Entry fees shall be some multiple of five dollars to avoid
simply the making of change when taking entry fees.
To provide a clear benefit of membership, the member's fee
shall be Five dollars less than the non-members fee.
The entrance fee for a regular time control event shall be
five dollars a round for non-members.
This is done for a number of reasons, namely:
It eliminates people being concerned with the relative expense
of a particular tournament versus another.
All our events are equally inexpensive/expensive.
It facilitates budget forecasting and the determination of
club until just recently has traditionally been comprised of mostly 1600, 1700,
1800 and 1900 players. Prior to
instituting the policy of granting masters free entry, the overall attendance
of the club was in the low to mid twenties.
A number of opinions were voiced over time that it would be nice to have
strong players once again attending the club.
With this in mind, the following reasoning was applied in instituting
Attracting masters would be a general benefit to the existing
membership as it would provide essentially a "free lesson" so to
speak to those paired against the masters.
Having masters attend on a regular basis would attract other
USCF players to the club, thereby strengthening the club by way of increased
Would help create a reputation for the club of being a serious
place for chess, again with the idea of attracting other USCF players.
Would be a measure of support for area masters and chess in
Logistics behind the program.
The idea that a master would want to win a prize of about $100
to make it worth their while to participate in the event was taken as a vital
cornerstone of designing the program.
This amount works out to $25 per round for our typical four round
event. It can even be rationalized that
the person playing the master is generally going to lose and that it is
essentially a lesson. Hence, we are, at
the same time, providing a benefit to our members. Granted, our members are less likely to win 1st place but it is
the opinion of many that it's the chess that is important to most of our
membership, not the prize.
Many tournaments have a policy of free entry but subtract
entry fees from any winnings. This was
considered at first but was rejected due to the need to increase the prize fund
to a level that could not be supported at the time by the club's attendance.
Setting the rating level at 2200 or above for free entry was
based on the following information.
Going back to the 1995 Yearly Rating Supplement Report, there is
typically only about 105 players with a rating of 2200 or greater in all of New
Of this pool of masters, only about 65 reside in
Of this pool of masters, only about 20 live in a short or
reasonable driving distance of the club.
If the rating floor were 2400 there would be only 24 players
eligible in the entire Northeast.
If the rating floor were 2300 there would be 43 players
eligible in the entire Northeast.
Consideration of changing the rating floor for this program
from 2200 to a higher number.
Of the area masters likely to attend, many have a rating that
occasionally drops below the 2400 line.
In particular, club regular John Curdo is in this category.
The titles associated with the various masters ratings and the
number of masters in the category as of the February 98 Rating supplement are
Recent discussions voicing concerns
That we should raise the floor from 2200 now before it becomes
more difficult to do so later.
That the club is subsidizing masters to take away the prize
That the floor should be raised to at least 2350. This allows room for those near the 2400
mark whom we want to allow in for free.
Until an open discussion among those concerned with the
parameters of the program is held, the club should maintain the program in its
current form so as not to disrupt its continuity and momentum.
we first moved to the Natick Senior Center and began to publicize our
existence, we started attracting people to the club who had never been USCF
members. Our retention rate of these
people was very low. The reason
appeared to be the high cost of entry to playing at the club. Due to the current and in fact historical
nature of the club to attract people who primarily only attend to play rated
chess, there were very few people around who were available to play with these
potential casual players. The only
practical and obvious by the appearance of what was going on at the club
choice, was to push newcomers into playing rated chess. It proved to be not too difficult to
convince people of the benefit of playing rated chess. It did prove difficult to get people to
expend the cash outlay to start rated play.
Most people liked the idea of joining the club and the discounted rate
they would get as a member. What prevented
most from signing up was the total cost; $35 for USCF, $15 for a 4 round event
and $30 for a years membership, coming to a total of $80. The cost combined this with the general fear
of playing in a tournament did not sell many on jumping in. Granted there were a number of variations on
the pricing such as half year membership, not joining the club, etc. but the
basic hurdles still remained. Over a
period of months, consideration was given to different approaches of
encouraging new people to play. Some
required cultural and program changes.
These did not seem practical to implement at the time as we were trying
to build up USCF player attendance and strengthen the club in general. A purely financial approach was created
which took no additional staffing effort and traded short term limited income
from new members against involving them in the long run. Essentially it didn't really cost the club
anything except a limited loss revenue from this small pool of people.
People who join the USCF for the first time may, when they
join, also purchase club membership and will be given free entry into a
tournament. If it is not round 1, they
will in addition be given free entry into the existing tournament as well.
Effectiveness of the Program
The program appears to be very successful. Since instituting
the program in late 1996, about two adults have not begun rated play.
Key elements of why this is effective.
Reduced cost of entry.
The initial outlay is $65. They
get a year of club membership and between 4 and 7 games at no cost. I believe this can be seen as a relatively
low risk investment for something they think they'd like to do. If they don't like it, they still end up
with Chess Life for a year.
With a good sales job, you get them pretty convinced to try it
out and then you get them playing without them getting out the door.
They perceive that they are getting a lot of things free, and
they are. Free entry in the
tournament, play in the remaining games of the current tournament for free, $5 off each tournament because they join the
club, this means they've earned back their membership by playing in only six
tournaments in the next year and $5 off because they join the USCF through the
What does the Club lose in this deal
The club does not collect possibly two entry fees.
The club does not collect $30 membership for the first year.
What does the Club gain in this deal
It gives the Club time to get new people acclimated and
feeling like part of the club. What
probably locks people in is the first time they go over a game with someone and
see that not only can they learn by coming to the club, people are more than
happy to help them learn.
It provides new people to constantly revitalize the club in
particular and chess in general.