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slyall
28-01-2019, 09:11 AM
What is up with Congress in 2019 and 2020 avoiding weekends?

Starting the 11-day events on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday means that people need to take 9 days of annual leave off. Whereas if they started on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday working people would only have to take 7 days of leave.

2019 was squashed by the Junior but does anyone know the reason for the 2020 dates?

Tony Dowden
28-01-2019, 10:20 AM
What is up with Congress in 2019 and 2020 avoiding weekends?

Starting the 11-day events on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday means that people need to take 9 days of annual leave off. Whereas if they started on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday working people would only have to take 7 days of leave.

... does anyone know the reason for the 2020 dates?

Good question Simon.

first25plus5
29-01-2019, 05:02 AM
Good question Simon. For the working class, it's also often harder to take annual leave later in January rather than earlier, as mid to late January is often when employers want people back to work.

CivicChessMan
02-02-2019, 08:01 AM
The Congress dates are affected by the George Trundle tournaments which are being held from January 4th to 12th. A better option may have been to run Congress from January 4th (Sat) to 14th (Tue) and then the Trundles from January 16th (Thu) to 24th (Fri). Mike Steadman and Bob Smith are the tournament organisers so they should be asked about the scheduling.

slyall
24-12-2019, 01:13 PM
and now I see that the 2020 North Island Champs is going to be just 7 rounds from Sunday to Saturday. 5 days off work for just one game a day.

Contrast this with the 2019 South Island champs that got 9 rounds in from Saturday to Thursday with just 1 round on the start and finish days so people could fly in and out.

Obviously targeting the " I'm getting too old to play two games a day " set.

ChrisBurns
25-12-2019, 12:11 AM
and now I see that the 2020 North Island Champs is going to be just 7 rounds from Sunday to Saturday. 5 days off work for just one game a day.

Contrast this with the 2019 South Island champs that got 9 rounds in from Saturday to Thursday with just 1 round on the start and finish days so people could fly in and out.

Obviously targeting the " I'm getting too old to play two games a day " set.
Well it has been spiced up with the 2 Blitz tournaments which would clash with the 2 rounds per day.

Craig_Hall
26-12-2019, 01:29 PM
North Island dates were set based on venue availability and Auckland traffic at traditional times. I had more leeway for Hanmer because there were no other events to work around.

slyall
26-12-2019, 06:13 PM
North Island dates were set based on venue availability and Auckland traffic at traditional times. I had more leeway for Hanmer because there were no other events to work around.

A 10am start will avoid the worst of the traffic but having a venue that doesn't allow for two events per day doesn't seem like a good idea.

I note that the NZCF President has expressed his concern about "low numbers participating in some traditional events" just in the last few days. I feel that one reason for this is the low amount of "chess per dollar" that many of the current events deliver, others point towards lack of quality overseas players or low-quality venues. I know we can never please everybody but it seems the percentage we are pleasing has dropped.

Perhaps a survey could be done (with an aim to capture as many active NZ players as possible) asking them what sort of tournaments they are after and likely to participate in. Perhaps various tournament options could be given (price, location, schedule, etc) and people asked how likely they would be to enter each.

Currently the Open and Major Open at Congress have just 63 players between them, while this will hopefully increase a bit before the start I think we should be aiming at something closer to 100.

Craig_Hall
27-12-2019, 10:24 AM
Every tournament is a survey in its own right - it's reasonably obvious what people want from what they play in.

The obvious answer to numbers in the NZCF events is to run them in Auckland or to find $30,000 sponsorship for Congress.

Most NZCF events also present issues in that they have a Rapid attached to them, so that has to be part of the planning, and will usually take at least one weekend day. Looking at the numbers, I don't know that anything other than the North Island is struggling that much, but since I'm on my phone, will have to leave analysis to another day.

timothyha
27-12-2019, 10:43 AM
Perhaps a survey could be done (with an aim to capture as many active NZ players as possible) asking them what sort of tournaments they are after and likely to participate in. Perhaps various tournament options could be given (price, location, schedule, etc) and people asked how likely they would be to enter each.

Yes, if this form comes to clubs (just don't distribute it only at Congress), then we could get a good picture.

braindied
27-12-2019, 11:51 AM
The Congress dates are affected by the George Trundle tournaments which are being held from January 4th to 12th. A better option may have been to run Congress from January 4th (Sat) to 14th (Tue) and then the Trundles from January 16th (Thu) to 24th (Fri). Mike Steadman and Bob Smith are the tournament organisers so they should be asked about the scheduling.

There was also the factor of not scheduling Congress at the same time as the Australian Championship, in the hope that some overseas players will play both.

braindied
27-12-2019, 11:59 AM
A 10am start will avoid the worst of the traffic but having a venue that doesn't allow for two events per day doesn't seem like a good idea.

I note that the NZCF President has expressed his concern about "low numbers participating in some traditional events" just in the last few days. I feel that one reason for this is the low amount of "chess per dollar" that many of the current events deliver, others point towards lack of quality overseas players or low-quality venues. I know we can never please everybody but it seems the percentage we are pleasing has dropped.

Perhaps a survey could be done (with an aim to capture as many active NZ players as possible) asking them what sort of tournaments they are after and likely to participate in. Perhaps various tournament options could be given (price, location, schedule, etc) and people asked how likely they would be to enter each.

Currently the Open and Major Open at Congress have just 63 players between them, while this will hopefully increase a bit before the start I think we should be aiming at something closer to 100.


Accommodation prices are not cheap, and the Tauranga/BOP area would have been even more expensive over New Year, with even the campgrounds crowded.

As the majority of players are in Auckland, an event in Auckland immediately gets a larger core of players who don't have to pay for a bed, just brave the motorways.

A few years ago 63 would have been considered a great success for a non-Auckland venue. To me, being a national championship, it should be quality over quantity, especially in these silly swiss events. Bring back the RR NZ Championship ;-)

slyall
27-12-2019, 06:28 PM
ATo me, being a national championship, it should be quality over quantity, especially in these silly swiss events. Bring back the RR NZ Championship ;-)

Well I have heard that at least one person has seriously proposed this to council. From memory it is roughly a 10-player round-robin (or 2) selected on basis of rating only (I forget if FIDE or NZCF) and then a large Swiss for everybody else. Minimal non-NZ players and a fairly low price (perhaps $100) in an Auckland venue.

Just holding in Auckland is not a magic bullet. The 2019 Congress only got around 95 players. Only about half in the Top grade were from New Zealand (which means it was successful at attracting overseas players). Perhaps 1/3 of the players over 2000 FIDE played.

braindied
27-12-2019, 07:22 PM
Well I have heard that at least one person has seriously proposed this to council. From memory it is roughly a 10-player round-robin (or 2) selected on basis of rating only (I forget if FIDE or NZCF) and then a large Swiss for everybody else. Minimal non-NZ players and a fairly low price (perhaps $100) in an Auckland venue.

Just holding in Auckland is not a magic bullet. The 2019 Congress only got around 95 players. Only about half in the Top grade were from New Zealand (which means it was successful at attracting overseas players). Perhaps 1/3 of the players over 2000 FIDE played.

First I heard of any proposal, serious or otherwise, to change the format.

I would be curious of those overseas players how many received assistance?. Seems to be part of the picture now. I like a NZ Open concept with all the glamour, venue and overseas players. Just not keen on giving the NZ Championship title to 10 players who didn't even win the event. Devalues the efforts of past winners in my view. Maybe one day a NZ Open and NZ Closed could occur.

Some will argue that the NZ Open gives norm chances that would otherwise be missing with a closed event. But titles should be earned, not given away as candy as some junior events do. All part of the new world...

I do recall the qualification method for the NZ Championship RR was fraught with problems as well. Protection of rating was common. With one place to the Premier Reserve winner (as the Major Open was then called), it did mean the PR was usually very strong, plus winners of NI and SI usually boosted those events. The theme of a qualification route usually works, even if someone feels hard done by, as an example the current FIDE Candidates process.

But I do know one thing, ask 100 players for an opinion and you will get 100 different views, with 60 of those getting passionate and dogmatic.

Unrated
28-12-2019, 06:55 AM
If it was held in Auckland, you would have easily got around 150 or even more . And yes, Quantity trumps the so called Quality ( which is not great at the best of time) any day.

Craig_Hall
28-12-2019, 05:21 PM
If it was held in Auckland, you would have easily got around 150 or even more . And yes, Quantity trumps the so called Quality ( which is not great at the best of time) any day.

The biggest Auckland event I could find was the 2017 Zonal which got 140 across both events, and the biggest Auckland Congress was Devonport in 2016 which got 118 across both events. Biggest ever event is the first Queenstown classic (193) which was also a Congress. Of those, the event with the most NZL players was Devonport with 86 (Zonal got 70, Queenstown got 73).

Events outside Auckland and Queenstown tend to get 50-60 players, although Palmerston North attracted 84 in 2018.

Realistically, 100+ is hard to get anywhere without a massive prize fund, and even then, you either need Auckland to turn out or a stack of Australians.

Craig_Hall
28-12-2019, 06:20 PM
As a question for readers, what does success look like? What are the key metrics for Congress? Here are some I can think of:


Number of players
Number of NZ players
Number of non-NZ players
Number of titled players/GMs/IMs/WGMs/WIMs
Number of players above 2400 (or any other rating)
Number of NZ players from rating list top 10/20/30/etc
Number or percentage of players from NZ rating list e.g. above 2000
Number of female players
Number of junior players
Number of Maori/PI/other ethnicity players
Percentage of entries are females/juniors/ethnicities
Average rating of top 10/20/etc
Availability/achievement of norms
Size of Prize fund
Size of First prize
Tournament breaks even/makes a surplus
Quality of venue


Which of those are most important? Congress has tended towards size, titled players & norm availability, prize fund and venue quality, but as can be seen from my non-exhaustive list, there are plenty of other metrics available.

I am looking at bidding to organise Congress in Christchurch in 2021-22. The dates are actually quite awkward once the Rapid is taken into account. Some options for dates are:

28 Dec - 5 Jan, Rapid 6-7 i.e. Tue-Wed with Rapid Thu-Fri
30 Dec - 7 Jan, Rapid 8-9 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun
1-9 Jan, Rapid 10-11 i.e. Sat-Sun with Rapid Mon-Tue (minimum leave days for most but makes the Rapid a bit of an orphan)
6-14 Jan, Rapid 15-16 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun

Or something else in between. I lean towards the last because I think having the Rapid on the weekend is a good idea, but there are obviously pros and cons for all options.

slyall
28-12-2019, 10:34 PM
I am looking at bidding to organise Congress in Christchurch in 2021-22. The dates are actually quite awkward once the Rapid is taken into account. Some options for dates are:

28 Dec - 5 Jan, Rapid 6-7 i.e. Tue-Wed with Rapid Thu-Fri
30 Dec - 7 Jan, Rapid 8-9 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun
1-9 Jan, Rapid 10-11 i.e. Sat-Sun with Rapid Mon-Tue (minimum leave days for most but makes the Rapid a bit of an orphan)
6-14 Jan, Rapid 15-16 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun

Or something else in between. I lean towards the last because I think having the Rapid on the weekend is a good idea, but there are obviously pros and cons for all options.

Remember that the 3rd and 4th are public Holidays since the 1st and 2nd are on weekends. This makes the start on the 30th quite good since you have only 5 days of leave needed ( Thur 30, Fri 31, Wed 5, Thur 6, Fri 7 ) and most companies will be shutdown for at least the first 2.

Craig_Hall
29-12-2019, 09:39 AM
Remember that the 3rd and 4th are public Holidays since the 1st and 2nd are on weekends. This makes the start on the 30th quite good since you have only 5 days of leave needed ( Thur 30, Fri 31, Wed 5, Thur 6, Fri 7 ) and most companies will be shutdown for at least the first 2.

27-28 are also holidays for many since 25-26 are also on the weekend, so running the traditional Congress per the Tournament Rules (starting on the 28th or 2nd, 9 rounds in this case) would minimise leave further - 28, 29, 30, 31, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Rapid 6-7. Rather depends on how important minimising leave is, compared to how important it is for people to spend New Year with their families before travelling. Minimising the impact on the workers might be important, but not much use if their families won't let them travel.

Keong Ang
29-12-2019, 01:32 PM
Some numbers for NZ Chess Congress participation rates over last 10 years.



Congress Participation

Year Location Congress (Champs/Open + Major) NZ Champs/Open NZ Major
Total Foreign NZL Total Foreign NZL Total Foreign NZL
2010 Greenlane, AKL 76 2 74 28 1 27 48 1 47
2011 Greenlane, AKL 79 0 79 26 0 26 53 0 53
2012 Queenstown 148 84 64 148 84 64 0 0 0
2013 Wellington 54 4 50 18 1 17 36 3 33
2014 Greenlane, AKL 79 4 75 30 3 27 49 1 48
2015 Devonport, AKL 115 37 78 115 37 78 0 0 0
2016 Devonport, AKL 118 32 86 66 21 45 52 11 41
2017 Wellington 58 12 46 58 12 46 0 0 0
2018 Palmerston North 82 19 63 38 12 26 44 7 37
2019 Waipuna, AKL 95 30 65 47 25 22 48 5 43
2020 Tauranga 64 13 51 36 10 26 28 3 25


We have never got 150 players in NZ Congress in a decade. Only glitzy and costly 2012, 2015, 2016 NZ Open had more than 100 players and that is due to the increased foreign player numbers.

NZL player participation is quite stable and predictable. Around 80 if held in Auckland in early January with 20% reduction whenever in late January.
If held out of Auckland in early January, subtract about 20% NZL participation.
NZL players seem to dislike playing in Wellington.

For some context, in December 2019, NZL has only got 245 active FIDE rated players. 150 of whom would probably think they are strong enough to play in Congress. This 150 is effectively the total number of players spread over the whole country to "sell" Congress to. From this point on it becomes trying to figure out how many would "buy" Congress, meaning how many NZL players would potentially participate.
40 to 50 would be financially able to travel and stay out of town to play in Congress (out of towners who can afford to "buy"). Subtract this 40 or 50 from the 150, then look for the remaining players within commuting distance to Congress venue who can afford the entry fee (within towners who can afford to "buy"). This would give the maximum potential NZL players who would participate in Congress.
From this maximum potential NZL players who would participate in Congress, subtract potential numbers of players who do not have time to turn up:
eg.
Players with family commitments.
Working adults who may not have time due to work commitments.
Out of town Juniors who have such working adult parents/caregivers.

This gives number of potential NZL players available to market any NZ Congress to.
Hence NZL participation numbers for Congress that have held true for the last 10 years.
Early January:
Around 80 in Auckland.
Around 60 rest of NZ.
Late January subtract 20% or more. Effectively late January is the Congress time slot for the "retired or idle rich".

Higher participation numbers usually have glitzy and costly Congress that gets less than 10 extra NZL players. Shows rapid diminishing return on investment in attracting NZL players.

When NZ Open and NZ Major are separate, it demonstrates price point sensitivity to entry fees.
NZL players generally accept entry fees that work out to around $10 per round. Slightly more for a pinnacle event like NZ Champs/Open and slightly less for everything else.
Whenever entry fees are above this price point, NZL players participation tends to be less than expected. Price insensitivity by NZL players in late January "retired or idle rich" Congress indicates the higher socio economic demographic of these NZL players who can be ripped off.

NZ Open tends to have punitive entry fee structure to exclude low rated players while ostensibly still remaining "open". Theoretically to increase NZL player norm chances but practically unsuccessful. Meanwhile there is perennial dissatisfaction expressed over the current way to become NZ Champion. Current swiss system NZ Open with invited foreign GMs mixed in should be scrapped.
Instead there should be an 11 round single round robin NZ Championship composed of players who are automatically and compulsorily selected from the top 12 NZL players by FIDE standard rating who entered to play in Congress. The rest would play in the 9 round NZ Open. There will necessarily be several double round days. Such a Congress would be held in early January with $100 entry fee for NZ Champs/Open for all players. Congress schedule would utilise public holidays and weekends while minimising use of working days.
I believe this is the Congress format demanded for years by Auckland Chess Centre (practically the organiser of last resort of all official NZCF events other than South Island Champs) if it were to organise a NZ Congress. Guess this is why Auckland Chess Centre has not organised the NZ Congress since. Maybe explains why NZCF seems to be throwing Kasparov Chess Asia Pacific annual grants at any other organiser of NZ Congress. It is an annual financial treadmill reality that NZCF experiences as long as NZCF wants to be able to set the terms for official events.

braindied
29-12-2019, 03:54 PM
Some numbers for NZ Chess Congress participation rates over last 10 years.



Congress Participation

Year Location Congress (Champs/Open + Major) NZ Champs/Open NZ Major
Total Foreign NZL Total Foreign NZL Total Foreign NZL
2010 Greenlane, AKL 76 2 74 28 1 27 48 1 47
2011 Greenlane, AKL 79 0 79 26 0 26 53 0 53
2012 Queenstown 148 84 64 148 84 64 0 0 0
2013 Wellington 54 4 50 18 1 17 36 3 33
2014 Greenlane, AKL 79 4 75 30 3 27 49 1 48
2015 Devonport, AKL 115 37 78 115 37 78 0 0 0
2016 Devonport, AKL 118 32 86 66 21 45 52 11 41
2017 Wellington 58 12 46 58 12 46 0 0 0
2018 Palmerston North 82 19 63 38 12 26 44 7 37
2019 Waipuna, AKL 95 30 65 47 25 22 48 5 43
2020 Tauranga 64 13 51 36 10 26 28 3 25


We have never got 150 players in NZ Congress in a decade. Only glitzy and costly 2012, 2015, 2016 NZ Open had more than 100 players and that is due to the increased foreign player numbers.

I believe this is the Congress format demanded for years by Auckland Chess Centre .


I guess that answers my earlier question...."demanded"!

Looking at a few earlier random Congresses:
98/99 12+24 in Dunedin
95/96 12+12+40 in Wellington
93/94 12+12+22 in Invercargill
91/92 12+52 in Dunedin
90/91 12+12+60 in Auckland
83/84 12+98 in Auckland
80/81 12+55 in Lincoln Uni (near ChCh)
78/79 12+59 in Wellington
75/76 12+88 in Upper Hutt
73/74 12+50 in Nelson

Much different from today??

None of those with overseas players, almost no players with FIDE ratings (and FIDE stopped at 2000+ anyway), all with the traditional 26/12-9/1 format, and, as an example, Auckland in 83/84 offering very cheap accommodation at the Hospital Nurses Hostel.
The availability of school/university dorm accommodation was popular then, cheap, and occupied by all and sundry. No snobbery seemed to exist on expecting 4* hotels. Any playing venues were no worse than today.
A lot more university age players back then - who could afford the cheaper accommodation and a bit of time away from trying to pay education costs with the summer job. Plus, a lot more NZ businesses closed for that period with compulsory holiday time - a thing of the past.
Prize money and entry fee were less (though allowing for inflation, not much in it).

Back then the common view was that Aucklanders didn't travel (except the top few) as they had enough opportunities locally. Maybe still true?

I think the data shows not much has changed.....

Craig_Hall
29-12-2019, 10:22 PM
I wouldn't put the Auckland late January reduction at 20% since it's only been run once then, and had the Trundle and Oceania Youth preceding it, as well as a junior event during it, all of which very likely impacted numbers to some extent. I used NZL as an easy marker for working out locals vs non-locals, but it's also worth noting that there is a small contingent of local NZ players registered to other federations as well as dual NZ citizens overseas (primarily Australians for this discussion) who are NZ players for the purposes of eligibility for NZ champion.

All that said, Keong's analysis is excellent, and it comes back to decisions about what the best metrics actually are.

Something I've noticed as an organiser is a difference between attracting locals and travellers - locals (in Chch at least) are price sensitive to the entry fee (as their principal cost), but travellers are higher for bigger prize funds (since their main cost is accommodation), which usually require higher entry fees to fund, so trying to balance that can be difficult and frustrating. At least Congress provides a lower cost tournament to help offset that issue. The last Christchurch Congress (2001-02) got 50 players, so not a great turnout but was about average outside Auckland at the time. Attracting budget-conscious travellers is mostly a matter of having hostels/backpackers and cheap motels in walking distance.

In terms of budget, cost of conditions for IMs/GMs/Arbiters for accommodation is around $1000 each if they are willing to share a room or $2000 each if not. Flights are additional - $400 - $600 round trip from Aus, $1000 - $2000 from elsewhere. A big reason to hold 2019 and 2020 Congresses in mid-January was to tie in with the Trundle which paid for the travel.

4 star hotels usually cost around $1000/day as tournament venues, so that's another $9,000 to find from somewhere, plus the Rapid. Add in conditions as above and you're looking at up to $20,000 before prizes and anything else money has to be spent on. With 100 or so paid entries at $200 average, essentially the sponsorship has to cover the prizes.

Limiting conditions to players is doable, and playing somewhere cheaper sounds like an option but the sheer size of Congress makes that hard - the playing area should be at least 2m2 per player, and for my planning, I have to be able to cope with 100 players, but might only get 60, so I have to find at least 200m2 plus a decent size analysis room/area. There are not many venues in Christchurch of that size in a reasonable location and with the adequate second room and parking, so options are limited, and unlikely to cost less than $1000/day.

Just a taste of what goes into planning Congress...

Tony Dowden
29-12-2019, 10:57 PM
As a question for readers ...

I am looking at bidding to organise Congress in Christchurch in 2021-22 ...

28 Dec - 5 Jan, Rapid 6-7 i.e. Tue-Wed with Rapid Thu-Fri
30 Dec - 7 Jan, Rapid 8-9 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun
1-9 Jan, Rapid 10-11 i.e. Sat-Sun with Rapid Mon-Tue ...
6-14 Jan, Rapid 15-16 i.e. Thu-Fri with Rapid Sat-Sun ...

I prefer the first option starting on Dec 28, thanks.

braindied
30-12-2019, 11:57 PM
Interesting...Australian entries for their Congress in Sydney.. would suggest NZL is doing very well given the population of Sydney alone exceeds the whole of NZL

Champs entries - 2018 34, 2020 19 at present
Reserves - 2018 100, 2020 88 at present
Classic - 2018 65, 2020 47 at present