ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Debate directly related to English Chess Federation matters.
David Sedgwick
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ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by David Sedgwick » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:03 pm

Malcolm Pein has asked me to post the statement below on his behalf. As it covers more than one of the forthcoming elections, I've started a new thread.

David Sedgwick
ECF Representative Member
Chess in Schools and Communities


STATEMENT BY MALCOLM PEIN

I’ve been asked by many people over the last couple of months to comment on the forthcoming ECF elections, particularly with regard to the posts of non executive director and President. Having only once tried to work with the ECF, when I was defeated by the perennial ‘no Candidate’ I thought I would keep out. However, this election comes at a time when there seems to be a huge amount of factional in-fighting and some of the high-quality people like Andrew Farthing have left and so the next election is of great importance. Aside from the people behind the membership scheme, which is starting to work, only the Junior Director Phil Ehr emerges with credit this year and he did particularly well as he inherited a poor situation a few years back.

With the regard to non exec directorships, I’ve looked at the statements from the candidates and one thing seems abundantly clear: they do not all seem to understand what the role of non executive director is.

This is, in my humble opinion and in the opinion of many non execs I have met and worked with: to challenge and question decisions, actions and policies of directors, even when they agree with them. This ensures that they are well thought through. It is not the job of non exec directors to pursue their own individual agendas. Of the statements I have read, only Sean Hewitt’s gives me complete confidence in that regard. Angus’s statement also alludes to the key point.

In terms of the suitability and competence of the candidates, I don’t know Angus French at all, so I have no view.

Jack Rudd devotes a lot of time to chess organisation, most of it on a voluntary basis, and I know him to be an excellent and competent organiser, top bloke, brilliant player and a uniformly good influence on any event that he’s attended. I think Jack would be an asset to the board.

Sean Hewitt has an excellent track record at both chess organisation and administration. His business experience has been and would continue to be, a huge asset to the ECF. He has done a huge amount in a short time both in and out of the organisation. He has sat on the boards of large companies and is one of the few presentable and highly competent arbiters in the UK which is why I have put him charge of the London Chess Classic Festival. It would be further evidence that the ECF cannot possibly be reformed, improved or even saved if he is not elected. He will definitely be getting all the votes that I control.

Julian Clissold has done a huge amount of work for many years in junior chess in Bolton and Manchester, and I note the success of some of his teams. Julian is one of those stalwarts who give their time and their enthusiasm voluntarily, seek no reward and upon whom the continuance of a significant proportion of English junior chess relies. However I thought his address was a pitch for Junior Director and not Non Exec.

I note a recent posting by Julian ref free entry for CSC children (for which many thanks) but unfortunately, in my role as CEO of the charity Chess in Schools and Communities my personal experience with him has been distinctly negative, in sharp contrast to the overwhelmingly positive experience I have had with 99.9% of the parents, teachers, head teachers and junior organisers I have encountered since starting CSC 3.5 years ago. I don’t want to go into any detail here; there is already too much unpleasantness.

I genuinely feel Julian does not have the necessary skills to make a useful contribution to the ECF Board.

On the Presidency: this is a complete no-brainer for me but with one caveat, which I will come to, I think the world of chess is lucky that Andrew Paulson has chosen to give his time and hugely varied talents and experience to the game’s promotion. Although his company AGON’s first forays into international chess were not a success, Andrew has lost his own money and seems content to invest some more. Although I (and I’m sure everyone else) likes Roger Edwards, and everyone acknowledges the enormous amount of hard work and dedication he has shown (the same as Julian Clissold), he simply doesn’t possess the leadership qualities, business acumen and experience, or innovative thinking of Andrew Paulson, who is used to operating at board or government level and has brought many new ideas into chess in a short time.

My caveat is this: Nigel Short points to Andrew’s business relationship with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. I’ve no proof of this, but it seems likely to be the case. I’m passionately in favour of the ECF maintaining its anti-Kirsan stance for the reasons anyone with an ounce of common sense would understand.

If Andrew can assure us, and then demonstrate that Nigel, as FIDE delegate, will have complete freedom of action in this regard, and that he will devote himself to the advancement of chess in England, then that will be fine. I also applaud his idea that we should improve our relationship with FIDE; however that must not be code for improving our relationship with Ilyumzhinov. So I have some reservations, but I believe these can be addressed. The chance to have a person of Andrew’s calibre leading the ECF is too good to be missed, so I will be voting for him.

I don’t visit the forum often so I won’t see any comments. I may be able to respond to some correspondence via info@chess.co.uk

Malcolm Pein
08.10.13

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Carl Hibbard » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:43 pm

It's a bit naughty to make a statement and then not return to answer comments!
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

John Upham
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by John Upham » Tue Oct 08, 2013 6:58 pm

Malcolm has made his position clear and, not wishing to undermine it, would wholly endorse it. :D
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:05 pm

Carl Hibbard wrote:It's a bit naughty to make a statement and then not return to answer comments!
Let's also remember why "none of the above" was victorious in an irregular manner a few years ago. The role of the Non-Executive Director was stated to be to only read what the then President happened to pass on and to send a substitute to attend Board meetings. Why not just put up the substitute for election?

As to what the role of a non-executive director should be, let us not forget that the ECF is a voluntary organisation and as a Company, limited liability by guarantee rather than shareholding. It seems sufficient of an unresolved issue that it's debated in the press. For example a Google search comes up with
http://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-se ... -direction.

Let us also not forget that one of the possibilities for partial OMOV is to reserve a directorship or two for election exclusively by otherwise disenfranchised individuals. That would seem a suitable fit for non-Execs.

The bottom lines on the contested non-exec election were surely the Board's decision to impose without apparent consultation membership requirements on matches taking place between schools and the exclusion of events not to be graded from the calendar. Had I raised these as likely membership outcomes a couple of years ago, would I have been accused of scaremongering?

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:41 pm

David Sedgwick wrote: Although his company AGON’s first forays into international chess were not a success, Andrew has lost his own money and seems content to invest some more.
Malcolm Pein
08.10.13
keen to invest more in English chess? not according to Phil Ehr.

It's an odd kind of support, isn't it - we don't know much about him, we don't know the Kirsan position and so far he has not been a success in the chess world - what were the positives again? A lot about AP's abilities seems to be assumed rather than demonstrated. Nor does Malcolm support AP's ideas as such; understandably so because getting the government to actually legislate to make chess a sport is effectively impossible.

Sigh ... the point, of course, that he is only up against Roger Edwards, so not much apparently needs to be demonstrated ....

Angus French
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Angus French » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:48 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:A lot about AP's abilities seems to be assumed rather than demonstrated. Nor does Malcolm support AP's ideas as such; understandably so because getting the government to actually legislate to make chess a sport is effectively impossible.
Oh, that's funny. I got the impression from reading AP's election address that it was actually Malcolm Pein's idea to get chess recognised as a sport and that he'd already kicked this off by himself, independent of the ECF:
Andrew Paulson's election address wrote:My first concrete goal is to arrange for the Government to accord to chess the status of a sport. We will actively support Malcolm Pein in his creation of an All Parliamentary Group reviewing the matter.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 08, 2013 7:51 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote: A lot about AP's abilities seems to be assumed rather than demonstrated.
A number of the voting representatives don't follow International chess and therefore don't know who he is and why he is standing. Whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage remains to be seen.

For what it's worth, this is what I wrote in response to a query from someone who asked for background.
He’s never played serious chess in England at all. He’s an American who used to do business in Russia, but now lives some of the time in the UK.

He got the rights from FIDE to organise the six Grand Prix tournaments, the Candidates in London and the World Championship. Although both London events went off reasonably well, he didn’t deliver much of what he promised and doesn’t seem to have been involved worldwide since April. Certainly his ambition to deliver both sponsorship and a unified presentation haven’t been delivered. As to what his current relationship is with FIDE, that remains unclear.

It would be my belief that if the ECF Council vote for him as President, it should prepare to be disappointed and also the Board should be prepared to rein him in if he threatens to devote the ECF’s money and resources to some wild goose chase.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:14 pm

Angus French wrote:
Jonathan Rogers wrote:A lot about AP's abilities seems to be assumed rather than demonstrated. Nor does Malcolm support AP's ideas as such; understandably so because getting the government to actually legislate to make chess a sport is effectively impossible.
Oh, that's funny. I got the impression from reading AP's election address that it was actually Malcolm Pein's idea to get chess recognised as a sport and that he'd already kicked this off by himself, independent of the ECF:
Andrew Paulson's election address wrote:My first concrete goal is to arrange for the Government to accord to chess the status of a sport. We will actively support Malcolm Pein in his creation of an All Parliamentary Group reviewing the matter.
Well, if it is Malcolm's idea then correction noted - but if so, then they are both deluded. What more to say?

Angus French
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Angus French » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:23 pm

The reason Malcolm Pein isn't involved in the running of the ECF is as much, if not more, to do with Malcolm as it is to do with the ECF. Yes, ECF Council screwed up with its decision not to count proxy votes but let's not forget that when he stood for election for a Non-executive Director position three years ago Malcolm neither provided an election address nor attended the AGM. He was, however, on the evening of the day of the AGM, helping to compere a chessboxing event.

I have the greatest respect for Malcolm for his London Chess Classic events (all of which I've attended and hugely enjoyed) and for his Chess in Schools and Communities work but I have no great confidence that he understands the ECF. I am somewhat annoyed by his intervention.

Martin Regan

Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Martin Regan » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:25 pm

I agree almost completely with Malcolm, though have no views on Angus, as I have never dealt with him. I am though a little more sceptical about the AP- FIDE link.

Simon Brown
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Simon Brown » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:50 pm

Malcolm shouldn't have needed an election address. If anyone with a vote isn't aware of what he can bring, that person doesn't deserve a vote. Of all its own feet the ECF has shot in recent times, rejection of Malcolm was the least excusable.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:56 pm

Simon Brown wrote:If anyone with a vote isn't aware of what he can bring
The meeting which was invited to elect him teased out the fact that all he was bringing was a name on the headed paper, with limited intentions to follow board proceedings or attend meetings.

David Pardoe
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by David Pardoe » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:04 pm

Is Mr Pein living in a fantasy world...dreaming of some magical world where chess once again hits the front pages...and all was boom boom..
Those were the glorious days of Fischer...a legend who will never return nor ever be replaced I don't suppose.
And Mr Pein talks of commercial acumen......??
The ECF is NOT a commercial enterprise, and never was. Its a `not for profit` body, seeking Charity status. A completely different animal.
Over 95% of the ECF membership are well served by this cultural body, with a rich variety of chess events to cater for all tastes.
Yes, it would be great to find that pot of gold for our top GMs. And boy, has the ECF and BCF tried hard to find the sponsors to provide those extra opportunities & prizes for our top guns over many years.
And Mr Pein talks about talent.....we are busting at the seams with talent in this country. The question is how to channel these into positive initiatives and outcomes..
And Mr Pein puts forward his views, which he is rightly entitled to do...then beggers off with no opportunity to take questions.
His attitude is that he (also) has no time, so the `Plebs` can just talk amongst themselves.
The real problem in this country is we spend far too much time running ourselves down, and not appreciating the good things that are on offer. So, lets not have any of this doom and gloom stuff...lets just be realistic.
Here`s a more sober contribution from Leonard Barden recently...

Ian Thompson wrote:
Stewart Reuben wrote:
Many of our sponsors were related to dealing with money. shares or insurance, such as Duncan Lawrie, Lloyds Bank, NatWest, Grieveson Grant which became Kleinwort Benson, Phillips & Drew, Smith & Williamson, Watson & Farley Williams, LV=.
But we have had Zetters Pools, London Dockland Development Corporation, Pilkington Glass, Aaronson Brothers, Leigh Industries, Terence Chapman, ICL, Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Times, Batsford, Cadogan, Praxis Systems.
...
But the list may help Andrew Paulson.

How many of these sponsors were doing it for purely commercial reasons and how many were doing it because someone in a position of influence in the organisation had an interest in chess? Andrew Paulson has stated that we should not now expect to get sponsors in the latter category.


The answer for several of those listed is 'both'. As an example of which I have personal knowledge, Lloyds Bank backing coincided with chess problemist Sir Jeremy Morse becoming the bank's chairman, while the sponsorship manager had noted the high level of publicity for English junior successes, and young players were the bank's target market. They were not disappointed, as for many years Lloyds Bank press chess mentions were double or treble all the bank's other sponsorships combined. It lasted 18 years from 1976 to 1994 until Sir Jeremy retired and a new sponsorship manager was only interested in TV exposure.
The essential point is in the 1980s-1980s period where most of the companies listed above backed chess, we had a strong very marketable product, namely the best juniors in the world and an England team No2 to the USSR, which guaranteed a decent level of public interest. We had the Master Game and TV coverage of world title matches. Miles was England's £5000 first grandmaster (Stewart fails to mention Jim Slater who led the way and encouraged others). When Short beat Korchnoi in a well publicised simul, ITN gave it a special mention on its 9pm news bulletin. Chess generally had a high status due to Fischer-Spassky.
Now it's different, and worse. You can see that in what happened with the Grand Prix leg and the candidates in London. Agon hired a PR company and was presumably itself the commercial manager, there were claims that several mega-firms would sign up as chess backers and that there would be televised highlights on Sky Arts. None of that happened, even with a young hunk all-time No1 as spearhead. Yes, there were TV appearances and broadsheet interviews for Carlsen, but the only person who really benefited from that was Magnus.
And the British chess product which was there in the 70s and 80s isn't there any more. The England team is not No2 but maybe No15, our top two GMs are in their forties, our best two young GMs struggle to reach the world top 100, and we don't have any world class juniors.
The Board and Council have been suckers for an optimistic story in the past (remember 1986, remember Holloid) so it's entirely possible that Andrew Paulson will be elected as President. Perhaps he will prove my pessimism wrong, perhaps not.
But contrary to what is stated above, I think the best and maybe only avenue for serious business backing for English chess now is from people like Ali Mortazavi and David Norwood who have made fortunes in the stock market. It's the same in the United States: The mega-firm Intel came and went in the 1990s, but now American chess is blessed with Rex Sinquefield, spiritual heir to Louis Statham of Lone Pine in the 1970s, who is not only giving money to US chess but giving it wisely.



I think we should heed his words and his reservations......is the grass really greener on the other side??
He also says he has read non of the comments and concerns raised on these forums? Perhaps he should have done.
Many questions asked and many remain unanswered.
Two weeks ago Mr Paulson sounded enthusiastic about fielding questions and entering into further discussions on here...but has since fallen silent. He is presumably now too busy...? Would he be too busy to fully commit to the ECF in the top seat...?
Yes, I have no doubt he has great talents? How could these best be deployed to the benefit of all, including his many business interests and British chess. Are we chasing a pipe dream...?

However, whatever we can do to take us forward positively should be put on the `to do` list and action taken.
Mr Peins comments on other candidates were also rather subjective...he clearly has his preferences.
Delegates need to think carefully...but it is flattering (or day dreaming), that such people show interest in the UK chess scene....or maybe the top 5% of our National stars + International aspirations. This latter group are very important, and it is desirable that some sparkle is added in that department....and that UK chess shines brighter.

It is for the delegates to consider carefully the many points and concerns raised, and how best to take forward our UK chess aspirations. At this particular moment in time, I believe another year of steady progress would not go amiss. Meanwhile, if Mr Paulson and others could bear with us, and stand ready to offer there support/expertese, there could well be room for future optimism for our national game....and significant opportunities could materialise.
There is much scope for improvements throughout the UK chess network by a programme of self help, supported by the need to fill numereous posts within various chess bodies, to ensure the wheels keep turning.
Team effort and positive thinking should be our watch words this season, I believe..
Last edited by David Pardoe on Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Angus French
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Angus French » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:04 pm

Simon Brown wrote:Malcolm shouldn't have needed an election address. If anyone with a vote isn't aware of what he can bring, that person doesn't deserve a vote. Of all its own feet the ECF has shot in recent times, rejection of Malcolm was the least excusable.
You don't think it was disrespectful not to provide an election address and not to attend the AGM (perhaps preferring to do chessboxing instead)? I do.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: ECF Elections - Statement by Malcolm Pein

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:08 pm

Malcolm Pein wrote:My caveat is this: Nigel Short points to Andrew’s business relationship with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. I’ve no proof of this, but it seems likely to be the case.
As caveats go, this strikes me as rather a biggie. It's another way of saying, 'It seems likely to me that the person who put himself forward for the ECF Presidency based (in part) on a platform of closer co-operation with FIDE does in fact have a business arrangement not just with FIDE but also with the President of FIDE himself'.

If so: the fact that this was not disclosed as a conflict of interest would rule AP out IMHO.
If not so: how do we know other than Andrew Paulson's say so?
Last edited by Jonathan Bryant on Tue Oct 08, 2013 9:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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