Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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TimWall
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Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by TimWall » Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:45 am

At the ECF Finance Council on Saturday, 27th April, CEO Mike Truran answered my question about where the ECF's new members are expected to come from (and what gives the Board confidence that its projections for a growth in membership can be met) with pretty much the exact same ideas that I put forward in the Paper submitted to the ECF Board last summer. It is on the ECF website under Council Papers for the October 2018 AGM. https://www.englishchess.org.uk/about/e ... and-board/ (titled 'C29.12 (f) Development Officer Proposal – Tim Wall')
In return Mike then directly asked me, personally, a blunt question: 'And what are YOU doing to recruit new members to the ECF, and to build English chess?'
At the time I thought this was such a ridiculous question for Mike to ask me (given that I thought he was fully aware of my activities to promote chess in the North East and throughout England) that I didn't think this merited a response.
But now I consider that it might actually be worth enlightening Mike and other members of Council and the Board what I do through this forum, as I know it is widely read by English chess organisers, arbiters and Council members. Not to blow my own trumpet, but because what I do is basically very similar in commitment to what a lot of ECF Council members and local organisers do. Most of this work by local organisers is voluntary and receives very little thanks. (Some of the work I do is paid, but a lot is not, and the income certainly isn't enough to justify the amount of time and effort I put into it in financial terms.)
Therefore I, for one, found Mike's answering-a-question-with-another-question (and exactly this question) actually insulting to local organisers.
So, for Mike's benefit and for the record, this is what I do:
1) Teach chess to children on Fridays all year round at the Forest Hall Chess Club in Newcastle (we have more than 30 junior members, average attendance is about 20 each week). Standard: Beginners to strong club players, ages 5-18. [url]http://foresthallchess.org.uk/[/url]
2) Captain Forest Hall A Team (we won the Northumberland League in 2018-19). We have 3 regular junior players on the 5-board team: Yichen Han, ECF 205 (11 years old), Max Turner, ECF 187 (16) and Zheming Zhang, ECF 184 (16). https://northumberlandchess.com/league-tables/
3) Play for 4 other League teams: South Shields (Durham League champions 2018-19), Leeds CCC (Woodhouse Cup), Waterloo (Merseyside Division 1) and White Rose (4NCL).
4) Teach chess weekly at 2 Newcastle high schools (age 11 to 18): St Mary's Catholic School, Longbenton, and Dame Allan's School, Fenham. Both schools have a growing number of players taking part in League chess.
5) In the last year, I have set up 3 weekly library chess clubs on Tyneside (Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields), bringing newcomers into social chess (their first steps toward ECF membership).
6) Serve as the Secretary of Northumberland Chess Association, the NCA's delegate to the NCCU, and the delegate from Durham and Northumbria Junior Chess Association to the ECF Council.
7) Work as a coach in the ECF Academy (since 2017).
8 ) Work as a coach for the ECF at international junior events (the European Schools in 2018, and World and European Schools so far in 2019).
9) Act as coordinator for Chess in Schools and Communities on Tyneside. https://www.chessinschools.co.uk/
10) Organise the UK Chess Challenge's Northumbria MegaFinal in May. Entries are being accepted here: https://www.delanceyukschoolschesschall ... -18th-may/
11) Write a regular blog promoting grassroots chess for the ECF Newsletter.
12) Organise the Northumbria Chess Masters (the next one is on 23-27 August, 2019. Entries are being accepted here: https://northumbriamasters.com/
13) I also recently qualified as a FIDE Trainer.
None of these activities makes me unique, or a hero or anything else. They are just indicative of what the small army of local chess organisers and teachers do up and down the country, on a daily basis and for very modest rewards. This contribution deserves respect, and so when we have questions about what the ECF Board does (and how membership fees are being spent) those questions also deserve respect, and clear, courteous and informative answers.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger Lancaster » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:25 pm

My activities as a local organiser are modest by comparison but still occupy a very fair proportion of the working week so I'm genuinely impressed by Tim's list and what must be his considerable time-management skills to combine all this. I have occasional dealings with Mike Truran and can recall one occasion where we've snapped at one another, to mutual apologies later, but it's fair to say that I've found Mike almost invariably approachable and reasonable. However, one need look no further than this forum to find that ECF directors come in not only for much criticism but also a certain amount of personal abuse. While Tim is right to say that his contribution - and that of other local organisers - deserves respect, this works both ways and is equally true of those working at national level.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:39 pm

True Roger. I have to commend Tim and particularly Angus for handling personal criticism with more dignity than I would have managed.

I voted as I planned to in advance in the end, but I thought they both made a sympathetic case in difficult circumstances.

David Sedgwick
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:48 am

Roger Lancaster wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:25 pm
However, one need look no further than this forum to find that ECF directors come in not only for much criticism but also a certain amount of personal abuse. While Tim is right to say that his contribution - and that of other local organisers - deserves respect, this works both ways and is equally true of those working at national level.
Very well put.

TimWall wrote:
Mon Apr 29, 2019 11:45 am
… what I do is basically very similar in commitment to what a lot of ECF Council members and local organisers do. Most of this work by local organisers is voluntary and receives very little thanks.
Most of those volunteers manage to refrain from maligning ECF volunteers.

RobWillmoth
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by RobWillmoth » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:17 pm

Evening All. That was my first meeting and I really enjoyed it. I have to say some of the topics In my opinion were very ‘all about myself, and not looking at the big picture. I am very
Much of the opinion that if we do well on the international stage and also focus on grass roots juniors this in the run, will lesson the increases on gold and silver membership adults of which I am one. I believe there is a lot more we can achieve by tapping into the massive junior market. I currently coach around 3000 kids a week in my network. I would say only 10 to 20 per cent are members. It doesn’t take a lot of maths to work out the revenues gained if that was increased to 50 per. No doubt people will disagree.
M

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:37 pm

RobWillmoth wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:17 pm
It doesn’t take a lot of maths to work out the revenues gained if that was increased to 50 per.
There's actually not a lot of revenue to be gained by making a lot more juniors into members. The reason being that the ECF prices the first year at £ zero and only £ 5 after that.

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger Lancaster » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:33 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:37 pm
RobWillmoth wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 6:17 pm
It doesn’t take a lot of maths to work out the revenues gained if that was increased to 50 per.
There's actually not a lot of revenue to be gained by making a lot more juniors into members. The reason being that the ECF prices the first year at £ zero and only £ 5 after that.
Well, if Rob's ballpark figure of 3000 is anywhere near correct, that's something like (50 minus 15)/100 x 3000 x £5 or a shade over £5,000 after year 1 even assuming none go on to the 'gold' level, which some inevitably will. That's the equivalent of around 220 new adults with 'silver' membership.

And welcome to the forum.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:24 pm

David Sedgwick wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 10:48 am
Most of those volunteers manage to refrain from maligning ECF volunteers.
Which makes the "I'm as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" tone at the meeting even more surprising. I think those at the meeting will probably contextualise Tim's post as defending himself not attacking anyone. If a person with his record can come in for this sort of criticism, heaven help those of us who are merely termites.

Anyway, I do think Rob's point is interesting but I gave a different view at the meeting. Honestly I do not see it as the duty of organisers to raise revenue for the ECF as was suggested. For the hundreds a big junior club gets ready to play graded chess, I see membership as making absolute sense for both the player and the ECF. But for the much greater number of casual players, I am not sure.

I mentioned I had been asked about social membership and it was in this context. I do see it as an organisers duty to benefit the juniors and English chess. But if a primary school child without any particular desire for anything more learns chess and plays some casual games, without ever contributing a penny to the ECF, I still see it as a win for English chess. Essential I see the ECF as one of the means to the end of better English chess, rather than an end itself.

So absolutely true, asking the wider network to support the ECF can raise revenue. But I think you lose some juniors at the margin as a result. I don't think any of us know how many, and honestly I don't want to be the one who finds out. Of course this is largely because I think if you gave the ECF an extra, lets be generous, 10k, I am not sure they would use it very wisely.

J T Melsom
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by J T Melsom » Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:57 pm

I wasn't at the meeting and don't know Tim Wall but he did raise a number of issues on Saturday morning through this forum which might have been handled differently. Safe perhaps in the knowledge that litigation is a costly process he effectively accused the Board of malpractice. In the circumstances I can understand the ECF leadership being a bit miffed. And where had Tim been for the previous week or so? Working for the very organisation he chose to attack on his return.

NickFaulks
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by NickFaulks » Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:27 pm

Paul Cooksey wrote:
Tue Apr 30, 2019 8:24 pm
I think those at the meeting will probably contextualise Tim's post as defending himself not attacking anyone.
They will probably take the view that when it comes to personal vilification Tim is an amateur, Angus is useless and the Board's representatives are polished professionals.

Is that what this is supposed to be about?

Nick Grey
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Nick Grey » Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:57 pm

I like RobWillmoth's reply - then again i'm likely to lose again to one of his juniors on sat afternoon and have a laugh about it with one of his coaches

others appear to be moaning whether attending or not.

i'm not into inflation costs or just a bit over inflation - when i'm dealing with below inflation cost cutting efficiencies of a more significant size over a few years with absence of a government announcement on 20-21.

I suspect some juniors basic maths is better than some of the postings.

I also appreciate the phrase, when it's best film version appears on 'true lies' - arnie, Jamie lee, bill Paxton, art malik, tom Arnold, etc.

is there to much me, which seems exactly the same as some of the political debates in the real world.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Paul Cooksey » Wed May 01, 2019 7:53 am

I think the word vilification is too strong and i suppose I should say so because agreement with Nick's other point "Is that what this is supposed to be about?" is why I decided to contribute to this thread. The irony of an argument for moderation inflaming opinion is apparent to me.

Too much me, I know. I have not said everything I wanted to about the meeting yet, but I'll reflect for a few days.

Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Wed May 01, 2019 1:41 pm

Reading Tim Wall's original post it does seem that Mike Truran asked, `What do you do for the ECF?` rather than, `What do you do for English chess`. There is a small but not insignificant difference. It arises from the question as to what ECF members actually get for their money and it is a reasonable question. However we also need to answer the follow up questions as to a) what grassroots chess players want to see done differently b) how much would it cost c) how can the ECF facilitate it and d) how can the resulting initiatives be hooked up so they don't exist in a vacuum?

The board have a difficult job. They are unpaid volunteers doing an executive job in their spare time, they do occasionally have to make the hard nosed business decisions that not everybody will agree with. It's only right that they should be asked the right questions and be held to account.

And yet. The accounts of the meeting I have received (and I've seen several) suggest that in response to a direct question Council were told that bronze and silver membership does NOT fund international spending. That Malcolm Pein had provided a detail breakdown of international spending. If certain individuals (I'm looking at one in particular) refuse to accept the answer given then that is their privilege. It's politics. But I swallowed at least some of the `grassroots players are being taxed to pay for international chess` argument that was not entirely dissimilar to the `leaving the EU will free up 350 billion for the NHS` claim ... and now has as much credibility.

Finally Tim Wall lists his achievements and work for English Chess. Which is fair enough, I have a lot of respect for what Tim does and it is certainly more than most of us. But since it was a riposte to Mike Truran this is my view of what Mike does for English chess.

a) the 4NCL (which should be more than enough for most people in itself)
b) revitalised his local club Witney which boomed under his leadership and direct involvement
c) took on the ECF CEO role at a time when the organisation was in deep crisis and has stuck with the job ever since (I'm going to jump in with both feet and say it - Angus French has held both a board, standing committee and administrative role for the ECF in recent years, Mike Truran's tenure as CEO is three times as long as Angus' stints combined).
d) From personal experience here - Mike gave up a Saturday in June to travel to the YCA AGM. While previous ECF visitors have said their piece and gone Mike stayed for the duration of the meeting and made useful contributions throughout. The YCA, I'm ashamed to say, made heavy weather of sorting out the refreshments.
e) I'm very constrained in what I can say on this one but I know that when any organisation chooses to build a working relationship with Mike the dividends are extraordinary.

Which is not to say I agree with everything the ECF has done under Mike's leadership and I have been lashed on the odd occasion myself. However I disagree strongly with the suggestion he should just take criticism on the chin while being prevented from responding in kind. Particularly as some of the people making this suggestion (not Tim Wall) have a limited track record in volunteering themselves but a fine one in criticising volunteers.
Controller - Yorkshire League
Chairman - Harrogate Chess Club
All views expressed entirely my own

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JustinHorton
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 01, 2019 2:18 pm

I was wondering, Andrew, if there was some kind of equation, some kind of way of working out who, exactly, is entitled to have a go at whom, how often and for what length of time. Such information would be tremdendously useful to many of us and enable us to plan our time more effectively.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Think not what the ECF can do for you, but what you can do for the ECF

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 01, 2019 4:11 pm

Andrew Zigmond wrote:
Wed May 01, 2019 1:41 pm
But I swallowed at least some of the `grassroots players are being taxed to pay for international chess` argument that was not entirely dissimilar to the `leaving the EU will free up 350 billion for the NHS` claim ... and now has as much credibility.
The ECF's principle source of finance is levies on grass roots players. One of its principle expenditures is the financing of international chess, mostly the teams in the Olympiad and European championships. It's something of an accounting rabbit being produced out of a hat to assert that it's only the Gold members who finance International spending. It's not a point that's previously been made when setting differentials between membership costs.

That doesn't make it not a valid notional allocation of income to expenditure, but curious that it is first made when the Bronze and Silver representatives are critical of International spending and the Gold representatives are supportive.

But once you start allocating different types of membership income to different categories of expenditure, it could be done across the board, so that the costs of the salaried office are attributed to areas of director's responsibilities.

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