Resignation Rumours

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Carl Hibbard » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:14 pm

Anyone at the meeting able to shed any light on what occurred?
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Harriet Hunt
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Harriet Hunt » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:17 pm

(Not a reply to Carl's recent post, but...)

This is becoming a debate about the specifics of the game fee vs universal membership issue, but I think the recent resignations (which I agree with many of you are very bad news for English chess) are about more than that.

Andrew listed a number of fundamental problems with the current English chess situation. I would add another major problem - it seems that many of the English chess community, including most seriously some of the current upper echelons of the management, are indifferent to achievement and success of English players and how we stand on the global stage. Most countries, including many with little chess tradition, are actively seeking to increase the ranks of their IMs/GMs/2600+ players/medals in international events, and celebrating their achievements. The attitude in too many quarters here seems to be 'it's the taking part that counts'. Most chess players are surely too competitive to believe this!? In England we seem to be singularly lacking in aspiration for the future.

This is emphatically NOT a plea for a meal-ticket for grandmasters. Clearly there are practical (financial!) problems that have caused resentment, but we should agree in principle that our greater standing as a chess power is a) desirable, and b) need not conflict with the needs of social/club/county players. Sunday League football players would not be indifferent to England winning the World Cup! Successes by ECF representatives on the world stage are of potential huge benefit to the overall state of chess in this country - e.g. the Short-Kasparov match, which got many juniors interested.

To answer Paul Stimpson - the BCF was awarded a major international tournament, the European team championship in 1999, scheduled for Torquay. It was switched to Georgia at the last minute when the ECU or FIDE (can't remember which) decided England was too expensive. A great shame, but not in BCF control.

A tournament like the European Youth Championships is about 3 times the size of the British, in terms of number of people hosted. The host federation is bound to subsidise a large part of the accommodation costs of delegates. Where do you suggest the money for such an event comes from? These events usually have at least half a dozen substantial sponsors. I agree that hosting such an event would be highly desirable, but it's hardly a realistic financial or logistic proposition at the moment.
Last edited by Harriet Hunt on Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Paul Stimpson
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Paul Stimpson » Tue Apr 29, 2008 11:14 pm

Harriet
A tournament like the European Youth Championships is about 3 times the size of the British, in terms of number of people hosted. The host federation is bound to subsidise a large part of the accommodation costs of delegates. Where do you suggest the money for such an event comes from? These events usually have at least half a dozen substantial sponsors. I agree that hosting such an event would be highly desirable, but it's hardly a realistic financial or logistic proposition at the moment.
I wasn't suggesting we are in a position to do this at the moment. However I can't see the desire to ever do it and that is frustrating. We were apparently second in the world at one point but you would never have believed it looking at us now. As for the money aspect, again this is a failure of the ECF to secure enough sponsorship. The FA and Premier league are not financed by grass roots football! but they get big TV and advertising sponsorship deals.

I believe if chess was made as popular as say Poker as recently become and we had companies fighting for TV rights and big sponsors then we wouldn't be in the situation we are in now. If we say that chess cannot work on TV or as a product like football has become then I guess this is as good as it going to get unfortunatley.

If Poker, Darts, Worlds strongest man etc etc can reach high levels of exposure then why not chess? It needs a really good format the right kind of set up and it could really take off. When the Short - Kasparov match was on TV there were people were I worked wanting to learn the game. I won't kid myself and believe chess will ever be the No 1 spectator sport :lol: it won't. Can it do better than it is at the moment, absolutley!

The problem I have with the approach of the ECF/BCF over the years is a desire to finance everything through grass roots players paying more and more and avoiding the responsibilty of securing this by other means. If Mike Basman can do this on a scale of 74,000 kids playing chess then it can be done. No membership is required and the entry fee as remained the same for at least the past 3 years if not longer!

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Nigel Wright
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Nigel Wright » Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:01 am

And as a Veteran from Mike Basman's tournament since it's origination in 1996, it has done wonders for me as a person, socially as well as chess-wise. If the ECF could at least pull their fingers out and either give him a hand, or create something of their own, who knows what next generation of chess players we could get. And the more kids you get into chess, the more parents with cash in their pockets you will get providing added funding etc...
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by andrew martin » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:06 am

I think we can all agree that Mike Basman's tournament is a work of genius; full credit to him and his staff.

I have always thought allying the ECF to that event would be a good thing and I will continue to try to do so.

My immediate concern is that several projects I was working on with Claire have now been squarely put on my desk and as a result will be slowed down.

Regarding the coaching dept I want to just reassure members that :

1) The Right Move publication will continue monthly. However,after the June edition articles will be sent to me. I am of a mind to resume free distribution of this publication

2) ECF Centres of Coaching Excellence will now be required to have an up to date child protection policy. I will be contacting all of these centres to ensure this is in place.

3) I will continue to work to revise the ECF Coaching accreditation scheme. A document detailing improvements which was supposed to have been discussed and approved last week evidently did not even reach the table.

4) The Online Chess Club is getting stronger all the time and the planning of premium membership is nearly complete. Members( free membership) can get a taste of this by downloading the free Chess Cube Cinema application, now freely available.

Any members of the ECF board reading this who would like to discuss these matters and a way forward should mail me.


Andrew

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Ian Kingston » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:11 am

Harriet Hunt wrote:Andrew listed a number of fundamental problems with the current English chess situation. I would add another major problem - it seems that many of the English chess community, including most seriously some of the current upper echelons of the management, are indifferent to achievement and success of English players and how we stand on the global stage.
Actually, I think it's worse than that: the average member of the English chess community is (in my experience) profoundly ignorant of anything that happens outside their local area. They have no idea who our best players are (apart from Adams and Short), what they look like or what events they play in. Mention the name of a top GM (Radjabov, say), and there's a good chance that you'll get a blank stare of non-recognition. People don't seem to get excited about chess except when they're actually playing.

That level of apathy partly explains why so many players don't care about the ECF. It doesn't seem relevant to them. Chess in this country lacks a 'fan' culture that makes them excited to hear about what the top players are doing. Children want heroes and role models, just as in football or pop music. So one thing that the ECF could try to do is to raise awareness of the game at large, nationally and internationally, within its own target market.

Sean Hewitt

Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Sean Hewitt » Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:17 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:That level of apathy partly explains why so many players don't care about the ECF. It doesn't seem relevant to them.
I think thats broadly correct, except for grade production the rank and file chess players dont think the ECF does anything for them. Uur experience in Leicester, with our MO, is that the majority of players do not object to paying £10 to join the ECF. Make it £20 and it might be different, but £10 is doable.

Harriet makes a valid point. Short - Kasparov (and previoulsy Fischer Spassky) had a positive impact on chess in this county, particularly amongst non players, but when England won three silver medals at the Olympiads it wasnt news. Head to head matches grab the public imagination, and therefore make sponsorship achievable. Team matches are far less saleable commercially in my opinion. Ask the average club player when and where the next Olympiad is and see what response you get.

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Ian Kingston » Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:43 pm

Our attempt to set up an MO in Nottinghamshire failed to persuade people that even £10 was acceptable. The 'anti-ECF' brigade dug their heels in firmly and refused to budge. It was all about 'What good will it do me?' rather than 'How can we help to develop chess?'. Very depressing, but I suspect quite typical of views around the country.

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Charles W. Wood
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Charles W. Wood » Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:56 pm

Ian Kingston wrote:Our attempt to set up an MO in Nottinghamshire failed to persuade people that even £10 was acceptable. The 'anti-ECF' brigade dug their heels in firmly and refused to budge. It was all about 'What good will it do me?' rather than 'How can we help to develop chess?'. Very depressing, but I suspect quite typical of views around the country.
I gladly pay £46.00 a year, and I am very happy to do so. (If it was netball I believe its £50.00 per member and thats not Member no play). Supporting the ECF at this time is imperative. And the most important thing every single person should understand is that the leagues are going to change, by a huge amount. E.G.: I play in Yorkshire I believe from YCA committee people we have around 3 - 4,000 people play chess across the county that is about to jump to over 100,000. Thats just Yorkshire, imagine whats going to happen everywhere.

But the introduction of a single point of information is the most needed point, before this process can start but I believe that if a future system comes in it should be; No Member, No Grade. That way I will not play against Non Members. :twisted:
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:35 pm

Our attempt to set up an MO in Nottinghamshire failed to persuade people that even £10 was acceptable ..... I suspect quite typical of views around the country.


It comes back to the point of asking why the current board are anti pay as you play when it was a system that their predecessors introduced back in the 90s and to general acceptance in most of the country.

I can see that tournament organisers might resent the game fee outgo but surely it's just down to budgeting the event properly and having some flexibility in prize money if anticipated numbers don't turn up. After all, game fee is the ultimate in variable costs ( the lower the entry, the lower the game fee) This contrasts with room rental which is the same whether you fill to capacity or are three quarters empty.

There are about fifteen thousand people who play at least one game of rated chess a season. Obviously that times £10 or £20 is a large sum but just think of the costs and difficulty of collecting it. Is not the most likely result of a compulsory membership scheme to reduce the amount of ECF graded chess activity, possibly down to as low as the core group of 3500 who play at least 20 games?

It remains my view that Council were right to reject compulsory membership even if some reports imply that underhand methods were used.

As a final thought, the amount of game fee collected now seems to be about less than half the amount implied by the number of games played. The difference is obviously the many game fee exemptions now in place. I wouldn't personally object if these exemptions were removed. The other 1900 or so who play more than 30 games in a season may feel differently.

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:50 pm

I play in Yorkshire I believe from YCA committee people we have around 3 - 4,000 people play chess across the county that is about to jump to over 100,000.

As a point of information, I have just checked the ECF online rating list and Yorkshire show up as 675 individual records, some of which are rapid play only.

Surely Yorkshire are notorious for running their own rating system and refusing to make more than a minimal contribution to the ECF via game fee?

Do you really see the local Yorkshire leagues being willing to impose compulsory ECF membership?

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Ian Kingston » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:14 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:It comes back to the point of asking why the current board are anti pay as you play when it was a system that their predecessors introduced back in the 90s and to general acceptance in most of the country.
If the current system were truly 'pay as you play' I'd have a lot of sympathy with this viewpoint. Congress chess is genuinely so, but league chess isn't. I've played 30 league games this season (two different leagues, not including the 4NCL), while other members of my club have played just five or six games. Yet we pay the same club membership fee. That's not 'pay as you play'.

Compulsory ECF membership would make little difference to the people who play a few games and rarely got to congresses (assuming the cost were to be set at a level that would keep club memberships roughly the same), but it would be highly advantageous to those who do play outside the leagues. It would benefit the ECF too, so I can see why the Board would be pro-membership.

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Charles W. Wood » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:31 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:I play in Yorkshire I believe from YCA committee people we have around 3 - 4,000 people play chess across the county that is about to jump to over 100,000.

As a point of information, I have just checked the ECF online rating list and Yorkshire show up as 675 individual records, some of which are rapid play only.

Surely Yorkshire are notorious for running their own rating system and refusing to make more than a minimal contribution to the ECF via game fee?

Do you really see the local Yorkshire leagues being willing to impose compulsory ECF membership?
See my point, 200+ chess players registered in Bradford, 200-ish Leeds, 200 Calderdale and thats just three of the Associations in West Yorkshire. The ECF now runs the Yorkshire grading system (to keep it inline, but I don't know the details of that agreement) its just most are non members, some are MO members and a small hand full are direct. Yorkshire does have 3000 players or more and its going to get very big very quickly. So Yorkshire has started to get ready for the upcoming change. I believe that if every area knew there was going to be a change and that change was going to be informed and debated from one central point it would work.

E.G.: the Royal Mail went through a massive change in the 90's and its first task was to set up lines of communication so everyone knew what was happening and what was proposed.

We need to do the same, but the leagues (All of them) need to be more flexible to be able to help, in extreme cases that might mean having a meeting before the scheduled date.
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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:36 pm

while other members of my club have played just five or six games. Yet we pay the same club membership fee. That's not 'pay as you play

I think your debate is with your club and its treasurer. If you look into the financial details, you would probably find that your club pays league fees based on how many teams it enters and how many leagues.Certainly that's how the league pays game fee to the ECF. So the more teams, the more fees and that's pay as you play. Internal charges within clubs might be flat rate or board fee or a mixture of both. The ECF imposes no rules on this.

The case against compulsory membership and why it's probably bad for league chess is that from time to time every club needs to find a guest or irregular player to avoid a default. Your club might waive its regular membership fee but the ECF wouldn't. Thus you could be looking at a £20 charge for one game.

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Re: Resignation Rumours

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Apr 30, 2008 3:00 pm

The ECF now runs the Yorkshire grading system (to keep it inline, but I don't know the details of that agreement) its just most are non members, some are MO members and a small hand full are direct.

Well I've looked up your grade on the ECF website and it's blank even though you played 8 games. I think that indicates that your league didn't pay any game fee in 2006/7. What I'm getting at is why a league which refuses to pay something like £4 a head to the ECF would impose a rule which required payment of £20 a head in order to participate.

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