Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Support Your Local Chess Club

It's really interesting looking at why we do the things we do. I mean, once a week I go to a chess club to play chess. What motivates me to do that? What is the primary factor that makes me do this? Is it just that I like playing chess? Is there a social element that drives me, or a competitive one? Will there be a combination of reasons and their priority shifts over time? I would like to think that the primary factor in taking me to the club each week is to play a game that I like, though I'm not certain this is the primary motivation for all players, and I'm not always sure that it is my primary motivation at times.

Of course, discovering the secret of why people do things is the key to success in any field. I would never have believed that a group of middle aged women would pay someone to shout at them, intimidating them to run round a block, but I've just walked past exactly this phenomenon. Specifically, I am interested in how a new chess club can motivate people to come through the doors on a weekly basis. So far, at Glen Eira Chess Club we have enrolled a solid group of about 20-30 players who regularly turn out on a Friday night to play chess. There is a junior chess club running form 6-7 pm which is then followed by a senior club which runs through till 9.30-10 pm. We were rather taken back at how easy it was to just set up and get an initial surge of interest, but now comes the hard task of building upon this, keeping the club relevant to the local community and to the chess community.

The larger chess clubs in Melbourne offer cash prizes for their tournaments, and have large entry fees which pay for this. I have never been motivated by cash prizes, or any prizes for that matter, and play chess in clubs because I want to. The thought of getting my name on an honour board of a chess club is reward enough for me. Also, I have an issue with giving out cash prizes to juniors, though I accept that if they are playing in an adult tournament they should be treated in the same way as the adults. So we have agreed that we will try to run a club with no cash prizes for it's tournaments (we may run a weekender, or an open with prizes). I have also noticed that chess in Melbourne is driven by rated, tournament chess. The clubs produce calendars where almost every week is dedicated to participation in an event. There are few social nights, and little friendly chess played at clubs. And without a regular chess league in the city (The Victorian Teams Championship seems to have disappeared off the annual calendar) club cameraderie is generally low. I guess if the only reason one is going out is to compete in a tournament, rather than to socialise with like minded friends, then if there is no tournament a player might as well stay at home and play chess online.
All ages at Glen Eira Chess Club
So what would motivate me to go to a chess club once a week? Well a combination of a good set of people, some tournaments throughout the year, and a lively dialogue between the members about chess, a sharing of information and ideas. Am I really that different from others in that respect?

1 comment:

  1. One alternative to giving cash prizes to juniors is to give vouchers for chess books.
    This has worked well in the past.

    Bill Jordan