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I had a hard time coming up with a title for this thread, but let me explain my quandary.
I'm an organizer for a simple little tournament. We've had about 20 attendees or so on a Saturday afternoon. The tournament is run as a 5 rounds swiss, with G/30 time controls. There's a ten dollar entry fee and no prize. (A part of the entry fee goes to charity.) I'm going to do this again on January 21.
So what's the quandary? The tournament ends at 4:00. I have the facility until 10:00. I don't have to pay any more to use it for those additional six hours. It seems like a waste to just lock the doors and go home. That's six hours where there could be more Chess!
When I started the tournament, I assumed that at least some people would hang out and play more Chess. I thought of it as kind of like a tournament, followed by a club gathering, or something, but no one has wanted to.
I could lengthen the games, but I don't want to do that. Of course, some people would like it, but others would not. It's just a personal preference to have a certain length games, but I don't want to alienate the loyal attendees who like the format by changing the core tournament format. This tournament will be for people who like short games.
I'm considering having a second, three round, tournament in the evening, in quad format, possibly with an additional entry fee and a cash prize. (Small in both cases. Low fee. Low prize.) But a Saturday night tournament? Would it work? It might. We have Friday night tourneys around here?
I thought about running two simultaneous tournaments. One five round G/30, the other 4 round G/60. In addition to diluting the target audience for each tournament, there's another problem with that idea. The facility is fantastic, with room for fifty players, plus a slightly larger skittles room, but the playing area really would have to be all in one room, which means that halfway through each G/60 game, the G/30 players would be tramping in, setting up, and generally causing a fair amount of commotion, which I don't see being pleasant for the G/60 crowd.
What to do? As an organizer, the biggest headache is finding a site that is comfortable and affordable. I've got the site, but I can't figure out what to do with it for the amount of time that I've got it. I feel like I'm wasting a resource.
Perhpas have a seperate round-robin blitz tournament afterwards? that way even if some peopleleave after the initial tournament, you aren't going to have an issue with numbers (unless there are < 3 people there, in which case you may as well just go home or have some informal games).
If you decide to do a second tournament afterwards, remember to have a short break between them where people can take a walk or have some tea/coffe.
Free punch and pie is your answer.
About once a month I hold a chess party at my house. I get together with about a dozen guys and we do chess-related stuff for six hours. Here are some of the activities I have planned for this Saturday that you could also try.
Games presentation – One or two players present one of their own games and take comments and questions from the audience. Allow about 45 minutes for discussion of each game
Go over a common tabiya (starting position) and discuss the common plans for each side.
Tandem chess followed by a group discussion of the games. Divide the group into two man teams. Play 10 minutes per team per game, with each player playing 5 moves and then letting his partner take over for five moves. After a round of games get back together as a group and discuss each game.
Look at a position that can’t be solved tactically. Assess the position from White's (or Black's) perspective. The assessment should take the form of generalize evaluation of the position like; White has better space, more active pieces, potential strengths and weaknesses, etc.
Pose some questions,
1. Who is better? And why?
2. How should white (black) continue?
3. Weakness or strengths?
4. If given the choice, which color would you like to play?
Go over a “solitaire chess” game. I use the book "How Good is Your Chess?" by Barden. The players try to guess the next move from a grandmaster game. Points are awarded for correct guesses. Before revealing what was played go around the room on each move and have players suggest moves, to get an idea of all the candidate moves. Award a minor prize to the person who correctly guesses the most moves.
If you have internet connection and a big enough a screen, show a lecture from Chess.com or a Tiger Lilov lecture from Youtube.
Perhpas have a seperate round-robin blitz tournament afterwards?
I tried it. No one stayed.
(I have no idea what's wrong with these people!.....Ok. I do know. They've just played five rounds of Chess. They're tired. They have wives and children to go home to, or they are children and their parents have had enough for the day. I get that....sort of. If it were up to me, there would be more Chess.)
One of the reasons I am thinking about the second tournament at night is that the stalwarts who want to play as much chess as possible could come to both tournaments, but it might also bring in some people who did not attend the "main" daytime tournament.
I really like these ideas. If I were to see such activities advertised, it would definitely make me more likely to attend. However, I seem to be a minority around here. For me, variety of activities is a major plus, but I can't seem to find kindred spirits.
Also, one of my problems is that my own chess skills are not exactly legendary. To lead the activities, it would help to have a skilled Chess player as the facilitator. I have a rating of 800. No one will come to hear my analysis. It's not absolutely essential, but it would help.
Left up to me, I would probably have my tournament as is that ends at 4:00, then have a couple of hours of activites like you suggest, plus a dinner break, and then a short tournament in the evening. And, left to myself, the evening tournament might be "thematic" tournaments or even, dare I say it, might include a Chess960 or Chinese Chess option.
So, I really like the ideas, and it's good to hear that someone is doing them somewhere and it's working.
That's why I said have a break. depending on the time controls for the main tournament, this could be anything from a tea break to a full meal - either everyone could bring something to eat, or just have something like a sausage sizzle (for an additional gold coin donation?) where everyone can just socialise for a while before going into the next tournament.
If you want to hold a tournament, have you thought about using gimmicks? You could require that all games start with the same opening, or all games start with a gambit.
Another idea is to hold a handicap tournament. For a handicap event you start with as sudden death time control, like game in 30, then adjust the time for each competitor. For every 50 rating points difference you subtract one minute from the stronger player and add that minute to the weaker player. Obviously it doesn't have to be a 30 minute time control and you could add and subtract minutes for smaller rating differences until you found a competitive balance.
You could try handicap speed-chess matches. Each player starts with 5 minutes. The winner of each game gets a minute subtracted from his time for the next game. The second game would be 5-4. The third game would be either 4-4 or 5-3, depending on who won. Play continues until one player wins five games. For a draw, both players subtract a minute. If each player won four games the entire match would take just under an hour to complete, 54 minutes for the games and a few more minutes for setting up the pieces. You could organize the players into quads and play a three-round event.
I like gimmicks myself, but the chess community at large doesn't seem so taken with them. The "same opening" are what I called "thematic" events, and I have seen them advertised, although no one has done one locally. I'm leaning toward doing that at this tournament, but with a disclaimer that if not enough people show up for a particular "thematic" opening, you could always just play Chess instead.
FWIW, thematic events can be USCF rated, but only if the specific opening to be used is announced in advance, and all players have to play the same opening. A "draw an opening out of a hat" tournament can't be rated.
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