1 April 2019
Organisations such as the ECF have to plan their flagship events well ahead. Which is why, with enrolment for this year’s British Championships now under way, ECF has just unveiled its plans for next year.
The theme is one of change in order to meet the challenges of the coming years as well as further developing possibilities that already exist.
One of these is in the age-disparity in the lower-grade sections . As we have reported here before, these can resemble a combination of kindergarten and old people’s home. Half the players look as if they will be taken home in a pushchair. The other half are more likely to be taken away in an ambulance.
ECF has turned this situation to good account: in 2020 the U100s tournament will be sponsored jointly by Hamleys Toy Shop and the Co-op Funeral Services. Benefits to the players will include cuddly toys for the younger players and mid-game blood-pressure tests for the more elderly, as well as 20% discount on funeral plans taken out during the course of the Championships.
Two new age-related tournaments are to be introduced to cater for the growing number of young players: Under 5 and Under 2, both sponsored by Mothercare. The ‘Under 2 years’ competition will allow parents or nannies to breast or bottle feed their infants at the board provided the adults do not interfere with the game in any way. Benefits include unlimited supplies of Cow & Gate milk and free nappies.
Another new sponsorship is by Topshop. Dismayed by the poor standard of attire at recent Championships the well-known clothing supplier is initiating the ‘Marsden Trophy’ – £100 in Topshop vouchers to the best-dressed player on each day of the event. A spokeswoman for Topshop said, “The prize will only be available to players aged 14 and over. The children are usually the smartest-dressed people there – it’s the grownups who need to raise their standards.”
The constant war against cheating has necessitated a rule change. Following discovery of an electronic device concealed in a beanie hat being worn at a recent congress, no headgear will allowed to be worn during play at the 2020 Championships except in compliance with religious requirements. Such permitted headgear may be scanned electonically during the course of play.
Among other changes the official bookshop supplier is proposing to widen the array of merchandise to include goods such as migraine tablets and gadgets that supply a discreet electric shock to stop players from falling sleep while waiting for their opponents to move.
Finally we hear that a tentative sponsorship approach was received from the Disney Corporation. However, that came to nothing after a senior figure in ECF declared that, while ECF might be a mickey-mouse organisation, he was not going to have that proclaimed to the wider public.