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Chess Clubs: Intergrating Weaker Players

  • #1

    Hi all,

    I volunteer on the committee at the Melbourne Chess Club, we've always been a top-heavy club, with a few titled players and lots of over 2000's in all our events.

    The problem we have is creating an enjoyable atmosphere for u/1300 players, who simply come to the club and get continually wiped off the board until they lose enthusiasm.

    We've tried offering rating prizes, coaching prizes etc etc, but the key factor in growing the u/1300 category appears to be enjoyment. Players simply don't enjoy playing events where they score 0-2 / 9 points.

    I have 3 or 4 ideas to grow the u/1300 group, but I'd love to hear any ideas people here have (either players or organisers).

    My basic idea for now is to start u/1300 (or lower) events with a focus on:

    a) learning how to run a swiss or round robin themselves [the event must become self-sufficient]

    b) teaching them how to set up chess clocks
    c) making sure they record games properly
    d) teaching them something about how to analyse


    If anyone has any ideas, please post them :)

  • #2

    set up u/1300 tournament events and offer small $$ prizes

    $$ is always good bait 

  • #3

    My 14 year old daughter has a crush on James Morris, you should make more use of him, she would keep turning up just to get a glimpse of him. Luckily we are in Tasmania so I don't have to accompany her to the Chess club with a Shotgun Smile

  • #4

    hahahaha, I will definitely be making him aware of this post Queentakesknightoops.



  • #5

    Hello I am 12 yo girl from Broadie, i think Jeyms Merris is vry cute would slam 10/10

  • #6

    Let them play among themselves. Don't match them against masters. When I first got to the Charlotte Chess Club they only made me play people my own rating. It would've been an awful idea to only match against people who whoop up on me. I would've been disheartened.

    If there are are only 4, then have them play a quad where they can win some money. Eventually the lower section should start growing and some players will pass through so that you can create a middle section.

    my 2 cents. Good luck and if you find some success in whatever way I'd like to know how you did it.

  • #7

    Just as a matter of interest how many kids are you dealing with & what age range & experience?

  • #8

    seems condescending.  are these children we are talking about or something?

  • #9

    Thanks for your replies everyone. I agree that it's important not to just throw them into a swiss event and hope the format sorts everything out.

    Queentakesknight- we have a limited group of players under 1300. Not just kids, adults too. Perhaps the group we're really talking about are Under 1100 players.

    Chessole- the idea isn't to be condescending, it's to try and create the best atmosphere possible for improving players to enjoy. My experience is, people do not enjoy playing events where they show up every week and get destroyed, even though there are some players who learn quickly enough and have thick enough skin to enjoy this challenge.

    I think the Quads are a good idea.

  • #10

    Definitely organise something that the weaker players can compete among themselves!

    I personally find money prizes not very interesting in the sense that if you are a working professional, these amounts are (usually) trivial and do not enrich your life in any significant way. If you are a teen, of course $100 can go a long way to get a new gadget or whatever, so sure, why not. 

    A good prize for a weaker player is to win 5 (or whatever number) private 1:1 tutoring lessons from one of the strong players in the club! Of course you need a volunteering master for that Smile

    Another good event I think would be to let one of the masters play simultan against a bunch of weaker players. Such format does not make a weaker player feel so "lonely" when playing against a master. And it is always a good learning experience.

    Of course, much also depends on the weaker players: There are those who are weak but eager to learn and improve, possibly having some talent too. And there are those who couldn't care less about improving but just want to play and socialize a bit.

    They way it is handled in my club is, we play a lot in the various national team leagues in Switzerland. There are several layers of leagues here, from very strong to really not so strong (i think it's 4 layers). Our club has seven teams of 5 players each, all made up of players of varying strength. Who plays on which team is somewhat fluctuating due to players being absent or ill or having other commitments at times, but basically you can start out in Team 7, and if you get results you will be promoted and invited to play for the better teams eventually. Smile  I'm still stuck in Team 7 in case you are asking, hahaa! Don't know if such team leagues exist in Australia or not.

  • #11

    Well as a player who is currently below a 1300 rating I think first off it is positive that someone in your club is interested in helping players get better. In my experience playing in tournaments/leagues with players of similar ratings have helped expose weaknesses in my playing and encouraged me to learning how to play various openings, see tactics and importance of some end game theory. Most of this I've had to pick up myself through self study which was directed by playing in such tournaments.  Does your club have a library of chess books and/or instructional DVDs? I'm a bit puzzled by why people feel the need to offer motivation such as $ to encourage a player to get better.  You used the word "enjoyment" and that is what I get from playing chess. Sure a loss is sometimes difficult, especially if you blunder or 'miss' something. Chess is a good ego reducer at the best of times and also exposes big ego's tooWink   Ultimatley if I want to get better at chess self responsibilty and attitude are key factors IMO. Showing players how to analyse their games is a good idea.  

  • #12

    We tend to throw them straight into the league teams, in the lowest divisions, against people of their own strength, and see how they get on. It's an ego boost that "I play chess for Cardiff". Going through their games with them and offering constructive feedback is also helpful. Often I will see a 1300-ish player make what look like brilliant moves, and seemingly understand what they are doing, and think wow, that person could be a lot higher rated if we can iron out some weaknesses.

    As regards losing on purpose against them, I admit that I find this totally impossible, I just cannot make myself play under 100% (does anyone else find this or it it just me?). However, I often find that novice-level players try to fish for games against me, because on a normal Tuesday night (Tuesdays - juniors and weak players, Wednesdays - stronger players), I'll be the strongest player there by a distance because I run the junior club. So I often play odds games, or time handicap, say 1min vs 10min.

  • #13

    I wont lose against weak opposition, but hardly ever play 100% either.

    bestbytest: do you have a current setup with lower rateds getting time advantage?

  • #14

    Thanks so much for your comments and ideas guys, keep em coming! When I have time this week I'll make a synopsis and post whatever program we decide on trying.

    A lot of this stuff should be obvious but it's hard to put yourself into the headspace of being a novice again.

  • #15

    Thanks for your tips. We've decided to start a 5 round weekly novice allegro with a lecture after it. We've also created a novice road-map including required skills for competitive play, and a novice book-pack that improving players can benefit from.

    We considered quads, but we like the open of a weekly open swiss that can grow into a community of novices.

  • #16
    best-by-test wrote:

    Thanks for your tips. We've decided to start a 5 round weekly novice allegro with a lecture after it. We've also created a novice road-map including required skills for competitive play, and a novice book-pack that improving players can benefit from.

    We considered quads, but we like the open of a weekly open swiss that can grow into a community of novices.

    Sounds like a good plan, are you going to throw in a few incentives like prizes for best game, best sac etc. Also who is doing the lectures, if you can get Yasser Seirawan I'll swim over from Tassie for that one!

    What are the Books you are recommending, there's always a demand on these forums for good books for beginner to intermediate level?


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