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4NCL
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Sean



Joined: 29 Jun 2006
Posts: 315
Location: Not in Gibraltar

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 1:31 pm    Post subject: 4NCL Reply with quote

I dont know how many readers play in the 4NCL, but there was a bit of an outcry this year with a move away from all Midlands venues and the introduction of some southern ones in Sunningdale.

The dates for next year have now been announced and there is a further move south. Nottingham has been dropped as a venue, and all divisions now play more games in Sunningdale than in all the remaining Midlands venues combined.

Just wondered what everyone thought of this?
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David



Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 768
Location: Sefton Park, Liverpool

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't currently play in the 4NCL but I'd like to in the future, SWMBO permitting Smile And I concede it would be a large disincentive if I had to schlep all the way down to Sunningdale or Wokefield Park (Reading) rather than Birmingham/Coventry/Nottingham etc. But I'm not prepared to join some parochial pillow-fight over Southern regional bias, not when I look at the facts.

OK, fact No. 1 is that people from the South & South-East do feel uncomfortable if required to travel outside the Home Counties. They find it tough adjusting to coarse Northerrn, or even Midlands, scorn for their prissy effeteness, their namby-pamby attitudes and absurd consonant-less accent. Such well-placed ridicule must be worth a piece in any games played north of the M4.

But fact No. 2 is that these limp Southern ninnies have tried. They really have tried to take the 4NCL into the savages' heartland. By choosing venues hitherto in and around Brum (and heartlands don't come more savage than this), the 4NCL has forced a pioneering wagon-train of ludicrously mushy, chicken-livered milk-sop Southern chess-players to trek 'Norf' several times a year. And for what? For a Brummagem balti and a night in the Paragon, is what Rolling Eyes If ever a hotel was named in optimism, it's the Paragon Very Happy

And fact No. 3 is that, as far as I can tell, only North West Eagles & 4Cs from Oldham, with Bristol and South Wales Dragons, have teams not drawn predominantly from the aforementioned 'softie zone'. So the softies have put their well-padded foot down with a resounding squish, and from 2007 will venture norf only twice.

Finally, fact No. 4 is that unless clubs in the North & Midlands field competitive teams, the centre of gravity for chess will remain in the Souf Sad

David
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Sean



Joined: 29 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair comment David, although I dont class Leicester as being in the souf!

BTW - If you do fancy a game, we can probably squeeze you in!

Cheers,

Sean
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s262jdd



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The 4NCL mentioned in its recent circular to captains that it will be seriously considering a northern venue in 2008/9, when one of the De Vere Venues' (formerly Verve Venues') conference centres comes on line with around 200 bedroom capacity. We did look for the 2007/8 season, but nothing suitable with the right combination of large bedroom capacity, free playing venue, suitable commission arrangements etc came to light - and as volunteers we only have so much time to invest in the search for hotels.

I echo the comments in some of the other emails - it would be great if more teams from the north entered the 4NCL. The more we have, the greater the incentive to select northern venues! Regrettably, as things stand, the preponderence of southern teams in the 4NCL does rather predetermine the choice of venues!
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wtfai



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking as a 4NCL captain I don't think there's any doubt that northern teams will struggle next year. Personally I was prepared to give it a try this year in the hope that it would be back to normal next year. My experience of Sunningdale was negative, nice place but the driving's a pain in the neck and there's nothing to do in the evening. Wokefield Park looks pretty much the same although I haven't been there myself, so maybe it'll be better.

The big problem for me has been that in more or less every captain's meeting where this has been discussed the concensus has been that we want venues big enough for three divisions, decent public transport access and a bit of nightlife, and ideally in the Midlands. They only seem to be able to find venues that fulfill one of these criteria, which seems odd given the number of decent midlands venues.

I don't see how we can have any more northern teams, because pretty much everyone who could play in divisions one or two is either playing or has been asked and declined, and most of those who could play in division three must've been asked at some point. I don't think they'd be enough players around to do more than add another fourth division team.

The other thing is that I've heard this idea of getting a northern venue a few times now from the organisers, but I've never heard anyone say that they actually wanted one. Personally I don't partly because I don't think it's fair to the southern players and partly because commuting would lose a lot of what makes the 4NCL special.
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s262jdd



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, it's not always easy easy to find suitable venues - not because of the three criteria you mention, which are relatively easy to fulfil, but because of the need to find hotels that are willing to provide a free playing venue, offer the 4NCL commission on bedroom take-up, provide complimentary accomodation for the arbiting team, etc etc, all of of which are key to keeping entry fees down. Without achieving these further criteria, entry fees would skyrocket. In particular, we have found that hotels in cities with a lively tourist trade and which therefore have little need of the 4NCL's business are especially reluctant to meet the 4NCL's financial requirements.

That said, we are always keen to hear from people who can help us with finding new hotels! Do please contact the 4NCL if you think you can help.

I'm a bit surprised at the comment that there aren't enough northern players to provide many more Division 4 teams. Certainly, an increase in the number of northern teams would be a welcome boost to the 4NCL and would provide further encouragement for us to look at rebalancing the mix between northern/central/southern venues.
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David



Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 768
Location: Sefton Park, Liverpool

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whatever else I say here, can I say first that I think 4NCL people have done chess proud over the last few years. It may have diminished the proper inter-county championships; it has all but killed off the National Clubs Championship which I helped Atticus CC to win in 1977 when the title really meant something (only five teams now enter nation-wide). There was alot more travelling for that once you cleared the regional rounds. But the 4NCL has not only addressed, if not solved, the issue of travelling by running a team event as a residential weekend congress, it has also driven up quality, and sought to boost chess for women. And on the specifics of venue location, it's hard to see what more 4NCL could do to accommodate teams from the North, or West or similar. Indeed, if a venue were chosen purely for equidistance between 4NCL players, then even Sunningdale would be too far north Very Happy

So I'm a big fan of 4NCL and the values that drive it, especially since the project was 'self-started' by enterprising players who didn't wait for clueless BCF (ECF) or the semi-redundant regional unions to get it going. It's been a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for British chess; organises a fine weekend national/international chess community; and maintains a very professional (if not very pretty Wink ) website. So, chapeaux! Cool

That said, the venue shift looks to me like retrenchment, albeit forced by circumstances and chess economics. 'wtfai' is right to be pessimistic about the readiness of northern players to travel 200+ miles south and back over a weekend. It's one thing to do the drive, quite another to arrive and play five hours on Saturday afternoon; then get duffed up twice on Sunday, and trundle back up the M6 in a state of catatonic depression Sad Actually, it's bad if that happens just round the corner too, but you get my point Very Happy

Then there's the 'chicken-and-egg' situation. I'd like Atticus to play in the 4NCL. We're strong enough to survive in Div II, certainly in Div III, even without those members who already play for NW Eagles or S Wales Dragons. But I doubt I could persuade enough club members to trek three/four times a year down to Berkshire. And if we were to prevail upon our members currently in other teams to play for Atticus, that would be a zero-sum exercise - weakening NW Eagles etc and making life harder for captains like 'wtfai'. So we throw in our lot with NW Eagles, and run a 3rd team? Maybe that could be done. But it hardly broadens representation from the North.

That brings me finally to 'wtfai's' point about capacity. He's right, but not entirely right, to claim that everyone who can (ie wants to) play from the North(West), is playing. It's probably true for Div I; but it isn't true for Div II or below. At some point, we need to have a fresh think about what can be done. Part of the attraction of 4NCL is, as has been mentioned, the 'mateship' of the event. I've no idea whether a composite team like NW Eagles generates much of that. But it would be a selling point amongst Atticus players, and possibly for others within the local area here. Whether that is something best achieved under the umbrella of NW Eagles, or separately, I'm open-minded. But there may be more capacity, but not alot more, than 'wtfai' allows.

(Sorry about the 'wtfai' business, by the way. Admin privileges allow me to know the real person behind the ID, so I know who I'm addressing Smile , but our protocols on anonymity rightly forbid me revealing even a forename unless the poster does so first)

David
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s262jdd



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David

Many thanks for your kind words about the 4NCL - much appreciated.

Something we have talked about on a number of occasions in the past is whether in due course we could regionalise the 4NCL in Division 4 on, in the first instance, a north/south basis (with maybe west and east to follow in due course) - played under the same conditions and to the same standards as the present Division 4. The discussion has always stalled because of the critical mass issue - there just aren't enough teams from the north, and indeed the midlands, to make this a sensible proposition at the moment. Out of the 34 teams in Divison 4 (Warwickshire 2 having just withdrawn), only around 8 or so come from the north and the midlands. To make a regional split viable, we would need something like 20 teams at least for each region. So to a certain degree it's in the hands of the northern and central teams - if we could get the team numbers up significantly it would certainly make a regional Division 4 a distinct possibility.

Of course the question then arises as to whether regionalisation would add to or detract from the the "atmosphere" of the 4NCL - eg the ability at present to play teams and meet with players from far afield that one would normally not cross swords with - but I guess that's a whole different debate............
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wtfai



Joined: 18 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just for anyone who doesn't know, wtfai=Ben Hague. It's not something I try to keep a secret, but it seems to be the done thing to use an alias on the internet and who am I to argue?

I'm not convinced about Atticus' ability to field a team in second or third division, even with the NW Eagles and SW Dragons players. I'd say that the first division is 200+, second is 200-180, and the third is 190-170, so maybe just about, but without any margin for error. So, given that Atticus is the biggest club I'm aware of in the NW we do seem to be forced into composite teams. This does affect "mateship" a bit, I'd say that normally about half the team goes out together while the other half does their own thing.

I think that we could put more teams into the fourth division as a region, but the driving forces aren't really there. Players in the fourth division bracket, say 170 and down get a lot more chess through rapidplays and county matches, and it's also a lot easier to find testing opposition as well. And on top of that in the fourth division you don't get the chance to see the top players in action.

With regard to hotels there are at least three, i.e. Coventry, Paragon and Nottingham that seem to be suitable in every respect but which don't get much use. I know the Paragon is a bit run-down but it was very handy for the city centre. It does strike me that any hotel willing to give really good discounts is probably one that nobody wants to go to, and if nobody wants to go to it, there may well be a reason for that.
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David



Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 768
Location: Sefton Park, Liverpool

PostPosted: Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I accept Ben's doubt that Atticus CC alone could compete in Div II, maybe even Div III. If the latter even, we'd need to pull out every one of our best players every game - improbable in truth. Alas, the days when a mere club can compete at the top level have gone; composite teams rule, in chess as in soccer.

But Div IV offers no attractions (to me). The whole idea, indeed the inspiration of the 4NCL, is that all reasonable chess players (ie 170+) shall sit down together. It's what made the recent EU Individual Open such a happy event, the idea of a shared community of educated chess. I don't what to come over too misty-eyed about this because practical considerations intrude; and indeed, lines must be drawn somewhere. But playing Div IV separately and elsewhere seems to be counter the ethos of 4NCL - unless I'm overly misty-eyed Very Happy

Returning to the Atticus example: if we alone as a club would be stretched to field a regular competitive team, it would be easier if 'Atticus' or even 'Liverpool' became the brand for the MCA region as a whole. But that would imply a policy of 'repatriating our exiles' and employing 'hired guns' in addition to fielding the best of the rest. Alas, the effect would be to dilute the strength of NW Eagles (to no good purpose) or to substitute for NW Eagles if successful (to no obvious better purpose either).

Ben is right, I'm sure, on the other point: players below 160 get plenty of opportunities these days to potter about at weekend rapidplays and inter-county 'sub-category' matches. 4NCL does need to be 'something else' - for the good of chess Smile

David
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s262jdd



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Question - if the 4NCL set up Div 4 on a regionalised north + central/south basis, with northern/central venues for the north/central region, could/would the northern and central regions raise enough teams to make this a viable proposition?

Only speculation at this stage of course............
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Red_Dalek



Joined: 30 Apr 2006
Posts: 184
Location: St Helens

PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

s262jdd wrote:
Question - if the 4NCL set up Div 4 on a regionalised north + central/south basis, with northern/central venues for the north/central region, could/would the northern and central regions raise enough teams to make this a viable proposition?

Only speculation at this stage of course............


Keeping the questions speculative and hypothetitcal....

How much would a Div 4 team expect to pay in terms of league entry and hotel bills over a season?
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s262jdd



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sun Dec 24, 2006 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Division 4 entry fees are currently 125, and room rates in the venues the 4NCL uses are currently 37-40 for singles and 51-56 for twins/doubles. The 4NCL website www.4ncl.co.uk gives a wealth of information on the league for anybody who is interested.
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Sean



Joined: 29 Jun 2006
Posts: 315
Location: Not in Gibraltar

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2006 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David wrote:

But Div IV offers no attractions (to me). The whole idea, indeed the inspiration of the 4NCL, is that all reasonable chess players (ie 170+) shall sit down together. It's what made the recent EU Individual Open such a happy event, the idea of a shared community of educated chess. I don't what to come over too misty-eyed about this because practical considerations intrude; and indeed, lines must be drawn somewhere. But playing Div IV separately and elsewhere seems to be counter the ethos of 4NCL - unless I'm overly misty-eyed Very Happy


As far as I'm aware, the only way for a team to play in Div 3 of the 4NCL is to achieve promotion from Div 4 (if i'm wrong, someone will no doubt correct me!). So all new sides have to start at the bottom.

That said, at least half a dozen sides in div 4 average 2100+ (170 ECF) and many more average over 2000. I'm not sure that it's as weak as you perceive!
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David



Joined: 29 Apr 2006
Posts: 768
Location: Sefton Park, Liverpool

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This can't possibly be true, Sean. If it is, the 4NCL is just a cosy closed network, and will die the death over time.

Consider the following example: I arrange sponsorship for the 'Atticus Allstars'; I recruit several GMs from Bosnia, Latvia and Belarus @ 40 per dozen; the Elo average for the AAs is now 2570. You tell me the AAs must now spend a year in Div 4, and not get a pop at Div 1 until 2010? That's the surest way to kill off new interest, and I don't believe the 4NCL would be that stoopud Confused

David
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Sean



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2006 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've just checked the rules on the 4NCL website.

Quote:
11.4 In the event that existing teams decide not to renew their entries, teams in the relevant division that would otherwise have been relegated at the end of the season will not be relegated (starting with the relegated team finishing in the highest position, and so on down the relegated teams). In the event that the number of teams not renewing their entries exceeds the number of relegated teams, extra teams will be promoted from the lower division after applying the provisions in the first section of this rule, and so on down the divisions as necessary.


That seems to nail it. If someone pulls out, one team less is relegated. If more teams pull out than need relegating, then additional teams are promoted to fill the gap. No leeway to slot in new teams.

Atticus Allstars will need to start in Div4!!!
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