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Appearance fees for our best players
No apology is needed. Their input so far has been zilch. I will be delighted in the future to report any help they have offered to the new IJD for junior chess.

robin moore Wrote:When Paul MacDonald became the new IJD he asked me to help and I was delighted to do so.

Some things we have been concentrating on,

Healing political differences of the past between different chess organisations, regions and events.

Trying to set a template and standard that will be used as a basis at international events.

Identifying new people with fresh ideas to add to the excellent junior organisers already in place.

Setting up an online coaching structure for all juniors in the Scotland squad and fringes in addition to existing coaching.

We have made progress in all of these areas.



Third paragraph conflicts somewhat with zilch, no apology required.

Fourth paragraph is based upon your posting of October 5th. In that you wrote

Well, I will start things off. I am not a top class player or anywhere remotely near it. I spent the months before going to the Euros panicking over what I would be capable of doing. Iain Swan at the Czech Open recommended the book Endgame Strategy by Shereshevsky (it was later confirmed by a Russian GM coach at the Euros as being ideal for our purposes). I got the book, and loved the common themes approach that led to forming a plan when assessing an endgame position. It's not rocket science, I feel I am able to come across confidently and from the feedback I have received the squad in Bulgaria loved the training sessions. As we moved on through the event, from about the 4th lesson all were beginning to get a fair idea of the themes/plan approach and by about the 7th lesson some were getting really good at it. As a novice coach I had identified an area where I could work away comfortably leaving the heavy duty daily changeable stuff to Alan Tate. [b]Since coming home I have been trying my coaching out on Paul MacDonald, Gary and David Gillespie, Phil, Daniel and Matthew Thomas and it has gone down really well.[/b] I know my limitations and I am sticking to them.
We want to use this Shereshevsky book as a standard for our juniors because it doesn't matter what your grade is, as long as you can convey the assessment/ themes/ plan approach consistently it works. I am in the process of inviting parents to bring their children down to my bit in sunny Prestwick by the sea to do endgame training.

On the second quote Jacqui banned me from posting earlier because it would disrupt the plans for the Liverpool event. Liverpool has happened and since you raise the subject again.... Let me make something abundantly clear. You insisted on delivering that training to my children in my house, you repeatedly told me to be quiet in my own house. At the end of the session you asked me my views of the book.I replied that the book has merit. You then extend that to an endorsement. I didn't understand your commentary on the Alekhine-Samish Ending, nor did Daniel but in your defense Matthew liked it. After obtaining the book I ran the position through Fritz. It was refreshing to see that my views were closer aligned to Fritz than to your comments.

It is sheer folly to use this end game as a basis for youth squad training. These are polite children we are talking about here. They pay attention and don't criticise the lecturer. You have not sought meaningful feedback apart from your close friends and you have employed a dishonest representation of my views.

From the beginning you have addressed notice board and selectors as if you were the IJD. Maybe that is Paul's management style. In future the assistance I give to the new regime will be zilch. Does that, I wonder, make me an honorary GM ?
I found the tone/style of your posts a little odd and I doubt whether it is likely to make senior players more likely to get involved. The senior players are generally older players, no doubt with other life commitments and less free time (and energy!) than some of the younger guys. They may well also have given up lots of time in the past.

I would suggest that a business like approach would be to setup a structure/system in which there are well defined roles for their unique skills: in which they can be confident that they have a productive role to play. If one wanted to tie appearance fees to some form of community service then one must be able to quantify that service, which is hard if there is no actual structure in place.

I think its your job to sell it to them. Mind you being a great chess player does not necessarily make you a great teacher!

That said I would say - keep up the good work!
Hugh Brechin Wrote:It's not all about money all the time Andrew. It's about the fact that if we want our top players - who are sufficiently good that they can expect to make at least some money out of the game from time to time - to give up a large proportion of their annual holiday to participate in a tournament where they're almost certainly not going to win any prize money (I've got no idea what prize money is available at an Olympiad - I'd guess for the likes of us the occasional board prize and little else?) it helps to be able to offer them some remuneration. People have other things in their lives, and expenses, and families to provide for, and significant others who have no particular desire to spend a fortnight in Siberia watching people playing a board game. (Some of these latter concerns are less pertinent for the Seniors, though some aren't.)

This backs up many of my points though Hugh:

1) Isn't it sad that these players need an incentive other than their love for the game to play for their country? Most other players who play in week-long tournaments in Scotland actually look forward to the week off work to do so. The guys who go abroad should get expenses covered; but should we really be paying them appearance fees? What are the benefits of that for everyone? I can totally understand if the GMs have other commitments that they cannot just drop; but even when the tournaments are in Scotland (relatively on their doorstep) they still don't play without a substantial appearance fee.

2) It isn't the fault of anyone that being good at Chess in Scotland just doesn't pay. Is the incentive that these GMs create, when they represent us abroad, more valuable for the game in Scotland (as a whole) than investing the money elsewhere?

3) Is it not more likely to put off those who are considering investing the time in Chess to become a GM, if those GMs appear to have lost interest in actually playing and doing what - presumably - they started playing for in the first place. Not to mention the obvious shortfall of money available which isn't likely to get much better in the next decade.
I’m not entirely sure I would agree with the premise that the Olympiad team has played badly recently and the senior team gets great results. I may be wrong but there doesn’t seem to be a world senior’s team championship or Olympiad and the European senior’s team championship would seem to be the most prestigious senior’s title that our seniors could take part in.

The Scots results for the last two Olympiads can be found at -

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Our senior’s team results can be found at -

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Our final 2008 Olympiad position was slightly below our starting rank, with a team that comprised 4 GM’s and 1 soon to become GM but 1 more game point would have sent the team soaring above their starting rank.

I counted a total of 27 games against GM’s, out of a total of 44. Among those GM’s was one Magnus Carlsen of Norway, graded 2786 at the time, who could not help his team to victory against our boys and girl in the penultimate round of the Championships, this match ending tied at 2-2, despite Scotland being outgraded on every board.

Our 2010 team saw 3 of our 2008 team return but the two top boards were absent. I know Jacob Aagaard is now playing for his native Denmark and this may be the reason behind his absence but I don’t know why Jonathan Rowson was not part of the team. The reasons for their absence are immaterial; the result was that our 2010 was not as strong as the 2008 team.

In 2010 Scotland faced 19 GM’s in 44 matches, including Vassily Ivanchuk and Ivan Sokolov and whilst they finished 83rd, with a starting rank of 63, again another point would have seen them finish at least as high as their starting rank and possibly as high as 49th.

So I wouldn’t say the Olympiad teams have played badly. I would say they performed around about what was expected.

The last senior team event I could find was the 2011 European. Our team did well, from a starting rank of 12th they finished 11th. Though this is around about where they were expected to finish, like our Olympiad teams. Another point could have taken them up to 7th. The team faced a total of 5 GM’s in 36 matches.

So I would argue that the senior team got the result that was to be expected and whilst they probably outperformed the Olympiad teams, it was not by a massive margin.

So assuming, for now, that we should be providing some sort of assistance to our adult teams, should the senior’s team receive similar terms as the Olympiad team?

My opinion is not at the expense of our Olympiad team.

The Olympiad is the more prestigious tournament and is Open to all regardless of age. Viktor Korchnoi played board 1 for Switzerland in the 2008 Olympiad, when he would be around the age of 77.

The performance of our Olympiad team should have no bearing on whether we support this team financially. (Unless players were merely taking part to pick up an appearance cheque and I hasten to add I’m not suggesting anyone would do that, apart from anything else from previous postings I think it unlikely that the support from CS covers the costs of the players (although I may be wrong) and would anyone seriously give up a fortnight of their time to break even and not put in their best efforts?)

Indeed, if the team was up there with the best, then the interest generated in Scotland, would hopefully attract sponsorship, subsidy, grants etc. that would more than cover player costs and, dare I say, incentives.

If our Olympiad team did perform badly do we really direct support away from them to other areas or do we direct funds at our potential squad in the hope of giving them a better chance of performing well.

It is my personal opinion that Scotland should be represented at the Olympiads, that we should be sending our strongest team possible and providing whatever support we can to ensure the squad is as well prepared as they can be, taking account of budget constraints and the fact that our players are not really professionals and have commitments outside chess.

My opinion is based on what could be called the “Fischer-Spassky effect”. Western world interest in chess peaking around 1971 when THE MATCH took place in Iceland. I firmly believe that interest in Scottish chess would be piqued were an Olympiad team from our Nation to produce a result of Buster Douglas proportions. I honestly am a glass half full kind of person so maybe I’m being too optimistic in thinking if we beat Russia 2 ½ - 1 ½ at the Olympiad next year, our team may feature on the front page of the quality nationals and might even make the inside pages of the tabloids.

I don’t think a similar result in the European Seniors would have the potential to attract the same attention. Sorry guys.

As for our top players not giving anything back, I’m not sure what the criterion for this is.

Keti Arakhamia-Grant is our current Scottish Champion, so obviously played in the Championships, giving her support to our most prestigious tournament, as did Craig Pritchett. Colin McNab was spreading the Chess word on the Isle of Lewis earlier this year and has played Perth, Edinburgh, Dundee and the Scottish in the recent past. John Shaw has also played the likes of Edinburgh, Perth, Glasgow and the Scottish in the last few years. Board 4 at the 2010 Olympiad was Stephen Burns-Mannion and I lost count of the number of events I saw him at last season. I believe he has also coached at least one of our juniors to success.

I believe all four have played in league matches for their clubs in recent seasons as well and probably bring benefits to those clubs that most of us are unaware of. If you add the fact that Douglas Bryson is the CS grading officer then that takes care of 50% of our top ten and some of the others are non-resident or non-eligible.

I am pleased to see the likes of Calum MacQueen, Clement Sreeves, Andrew Green and others involved in coaching our juniors and seemingly enjoying it and I would suggest that these guys and others of a similar age and standard are ideal for our current plethora of kids coming through. If budgets allow we should also be supporting our top juniors and the coaches, to the best of our ability.

Alex hit the nail on the head when he said

“With limited funds getting the balance right is nearly impossible.

We need top class events to promote chess and get the media interested. With media interest you have more chance of attracting people (and sponsors).

What is needed is everyone pulling together to get a bit of momentum going. There should not be a debate over funding adult v junior chess to the detriment of both.”

Whilst I would like to suggest that the best way to do this would be for all that can make it to play at the Prestwick 2012 event, I truly believe that next years Scottish Championships and the support given by the anonymous benefactor provides the ideal opportunity to raise the profile of Scottish Chess.

Let’s all put our disagreements aside and whether you’re a top rated player or a little fish like me, make a short-term commitment to make a long-term difference by playing in the 119th Scottish Championships next year.

Let’s get together and make this an event to remember. If it’s really impossible to play the whole week, do your best to play the weekend. If you can’t play the weekend try and come along for a day to spectate and lend your support. If you really, honestly can’t make it at all, try and persuade somebody else to go in your place. Write a small article for your local newspaper, mentioning local players who may take part. If you can organise transport to the event, do that. Write letters to local schools telling them about the event and local businesses too, if you can. You don’t need to ask for funding from local businesses just write to them and ask if they’d display a poster in their window advertising the Championships. It’s all about support and awareness.

Let’s make next year’s Scottish the best supported and attended in recent history.
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Andrew -

a) It's not sad, no. We're talking a major investment of time here - being a perpetual student I'm not sure what the average annual holiday allowance is for people with real jobs, but I'm sure that two and a half weeks takes a significant chunk out of it. That can easily be the difference between being able to go on holiday somewhere with the family and not. I'm sure we'd love all of our top players to be absolutely focused on chess at the expense of all other things. Week-long tournaments in Scotland, among other things, are shorter and don't necessarily involve long separations from loved ones.

b) Dunno, but I'm not sure taking a narrowly economistic view of chess affairs is going to be helpful. I do know that when I was young and starting out, I loved reading the Olympiad reports and used to hope I'd be there one day (seem to have gone slightly astray since. Ah well). I'm a bit worried that there's this attitude of 'let's focus on chess for the future', and then when the strong youngsters turn 18 we focus on the next generation, and so on, until we've got a lot of 2200-strength poker players. I don't think it's a bad thing at all for junior chess that we send out the message that, if you become really good, the Scottish chess community will support you at least to a limited extent.

c) I'm not sure why you think de-prioritising fielding a team containing our GMs is going to help with that...
The shortage of funding is an issue, and I'm not sure what we're going to do about it - though we still haven't lost the grant yet have we? - but I doubt that cutting the support to our top players is the best way to solve it. Essentially, if funding cuts materialise, this is a problem we will only be able to solve - if we discount the possibility of fairy-godmother sponsors, which may or may not be wise - by somehow getting more publicity/marketing/media interest going, and I think that fielding strong international teams is likely to help rather than hinder such efforts.
Hugh Brechin Wrote:a) It's not sad, no. We're talking a major investment of time here - being a perpetual student I'm not sure what the average annual holiday allowance is for people with real jobs, but I'm sure that two and a half weeks takes a significant chunk out of it. That can easily be the difference between being able to go on holiday somewhere with the family and not. I'm sure we'd love all of our top players to be absolutely focused on chess at the expense of all other things. Week-long tournaments in Scotland, among other things, are shorter and don't necessarily involve long separations from loved ones.

What about the support Staff? Heads of Delegation, Arbiters, Coaches etc. We have to take holidays as well to put the events on as well as the large amounts of time taken to get the events on in the first place. What would happen if we took the attitude of "I'm not doing a 9 round tournament for less than £1000?"
"How sad to see, what used to be, a model of decorum and tranquility become like any other sport, a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee"
someone has suggested perfomance related fees for Olympiad.
What about this as % of their 2010 fee for GMs based on TPR ?

< 2400 nil
2400-2449 50%
2450+ 100%
The best rewards in Chess should be for the top players.
As mentioned that's the successful model for all successful sports.

In answer to Andy Howie's point (Don't mean to be so formal but it's the Andys factor)

The point is that there are only about 5 or 6 players in Scotland who can play at Grand Master strength whereas if push came to shove we could find somebody to do what you do.

Indeed if you want to take the week of the Scottish off from Chess duties. I'll start training now to do the job for you. This is a genuine offer! as I do think our organisers are doing masses of work.


If you wanted to train as an Arbiter, I would most certainly welcome it! We have a chronic shortage of Arbiters and there is no real incentive for younger people to come through.

Speak to Alex about what it was like in Russia, it is a real eye opener. My point was not just about Arbiters, it was about people like yourself, you were HoD for the Brazil trip and did a fantastic job. If there was money there I'd like it to go to people who are making a difference for eveyone
"How sad to see, what used to be, a model of decorum and tranquility become like any other sport, a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee"

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