Richardson Finals: Eligibility to play

Andy Mort has proposed (for 2018 AGM):

Rule 24 k) Remove: “A drawn match in the final shall be replayed”, and Substitute: “In the event of a tie in the final, the winner shall be decided on board count, and, if necessary, by elimination. If all games are drawn, the final shall be replayed at a neutral venue on a date determined by The League Secretary.

Rule 24 m) Replace existing rule with: “Only players who have played at least 5 games for the club in League and Cup competitions in the current winter season shall be eligible to play in the final.”

Andy wrote (21st Feb 2018):

If there is support, I'm intending to propose a change to Rule 24 (m) by suggesting that the criterion for eligibility for the finals of the Cups should be a number of games played for the club during that season (3, 4, 5?).

The rule is obviously designed to deter the introduction of 'ringers', but the problem with the current rule is that there are only 3 rounds before the final, and both byes and defaults are possible. The former penalises a club, as no players can qualify, and the latter can advantage them if a player currently in Kuala Lumpur is registered as available. I had a discussion about this some years ago when Chesterfield experienced both situations in the same season but did not act.

If the current rule is designed to deter abuse, a lot of which we do not get, it is surely more unfair for a player who has played only one game for the club to be eligible for the final, than for a bone fide club member who is a club 'regular' to be unable to play, not having played in a previous Cup round (and, anyway, likely to be weaker).

Under the current rule, a club might have to default a board or boards in the final with bona fide members available - not what we desire as a an end of season spectacle, I suggest.

Andy added (6th July): SASCA's inability to field a team in the Richardson Final, having been handicapped by an automatic Champions' Bye, provides strong support for the second proposal.

Further contributions:

Mike Smith 25th March:

What is the purpose of the Richardson Cup knock-out competition? 
Hopefully it is not to simply mirror the league competition.  Best for Sheffield Chess is if a different club wins each.  It is difficult but not impossible to 'do the double' and long may that continue.
In recent times we have had clubs from lower divisions reaching the semi-final and well done for example Clay Cross.

The present Rule 24: The Richardson Cup Competition
(m) Only players who have played in at least one previous round of this competition during the season shall be eligible to play in the final.

Who could be disadvantaged and why?  Only teams that reach the final !
If a team has three matches before the final it could if it wishes have 18 players eligible for the final.  If it has only 6 or 7 eligible, that is also its choice.
A challenge of the Richardson Cup: a captain needs to have one eye on the match result and one eye on making sure there are sufficient players eligible for the final, if that is reached.  That can result 'an Oops' and elimination in an earlier round.  I think that is good for Sheffield Chess.
Usually the team that will have played the least number of matches and reach the final will be the current holder, which (alone) receives a bye through the preliminary round if one is needed. Rule 24 (g).
The suggested change would make it easier for the holders to retain the title.  Why would we want to make it easier for the holders?

Geoff Frost 25th March:

As captain of one of the likely winners (Chesterfield, Nomads, SASCA, Ecclesall) I have to say that I am relaxed about the rules.
Maybe the rule about the “holder’s bye” needs to be refined. I do not think it right that having got the 1st round bye, it can get a random 2nd round bye. Maybe people think that the randomness of a draw means that is acceptable.
On a personal note, I would not want two byes as I like to get as many players eligible for the final, playing fringe players in early rounds.

More from Mike Smith on 25th March:

I can imagine it is a challenge for the Richardson Cup captain (something I have never been).  Nevertheless I prefer a cup competition with unexpected results.

Several years ago I proposed that in the event of a tie in the final it be decided by board count then elimination.

It was talked down by Jonathan Arnott on the grounds that there is no need in Sheffield as there was plenty of time to arrange a replay.  The subsequent vote was lost. I try not to revisit former lost battles but if you wish to propose it will have my full support.
In principle I agree with a replay date set by Phill.  Two issues to resolve: Easter moves so second week could be Easter which may or may not be OK; all is fine when the Richardson Secretary is not a member of either of the teams but if that is not the case it puts an unreasonable pressure on the Official to demonstrate neutrality.
Regarding the replay, if there is an impasse with agreeing the date, in my opinion Phill has the right to decide the date and location.  That may even have been confirmed at the last AGM.  

Andy Mort responded (25th March):

Hi Mike,

"Thanks for your contribution. I don't accept your basic logic. It only helps the holders retain the title vis-à-vis their opponents, who could have been last year's winners - no other teams are disadvantaged by definition. The winners are, in a sense, handicapped by not being able to qualify players next year in the first the round in which they have a bye..."

Andy goes on to deal with a related issue: that where the result of the final is a draw and it has to be replayed, either or both of the teams may be reluctant to agree replay dates until they know their strongest (or full, qualified) team members are available, thus delaying the match for an inordinately long time (BL), and goes on to conclude:

"Better in future that we use board count or mandate Phill to choose a replay night in the second week of April, say, at a neutral fixture deemed mutually suitable by him. I may well propose something on these lines, but this change might depend on acceptance of the former proposal."

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