The Economics of Chess Clubs

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John Upham
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by John Upham » Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:29 am

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:57 am
Of course every nightclub in Britain, no matter how terrible, has a queue outside it too. As Joey notes, the doormen have different criteria for letting people jump the queue.
Perhaps you could reveal your knightclubs of choice and which ones to avoid?

There must be many members of this place who attend even if infrequently.

I'm told that The Honeypot Club is popular for Maidenhead residents.
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Joseph Conlon
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Joseph Conlon » Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:29 am

John Upham wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:29 am
Perhaps you could reveal your knightclubs of choice and which ones to avoid?

There must be many members of this place who attend even if infrequently.

I'm told that The Honeypot Club is popular for Maidenhead residents.
I note that at the Barnet knightsclub (which admittedly has some element of coaching and juniors) its £15 per session.

Basically I concur with Andrew - any sort of children's activity, even the most accessible ones covering all income brackets (e.g. football), are probably at least £20 a month. £50 a year for anything involving premises hire and equipment is not expensive.

There is probably a separate junior-themed aspect to this as well, which is the extent to which some aspects of junior chess are priced for a private school market and so exclude children from just-about-getting-by backgrounds.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:23 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:57 am
Golf clubs too. Personally I prefer chess to golf, so I'd be willing to pay more to be part of a chess club than I would a golf club. But if a chess club was charging fees equivalent to a golf club I am not sure how that would change it in ways I would prefer, unless I was keen to keep out the riff-raff and confident I was not part of it.
Yes indeed.

There was a time (before WW2 certainly) when chess in Britain was mainly a pursuit of the well to do.

One does get the impression from certain posters that they wouldn't mind a return to those days :?
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Jonathan Bryant
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:48 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:23 pm
One does get the impression from certain posters that they wouldn't mind a return to those days :?
There is perhaps a middle ground between pricing a potential audience out of chess club membership and accepting any conditions.

One reason why I stopped playing away matches was a trip to a club I was told played in a room at a pub.

I arrived.

You gained access to the room behind a door marked 'toilet'
The chess club played in a outbuilding not the pub itself - the chess room also contained a lot of broken and discarded furniture.
I noticed when i entered the room that the home players were gathered around a board analysing a position. They all had their coats on. It was very cold.
There were two fan heaters in the room that were both simultaneously very noisy and heated up no more than a few inches of the room each.
Half of the boards for the match were home made. Cheap chipboard. The dark squares were shown by address label stickers.
The lighting was very poor. So much so that unless I sat back from the board it was cast in a shadow so deep it was difficult to make out the pieces.

When I went to sit down I pulled the chair back from the table and the arm of the chair came off in my hand.

After a couple of moves my fingers were so cold I put my gloves on. I took my gloves off each move to write on my scoresheet. Then I put my gloves back on.

After about 10 minutes or so I offered my opponent a draw. I would have resigned had he not accepted.

I went for a pint.

I heard a while later that club had closed down for lack of members.


Cheap doesn't necessarily equal sustainable.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:02 pm

Of course, I have been to some horror venues too. But as you imply, they have mostly died out due to "natural selection".

Certainly in these parts most places to play are perfectly adequate, and in some cases better than that.

But AFAIK none extract an extortionate cost.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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Stephen Westmoreland
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Stephen Westmoreland » Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:21 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:16 pm
Andrew Wainwright wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 6:43 pm
As a result, they are willing to pay for facilities that support these expectations.

The chess community needs to catch up quickly with what is happening...
Don't let us stop you, and do let us know how you get on.
Nick - Having taken a team over there twice now, they are doing well and it is a genuine pleasure to visit. Lovely people and premises, with the online streaming absolutely excellent.

Having a club on the opposite end of the scale (low fee, negotiated free premise in a pub and run by working volunteers), I do see that there is immense value in more commercial enterprises. We simply have to create more clubs and bring all these newly interested players in, whether that be like the chess centre or local volunteers who are reliant on donations and generous members.

Post lockdown with the interest and push on streaming channels, this is the best opportunity in decades to revive.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:19 am

Interesting article. Interesting thread!

NickFaulks
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:02 pm

Stephen Westmoreland wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:21 pm
Nick - Having taken a team over there twice now, they are doing well and it is a genuine pleasure to visit. Lovely people and premises, with the online streaming absolutely excellent.
Ah, I assume we are talking about Ilkley. Is membership there expensive?
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Mick Norris
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:30 pm

Expensive for Yorkshire, or more generally?

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Simon Rogers
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Simon Rogers » Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:03 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:30 pm
Expensive for Yorkshire, or more generally?

Membership
20 quid!!!! I can buy half of Wakefield for dat :lol:

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Stephen Westmoreland
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Stephen Westmoreland » Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:27 pm

NickFaulks wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 5:02 pm
Stephen Westmoreland wrote:
Tue Oct 12, 2021 11:21 pm
Nick - Having taken a team over there twice now, they are doing well and it is a genuine pleasure to visit. Lovely people and premises, with the online streaming absolutely excellent.
Ah, I assume we are talking about Ilkley. Is membership there expensive?
Depends on what you find expensive and what you get. Would I join if I lived in Ilkley and not had the desire to create other clubs? Yes. Come join Holmfirth for £10 a year if you want. Subject to not having to pay for premises of course. I do not know the fees for Ilkley Chess Club (separate from the Chess Centre). It is a good and interesting model.

To be fair I have probably sunk far more into Holmfirth per year in gifts, money and donations, than it would cost me to join Ilkley. Mind you, that is a huge trek and the beer at the Stumble Inn (our home venue) is very nice.

NickFaulks
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Oct 14, 2021 9:31 am

Stephen Westmoreland wrote:
Wed Oct 13, 2021 11:27 pm
Depends on what you find expensive and what you get.
I don't think it does. The proposition is that there is a new generation of chess players who demand top class facilities and don't mind paying serious money for them. I don't doubt that Ilkley satisfy the first half, but are they really charging much more than other clubs in return?
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:45 pm

There is now a follow-up article.

Richard James
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Richard James » Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:12 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:45 pm
There is now a follow-up article.
Thanks, Jack. You've saved me the trouble of posting it myself.

Andrew Wainwright
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Re: The Economics of Chess Clubs

Post by Andrew Wainwright » Sat Oct 16, 2021 12:15 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:
Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:45 pm
There is now a follow-up article.
An excellent article. Many thanks for the kind link to the Chess Centre website.

To clarify, we don’t own our premises, it is on a commercial lease. Seed funding for the project was provided by Matt Webb and myself, with a hope of being able to repay this investment over 5yrs and show a sustainable financial model for chess centres.

Our model is entirely not for profit, and we are exceptionally grateful to the local and wider chess community who are supporting this project.

We would be happy to collaborate and discuss the model with anyone else looking to do something similar.

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