Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
Stewart Reuben
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Stewart Reuben » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:57 am

Justin Horton >I'm puzzled by Stewart Reuben referring the Plymouth rep to Lara, assuming that this is what occurred, and wouldn't mind having his account. I am less au fait with the details of internal ECF organisation than many, but my working assumption has been that the Congress Manager runs the congress itself, and if somebody asked who was in charge of deciding where it should go to, I'd refer them to the Chief Executive. Is this not so?<

Since you ask. Since 1981 (when I took over) or earlier, the Director of Congress Chess (BCF) or Congress Manager (ECF) has been responsible for searching out venues for the British Championships. Then the Board has been responsible for the final decision. 1982, to which Neil alluded, I had to find a venue rapidly as none had been arranged. I settled on Twickenham with the agreement of the Board. This would have helped celebrate the Centenary of MCCA. When I went to Morecambe I found out that a large number of people didn't favour a suburban London venue. So I got the Twickenham venue to cancel. Instead we went to Torquay.

Plymouth Pavilions contacted me this year. Their reason for doing so is because I have visited Confex so I am on a list. It was natural to put them in contact with the Congress Manager, Lara and I also entered into some of the early correspondence. It is a fine venue and my assumption was that Lara would inspect it in due course, settle on a year and then seek the agreement of the Board. I found Canterbury and Sheffield in much the same way when I was once again in charge. But the final decisions was, as always, the Board's. I remember the vote on North Shields, a venue that I had happened to see earlier.

When I first took on the event, I thought it would be good to have perhaps four regular venues, with visits to Scotand and Wales every seven years. Then there wouldn't be the heartache of learning about a new venue all the time. This never worked out. The event has been highly successful in Torquay. Having the 100th congress there made eminent sense. In my period sometimes I arranged the venue as much as four years in advance. Two years seems to me cutting it fine.

It is becoming more and more difficult to find a free venue. Bournemouth and Brighton quote over £100,000.

I cannot speak for my successors, but I always prepared the budget. Neil's and my positions were somewhat different as we were both directors. After preparation the Board examined it. Indeed on occasions Council did so. When it was the BCF the Board's input was particularly valuable as they would have a good idea about the number of entries.

The decision about the disposition of any surplus from the British is presumably decided in the ECF budget by Council on recommendation from the Board. When it makes a loss that comes from ECF Funds.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:07 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:Plymouth Pavilions contacted me this year. Their reason for doing so is because I have visited Confex so I am on a list. It was natural to put them in contact with the Congress Manager, Lara and I also entered into some of the early correspondence. It is a fine venue and my assumption was that Lara would inspect it in due course, settle on a year and then seek the agreement of the Board.
Thanks for that. Something puzzling about it, though. When you say "my assumption was that Lara would inspect it in due course, settle on a year" are you saying either that the Plymouth approach wasn't specifically for 2013, or that if it was, you were not aware of this?
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Alex McFarlane
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Alex McFarlane » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:36 am

My impression was that it started off as a general inquiry from Plymouth but when some interest was shown they did a bit more research.

The 100th anything is attractive so it is hardly surprising that they homed in on that.

Unless there is something that the Board, or certain members of it, are keeping secret, I don't understand its attitude. I agree Torquay Riviera is a good venue and that plans to demolish it have been halted but I don't see the problem in trying to rearrange.

I notice that Roger's request elsewhere for details of costs have been ignored. I obviously cannot give figures but believe that the figure the ECF would be reclaiming on VAT would not be far short of £2000 when the hire of tables and chairs is factored in. It is easy to see that a commercial hire would be in the region of £150000. In the absence of a figure appearing against liabilities in the ECF accounts I will leave you to speculate on what a cancelation fee might be.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:50 am

Alex McFarlane wrote: I notice that Roger's request elsewhere for details of costs have been ignored. I obviously cannot give figures but believe that the figure the ECF would be reclaiming on VAT would not be far short of £2000 when the hire of tables and chairs is factored in. It is easy to see that a commercial hire would be in the region of £150000.
That still counts as heavily subsidised, but an additional entry fee of around £ 10 per event compared to a totally free venue.

So the position is that Plymouth came up with a proposal for 2013 and (edit) some members (/edit) of the ECF board rejected it. They may have had little choice given cancellation fees and a reluctance to change venues at short notice.
Last edited by Roger de Coverly on Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

Alex McFarlane
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Alex McFarlane » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:12 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:So the position is that Plymouth came up with a proposal for 2013 and the ECF board rejected it.
I don't think this statement is correct. I'm sure this will come up in the Board Meeting on Wednesday (as will the timeline) but I don't think the Board was consulted over this, just the CEO and Home Director who vetoed any attempt to move the event. One can only speculate over their reasons for not investigating the matter of postponing Torquay.

Paul Cooksey

Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:27 am

Alex McFarlane wrote: One can only speculate over their reasons for not investigating the matter of postponing Torquay.
I don't think it is appropriate for Alex to engage in or encourage such speculation.

I am applying a stricter rule to him than Roger. But Roger is an unabashed critic of the ECF, and not part of the ECF team. Alex seems to be party to priveledged information, received from someone from whom such criticism would be inappropraite.

Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:41 am

Thing is Paul, once the toothpaste is out of the tube there's no getting it back in.
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Paul Cooksey

Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:46 am

JustinHorton wrote:Thing is Paul, once the toothpaste is out of the tube there's no getting it back in.
Er, but there is a difference between accidentally squeezing some toothpaste onto the floor and being sorry at the result, and running around rubbing it into your sisters hair.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:49 am

So there is, but nevertheless, the toothpaste is out. And in truth it hasn't made much of a mess, though I agree it might have.
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Paul Cooksey

Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:54 am

JustinHorton wrote:So there is, but nevertheless, the toothpaste is out. And in truth it hasn't made much of a mess, though I agree it might have.
I feel it has made enough mess that we should all have learned to be careful with the toothpaste. Particularly if we are in the trusted psoition of having access to the medicine cabinet. Disregard for the toothpaste today can easily lead to disregard for stronger medicines in the future.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:55 am

Maybe. But then again we still don't know how much medicine is unaccounted for after some other joker was given the key to the cabinet.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:57 am

(In all seriousness, if the lesson we're invited to draw is that less information should be shared with the public, then you can imagine my response.)
"Do you play chess?"
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Paul Cooksey

Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Paul Cooksey » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:00 am

JustinHorton wrote:(In all seriousness, if the lesson we're invited to draw is that less information should be shared with the public, then you can imagine my response.)
I think this is a rather extreme position.

Some information should be shared, and some not. Good judgement is knowing the difference.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:09 am

Alternatively, good judgement may involve realising that there should be a bias in favour of sharing because the consequences of not sharing are suspicion and mistrust.

Look, the difficulty with what's happened here isn't the subsequent discussion, it's the original problem. The original problem is that something unexpected came up and was then dealt with in a way that various parties were not happy with, perhaps for good reasons. But once it was known that something had occurred, you need to have a public discussion because otherwise people assume things that are rather worse than the truth. And a major useful function of that discussion is that you can put them right.

For what it's worth, I find that the parties involved have answered people's questions reasonably fully and well. I understand that a mistake seems to haqve been made, even if i'm not yet quite sure as to the precise nature of that mistake. But I don't mind mistakes. Errare humanum est. I mind cover-ups and denials and insults to my intelligence.

But none of these things have happened, because people have been prepared to explain themselves fully. I find that rather refreshing.
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Andrew Zigmond
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Re: Role of the Manager of the British Championships

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:22 am

Alex McFarlane wrote:
Roger de Coverly wrote:So the position is that Plymouth came up with a proposal for 2013 and the ECF board rejected it.
I don't think this statement is correct. I'm sure this will come up in the Board Meeting on Wednesday (as will the timeline) but I don't think the Board was consulted over this, just the CEO and Home Director who vetoed any attempt to move the event. One can only speculate over their reasons for not investigating the matter of postponing Torquay.
Just following this thought through, if the Plymouth offer was made late in the championship and appeared to be worth considering, then Alex suggests the matter should have been discussed in a board meeting on Wednesday. Am I making a leap here in assuming that Lara might have expected this to be the case? In which event her announcement that there might be a potential change of venue for 2013 - which Paul Cooksey has been so critical of - becomes the right thing to do.
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