Thursday, February 27, 2014


YR:  2011   2012   2013
By Steve Stepak
Plotting an encouraging trend: up!
My goal was to create a "virtual community" on the
Boylston WebLog to attract chess players to play tournaments
at the BCC. I try to portray the Club as a friendly, safe
place to venture out into the unknown of chess theory:
openings, middlegame combinations, and the complexities
of endgame play.  Chess is tough, requiring not only
accurate and creative cognitive energy but also
nerves of steel (aluminum?) to arrive at the "right"
answer in the face of the dreaded: time-pressure.
[It may be noted on the grandmaster level, that in
the strongest tournament in chess history: Zurich 2014, 
in the match between Nakamura and Carlsen, 
that Nakamura had a totally won position, yet
he was in severe time pressure and ended up
losing this game!]
Let's focus on the nervous system.
Lots of connections and networks, in
the brain and throughout the body!
Neuroscientists tell us that playing chess induces dendritic growth.
Dendrites carry the signals of "thought" inside the brain:
the more dendrites, the better and faster we think.
That's why parents encourage their kids to play
chess, especially tournament chess.  
Why tournament chess? Because tournament
chess forces the child (adult) to think critically,
and to be disciplined (a piece touched, is a piece moved)!
We write down our chess games. This act of writing also
aids our brains to remember salient points of
openings, middle games and endings (piece movements)
enhancing hand-eye coordination; we create a copy
of our tournament game so that after the game 
we can go over the moves and critically analyze
them to make improvements. This is a process
of "doing" and afterwards, "observing/criticizing"
our decisions, the same procedure as used in
scientific research. So the more we master
this process, the greater is the power of our skill
to critically re-work everything we do, 
including all kinds of academic and
professional activities: good for chess and good for establishing a career.
So we have "community" at the BCC, a place
where we meet: parents, kids, friends, colleagues,
to socialize, to share life-stories and chess.
To laugh!
It was my hope that in creating a happy, interesting
visual environment on BCC blog posts, I could
increase the number of players in BCC tournament events.
I chose the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 for the following reasons:
In 2011, I had not yet started posting my photo essays of BCC events.
In 2012 I began to post promotional blogs for tournaments, 
and by 2013, I had perfected a creative
platform for featuring photos of key chess events during
tournaments as well as pictures of new players (and their
friends and relatives) who were brave enough to play their
first chess tournament in their lives! Not an easy thing to do!
Below, I will note key totals of chess activity.
I only counted games rated by USCF, and not, for example,
events like the Boylston Blitz Chess Championship,
which is not rated.
Let's look at the numbers:
Total number of players in all rated events, for: 
2011 = 1536;   2012 = 1707;   2013 = 1828
This, as you can see, is a favorable trend (may God let it continue to rise)!
Now let's look at my favorite statistic: Saturday events:
2011 = 1309;  2012 = 1277; 2013 = 1316
The numbers here show a dip on the attendance graph, for 2012,
due to a number of other chess events
scheduled at the same time as BCC Saturday events (bad luck)!
Thursday Night Swiss: 2011 = 189; 2012 = 240; 2013 = 252
TNS: for the serious (mostly adult) chess player.
An encouraging 3 year trend upward. I am happy about this.
A visual average for QUADS = +/- 20
Highest QUADS attendance = 32 (8 quads); 2nd highest 28
QUADS is a difficult event if only for one reason:
it is a 3 round all-play-all;  no byes, no withdrawals!
Top attendance: 2012 March $10 Open =  52
2013 = Elaine Kahn Memorial = 51
Grand Prix events average around 35 - 40 players.
$10 Opens // $5 Opens also 35 - 40.
Average 3 yr totals for all rated events: 1690 (+/1) 1
Average 3 yr totals for Saturday events: 1300 (+/1) 1
And the most significant statistic of all:
On average, say 51 percent +/-
of the total number of players in BCC rated games 
for Saturday events are juniors!
The kids are the backbone of chess and hear of chess
at the BCC!
May they thrive and succeed,
and play lots of chess at the Club throughout their lives!


Echo Yankee Charlie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Echo Yankee Charlie said...

Great analysis, Steve! Overall, I think you do a great job promoting Boylston's events here.

It would be interesting to see the demographic breakdown and trend this data over time.