How to develop England Juniors?

National developments, strategies and ideas.
Richard James
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Richard James » Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:43 pm

Joseph Conlon wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:30 am
Richard James wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:56 pm
Joseph Conlon wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:09 pm

I'm a bit sceptical of the idea that stronger local junior clubs are what are missing; I certainly don't remember them as a feature of the 1980s/1990s.
Richmond Juniors?
I am a great admirer of the wonderful work Richmond has done over the decades - and the Complete Chess Addict was my absolute favourite book as a child. However I felt, then and now, that clubs like Richmond are very good at developing a large pool of juniors who are competitive at the national level, but that further development to being internationally competitive requires national structures. So eg if in one age group Richmond has the nos. 5, 11, 14,17,18 out of the top 20, that is fantastic for one junior club but that no.5 player needs national groups for their full progression.

In a similar vein, I felt that Richmond's historic strength in EPSCA events doesn't necessarily lie in their top few boards, but the fact that there is very little drop off in quality below that.
Thanks, Joseph

Exactly that: we were aiming to build a chess culture by providing a place where children could go to play fairly serious chess, not to produce champions.

Richard James
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Richard James » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:03 pm

Here are some stats for you. Make of them what you will.

Image

Wadih Khoury
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Wadih Khoury » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:11 pm

Richard James wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:03 pm
Here are some stats for you. Make of them what you will.

Image
Not sure what it shows: it can't be all players (unless the unit is in thousands?), so what subset of players is it?

Roger de Coverly
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:18 pm

Wadih Khoury wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:11 pm
Not sure what it shows: it can't be all players (unless the unit is in thousands?), so what subset of players is it?
It looks as if it could be an analysis by year of birth. It's difficult to believe that there are as few as 7 actively rated twenty year olds though. Whatever the criterion, there are fewer than Ireland. That Ireland was able to run an over the board event or two over the summer may be relevant.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:27 pm

Callum Brewer, Ned Carmichael, Jagdeep Dhemrait, Daniel Gallagher, Gwilym Price, Theodore Slade, Matthew Wadsworth. That's it.

There are also 41 inactive ENG players in the same age-group.

Wadih Khoury
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Wadih Khoury » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:28 pm

Thanks makes sense now.

This means that in the 12 months from October 2019 to September 2020, only 7 20-year olds played at least one fide rated game?
That includes at least 6 months of pre-covid...

How many 20 year olds are active in the ECF database using the 12 month period?
Last edited by Wadih Khoury on Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Richard James
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Richard James » Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:28 pm

Wadih Khoury wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:11 pm
Richard James wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 1:03 pm
Here are some stats for you. Make of them what you will.

Image
Not sure what it shows: it can't be all players (unless the unit is in thousands?), so what subset of players is it?
Yes - it's numbers of players with currently active FIDE ratings: year of birth across the top and country down the side. I might expand it later to include other countries, and perhaps other years.

Matt Bridgeman
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Matt Bridgeman » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:13 pm

As some of the players are still active (and on the forum), it would be interesting to know if they recall what motivated their chess back in 2000, at the time of the Smith and Williamson Young Masters? We’re the players then seriously thinking that they were following in the footsteps of Short, Miles and so on, or did a career as a chess professional feel out of reach? I think that is one of the issues these days is that young masters, so to speak, don’t have much confidence they’d be able to make a living playing chess, and keep it at best as a good hobby.

Alan Walton
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Alan Walton » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:22 pm

Another factor could be the reducing strength of the junior events at the British; back when I was playing these (around 1990) the events where very strong; nowadays because they let any Tom, Dick or Harry into the championship has impacted this; back then it was extremely difficult to qualify, so we all played the junior events and thus automatically creates larger social groups within the age groups

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:52 pm

Wadih Khoury wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:04 am
  • Juniors in England drop chess after secondary school due to competing interests: I am sure this this is the same in all countries. And many persevered in the 80's, so what changed?
  • There is no money in chess: I'd argue there never was, so doesn't explain the decline, nor why other countries have a better take up
  • Parents force their kids to focus on studies: again, I don't see why it would be different in other western countries.
  • There no advanced/elite clubs for juniors: Maybe? It's true I don't know as many advanced junior clubs than in let's say France. When you go to a junior individual event, you can see al the children in the club polo, with 1-3 club volunteers or coaches, with training in between games, etc.. A whole support network. Also, there are very few holiday chess camps in England.
  • Chess costs a lot after all with travels, books and coaching: Other countries manage it, so maybe they are more efficient by pooling resources in clubs? It costs much less this way (also, by acting as childcare, the chess clubs save money to some families)
  • Other countries have more state support (at national, regional or even municipal level)
  • Other countries organise many more opportunities for juniors to play titled players and meet them. (e.g., last week MVL spent the day at one of the Parisian chess clubs. Many other clubs regularly have super GM's or strong GMs visit or lecture. There are many simuls offered too.)
This is a debate we have had many variations on over the years. In terms of developing chess in this country some things are unfortunately out of our control, at least in terms of `quick wins`. These are things like the lack of government funding, the poor image chess has in this country and the lack of money in the UK chess scene - our titled players have to spend a lot of time abroad where prestige events are available to them. This last point ties into a culture we've allowed to develop in the national scene where club players see themselves on a parity with grandmasters. Not directly connected to chess but we have the extremely demanding exam culture in schools that means teenagers have to prioritise academic attainment over hobbies.

However there are things we can take steps to rectify - some at local level while others require a bit of joined up thinking nationally.

Most importantly we need more bespoke junior clubs and particularly at secondary school level (some clubs lump 14 year olds in with 7 year olds - sometimes due to lack of numbers - and wonder why the older players drop out). We can't force adult clubs to be more junior friendly but we need to ensure good signposting so that any parent contacting an adult club is referred to a junior organiser. You might well have the same dropout rate but a bigger player base swells the headcount and mitigates one factor (the lack of friends).

Beyond that we need a clear structure so that juniors showing exceptional talent can be put forward for academies and more specialised tuition, while not being pushed into too much too soon (particularly where adult opposition is involved - as an aside I have noticed that talented juniors can scythe through U100 adults quite quickly but above that much greater tenacity is needed, particularly in endgames, and the junior often hits a wall at that point).

Perhaps most importantly junior organisers need to stop squabbling with each other. Junior chess is one of the worst areas for sniping at other people's methods and similarly named rival organisations being formed all the time. Many junior organisers compound things by not staying on their side of the fence and being on the lookout for players they can poach.

But that's just my two cents.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:51 pm

"Perhaps most importantly junior organisers need to stop squabbling with each other. Junior chess is one of the worst areas for sniping at other people's methods and similarly named rival organisations being formed all the time. Many junior organisers compound things by not staying on their side of the fence and being on the lookout for players they can poach."

True. It would be nice if this problem were addressed. It would be nice if there were an admission it is a problem.

"I have noticed that talented juniors can scythe through U100 adults quite quickly but above that much greater tenacity is needed, particularly in endgames, and the junior often hits a wall at that point"

Also true - I have encountered juniors (actually adults as well) who only want to play if they are likely to win.

Chess and life are not like that.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Oct 27, 2020 4:11 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 3:51 pm

"I have noticed that talented juniors can scythe through U100 adults quite quickly but above that much greater tenacity is needed, particularly in endgames, and the junior often hits a wall at that point"

Also true - I have encountered juniors (actually adults as well) who only want to play if they are likely to win.

Chess and life are not like that.
That's not quite what I'm saying. My point is that juniors can accelerate very quickly up to a point but after that the going will get a lot tougher and they have to be psychologically prepared for it. For example it's relatively easy for a talented junior to sweep the minor section of a congress but the chances of them doing the same in the intermediate the following year are very slim.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Oct 27, 2020 4:59 pm

"That's not quite what I'm saying. My point is that juniors can accelerate very quickly up to a point but after that the going will get a lot tougher and they have to be psychologically prepared for it. For example it's relatively easy for a talented junior to sweep the minor section of a congress but the chances of them doing the same in the intermediate the following year are very slim."

Yes - I know. I was adding the other thing.

I used to be arbiter at a series of monthly rapidplays, where there were 3 (I think) sections. One junior had won the last 3 bottom section events with 5.5 or 6/6, so when the new grading list came out, suddenly they were ineligible for the bottom section. On arrival, I pointed out they would have to play in section 2 (or section 1 if they wished) and the immediate response was "Oh, I don't know if I want to do that. I might lose." "well, we start in about 15 minutes. Let me know if you're playing or not." I thought not wanting to play was a pretty appalling attitude. They decided to play and got 4.5/6 in section 2...

Richard Bates
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Richard Bates » Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:15 pm

Richard James wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:43 pm
Joseph Conlon wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:30 am
Richard James wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:56 pm


Richmond Juniors?
I am a great admirer of the wonderful work Richmond has done over the decades - and the Complete Chess Addict was my absolute favourite book as a child. However I felt, then and now, that clubs like Richmond are very good at developing a large pool of juniors who are competitive at the national level, but that further development to being internationally competitive requires national structures. So eg if in one age group Richmond has the nos. 5, 11, 14,17,18 out of the top 20, that is fantastic for one junior club but that no.5 player needs national groups for their full progression.

In a similar vein, I felt that Richmond's historic strength in EPSCA events doesn't necessarily lie in their top few boards, but the fact that there is very little drop off in quality below that.
Thanks, Joseph

Exactly that: we were aiming to build a chess culture by providing a place where children could go to play fairly serious chess, not to produce champions.
Really? It may not have been the primary or core intention, but there was certainly a period when you seemed to respond to having an extremely strong cohort by providing "higher level" support for "elite" groups. Although i'm not aware of the ins and outs of quite how this was financed.

Wadih Khoury
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Re: How to develop England Juniors?

Post by Wadih Khoury » Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:42 pm

Alan Walton wrote:
Tue Oct 27, 2020 2:22 pm
Another factor could be the reducing strength of the junior events at the British; back when I was playing these (around 1990) the events where very strong; nowadays because they let any Tom, Dick or Harry into the championship has impacted this; back then it was extremely difficult to qualify, so we all played the junior events and thus automatically creates larger social groups within the age groups
I disagree. You don't get a stronger pool of players by gatekeeping. The more are allowed to discover the higher levels, the more likely you are to inspire them or to show them the efforts needed to reach said level. The same applies to international junior events (at least maybe the world/European schools ones) which ideally should be open to all.
You can't underestimate how playing the top of your age group or a Russian world champion can motivate and inspire.

Actually, as a case example, my own son had his first grade in Jan 19 of 78. If there had been a gating at the British, he would have never played in it nor won the U9. By that time, he was already beating 120+ players and had a July grade of 110. He is now 151 a year later.

I am not sure he would have persevered and progressed as much if he hadn't been allowed in stronger sections than his level in the tournaments leading to the British, or if he didn't experience the challenge, excitement and friendships at the British.

I can understand why the higher players may want to gate things, but as a community, the more players there are, the more likely we are to reveal and pick juniors with a deep passion for chess that will then push themselves and their peers upwards.

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