Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

National developments, strategies and ideas.
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Joseph Conlon
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Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:18 pm

Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Joseph Conlon » Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:27 pm

As promised here are some thoughts about organising OTB junior tournaments at the current time, which to me seems like the one area of chess with the clearest legal route to OTB events.

It is true that even so, given the latest announcements about a national lockdown, the next actual month or so seems impossible, so read these as thoughts about running events on restrictions similar to tier 1/tier 2. For those interested my more detailed tournament protocols can be found via https://forms.gle/QdA76Z5S64KntGrv7 )

Time-frames

Given the rules are constantly changing, I feel one needs a 'pop-up' attitude to an event - rather than planning a date months and months in advance, one needs to have an idea of the structure (venue, rough plan and risk assessment and approximate date), and then be ready once a window appears to go public and advertise on a few weeks notice

Legality

The category that junior tournaments have to sit under is that of 'supervised activities provided for children'. We're not legally a sport, but we definitely provide an organised and structured activity for children.

If a venue is willing to hire rooms for dance classes etc, then they may well be willing to hire for chess.

Level of parental support

Personally, I don't see junior tournaments as intrinsically more risky than (say) indoor dance classes, indoor football training, group music lessons, swimming, and I feel that if parents are happy with their children doing these then they should be happy with their children doing OTB chess. However it did seem that there is a sentiment among some (both parents and junior organisers) that OTB chess should not be happening at this time.

Venues and risk assessments

The ECF has a template risk assessment but in my opinion this is geared towards chess clubs and is missing some crucial parts for a junior tournament. So in my case, while consulting the ECF one to ensure I wasn't missing anything, I wrote my own one tailored to the venue. Most specifically, those who attend junior tournaments will know that often space for waiting parents is rather cramped, but for most junior events a parental waiting area is essential.

It is clear that younger juniors are less effective transmitters than their parents, and so personally I think the largest risk aspect in organising a junior tournament is ensuring there is enough space for parents to wait while remaining socially distanced.

Here I was fortunate in that I was able to use a large school building with lots of classrooms where I could put waiting parents - but to me this aspect seems the biggest general difficulty in running a tournament - how to ensure the social separation of different families.

Numbers

The national guidance on supervised activities suggests that groups should not be larger than 15. It wasn't clear to me whether this was a legal requirement (I didn't see it in the primary legislation, but I'm not a lawyer and could easily have missed it) or simply a 'good practice' advice. However, working with this number there seem to be a couple of approaches:

1. Have any sections no bigger than 15 - for example, with smaller Swisses or with all-play-alls.
2. Argue that even if a section is larger than 15, the group size any one child is in is smaller than 15. For example, if play is spread out over several classrooms one could argue that two children who have never been in the same room(eg one consistently at the top of the draw and the other consistently at the bottom) cannot count as in the same group.

I ended up with less than 15, so this wasn't an issue but if I had more than 15 this second approach was the route I was planning to go down, reinforcing it by pairing as a (possibly doubly) accelerated Swiss so as to maximise the social separation within the pairings.

Level of Events

To me the one clear no-no for the foreseeable future are the sort of large junior events such as the LJCC, Gigafinals or the EPSCA county jamborees - the numbers involved are too big.

The windows of opportunity, where things can be ran, seem to be small local events (provided one can get sufficient parents to enter their child) and also small elite events, eg all play alls.

I remember as a junior playing in a slow-play all-play-all which consisted of the nos.1-6 of the age group in a hotel for a weekend; I don't see a reason why broadly similar events couldn't take place now.

Waivers and Legal Liability

Life isn't risk-free and there is no risk-free way to organise a tournament (and anyway, no-one will insure you against covid risks). I required parents to sign a waiver, but in the end one organises a tournament because one thinks its the right thing to do.

Profitability

Right now such events are good for the soul. I would have been happy to break even but in the end ran a small loss.

Wadih Khoury
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Wadih Khoury » Sat Oct 31, 2020 9:49 pm

Thanks Joseph. Hopefully this will encourage others on the other side of the coming lockdown.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Nov 01, 2020 12:16 pm

That all seems sensible to me. On a minor point, it's less a case of "We're not legally a sport" than of uncertainty. The International Olympic Committee recognises chess as a sport, as do various countries, but Sport England does not. There's no appetite - and I suspect I'm reflecting the ECF thinking here - for finding oneself prosecuted on the premise that chess isn't a sport and having to argue the opposite, expensively, in Court.

Ian Thompson
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Location: Awbridge, Hampshire

Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Ian Thompson » Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:02 pm

Joseph Conlon wrote:
Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:27 pm
2. Argue that even if a section is larger than 15, the group size any one child is in is smaller than 15. For example, if play is spread out over several classrooms one could argue that two children who have never been in the same room(eg one consistently at the top of the draw and the other consistently at the bottom) cannot count as in the same group.
You could argue that, but the counter argument would be that children in the middle of the draw would be playing some games in one room and some games in another. If the tournament started with one infected child, even if they were always in the same room, there would clearly be a risk of it spreading to children in all rooms through those players moving between rooms.

A possibly more convincing argument would be to say that it's legal for someone to go to the pub in a group of 6 people then leave the pub and come back 5 minutes later in a different group of 6 people, repeating as frequently, and as often, as they like. As that's legal, then different groups of 15 children in a room for each round ought to be legal as well.

Nick Grey
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Nick Grey » Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:43 pm

Adults should not run OTB junior or adult tournaments.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:39 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:43 pm
Adults should not run OTB junior or adult tournaments.
Really?

Joseph Conlon
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Joined: Thu Jun 06, 2019 4:18 pm

Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Joseph Conlon » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:54 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:43 pm
Adults should not run OTB junior or adult tournaments.
I'm glad you are then supportive of enterprising teenagers setting up and running OTB tournaments. ;)

Nick Grey
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Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:16 am

Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Nick Grey » Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:58 pm

From Thursday. Hopefully we can have a Christmas dinner made by Chess playing juniors for those less fortunate.

Joseph Conlon
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Joseph Conlon » Sun Nov 01, 2020 10:24 pm

Ian Thompson wrote:
Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:02 pm
You could argue that, but the counter argument would be that children in the middle of the draw would be playing some games in one room and some games in another. If the tournament started with one infected child, even if they were always in the same room, there would clearly be a risk of it spreading to children in all rooms through those players moving between rooms.

A possibly more convincing argument would be to say that it's legal for someone to go to the pub in a group of 6 people then leave the pub and come back 5 minutes later in a different group of 6 people, repeating as frequently, and as often, as they like. As that's legal, then different groups of 15 children in a room for each round ought to be legal as well.
I wouldn’t agree unless the tournament was multi-day - a child (or adult) exposed in the morning would not become infectious by the afternoon. Of course, for primary school children there is also strong evidence by now that they are not that prone to spreading Covid.

If the ‘15’ number is a legal bound, then the same guidance also says you should avoid changing groups around, so that reshuffling groups for each round would not be consistent. I think the ‘15’ is in the nature of advice about good practice though, rather than a statement of law, but am happy to be corrected about that.

Nick Grey
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:16 am

Most enterprising teenagers do not have premises or funds to run tournaments.

Chess is not education. Stay at home. No fireworks on 5th either.

Nick Grey
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:19 am

Adults no pubs either.

John Moore
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by John Moore » Fri Nov 06, 2020 6:52 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:19 am
Adults no pubs either.
The relevance of this to the thread escapes me, but I am grateful for the reminder.

NickFaulks
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Re: Thoughts on running OTB junior tournaments at the current time

Post by NickFaulks » Fri Nov 06, 2020 8:27 pm

Nick Grey wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:16 am
Chess is not education.
I think it is.
If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

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