Discussion Group open to all players in the Mid Sussex Chess League.
All comments are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official or majority view of the player's own chess club.
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David Fryer (East Grinstead) Shares Concerns over Selection of Colours
29th March 2007
With 5 players per team it is crucial both at the top and bottom of Divisions that you win the majority of tosses otherwise you are at a considerable disadvantage.
This is especially true in Division 1 this season where first place was contested very tightly between three teams. Also at the bottom, with two crucial matches to be played between very equal teams the toss of the coin could significantly affect the final relegation place.
After Trevor lost the toss in our first 6 games we managed to right things a little by not allowing him to call and I think we won 3 of the last 4 calls. We were relegated because we did not play as well as our opponents but I suspect that if we had won the majority of our coin tosses then one or more of our eight losses would have been reversed.
Bernard is also correct in saying that the arguments against the away team always having white are dubious. Many teams rotate their board orders and therefore it could be arranged by the team captain for a home only player to not always have the same colour. The other argument I understand is that players do not like the idea that openings are prepared against a known opponent with a known colour. I hate to disillusion everyone but this already happens and is a part of modern chess and should not be avoided. I always try to prepare against my expected opponent with both colours and if I get it right it usually improves the quality and enjoyment of the game. It is one of the skills that modern young players learn very quickly and it also encourages players to add variety to their opening repertoire.
Bernard Cafferty (Hastings & St Leonards) Renews Concern Over "Tossing For Colours"
29th March 2007
The fact that the first two place in Div One could be decided on Game Points reminds me that I had a plea for fairness at the last AGM and in the "Sussex Chess" annual.
The arguments against "Away side plays White on odd boards" were two:-
1) The distribution of colours will even itself out "in the course of time".
Not so! At least unless you count that time as half a decade or more! Colours are not indicated on site results or all match cards(should they be?). For the last three seasons Hastings Div One have had a considerable deficit of colours (this season eight Blacks on top board to two Whites). This unfairness also affects Hastings B over the last two (or more?) seasons. David Fryer told me East Grinstead had suffered in this respect this season.
2) Someone who can only play away, or only home, matches would get the same colour every time. Well, we are speaking of a max of five games there. What about the Hastings A and B top boards (and third and fifth)? A player unavailable on some nights of the week might vary by a board from his logical position to increase the chance of a 4-1or a 3-2 split. Which is worse - 1-4 or 2-8?
I wonder who are the sides who have had a considerable White plus to compensate this season for the deficits suffered by Hastings A, B and East Grinstead? Perhaps they would own up on the Forum?
[Ed. Sometimes I receive results that show colours, but not generally. If there was a general wish for this information to be included with the published results, we should mandate this for future seasons. Including it on the website results wouldn't be a problem.]
Martin Costley (Lewes) Continues the Debate
26th February 2007
I do not wish to take issue with Brian Denman or Bernard Cafferty on any of the specific points they have raised in this forum on the topics of membership rules and the current Haywards Heath division 1 team. Incidentally, it goes without saying that I have the greatest respect for both eminent players. However, I would like to submit a short note in support of Simon Williams and the Haywards Heath team. My team, Lewes, were the first opponents to face the "supercharged" team in which Simon was demoted to board 2, due to the presence of a GM on board 1. I admit it was a bit of a shock to discover that the redoubtable Feliks Kwiatkowski wasn't joking when he informed us that he would probably be on board 5. Although the result of the match was fairly predictable, I enjoyed the experience tremendously. My game with Simon was not quite the one-sided affair one might have expected and he even allowed me the sniff of a chance, possibly by playing a little too quickly in the opening. It is not his fault that I failed to seize the opportunity. Two of my colleagues were successful in scoring one and a half points against much higher graded opponents. After our game, in the bar, I was treated to a brief tutorial on the Dutch Defence by one of the world's best practitioners of it. Yes, this was a free tutorial - no money changed hands, and Simon even offered to buy me a drink. My impression of Simon particularly and also of other members of the Haywards Heath team on that night is that they were pleasant and convivial. In short, the Lewes-Haywards Heath match was an instructive and pleasurable experience. I am not sure if this heart-warming anecdote will have any bearing on the material issues to be debated at the next AGM and, to be honest, I don't really care.
[Ed. Without wishing to stifle debate, I think the time has come to draw this topic to a close, except for the point raised by David Fryer in his item of 6th February; namely, for those of the opinion that a rule change or clarification regarding eligibility is needed, to make proposals for consideration at the next AGM.]
Simon Williams (IM) (Haywards Heath) Responds to the Criticisms.
14th February 2007
I would not normally respond to some of the comments made by certain parties. As they do seem very petty, but I feel it is my duty to considering some of the topics. For a start I would like to mention that I attended Sussex university for 5 years and visited Brighton chess club on many occasions. Having many a good time playing friendly chess with various members; Had Brighton chess club asked me to play in the league, then I would have been more than happy to do so. Chess should not just be a serious matter as I'm sure the main aim is to have fun. It seems that some people have forgotten this. I have been based in Sussex for 7 years. If this does not make me eligible to play then things are seriously wrong. Do you have to be born and breed in Sussex to play? I'm sure that if a player moved to Glasgow with his wife etc and they refused him entry into the league, there would be a big up roar.
It seems that strong players are trying to be excluded because they are strong!
I have to say that Haywards Heath are a very good team with very friendly members, being friends with them for many years I don't require a fee but instead prefer to play for the enjoyment. Is that wrong?
Joe Sharp (Hastings & St Leonards) Wonders Whether There's a Correlation Between Winning the Toss and the Match Outcome.
9th February 2007
It would be interesting to see how much correlation there is between winning the toss and winning matches (and game points scored). That is something that could be researched. But, on a rather different tack, it is interesting that in 17 matches in the League so far this season, Hastings 1 and 2 and East Grinstead 1 have won the toss three times in aggregate and two of those have been in matches involving those three teams (one team had to win!). The only times Hastings 1 and East Grinstead 1 have won have been when their usual captain was absent (East Grinstead were playing Hastings 2); and the only time Hastings 2 have won was in their match against Hastings 1.
David Fryer (East Grinstead) Any Proposals for a Rule Change?
6th February 2007
I have handed over the Web Site to Julie due to time pressures from work. Julie has done a fantastic and seamless job switching the domain over and deserves all our support and thanks.
With regard to the discussions on player eligibility it would appear from the forum that there is a fairly even split between for and against a change to rule 3.1
It is probably time now for the pro change lobby to agree on a new rule 3.1 that can be presented, discussed and voted upon at the AGM in May. Would anyone like to start the ball rolling?
On a lighter note I was intrigued by an earlier forum contribution from Sue Chadwick when she stated that ‘Looking at division 1 it seems all the results haven't been entirely predictable’. I wondered at the time whether this was true or if we could all save ourselves a lot of time and effort.
So I looked at the cross tables and entered the average grades of the teams with;
a + for a win, = for a draw and – for a loss
So the only shock results so far are the drawn matches; Haywards Heath vs Hastings, Crowborough 1 vs Crowborough 2 and Crowborough 2 vs Lewes 1. The best victory so far is Crowborough 1 overcoming a 7 point difference against Brighton.
Should we have a new trophy for the team that overturns the greatest grading odds?
Julien Mitchell (Woodpushers) a Grand Master's view
18th January 2007
As a professional bridge player who plays chess recreationally in Division II, I am a tad surprised at the outrage at the possibility of a grandmaster playing in the MSL, who may have been paid to play. In bridge it happens all the time and it is accepted that a top player may expect to supplement his income in this way.
As Peter Farr of the Args mentioned, some MSL clubs have no club night. At Woodpushers we have 5/6 regular players from whom our side is drawn, but we have another half dozen of irregular players who might play once a year, or once every four years! But it has not occurred to me that these players (often drawn from the Avenue Bridge Club membership) are not bona fide Woodpushers - some of these irregulars have been irregular for nearly 30 years. (There may be hope for us all. One irregular's last published grade in the 1970s was 228; another played in the Hastings Premier in the 1960s; both last seen on board 4 & 5 for Woodpushers, picking up their first competitive bit of wood for 30 odd years. And one of them got beaten.)
My congratulations go to Haywards Heath for getting a grandmaster to play for them. I hope it generates a rise in the standard of play in Division I. Anyway, Woodpushers have had three grandmasters on their books for some time now - myself, Andrew Southwell and Geoffrey Wolfarth just need a fourth to have a really good game of bridge!
Sue Chadwick (Brighton and Hove) introduces defaults as a topic for the AGM
11th January 2007
the rule that a match must be re-played if one team only turns up
with one or two players: it does seem contradictory that 1
why aren't we, as a league, pleased and chuffed that grandmasters see
fit to join? Looking at division 1 it seems all the results haven't
been entirely predictable. Shouldn't we be pleased stronger players
are prepared to take the risk against much weaker ones?
Peter Farr (The Argumentatives) comments
10th January 2007
There seems to be a danger of over-reaction with the Haywards Heath grandmaster issue. We are an amateur league with no prize money involved, and if very strong players want some gentle practice, perhaps in a less challenging / more congenial atmosphere than their normal competitive circuit, I can’t really see that we either can or should seek to stop this. If they get bored quickly and leave then the problem, if real, disappears, and if they stay for a length of time then they are proving that they are genuine club members. I do have some instinctive sympathy with Brian Denman’s comments, particularly about balance, but on the other hand league division 1 has been won by 6 different teams in the past 7 years – compared to some times in the past when a single club has dominated.
I also suggest that any possible rule changes would run a risk of unintended consequences; grading limits unfairly penalise genuinely local but strong players, residency rules risk limiting players close to the county borders for no good reason, and other club membership-related rules would be difficult to police; my own club the Args for example draws players from disparate towns in West Sussex and only exists to play matches. If we weren’t so bad at playing chess we could easily look like a bunch of ‘mercenaries’. This perhaps underlines the question of whether it is really anyone’s business other than the players involved whether they want to play in the league or not, as long as a club is happy to have them.
Sri Gutta (Crawley) makes a suggestion
8th January 2007
play for Crawley in the league and having followed the discussion on the
forums, here are my proposals:
David Fryer (East Grinstead and Web Editor) comments
8th January 2007
I had expected the forum to discuss possible rule changes for voting upon at the AGM and thereby discovering the majority view whether that be for or against. My own personal view is mixed and I was looking forward to the expression of views from both sides before deciding.
When I received Brian's submission I did consider asking him to reconsider the sentence "I would go so far as to say that I find their actions in bringing into their team grandmasters from outside the county and perhaps offering those players financial rewards to be disgraceful." as this might be considered controversial.
However I did not do so as I did not want to act as a censor on anyone's comments without very good reason. Also the claim that perhaps those players have been offered financial rewards is a conjecture and paying players to play is in fact not against the rules. The claim that Brian finds this action as disgraceful (I take this to mean a loss of respect) cannot be disputed as he clearly uses the phrase 'I find their actions ..... disgraceful.'
Similarly Norman's use of disgraceful as an opinion is also correct and he clearly states that Haywards Heath Chess Club has not paid the players to play and there cannot be anyone who will dispute this clear statement of fact.
I hope that these initial strong feelings are a prelude to some constructive suggestions to resolve this difference of opinion between players within the league.
I will be keeping this forum open as surely its better to discuss some of the issues now and not to leave all discussion until the AGM when time will not allow for a full discussion or preparation of a reasonable motion or rule change.
Norman Hawkins (Secretary of Haywards Heath Cess Club) replies to Brian Denman
7th January 2007
Re Brian Denman's comments on Haywards Heath Players, dated 3rd January :-
I find Brian Denman's statement ''.............and perhaps offering those players financial rewards to be disgraceful '' - to be astounding ! He is the disgraceful one and I can categorically state that our Club has not and has no intention of making payments to any players. I expect an immediate and public apology, otherwise we will take legal advice.
Brian Denman (Brighton and Hove) continues the debate
3rd January 2007
Attree suggests that top board
comparison has been made with the 4NCL competition, but local clubs
should be at the heart of chess in this country. Although some of the
4NCL teams are regionally based, many have strange names and have no
relevance to any local community. Players come and go for these teams
and in some cases the players are probably playing for themselves and
financial rewards rather than for their team. On the other hand, the
Mid-Sussex League has a whole collection of real clubs with proud
traditions and a long historical record. The league itself was formed in
the 1967-68 season and has therefore been in existence for nearly 40
years. Mark Attree might not realise that the actions of the Haywards
Heath CC threaten the stability of this league and the clubs within it.
Although the league has been strong at times in the past, it is going
through a difficult period. The lack of a regular secretary meant that
this season the league nearly did not start and this sort of crisis
could ruin it. In 1984 when a similar problem occurred with Julian
make a comparison with the Premier League in football. Clubs in this
league regularly field overseas players in their teams, but the
situation is regulated. Clubs still play in local stadia and are watched
by local fans. There is still pride in the neighbourhood – all matches
are not played in a central venue like
Herbert suggests setting a grading limit to solving this problem.
Well-intentioned as this idea is, we must make sure that a local player
is not penalised. Thomas Rendle has served a long apprenticeship with
the Hastings CC and he should be entitled to play for that club in the
league. I believe that the regulations for the league should be based on
regional qualifications. The fine detail of this might not have been
worked out at the moment, but flexibility should be given to clubs on
the border of the county. Generally, however,
Bernard Cafferty (Hastings & St Leonards) replies
2nd January 2007
Mark Attree raises interesting points on membership categories, and dangles before our eyes the entrancing prospect of Michael Adams appearing for East Grinstead CC in the MSL ....
The alternative Full/Country/Affiliate membership classes date from the 19th century, I believe. The system still has a point in helping Sussex chess. The three individual SCA competitions, County Championship, Sussex Queen and Sussex Veterans, require 4-hour sessions to be played. Such a long session cannot be fitted into most club nights, so, if an entrant cannot provide the playing facility at home, as sometimes happens, then the Hastings CC, which is open at weekends 13.00-22.00 hours for members, is a plausible venue.
In discussing the current eligibility question with others, the comment was made: "The Mid-Sussex League is a regional League, it is not the 4NCL". In the 4NCL greater licence/freedom of choice applies, and appearance fees are paid to stars. We all know that MSL Div One sides have a stable, recognisable identity, which changes only gradually over the years as a strong player moves into the locality, or a strong player moves away.
Mark asks for input from Div One top boards. As someone with such experience, and who has played Michael Adams, my reaction to his appearance in the MSL for East Grinstead, or any other side, would be to wonder what has induced a Somerset resident, with no known connection to Sussex, to come all this way. Maybe I would envy East Grinstead CC, or any other side, for being in a financial position to ensure fielding such a star.
Mark Attree (East Grinstead) comments
23rd December 2006
A more considered contribution this time.
Firstly, surely we should not be trying to limit the strength of the league?
Occasionally a team or player seems too strong for the opposition, we had this 2 years ago with Hastings 2nd team...and no rules were being broken. Again, last season we did wonder what HH's (weaker than this year) team got out of slaughtering EG2, but I don't get to play many strong players, so I enjoyed it enormously.
Secondly, there has to be an element of trust here, there are no prizes, it's supposed to be only for pleasure
Third, in light of Bernard Cafferty's note, Hastings advertises at least two classes of membership, at reduced fees; Country ie not living in the area and Affiliated, a member of another club as well, where it is ok to play for the club teams but entry to the internal competitions is not allowed. As Hastings clearly considers these classes of membership to be 'bona fide' for league purposes I can see that if the league changed its rule to reflect Bernard's personal preference, then Hastings might have to also...and all Hastings are trying to do is make chess and the club more interesting.
OK then, if only I could get Michael Adams to play for EG, we might have a chance...now.... I do know someone who was at school with him......Seriously, are there any top board players in Division 1 who would not love the opportunity?
John Herbert (Eastbourne) comments
19th December 2006
I think that if the majority of Clubs/Teams wish to prevent strong players from being brought in from outside the usual catchment area to help win matches they should vote for an upper ECF Grade limit. This could be reviewed annually and be set no higher than the highest grade of a player who has played for Sussex during the past year. Currently then, one could expect a grading limit next season of, say, 210.
A grading restriction has the virtue of simplicity. It seems to me that other types of restriction will involve the Match Recorder in a lot of private detective work!
Mark Attree (East Grinstead) comments
18th December 2006
The more strong players in the league the better in my view.
Bernard Cafferty (Hastings & St Leonards) comments
17th December 2006
On eligibility, I like the practice of the B'ham & District League and of the National Club. In the former, there are strict and detailed rules on who is qualified to play. These were drawn up by W Ritson Morry. In both cases the organising body is the one that decides who is eligible. The onus is on the club to prove eligibility in doubtful cases by answering any questions from a Registration Secretary or Nat Club Controller as to home address, former club, participation in internal club events, having turned out for the club in other competitions before being judged eligible for the competition in question. If there is a doubt, the say-so of a club secretary is not the decisive factor the decision lies with the organising body.