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View Full Version : NSWCA Promotion of smaller club chess tournaments



Paul S
04-04-2009, 01:35 PM
The other day I got a phone call from Henk Jens (someone who I respect very much) who told me about some of his frustrations (in particular some of his dealings with the NSWCA) over essentially running the Canterbury chess club for the last 2 years, and as such I feel compelled to "come out of about 2 years hibernation" on this forum and make this post. To cut a long story short, despite being about 30 years older than me and having serious health problems, Henk agreed to essentially take over the running of the Canterbury chess club after I had had enough at the end of 2006 (after doing the job for over 6 years, in the end I was worn down by an accumulation of many minor hassles and having to deal with 3 or 4 people who in my opinion have serious mental health problems).

Over the last 2 years I have noticed that when Canterbury has an upcoming tournament that the details are usually emailed to NSWCA members at around 1 am on the day the tournament starts (despite Henk having given the NSWCA about 2 weeks notice in advance!), which is virtually useless as far as getting players to attend. When I was "Mr Canterbury" the situation was similar as far as the NSWCA promoting the club's tournaments was concerned.

I suspect that the NSWCA do not realise the difficulties involved in trying to keep a smaller chess club going, as the most influential members of the NSWCA Council are members of larger clubs and would not understand the issues involved. The larger clubs essentially rely on putting out an email to promote an upcoming tournament and not worry if 2 or 3 less players than expected show up, whereas for smaller clubs 2 or 3 more players in their tournament makes a huge difference. When I was "Mr Canterbury" (and Henk Jens did the same) to ensure the viability of an upcoming tournament due to Canterbury being a smaller club I would not just rely on email (like the bigger clubs do) but also telephone each club member (and people peripherally involved with the club) to maximise tournament numbers. If smaller clubs like Canterbury are to survive, then the NSWCA needs to promote their tournaments in a timely manner (for all practical purposes the emailing to NSWCA members of a club's tournament at 1 am on the first day the tournament starts is USELESS!).

I'm not as involved in NSW chess as I used to be (although I am currently playing in the North Sydney club championships), but I get the impression that some smaller clubs such as Wests and Mt Pritchard have essentially closed (and that tournaments involving smaller clubs such as "Interleagues Rapidplay" and "Interleagues Longplay" no longer exist). Should smaller Sydney clubs close and be absorbed by bigger Sydney chess clubs? The argument is an interesting one, but I think that the closure of smaller chess clubs will have an overall negative effect on chess. In simplistic terms (based on my past experience in running a smaller chess club) if a Sydney club of say 20 players (and theoretically assuming that all of them are not members of more than one chess club which at a club like Canterbury is not the case) closes down, then about 13-14 of those players would join neighbouring chess clubs and 6-7 would be lost to chess. This is probably a good thing for the larger chess clubs, but I think it is bad for the game as a whole, especially as adult chess in NSW is struggling for numbers.

It seems that my constructive idea of a few years ago when I was on the NSWCA Council (of having a yearly club delegates meeting) is either no longer done (or if it is the effectiveness of its original intention has been emasculated). While I agree that essentially it is up to the individual clubs (ie their organisers and members) to ensure their viability, at the same time surely the NSWCA could promote the tournaments of struggling smaller clubs properly?

Ian Rout
04-04-2009, 03:18 PM
In the ACT we have a mailing list, to which anyone can subscribe, used for circulating anything to do with chess (notices of upcoming tournaments, week by week results, discussion of occasional issues etc). In practice some clubs are much more vigorous than others in usng it publicise their events, but it's there if they want it.

This process (club posts to mailing list) strikes as a much more efficient process than that described by Paul (club e-mails to NSWCA, NSWCA posts to mailing list). The second stage is not adding any value, adds a delay and potential fail point, and is taking up another person's time that could be used for something else. It sounds like a hangover from the days of paper and ink communications.

Denis_Jessop
04-04-2009, 07:07 PM
In the ACT we have a mailing list, to which anyone can subscribe, used for circulating anything to do with chess (notices of upcoming tournaments, week by week results, discussion of occasional issues etc). In practice some clubs are much more vigorous than others in usng it publicise their events, but it's there if they want it.

This process (club posts to mailing list) strikes as a much more efficient process than that described by Paul (club e-mails to NSWCA, NSWCA posts to mailing list). The second stage is not adding any value, adds a delay and potential fail point, and is taking up another person's time that could be used for something else. It sounds like a hangover from the days of paper and ink communications.

I'm not sure how many people now subscibe to the ACT mailing list but I agree entirely with Ian, at least as far as the ACT is concerned. Not only is there an outlet for news from all the clubs and the ACTCA to be made available but there is also thereby a forum on which interested persons can discuss topical issues. This used to be a frequent feature in the past though it is now less so, perhaps because we have fewer active people in the ACT. But I note that the ACT list is a subscription list and does not necessarily go to all interested persons.

BTW Paul, if you had only three or four mentally disturbed members at Canterbury you were doing pretty well. :) That's about average for a medium sized chess club.

DJ

lemonruski
04-04-2009, 10:07 PM
I would like to shed a little more light on this situation, since Henk is making a complaint about what I am doing as the Communications Officer for NSWCA.

Last week, Henk specifically made a complaint (by email) about the last tournament advert going out late the night before his tournament was due to start. More than one council member has pointed out to him that this was in fact the second email that had included his tournament - it had actually been sent out 2 weeks earlier as well. Despite his knowledge of this, he is still going on and on about how he submitted it 2 weeks ago, and that we didn't put it out for ages, even though this is just rubbish.

I used to send out separate emails for specific events, but had many complaints from members, and requests to remove them from the mailing list. People don't seem to like being bombarded with lots of emails. Last year, the NSWCA Council decided that it would better serve the members to send out bulletins fortnightly at a set time. I sent an email to all those on the list (which included Henk) informing them of this change. On a few occasions, I have sent out extra bulletins if someone has submitted something very late or if there is a correction to make.

Sunday nights were chosen as the time to send out bulletins because this is a time when I knew I would almost always be available. I have an extremely hectic work schedule, and I am usually working 7 days a week - but generally I have the least work on Sundays. The bulletins are sent out late on Sundays because it is often around 11pm before I have a chance to sit down and do it. It is fantastic that Henk would like me to change my entire schedule to revolve around the optimum advertising time for his chess club, but I think this is quite an unreasonable request, especially when I am volunteering the extremely small amount of free time I have.

Don't get me wrong, I would like to do what I can to help out struggling clubs - I did email Henk with a few ideas about how he could use our email bulletins to serve his club better. But, I will absolutely not put up with someone trying to blame the NSWCA for their club's struggling numbers. It is absolutely ridiculous, considering that this is actually the first time Henk has mentioned needing extra help advertising his club. And I really think that there are better ways to ask a bunch of volunteers to help you - maybe go for fewer lies and insults, and people might be more inclined to give up even more of their time to give you a hand.

In the time you have spent this week making the same complaints over and over, even after realising that the main one was based on total rubbish, you could have actually done something constructive for your club. Or, maybe you could use some of your obviously abundant free time to volunteer on the NSWCA yourself - the club liaison position (which you also enjoy complaining about so much) is currently vacant.

Bill Gletsos
04-04-2009, 10:13 PM
The last three Canterbury events have all been Club events restricted to Canterbury club members and not Open events.

Basil
04-04-2009, 10:32 PM
Henk, get a grip/ clue.

It's a repeat of Queensland a few years ago.

Carry on!