Senior Chess Don’t Get No Respect

The British Championships are currently underway, having started July 28, and will end August 10. There are many different tournaments being held in conjunction with the Championship of Great Britain. Eight of those are tournaments for children. The British Senior Championship has begun and the first round is history. The tournament is divided into three sections. There are 65 vying for honors in the Championships, with 19 in the U150, and another 23 in the U130, for a total of 107. One of the nice features of the tournament is the 32 games being sent into the cloud! That means there are lower rated players, along with the titled players, having their games displayed for their friends and family to see. Check it out at: http://englishchess.org.uk/BCC/
The US Senior Championship was held along with the US Junior in Tarrytown, NY, May 29 thru June 6, 2013. There were 57 players. A few days later a nice report on the Junior appeared on the USCF website. There was nothing about the Senior on the USCF website. I tried to find the crosstable on the USCF website with no luck. Some days later the idea occurred to check the US Junior where I found the Senior crosstable. Still there was no article concerning the US Senior on US Chess Online. It was like it had never happened. I emailed USCF Executive Board President Ruth Haring, a fellow Senior. Her reply was that she would, “Look into it.” Finally, on July 21, 2013, an excellent article appeared by Beatriz Marinello and Nathan Resika. Included are pictures of players like GM Alexander Ivanov, GM Sergey Kudrin, IM James Rizzitano, and FM Nathan Resika, who tied for first place, and the most prolific player of my time, IM Jay Bonin. The article contains four games, two of them well annotated. You can find it here: http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12289/698/
It is difficult to understand why Senior chess in the US is like Rodney Dangerfield, who was known for not gettting any respect. Take a look at the graph provided by Ruth Haring in the May 2013 issue of Chess Life magazine, which can be found on the Chess For All Ages, by Mark Weeks, in his post 2013 USCF Executine Board Elections. (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2013/06/2013-uscf-executive-board-election.html)
You will find this included with the graph, “Membership numbers start to decline at move 11.” That is putting is nicely. Seeing the graph made me wonder why the word “precipitously” was not included after “decline.” By age 18 the number of members has dropped to below 1000 to what looks like maybe 750. The next group to reach that number is those over 50, the first year of eligibility for the US Senior. The numbers are slightly below 1000 for each year until a decline after 65, which is understandable. Death takes a toll. I do not have exact numbers, but it would seem by quick calculation to be over 10,000 members, most of whom pay considerably more than the subsidized children. Seniors do not get a break until the numbers begin to drop at 65. I cannot help but wonder how many more Senior members there would be if the USCF decided to subsidize them? Considering the economic downturn since being Bushwhacked by the Banksters near the end of the last decade, this would be an appropriate time to consider cutting Seniors some slack.
The fact is that there are two “bubbles” in the graph brought to us by Ruth Haring. The largest consists of preteens, most of whom are concentrated in only six or seven years. Contrast that with the Senior bubble, which contains fifteen, or more, birth years. It is time for the USCF to put some resources into Senior chess while there are still enough older players alive to enjoy Senior tournaments, because there are so few players in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, there may not be enough members to hold a US Senior in the future.

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