Monday, 21 May 2012

Revisiting the Mars Bar per week equation

The "Mars Bars per week" unit of cost was first described to me by FM Craig Laird. It was as part of a discussion concerning how much we should pay to play chess or become members of chess clubs or associations. No matter how much membership of an organisation was, and more importantly, no matter how many people were willing to pay this amount, there was always an argument that it was too much for a small subset of potential members. The "Mars Bar per week" was an attempt to show how trivially small the amounts people were arguing over really wall.
I'm revisiting this concept for two reasons. Firstly I finally made the effort to find out what the current costs of a Mars Bar is (I normally avoid them under doctors orders). It is $2.40 at my local Service Station. The second is that the issue of club+state association membership is being discussed in my local parish. Recently most ACT Chess clubs have had a good growth in membership, especially the previously struggling Canberra Chess Club. In the last year and a half they have doubled their usual tournament numbers. The concern is that attempting to collect ACTCA membership fees on top of club membership fees may drive some of the newer players away. But as the ACTCA membership fee is a maximum of $25, this is an odd concern. It is simply a fifth of a Mars Bar per week. For now the ACTCA is working out the best way to deal with this situation, but still I wonder what it is about chess that leads to situations like this.


chris said...

Its interesting coming to the UK. Where most clubs in london are charging £80 per year (125 aud). Though this includes all memberships needed, good luck trying to charge that anywhere in aus.

Scott said...

Yes, $125 is a little high, but not as much as some Aus clubs. The Melbourne chess club maximum fee is $160 pa. Many small clubs would charge half that amount. But hey you also get what you pay for. I think most clubs, including the MCC, give value for money. But there will always been the mars bar factor to consider.

Shaun Press said...

In the case of the Canberra Chess Club (and before any jumps in, I'm not deliberately picking on them), they do offer an $80 per year package which covers all the entry fees for their tournaments. I do not know how many players have taken up that offer however.

Garvin said...

Regarding paying state association membership- I can understand why the average player, who only plays at one particular club, does not understand why they should have to pay a state association membership, when they feel like they will never use it.

It can be explained to some many times that the rating they achieve and get updated every three months is part of the membership, those ratings need to be processed by state rating officers etc etc.

There can be other benefits to state membership depending on the state association.

Players are certainly much more willing to pay club membership, generally, because they can see a much more tangible evidence that their money is going 'somewhere'.

I do not think MCC should be used as a general model as they have a premises and so are not running on the normal one or two nights a week format.