ECF: One member, One Vote

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Stewart Reuben
Posts: 4004
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:48 am

The ECF has not given up on chess as a sport. David Anderton is spear-heading that campaign.

You will find in the ECF mission statement a long list of ways in which the federation is not prejudiced. One clearly missing, which I have referred to, is regional discrimination. My perception is that some Northern players think the Southerners are biased against them. My perception is that the Southerners do not care where somebody comes from. A small example. A Northerner commented to me this year that the British Championships are never held in the North of the country. This despite the fact that it was held in Liverpool this year and several times in Scarborough recently. Yet it is 1997 since the event was last held in the South-East.

Once the endless red tape concerning adult chess as a charity is disentangled, hopefully in the next year, then we can turn our attention to more efficient funding of English chess activity. For example, The Friends of Chess, supports chess primarily for promising players. Gift Aid will be highly tax efficient there.

Stewart Reuben

David Robertson
Posts: 2167
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by David Robertson » Sat Oct 25, 2008 1:44 pm

To begin with the thread title, then other matters:

OMOV

There are two main reasons why OMOV has not been brought to a vote. The first is the perception that Council would simply vote it down, if for no other reason, then from self-interest. Hence the proposal would be a waste of time. But there is a second yet more substantial reason: even if Council were entirely open-minded on the issue, the proponents of OMOV have not agreed or set out what they mean by it. Unabridged OMOV would be an impractical nonsense; limited OMOV might have advantages, but also consequences. An assessment with options could easily be set out by an informed authority. But that won't happen until some consensus emerges that OMOV & membership models are a way forward. These are matters about which we should care, pace Stewart Reuben, because they go to the heart of how organisational talent and enterprise within the chess community can be released for the benefit of English chess. As things stand, too many competent people will hold back.

Women's chess

I've said several times on other occasions that I think disproportionately favourable support for women's chess will be a key way forward. It's good to see others take a similar view. Over the past three years in Liverpool, I've given practical embodiment to it by prioritising women's entry to our international events. Indeed this year, I hugely increased the fund for the women's prizes, and made it a policy priority that we should attract female entrants. The result was that we had, to my knowledge, the strongest women's field outside a specific women's championship. It would have been stronger still, had FIDE not arranged the Women's World Championship to clash. So efforts are being made to support women's chess. More must be done of course.

Liverpool's too far away

I despair when I read nonsense that complains about the location of tournaments. For a start, it's not as if the country is awash with tournaments and promoters; and for seconds, it's not as if we're a long way from anywhere on this small island. The fact that Liverpool isn't Swindon may be a bit of a hassle for someone living in Reading. But it wasn't a hassle for, say, Etienne Bacrot recently who was delighted to fly in directly from Nice. But I guess if some people want their tournaments laid on for them, near at hand with minimum expense, they can sit and wait....and wait....and wait.

Chess as sport

Chess in England/Britain will not be classified as a sport in our lifetime - in none of our lifetimes. By all means let ECF campaign for it as a long-term objective, but entertain no illusions of progress soon if ever. Why am I so sure? Several reasons: first, it would require legislative change, and that requires scarce Parliamentary time that won't be granted; second, a legislative proposal would not survive Parliamentary scrutiny (if chess, why not bridge/sudoku/gardening?); and third, any proposal wouldn't survive public scrutiny (people & Press would ridicule the idea). For chess to be classified as a sport, four things would need to coincide: 1) ECF would need 100,000 members; 2) England/Britain would need to have one or more players who had broken into public consciousness, of the stature Carlsen enjoys in Norway perhaps, or Anand in India; 3) we should have two or three regular international tournaments each year; and 4) a Cabinet-level political sponsor of the proposal. Then we might have a chance. Lesson to us all: chess must first be popular before it can be a sport, not the other way round.

Chess and sponsorship

Prospects are very bleak; this makes the LV= deal for the Olympiad team more than a modest coup. The private sector will remain a no-go area for two reasons: first, the current economic downturn obviously; but second, notwithstanding that, Government is encouraging all private sector sponsorship towards the Olympics - and failing to attract it too. Public sector sponsorship could be tried. There's no reason why municipalities shouldn't get the same or better benefits than private firms from an association with chess. That's the argument I won in Liverpool, making the business case and proving the economic impact.

One thing ruins sponsorship of course, when the sponsor's goodwill turns sour, and that is when sponsors find those responsible for running the event take the cash, first carving out a large wedge for themselves before turning to the event in question. That's what went wrong in the past. For comparison and the avoidance of doubt, I extracted not a penny from the Liverpool events over three years.

ECF and its public standing

Stewart Reuben instructs us not to be down-hearted: things are better, chess-wise, than they were in the 1950s. I'm sure that's true, but not entirely. One thing we had in the 1950s at the centre of our affairs, and need far more today, were individuals highly competent in their professional fields beyond chess, strong chess players by the standards of the day, some experienced in leadership and management, and a few very well-connected to Government. I have in mind Alexander & especially Milner-Barry, Brian Pitman too; but there may have been others of course. Today our affairs are dominated by a former bus driver. With the best will in the world, such a person cannot have the trained capacity nor the experience, whatever his illusions, to lead our affairs credibly with Government, business and similar bodies. We are dumbed down accordingly.


Facing up to some of these brutal facts might be the start of a recovery. Denial of them, and the slide goes on.

David
Atticus CC

Stewart Reuben
Posts: 4004
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:07 pm

Professor David Robertson made the following comment in his otherwise very good summary:
One thing ruins sponsorship of course, when the sponsor's goodwill turns sour, and that is when sponsors find those responsible for running the event take the cash, first carving out a large wedge for themselves before turning to the event in question. That's what went wrong in the past.
In my 36 years of experience with sponsors in chess I have never heard of this happening. Indeed, this seems like an ill-conceived attack on me.
There is a problem if one hires a PR company to find sponsors. The usual deal is that they get 15% of any income and that makes the prospect too fragile for an activity like chess. But they have so seldom been successful in attracting sponsors it is almost irrelevant.
Stewart Reuben

Mike Truran
Posts: 2391
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:44 pm
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Mike Truran » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:16 pm

It beats me why so many in the chess world press on with the Quixotic search for company sponsorship or govenrment funding when they are so unwilling to put their hands in their own pockets to support our game. There are regular outcries when proposals are made to increase game fee or membership fee from desisory to slightly less derisory levels, yet people seem to consider it strange that outside bodies with zero interest in chess should stump up large sums to fund us in return for............what exactly?

Mike

Steve Henderson
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:32 pm
Location: Redcar
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Steve Henderson » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:51 pm

Mike Truran wrote:It beats me why so many in the chess world press on with the Quixotic search for company sponsorship or govenrment funding when they are so unwilling to put their hands in their own pockets to support our game. There are regular outcries when proposals are made to increase game fee or membership fee from desisory to slightly less derisory levels, yet people seem to consider it strange that outside bodies with zero interest in chess should stump up large sums to fund us in return for............what exactly?

Mike
Who says they are unwilling to pay?
Outcries from whom?

David Robertson
Posts: 2167
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by David Robertson » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:26 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:this seems like an ill-conceived attack on me
Fright'd with false fire? I did not have you in mind, Stewart. Try again

David
Atticus CC
Last edited by David Robertson on Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 6569
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Oct 25, 2008 8:47 pm

David Robertson wrote: Today our affairs are dominated by a former bus driver. With the best will in the world, such a person cannot have the trained capacity nor the experience, whatever his illusions, to lead our affairs credibly with Government, business and similar bodies.
This might or might not be true in relation to any given individual: as a general proportion I don't agree with it. People from all sorts of backgrounds learn all sorts of skills. Moreover, imagine the outcry if the ECF were to say: "we don't want people like bus drivers running our affairs". This would attract support to our cause? I think not.

Re: Chess As A Sport, I agree that this is probably a lost cause now. I thin it was a good one, but simply I think we're up against a cultural brick wall on this. Incidentally, the estimable Jonathan Rowson wrote some interesting stuff on the subject (the general subject, not the UK campaign) in the latest New In Chess, if anybody hasn't seen it. A lost cause, I wasn't going to say, but a good one and one that it was right to pursue, whether or not that went on too long.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Stewart Reuben
Posts: 4004
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:47 pm

Steve Henderson, Mike Truran is absolutely correct here.
I often think it is not the players who are unwilling to pay. It is that there are influential administrators in chess who believe there is a moral imperative to minimise expenditure for players. They tend to congregate at the ECF Council Meetings. A gasp of breath (I have actually heard it) when there is a suggestion of raising game fee by 2p. When I first suggested we have a membership scheme, my initial proposal was that it be £45 per year. That was over 20 years ago and it has yet to reach that level. I believe there is indeed a moral imperative to give value for money. This will become easier when much of the activity of the ECF can be hived off to a charity. Getting the government to agree to that has taken about 20 years. Chess a sport (not even necessarily desirable) may come, though probably not in my lifetime. We did get as far as the Sports Minister, Tony Banks, making the announcement in the House. Within a month he had been sacked!

When I had considerable control over weekend congress budgets, there was what became known by some as Reuben's Law. Increase the entry fees and the numbers go up.

Business sponsors in the end are seeking to make profit just as from advertising. 18 years of the Lloyds Bank Masters and so on suggests we were not always doing everything wrong. We have given value for money. It is much more difficult to do so today.

To David R. Do you really think I am fright'd by your comments? You made a statement which was just simply false and surely such gratuitous nonsense should occasionally be corrected.

Stewart Reuben

Steve Henderson
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:32 pm
Location: Redcar
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Steve Henderson » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:38 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:Steve Henderson, Mike Truran is absolutely correct here.
That is my whole point Stewart, its the ECF delegates on Council !!!!

They claim to represent the members views of their Associations, County's, leagues etc but do they really ??
Do they canvass opinions from their members?
Do members contact their ECF delegate?
Do members know who their ECF delegate is?
Do members know what the issues are?

As far as I can see the majority of ECF Delegates simply vote for what they think is best.
But best for whom ??

It would be nice, to see on the ECF website, what they vote for & against :)

David Robertson
Posts: 2167
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:24 pm
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by David Robertson » Sun Oct 26, 2008 12:21 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:Do you really think I am fright'd by your comments? You made a statement which was just simply false and surely such gratuitous nonsense should occasionally be corrected
I'm not sure what you're on about, Stewart; and I'm completely baffled how you identify yourself as the target of my comments. But what do I know? Fright'd by my comments? In the context of the literary source to which this alludes, only you can know. My substantive statement is not, to my knowledge and as I'm very reliably informed, false. Unless you are claiming to know all the circumstances in which it might apply, you are in no position to claim that. You state that it is false in your respect. Since I've clearly stated that I did not have you in mind, I have no problem believing you. The only gratuitous nonsense I can identify is your gratuitous claim that I must have been referring to you. How did you force your way into this - because I didn't force you.

David

Mike Truran
Posts: 2391
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 3:44 pm
Contact:

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Mike Truran » Sun Oct 26, 2008 10:08 am

Steve, your points are well made. I think my answer to them would be along the lines that people tend to get the politicians they deserve. If grass roots players had anything more than the feeblest flicker of interest in the welfare of English chess they would be attending their local club, league, county etc meetings and insisting that their delegates represent their views, or change their delegates if they don't. I can only conclude that grass roots players either agree with their delegates' votes or don't care about the way their delegates vote.

That's how democracy should work (even in the ECF). If you don't like your politicians, vote them out. If you're not prepared to rouse yourself to make it happen, don't be surprised that it doesn't happen.

User avatar
Ben Purton
Posts: 1620
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:53 am
Location: Berks

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Ben Purton » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:25 am

Mike Truran wrote:Steve, your points are well made. I think my answer to them would be along the lines that people tend to get the politicians they deserve. If grass roots players had anything more than the feeblest flicker of interest in the welfare of English chess they would be attending their local club, league, county etc meetings and insisting that their delegates represent their views, or change their delegates if they don't. I can only conclude that grass roots players either agree with their delegates' votes or don't care about the way their delegates vote.

That's how democracy should work (even in the ECF). If you don't like your politicians, vote them out. If you're not prepared to rouse yourself to make it happen, don't be surprised that it doesn't happen.


Im sure youd be a real hit in parts of Africa and Far East Mike. *laughs*
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

User avatar
Ben Purton
Posts: 1620
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:53 am
Location: Berks

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Ben Purton » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:33 am

Club Chess is dying, Very much like the VCR, we live in the digital age and the age of Internet chess is the one we now live in. Reasons for that are simple: Internet chess is better.

Most clubs I visit have someone who should be on "List 99" and people who live with there mothers at 50. Luckerly you dont have to talk to the people you play online unless you both wish. You get to play strong players when you want online, some players at clubs get ignored through people not wanting to play them. Tournaments are far from dead, everyone wants to do well in FIDE events etc. And some can be quite fun if you have a group of friends.


Ben
I love sleep, I need 8 hours a day and about 10 at night - Bill Hicks
I would die happy if I beat Wood Green in the Eastman Cup final - Richmond LL captain.
Hating the Yankees since 2002. Hating the Jets since 2001.

Stewart Reuben
Posts: 4004
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:04 pm
Location: writer

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Oct 26, 2008 11:54 am

Steve, you wrote
As far as I can see the majority of ECF Delegates simply vote for what they think is best.
But best for whom ??

The first sentence is hardly a condemnation of the delegates! I am sure the second is that they are well-meaning people who vote for what they think is best for chess or their constituents. That many people disagree with their conclusions, proves nothing. ECF democracy is very similar to the way the UK is governed, with virtually the same faults and strengths.

David Robertson. I presume you realise I have been involved with more sponsorship in English chess for a longer period than anybody else. The other people who have been most involved with getting and spending or administering sponsorship money are: David Anderton, Leonard Barden, Ray Keene, Gerry Walsh. There have been others such as Michael Basman, MediaMate. In my considerable experience and direct working knowledge, the following statement is incorrect: One thing ruins sponsorship of course, when the sponsor's goodwill turns sour, and that is when sponsors find those responsible for running the event take the cash, first carving out a large wedge for themselves before turning to the event in question. That's what went wrong in the past. My substantive statement is not, to my knowledge and as I'm very reliably informed, false.
I have no reason whatsoever to believe you are more reliable informed than me. After all, I see budgets and accounts and very much doubt your reliable, but unnamed informant, has. What is more, however reliable, your statements are at best second-hand.
Sponsors' goodwill has almost never turned sour (well, never in my experience. Of course they eventually stop sponsoring for one reason or another).
Again in my experience, many sponsors have preferred to have professional managers of projects paid a fair fee for their work.
Stewart Reuben

Michele Clack
Posts: 437
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:38 pm
Location: Worcestershire

Re: ECF: One member, One Vote

Post by Michele Clack » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:34 pm

Steve Henderson wrote [That is my whole point Stewart, its the ECF delegates on Council !!!!

They claim to represent the members views of their Associations, County's, leagues etc but do they really ??
Do they canvass opinions from their members?
Do members contact their ECF delegate?
Do members know who their ECF delegate is?
Do members know what the issues are?

As far as I can see the majority of ECF Delegates simply vote for what they think is best.
But best for whom ??
quote][/quote]

I can only go by my own experience but in Worcestershire the rep is excellent. He has contacts in evey club in the county and also sends out e-mails to everyone who wants to be on his mailling list with details about things going on at the ECF and asking for peoples views. He runs a Worcestershire website with his e-mail address available on it. So he has an ear close to the ground and does his best to represent everyone.

Stewart Reuben said
Steve Henderson, Mike Truran is absolutely correct here.
I often think it is not the players who are unwilling to pay. It is that there are influential administrators in chess who believe there is a moral imperative to minimise expenditure for players. They tend to congregate at the ECF Council Meetings. A gasp of breath (I have actually heard it) when there is a suggestion of raising game fee by 2p.
I hesitate to say it but there seems to me to be almost a North South Divide here ( nothing annoys a Midlander more than to be called a Northerner). My husband is treasurer for our local club and has been for over 20 years. Last year we actually made a small loss this was the first time this has happened with Ian as treasurer although I think we have been close before. A lot of clubs in the area are struggling. If you want club chess to survive please think very carefully before you start heaping extra costs onto club players. Obviously some people could afford more but many people could not.

Michele Clack

Post Reply