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Girls only events in 2013-14
I would appreciate thoughts, opinions, suggestions and criticism of a possible series of girls only events outlined below. This is very much at an early stage of planning.

The objective behind the idea should be fairly obvious.

Scottish Elite Girls All Play All League
The basics
Individual competition for junior girls who would be eligible to participate in the 2014 Jessica Gilbert Cup for Scotland.

Four leagues of six players.

Series of five round, all play all events over the season to be held at various locations.

Incremental time control. Two day events - All moves in 60 minutes with 30 second increments. Three day events – same as congress the all play all would run alongside.

No charge for participation.

Strong coaching support available at all events.

Player who scores most points over the season will be awarded the Scottish Elite All Play All title.

Initial event
Initial League make-ups based on grading as published in the 2013 grading list.

All play all over a weekend. Prize for Division 1 winner for each weekend event.

Top player in Div 2, Div 3 & Div 4 promoted.

Bottom player in Div 1, Div 2 & Div 3 relegated.

Subsequent events
Division 4 will comprise the player relegated from Division 3 plus the five highest graded, available players not already participating in Divisions 1 to 3 based on live grades one calendar month before the start of the event. In other words players who played in Division 4 in the previous event must qualify again for the fourth division by remaining higher graded on the live list.

Possible dates and possible venues (all to be confirmed – only suggestions)
19-20 Oct Edinburgh Chess Club
2-3 Nov Perth
30 Nov - 1 Dec Stirling
24-26 Jan Ayr - South Ayrshire Congress
8-9 Feb Edinburgh Chess Club
1-2 Mar Edinburgh Chess Club
15-16 Mar Aberdeen
14-27 Apr Easter Event around this time
23-25 May Ayr - Ayr Congress
6-8 Jun Inverness - Highlands and Islands Congress
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In my experience Girls only events can work very well especially if combined with some coaching. However, I also believe that in order to be really good that girls need to compete with boys.
With David's idea I think you would have to ask three questions to start off with

1. Can we actually get 24 players?
2. If the events are free and you are providing serious coaching, what is the cost, is this good value for money for ChessScotland?
3. If the same girls keep playing each other, won't they be playing their friends a lot of the time. Might this lead to a lot of boring draws. I think this is a general problem, but it might be exacerbated with the format you have proposed. If the main aim in group 1 is to avoid the drop then 4 draws and a couple of losses might do the trick - London system here we come.

I think (initially) I would be looking for a more flexible format to gauge the interest, so perhaps a three day event to run alongside an existing congress and a one day rapidplay ditto. If might be possible to have regional 'semi-finals' leading up to a grand final, but again I would be a bit worried about getting sufficient numbers
I thought the three girls who represented Scotland in this year’s Jessica Gilbert Cup performed exceptionally well against very tough opposition. The coaching from Matthew Turner and Heather Lang undoubtedly contributed to the girl’s performance and confidence over the three days.

However, there is only so much that can be done at an event like this and while I understand that much of the work between events has to be done by players themselves I think it would be beneficial for a number of reasons to see regular get togethers for coaching and events throughout the year for girls.

I read with interest a paper that Heather Lang wrote and forwarded to me regarding her experience of what worked and what didn’t with the junior team she runs in Oxfordshire. One observation particularly caught my interest.

Quote:“'Number-density' - if you have four or more girls there, then more just keep on coming, especially if they already know each other from tournaments.”

Although this was written with local clubs in mind I wonder if creating a kind of national girls club where the top x players regularly meet for coaching or are invited to participate in special girls only events would sustain the interest of those currently playing at the higher level and be an incentive for those below this level to aspire to.

Further observations made by Heather would lead me initially to invite players aged 11 or 12 and upwards to participate.

I agree that getting twenty four players to regularly turn up throughout the year, may indeed be a problem. This combined with the point Matthew makes regarding devious draws puts a giant hole in the all play all league series idea and sinks it to the bottom of the Loch of Ideas.

However, I don’t think an event or two, combined with coaching, for the top twenty four (or so) players is completely outside the realms of possibilities in the short to medium term. The difficulty is designing an event that would allow all the participants to enjoy five or six competitive games, hence the all play all idea, with players grouped according to grade.

Perhaps the starting point could be an all play all tournament/coaching event run over two weekends, with groups of four players (up to a maximum of 24) playing each other twice, once with each colour. There would be two games on the Saturday, with coaching between rounds and after. Sunday could begin with opponent preparation followed by round 3 (or 6).

The events would be free and funded from outside Chess Scotland.

As a further thought, I have (I think) previously aired the idea of an all junior girls team particpating in the SNCL. If five girls wished to get together and form a team I would be happy to pay their entry fee for the event.
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Hey David

When I initially read the title my initial thoughts were, why would you want to keep it separate?

Now that I have read your post, very nice post indeed , it sounds like a really good idea in some sort of format to promote female players getting involved more in the game.

Getting the numbers might be difficult, but anything that would encourage more girls/ females to get involved in the game would be a real positive.

The idea for the SNCL sounds fantastic as well, if there were enough players interested.

A very good positive post, exactly what the forum is designed for.
I applaud your desire David in trying to increase the number of female players in the game, but I think you may be putting the cart before the horse. As Heather has pointed out in her paper it is a numbers game. With the best will in the world, no event, regardless of how beneficial or enjoyable it is, is going to tackle the problem.

I believe that we really need to attack this at club rather than event level. And as clubs will also fail to rectify this if they don't attract enough initial female players to retain their membership, I think we should be looking at organising female chess clubs as a first step.

Your idea for a female junior team at the SNCL is a great suggestion for existing players. I would go further and say the IJD should take this up and have players in contention for the Gilbert team (and the other junior teams for that matter) playing with coaching sessions either before or after the games.
I like the ideas but I would ask that we try to avoid clashing with events that they would play normally, There are several in this group for example that are regulars on the congress scene and we should be encouraging them to play in those as well otherwise we just create rating drift in the group.

SNCL, SJC have put a team in for the last two or three years and I totally agree and would welcome this idea. I would advise to enter early are we are pretty much at bursting point. I think we can take two more teams
"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"
Duly noted Andy, as far as clashing dates and congress participation is concerned. The input is most helpful in hammering out a sensible and considered plan.

Gary, it may well be putting the cart before the horse but I do feel that something has to be done. There are plenty of girls out there who play at a young age.

I have no idea how you go about encouraging clubs to recruit females nor do I know how to persuade females to form a female only club. Although, the system/scheme I'm planning to set up would be akin to a national girls club.

I'm looking to start with the top ranked players and hopefully the set-up will be an incentive to those outside the top ranked to keep playing. Once the set-up is running smoothly, there's no reason why it couldn't be tweaked a little and run for the next group of girls on the ranking list. Although it then becomes a matter of resources.

I think it's worth setting up a pilot project to see how it goes.
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The Glasgow League at one time had a 'Ladies team' competing, their last
home venue was in the legendary Glasgow Apollo.
Reality check needed here.

Girls Chess in Scotland is at its strongest for at least 10 years = as far back as my memory reaches.

Winning the Faber/Gilbert Cup 3 times in 7 years is a special achievement.

In 2012 For the first time ever a girl won the Primary Individual.

In 2013 Board one in the Glorney team for Scotland was a girl. It has been so long since this happened – perhaps never- that the rules accidentally stated this year that the Glorney is a team of 5 boys.

There have been occasions at CFK events where the girls averaged above 50% score. Which means the boys averaged below 50%. Number of girls playing CFK have risen compared with a few years ago.

Reality is that none of the 5 girls rated 1400 and above were available for the Faber.
That is the reason for the team finishing fourth.

There is not little point listing what the strongest boys and girls were doing instead of going to Wales. These are busy active people with demands on their time from outside the world of chess– did we really think they will sit around at home doing nothing during the tournament?

I read on another thread a reference to why Hamilton’s top junior did not go to the Glorney. Hamilton’s top junior (based upon current grade) is Daniel Thomas. Last year Daniel played at Daventry, this year Daniel declined to play and Daniel declined to give a reason to either of his parents for not playing. If he is the junior referred to on the other thread then comments about why he did not play are meaningless.

Failure to get the strongest players to turn up is an issue. This needs to be tackled. I will let others investigate but I am sure that David C was right to say that there are multiple reasons.

If in doubt ask the players and their parents. Write a questionnaire. Multiple declines appears to be a growing problem that hardly affected the Glorney teams of 2009 to 2011. I was not a selector for the 2012 event and I make no comment on that year’s teams.

The three girls that did play in the Faber team of 2013 were not highly rated in advance. Yet they gained much respect during the tournament. If I make one small assumption here (that one girl shares her brother’s coach) then I can state that those girls all have an established coach delivering coaching over the board at local chess club. Actually 3 different coaches at three different chess clubs. All three coaches I have no doubt were happy that their pupils had assistance in Wales from coaches of the calibre of Matthew and Heather.

Which makes it somewhat disrespectful to those 3 coaches to create and feed a thread based upon the concept that we must start coaching those girls around the country as they play a subset of the countries juniors.

Looks like there is going to be some real competition for the Faber places at next year’s event. Perhaps the solution will be to put 2 girls in the mixed Glorney team ?

In the run up to the 2013 Glorney one of those 3 girls achieved a draw with an 1800 plus player. Another one is now listed by FIDE at 1813 – it is a blitz grade but it came from 13 games and deserves respect.
Phil Thomas Wrote:Which makes it somewhat disrespectful to those 3 coaches to create and feed a thread based upon the concept that we must start coaching those girls around the country as they play a subset of the countries juniors.

It was certainly not my intention to be disrespectful to the coaches or the girls. If it came across that way I apologise.

The thread was created because of the positive efforts and attitudes of the four girls who took part in the Cardiff event.

David G Congalton Wrote:I thought the three girls who represented Scotland in this year’s Jessica Gilbert Cup performed exceptionally well against very tough opposition.

I should have added in the words below highlighted in red to the original post to be slightly clearer.

David G Congalton Wrote:The coaching from Matthew Turner and Heather Lang undoubtedly contributed to the girl’s performance and confidence over the three days.
However, there is only so much that can be done at an event like this and while I understand that much of the work between events has to be done by players themselves and their own coaches, I think it would be beneficial for a number of reasons to see regular get togethers for additional coaching and events throughout the year for girls.

The idea of a girl's only events and organised, regular free coaching was originally muted by a parent of one of the girl's. This girl also has her own coach, at the moment.

The events and training I have in mind would not be in place of club events/coaching and private coaching but in addition to it. I, personally, do think it would be beneficial for the top girl's to get together on a regular basis.

I had hoped to organise such an event before the Glorney/Gilbert and had booked Edinburgh Chess Club for this. GM Arakhamia-Grant was one of those very interested in doing some work with the girls and agreed to come along.

Circumstances led to the event being cancelled before it had got to the invitation stage but it would be GM standard coaches that I would be looking to bring in for such specific coaching events. I believe GM Arakhamia-Grant could still be interested in any such events.

On the tournament front, I would be looking at how best to prepare the top girl’s for events such as Euro and World Youth’s and Jessica Gilbert Cup and trying to replicate these events as far as is possible, within timescales.

The purpose of starting the thread was to put forward some ideas for discussion, suggestions and criticism with a view to building on the work that has already been and is being done. It was not meant as a criticism in any way of any girls playing chess at any level or coaches coaching them.

At Primary school level there is significant interest in playing chess, with both boys and girls taking part. Since I only returned to playing three or four years ago I can only say that this interest in Primary School chess had been significant during that time. I’ve heard the reasons as to why so many kids don’t continue with the game after primary school and I am simply looking at avenues to change this, which I can do something about.

Matthew, Gary and Andy have already made positive contributions, which I would take into consideration before putting together a schedule of events.
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