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Thread: 5A-2 DISCUSSION - Chess after COVID

  1. #1
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    Default 5A-2 DISCUSSION - Chess after COVID

    General discussion on where we're at as of May 2023. Comments either on the national situation or in your province are most welcome.

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    In the last year the membership of the chess federation of Canada has grown from 2500 to over 4000. Tournament organizers are reporting that many of the new members are totally new to over the board chess. Likely this is due to two factors. The first is the Netflix show "The Queen's Gambit" and the Covid lockdowns which sent chessplayers and non-chessplayers alike online in search of intellectual stimulation.

    "The Queen's Gambit," a highly successful Netflix series released in late 2020, showcased the game of chess in a captivating and engaging manner. The show's portrayal of a young female prodigy navigating the world of competitive chess inspired many viewers and sparked a renewed interest in the game. The exposure and positive reception of "The Queen's Gambit" likely contributed to an increased curiosity and desire among Canadians to learn and participate in chess.

    Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on social activities led to a surge in online gaming, including chess. With people spending more time at home, online chess platforms provided a convenient and accessible way to engage in intellectual challenges and connect with others. The rise in online chess communities and tournaments offered opportunities for players of all skill levels to improve their game and participate in competitive events virtually. This shift towards online chess during the pandemic likely played a significant role in attracting new members to the chess federation of Canada.

    It is likely that Canadian chess personalities like Eric Hansen, Aman Hambleton, Alexandra and Andrea Botez, and Qiyu Zhou also contributed to the upsurge because of the popularity of their online offerings.
    Last edited by Vladimir Drkulec; 05-27-2023 at 10:49 PM.

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    4000 members is a great number, which helps to organizers and improves the financial situation in general. The main problem I see right now is a significant drop in average rating in Open (top, masters...) sections. It looks like the CFC has more 1000+ active players and less 2000+ active players compare to pre-pandemic period.

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    4000 CFC members can be viewed as providing CFC with either problems or opportunities; or both. What can our chess community proactively do, or in some cases, keep on doing, to retain AND grow these excited and enthusiastic new and returning CFC members? Note that this is not a “one size fits all” situation. There are different segments with different needs. What do the higher rated / master level players want? What do the near-master level players want? How about the intermediates and grassroot segments? In BC, there are a great many players coming out to 1-day CFC active rated, rapid tournaments. New players who got “bit by the chess bug” during the pandemic when they were playing online 15+10 games and tournaments, have carried forward their newly found or rediscovered passion for chess to over-the-board tournaments. Even the master-level players have come out to play in the rapids.

    If some people think there are problems, let’s spell it out and see if we can develop a plan to fix things; if we see there are opportunities to continue to promote chess, let’s identify those segments too, all the while also having a plan to continue to service our current segments of players to keep them satisfied. If people feel this is an important topic, we can start by addressing:

    1. What are the problems / potential problems? And what are the suggested solutions?

    2. What is going well and needs to continue to be supported?

    3. How can CFC best play a role in this?

  5. #5
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    Please find the results of the anonymous survey I did back in November. Opening a Dialogue with CFC:
    I. Most of the participants are from 1) Ontario and 2) Quebec.
    II. The majority likes to play both, indoors and outdoors.
    III. Most of the people are not happy with the chess scene in their area. They would like to see more: 1) OTB tournaments (CFC rated/rapid). 2) There is a lack of chess clubs in their area.
    IV. Suggestions to improve chess in Canada: 1) more chess education and training (in English and in French, in schools); 2) more OTB tournaments; 3) public simuls with top players in malls and chess festivals.
    V. Top voted players to go to the next Chess Olympiad: 1) IM Shawn Rodrigue-Lemieux (most popular), 2) GM Eric Hansen, 3) GM Evgeny Bareev.
    VI. What type of content you’d like to see here: 1) interviews, 2) games analysis & learning material, 3) local club news, 4) upcoming tournaments & events, 5) commentary on top Canadian events.
    VII. The majority likes the way CFC operates (thank you!) but would like to see the following improvements: 1) more events and tournaments, 2) more support for young talented/titled/female players,3) better website, 4) bi-monthly magazine, 5) more clubs.
    Thanks for participating everyone!

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    Couple thoughts and issues:

    A. During covid many kids played online in the CFC rated events. They got CFC #, however, seems not many are aware or forgot about that. Now they come to OTB events and register with the CFC again. Thus two # are for one person. Emails go back and forward to figure out is it the same person or a new...

    B. The CFC has a great initiative to support the junior chess through the CFC membership-not-required for only-junior events. To ease the life for organizers, it would be great that such kids (or their) parents would be able to create the CFC # themself in advance. Now they can do that only by registering for the membership.

    C. At the club we noticed a shift towards the younger and younger participation. This is cool and hot at the same time. To handle bunch of kids without destroying the joy of play is a serious task.
    .*-1

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    Your point A is extremely important.

    I remember some 20 years ago we had 2 players with the same name in BC - one was about 1300 the other 2300+ both juniors. One in Dawson Creek BC (which is north of Edmonton) the other in Vancouver. The then CFC director verified that they were in fact two different people but you can imagine the schmozzle at the time.

    I do think verification of CFC #s for these juniors is important - and it is important to get their personal information notably address - to distinguish them. When the CFC started this program it wasn't intended as a gift - the CFC was in the books + equipment business and the whole point was to market B+E to their parents. I remember several times hearing the CFC president vent about TDs who didn't think address info was important but both for distinguishing players with the same name and in marketing it was crucial.

    It still IS crucial to protect the integrity of our rating system even though we're no longer doing B+E.

    All of this is of course independent of our pandemic experience and something we should expect parents + TDs to be paying attention to.

  8. #8
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    Interesting you say this about younger and younger participation. Like draws to like. Because kids see other kids, they come and join your club. You need to plant more adults there, so more adults come!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor Plotkin View Post
    4000 members is a great number, which helps to organizers and improves the financial situation in general. The main problem I see right now is a significant drop in average rating in Open (top, masters...) sections. It looks like the CFC has more 1000+ active players and less 2000+ active players compare to pre-pandemic period.
    I think it is harder for an older player to get back into tournament chess after an absence such as we had for Covid. It would be interesting if we could find the age composition of some of these open tournaments. I find that there are many adults that are curious about tournament chess due to the Queen's Gambit and playing online during the lockdowns. They are interested in getting better and make use of online resources to get better at chess. Unfortunately they are busy people who tend to lead successful lives outside of chess and sometimes life intrudes on their forward progress in the chess arena.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egidijus Zeromskis View Post
    Couple thoughts and issues:

    A. During covid many kids played online in the CFC rated events. They got CFC #, however, seems not many are aware or forgot about that. Now they come to OTB events and register with the CFC again. Thus two # are for one person. Emails go back and forward to figure out is it the same person or a new...

    B. The CFC has a great initiative to support the junior chess through the CFC membership-not-required for only-junior events. To ease the life for organizers, it would be great that such kids (or their) parents would be able to create the CFC # themself in advance. Now they can do that only by registering for the membership.

    C. At the club we noticed a shift towards the younger and younger participation. This is cool and hot at the same time. To handle bunch of kids without destroying the joy of play is a serious task.
    Actually the kids can register for a CFC number without having to pay a membership. Our youth coordinator Christina Tao has walked many players through the process in order to allow them to play in her tournaments here in Windsor and elsewhere.

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