Saturday, October 04, 2014

Whither Fisherwick

It's not surprising that people are annoyed about Fisherwick's sudden jumping ship from the UCU Leagues. There's also talk about ulterior motives. Before everyone gets worked up into a frazzle, it might just be worth pointing out a few things.

Nobody complained when Fisherwick used to run its open-to-all club championship during the League season - and nobody does now, when its near-neighbour does the same thing now. If Fisherwick CC wants to run its own competition(s), let them get on with it. If the UCU is confident that it's putting together a good programme of events, what is there to be concerned about? If Fisherwick's events go down like a lead balloon, nothing will have been lost. On the other hand if they complement the UCU ones, that will be a bonus and the UCU might even learn something useful.

Fisherwick CC has made (and can still make) a significant contribution to Ulster chess. It has had a long-held reputation as a strong club in both quality and quantity but it might now need a period of regrowth. About eights years ago Fisherwick opted not to play in the Silver King (though in those days they still had a "second" team) but the following season they were back. Let's hope that will happen again (and indeed encourage them to re-engage rather than treating the club as some sort of pariah).


Colin said...

sensible piece. Pause for thought.

David McAlister said...

Michael Waters of Fisherwick CC sent me this contribution:

"To our mind the last minute fixture change by Ross and Calum caused the league to become a fixture too far. Or 6 fixtures too far to be exact!

The original 8/8 before Lagan's withdrawl meant 14 fixtures, which felt about right for the size of our club. After Lagan's collapse at the sight of the course (2 laps of the long Aintree is hard enough), and the lack of a previously promised captain's forum/meeting resulted in a hastily redrawn 21 week campaign.

That is just too long for our members. Our experience in the last few seasons has been one of a club being sacrificed to fulfill an unnecessarily long league fixture list.

Catching passers by or new to the game players is impossible when you don't have a casual club night, because all of your players week to week energies are spent fighting those who covet your King.

We will be renewing our club this season. If the UCU doesn't experiment with something else we will certainly give new formats a run out. Not playing in UCU tournaments hasn't hurt Derry CC and Omagh CC, two of the largest clubs in NI.

Who knows Fisherwick may even become a Saturday Chess Club!"

Ross Harris said...

I for one hope that Fisherwick do come back bigger and stronger, the Ulster League is better with them in it. I also fully understand the difficulty of trying to develop a club without a casual club night, though I do still feel this is possible and Lindores have doubled their numbers from last year without a club night. I think Ballynafeigh's idea of continuing to run a chess club over the summer to develop and nurture their players is also something other clubs could look at.

I'd like to pick up on a few points that Michael raised. I concede that the length of the league is something that needs to be looked at. We tried to address it this year and our original plan of 14 games seemed to suit most. Unfortunately after Lagan's withdrawal we had to change things and we had a choice of 12 or 18 games for Division 1. We felt that 12 games was too few and that as 18 games was only 4 more than had originally been intended this was the best option. Still a good bit less than last seasons 22!

I was slightly disappointed to hear Michaels comments regarding the Captains Forum. All captains were informed of it's formation on 4th August and were encouraged to provide ideas and suggestions as to how the Ulster League and Tournaments would be run this year. A number of emails have been sent asking for feedback on various topics and it has also been used to disseminate information quickly to all the clubs (league rules, fixture changes etc). Most of the UCU clubs have responded well to this and have provided us with some very useful ideas. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Fisherwick didn't provide us with any ideas or feedback until they decided to withdraw. Perhaps if they had informed us of their concerns their withdrawal could have been avoided.

David McAlister said...

@ Ross
On the topic of information dissemination, any chance of publishing the new League rules and the lists of designated players on the UCU website (or are they cleverly hidden away somewhere?) so that everyone can see them.

Ross Harris said...

Absolutely David. These will hopefully be published later on today as a news item.

Damien Cunningham said...

Ross you are under no obligation to publish anything and for several reasons.
1) The squad lists are for the league and not tournaments thus the decision to publish or not is at the discretion of the man whose job it is to monitor such lists the League Controller though that is not demeaning your position as the controllers assistant (or Calums when he is you assistant at tournaments in role reversals)
2) The lists are for the controller to check on appropriate personnel placing during the season, not the general membership to use as an aggravation tool for personal grievances.
3) There is no history of these lists being published before, why such an interest now?
4) If those with an avid need to know are in doubt of the ability of the league controller then perhaps they shouldn’t have voted for him. Why would anyone wish to be so insulting of the man’s intelligence or integrity without affording him the opportunity to display his worth?
We at Ballynafeigh have every confidence in the ability of the league controller Calum Leitch and his assistant Ross Harris and support his decision in this matter whatever it may be with equal vigour, though it must be pointed out that the Gossip page of Ballynafeigh reserve the right to paint a mocking image of same stalwarts as and when the need arises (just the way it is Ross ...sorry).
I would have thought the more savvy punters reading the comments of the Chlorine gardens loose cannon would have picked up on the main thrust of his garbage utterance blaming the officers of the UCU for his failings and delivering yet another sick threat to the UCU.
He stated with such blunt force that Fisherwick may become a Saturday club .... That is Fisherwick may travel to Omagh and Derry for a league program a mini Ulster league as was declared on the Ballynafeigh site weeks ago. Why do intelligent people within the chess community constantly fail to see this threat for what it is?
Ulster chess is better with Fisherwick on the inside of that there is no doubt, but that is vastly outweighed by the benefits of keeping a certain individual on the outside and we can all be done with him and move on just like the blossoming club of Belfast South have done since the made a parting of the waves with him some years ago.

David McAlister said...

Publishing the players' lists relates to the concern about how a club can make a complaint that another club was in breach of the rules if basic information is unavailable. A club is made up of its members and if the information is available to all of them, then they can bring any possible breach to their captains' attention.

This could all be summed up by one word - transparency. However, let's leave that aside. I just think it would be interesting to know exactly who plays in the various teams.

The requirement to provide players' lists was introduced in the 2010-11 season and you can find them published for that season at the UCU website:

The League Controller in the succeeding seasons evidently saw no need to publish them.