/
Thanks, I should have done my homework. And no, that doesn't feel right. I've always felt it was fair for club players to provide some subsidy to top players when they take part in the same congress, although I'm not exactly sure how I justify that.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Michael Farthing » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:13 pm

Because the lower rated players want to rub shoulders with the "good"* and the great.

... and, I suspect, that is the reasoning of the tournament organisers.

*The inverted commas do not mean that I think the great are never good, but it does imply that I think because you are great does not imply that you are good (just so you know).

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:19 pm

Many years ago, I played in a Rapidplay, when the Open only had 12 players. I managed 6/6 and won £15 (I think) which just about covered travelling expenses and lunch. You also got free entry for the next RP. The winner of the B-section got £50 (+ free entry) as there were more entries... I felt that if the organizer had merged the sections, I would still have got 6/6!

Players in the Open get tougher games, and should not be getting the same (or less) prize money for winning the section. I appreciate that many lower-graded players don't want to be crushed by people graded 50 points above them, it's depressing and they won't learn anything. However, why should they win the same amount of money as someone who has played more difficult games. Also, I will not name names, but I think there are a lot of bandits in lower graded sections, who have manipulated their grades so they can play in the lower-graded sections.

Nick Grey
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Nick Grey » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:18 pm

The costs of venues are likely to be at their highest on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays than in midweek. This is difficult for organisers. So as much as I hate 5 round tournaments we are generally stuck with them for long play or fide purposes. Whilst it is nice of ECF, most tournaments are not organised directly by them.

Most chess players do not play tournaments because of the prize money. I agree with Kevin on the reasons for open and more prize monies there than lower sections. Bandits have long been discussed.

The Surrey Easter Congresses were fantastic in the past. Organised by the gang of 3, 2 deceased. And with excellent arbiters too.

One of my best memories is playing a game against a up and coming Welsh Junior, I cannot remember how many adjournments we had, but Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. I drew that game (130/140 moves), Kevin pointed out where I missed a win earlier. It was a really good game, and the Welsh player went far above me on his grading, as well as above Kevin.

The London Chess Classic is excellent. And only comparisons are the big international congresses in the 70s/80s/early 90s. Even then they did not have a significant proportion of the top players in the world playing in their tournaments, a English knockout and 1000s of children being introduced to chess.

Eric Gardiner
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Eric Gardiner » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:27 am

I also hear the comment that Tim Wall refers to about Open players being subsidised by players from other sections from time to time and agree with his response that this isn't a fair comment if the strongest players have been compressed into a small group by the tournament structure. I can also understand Roger's points why one single tournament might be impractical. However, what I don't understand is why congresses don't just divide players into groups of roughly equal size and ability levels based on the grade quartiles (if there are going to be four sections) of the entrants ? Why do grading/rating limits of sections need to be specified in advance?

I think that winning a higher-graded section, particularly an Open, should bring more prestige than winning a lower-graded section. Is there any other way of doing this, apart from awarding higher prizes for winning the stronger sections?

I was interested in Tim's broader comments about getting players of widely differing abilities to mix together socially. I hope he is successful in his aim at the Chester-le-Street congress, although I think much depends on the personalities of the players rather than their relative playing strengths!

Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:41 am

Eric Gardiner wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:27 am
-- text omitted -- However, what I don't understand is why congresses don't just divide players into groups of roughly equal size and ability levels based on the grade quartiles (if there are going to be four sections) of the entrants ? Why do grading/rating limits of sections need to be specified in advance?
-- text omitted --
Because many potential entrants will want to know whether they stand a chance of winning before committing their time and money.

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Chris Goodall
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Chris Goodall » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:47 am

The ideal prizes to my mind would be something like:
Open: 1st £250, 2nd £200, 3rd £150, 4th £100, 5th £75, 6th £50, best grading performance £50.
Major: 1st £250, best grading performance £50.
Minor: 1st £250, best grading performance £50.
So whatever section you play in, winning all your games will earn you £250. Anyone who's upset that they don't get a prize for being the second best out of a group of under 150 players should find an easier game than chess.
Chris Goodall, formerly known as Chris Wardle. ECF Grader for the ancient kingdom of Bernicia (or Northumberland and Durham, if you prefer).
Newcastle is not in Scotland!

Richard Bates
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Re: Tournament Structures

Post by Richard Bates » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:02 am

Brendan O'Gorman wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:41 am
Eric Gardiner wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:27 am
-- text omitted -- However, what I don't understand is why congresses don't just divide players into groups of roughly equal size and ability levels based on the grade quartiles (if there are going to be four sections) of the entrants ? Why do grading/rating limits of sections need to be specified in advance?
-- text omitted --
Because many potential entrants will want to know whether they stand a chance of winning before committing their time and money.
There is a way around this which would be to have two prize structures - one for finishing at or near the top of the grading limited sections, another (not defined by the grading limits) of performance against rating. So a player finding themselves at the bottom end of one of the sections would know that a good performance could still lead to a prize. So you would have, say, prizes for 1st/2nd/3rd in each section and, a certain number of prizes open to all (other than main prizewinners) across all sections.

A side point, but I never understand the logic in the often employed practice of restricting performance ("W-We") prizes. (eg. in an open tournament where all players are above, say, 170, setting an artificial cutoff about half way down the tournament.) The whole advantage of the performance approach is that it can be made open to everybody.

Leaving aside the issue of whether stronger players in general should be eligible for higher prizes, the main other objection IMO to 'equal' prizes in lower sections is the unfairness to people on the wrong side of the cut off. Why should a player graded, say, 175 struggle to ever compete for prize money, whereas somebody graded 165 will always be in the opposite position? Higher performance prizes (as opposed to the usual relatively 'token' prizes that are common), open to all, would go a long way towards addressing this basic unfairness.

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