View Full Version : Australia lacks SuperNationals?

10-04-2005, 10:47 AM
Nashville Tennessee is this weekend (April 8-10) hosting the largest chess festival in America. Over 5000 kids are playing in the National Junior Chess Championships, all held under one roof!

So allowing for relative population sizes (and similar problems of long distances and financial hardship to the USA), we in Australia should have, say, 250-300 players at our own events. But we don't - so why don't we? It seems to me that Australian Junior Chess is too elitist. Our National Schools Finals are only for top Schools. Players in our National Junior Championships need permission from State officials (often people they don't know).

In the past decade or so chess has become increasingly popular at Primary Schools around the World. We should now open up our national events to all kids that want to play competitive chess and maybe become the next Ian Rogers!

10-04-2005, 11:00 AM
This years Australian Junior Championships had 170 players, held at mt buller. I would make a guess and say that there would be more than 170 juniors at next years Australian Juniors, to be held in Brisbane.

But I am not sure how much of an impact running the champs/ reserves and juniors in the same two weeks might make to the overall numbers.

I would say that for the 2007 or 2008 juniors, there will be more than 170 juniors.

The Australian Schools Teams Championships is a specific event with a specific purpose. I would rather concentrate on the Australian Junior Championships as a measure of number of individual players.

Paul S
10-04-2005, 02:58 PM
I recall reading somewhere that some NSWJCL events attract around 600 players! That seems a reasonable size to me!

10-04-2005, 04:29 PM
If something is held at Sydney, Melbourne or Gold Coast you have a chance of a monster crowd. Align with holiday season for example at Gold Coast and try to arrange billeting or mass camping at a mountain venue closish to the beach. The Jehovah Witnesses have been doing this for years.

I have already thought along these lines and was looking at maybe this Xmas or next but may clash with Aust Open or whatever. Unfortunately things I plan seem to take about 4 times longer than I estimate to complete??

22-04-2005, 11:54 AM
Part of the problem (and I have been saying this since 1998), is that the Aus Juniors is trying to be everything to everyone.

On the one hand it is elitist - major titles are awarded and the games are very long and preferably one a day. This requires a huge commitment on the part of parents, both in time and money.

On the other hand we want to make it into a chess festival that everyone can go to.

The two concepts are almost mutually exclusive.

ChessGuru has had some success, because he offers a "summer camp" concept. i.e. parents can take a coaching, care package and pack off their kids to a chess camp for 2 weeks- not unsurprisingly he provided almost 30% of the kids at Mt Buller. However for parents who don't feel comfortable with the concept, it is just too long and too expensive to even consider taking a child who does not already have a fairly big commitment to chess.

I do not believe that having to have your entry "signed" by a chess official causes a problem and in fact at Mt Buller this was not a requirement. Anyone who got hold of an entry form or downloaded one from the net could submit an entry.

Over the years I have been impressed with the way chess is growing in South Africa. I find them much more interesting than USA. South Africa has almost no chess history and they have been building from the ground up. Over the years their teams have been visibly improving. They are exceptionally well organised (The lady who manages the team, makes me look a) sloppy b) nice and gentle).

Although South Africa has a population 3 times the size of Australia, when considering socio-economic aspects, they are drawing from a population base smaller than ours.

Have a look at this website -


It is the national Junior body and part of Chess South Africa. This is a big step forward, as currently Australia has no national junior body.

I counted up entrants in their Under 10 to under 20 Nationals - nearly 1000.

They also have a closed nationals with titles awarded - invitation only, small numbers.

I am not sure of the time controls for the mega comp, but I'm willing to bet it is shorter time controls and over a few days. If you have a look at the USA one, it is a weekend not a 2 week marathon.

What I proposed in 1998, but it sort of drifted off into limbo, as these things often do at the national level, is that we look at a smaller, elite Aus Juniors and a big chess festival concept. I looked at them running in parallel, but with more experience, I think separating them is the way to go.

I like what South Africa is doing with a mega chess festival that large numbers play in and then a small invitation one later in the year. We could include that with the Young masters comp?

One of the positives about a big festival, is that it could raise heaps of money for Junior chess. The selected SA kids get everything paid for, when going overseas.

Have a look at the photos of the South African Nationals - all the kids from the different regions wear tracksuits to match! (and the ACT thought we were flash with our T-shirts!)

What South Africa has managed to achieve is a national focus on junior chess, while Australia is still a morass of state and business interests. Hopefully the ACF Junior sub committee might be able to move us a little nearer to acquiring a national focus.

22-04-2005, 06:57 PM
Yes, totally agree - keep the big chess festival short, fast and separate.
Appeal to the masses. Good luck to the ACF Junor Committee - it will need massive organisational effort. Have you seen the Michael Basman mega and terra events in the UK?

Also, good to see South Africa doing well - a far cry from when I played in a few tournaments in Joburg and Pretoria in the early-1980's!

22-04-2005, 10:48 PM
Good luck to the ACF Junor Committee - it will need massive organisational effort.

The sub-committee is a start - initially it will only look at policy and issues, but these things have habit of growing....

Have you seen the Michael Basman mega and terra events in the UK?

no - not aware of them - have to google!

Also, good to see South Africa doing well - a far cry from when I played in a few tournaments in Joburg and Pretoria in the early-1980's!

Yes - I got the impression talking to them that the last 10 years has seen a big change.