Monday, May 14, 2007

Good Times at Box Hill

Good morning! Here's a cheerful start to the week.

In case you missed it, our friend in Victoria, Trevor Stanning, and who serves as Box Hill CC's treasurer, dropped by and posted a response to our post last Friday. In contrast to a couple of posters who reported a downturn in chess activity, the Box Hill guys are experiencing a boom.

I notice the posts to date, on this OPEN thread you have provided, have all looked at the glass as half empty.

Just for a counter-balance, the ROOKIES Cup event today (clash with Mothers Day) had a near record turnout of 50, and in no small way this is due to the influence of our new non-chess playing President Gladys Liu, the mum of two ERGAS squad members. Our Tuesday coaching numbers are up by 25% and we are looking for a fourth coach to participate in the 90 minute session.

We have now opened for business in a new session...Sunday arvo., due to numbers who can't be handled in our other sessions. We are about to sign a deal with the local Traders Association to run a monthly SIMUL in their 'town square'. An earner for juniors who are trying to finance trips to tournaments.

How do these guys do it?


Anonymous said...

How do they do it?

By doing everything opposite of whatever the NSWCA does.

Anonymous said...

A group of people (sometimes as few as one or two) make a genuine commitment.

They advertise.

They make contact with media, sponsors, possible participants.

They are well organised, well set up and appear professional when people first encounter them.

They run events when, where & how they advertised.

They have the right "mix" for their clients.

And then have the unquantifiable factor of an atmosphere and "critical mass" of participants that attracts others and builds on their success.

A lot of which is generated by earlier points.

Don't look just to chess. Look to any well-run sporting club that flourishes while others trying to play in the same league may be floundering. Siometimes the demographics are against you (physical location, population etc) but other times people are talking a lot about what "someone" should do and mostly nobody is actually doing anything.


Anonymous said...

How do they do it?

Its called cheap

Anonymous said...

It's all spin and hype. Numbers are well down I hear. Just look at their club championship. Their best players have migrated to other clubs. Stojic to Noble Park,
Nemeth is gone, Bourmistrov is gone etc and thats just the juniors!
They've had to move premises to a suburb where nobody knows them and many people are unwilling to drive the extra distance.
Friendliness to visiting members of other clubs has always been an issue at Box Hill.

Anonymous said...

Wow! They are holding their club championship this year using only ONE division! Good Lord, some ratings challenged underdog might win it!

Anonymous said...

They are not as different to the NSWCA as you might think.
They've annoyed a lot of Victorian chess enthusiasts over the years, this might come home to roost in the near future. The members who have left the club are replaced by kids and not seasoned tournament players.
You can only go so far coaching kids.

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about Box Hill except I see good numbers at their events and that I have met many juniors from the Club when they have travelled.

What I know here is that people post anonymously when they have nothing better to do than smear and make themselves sound petty and pathetic.

Clubs all develop their own demographic. It is the rare Club that can really be all things to all people.

And it's a rarer "state" in Australia that seems interested in the idea of moving the game an inch forward.


Anonymous said...

FYI Libby,Boxhill used to have a good mix of adults and kids.
Now its heavily geared towards kids for financial reasons,their rent is quite expensive.

You are not a chess player,but a parent of a chess player, and thus have no understanding of why adult chess players are sometimes reluctant to play in chess clubs which are heavily dominated by kids.

Most of the kids at Boxhill are fine,but some of them need some etiquette lessons in regards to chess.

Anonymous said...

In my ignorance Peter, I can say we have had similar issues in Canberra and they are not easily solved.

We have had enormous junior growth in the ACT over the past 5-6 years or so. Juniors came to dominate at Clubs and we have also had a reduction in adult players. And that is flowing through to older juniors as well, not just those who are "adults."

I suspect one does lead to the other (in part) but I don't think it's the whole story in the drop of adult player numbers. I do think all things have a critical "tipping point" and I often cite that in my school club where girls (on average)have outnumbered and outperformed boys for about 7 years. It's the reverse of the "normal" chess club and I think I have lost some boys from the Club because they feel uncomfortable (socially, and in losing regularly to girls)in the same way some believe girls can be discouraged from clubs where boys enjoy total domination.

So I think when numbers go too far in one direction it puts you in that difficult position but how do you manipulate/predict participation and growth in a way to guarantee the right balance is always there?

We haven't found an answer to creating adult/senior junior/junior balance so everyone is happy. Please tell us when you have it on a platter. But I can tell you that poorly behaved juniors are a minority of junior players, just as poor behaviour is exhibited by a minority of adults. Both can have a detrimental effect on a Club. So maybe the answer to getting rid of the obnoxious children is to roll out the obnoxious chess adults we all know and love?

You know - stinky smokers, bad sports, just plain peculiar, serial late arrivers, eating at the game, refusing to shake hands with child they lost to, really arrogant & rude, never lift a finger to assist with anything etc etc.

They are a minority - but they turned me off some Clubs & events and provided no incentive to me to consider being a player rather than "just" a parent (and pretty busy administrator for 7 years if that's OK).

I have not found junior behaviour from Box Hill players a problem when they have visited the ACT or at the Australian Juniors - certainly not anything extraordinary or attracting particular comment or attention.

Everyone has a child or two they'd happily strangle at events - but at least they can use the excuse of being a child. Once they're over 18 you'll have to clarify for me what the excuse then becomes??