Will the County Championship go ahead

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
Mick Norris
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Mar 14, 2021 1:45 pm

Email from Mark Murrell

I can post the details later after I return from my Covid jab (when presumably my wifi will be better....)
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:05 pm

"I can post the details later after I return from my Covid jab (when presumably my wifi will be better....)"

I would be happy if the jab kept me alive, but if it improves wifi, that is really brilliant...

Mick Norris
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:42 pm

Happy to report it is already making a big difference, no sooner had I left the Cathedral, driven past the Arena, down Alan Shearer Way and past Ewood Park :lol:
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Mick Norris
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Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester

Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Mar 14, 2021 5:43 pm

Union County Match Controllers,
Director of Home Chess, Nigel Towers, and I have been reviewing arrangements for the County Championships, over-the-board and online; now that we have the latest road map from HMG.
Return to over-the-board
It is still early days as to timetabling but with the vaccination programme well advanced chess organisers at all levels can start to look ahead with a greater degree of optimism, though retaining due caution.
Given the road map, it will not come as any surprise to you that there will not be a 2020/2021 over-the-board county championship.
However, should there be sufficient interest among the Unions and the 2019/20 nominee qualifying counties1, there is the option of holding the National Stage of that competition in the autumn of 2021. With the possible exception of the U140s where a preliminary round encounter between Essex and Lincolnshire will be needed if all 9 nominees participate, three Saturdays early in September, October and November could accommodate the knockout stages of the Finals. The Finals would be held at separate venues. There are of course scheduling issues for those Unions planning to hold a qualifying competition to determine nominations for the 2021/22 Championships. Thoughts please.
We certainly intend and hope that we will be able to run a 2021/22 competition as full as we can with the National Stages taking their traditional dates (subject to any variation by the Home Director before 31st October 2021 and any covid-19 effects): (4th Sat in April) 23 Apr 2022 Preliminary round (2nd Sat in May) 14 May 2022 QF - Open, Minor Counties, alternate rated limited sections (3rd Sat in May) 21 May 2022 QF – alternate rated limited sections starting with highest (2nd Sat in June) 11 Jun 2022 SF (1st Sat in July) 02 Jul 2022 F
In the event of an Autumn 2021 Finals stage, these dates could be extended slightly.
In the event that there is not support for the national stages of the 2019/20 competition in the Autumn, then there is a further option of allowing any county that was nominated for the 2019/20 competition following participating in a Union qualifying competition to play in the national stage of the 2021/22 competition should they wish in the absence of 2019/20 Finals. Such teams would be treated as third place qualifiers under the rules and teams from the same county keep apart where possible in the preliminary round too, though there may need to be an inter-Union play-off in the event of more than 16 teams as a result and more than 3 teams from any one Union in any section.
4 digit ratings have been with us since the start of the 2020/2021 season. This presents an opportunity to align the ECF County Championships going forward with other 4 digit rating events in respect of the bands for competition. With this in mind changing the rating limited sections to U2000, U1800, U1600 and U1400 appears logical. In effect reverting to bands more akin with those that existed prior to the grading inflation adjustments. The Minor Counties would dovetail with a team average not exceeding 2000. This does mean reducing the number of championship events from 7 to 6, though were there to be sufficient interest one could add an U1200 section. It will bring the County Championships into line with the likely format for the 2022 British Championships for example.
Counties and Unions will have their own views as to what you think will work and where in particular the rating bands should lie. Now is your opportunity to influence the way forward and allow the Board to refine the proposal which is likely needed to be put to Council in April at least by way of consultation in respect of this ECF flagship event.
Over the last few seasons, it has been apparent that most teams have often had to be completed from players drawn from a lower section, indicating that the bands were too narrow. To my mind a rating band adjustment is warranted and a preferable alternative to changing the nature of the Championships as a competition for large teams. As to team numbers, the top three sections would be over 16 boards and the lowest over 12 boards. I would like to see whether the U1600 (120 under Clarke grading) with a wider band can sustain 16 boards once again.
The Home Director intends to bring a proposal to Council in April along the above lines and subject to your feedback to this circular, so that the necessary changes following the move to 4 digit ratings at least can be put into place ahead of the 2021/22 season as we return to over the board chess. It may be that a number of options are put to Council depending on your views.
You too will be giving consideration to your own Union county competitions where similar considerations apply. You will need certainty as to the national competition, which we hope Council will bring in April.
Do please consult amongst your members and provide your feedback as quickly as you can. We have the opportunity to reset the County Championships hopefully onto a sustainable basis for the future.
Online – Season 2
The past year has seen a sustained growth in ECF online activity which has not just been fuelled by club, county and congress players looking to play chess. New players and returning players have been attracted. The ECF is looking to widen participation following renewed interest in the game, helped by the publicity the Queen’s Gambit series has generated. This may reinvigorate competition for those players rated below 1400. I learnt the other day that the average rating of players on chess.com was slightly below 1000. With this sustained growth, online competition is going to co-exist with over-the-board chess. The online version of the County Championships was notable for the re-engagement of counties for which the over-the-board competitions has become impossible; a welcome development I, as the ECF Counties Controller, would like to continue and build upon.
My local Club has attracted new members who are looking for a change from online chess. It is an opportunity to revitalise our chess communities.
Online chess has come a long way in the past 12 months; as well as keeping the ECF afloat financially. As with all forms of team chess, organisers are needed at all levels. It needs the support of existing organisations such as clubs, leagues, counties and Unions.
You will have seen from the ECF newsletters that a programme of online events has been published with a second season of the Online Counties Championships scheduled for June through to August, straddling the second season of the Online British Chess Championships; qualifiers before and finals stages afterwards. With a return to the great outdoors participated we will keep with the 6:30pm time slot on a Saturday evening and the 2.5 hours playing session. I am envisaging a similar format to season 1 – separate Open and U1800 Championships. I would like to see a U1400 event too to fit in with the new to chess initiatives. If there are not the numbers then the regional competition (National 1400) can run again alongside the final stages. The divisions in the Open worked well last time round;
the alternative being to replace Divisions 1 and 2 with an Open and average rated section. I have in mind 5 group matches.
With the advances made in fair play over the last season, the Final stages which I would expect to be streamlined to semi-finals and finals will be supervised by arbiters through a live Zoom call and screen sharing. With pressures on finances, events do need to self-fund, so there will be an entry fee for season 2. This could be through a conventional entry fee payable by participating County Associations or follow the growing online practice of a player participation charge at the outset (sign up & pay to the event, choose your county under eligibility criteria, join the squad). I think the latter the advantage of attracting players from outside of the traditional county player pools, committing players to the competition given other attractions over the summer, bringing greater certainty to team viability early on. It is certainly my intention to carry out the pool competitions for players who miss out on team selection. Use of interclub matches on chess.com may avoid the need for captain administration too, at least until the final stages. The LMS now has a high degree of functionality so less to do for team captains than when we started season 1. Much depends on how much control counties wish to have.
The North v South match will run again following on from the National Finals.
Again, do let me have your thoughts and those of your member counties.
In Summary
Please do provide your thoughts on:
a) holding the National Finals stages of the 2019/20 Championships in Autumn 2021;
b) in the absence of such a competition, allowing 2019/20 nominees to participate in the 2021/22 Championships as additional qualifiers;
c) for the 2021/22 championships and onwards, rating bands for the rating limited sections and average rating for the Minor Counties;
d) season 2 of the Online Championships – financing and generally.
I shall also be consulting shortly with the 2019/20 nominees and with the County Associations, though you will no doubt wish to liaise within your Unions.
Best wishes,
Mark Murrell
ECF Controller, Counties Championships.
1. 2019/20 Nominations Nominations subject to nominated counties being able to opt out without penalty once the format and schedule are published are in order of (E, M, N, S & W): 7:Open (1) Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, Middlesex (2) Gr Manchester, Lancashire, Surrey (3) Kent 6:Minor (1) Norfolk, Warwickshire, Devon (2) Suffolk, Leicestershire (3) Worcestershire 4:U180 (1) Shropshire, Yorkshire, Essex (2) Middlesex 8:U160 (1) Norfolk, Warwickshire, Yorks., Middlesex, Devon (2) Suffolk, Gr Manchester, Lancs. 9:U140 (1) Worcestershire, Lancashire, Kent, Hampshire (2) Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Surrey (3) Lincolnshire (PR), Essex (PR) - (PR= Meet in preliminary round unless format change) 7:U120 (1) Norfolk, Leicestershire, Yorks., Middlesex (2) Nottinghamshire, Lancs., (3) Shropshire 6:U100 (1) Leicestershire, Lancashire, Essex (2) Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire (3) Warwickshire 47: 5 EACU; 17 MCCU; 11 NCCU; 11 SCCU; 3 WECU
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

David Sedgwick
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:30 pm

Mick, I hope that you are feeling okay after your Covid-19 jab.

Thank you for your posts here and in the Online Chess thread.

As it happens, I received the information from the SCCU after I made my previous post. It addition, another person who had received it from the ECF sent it to me privately.

However, you have performed a valuable service by informing people who would otherwise still be in ignorance.

Mick Norris
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Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester

Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Mick Norris » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:16 am

I'm ok thanks David

I guess that there's a hierarchy in informing people within the ECF first, then the Unions, then the counties and their captains etc, but I was surprised that it hadn't extended to you, and that you hadn't commented, and thought that it better now to bring it out in the Open (in Manchester, john reyes has done this by circulating a wide range of interested players)

As usual, I very much doubt there will be a consensus in what should be done, but there may be a consensus in what shouldn't

In respect of a) holding the National Finals stages of the 2019/20 Championships in Autumn 2021; I imagine it is a question of whether Unions feel there own competitions can get underway as "normal", in which case this would clash, and whether it is thought that a potential Covid resurgence would scupper Winter chess; I'd be more interested in the eligibility i.e. does u160 mean as per the grading list of August 2019 when the Unions qualifiers got underway, or as at August 2021 when the National stages are proposed to start (not that there's necessarily a lot of OTB chess in between, but there will be enough to move some players graded over a boundary)
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

David Sedgwick
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by David Sedgwick » Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:19 am

Mick Norris wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:16 am
I guess that there's a hierarchy in informing people within the ECF first, then the Unions, then the counties and their captains etc, ...
When only six days are available for comments, you will get a more comprehensive set of responses if you inform everybody at once.

MartinCarpenter
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by MartinCarpenter » Mon Mar 15, 2021 3:46 pm

I'm intrigued by how the grading bands have evolved over time, and a bit unsure what should be done with them.

For a historical perspective, the three time periods for the competition in a table, converted:
Old School : Open, U2100, U1950, U1800, U1650.
1st Change : Open, U2050, U1900, U1750, U1600, U1450
Suggested : Open, ---- U2000 ---- , U1800, U1600, U1400

As per the proposal, the effect over time would be to broadly eliminate the old school U175 competition.

Isn't there a real danger of leaving a big chunk of the active player base stuck between the Open and the U2000's?

I don't really have the data to know. There's definitely a lot of players between 2100 and 2000. It must vary much more by county as to how many of these players would fit into their Open teams. Very few in Yorkshire when halfway organised.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Mar 15, 2021 5:37 pm

It varies both by county and by region, I think - WECU never had an U-175 competition.

Nick Grey
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Nick Grey » Mon Mar 15, 2021 9:59 pm

Any reason not to abandon 2019/20 as like 4NCL. The Scholastic year seems odd and final prices will go through roof in July. JAN - DEC for 100 Years looks OK.

Mick Norris
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Re: Will the County Championship go ahead

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:05 pm

Thank you for the responses received to my discussion document. These allowed the Home Director and I to tailor our recommendations to the Board for the outstanding 2019-2022 competitions, which were accepted and have led to the two motions brought by the Board to Finance Council set for 24th April 2020. We are interested in receiving your continued feedback whether or not you were able to indicate your views in the short time that was available prior to the Board’s deliberations.
You can peruse the agenda and supporting papers in the Council papers section of the ECF website reached via Documents under the About Us tab in the main menu.
An updated version of the supporting paper relating to the over-the-board County Championships is attached. The agenda may also be amended to correct the erroneous reference to early September.
By way of an overview, we are seeking to bring the Championships into line with established events that have been using 4 digit ratings for some time (also different thinking here especially as there will be players rated 0-700 which we have not had before) and also widen the catchment for each band in a more even way, partially addressing the concerns of reducing player numbers and consequential player overlap.
Flexibility on band width is a more easily adjustable mechanism (either way) than reducing board numbers (ever reducing), which to my mind takes away the distinctiveness of the counties as a competition. It is not intended as a solve all solution but hopefully a not too controversial attempt at restructuring to partially alleviate the building pressures and adapt to four digit ratings.
We are mindful too that Covid-19 hesitancy will also be playing its part in the months ahead as will the ever present variability of associated operating restrictions. A degree of pragmatism and adaptability is called for whilst retaining the ethos of the competition.
Look out for the interim OTB event which will be tailored to Covid-19 operating conditions with a format to suit. The thinking here will be outside the conventional box to make it both separate and distinct as a back to chess curtain raiser in a similar vein to the proposed arrangements for the slimmed down 2021 British Championships intended for October.
The intent is to give the 2021/22 Union qualifying competitions a clean start so they are best able to cope with the tribulations that may well lie ahead. For those who wish to return to OTB as soon as, something to offer whilst conditions allow.
Ahead of these events there will be a second season of the online competition over the summer either side of the online British.
The Home and Events Directors and I are working on the finer scheduling and format detail of these pre-season county based events so that county competition can reach out to as many players as possible. I will be in touch with further detail hopefully in the not too distant future as to the 2nd online Counties Championship and the pre-season event for county teams.
By way of summary of the feedback so far:
1. roughly an equal split of opinion on holding the 2019/20 finals or not;
2. support for the rating band restructuring for the rating limited sections for 2021/22;
3. support for the status quo of 12 boards for the U1600 section;
4. concern as to player support for U1400 and below competitions;
5. some concern as to the 6:30pm Saturday slot for the 2nd online event;
6. some encouragement for an U1400 online section (whilst recognising d) above).
Please do continue to consult within your organisations, particularly to inform your representative(s) to ECF Council. Your players may also wish to indicate their views to their Direct Member representatives.
ECF Council will be asked to note (indicate support or otherwise) that:
• the 2019/2020 OTB Counties Season will be formally abandoned at the regional stage with no final stage;
• the ECF intends to run a friendly 2020 Counties ‘Summer’ Competition in August and September open to any County Association that wishes to participate;
• The 2021/2022 Counties Season will start with a new set of regional matches in the Autumn of 2021 based on a clean break from previous years;
and subject to developments with the pandemic and HMG regulations in force at the time.
The substantive motion to ECF Council provides for the following changes ahead of the 2021/22 Counties Championships:
• Player rating limited sections of U2000, U1800, U1600 and U1400 (a loss of 1 section overall);
• Default position of player eligibility by reference to the Original Official September standard rating list.
Regards,
Mark Murrell
ECF Controller, Counties Championships.
Attachments
Finance Council 2021 -Counties proposals.pdf
(290.86 KiB) Downloaded 10 times
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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