Sunday, 2 March 2008

Effective Change

There are a number of paths to success (hard work, having rich parents, plain dumb luck etc) but two that interest me are "Success though change" and "Success through creation". And they interest me in the context of successful chess activities.
To give some examples I would regard the ACF* Grand Prix series as "Success through creation". While there had been weekend tournaments in Australia before 1988, it was the creation of series that linked them together that resulted in a 5 fold increase in there number. On the other hand one contributing factor to the increase in junior numbers in Australia was adding the best U/18, U/16 etc lists to the ACF* Rating Booklet, which created a competitive environment, not for individual players, but for state associations and junior organisations.
Of course both methods have the advantages and disadvantages. Based on my own experience, new ideas have a greater chance of failure, but also suffer less resistance (don't like it, don't play). Modifying existing formats normally have a built in safety net (in that you can always return to a previous format), but change runs into resistance from people who feel they may be disadvantaged.
So when you are planning to change how things are done, the question is "Do I still wish to appeal to the lowest common denominator?"
A contemporary example is this years Doeberl Cup. For the first time limits have been placed on the size of the field, and all players (with the exception of the Under 1200's) have to enter in advance. Based on feedback already received there is a belief that "you'll miss out on a number of entries", and while this remains to be seen, those who do enter will no doubt be getting a better "product" through a better organised event.
So I guess what it comes do to is is it worth leaving a few by the wayside on the road to improvement for everyone else? Or as Bud Tingwell said in The Castle, "the greatest good for the greatest number".

*I'd planned to write this post before reading the comments in the "Channels of Communication" entry,so mentions of the Australian Chess Federation come with an automatic apology to ACF Vice President Dennis Jessop.


DeNovoMeme said...

An improved Doeberl? From Distinction to High Distinction! Is it tempting fait to congratulate in advance?

Denis Jessop said...

Hi Shaun

You don't have to apologise to me on this one except for spelling my name wrongly - a capital offence in 1788 :-)

In fact Ted Quinlan, the then ACT Sport and Recreation Minister, a few years ago expressed surprise in his opening speech for the Doeberl Cup that entries were open until the last minute. So there's nothing new...

Denis Jessop

Libby said...

When you are talking about major events/weekenders etc then I think it's unreasonable of players to leave entry to the last minute anyway.

With anecdotal (and actual) evidence that many events struggle to meet their costs and advertised prizes - let alone making a profit - it is sound and responsible to ground a budget in reality as early as is practical.

I had a bit of anxious sniffing and hand-wringing from others over closing the 2007 Aus Junior entries more than 2 weeks before the event. It was interesting - after our experience - that NSWJCL chose to stick with the old (enter late) model for 2008.

For us, running the 2007 event, we offered an early (early) t-shirt incentive for entries by October. That saw us with almost 170 entries with months until the event. We had money in the bank from those entries to meet pre-event expenditures but most importantly it allowed us to plan with a secure budget rather than a hopeful one.

We then closed entries altogether before Christmas. If this caused anyone to miss out then that's unfortunate but we did our best with publicity and still had what remains a record entry by a wide margin.

And we did refund two entries that withdrew very late. That was easy to accommodate because we knew exactly what our dollars were.

Anyone who gripes about an early close to entries is reverting to the classic chess preference for (dis)organisation.

Anonymous said...

We are discussing two different things. School children playing in the Australian Junior Championships (where parents pay the fees) is not the same thing as miserable adult chess players who enter late and want concessions for being alive!

libby said...

In specific terms I was using the example of a junior event. But the general principle should be able to apply equally to even the most sad and desperate of adults - if you want to characterise chess players as such :0)

If you are running a major event, then securing the income for that event - which is most likely a combination of sponsorship/grants and entry fees - can be critical to your ability to deliver the best return.

It even allows you to have the right number of tables and sets available - there's an idea.