Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Melbourne Chess Club Championship

It was good to see a few more players enter the Melbourne Chess Club (MCC) championship bringing the number up to 39. This is still a bit disappointing compared to last year's total of 46, let alone the heady numbers of 2011 when we had around 60. Compared to other clubs it is also not a good sign. Currently Box Hill Chess Club and Noble Park Chess Club have FIDE rated tournaments running. Box Hill have a very respectable 64 players in their Autumn Cup, while Noble Park have 47 players for their Club Championship which is about a 10 player increase over last year. Should this be a worry for the MCC committee? I certainly think they should be asking why numbers are dropping for the club's flagship event. It may be unrealistic to maintain numbers in the 60's (though it may not), but I would have thought a field of at least 40 should be the yearly target.

The committee should not be too concerned over the quality of the field. 13 of the 39 players are rated above 2000 FIDE which means it is going to be a strong performance by anyone to win the championship. There is a live game being transmitted each week and yesterday was a great fight between IM Guy West and  David Beaumont. David played a Sicilian but Guy didn't go into the Open systems. Guy had to use all his strategic skill to aim at weaknesses in David's position. In the end David couldn't hold out, and Guy took the full point. Guy is joined on 2/2 by FM Chris Wallis, FM Dusan Stojic, Ari Dale, and Justin Penrose who took the scalp of IM Mirko Rujevic. Justin played the Centre Game and he and Mirko played an absolutely wild game which can be found on arbiter Kerry Stead's blog.

Paul Kovacevic followed up on his excellent win last week with a draw with ex club champion Malcolm Pyke. These 2 are half  point behind the leaders where they are joined by FM Dragicevic, Urban, Michaille, and Drew. Of course there is a long way to go, but it is always good to have points in the bag. Next week is teh last chance for late entries, so hopefully someone will enter and bring the total to 40 which would seem the minimum for respectability. I had intended to go to the club this week but events were against me. I will do my best to visit the champs next week.


  1. i think it is too early for the most important MCC club event.Grant can inform but I believe it is better played later in the year.

  2. My feeling is that the club might be pricing itself beyond what the average player (who might well have an alternative club) is prepared to pay. At least that's the case for me. I think it's fine to kick off the Championship at the beginning of the year, that doesn't worry me. However, the membership fees ($170 full) combined with the entry fee ($75 full) make it pretty expensive for a player like myself who would realistically only want to play in one or two events at the MCC during the year (at least two other clubs are closer to my home).

    I think that the MCC and Grant's membership drive in 2011 when the club was 'rising from the ashes' had a big impact (and led to the roughly 60 players entering that year) but now that the club seems to have stabilised, its high fees are once again a deterrent for players who have other options. Yes, it's a shame and the club needs the continued support of players, but there are other clubs to support as well and each player has to work out where it makes most sense to play their chess and spend their money.

    I realise that the high fees have a lot to do with the fact that the club is open seven days a week (the MCC is an amazing institution unlike any other) but it doesn't stop it from seeming rather expensive by comparison with other club fees if you are only going to visit a few times a year, one evening a week.

    One other factor this year, is that the championship probably wasn't promoted all that heavily compared to recent years. But that wasn't the issue for me as I always know it starts at the beginning of the year. Anyway, I'm only one player, there may well be all sorts of reasons for the lower turnout which haven't occurred to me.

    Great blog, btw. :)


  3. Its worth a trial of say $50 entry.I don't think people enter this event to win $.It's more about playing in the premier event.

  4. Some points for and against:

    Membership isn't just about the club championship (even though that's when the bill usually hits). We've added 12 free master level lectures to the calendar this year and as Jean said we're open every day.

    170$ compared to say, signing up at a football club for 6 months of the year (which would cost over 300$ and only be of use 3 times a week) is not exorbitant given what we offer, but I completely agree that it is not competitive in the current Victorian Chess market.

    We can get away with it because the MCC is still where a lot of strong players come to play chess thanks to its history.

    Personally I've always argued for shorter, cheaper, more flexible chess events and I'll continue to argue for more competitive fees at the MCC.

  5. "we can get away with it" is poor form.
    a point i made is $50 entry is worth consideration.Do players enter this event to win $? Prize money can be reduced accordingly,if necessary.I am making a suggestion to increase player numbers .

  6. $75 is fair and reasonable for a 9 round event. The MCC championship is the greatest club championship in Australia without exception. It should be an honor for any Victorian to play in such an event. It historically continues to attract the best players in Victoria, therefore the entry fee ought to reflect the worth of that price.

    In comparison Victoria's best open, The Begonia Open costs $90 for 7 rounds. Austrlia's best weekender, The Doeberl Cup costs $160 for 9 rounds. MCC's club championship seems if anything undervalued!