Wednesday, February 16, 2011

SOME FEEDBACK PLEASE

The 63rd National Schools Individual Championship shall be convened at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel at Kim Seng Road. Entry fee for each student with school endorsement is $60. This to me is rather exorbitant. How many schools I wonder would have the budget to send students to the competitions if they have 10 or more ? I have noticed that the entry fees have crept up over the years, from $25 to $40 and now $60. Students without school endorsement now pay $100.

Granted that it is a hotel venue, but again I ask the SCF is it pertinent to host a school competition in a hotel and passing the buck to the schools or to parents (if the schools can't pay)? Let's see if this fee structure is sustainable.

For those reading this who are involved in other sports competitions at the school level, I'd appreciate your feedback for this post. Are national school competitions in other sports costing as much for each student? We need to have some perspective on this - otherwise, I cannot see how chess can be promoted widely should the tournament fees rise continually.

5 comments:

  1. I agree that the fees appear to be on the high side and that it is likely that the higher fees are due to the venue. It would have been better if the competition had ben organized at a cc or a school but there could be valid reasons why this was not possible.

    As it is the SCF being a non-profit organization has to fund its activities from the competitions it organizes in addition to the somewhat minimal funding it obtains from the SSC.

    Therefore it is not as if the fees are going to make the SCF rich as that would not be possible in the circumstances. If the SCF is compelled to charge higher fees there must be a good reason as the SCF is still answerable to the members for its activities.

    Instead what would be more productive would be to obtain feedback as to how more funds could be raised to support the SCF in its activities. With increased funding the issue of higher fees would become a non-issue, as it should be.

    I do not think it would be useful to compare the fees for other competitions or sports activities as it would be like comparing apples with oranges. A well-funded NSA can have very low fees but not be very active.

    A survey of the SCF's calendar does show a large number of competitions which is beneficial to the children who play chess. So I think we need to keep a perspective on the issue of the "high" fees for this competition and instead look at the bigger picture of how bloggers, commentators and others can galvanize their readers to come up with fund raising initiatives for the SCF.

    After all in helping the SCF we also directly help the children who play chess.

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  2. Should there be valid reasons why the venue could not be found within a year of planning, then the SCF should be forthcoming with information and try to seek help from chess-parents or members who may have access to resources that they do not. Laying the burden onto the schools is simply not fair, as not many schools can afford to send many players so the number of participants will be reduced.

    As to the other tournaments organised by the SCF, these have no bearing on the performance of the school chess CCAs which are instrumental to the award of CCA points to students. Hence the school chess scene is entirely dependent on the results of the 2 main competitions in either deciding on DSA prerequisites or award of CCA grade.

    As to comparing running costs with other sports events, I agree that there will be differences. However that does not mean that we should condone the high prices either. It may cost more to organise a golf or bowling school event in lieu of the rental costs of the venue, but chess is generally considered inexpensive in that it requires a large hall which could be sourced in advance from either the grassroots organisations or schools or sports halls. If there are problems in securing these halls, it is the onus of the Federation EXCO to seek solutions to keep the game affordable. After all, isn't the objective of SCF to promote chess to the schools which are currently the single most largest group of active players now?

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  3. If there is a problem with securing a single venue to host this event, surely the secondary school portion can be conducted via Internet thru the playchess server? I believe that the SCF should explore more creative solutions to solve the issue of costs here.

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  4. I agree that if there are difficulties in obtaining venues or sponsors then the SCF could perhaps approach members for suggestions or assistance.

    However this then raises the question of what the Exco is there for, if it has to seek members' assistance in such matters. If there is an issue with the costs then the members of the SCF should raise it at the general meeting and perhaps offer assistance or solutions af that forum. After all the SCF is there to serve the needs of the members and it is for the members to raise the issue. I have been reminded that the SCF is a society answerable only to its members and therefore it is the members who must ask the difficult questions. However members cannot expect to simply ask questions and criticize if at the same time there is no reciprocity in terms of providing whole hearted support especially when the monetary contributions of members are minimal at best in terms of funding the activities of the SCF.

    There has to be a realization that where the Exco is made of volunteers then standards and expectations must be commensurate with the reality that volunteers have their own careers and family life as well and can only do so much. It is for members to also volunteer their time to assist the Exco without having ot be asked. Afterall the SCF is only as good as the support it gets from its members.

    I am not in favor of having any category of players play chess via playchess. In this blog you have championed over the board competition and so I am surprised you would suggest using the Internet. That devalues the competition especially as it is having the adrenalin rush of besting your opponent face to face and having the interaction with different players from different schools that makes the competition attractive.

    I hope that other solutions that preserve the over the board experience can be found.

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  5. I believe the problem lies in communication - how are members able to help when the details of the tournament are already decided and relased a month before the date? Let's not forget that this is an annual affair, so planning should have started way back.

    Unfortunately, AGMs are not recently convened on time for members to offer any solutions either.

    I disagree with the notion that the organisation is as good as its volunteers. We should not condone mediocrity simply because of constraints of their part. If volunteers know that they have limitations in delivering what's at hand, surely they should have the foresight to decline the posts, rather than drag the organisation down?

    I am sure that chess public knows that there are volunteers who support chess promotion, but not necessarily at the present direction taken by the SCF. Change has to be demanded by the people who felt it is necessary - without which no one can step in.

    Of course, playing over the board is best but in order to accomodate everyone, I believe some compromise has to be made. Hence the suggestion of having only the Secondary/Tertiary section organised this way. Or revamp the format of the current tournament such that we can host it at different smaller venues.

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