What percentage of children attend one tournament, then never come to a second?

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  • What percentage of children attend one tournament, then never come to a second?

    Does anyone have the stats for how many children play in one rated tournament then don't come to a second?

    Anything that could be done to make it a better experience for children and parents? Separate rest areas for each section so people are comfortable and can socialize? More emphasis on progress? Have a post tournament exit survey?

  • #2
    Hi Craig,

    I don't know if I can / won't attempt to answer your question in the subject line. Too big a topic and I don't have the data, let alone reasons for why it may happen.
    My response is more related to the second part of your post.

    The photo you took displays a large crowd / chaos. It may not be so important as to where it happened, in the sense that it may well be very representative of a general problem, rather than just that specific instance.

    The chess scene has changed drastically over the past 25 years. In the 1990s and prior, tournament chess used to be primarily adults. "Kids" would be teenagers and very rarely did you have anyone younger than that. The percentage of juniors was probably 5% or less. That has changed. The overall age demographic at mixed ages chess tournaments has dropped considerably. In large tournaments, you can have as many as 50 or 60% juniors now, with adults being less than half.

    Mixed aged tournaments can be a bit of a challenge on some fronts. Classical time control (90 mins+ per game) are perhaps less ideal for some juniors. They often finish their games way too fast / don't utilize much of their time. Leaving them idle / with lots of time to kill until the next round. Perhaps longer time controls are not the most ideal for a good number of juniors, if they're the type to blitz out their moves. This doesn't apply to all juniors, since some young children actually do spend good chunks of time thinking.
    Apart from many of the juniors finishing their games "early", kids come with parents, naturally.
    Not so long ago someone posted on this forum about juniors misbehaving at tournaments, running around in the tournament hall, parents having no place to seat / lounge, and it being disruptive to the tournament overall. That's the case when parents / juniors idle time is not taken into account.
    Ideally, a tournament with a large number of juniors (which will be any open tournament these days, really) would need a large seating / lounging area. So that there are places to go after people finish their games. So there's a place for parents to idle while waiting for junior to finish their game. Sometimes parents make it a family event, and bring other (younger even) children to lounge around.
    Most tournament organizers did not sign up to be babysitting or dealing with these affairs. However, in my opinion, this is sort of a must now. But this is a serious problem for many existing and potential organizers. You can't just have one tournament hall, you need two. One for playing, one for not playing. Rent is expensive, and the major obstacle for organizers to make this a possible activity / event.

    Then there are also kids-only events. These may appear more profitable from an organizer's point of view. Entry fees can be comparable. Fewer / no / trophy prizes. CFC fees considerably lower. Can maybe cram / fit 100 kids where you may only fit 60 adults. And even if done at a faster time control (which kids-only tournaments would and should), which would keep everyone occupied, there's still the other aspect of it, amplified. 100 kids = 100 parents. Where to put them? "Outside in the hallway or in the foyer" is a rubbish solution, but sadly what we often see.

    Is this a reason for people not to come back? In some / many cases, probably. In many others, I imagine not. In my opinion, a tournament with many kids needs a secondary tournament hall / comparable size room for parents / lounge. But that is often not an option and the alternative would be not to run some tournaments at all.


    Post-tournament exit surveys can be double-edged. Organizers are aware (or should be, for the most part) of what the problems are with their tournaments. And perhaps if they could fix it they would. Still nothing wrong with approaching the organizer and tell them what can be improved. A survey will prompt / expose the issues that may not have a solution. In which case it may be counter-productive. Still, constructive feedback is always positive and most organizers should be able to take it.

    I am not entirely sure what you mean with your question "more emphasis on progress?" - If it's related to chess, there are many ways to progress in chess, tournaments being just one of them.
    From the tournament organizer's point of view, the organizer should always be looking at improving the quality / experience of the tournaments he/she is organizing, or running the risk of becoming obsolete. The world changes too quickly. The perfect tournament model 10 years ago is far from the perfect model today and before we know it, what might be great this year might not be so great next year.

    Alex Ferreira


    • #3
      That makes lots of sense, thanks for the detailed reply. The problem of rent and appropriate space for family members can be a big challenge.

      By "more emphasis on progress" I suppose I am thinking of children who their parents sign them up after seeing they can beat their parents or siblings at chess only for them to get crushed at a tournament. Perhaps if the environment was conducive to social connection that would help with this family's experience, learning from others how to progress in their chess skill, and perhaps building some friendships. Some tournaments have lessons too, or personalized help with game analysis that would help increase the value for those who are not there to collect trophies. Winning trophies can be a big draw, but when people realize it's hard to be at the top it helps when there is other value for the family too.


      • #4
        There used to be a discount for Juniors and Ladies at tournaments. But now that the Juniors are now the bigger proportions of tournaments it seems useless to give a discount to them now. Ladies could still get a discount but it would have to be researched how many women / girls play now. You will always need two rooms with this influx of so many Juniors and to me they should start helping to pay for that extra room. Giving a discount for 60 and over might draw back some of the older players who really don't like the high entries anymore. You could even start offering a Seniors prize instead of a Junior Prize.

        I do not believe many Juniors will play once and give it up. There are too many coaches, Chess and Math courses and inter-club lessons.
        I do think though if a Junior has only played internet chess, the experience of tournament level chess will be a little overwhelming .
        I once played a junior player who came for his first tournament. I think I beat him but then he never returned. I guess he thought it was knock out. So I think Organizers should make an announcement that even though you lose a game you are not knocked out of the tournament you will be paired each round.where possible. If you get a bye the previous round still come back as you will get a game.


        • #5
          Imho, they should not start their big adventure in the big Open for a whole weekend. It could be a little bit disappointing.
          Take some group classes, play at the club, get some muscles.

          Though I’m thankful to those who spread news about clubs at the tournaments. At Aurora we receive a constant flux of new players who just played in the tournament. Some kids get new friends immediately some need encouragement. Thus some stick longer with chess and some bring back trophies later. And it’s a joy to run the club when you know that there is a positive feedback on club members results elsewhere. We had four champions and some at or close to podium at the OCC the last weekend.

          Imho, the large weekend tournament comes with huge problems what requires to solve. Some knowledge comes with experience some by watching others.
          We started with tournaments where not many very young kids played thus not many spectators/parents were hanging around. However the tournament grew up and requirement for a separate space came naturally. Now we dedicate the whole floor to them. The combo of a young player and a parent could be very distractive to both. Thus we keep a window wall between them at youth section :) My 2cnts - parents, please leave kids alone to enjoy the game.
          I think we asked couple time to fill the forms. Got valuable feedbacks. So the best feedback are returning players year after year.

          Then there is another level of tournaments - a one-game per day ones. These require a different level of dedication. Kudos to those who do these.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Craig Langridge View Post
            Does anyone have the stats for how many children play in one rated tournament then don't come to a second?

            Anything that could be done to make it a better experience for children and parents? Separate rest areas for each section so people are comfortable and can socialize? More emphasis on progress? Have a post tournament exit survey?
            I didn't know there was a problem, Are people (i.e. the parents) complaining? I like the last idea. Do a survey. Most important question? Just ask them to rate the experience, If they give a poor rating( or a good one), THEN ask them why. Don't make assumptions or suggestions that improvement is needed.