5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
TimWall
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5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by TimWall » Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:49 am

5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers


1. Will the Tender Bids for the ECF Academy, and their respective point scores awarded under the Tender procedure, be published? At the latest Academy weekend 2 weeks ago, UK Chess Challenge did not appear to have a) a business plan; b) a syllabus; or c) nominated coaches, as required by the Tender Document.
2. Why are the ECF Academy coaches for 2019 being appointed by UK Chess Challenge, when the Tender Document clearly states that the Head of the Academy, IM and FIDE Senior Trainer Andrew Martin, would appoint coaches for the remaining training weekends this year?
3. Why has the Junior Director been so intimately involved in the awarding of the management contract to UK Chess Challenge, a company that he is closely associated with, rather than being recused from the whole process and having the appointment handled by a qualified, independent person chosen by the ECF Board? Also, no one on the Adjudication Panel (Alex Holowczak, Julie Denning & Tim Herring) had direct experience of the Academy's work, and the panel’s technical advisor, Malcolm Pein, had previously only attended one Academy weekend in three and a half years.
4. Why were the ECF Academy coaches not consulted at all about the way forward for the Academy? If the Board’s issue was with the previous financial management of the Academy, that issue surely ended with the change of Junior Director. A collegiate approach, bringing together highly experienced coaches and potential managers to run the Academy collaboratively, even now would be a better way to run the country's main chess school for juniors.
5. Why did the ECF Board not allow time for a competitive election for Junior Director to take place last year, when the incumbent resigned abruptly in early September 2018 (one day before nominations closed)? Surely that would have been the correct step to ensure good governance, and for the ECF Council to review possible candidates’ merits, instead of the appointment of someone with a potential conflict of interest being railroaded through.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by TimWall » Sat Apr 27, 2019 11:10 am

Actually, there is also a very important 6th question about the Academy:

6) Why was the Accelerator Programme created to replace the top tier of the Academy without any consultation with the coaches? And why are there no reports available about the activities of the Accelerator programme & its criteria for selecting promising juniors? The Chess Trust is spending the BCF PIFs money, so surely the ECF Council should be receiving and publishing Accelerator Programme reports.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:38 pm

Have these questions been raised with the junior director and/ or the CEO in the first instance? If so, what was the response? Some of the points raised are governance issues so the chair of the governance committee could also be approached.

Regarding question 5 I believe the junior directorate was up for re-election anyway so anybody who wished to bring a change of direction to the role was free to put their name forward. I appreciate that until the last minute it was assumed that Traci Whitfield was seeking re-election (and that challenging an incumbent is a bit different to an open election) but that should not have prevented a competitive election.
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Charlie Storey
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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Charlie Storey » Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am

I have worked for the ECF as a regular ECF Academy Coach and as a regular junior International Coach with outstanding service for the past 4 years.

I have recently had grave concerns about how this Academy bid has been carried out and also why it was automatically given to Alex L and Sarah L to run before the bid process. Especially, as they had told me in the summer, when I was acting as a chess education consultant for them and staying at their home for 2 weeks, that they were intending to recruit Alex Holwczak into their UKCC organisation.

I was then later surprised to find Alex H became ECF Junior Director and even more surprised that he had awarded the running of the Academy to Alex L and Sarah L before any bid was given and without consulting the Head of The Academy IM Andrew Martin.

I believed on a personal level this should have been looked into by the ECF as the ECF has certain responsibilities to run in a fair and transperent way and ensure the persons in positions of responsibilty are acting in the best interests of ECF and of junior chess. Iam intending to escalate this to FIDE ethics commission if ECF do not do a fair and thorough investigation themselves.

I have compared the offerings of the bid and mine had nearly 100 percent points Sarah and Alex L clearly did not, further I have an arrangement from Chessbase to sponsor the Academy, they had no sponsor according to a prese tation they gave to parents at the last Academy.

At a latest meeting of the ECF academy with most Coaches present Sarah Longson made it clear that she did not have the permission of the coaches and did not have a Head of Academy, I suggested it may have been GM Glenn Flear, within this meeting as he was the only regular GM at the Academy and GM Nigel Davies had assured us he had not been asked.

As a consequence of this suggestion I was accused of being rude and aggressive to Mr Flear, I was not and I received an Email informing me that I had been dismissed from The ECF Academy after being a regular coach in its success over the past 3+ years.

This has resulted in a lot of stress for me as all I have done is create a fantastic Academy proposal that was clearly in the interests of Junior Chess in the UK and was clearly better than the offering proposed by Alex and Sarah. It has left me in a state of confusion why the ECF have been so secretive about relaying why they were allowed to say any coaches names on the sheet when it was clear this connected to the points for the bid and why Alex H has been allowed anywhere near the ECF bid as allowing them to take it over initially clearly showed a conflict of interest and it is is within his interest and the ECF to be more transparent in what appears a highly dubious process.

Due to the clear bias that has been shown toward the Bid winners and the maltreatment I have received regarding this treatment by the new bid 'winners' further, the ECF have not reprimanded the Alex L for his abuse of his new powerful position, I have been left with little choice but to setup a new Fide Academy within the UK and help develop UK Chess talents.

I am hopeful that the Academy will be fully operational by August of this year and it will have the full blessing of the ECF and that this Academy will be able to select students to represent England in International and World events.

I have no issue with the ECF but I do believe we should have transparency to ensure all members are acting within UK law and if they are not they should be removed from post and not allowed to serve within the ECF.

One further point I believe the ECF should have its own chess shop and its own Chess into schools program and anyone preventing this is preventing the ECF from a valuable source of revenue that can be distributed into junior chess.

I think the current model is entrepreneurs in this area are preventing or not promoting this model and using it to line their own pockets rather than the ECF juniors, using the model for subsidising England Internationl trips rather than making parents pay extra, they should be part subsidised from monies that a shop and Chess into Schools.program would bring I was horrified to see that one of the entrepreneurs is allowed to have a key website link on the ECF website and he is an acting director for the ECF it is still there.

I would like to see an ethics committee setup within the ECF and I would like to be a part of that team; it must also be allowed to have some bite to be effective.

I will update on key matters which I belive are clearly in the best interests of British Junior Chess and how the ECF handles my attempt to setup a new FIDE Academy that can send students to play for England in major junior events.

I would like to see the ECF make a good and very clear statement that addresses these issues and how they have been investigated rather than a statement that hides and protects anything that looks suspicious. I love what the ECF does in the mainbut this process has left a very sour taste in my mouth Nd also for many other coaches who helped make the ECF Academy successful.

Thanks for reading,

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:17 am

Hi Charlie

I'm trying to understand this and Sunday morning might not be the best time for me, so please clarify
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
Due to the clear bias that has been shown toward the Bid winners and the maltreatment I have received regarding this treatment by the new bid 'winners' further, the ECF have not reprimanded the Alex L for his abuse of his new powerful position
Do you mean Alex H rather than Alex L? I'm not clear how Alex L would be abusing his position
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
I am hopeful that the Academy will be fully operational by August of this year and it will have the full blessing of the ECF and that this Academy will be able to select students to represent England in International and World events.
This of us not involved in junior chess find the range of different organisations confusing, and wonder if this is a reason for lack of success; am I right you are proposing to add another organisation? Wouldn't this just add more confusion to those of us struggling to identify which is the official England squad?
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
I have no issue with the ECF but I do believe we should have transparency to ensure all members are acting within UK law and if they are not they should be removed from post and not allowed to serve within the ECF.
We'd all agree with that; you seem to be implying that UK law has been broken; can you expand on this, or am I drawing the wrong conclusion?
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
One further point I believe the ECF should have its own chess shop and its own Chess into schools program and anyone preventing this is preventing the ECF from a valuable source of revenue that can be distributed into junior chess. I think the current model is entrepreneurs in this area are preventing or not promoting this model SNIP

I was horrified to see that one of the entrepreneurs is allowed to have a key website link on the ECF website and he is an acting director for the ECF it is still there.
Who are you talking about here? Perhaps you can point us to the link
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Charlie Storey
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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Charlie Storey » Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:10 pm

It was not the ECF That sacked me from this years Academy but Alex Longson. I have asked if ECF approved this and three times they have avoided answering this. The person I have asked is Junior Director Alex Holowczak. I am concerned why he will not answer this, as I am the most qualified chess teacher the ECF has utilised in recent years and my outstanding service over 4 years deserves an answer. It all looks highly un transparent to me.
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Roger Lancaster
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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:32 pm

I've no particular insight in these issues but I am sometimes asked by the parents of aspiring juniors whether the ECF Academy is a good idea. Frankly, I've rather hedged my bets on this one. I may not be alone there in which case I suggest - and this post is strictly neutral over any questions as to wrongdoing - it would be in the ECF's interests to clarify the somewhat opaque issues surrounding the Academy before the hedges become brick walls.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by JustinHorton » Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:24 pm

Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
I am intending to escalate this to FIDE ethics commission
You're confident they would consider this their business?
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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by NickFaulks » Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:36 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:24 pm
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
I am intending to escalate this to FIDE ethics commission
You're confident they would consider this their business?
If any FIDE entity did, I should have thought it would be Trainers' Commission. They oversee Academies.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Roger Lancaster » Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:41 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:24 pm
Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 10:21 am
I am intending to escalate this to FIDE ethics commission
You're confident they would consider this their business?
Interesting question. FIDE's reaction when faced with a debatable (and that's being polite!) ECF decision arising from an incident in 2014 was to say, and I can't produce the answer verbatim, "We're not really here to adjudicate on matters of purely national interest but, if faced with a similar issue at international level, we would expect to do such-and-such". In other words, at most, moral pressure on the national body. On that occasion it proved effective as the ECF, then under different leadership, conceded the point which it had hotly contested prior to the FIDE involvement.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Apr 28, 2019 5:50 pm

Charlie Storey wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 12:10 pm
It was not the ECF That sacked me from this years Academy but Alex Longson. I have asked if ECF approved this and three times they have avoided answering this. The person I have asked is Junior Director Alex Holowczak. I am concerned why he will not answer this, as I am the most qualified chess teacher the ECF has utilised in recent years and my outstanding service over 4 years deserves an answer. It all looks highly un transparent to me.
Thanks Charlie, but I assume you're not going to answer my other questions
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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:26 pm

TimWall wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:49 am
Why did the ECF Board not allow time for a competitive election for Junior Director to take place last year, when the incumbent resigned abruptly in early September 2018 (one day before nominations closed)?
This thread and the one about the World Schools demonstrate that those responsible for the circumstances of Alex Holowczak becoming Junior Director did him no favours.

How we miss John Philpott, who once threatened to resign when asked to endorse something similar.
Last edited by David Sedgwick on Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:43 pm

TimWall wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:49 am

5. Why did the ECF Board not allow time for a competitive election for Junior Director to take place last year, when the incumbent resigned abruptly in early September 2018 (one day before nominations closed)?
It was known in advance that AlexH was standing down as Home Director which enabled the two candidates to put themselves forward some time in advance of the election. It would have been generally supposed that AlexH was standing down from the ECF board, rather than offering to move sideways.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by David Sedgwick » Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:59 pm

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Last edited by David Sedgwick on Mon Apr 29, 2019 7:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 5 Questions about the ECF Academy Tender that need answers

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:58 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Sun Apr 28, 2019 8:26 pm
TimWall wrote:
Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:49 am
Why did the ECF Board not allow time for a competitive election for Junior Director to take place last year, when the incumbent resigned abruptly in early September 2018 (one day before nominations closed)?
This thread and the one about the World Schools demonstrate that those responsible for the stitch-up did Alex Holowczak no favours.

How we miss John Philpott, who once threatened to resign when asked to endorse something similar.
What exactly is the `stitch up` here? The junior directorate was up for election and anybody wishing to do the job was free to be nominated. While challenges to incumbents are relatively rare they have happened and are not always acrimonious; Julie Denning was challenged as NED the last time her term expired not because the other candidate had anything against her but because they felt they could bring something else to the job. Alex could have challenged Traci Whitfield had he wanted to, Traci could have withdrawn her candidature at any point.

If Traci Whitfield had won re-election and then resigned, with the board subsequently appointing Alex then it might have been a stitch up. But that didn't happen.
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