The last two days’ articles have provoked a flurry of comments – many thanks to all those who’ve taken the time to do so.   If you haven’t already read these articles, please do, as they touch on issues that affect us all – mobile phones and the use of increments (Fischer timing).   I’d like to hear your views.

Here’s a third topic which may provoke some discussion – promotion.

With the season fast approaching its conclusion, teams will be nervously watching the league tables, hoping either for promotion or wanting to avoid relegation.   In the past there have been several instances of teams declining promotion.   So today’s question is: Should a team be allowed to decline promotion, or should they be compelled to accept it?

The rules state: “The top team will be promoted to a higher division, if there is one.   More than one team may be promoted if teams withdraw from a higher division” (Rule 29).   The rules don’t say that promotion can be declined.

There will be situations where a team knows that promotion, if accepted, will be temporary because they will be too weak to remain in the higher division.   This may be simply that the gulf between, for example, Division 2 and Division 1 is perceived as too great, or possibly the winning team may know it will be losing a couple of its ‘star’ players.   But should they be allowed to stay in the lower division?   It could be argued that if they do so, they will probably win the division again the following season.

Let’s hear your views!

6 thoughts on “Promotion
  1. Hi Bob,

    I know it is now academic but for a while Stowmarket Rooks were looking likely to be promoted.this season.

    We have been playing way above our grades to get this far and with Stowmarket A in Div 2 already struggling and borrowing players from the Rooks (B) team it would be unrealistic for Stowmarket to have two teams in Division 2. This is made worse because Mike McNaughton, a strong player who is a stalwart of the A team will be playing chess in the Kent league next year not for Stowmarket.

    Given that is the situation we would probably have had to ask to be able to refuse promotion from Div 3 had we won it.


    I have added a clause to my proposed revison of the rules to permit a division winning team to refuse promotion if the club involved cannot support a team of the required standard for them to compete reasonably well in the higher division.

    If that option remains unavailable then there would have to be some thoroughly undesirable shenanigans to avoid finishing top by playing under strength substitutes, defaulting or simply deliberately losing games to achieve the same end as refusing promotion.

    Do we want to legislate so that small clubs have to throw games at the end of the season just to avoid enforced unsuitable promotion to a division where they will get thrashed and inevitably demoted the following season. That would be a fine reward for a winning season!

    I suppose the other alternative is for the promoted Rooks team to "disband" at the end of their glory season and for the club to make application to enter the lower league with a "Crows" team with identical playing staff to the defunct Rooks.

    On what grounds could the Committee / AGM refuse such an application from a newly formed team representing an affiliated club?

    Remember that the constitution says the SCCA exists to foster and promote the playing of chess.

    You ask "should they be allowed to stay in the lower division":

    This raises the matter as to who "they" are: or more exactly just what constitutes a team?

    I know that a team is a group of 4 players who represent a club in the league BUT is it the players that were nominated for the to be promoted team because the team is only a name. Is it the four players who have played the most games or contributed most points to the success of the team in the victorious season?

    We are, or have been free to play almost unlimited numbers of substitute players in any team so when the team is promoted what does that actually mean in terms of "they" being allowed to stay in the lower division?

    There is no one to one relationship between player and team.

    I am nominated for the Rooks merely on the basis of my grade and my avid wish to play there. Promote the team forcibly and I can simply exercise my right to no longer wish to play or be nominated for the promoted team. I will offer my services to a newly formed team in the lower division based at Stowmarket. If I can do it all the rooks players can do it and so we can thumb our noses at enforced promotion.

    If the collective we decide that a team is not allowed to stay in a lower division then that team must be promoted but what if the club declines to enter a team or play the enforced fixtures in that division? Expulsion? Financial penalties?

    None of this. Just let the common sense approach be for the secretary of a club with a team that wishes to refuse promotion writing to the Comp sec or the committee explaining why they wish to stay in the lower division and that will be all thank you.

    David Green

  2. If a 'promoted' team remains together unchanged the next season I believe they should take the promotion.
    If a team is losing a player or two between seasons then I think that that is fair grounds for asking not to be promoted. However, a suitable alternative team needs to be found and accept the positon too.

    1. Hello again,

      In a relatively small club like Stowmarket the players in any one team form a substantial proportion of the club members if all games in the season are considered.

      A promoted team remaining together is a nice clean concept but does not reflect reality when 9 or 10 of the clubs members have played in that team in any one season.

      I repeat my question:

      Just what does a "team" consist of apart from the obvious name covering 4 club members at any one time who represent the club playing in matches?

      The nominated players? When hominated players hardly have to play any games for the team for which they are nominated ( see previous postings on the matter of nomination) this is an unlikely.

      The actual playing rosta during the succesful season? This could be almost an entire smaller club.

      The highest scorers for the team?

      It is all very well saying that a named team has to be promoted but until there is a tie between a team name and the names of players who "must" play in the higher division, possibly against their will, then this nice clean item "the team" is a spectre without solid form.

      If we propose new rules and regulations then we are being totally irresponsible to enact them without answering the question of how such potential restrictions on where the members of a refusnik team play are to be policed, who does the policing and how these requirements are enforced is established agreed and documented.

      Otherwise we will have yet another Suffok league fudge just like the registration and nomination fudges we have had in the past.


      David Green

  3. One of the problems with teams not accepting promotion, thereby relegating another team, is that the divisions stagnate and the same players keep playing each other year in year out. This becomes very monotonous and encourages players to look further afield for their league chess. In the past Ipswich based players have formed teams in the North Essex League (Stour Valley) and played in the Norfolk League, making a complete team in some instances, for Thetford. Before this they were representing Bury in the Bury League and indeed have a 'team' playing there this season and I am even captaining it! Cambridge players make the opposite journey and now play in the Suffolk League for Bury.
    The Suffolk leagues have 'lost' players because of the incestuous nature inherent in non promotion.
    Besides who is to say that a team will automatically be relegated next season?
    Take Manningtree for example. They are odds on favorites to win the first division for the first time this year. Admittedly this is in no small way due their acquisition of a very strong junior after they had been promoted. However would Adam Taylor be playing in the Suffolk League if Mannigtree had declined promotion in 2011/12? They took the decision to give it a go with the full expectation of being relegated in 2012/13 but they survived and are now reaping the rewards of that decision two seasons ago.

    Tim's comment regarding teams staying together raises another question which could possibly arise next season. Bury C are in pole position in division 2. If either Bury A or B are unfortunate enough to be relegated, which players will be playing in which division next year?
    In the Bury League the Cambridge team names tend to follow the fortunes of the team although I can't say with any certainty how this affects the individual players. I suspect the stronger players 'transfer' to whatever team(s) is available in the highest division possible. What does this say about promotion and relegation?
    What I think it highlights is that there is a difference between the large and small clubs. The large clubs, by their very nature, have greater flexibility in team/squad selection compared to small clubs.

    Therefore I think the question should be 'Should smaller clubs be forced to accept promotion when they would feel uncomfortable playing in a higher division?' That is a more difficult question to answer but is I believe the underlying reason for the blog.
    As unpalatable as it may be to some, I think teams should accept promotion for the reasons outlined at the beginning of my comments.

  4. I'm pretty sure there has been a precedent for this. I seem to remember Manningtree winning Division 2 a few years ago and asking whether they could decline promotion? This was voted on at the AGM and their request was refused.

  5. I feel somewhat obliged to comment on this topic as Manningtree have been mentioned a couple of times. In recent years Manningtree have been promoted 3 times and relegated immediately twice. The circumstances surrounding each promotion were slightly different and our experience probably shows why this topic is up for discussion.

    Our First Promotion
    Following our first promotion we had the comfort of knowing that another club of comparable strength (Clacton) were also in the first division. Therefore accepting promotion was not an issue and as it happens we were only relegated due to an end of season 4-0 default in Clacton's favour. (In fairness even John Lambert felt bad about this outcome- but rules are rules). It was also the last time we got to see some silverware for winning Division 2! (another topic for discussion).

    Our Second Promotion
    Rob Sanders is correct on our second promotion to we did indeed ask not to be promoted. A reasonable request in the circumstance as we were about to lose one of our stronger players and the remaining teams in division 1 were all significantly stronger than us. Our request was refused and an important issue here is that had our request been granted it would have reduced the number of teams in Division 1. Can a team be forced not to accept relegation? I can assure you from personal experience that the novelty of losing matches 4-0 or 3½-½ wears off!. Therefore the flip side of not being promoted will potentially leave the competition secretary the problem of a team short in the higher division.

    Our Third promotion
    This time we simply accepted our fate even though it was never our intention to win division 2. Despite best efforts to rotate players other results conspired against us and we were promoted anyway. So an important point here is that even attempts (shenanigans) to not the win the title can also fail! We resigned ourselves to another season of zeroes. However, after each promotion I would put out feelers to acquire a strong board 1 player and third time we were lucky. In the North Essex League Colchester were relegated and as we could guarantee Adam Taylor strong opponents we were able to acquire our strong Board 1. Also between our first promotion and where we are now a few more strong players joined the club hence our current position.

    As a result of the above experiences I am now inclined to favour the current arrangement of forcing teams to be promoted unless due to other factors the competition secretary is required to restructure the league and the number teams in each division etc.

    The flexibility of the current league rules means that clubs can be proactive and a little creative after promotion and try and acquire one or more strong players from elsewhere to strengthen the team as we did

    Nothing is guaranteed in terms of chess results, inevitably players arrive and leave during the course of a season and from one season to the next. It just so happens and fortunately in the case of Manningtree this has all been in a beneficial direction in recent years.

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