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Ayr 2015
The 2015 Ayr Chess Congress will once again be held in the Windows on the Ocean at the Mercure Hotel in the centre of Ayr.

Bank Holiday Weekend
Friday May 22nd to Sunday May 24th

Entry form available from the calendar page <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m -->


Double or twin room at £85.00 per room
Family rooms at £95.00 per room.
Single room at £61.00 per room.

All players can book direct with Cheryl on 0844 815 9005 opt 3 quoting booking ref 9640317. This is the only method in which the hotel can guarantee the agreed rate will be offered. The current selling price is £130.00 per bedroom per night so it is essential to book through Cheryl on 0844 815 9005 opt 3 quoting booking ref 9640317 to get the special chess rates.

2015 Congress News

Andrew Green and Ali Roy have agreed to come back for a second year, with live commentary, coaching, puzzles, animal noise buzzers and a good deal of fun, as well as some serious chess analysis and helpful hints.

David Clayton has also agreed to return this year, bringing with him live boards and the big screen TV's to display the live games.

There's a new website for the event <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m --> which is now live and will have more content added over the next few weeks, including the latest news before the event.
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We will also have a bookstall this year provided by Chess Essentials. The bookstall will be selling books (obviously), chess dvds, chess sets, clocks and stationery.

Anybody wishing to pre-order or view an item or book should contact Howard Wood - <!-- e --><a href=""></a><!-- e -->.

Chess Essentials stock economy analogue chess clock, DGT chess clock, pairing boards, pairing cards, wall charts, folding chess boards and plastic club sets. etc

Entry to the congress can be made by post, telephone or e-mail. Details are on the entry form which is available on the congress website or via the calendar entry on the Chess Scotland website. I will be away from the 8th to the 18th of May but should have internet access to deal with e-mail entries and enquiries. Any postal or telephone entries will be dealt with promptly on my return.

David Congalton
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I looked into this event as I've not yet been to Ayr, and found the idea of spending a weekend there quite appealing. Unfortunately, the way the prize fund has been distributed makes the event a non-starter for me.
It's not just the fact that the £150 first prize would be unlikely to cover my hotel/food/travel for the weekend. I don't mind admitting I prefer weekenders where a good performance enables me to leave with a small profit, but if it's a well-run event in a nice location, I might still disregard the financial aspect.

The big problem I have with this event is the policy of equal prize money across all sections. If money is tight, then fine, I understand that not every tournament can offer big prizes. However, to offer the under-1850 (let alone the 1450!) section the exact same prizes as the Open, which currently includes two IMs and two FMs, completely disregards the gulf in skill level between the different sections.
I'm not saying the prize structure should be completely lopsided, but there should at least be some sort of recognition for those players who have done the hard work required to compete and win a prize in a higher section.

Evidently the four titled players who have entered don't feel the same way, so good luck to all the players and organisers. I hope the event is a success, but also hope that a more reasonable prize distribution might come into effect in future years.

Thank you for your thoughts. I am not directly involved in the organising of the 2015 Ayr congress but I have been indirectly involved since the initial congress was established at Prestwick airport trying to gather support from chess players both at home and abroad.
I hope you can support this congress and I think you will find that David and I have tried everything to support and build this congress.

Best Regards

As one of the other titled players who has entered, I feel I should comment regarding Andrew Greet's post.

In general I agree with Andrew's views on the distribution of prize-money - those playing the highest level of chess (even in a small pond such as Scottish chess) should probably receive higher prizes - but .... only where there is some form of sponsorship involved allowing the prize fund to be increased.

Otherwise, the entry fees (which titled players don't pay!) would be skewed towards the winners of the open - who for the most part don't provide anything for the vast majority of the lower-rated players.

It could be argued that having titled players in an event makes it more attractive for others to enter, but this generally only holds true in large Opens where norms can be gained.
Those playing in the minor/major etc. don't really benefit from the likes of me playing, and thereby taking a larger chunk of their entry home in prizes, except maybe to serve as an incentive to improve their chess, or if they have an altruistic approach to helping out the higher-rated end of Scottish chess (professionals/Olympiad players/etc)

My own reasons for playing Ayr (where, as Andrew Greet states, winning outright 1st would barely cover expenses for the weekend) are various...

a) I need to keep match-fit over these quieter months (no league chess, etc) in order to perform well in the summer/next season,

b) I want to support Scottish events whenever possible: no support=no event (see Dundee Allegro thread for this)

c) David Congalton, among others, is trying his hardest to ensure we all have events to play in and I am hopeful that if he gains enough support from the players in Scotland (of all levels) then in future he may be able to increase prize funds, introduce FIDE-rated events, revive defunct congresses, etc. For example,the Live boards and junior coaching with Andrew Green and Ali Roy are a good thing - perhaps such things could also be expanded to include simuls or talks through which 'titled players/'semi-'professionals' could increase their earning potential!?

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to it despite the likely hit to the pocket!
I'm glad Andrew Burnett replied before I did to prove not all titled players feel as entitled as Mr Greet comes across, whether he meant it or not, but it does seem from reading his post, the impression is that he, as a titled player, deserves more of my money that I would pay to enter a tournament than the prize winners of the section I actually enter.

This would be, as Mr Burnett says, despite having done nothing for me at all personally.

It may be that having titled players raises the profile of events but until that evolves into sponsorship of events then prize funds that Mr Greet obviously seems to expect isn't going to happen.

I also, personally, very much doubt if a majority of entrants in the supposedly more unimportant sections without titled players, to take the implication, feel that the Open section is entitled to a cut of their entry fees.
I stand to be corrected, of course.

It's not that I don't appreciate the time and effort put into gaining the title but if you then try to use it to justify a higher potential reward for yourself at the expense of your fellow chess players and at the level of a Scottish weekend congress which, to be fair, is normally not something that causes a ripple in the UK pond never mind anywhere else, you do leave yourself open to a perception that you consider yourself to be better than the rest of us and we should just give you the monetised incentive to grace our congress with the presence of the TITLE.

All interesting stuff and a debate that has been rumbling away for many years.

Perhaps now is a chance to bring it into the open and see what the non-titled amongst us think.

We are the vast majority, after all. Big Grin
Firstly to Robin: let me reiterate, I do appreciate the work that you and David, and all chess organisers for that matter, put in to make these events happen, and I hope this one is a success.

Andy B makes some valid points. The bit about titled players providing norm opportunities in some tournaments but not weekenders is off-topic though. My argument is not about rewarding 'titled' players per se (although free entry is of course appreciated when offered) but, rather, the fact that winning a prize in an Open - whether it contains 'titled' players or not - is vastly more difficult than winning a prize in an U-1850 tournament, which is itself a lot more difficult than U-1450. (The rating bands may differ at other events of course, but the principle is the same.)
It's true that I made reference to titled players in the Open, but this was to emphasise the strength of that section compared to the others, and how much harder it would be to win a prize in it.

As for Mr McNicoll, there are a few things to point out here:

1) I don't buy the argument about taking a cut of the entry fees from another section. The current list of entrants shows 17 in the Major and 11 in the Open. If it's really true that entry fees should only be redistributed as prizes in the same section, then the prize fund for the Major should be considerably higher than the Open. In another congress the proportions might be the opposite. Every congress will see some degree of entry fees being shifted from one section to another, so I don't see this as a valid objection to a slight weighting towards the upper sections.

2) To repeat an earlier point I made, Mr McNicoll's post repeatedly refers to 'titled' players, even capitalising the word at one point. This isn't about titles: it's about recognising a significant difference in skill level. I would argue just as strongly that the respective prizes for the Major and Minor should take into account the difference in skill, and I doubt there are any FIDE-titled players in either.

3) As for my being 'better' than other players, I find this a bizarre remark. Surely, Mr McNicoll, you're not suggesting that I believe a relatively high chess rating makes me a superior human being? If you mean in chess terms am I better than an 1800 or a 1400, then - call me elitist! - yes I am a better player, obviously.
In reply to Mr Greet's 3 points,

1) Whether you buy it or not, in my experience of being involved in congress organisation for decades it was almost the norm and expected that the more numerous sections subsidised the inevitably less well populated top sections. It has only been relatively recently that the prize fund, which mostly comes from the lower sections, has distributed mostly to where it came from though the top section still ends up with a subsidy. It's normally not a "slight " weighting either.

2) Well, looking at Mr Greet's original post the last 2 paragraphs seem, to me, to be all about the titled players, so to say it isn't about titles seems a little disingenuous.

3) No, I'm suggesting you may wish to have some of my hard earned cash because you have worked hard to achieve your level of expertise. Which does seem to me that you don't think that the untitled work at their game to achieve whatever level they have achieved at this time. So I am not suggesting your being elitist due to your being a better chess player, I am suggesting you are elitist for your apparent view that the titled have done the hard work which suggests you think the untitled have not done hard work to achieve their current level of skill. While it is possibly true of most, there are undoubtedly some who have worked just as hard if not harder to get to where they are. So if level of work and taking skill into account as determining where prize monies is distributed do we start taking something like the average difference in rise of grade in the last year as that would seem to be a measure of skill and skew the prize monies in that direction?
I've clarified that FIDE titles are not the central issue here, so you can either take that explanation or leave it.

We all work on our chess to varying degrees, but you have admitted that lower-ranking players will, on average, have put in less study and practice than those at a higher level. It is hardly being elitist to point out something so obvious.

Anyway, it doesn't look like we're going to find much common ground here, so I'll just reiterate my main point: to win a prize in an Open requires a far higher quality of chess than doing so in a section filled with weaker players. The respective first prizes are currently 150/150/150. If this was changed to, say, 175/150/125 or something similar, it wouldn't make or break anyone's tournament financially, but would act as a token gesture to acknowledge the massive skill differential.
I think it's completely wrong that the winner of the Minor, who might perform at, say, 1600 to win the tournament, will receive the same reward as the winner of the Open who might have to perform at 2500. Others may disagree, and it's up to tournament organisers to do what they think is right, so I'll leave it at that.
Firstly very few people will be able to turn a profit on these events if they've forked out for 2 nights accommodation in Ayr.

If a lower graded player wins the Minor it is possible to argue that they have "outperformed" a highly graded player winning the Open and that they should be entitled to at least as much prizefund. I get your argument Andrew Greet that more skill equals higher prizemoney but in this case I agree with the organisers and applaud them for a brave decision. I hope they get a great turnout in the Major and Minor in particular. I'm sending 3 of my juniors to participate in their first ever adult congress.

If "higher skilled" players want better prizemoney then increase the entry fee for the top section accordingly and pay them it!

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