Advice for ECF juniors (and their parents) travelling to international events
Purpose of document
This document is intended to be read by
• Players who have been selected by the English Chess Federation (ECF) to compete at international chess tournaments to which the ECF sends official teams; and
• Parents or guardians of those players
Official teams are any in which the ECF is invited (not individuals) or where the ECF (not individuals) submit registration for players or other persons. These events include the World Youth (WYCC), World Cadets (WCCC), European Youth (EYCC), World Schools (WSCC) and European Schools Chess Championships (ESCC). In addition the ECF sends teams to the European Youth Team Championships, the U16 Olympiad and to the World Juniors (an U20 event).
In particular the document sets out what to expect, what you should do before and during the event, what to take with you, and best practice expectations. It is derived from many years’ previous experience, and has been compiled by the ECF’s junior directorate taking input from a number of parents and players.
Selection and invitation
• Players are invited to participate in international event(s) based on the criteria set out in the published selection policy (which may be found at https://englishchess.org.uk/Juniors/play-for-england/junior-selection-policy/. This policy is managed by the Director of Junior Chess and Education (Junior Director), and is approved by the ECF’s Board.
• Invitations (and the majority of communication) will normally be made via e-mail; as such it is important that the Junior Director has an up to date e-mail address for you.
• If a player is invited, they (or their parent/guardians) will receive via e-mail a letter from the Junior Director, advising of the selection. This will give details of the trip and will request confirmation of acceptance of the place. It will also set out the required information that must be provided. The invitation letter will set out the estimated costs associated with acceptance of a place, and the associated deposit amount payable. It will also specify the due date for acceptance, payment of the deposit and provision of the requested information.
- Note that submissions / deposit payments received after the stated deadline will be treated as declined invitations (in which circumstances deposit payments will be refunded).
- Note also that deposit (and final balance) payments received will normally not be refunded in the event of a subsequent withdrawal from the event.
• Normal procedure is to provide the requested information via a web form. The invitation letter will provide details of this. If for any reason you cannot access the form, then please advise the Junior Director of this immediately on receipt of the invitation.
• The information to be provided will include: player’s and any accompany person’s full name and passport information; contact details, any visa requirements; ECF membership number, expiry date and grade; FIDE ID and rating; special dietary requirements; room occupancy requirements (e.g. single or twin); any special needs (disabled access for example).
• Note that all players competing in such events must be ECF members at Gold level since such competitions are FIDE rated at the time of the competition.
• As part of accepting the invitation, players and any accompanying adults/others must confirm that they will adhere to requirements set out in the ECF’s Code of Conduct for International Youth Tournaments. This document is on the England Junior Team page where you found these FAQs.
• Normally payments (both deposits and final amounts) should be made via bank transfer to the ECF’s account (sort code 60-10-15 / account number 87572044), with the player’s surname included in the transaction reference field. Cheques payable to the English Chess Federation are also acceptable, provided that they are received by the ECF’s office by the due date. Note that post-dated cheques are not acceptable, and that the ECF takes no responsibility for postal delays.
- The final balance payment amount will be calculated once final costs are known. This and its due date will be advised to you by the Head of Delegation in due course. If the final payment is not received by the due date then this will be treated as a withdrawal from the event, in which circumstances deposit payments will not normally be refunded.
• The ECF and its officials cannot take in loco parentis responsibility for players
• For all players who are under 12 or younger (where this is defined as the FIDE age, i.e. age as at 1 January of the year in question), a family member must accompany the player.
• For older players (i.e. 12 years old and above) who are competing for the first time in this type of event, the ECF strongly recommends that a family member accompanies them.
• For older players who have had experience of previous similar events, it may be appropriate for families to collaborate such that one adult travels with the team and looks after a number of players in addition to their own child. This may have the advantage of reducing overall costs or managing the time commitment required.
- Such arrangements would be subject to the agreement of the Head of Delegation and the Junior Director.
- In no circumstances may a single adult be responsible for more than 4 players.
- The adult taking responsibility for others’ children will need to be equipped with a completed “in loco parentis” form and a letter from the child’s parent or guardian confirming that they have permission to take the child out of the UK.
• The ECF recommends that non-playing children do not accompany their siblings to such events; we do however recognise that for some families it is not possible to make alternate child care arrangements.
• Under the regulations of these tournaments, only the ECF may register the players, coaches and all accompanying persons (i.e. players / others cannot register themselves directly).
• Typically the ECF only arranges flights for the coaches accompanying the team, as such parents / players are usually responsible for booking their own flights.
- Note that there may be exceptions to this, typically where an event is in a relatively hard-to-reach venue. Where this is the case, i.e. where all participants’ travel will be booked by the ECF, this will be specified in the invitation letter and reflected in the estimated costs.
• It is normally the case that host organisers will provide transfers between major nearby airports and the official hotels. If a player / accompanying person wishes to benefit from this transfer – the cost of which is usually built-in to the event’s entry fees – they will need to provide the ECF with their flight numbers and arrival / departure times. The ECF will then be responsible for advising the host organisers. The deadline for providing that flight information will be communicated either as part of the invitation letter or soon thereafter. The Head of Delegation will in due course advise details of how to find the transfer bus (or equivalent) on arrival.
• Where a players and/or accompanying person requires assistance with obtaining a visa for the country where the event is being held, they need to specify this as part of responding to the invitation letter. Note that it is the individual’s responsibility to determine whether or not they require a visa for the country in question.
• The ECF will request the host organisers to produce a suitable letter to support a player’s / accompanying person’s visa application. The ECF itself will also produce a similar letter. However, thereafter it is the player’s / accompanying person’s responsibility to obtain their visa in a timely fashion. Note that the ECF will not be held liable for any costs associated with any individual’s failure to obtain a necessary visa; in the event that an accompanying adult is refused entry to a destination country or boarding of a flight, the ECF and its officials cannot take responsibility for any children for which that adult is responsible.
Travel insurance, vaccinations and other medical considerations
• It is essential that all participants have in place suitable travel insurance which includes appropriate medical cover.
• All players and coaches will benefit from the ECF’s travel insurance policy provided that their ECF membership is in force throughout the period of the tournament including travel days before and afterwards (which is in any case a mandatory requirement). If they are also ECF members, accompanying persons can also benefit from the ECF travel insurance policy if they so wish. You can find the travel policy on the same page that you found these FAQs.
• Depending on the location of a given tournament, vaccinations may be required. Individuals should consult their GP or other medical practitioner well in advance of travel.
• For events held elsewhere within the European Union (EU), the ECF recommends all travellers have with them an up-to-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is free to UK citizens and provides evidence of entitlement to access to state medical services throughout the EU. More details are available at http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
• Under event regulations, it is mandatory for all participants to stay in one of the “official” hotels and for bookings to be made only by the ECF as part of the tournament registration process. Any attempts by individuals directly to book accommodation could prejudice their own or even the whole England team’s participation.
• It is the ECF’s policy that all England team members stay in the same hotel – not least as this maximises the development opportunity for all players.
• Where event organisers offer multiple hotel options, the ECF will determine which hotel the England team is booked into (subject to availability). Typically we will seek 4* or similar standard hotels (noting that 4* in many part of the world does not equate to 4* ratings in the UK!), and within walking distance of playing venues. However, this may not always be possible.
• Food and accommodation is provided on a full board basis at these events.
- It should perhaps be noted that food may not be the same as one is used to at home; there may or may not be much choice or variety of diet – as such flexibility and a willingness to try new things is often very important! Also, depending on the destination country, the food available for vegetarians may be quite limited; and it may not be possible to meet religious or culture-specific requirements.
- Local tap water may or may not be suitable for drinking. If in doubt, buy bottled water.
- It may well be sensible to take with you suitable over-the-counter medicines to aid recovery in the unfortunate event that stomach upsets happen.
• Wireless internet access is usually provided, at least in public rooms of hotels. In practice, however, the experience is that capacity can be very limited when numerous chess players, parents and coaches are all trying simultaneously to access pairings or game data. Therefore players / other travellers may wish to consider “back up” solutions such as mobile internet (for example most smartphones can be used to create wi-fi hotspots that a laptop or other device can then utilise). When roaming, mobile data costs can be very high. So it would be wise to explore well before departure from the UK what options are available from one’s existing network provider; and/or to consider buying a prepaid SIM on arrival in the destination country. (This assumes of course that there is a good 3G network in place in the destination location!)
What to take
• In addition to the “obvious” (passports, visas, flight tickets, local currency, clothing suitable for the climate – and culture – of the destination location, power adapters, any necessary medicines), there are some other chess-specific considerations.
• Each player will need a laptop capable of accessing the internet via wi-fi, and an up-to-date database of chess games (most people use Chessbase, see www.chessbase.com. Ideally the player will be confident in using Chessbase prior to travelling to the event; it is a critical tool in preparing for games). Chessbase can be purchased at half price by contacting the ECF office who will then give you instructions. Having an analysis tool such as Fritz on the laptop would also be extremely helpful. We would recommend labelling the laptop with the player’s name.
• Each player will be provided with an official team shirt, the cost of which will be included in the final invoice. This shirt must be worn on day 1 for the official team photograph. After that, players are encouraged to wear their shirt(s) in the playing hall however this is not mandatory. Players must also wear their shirts to the closing ceremony.
- Additional shirts for players and accompanying persons may also be purchased.
- Shirt requirements (size, numbers) will be requested as part of the information to be provided as part of accepting an invitation.
• A chessboard and set would also be helpful – again labelled.
• England flags can be brought for closing ceremonies.
• Some players bring small gifts for their opponents – this is solely at the discretion of the player/parent.
You are expected to have trained regularly and frequently for at least 6 months in the lead up to the international event. This is expected to have included a variety of openings, strategy, tactics and end games. Being a member of the ECF Chess Academy International Programme or Academy Plus Programme will help this. You are also expected to have attended standard play competitions to build your experience and stamina.