England Team FAQs

Coaching
• The ECF has adopted a policy of sending one coach per four players to these events. Coaches used by the ECF include some of the strongest titled players in the country. This has proved to be a successful formula.
• Coaches must all be ‘accredited’ by the ECF, which includes (but is not limited to) a requirement that they have a valid DBS certificate (or are a member of the DBS Update Service) in place.
• As part of the invitation process, players are invited to indicate their preferences for coaches on the list of those coaches that have expressed interest in working at the event. Players are not guaranteed any of their choice but we will try to match players and coaches where possible.
• Note that it is ECF policy that private coaches do not participate in these events (clearly if an ‘official’ coach is also player’s normal private coach then this is fine). It is also strongly recommended that players do not seek input (e.g. via email or Skype) from their normal coach during the tournament; this is in the interests of not undermining the ‘official’ coach’s advice and avoiding potential confusion of the player. However, in exceptional circumstances players may apply to the Director of Junior chess and Education to opt out of this system and take their own personal coach with them. This will normally only be granted to those who are FIDE title seeking and have a rating of at least 2200. Players granted this option must pay for their coach’s expenses, including fees and accommodation at the official hotel, themselves. Personal coaches are expected to only enter into a financial arrangement to coach the one specified player in the delegation. They are also expected to adhere to the ECF Child Protection Policy which includes DBS checking requirements (or similar if from abroad) and the International Junior Chess Event Code of Conduct.

Tournament routine
• The typical schedule at these events is for a single game per day (sometimes there may be a rest day, and/or a double round day). Pairings are usually published online in the late evening on the previous day, and may also be posted at the tournament venue.
• In general games will start early or mid-afternoon; the normal pattern adopted by England teams is for each player to have a 1:1 session with their coach during the morning to prepare that day’s game. Ideally, the player will have found their pairing and looked up their opponent’s track record prior to the session with the coach. After the player has played their game and returned to the team hotel, they will then review that day’s game with their coach.

  • A “rota” of morning coaching slots will be established by the Head of Delegation. Players’ preferences for timing of those slots (i.e. earlier vs. later) may be requested, either during the invitation process or later on. That said there is no guarantee that those preferences can be met

• Note that whilst time controls vary, they will be longer than those typically encountered within domestic junior chess.

  • Many of these events strictly apply the FIDE “zero time default” rule – highlighting the importance of arriving in good time for games.
  • At some events, playing venues are within walking distance of the hotel; at others a bus ride is required. In the latter case, the Head of Delegation will explain at what time the bus leaves and from where…clearly it is vital to ensure one does not miss the bus!

• When there is more than one England player competing in a given section of a tournament, it is possible that England players will be paired against each other. This is an unfortunate feature, but under the pairing rules normally used at such events there is no provision for avoiding intra-team games. Where this does happen, and if the players also share a coach, then there would be no preparatory coaching session in advance of the game (if they have a different coach then the game would be prepared as normal).
• Where there is an odd number of players in a given section, it is also possible that a player may get a full point bye (but no game). Normally no “filler” opponents are provided by host organisers.

Team management
The Head of Delegation has overall responsibility for the whole England delegation, from the point that invitations are accepted (both players and coaches) to the end of the tournament. This includes overseeing the registration process; liaising as necessary with the event organisers, hotel, etc.; providing parents, players and coaches with relevant information; and where necessary dealing with any problems.
• In addition to these, other supporting roles are also important. In particular writing reports and taking photos for publishing on the ECF website, buying gifts for coaches, tweeting and other ‘external’ communication. Volunteers from amongst the accompanying adults / others to take on such tasks are always most welcome.

Other considerations
Players should:
• Be prepared to work hard during the tournament. These international chess tournaments should not be viewed as a holiday. It is essential that players remain focussed on achieving their own personal goals…for example playing blitz in the evening with team-mates may be fun but is not appropriate preparation for the following day’s game (and as such is discouraged).
• Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fruit and vegetables. Remain properly hydrated throughout the day; avoid missing meals and eat enough to remain energised.
• Aim to get adequate rest. It is advisable to get mild exercise and fresh air before a game. Spending too long in the sun before a game can be detrimental to performance.
• Respect each other’s goals and aspirations.
Accompanying adults must:
• Ensure that their players adhere to relevant aspects of the formal Code of Conduct document.
• Ensure that players observe appropriate patterns of rest, sleep and diet as a priority.
• Ensure their players refrain from all unauthorised activities during the event, including ensuring their players are free of drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.
• Provide emotional support and encouragement throughout the duration of the competition.
• Ensure players’ prompt attendance at coaching sessions, games and team meetings.
• Support all members of the squad (i.e. not exclusively focussing on their own players), and helping to build a conducive team atmosphere (for example, where possible delegations should take their meals together).

Please note that parents should not expect the Head of Delegation to look after their children while they are playing. They should be available should their child finish their game very quickly or play for a very long time. Parents should only absent themselves during games to go on a short shopping trip (for food or drinks for example) with prior agreement with the Head of Delegation.

– Traci Whitfield, Director of Junior Chess and Education February 2016

It is intended that the document is updated regularly; if you have feedback on it please do let us know

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