Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aussie Open in Trouble

(NOTICE: This post has been edited from its original version with the addition of a direct quote from Peter Parr).

With only about a fortnight to go before the first round kicks off - the 2009 Australian Open Chess Championships, to be held in the northern Sydney suburb of Manly, is showing signs of being nothing more than an oversized weekender. The event appears to be beset with serious problems.

At the time of this writing, the highest-rated player is IM George Xie, followed by IM Mark Chapman (of South Australia) and two FIDE masters. Those four are the only titled players, local or foreign, who have so far entered the event. In contrast to the Australian Open, our Kiwi neighbours have attracted some serious ELO firepower to their upcoming Queenstown tournament to be held from 15th to 26th January. There are a number of familiar grandmasters - including Peter Wells (England), Klaus Bischoff (Germany), Eduardas Rozentalis (Lithuania) plus more - as well as international masters and FMs. There are also Australians who are listed as confirmed for the New Zealand tournament, but not for the Australian Open - for example, IMs Guy West, Solomon and David Smerdon.

Then this afternoon came further shock! Peter Parr, proprietor of Chess Discount Sales, withdrew his sponsorship which was valued, according to him, at AUD$5000.

Mr Parr (in a later email to myself): "This morning I was advised by email from the NSWCA President and ACF Deputy President Bill Gletsos that the Australian Chess Federation and the New South Wales Chess Association have not accepted my long standing offer of sponsorship. I therefore had no alternative but to withdraw my offer this afternoon."

This development means that the message currently appearing on the Australian Open homepage which promises a free copy of Informator or a glass chess set to each of the first 100 entrants is no longer valid.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, I've just now also learned that one of the organising committee members for the Australian Open, Chris Dimock, has also resigned. At present, Mr Dimock is listed as the contact for the Australian Open event.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

maybe the Aussie Champs should be held in New Zealand ?

Shaun Press said...

I've got to feel some sympathy for Chris Dimock as he was in a difficult position. When it was announced that Manly had won the bid for the Australian Open, Stephen Mugford contacted him to share the experience he (and I) had in organising the 2006/7 Australian Open in Canberra. The first thing Stephen asked him was had he read the report on the 06/7 Australian Open that Stephen and I produced for the Australian Chess Federation. "What report?" was the reply. "Oh, the ACF didn't send you a copy", said Stephen. He then sent Chris a copy of the report. Lets just say the issues surrounding the viability of the Australian Open came as somewhat of a surprise to him. It is to his credit that he stuck at it for as long as he did.

Denis jessop said...

I don't think that Chris Dimock was the prime mover in the Open bid which is why his resignation has had no effiect on it.

Moreover neither I nor several other ACF Councillors accept the validity of the hypotheses in the report of the 2007 event which we believe were based on false premises.

I am very disappointed to see that you, Amiel, have passed on some garbage presented to you by Peter Parr without seeking first to find out the facts. There is more to the matter than appears and all that yor blog has done is to denigrate the Open and its organisers which is to the detriment of Australian chess.

On another aspect, there is no doubt that the Queenstown event has bigger prize money and much bigger sponsorship than the Open organisers could hope for but the two events don't clash. What do clash are the Open and the Aus juniors in Adelaide and we have known all along that some players prefer coaching in Adelaide to playing in Sydney. This ckash, to avoid a clash with Queenstown, was thought to be preferable to a clash with Queenstown.

DJ

Alex said...

You're not fooling anyone Dennis.

Peter Parr is nine times out of ten completely on the mark in his observations on chess administration. He is astute and calls them like he sees them.

The fact that this debacle reflects poorly on the ACF is no fault of Peter's. Perhaps you and your ACF mates should take some responsibility for a change.

Best Regards,

Alex Toolsie

Anonymous said...

for an aust open to be very successful all the factors have to be in it's favour. negatives for manly rsl are: only accessible by road (and military/pittwater/spit bridge is one big bottleneck - maybe sydney's biggest!), clashes with juniors (this is a big one!), hotel choices are rsl hotel or beach hotels (expensive in jan/feb!). advertising has to be early and widespread (internet, print, word of mouth). organisers have to talk to top players and given incentives to play.

Trent Parker said...

I do not believe that Peter Parr's "sponsorship is really worth anything anyway. the sponsorship was "a free glass chess set or Informant for each early entrant"

1/ chess player's are entering the tournament..... I think theyd already have a chess set

2/ Not every one is going to want a Myriad of games without explanations. This may only appeal to top players.

If it was $5000 straight to the Tournament then it might be different. Why doesn't Peter parr offer a sponsorship of $5000 to cover costs and keep the inventory for sale?

It is not up to the NSWCA or ACF or Manly Chess club to accept the sponsorship. It is up to the organisers of the tournament which is not the ACF, NSWCA or Manly CC to accept Peter Parr's sponsorship.

As for myself I am unfortunately unable to play (but I really want to) due to not being elligible for annual leave at that time.

Regards

Trent Parker

NB the above comments is my opinion only.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Trent Parker's comments that Peter Parr's sponsorship isn't really worth anything, as he says, that's his very own personal opinion. Perhaps not 5000 dollars, but definitely worth something.
I'd like to add, however, that since he makes such a comment, perhaps he'd like to give the participants (out of his own pocket) something of equivalent worth? The games in chess informant ARE commented, and they are of very high quality. And as for the glass chess sets, I think we all spend a fair bit of money buying presents, so if we don't have the need for one, we can always give it to someone else and save a few bucks by not having to buy a present (by the way, non-chess players usually love those).

But what I find really shocking is that it was turned down without a clear explanation. I mean, it's not like if either the ACF or the NSWCA are swimming in "abundance" of resources, is it?
The question I'd like to present here is: Who is in charge of these, how would I put it, "quadruple question mark" decisions???? Because to me, it sounds like a personal decision based on a dislike for Peter Parr, a personal decision which has only caused the tournament even more harm.
Very sad... Australian chess needs people who think positively. Some of the things that are happening sound so bloody retrograde!

Anonymous said...

"I do not believe that Peter Parr's "sponsorship is really worth anything anyway. the sponsorship was "a free glass chess set or Informant for each early entrant""

Wow - that's the way to get a sponsor back. The cost to a company or supplier of goods donated like this is always inflated. They may well be donating surplus, out-of-date or cheap stock but it doesn't make it worth nothing.

There are two major events in Australian chess running in January and both are struggling for entries. Let's hope they get the entries and have good events but let's not sit on our hands and pretend it's OK to learn nothing from past events (the good and the bad) or that it makes any sense to slap your sponsors around whether theyu donate $100 worth of free pizza or $10 000 cash.

Trent Parker said...

maybe I have selected some bad wording but at least i have the nuts to put my name to my comments.

Maybe its not totally worthless but If I had a business to promote then yes I'd consider giving the organisers 5000 or more. But I don't so I won't

Chess players would enter the tournament regardless of recieving an informant or gleass chess set or not.

And how does anonymous know that there was not a clear explanation? Pull the other nut..... oh wait.... you dont have any.

Trent parker said...

Positivity can flow when people don't have to worry about the criticisms of the misinformed.

I or the NSWCA or the ACF doesn't need a sponsor for the Australian Open........ the organisers might. So I dont need to "get a sponsor back"

"Because to me, it sounds like a personal decision based on a dislike for Peter Parr, a personal decision which has only caused the tournament even more harm. "

I definitely do not dislike Peter Parr. I normally use his shop if I purchase books. I have agreed with peter on issues when he was on council but we have been voted down.

I just disagree with this particular issue. I think Peter might be better off giving $5000 and then selling book's/informants/ Chess sets to the players at the tournament. But given the current low numbers so close to the event I do not think this is viable either at there would be insufficient time to advertise that CDS is a sponsor of the tournament. This would have to have been done in this format back when Peter proposed his original sponsorship offer.

Once again My opinion.

"Very sad... Australian chess needs people who think positively. Some of the things that are happening sound so bloody retrograde!"

My first line is in response to this.

" two major events in Australian chess running in January and both are struggling for entries. Let's hope they get the entries and have good events but let's not sit on our hands and pretend it's OK to learn nothing from past events "

I wholly agree
"that it makes any sense to slap your sponsors around whether theyu donate $100 worth of free pizza or $10 000 cash."

I am not slapping my sponsors - I CURRENTLY DONT NEED SPONSORS. But the Australian Open organiser's might

Regards

Trent parker

Kevin Bonham said...

Anonymous (first post), this is the Australian Open, not the Championships. Over the past several years the Aus Champs have generally run very successfully while the Australian Open (which runs in alternate years) has, for whatever reasons, increasingly tended to struggle. Whether this reflects a problem with the event concept itself, a string of particular problems or both is a much debated topic. Certainly it is not as simple as the Open just being too long, otherwise why are the Champs not also struggling to attract good fields?

Peter Parr is, as too often the case, barking up the wrong tree in laying blame for his own decision to withdraw his gift-offer sponsorship at the feet of the ACF and the NSWCA. Neither the ACF nor the state association controls whether or not sponsorship is accepted for an event. These are decisions that are made by the organisers (and that it would be quite incorrect for either the ACF or a state association to attempt to control.)

While almost any offer of sponsorship has some value (even one which is of the general nature "come into my store and grab some old stock for free, who knows, you might also buy something") I am sure the organisers would be (or have been) much more interested in a monetary sponsorship, even one that was a fraction of the claimed "$5,000".

The organisers' report on the 2006-7 Australian Open is highly speculative at best, and at worst a diversion of blame for a poor turnout by playing dot-to-dot without mentioning that the 2004 dot was the very remote Mt Buller.

It disappoints me that Stephen Mugford chose to share such rather negative and incomplete explanations concerning the event structure with one of the organisers directly and, not having Dr Mugford's level of expertise in organisational sociology all I can do is speculate about the impact of such an action on event morale. Mugford and Press appear to like speculation so they should be right at home with me doing so. :)

It does not disappoint me (because it underlines just how inaccurate Parr is) to see Alex Toolsie arguing that Peter Parr is "completely on the mark nine times out of ten". As Alex Toolsie is fundamentally clueless ninety-nine times out of a hundred, this does not say much for Parr's veracity on this issue. Indeed this case bears out the theory that Toolsie's me-tooing a comment from anyone he doesn't actively dislike is an almost infallible sign that the comment in question is rubbish.

My comments here do not necessarily reflect the views of the ACF.

Anonymous said...

This comment really surprised me:
"all that your blog has done is to denigrate the Open and its organisers which is to the detriment of Australian chess."

Blogs like this will perhaps make the ACF, NSWCA, and tournament organisers step up a notch in regards to the way they view the game and the way they want to run tournaments.

Atleast it will bring awareness to some issues going on so that people can possibly offer a helping hand or present some fresh ideas that may help.


I see this as an issue of "which is the easiest to get to and which is most worth the time/effort".

Queenstown looks much easier to get to for both locals and international visitors. Compared to the Australian Open which looks like a bit of a pain in the ass for just about anyone who wants to go.

Getting back "home" after one of the later rounds also appears easier for the Queenstown event than the Manly one.

Personally I can't compete in ANY tournaments here in Aus for similar reasons to what I just mentioned. Getting to and from venues is a pain in the ass or just isn't feasible in a manner that's "worth it".

I'm sure there are other people out there who are in the same situation as mine and I believe that to be more of a "detriment of Australian chess" than this blog post ever would be.

Ian Murray said...

Reporting one side of a story without seeking comment from the other side is poor journalism

Shaun Press said...

Calls for both sides of the story remind me of a quote from Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.

'Even when reporters do know the difference, the conventions of he-said-she-said journalism get in the way of conveying that knowledge to readers. I once joked that if President Bush said that the Earth was flat, the headlines of news articles would read, "Opinions Differ on Shape of the Earth."'

Kevin Bonham said...

Re Shaun's comment re Paul Krugman, reporting just Parr's side of the story in this case would have been rather like just reporting President Bush claiming that the earth is flat and not reporting any scientific response to the contrary.

Thankfully in a subsequent post AR does quote at length from Bill's response so now readers can see which way the wind is really blowing.

Kevin Bonham said...

In a comment above I wrote: "While almost any offer of sponsorship has some value (even one which is of the general nature "come into my store and grab some old stock for free, who knows, you might also buy something") [..]"

The basis for this comment was a characterisation of the offer on the event website stating that only Chess Informants that were not the most recent issue would be available.

Peter Parr disputes that there was any limitation and what I have seen of his original "offer" (18 July) does not suggest there was any limitation at that stage.

I have already mentioned on chesschat that the comment above was on the uncharitable and cynical side (provoked to be thus by Peter's extremely unfactual outpourings), but as Peter disputes the text that inspired the "old stock" comment I now wish to withdraw the word "old" unconditionally.

Anonymous said...

DJ said "What do clash are the Open and the Aus juniors in Adelaide and we have known all along that some players prefer coaching in Adelaide to playing in Sydney."

Care to name some coach-names so that we can assess the validity of your assertion.