Inferences from Year-on-Year Yorkshire Rating Statistics
Somebody posed the question a couple of days ago as to whether information extractable from the ECF rating database could be used to measure the effectiveness of the YCA delivering on its basic objective of promoting chess in Yorkshire, by looking at numbers of rated players as at 1st September 2021, 2022 and 2023. The simple answer is “no”, for various reasons.
Nevertheless, the same data could offer a clue as to how well Yorkshire chess “on average” is returning to normality after Covid. That seems feasible. Ideally you would have data from the same source covering pre-Covid seasons, but the current ECF rating database does not go back that far.
Whatever you are trying to explore, results over time for Yorkshire need to be compared to those for the country as a whole. If Yorkshire merely tracks England as a whole, the causes (like COVID, the Queen’s Gambit or whatever) would have to be assumed nationwide without specific evidence.
The writer was initially worried when first analysing ECF rating data back in August 2021 when it seemed about 10% of England’s chess-players were “Yorkshire” players. Surely wrong! However, generally available statistical data publicly available do point to about 9.8% of the population of England being resident in Yorkshire, which is reassuring. Relevant data on numbers of players with ECF ratings are as follows.
Firstly, it looks as though Yorkshire has more than its 9.8% of the national cake. However, the extracted figures included people with dual shrievalty, that is they play for or in clubs from more than one county. Equivalent reports for all counties would seemingly have a total percentage share of about 111% of the national whole for this reason. The closeness of the Yorkshire percentage share to 10% suggests Yorkshire has been increasing its rated population at the same rate as the country as a whole.
Secondly, changes of numbers of rated players have more to do with the mechanics of the rating system. There clearly was an influx of new players from 2021 to 2022 for widely publicised reasons, at much the same rate across the whole country. Post-Covid, some previously rated players who had yet to return to playing rated chess were kept on the books as K-rated players.
Inactive K-rated players remaining inactive for a 36-month rolling period meant number of rated players dropped from 2022 to 2023.
The national increase from 2021 to 2022 in the percentage of players with rapidplay ratings is probably attributable to the return of national junior events including the UK Chess Challenge and the National Schools’ Team competition (the “Sunday Times” of yesteryear, wherein the writer’s school, with the writer on board 1, reached the national semi-finals at the first attempt). The point here is that a high percentage of junior chess is played at rapidplay speeds, meaning an increase here is likely to reflect an increase in junior chess. Perusal of results from such national junior events does not find the Yorkshire participants (if any) anywhere near reflecting Yorkshire’s 10% share of the population, hence the much more modest increase in the percentage of Yorkshire players with rapidplay ratings from 2021 to 2022.
This is the bit the original inquirer wanted to hear. Yorkshire’s percentage of players with rapidplay ratings as at 1st September 2023 had caught up with the national average of about 68%. This probably reflects an increase in ECF-rated junior rapidplay chess within Yorkshire. This was probably attributable to the YCA U-18 team competition which was ECF-rated, also to the Leeds Junior Chess Club having its internal games ECF-rated, and to a minimal degree to the Novice section of YJCA Grand Prix events now being ECF-rated as well as the higher sections. That of course does not imply there were many new junior players involved, though a small percentage will have been new (based on knowledge of rating details of YJCA and Leeds Junior CC).